How to Make Holiday Travel Less Stressful

So you plan on travelling to a loved one’s house for the holidays, but unfortunately so did everyone else in the country. Holiday travel is undeniably stressful, but there are a few simple ways to make it a bit more bearable. Here are some tips to help navigate your airplane ride or road trip in a smart and savvy way.

  1. Book ahead of time. Instead of scrambling to book your trip at the last minute (and paying the inevitable high fees), book as far ahead of time as possible. This ensures that you’ll be able to get the flight or bus that you want, and it will likely save you a great deal of money along the way.
  2. Leave extra travel time. Whether you’re navigating crowds at the airport or fighting traffic on the highway, leaving good deal of extra time to allow for delays is always a good idea.
  3. Pack light. Since you likely have to bring presents with you on your journey, try to pack your suitcase as light as possible.
  4. Bring some entertainment along for the ride. If you’re driving home for the holidays, an audio book or a list of car games are some great options for passing the time. If you’ll be flying or taking a bus, try downloading a movie onto your phone or tablet.

Holiday Travel: Tips to Make It Less Stressful [Medicine Net]
Holiday Travel Slideshow: 10 Tips to Cut Stress [WebMD]
15 Tips for Healthy, Stress Reduced Holiday Travel [CNCA Health]

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Must-See Museums in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is home to an intelligent community of artists and forward thinkers, and the diverse population even inspires the attractions in the area. Explore the art and creations of generations past to see how the city of Boston evolved into what it is today.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is world renowned for a comprehensive collection of the arts. The museum's collection includes more than 450,000 items, spanning an extremely wide range of styles and periods. Peruse post-Impressionistic paintings, engage in Egyptian artifacts, and stroll through a Japanese garden. This world-encompassing epicenter of education is sure to inspire people of all ages. Take advantage of the daily programs and workshops the museum provides, and be sure to check the calendar for upcoming special events before planning a visit.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is home to a remarkable collection of worldly art, and the building was even designed to be a work of art itself. Established in 1903 by Isabella Stewart, today the museum continues to carry on her legacy of curating unique collections. Take a walk through Fenway Court, the outdoor garden that supposedly inspired Boston's dedication to landscape architecture, and enjoy the music and special events hosted regularly throughout different venues within the facility.

Read About Some of the Country’s Weirdest, Wackiest Museums

While the Smithsonian is fascinating, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is always a sight to see, some lesser-known American museums are just as interesting—if a bit weirder! If you have a flair for all things out of the ordinary, these unique museums are worth a visit.

1) International Cryptozoology Museum
Cryptozoology is the study of “hidden animals” not verified by science, and this small museum in Portland, Maine, is dedicated to just that. From Bigfoot to Lake Monsters, take a tour of all of the world’s most intriguing—and mysterious—unknown species.

2) International Banana Museum
This fruity museum in North Shore, California, is filled with every type of banana-related item that its curators could hunt down, from salt and pepper shakers to staplers and even a banana record player. Be sure to visit the famous banana bar and sample a banana-flavored milkshake or banana split.

3) Mütter Museum
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Mütter Museum is one of the finest museums of medical history in the world. While it is a bit creepy to see the 19th-century medical instruments and anatomical specimens, it is also completely fascinating.

4) The Museum of Bad Art
The name says it all at this silly museum in Somerville, Massachusetts. Keep in mind that it’s all in good fun, and just enjoy the truly awful displays of artistic expression.

Plan a Visit to These Historic Sites Near Boston

Steeped in U.S. history, Boston is a must-visit city for aspiring historians and anyone with an interest in our country's storied past. Here are three local historical sites in Boston that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and they're all within a short distance of this great American city.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site is the birthplace and home of our beloved 35th president. JFK was raised along with eight other children, and guests can enjoy an insightful tour that gives insight into Mrs. Kennedy’s outstanding ability to manage such a large family. After the tour, you can even browse some of the favorite childhood books that shaped JFK's brilliant mind.

Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site
Visit the home of famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which also previously served as George Washington's headquarters during the Siege of Boston. Enjoy year-round accessibility to the grounds and gardens, along with seasonal tours of the home itself.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
Frederick Law Olmsted is credited as the founder of 19th century American landscape architecture, and the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site is the home and office where the artist developed his craft. Enjoy a visit to the gardens and take a guided tour through his home.

Explore American History at These National Parks Near New York City

Take a break from the fast pace of New York City by traveling to one of these national parks just outside city limits. Both have historic significance that helped to shape what the Big Apple is today.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Thomas Edison National Historical Park is one of the more unique national parks in the country. It consists of Edison's home and laboratory, where he resided and invented things like the motion picture camera, phonographs, sound recordings, and silent movies. Kick off your visit with Invention Factory, a 20-minute long orientation film that tells the story of Edison's famous lab. See where this master inventor created the inventions that would change the world, and make sure to pace through the courtyard as he did when pondering new ideas.

Morristown National Historical Park
Established in 1933, Morristown National Historical Park is home to the quarters of General Washington and the Continental Army's encampment during through the treacherous winter of 1779. Get a first hand feel for their challenging living conditions on an interactive tour through a replica of a soldier's hut, and then walk through the Ford Mansion, the home that George Washington occupied during this time period. Not only is Morristown a memorial of a pivotal moment in our nation's history, but it is also the country's first national park.

Three Tips for a Perfectly Packed Suitcase

We’ve all been there before: You go to pack for an upcoming trip and quickly realize that your belongings far exceed the space in your suitcase. Whether you’re trying to conserve space in the car or you don’t want to pay the outrageous airport baggage fees, there are a number of benefits to using a smaller suitcase. Here are a few tips to help you pack like a pro.

