Posts tagged with "family"

How to Plan a Successful Vacation with Your Other Half

Travel cannot only allow you to soak up different cultures and experience new sights and sounds, but it can potentially bring you and your spouse closer together. However, the destination you pick, the itinerary you create and the activities you choose can determine whether a break is a success or failure.

To ensure you both look back on a trip with much fondness, read the below advice on how to plan a successful vacation with your other half.

Choose a Destination to Suit You Both

While you might have your heart set on a destination, you should never push your idea onto your other half, or you could completely ruin their travel experience. Instead, you must choose a location that suits both your needs, which will ensure have an unforgettable time together.

Select the Right Mode of Transportation

Once you have chosen a destination together, you will next need to select the right mode of transport for you both. For example, if you are enjoying a vacation at home, you could jump into your car and enjoy a fun road trip.

If, however, you are traveling overseas or to the opposite end of the country, browse the market for the best flight times for your needs. However, if you are heading to Texas, you could add a little romance and luxury into your journey with a private jets Dallas flight.

Take Advantage of Travel Perks

Are you and your other half celebrating a milestone anniversary or honeymoon? Inform hotel staff once you arrive at your accommodation. As a result, you might receive:

• a complimentary room upgrade

• a bottle of champagne

• a free meal at the hotel’s restaurant

Enjoy Some Alone Time

Conflict can easily arise when you spend every waking minute together. Rather than allowing tension to bubble, it is beneficial to enjoy a little time apart on vacation.

For example, take a walk to the store alone, enjoy a dip in the pool while your partner reads a book, or go for a siesta to recharge your batteries. The short break away will also provide some time to miss your other half, so you will feel happier when you come back together.

Prioritize Activities

It is likely you and your partner will have a list of activities you want to experience at a destination. To ensure you each get to tick an attraction off your bucket list, you must both state the places or things you would like to see/do during a getaway. You must then prioritize attractions to maximize your time and prevent conflict.

Conclusion

A vacation will provide you and your partner with an opportunity to strengthen your connection, which can help your relationship to stand the test of time.

However, to enjoy a getaway together, you must choose your transportation wisely, take a short break from each other from time to time, and be willing to compromise. If you follow the above top tips, it is likely you will enjoy a romantic, hassle-free vacation from start to finish.

Best UK City For Families

BABY- FRIENDLY BATH IS BEST UK CITY FOR FAMILIES
  • Bath takes top spot for second successive year in MoneySuperMarket’s annual Family Living Index
  • Bristol is the least family friendly city, with London again near the bottom of the list
  • MoneySuperMarket reveals how to manage your finances in preparation for buying a home

 MoneySuperMarket, the UK’s leading price comparison site, today reveals that Bath is officially the best location to raise a family – taking the top spot for the second year in a row.

MoneySuperMarket’s annual Family Living Index, now in its third year, ranks 35 UK cities based on six key factors (local school rankings, access to green space, likelihood of burglary, house prices, job opportunities and average salary) to help parents find the city that best matches their family requirements.

Bath retains its title as the UK’s best place to raise a family, thanks to a high number of job opportunities and schools rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted per capita. Wolverhampton is the second most desirable city to live in, moving up one place from last year, followed by the north east heartlands of Newcastle and Sunderland. Manchester again features in the top five, but moves down a place from fourth last year.

At the other end of the scale, Bristol has overtaken London to become this year’s least family friendly city, due to a 33% rise in contents theft and a decline in ‘outstanding’-rated schools. Despite having the highest average income and level of disposable income, London continues to find itself near the bottom of the list due to high average house prices (£478,749).

