Spending trends: Clothes out, travel and restaurants in

The latest data on consumer spending shows a dramatic shift in where people are putting their money.

Experts say the recession has permanently changed how much consumers spend and where. 


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Big winners are restaurants, hotels and airlines. The trends are to accumulate memories insteads of things and traveling is seen as a great way to do that.

Accoring to Sarah Quinlan, from Mastercard: “The great news is that the consumer is back and she is spending like no tomorrow. But the unique thing is, she is spending experientially, and what I mean by that is, she is spending on hotels, on restaurants, on taking holidays.”  

Consumers aren’t afraid to make big purchases, however, as furniture and home improvements are outpacing overall retail sales. 

Automakers are having their best year since before the recession, too. 

What people aren’t buying are home goods and clothes, unless they are unique and curated items. 

Article source: http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/spending-trends-clothes-out-travel-and-restaurants/nnTn2/

Travel Suggestions: ‘Gates Of Hell’ And Ringing Rocks Park

David Plotz of Atlas Obscura, a website devoted to the world’s wondrous and curious places, takes us to “The Gates of Hell” in Turkmenistan and to Ringing Rocks Park in Pennsylvania.

Article source: http://www.npr.org/2015/08/31/436229354/travel-suggestions-gates-of-hell-and-ringing-rocks-park

The Couple Who Quit Their Ad Jobs to Travel the World Ended Up Poor and …

You remember Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger, the South African couple who quit their agency jobs this year to travel the world and document the experience. It sounded like a dream, and the lovely Instagram photos have made it look like one.

But halfway through their year-long odyssey (they’re currently in Athens, having traveled 25,000 kilometers so far), they’ve posted a reality check on their blog—a post titled “Why We Quit Our Jobs In Advertising To Scrub Toilets”—in which they share “the uglier side of our trip.” It turns out that following one’s dream—while working odd jobs in exchange for room and board—involves a lot of dirty work, and more than a few tears.

“The budget is really tight, and we are definitely forced to use creativity (and small pep talks) to solve most of our problems (and the mild crying fits),” Cartell writes. “Don’t let the bank of gorgeous photography fool you. Nuh uh. So far, I think we’ve tallied 135 toilets scrubbed, 250 kilos of cow dung spread, 2 tons of rocks shoveled, 60 meters of pathway laid, 57 beds made, and I cannot even remember how many wine glasses we’ve polished.

“You see, to come from the luxuries we left behind in Johannesburg … we are now on the opposite end of the scale. We’re toilet cleaners, dog poop scoopers, grocery store merchandisers and rock shovelers.”

They’re also not perfect physical specimens despite all the hard work.

“I am not at my fittest, slimmest or physically healthiest,” Cartell writes. “We eat jam on crackers most days, get roughly 5hrs of sleep per night, and lug our extremely heavy bags through cobbled streets at 1am, trying to find our accommodation (because bus fares are not part of the budget, obviously).

“Although we knew it wouldn’t be easy, we are certainly learning fast that this isn’t for faint hearts, and we need to learn to react and adapt to everything that’s thrown our way. Mentally, it’s also a constant yo-yo between ‘I have all this time—let me use it productively, let me get fit and do everything I’ve ever wanted to do,’ vs. ‘I have all this time—let me relax and enjoy it.’ That, together with occasional bouts of boredom, demotivation and homesickness, makes this one hell of a ride.”

Those who criticized Cartell and Dirnberger at the outset will enjoy a certain amount of schadenfreude here. But Cartell also says there’s a bright side to the trip.

Check out the full blog post for more.

Article source: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/couple-who-quit-their-ad-jobs-travel-world-ended-poor-and-scrubbing-toilets-166641