  1. Roll it up. By folding each article of clothing in half and then tightly rolling it like a burrito, you can dramatically save space in that overcrowded suitcase. Even better, the rolling technique helps ensure that your clothes will stay wrinkle-free until you unpack them at your destination.
  2. Check the weather. Don’t fill your suitcase with bulky sweaters if you don’t have to. Checking the weather at your destination ensures that you’re prepared for anything, and it means that you won’t pack unnecessary things that you don’t wear. If possible, wear your bulkier clothing items on the plane.
  3. When in doubt, shrink wrap. If you’re going on a long trip where you simply can’t afford to leave things out, investing in space bags that vacuum your clothes together is a great option. These bags are available at most home goods stores, and many cost less than $20.

How to Pack a Suitcase [Travel and Leisure]
5 Ways to Pack Your Suitcase Way More Efficiently [Gizmodo]
Pack Your Suitcase as Efficiently as a Flight Attendant [Lifehacker]

Make a Splash With These 5 Amazing Facts About Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is more than just a large waterfall; it’s a natural wonder, a state park, and a beloved tourist attraction visited by 12 million tourists each year. If you’re curious about why so many people choose to visit this particular landmark, check out these interesting facts.

1. Niagara Falls comprises three waterfalls.
While most people only know it as one fall, Niagara Falls actually includes American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

2. It is approximately 12,000 years old.
In the grand scheme of the Earth’s history, this is actually quite young!

3. Throughout its history, Niagara Falls has enticed daredevils to “conquer” it.
It may seem insane, but a large group of visitors have attempted to go over the Canadian waterfall Horseshoe Falls in a variety of different contraptions. The first was a 63-year old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor, and she used only a wooden barrel.

4. The falls’ sightseeing boat, the Maid of the Mist, was created in 1846.
The boat began its legacy as a ferry that transported people and cargo across the river. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction.

5. Niagara Reservation State Park opened in 1885.
The park surrounding Niagara Falls was the first state park in the United States, and it attracted 750,000 people in its first year.

Amazing Niagara Falls Facts [Niagara Falls State Park]
Niagara Falls [History]
Niagara Falls Facts [Niagara Falls Canada]

Trip Idea: Concord, New Hampshire

One of the northeast's most beautiful capital cities, Concord, New Hampshire boasts an array of interesting sites and activities for visitors. If you're planning a visit, here are some Concord musts:

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
See why Yankee magazine recently named the center the top family trip destination in New England. Learn about space and science with exhibits like "Lunar Recon: Spacecraft, Craters," and "Cosmic Rays, Picture Yourself in Infrared," along with the Space Shuttle Model, the "Living and Working in Space" exhibit, and the Planetarium Theater. Kids can even conduct their own weather broadcast! Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children.

Red River Theatres
See a movie at one of the top cinemas in New England. The non-profit theater shows a unique mix of first run independent movies, obscure classics, foreign films, classics, and local productions. Before heading into the theater, grab a snack from the concession stand like locally-made chocolate, popcorn, coffee, tea, soda, or wine and beer. Three movies are always playing and tickets are just $9. 

The Barley House
Come for traditional fare like big, juicy burgers. Order the popular Dublin Burger with a peppercorn charred Angus beef patty, whiskey gravy, creamy blue cheese, and crispy onions. Sandwiches, pizzas, and entrees like Sea Scallops and Lasagna round out the menu. The Barley House also has a great beer selection.

Trip Idea: Albany, New York

Take a trip to New York's capital for a vacation full of outdoor adventure like canoeing, hiking, and fishing. Complement your outdoor excursion with visits to these great spots!

New York State Museum
The rich and varied history of New York is on display at this museum located in downtown Albany. See fossilized wildlife, the construction of Grand Central Station, the Holocaust Memorial, and the September 11th exhibit. Kids will love the wooden carousel and Sesame Street exhibit. Admission is free. 

Washington Park
If you're visiting in the spring, summer, or early fall take advantage of the weather with a trip to this beautiful park. Washington Park is Albany's Central Park. Located in the center of Albany, come to the park to relax, fish, exercise, picnic, or see the beautiful tulips in bloom. Something is always going on in the park like festivals, live performances, and other events. Dogs are welcome in the park. 

The Ginger Man
A nice mix of delicious meals are available at The Ginger Man. The atmosphere is perfect for a more than casual meal. Start with a glass of wine from the extensive selection and a Charcuterie Plate or Cheese Plate. Then order one of the specialties like the Ginger Man Paella or Lobster Mac and Cheese. Save room for the Creme Brulee. 

Trip Idea: Augusta, Maine

See moose, eat lobster, and explore lighthouses with a trip to Augusta, Maine. The capital of Maine is filled with culture, history, and nature. It has all the makings of a great vacation! Make sure you visit these top attractions during your visit.

Maine State Museum
Learn about the history of Maine from the ice age to the 1960s with four floors of exhibits highlighting the nature, history, and industry of Maine. Kids and adults with leave knowing just about anything you could want to know about Maine. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is just $2 for adults and $1 for children. 

Old Fort Western
This living history museum is also New England's oldest wooden fort, built in the 18th century. The many exhibits, both inside and outside, give you an idea of what life was like during the American Revolution. There's even a little store full of dry goods commonly used. Many of the exhibits are interactive so kids will have a great time learning some history about Maine. Hours are limited so check the website before you visit. 

Red Barn Drive-In
When visiting Maine you need to indulge in some authentic Maine seafood. The fish at Red Barn is as fresh as can be. Start with a bowl of Laura's Famous Seafood Stew before digging into your Fresh Maine Lobster Roll. Visitors say the lobster roll might be one of the best in the area.

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