Top five family friendly cities: 

City 2018 rank 2019 rank Reason
Bath 1st 1st Retains top spot due to an increase in income
Wolverhampton 3rd 2nd Similar results from last year, but benefits from other locations’ declining scores
Newcastle 2nd 3rd Drops one place due to an increase in contents theft, despite having the most ‘outstanding’-rated schools per capita
Sunderland 6th 4th Rises thanks to improved income metrics
Manchester 4th 5th Drops one place due to a fall in income

Least family friendly cities:

City 2018 rank 2019 rank Reason
Bristol 33rd 35th Falls into last position due to a rise in contents theft rate and high house prices
London 35th 34th Places second to last in the rankings due to high house prices, despite having the highest income scores
Leicester 32nd 33rd Drops one place due to a decrease in average income
Peterborough 29th 32nd Drops three places because it has the fewest ‘outstanding’-rated schools in the country
Edinburgh 27th 31st Drops four places due to an increase in contents theft rate claims

The biggest climber this year is Newry, with the Northern Irish city jumping 10 places to 12th in the rankings due to an increase in disposable income and a high number of ‘outstanding’-rated schools per capita. Stoke, this year’s most affordable place to buy a home, Chester, Leeds and Brighton all climb seven places in the rankings.

Oxford sees the biggest drop, falling 18 places since last year to 30th in the rankings, due to its high contents theft rate, and a decreasing number of ‘outstanding’-rated schools. Cardiff also drops 14 places to 22nd, with a weakened position in almost every category, most notably in contents theft rate.

Further research reveals that two thirds (67%) of Brits believe they have seen a change to their quality of life in the last five years, with health (37%), a change in household bills (27%), moving to a new house (22%) and an increase in salary (21%) ranking as the top contributing factors. Other factors such as Brexit (8%), the local area changing (10%) and having to support an elderly family member (5%) also impacted their quality of life1.

Tom Flack, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s worth looking at the bigger picture and taking things such as local amenities, job opportunities and green spaces into consideration. If you have young children, take a look at the schools and the catchment area – many people will pick the area they live in based on this alone.

“When buying a property, it’s important to sort out the family finances so you can make the most of your money – and that includes purchases such as life insurance. If you have dependents, taking out a policy would provide financial support to your family if you were to pass away, helping them to clear outstanding debts and meet living expenses. Taking out life insurance will give you peace of mind, knowing that your family is protected financially in a worst case scenario.”

Head to MoneySuperMarket to see the full Family Living Index.

Elizabeth Feldstein On Processing Grief

Actress Elizabeth “Beanie” Feldstein, the younger sister of star Jonah Hill, is opening up on the lessons she’s learned since the sudden death of their older brother in December 2017. Read here.

“About a year ago, Jordan Feldstein passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly,” the Lady Bird actress pens. “He was a remarkably generous, intelligent, loving person. He was an incredible father, beloved by his boys… He was a deeply devoted son.”

“He was a brilliant creative mind. And he was my biggest brother. He gave me so many things, including my name. In this past year, I have learned an immeasurable amount about the bandwidth of my own heart. The pain is so unbearable at times, so unremitting. Yet, in addition to the deluge of feelings leaking out of me at all times, I have found the process of grief (because it is and will always be a process, never finished, never concluded) to be just as resonant in my mind as it is in my heart.”

“It’s like all of a sudden, a pair of glasses were strapped to my face. And I can’t take them off. Ever. And these glasses make me see the world differently than I did before.”

For the full article click here. The latest issue of InStyle hits newsstands nationwide April 19th

Anne Welsh

Interview with Instagram influencer Anne Welsh

In simple terms, Anne Welsh is a hard-working, fashion-driven mum, who shares her lifestyle and experiences of positive living on Instagram. But she is also much more than that. The former Chairperson of the UK Sickle Cell Society and Founder/President of ‘Arise Consult’ is a passionate advocate for people with chronic illness.

Anne influences many people with her fashion style, travel and lifestyle in general. But sharing content of her everyday life has resulted in her gaining nearly a million Instagram followers.

Prior to becoming a social media influencer, Anne had a formidable academic career focused on obtaining an Accounting and Finance Degree as an undergraduate and then attending the prestigious ‘Cass Business School’ in London to complete a further Master’s degree in Investment Management. Before founding ‘Arise Consult’, her career roles included Vice President at New World Capital and Senior Vice-Associate of Marketing at Investment Bank, Lehman Brothers and Neuberger Berman.

Being a mother has changed Anne in many ways, but especially in her views on ‘compassionate’ fashion for women. She shares her advice to future bloggers and reveals how she became an Instagram influencer.

Anne, how did you build up the huge following you have on Instagram? How did all start?