Labor Day travel expected to be busy – WALB

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

“Definitely on holidays traffic always picks up,” says trooper Andrew Mckenzie

It’s a week away, but if you have plans for Labor Day weekend that include traveling, the Georgia State Patrol wants you to make sure your ready, and you stay safe.
As people prepare to celebrate the Labor Day holiday, law enforcers expect the roads to stay busy. And they’ll be out in full force looking for seat belt violations, drunk and distracted drivers, and speeding violations.
They encourage folks to be alert while out on the road.
“It’s very important that we bee more attentive and more observant to what we are doing,” says McKenzie.
Also, if your traveling far, make sure your car is ready for the trip.
“Make sure your tires have the proper pressure, make sure your fluids are up to par,up to the level where they should be,” he says.
Cheaper gas prices may also encourage people to travel this Labor Day. This past week gas dropped below two dollars at one Albany Gas station.
Lower prices had people pumped up.
“Sure, I hope everyone in town is enjoying it, because I sure am,” says McKenzie.
“Oh yeah. A whole lot, it sure do,” he says.
State Troopers encourage folks to make sure they buckle up, don’t drink and drive, and make sure your properly rested for the trip.
“Not only look out for yourself, but look out for the other driver. We want you to have a safe travel during that vacation day, during that  holiday,” says trooper McKenzie.
And most of all don’t text and drive..which is illegal in the state of Georgia.
“Absolutely no texting while driving,”
he says.

Copyright 2015 WALB.  All rights reserved.

Article source: http://www.walb.com/story/29918814/prepping-for-labor-day-travel

Local leaders push for more rail, Amtrak travel

Local leaders are making efforts to add more train stops throughout the Midwest and in southwest Ohio.

Ohio’s passenger rail offerings will be looked at as part of a recently-announced $2.78 million federal study of rail planning in the Midwest, which proponents hope will change the future of travel here.

That, combined with rail provider Amtrak’s thumbs up to plan a train stop in Oxford, might provide southwest Ohio residents with more options for travel to nearby states and cities, including Chicago.

More trains stops could connect local businesses to partners in Indiana or Illinois. It could also bring in tourists to cities like Oxford.

“We’re disconnected,” said Derek Bauman, the southwest Ohio director for All Aboard Ohio, a group that advocates for more rail travel in the state. “That’s not good. It doesn’t put our region in a good, competitive position.”

Rail transportation in Ohio faces notable hurdles.

Amtrak only runs two lines in Ohio, one through Cleveland and the other in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati stop is infamous for its bad timing — it drops off passengers only three times a week around 3 a.m. at Union Terminal in downtown Cincinnati.

And while some say they want more train stops in the area, those plans have almost zero support at the state level.

When Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, citing upkeep costs and low ridership fears, he axed a $400 million offer from the federal government to build a rail system that would travel from Cleveland to Cincinnati and halted state-led passenger rail planning.

He also pulled Ohio’s $15,000 annual membership from Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, an interstate agency that applied for the federal study of Midwest travel.

Kasich, instead, focused on freight train investments to pick up jobs, Jim Lynch, the spokesman for the office, said in a statement.

“We have focused our efforts on fueling the economic engine of the state, which includes improving our freight rail system to make Ohio more competitive for economic growth,” he said.

Stopping in Oxford

Oxford could open up the sliding train doors for others to add Amtrak services in the area.

The college town was approved earlier this year for a possible stop, although where that stop will go, how much it will cost and how the tab for its construction will be divvied up is still undetermined. Amtrak is partially funded by the federal government, but it’s likely the city and Miami will pay for construction of the stop. Once those details are decided, Amtrak will begin negotiating with CSX, the private owner of the rails in Oxford, to use the tracks for stops.

Amtrak’s Cardinal Line travels from New York to Chicago and passes through Oxford three times a week but currently doesn’t stop. The stop could take years to construct before it opens up, said Randi Thomas, the director institutional relations at Miami.

“People tend to forget, because gas prices right now are fairly reasonable, but it wasn’t too long ago that everybody thought it was going to be close to $4 (a gallon),” Thomas said. “We don’t want to wait for that to happen. We want to be in a place where we have alternative means of transportation.”

Amtrak has been courting Millennial riders in recent years because fewer of them are learning how to drive and they’re more likely to use mass transportation to commute or travel, said Bauman, of All Aboard Ohio.

The stop in Oxford would give Amtrak access to Miami’s 18,000 college students, thousands of whom are from out of the state or country, and might travel on the rail to get home, travel to a new destination or catch a ride to the Indianapolis airport.

“We have a lot of students from a lot of big cities and we have a good number of international students. Those students are used to having multiple means of transportation,” Thomas said.

The stop will also be a test for ridership demands in southwest Ohio and could spur other cities to look at Amtrak stops.

“They might be a little more encouraged to push for a stop in their city,” said Julie Kaercher, the spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s rail development commission.