I must say it wasn’t an easy start. It was a journey that still continues every day. Firstly, I had an aspiration to be an influencer and role model for family living as well as for people who are challenged by chronic diseases; however, I was not exactly sure how to achieve that goal.

I researched multiple platforms and the right platform for me was Instagram. I have now been involved with Instagram for two years and the platform continues to improve in allowing users to post with more sophistication and gain more followers. I find that I can directly approach anyone in the community and learn from other people’s experiences.

A theme that has always permeated my story boards is to promote the awareness of sickle cell disease. As a sickle cell sufferer, I felt obligated to tell positive and uplifting stories that would inspire others to achieve great things in their personal lives. I also found out that this positive approach to life has been embraced by many people living ordinary lives, but who are looking for a ‘new spark’ or who may be facing personal challenges outside of their control.

Building my Instagram following was not something that happened over night. You must post regularly and gradually; through comments and likes, you become to understand what people like and prefer to see posted. Improving on the posting experience is an evolutionary story. Be patient, as success is unlikely to happen quickly.

What are your posts all about and how do you interact with your followers?

My posts are usually centered around my personal experiences; travelling, beauty, fashion and lifestyle, with an important focus on health. Fashion is almost always a part of my posts and I get to work with my children and family on these aspects. Styles & certain fashion looks become my form of communication, an expression of my femininity, a way to find new statements and rediscover myself. That is why I love to showcase fashion and beauty aspects.

Sharing travel destinations is typically another function of my job description. I am fortunate enough to travel to many places internationally as well as locally across the UK. London itself is a world class destination with so many great photo opportunities. When I am at a location it requires significant schedule and logistics planning so that I can fit in business meetings between getting to photogenic sightseeing locations. Sometimes this can be very difficult to accomplish, and discipline is the key.

I am also happy to show some details of my family life, specifically woven around those interesting moments I share with my kids, my nieces and nephews and the family’s daily routine. I have found this part of my postings to be very popular. I am sure my followers encounter many of the same challenges I do with having a family, so it is a common bond we share.

What is your partnering philosophy with different brands?

I am very selective with brands. I usually accept invitations from only a small percentage of the brands that approach me. The first hurdle for a brand that seeks collaboration with me is I must love the product or service. If I don’t hold that passion it will come across to my followers as not very genuine and this will not achieve the marketing results of the product. When I post something which includes a brand, it is because it is the best in the sector.

Another key aspect of my personal brand, Anne Welsh, is that I interact with my followers. I work diligently to keep them updated and I personally respond to many of the questions I am asked. This level of interaction is actually a key requirement of the clients that approach me.

What is your best advice for people who want to become Instagram fashion or lifestyle bloggers?

My best advice for anyone who wants to be a lifestyle or fashion influencer is to be yourself. I think the only way to achieve success is to be original and at the same time be able to translate that originality into your own distinctive brand that companies can see as being useful for their business.

My passion for my family, the fact that I suffer with sickle cell disease and where I live have all been instrumental in developing my original offer. I would also follow-up that to say this is a very competitive market and clients are becoming much more savvy in how and at what level they pay Instagram influencers.

Using the fashion theme as an example, I consistently showcase my ‘Passion for Fashion’ and prominently display my latest looks on my website and on my Instagram page. You don’t have to have a million-dollar wardrobe, but you have to be thoughtful in what you purchase and research how these pieces can be recycled in unique ways.

Do you have any special projects coming up?

I have a very special project coming up, that is so dear to me. It has been my absolute dream for the last ten years to complete a book that improves the awareness of Sickle Cell Disease. My greatest influence will be to showcase to sufferers that your quality of life can be improved; that there is hope. The book is a memoir of my life, and the daily challenges that I have faced and how I have overcome them to be where I am today.

The book will be released on 19th of June to coincide with the United Nations Sickle Cell Day.

Durango SRT 392

By Tara McDonough x Vaughn Lowery

Durango SRT 392

Starting at the base price of $62,995, the Dodge Durango SRT 392 reinvents the idea of what an SUV is capable of. Recently, 360 MAGAZINE took the Durango from LA to Vegas, toting Diesel, a 200 lb English Mastiff with room to spare. This three row truck not only provides enough space for a family of up to seven, but entertainment options to keep kids busy as well. Among the numerous technology options provided in the SRT is an 8-speed automatic transmission and the ability to tow up to 8,700 lbs.

PERFORMANCE

This remote start system is fit with large mirrors and optional blind-spot warning to provide exceptional visibility. While maintaining the heavy feel of a truck, the Durango provides a composed and planted drive, free of any harsh motions or jiggling. It can reach a higher volume at full throttle, but when cruising noise remains at a peaceful minimum due to its active noise canceling system. This allows the Durango to provide a perfect setting for a family road trip. Under its vented hood lies a 475 hp worth of Hemi V-8 driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic, permitting the Durango to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and braking from 60 mph in 125 ft. The Brembo six piston high-performance brakes feel moderate to soft with long-travel strokes. It is precise and weighted, able to perform quick U-turns and maintains a comfortable slack at freeway speeds. The Durango has 7 SRT drive modes which include street, sport, track, snow, tow, valet, and eco. It’s 4-wheel drive, traction control and low-range gearing provide real off-road capabilities as well. With an annual fuel cost of $3,000, the Durango uses 6.7 gallons per 100 miles.

EXTERIOR

In this newest model appearances can be deceiving, similar to a Transformer in its versatility and markings and easily passing as Bumblebee’s cherry colored cousin. While the Durango is a perfect family car, it maintains a sporty and bold exterior. The model is equipped with 20-inch x 10-inch black noise wheels and 295/45ZR20 BSW all season tires. The clean lines and seamless stitching of the Durango are refined and reminiscent of European auto offerings. The style of this SUV is edgy, racy and customizable as well.

INTERIOR

Inside are three rows of leather-trimmed bucket seats with suede inserts. The driver’s seat is supportive and adjustable. The Durango is one of the most spacious three-row SUVs, ideal for children, as well as adults, to fit comfortably in all of the cabin’s seating positions. Second row seats flip and fold in order to gain access to third row seats, which provide a surprising amount of space; optimal for families spending ample amounts of time in the car. Front and second row seats are also equipped with heating and ventilation options.

SAFETY

As for safety, this vehicle offers; Blind-Spot Monitoring, illuminating a light on either of the Durango’s side mirrors; Forward Collision Warning, which helps prevent collisions by sounding an alert when the Durango detects an imminent collision; and Lane Departure Warning Plus, which sounds a warning if the Durango begins to drift from its lane without a turn signal being activated. The Durango received great results when tested for side impact, roof strength, and rear crash protection / head restraint.

TECHNOLOGY

Among the amenities of this vehicle are Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-inch display, SiriusXM traffic plus, a 4G LTE Wi-fi Hot Spot, and 9 Alpine amplified speakers with subwoofer. The media hub also comes with Apple Carplay and Google Android Auto capabilities.

A current tech option available for the Durango is an 825-watt Harman/Kardon sound system boasting 19 speakers. The sound system provides a listening experience similar to sitting front row at a concert with your favorite artists singing right into your ear.

Additional options include; rear DVD entertainment center with blu-ray compatible dual screen video and rear seat video system, a power sunroof, a second-row console with armrest and storage including 1 USB charging port, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, third-row full-console floor mat and illuminated rear cup holders, and a hand-wrapped dashboard and live stitch with real carbon fiber interior accents.

The Durango SRT 392 is a highly successful crossover SUV combining high end speed and design with durability, space and safety for the family. It gives off a muscle-car attitude wrapped in a family-friendly package, causing the model to embody two cars in one. The Durango combines the best of both worlds for parents who want to ride in style and make sure their children are happy and comfortable. With it’s roaring Hemi V-8 and dual-purpose nature, the Durango can do no wrong. The Durango remains one of the most capable and well-rounded three-row crossovers you can buy, making it possible to please every member of the family.

Buy now!