The stop would be the second one in the southern half of Ohio, which has fewer Amtrak stops compared to many of the Midwest states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Still, ridership has been up in the state. From 2009 to 2014 the number of riders in Ohio increased by 21 percent, according to Amtrak figures. More than 13,000 travelers passed through the Cincinnati stop.

City of Hamilton officials will be watching how progress unfolds with the Oxford station closely. The city was denied an Amtrak stop in June because of the ongoing plans to build one in nearby Oxford.

“I think it’s positive that Oxford is getting a closer look,” said City Manager Joshua Smith. “If Oxford gets a stop, and we don’t, I still consider that a win. Obviously, we would still like to have her own.”

Last year, the Smith and Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller partnered up with Hamilton County commissioners to urge the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments to study the feasibility of regional and multi-state rail transportation expansion. Funds, however, were never made available for the project.

‘If I could hop on a train and go…’

But the $2.78 million study federal government study announced this summer could give rail transportation in the Midwest the closer look regional leaders have requested.

“For our region, the next thing is going to be looking at what comes out of the Midwest study,” Bauman said.

The Midwest hasn’t had access to federal funds to study rail transportation in years, said Laura Kliewer, the director of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.

Details about the study — including when it will start — likely won’t be hammered out until later this year. Kliewer expects topics like where the trains stop, how frequently and when will be examined. She said local, regional and statewide stakeholders will be consulted.

For Chicago-area resident Michael Richardson timing is key for researchers to study.

Richardson typically travels to the Cincinnati area twice monthly for work and would love to travel by train. The 3 a.m. stop, however, at Union Terminal is usually too inconvenient. It also takes more than 8 hours to get to Chicago by rail — another thing local leaders say they would like to see the federal government study.

Richardson said faster and more frequent train service between areas like southwest Ohio and Chicago would also save businesses money and time. Flights to Cincinnati typically cost at least $300, but a train ticket is a third of the price. Trains also allow traveling employees to work while commuting.

“I would be there more if I could hop on a train and go,” Richardson said.

Article source: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local-leaders-push-for-more-rail-amtrak-travel/nnSrH/

Student Youth Travel Association Conference stops in Branson


BRANSON, Mo. –

One of the nations premier student travel organizations is visiting Branson this week to find out what the city has to offer to students.

“SYTA is a trade organization based out of Washington D.C. It’s an organization of about 850 company members who work in the student and youth travel industry,” said Carylann Assante, Executive Director of SYTA.

The Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA) is made up of tour operators, travel planners, and other companies who work with schools and youth organizations to plan group trips. Each year their annual conference is hosted in major cities across the United States and Canada, but this time they went with Branson.

“Branson is a unique one because it’s typically known as a demographic for older adults. But they made a conscious effort to welcome young people,” said Assante.

“Branson is one of the top 10 destinations for bringing in young people and it continues to grow in it’s placement among major cities,” she explained.

And city leaders are thrilled to have been selected as the host.

“This is for us a game changer, it’s an investment in our community not only for this year but the dividends will really be paying off in 2017 and 2018 as student youth travel begins to refocus right here in Branson,” said Jeff Seifried, President/CEO of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).

According to Branson CVB leaders the average age of a Branson tourist is 52. They’ve been working for years to attract younger visitors for years, and this conference will help.

“These travel planners have a great impact on years two, three and four after the conference for student youth travel. We  are confident that in the years 2017 – 2019 that we will start seeing an increase in student youth travel,” said Seifried.

The conference wraps up in Branson on Tuesday.

Click here for more information about SYTA and the SYTA Foundation.

Article source: http://www.ky3.com/news/local/student-youth-travel-association-conference-stops-in-branson/21048998_35010964

AAA: Labor Day weekend travel to hold steady

WASHINGTON — The summer vacation season is expected to end with a burst of travel over Labor Day weekend.

AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that 35.5 million Americans, including 850,700 in the D.C. area, will travel over the final holiday weekend of summer.

The auto group estimates that 87 percent of area travelers will get where they’re going by car; seven percent are expected to travel by air and five percent by other modes of transportation, including bus and rail.

Labor Day is Monday, Sept. 7. The holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September, and it arrives a little later than usual this month, which tends to dampen enthusiasm for travel.