DETROIT × SUMMER 2019

Celebrate Summer in The D
Things are heating up this summer in Detroit. Events like the Ford Fireworks, Woodward Dream Cruise and Detroit Jazz Fest draw visitors from across the country. Need inspiration for your next travel story? You’ve come to the right place. Summer Sports
Gentleman, start your engines! The
 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix presented by Lear races into the Motor City for its 30th year May 31-June 2. New this year–paddock access for all ticketholder, so you can get close to teams and drivers in the garage area and experience the excitement of the winner’s circle.

There are few better ways to spend a summer afternoon than at the ballpark. Root for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, with games April through October. At Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Mich., the United Shore Professional Baseball League delivers a fun family entertainment experience and great value.

The PGA comes to Detroit for the first time this June 24-30 for the PGA Tour Rocket Mortgage Classic at the Detroit Golf Club. Related attractions and festivities are planned throughout the city.

The third annual Detroit Cycling Championship rolls into town July 13. Top cyclists from across the country race through a downtown course to compete for top prize. 

The Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic, hosted August 29-31 at Wayne State University in Detroit, is Michigan’s season-opening high school football event. This event showcases some of the Midwest’s top student-athletes, with multiple games happening on a single day.

 

Summer Music
Detroit Music Weekend happens June 7-9 in the city’s entertainment district and nearby cultural organizations, restaurants and retail establishments. Free music, dance and theater performances showcase up-and-coming artists. 

Detroit’s own Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band bring their farewell tour to DTE Energy Music Theater June 6, 8 and 12. The hits keep on coming all summer long, with tour stops by Thomas Rhett, June 20; Rascal Flats, Sept. 19 and Jason Aldean, Sept. 28. Rob Thomas plays Meadow Brook Amphitheater June 1. Stadium concerts at the new Little Caesar’s Arena this summer include Jennifer Lopez, July 5; Queen & Adam Lambert, July 27 and Shawn Mendes, Aug. 5. 

Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak this Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) is heavy on the beats, with performances by local and national acts from a variety of music genres. Stroll through rows of paintings, sculptures and photography by talented artisans and grab some grub in a food tent or one of several local restaurants. 

The Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30-Sept. 2) is the perfect way to close out the summer. Hundreds of international and local jazz acts perform on multiple stages throughout several city blocks in downtown Detroit. Best of all, it’s FREE.

 

Summer Events
The Ovation Yacht’s 8-date Summer Cruise Series returns, starting with A Night in Havannah-themed cruise of the Detroit River June 4.

The Motor City Pride Festival draws 40,000 participants to Hart Plaza to celebrate LGBTQ pride June 8-9, with a parade through downtown on Sunday.

GM River Days—an annual celebration of Detroit’s Riverwalk taking place June 21-23, with activities on both land and water offers fun for all ages. 

The Ford Fireworks light up the night sky over the Detroit River June 24. This awesome international display dazzles thousands of families in both Detroit and Windsor. 

Hydroplane racing has been a summer tradition on the Detroit River for more than 100 years. This year’s Spirit of Detroit Hydrofest, Aug. 23-25, will feature H1 Unlimited hydroplanes reaching 200 mph along with automotive powered HRL Grand Prix hydroplanes topping speeds of 150 mph. This new format has not been seen in the modern era of the sport, bringing an additional level of excitement to this year’s event. Free Friday testing and qualifying, with race days Saturday and Sunday.

The Michigan State Fair mixes rides, games, agriculture and farm animals for a whole lot of family fun Aug. 29 – Sept. 2 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

No visit to the Motor City would be complete without a taste of The D’s automotive heritage. Events like Eyes on Design Automotive Design Exhibition, June 16 at Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores; Concours d’ Elegance of America, at Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, July 26-28 or the nostalgic Woodward Dream Cruise, Aug. 17 in Oakland County are some of the most popular ways to immerse yourself in the local car culture.

 

Summer Fun
The Detroit Zoo is one of Detroit’s most visited attractions. Major exhibits include the Arctic Ring of Life, Australian Outback Adventure, Great Apes of Harambee, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Holden Reptile Conservation Center, Polk Penguin Conservation Center and Butterfly Garden.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation inspires year-round with stories of America’s greatest inventors. See the Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds exhibit May 11 – Sept. 2. The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, 80-acres of immersive American history, opens for the season April 14. While exploring seven historic districts, visitors can ride in a Model T or a real steam-powered locomotive, watch 1867 baseball or enjoy a meal from an 1830s lunch menu. Catch the Motor Muster, June 15-16.

Time travel to a 16th century English village, where you’ll meet knights, fire jugglers and sword swallowers at the Michigan Renaissance Fest, weekends mid-August through September.

Austin Adventures: Family Appreciation Month

Through hard work and dedication to the details, Austin Adventures has grown to be the #1 Family Adventure company in the country. For over 35 years they have been taking families to the national parks of the West as well as special places around the globe. As a two-generation, owned and operated active travel company, family travel is in their DNA.

For the second year in a row, Austin Adventures is dedicating the entire month of March to “Family Appreciation,” with special incentives and giveaways, plus an interactive child & parent “Take a National Park Vacation” webinar that all ages will want to attend.

“Between work, school, athletic and social schedules, planning and scheduling a family vacation has never been more challenging, often to the point of missing the opportunity all together to create lasting bonds and memories within the family,” explains Dan Austin, company president and founder. “Austin Adventures is fully committed to helping anyway we can. Our goal is to take the stress out of vacation planning and then deliver an experience second-to-none.”

On Tuesday, Mar 12, 2019 at 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT Austin Adventures invites kids and parents to a live webinar focused on helping families (especially the kids) with their vacation planning. Anyone considering a small group vacation tour now or in the future is encouraged to attend. For information and to register click here.

The seminar will be hosted by Kasey Austin, Outside Magazine 2014 Family Guide of the Year. Making a cameo appearance will be Dan Austin, company visionary and travel industry legend. Together, The Austin Family has set the bar for family adventure travel for decades, so much so, they are often referred to as “the First Family of Adventure Travel.”

During this informal and informative webinar focused on the younger generation, Kasey will offer tips and insights on planning and visiting America’s National Parks along with other popular family destinations.

As an incentive to register and attend, every family that participates will receive a coupon worth $250 off their next Austin Adventures family vacation. Plus, all participating kids (age 6-12) whose parents end up booking a 2019 family national park adventure will receive a logo-embossed backpack (on Day 1 of the trip) packed full of swag (logo water bottle, trip journal, field guide, hacky sack, stickers and more).

“I had so much fun sharing my passion for our National Parks last year, I couldn’t wait to do it all again this year. Sharing the parks with the next generation of adventurer really is my passion. I am looking forward to sharing what we know and have learned from our 35+ years of taking families deep into our national parks,” said Kasey Austin.

“Dan and I will draw from our own experiences and help families with real time information that can assist them in making the most of a park vacation, whether with us or on their own. There will be a follow-up email survey as well as ample time for questions and answers.”

The webinar will help Austin Adventures kick-off their second annual “Family Appreciation” Month. Dedicated to celebrating and encouraging family vacations worldwide, this observance comes on the heels of the company’s 2nd wildly successful “Alumni Appreciation” month held in December, 2018. Throughout the month there will be dedicated e-newsletters and blogs on family travel, special incentives, travel agent promotions and for extended families, an offer of a free trip for one guest in groups of ten or more booked.

To assist in vacation planning, Austin Adventures also offers a free Insider’s Guide to Planning the Perfect Family Adventure. See: https://www.austinadventures.com/free-family-travel-guide/.

Austin Adventures has led the field when it comes to family adventures (twice being acknowledged by Travel + Leisure Magazine as the #1 Tour and Family Tour Operator in the World). For 2019, there are over 40 family adventures planned across the globe. Here is a sampling of some of the more popular National Park itineraries on the current Austin Adventures roster. All adult rates are per person, double occupancy.

Grand Canyon National Park: 6-days/5-nights from $2,998; children from $2,398.

Alaska- Kenai Fjords National Park: 6 days/5 nights from $3,698; children from $3,328.

Bryce & Zion National Parks: 6 days/5 nights from $2,798; children from $2,518.

Yellowstone National Park:  6 days/5 nights from $2,898; children from $2,318.

Grand Teton National Park: 6 days/5 nights from $3,298; children from $2,968.

Yosemite National Park: 6 days/5 nights from $3,698; children from $2,958.

Glacier National Park: 6 days/5 nights from $3,298; children from $2,638.

South Dakota – Black Hills (Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monuments / Wind Cave NP): 6 days/5 nights from $2,898; children from $2,318.

Banff to Jasper National Parks 6 days/5 nights from $3,098; children from $2,478.

About Austin Adventures
Based in Billings, Montana, Austin Adventures has spent over 35 years building an international reputation as a top provider of luxury, small group, multi-sport tours for adults and families to the world’s most captivating destinations. They have been acknowledged twice by Travel + Leisure Magazine with the prestigious World’s Best Awards along with other national media accolades and distinctions. Austin Adventures has perfected the art of creating itineraries featuring exceptional regional dining, distinctive accommodations, incredible guides and exhilarating activities, all while keeping all-inclusive rates and services the norm. In addition to scheduled group departures on all seven continents, Austin Adventures has developed a reputation as the leader in customized trip planning and execution, all backed by the industry’s best money-back satisfaction guarantee.

Lexus NX 300 F Sport

By Jake Porter × Vaughn Lowery

Over the holiday season, we had the opportunity to traverse through NYC and the surrounding metropolitan areas with one of the auto industry’s most capable compact luxury SUVs. Due to its affordable base price, above average gas mileage, ergonomics and technology, the Lexus NX is an easy choice for many.

Value × Performance

Lexus carries a base price of $36,485 and features a 235-horsepower turbo-four engine, six-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive. Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. In addition, one can add all-wheel drive for only $1,400. By upgrading to the NX F Sport (our model tested was approximately $49,000) the vehicle has select components to enhance handling, such as an F Sport-tuned suspension and Sport S and Sport S+ drive modes. Other features in this package include paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, special body panels and badges and front sport seats with enhanced bolsters for added side support. As far as acceleration capacity, the NX should easily offer enough power for the casual driver. The NX 300 (formerly known as the NX 200t) comes with a 235-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic, and front-wheel drive. G-force sensors and adaptive cruise control set this vehicle apart from the other SUV’s on the market today.

The NX’s safety features are also top notch and include eight airbags, whiplash-injury lessening front seats, and a full array of available electronic safety systems such as lane departure alert and intelligent high-beam. With all newer Lexus models, it also includes the highly specialized and technologically advanced Lexus pre-collision Safety System. These safety features combined bring the NX to the top of its class.

Interior

Standard features on the interior of the NX include an infotainment system with an 10.3-inch display screen, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, an eight-speaker audio system, and satellite radio. A wireless device charger and heads-up display are a couple of great additional features. Not to mention, those scarlet red race-inspired designer seats and red stitched dash appointments. Of course, climate control as well as heated seats and steering are always winners during the winter months.

Comfort

Given the already generous backseat room in the car, the NX also includes power-folding rear seats. Additionally, the cabin is extremely quiet even at highway speeds which is a great feature especially for long road trips.

Technology

Newly offered Alexa, allows the driver to stream Amazon music, listen to audiobooks and control their living quarters via smart-home. Other capabilities includes their smartwatch to help lock and unlock vehicle as well as monitors their lent model’s speed and fuel levels. One of their most important and intuitive features is Direction Assist, allowing a friendly human exchange with an operator who can input addresses into your navigation while you pay closer attention to the road. And of course in this digitally renovated world, having someone to speak to while on a solo trip can be conducive with driver’s fatigue. On the other hand, for those introverts seeking a quiet more therapeutic ride, they can utilize the remote touchpad to interact with the SUV’s overall cerebrum.

Conclusion

The Lexus NX 300 F Sport is one-of-a-kind. Even in a overly-crowded compact SUV market, the Lexus NX still manages to push through into the limelight. With its interior loaded with technology and its bold exterior turning heads on the streets, this is a great purchase for anyone looking for a sporty yet roomy modern SUV. Moreover, if you don’t like being at the pump every week and being able to fit in a small parking spot within a metropolis – this is a MUST-BUY.

Lexus NX, 360 MAGAZINE

Lexus nx, 360 magazine

Lexus NX, 360 MAGAZINE

Chevy Traverse

By Jake Porter × Vaughn Lowery

From the American brand that is most widely known for its industrial and rugged trucks, we are given the all new 2019 Chevrolet Traverse High Country. Based on size alone, the Traverse has always excelled at hauling both people and cargo, and with it’s non minivan-esque appearance, it provides the look of sophistication and poise.

The new Traverse is square-jawed and truck-like and loses none of its usefulness in the 2019 makeover. In addition, its readily available high-end goodies push the envelope in the big three-row crossover upmarket. Its V-6 engine has been proven time and time again to be both extraordinarily powerful and fuel efficient. The Traverse’s suspension provides a compliant ride while maintaining its composure in corners. The turning radius for this large of a SUV is unbeatable. When parking or maneuvering at low speed, the Traverse feels every bit its size. Pick up the pace, however, and this bigger Chevy feels smaller than it is—poised, if not remarkably agile. Steering effort is low, but the system is precise and makes aiming the big SUV easy. The Traverse’s suspension is tuned for a good balance between handling and ride comfort.

Features

Firstly, one of the most important overall features of the vehicle is the potent V-6 engine which gives the Traverse its robust power and the slick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission changes gears smoothly and unobtrusively. The traverse also includes perhaps the most seamless automatic stop/start feature on the market today.

As far as the engine goes, the time-tested V-6 generates 310 horsepower, with an incredible 266 pound-feet of torque. The acceleration (0-60 in 6.7 seconds) is not only a full second faster than the previous version, but also makes the vehicle one of the fasted accelerating vehicles in the full-sized, heavy-duty SUV class. That’s accompanied by an efficient nine-speed transmission that is as impressively tuned as the suspension. The average of 27 mpg is not surprising given Chevy’s history making fuel efficient vehicles.

In addition, the blind-spot monitoring is an excellent feature given the SUV’s larger size and the forward-collision warning is great added feature as well. Perhaps one of the most anticipated, highly-advanced features, however, is the lane-keep assist technology implanted into the brains of the vehicle.

Safety

Earning a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this cruiser has more than adequate perks to protect your passengers. Braking is firm and reactive. The rearview mirror camera improves the field of vision by 300% and after getting some used to, makes the driver feel more confident during heavier traffic hours. And of course, AWD allows the vehicle more traction during precipitation and elegantly claws corners.

Interior

Not only does the Traverse feature a new and contemporary infotainment system, but also a more refined cabin with an abundance of cup holders and USB ports throughout the cabin. The cabin is so insulated that the drivers have noted that the tachometer is needed just to ensure the engine is running while at a stoplight. Our vehicle came with dual panel sunroof (retractable) and moonroof towards back (non-retractable), adding additional light inside once shades are drawn and making the overall cabin feel voluptuous. Our model tested possessed a white coat perfect for our after-Christmas drive and the deep camel-colored leather (with ‘High Country’ insignia headrests) made it feel rich and sultry.

At the center of the infotainment system is the 8-inch, high-mounted touchscreen which is simple and equipped with colorful graphics, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To top it all, the vehicle includes a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. It quickly responds to user inputs and seals the deal for the tech-savvy.

Comfort and Storage

The 2019 Traverse is a full-size three-row crossover SUV that is positioned below the larger, heavier-duty Tahoe and above the smaller framed Equinox. Drop all of the Traverse’s folding seats and it becomes a cargo-hauling champ with more space than any of its rivals. Six carry-on suitcases fit behind the third row, which means it wins at carrying both people and their luggage. It offers the most first-row cubby storage in its class as well. The second and third rows can accommodate adults comfortably, Unlike its predecessor, this latest-generation Traverse is more than just a minivan alternative.

Conclusion

At approximately $53,200, the Chevy Traverse is one of the most remarkable larger crossovers in the history of the modern SUV. It truly has the appearance of a family-oriented vehicle and yet the sleekness of a luxury SUV. The comfort and the technology implanted in the interior of the vehicle create a versatile vehicle perfect for a low-key urban excursion or a family cross country road trip. In short, Chevrolet has mastered a vehicle that is truly a force to be reckoned with and will treat its owner well for its life-span.

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