“It’s the latest that Labor Day can arrive. … Then you have fewer people traveling because the kids are already in school,” says John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

But this year is an exception: AAA forecasts a 0.4 percent increase in travel in the Washington area over Labor Day weekend last year.

Labor Day road trippers may be pleased by prices at the pump.

“Gas prices are trending downward. They’re below the $2.50 mark in our area and that’s the big incentive for people to travel this holiday weekend … We’re paying about 80 cents less than we were at this time last year,” says Townsend.

While there’ll be more traffic for Labor Day weekend, a AAA Mid-Atlantic survey reveals that plenty of people also will chill at backyard barbecues or in front of the TV set. According to the study, 68 percent of those surveyed plan to be “catching up on things at home” during the holiday weekend.

Folded-paper maps, once a staple of road trips continue to fade in popularity. The survey, covering residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and D.C., finds that while about 33 percent still used printed maps, more than 55 percent say they use GPS.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Article source: http://wtop.com/sprawl-crawl/2015/08/aaa-labor-day-weekend-travel-hold-steady/

Prepping for Labor Day travel – WALB

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

“Definitely on holidays traffic always picks up,” says trooper Andrew Mckenzie

It’s a week away, but if you have plans for Labor Day weekend that include traveling, the Georgia State Patrol wants you to make sure your ready, and you stay safe.
As people prepare to celebrate the Labor Day holiday, law enforcers expect the roads to stay busy. And they’ll be out in full force looking for seat belt violations, drunk and distracted drivers, and speeding violations.
They encourage folks to be alert while out on the road.
“It’s very important that we bee more attentive and more observant to what we are doing,” says McKenzie.
Also, if your traveling far, make sure your car is ready for the trip.
“Make sure your tires have the proper pressure, make sure your fluids are up to par,up to the level where they should be,” he says.
Cheaper gas prices may also encourage people to travel this Labor Day. This past week gas dropped below two dollars at one Albany Gas station.
Lower prices had people pumped up.
“Sure, I hope everyone in town is enjoying it, because I sure am,” says McKenzie.
“Oh yeah. A whole lot, it sure do,” he says.
State Troopers encourage folks to make sure they buckle up, don’t drink and drive, and make sure your properly rested for the trip.
“Not only look out for yourself, but look out for the other driver. We want you to have a safe travel during that vacation day, during that  holiday,” says trooper McKenzie.
And most of all don’t text and drive..which is illegal in the state of Georgia.
“Absolutely no texting while driving,”
he says.

Copyright 2015 WALB.  All rights reserved.

Article source: http://www.walb.com/story/29918814/prepping-for-labor-day-travel

A’s unsuccessfully attempted to have 2016 schedule altered due to travel concerns


View photo

.

(USA TODAY Sports)

The Oakland A’s likely cringe every time the next season’s schedule comes out. Along with the Seattle Mariners, they travel the most miles annually due to their location and the location of other teams in their division, and they knew 2016 would be no different.

Only this time, it kind of was different.

As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the A’s were truly upset after learning of their 2016 travel schedule, which they considered to be brutal in comparison to previous seasons. 

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Among the biggest issues: for the second year in a row, the A’s do not play back-to-back series at Houston and Texas, meaning Oakland will make 12 trips to that state in 2015 and 2016. When the Astros joined the AL West in 2013, one of the suggested “benefits” was that teams would travel to play both in succession.

Next month, the A’s do play Texas and Houston on the same trip — but not back-to-back. In a puzzling bit of planning, they go from Dallas to Chicago and then to Houston.

That is puzzling to say the least, and it obviously planted a seed for their frustration. Slusser adds that the A’s were upset enough with next season’s schedule that  team president Mike Crowley tried to push for changes during the recent owners meetings in Chicago. They were denied, meaning the A’s will have to deal with the road that lies ahead. 

Here’s more from Slusser’s report.

More galling are two particular stretches next year. From April 18 to May 15, the A’s will be on the road for 22 of 28 days — and they’ll spend off days at Milwaukee and at Cincinnati on the same trip, lengthening their time away.

In fact, the club will wind up with three days off in an eight-day span, which barely skirts the collective bargaining agreement that limits days off to two in a seven-day span. That’s terrible from a competitive standpoint because it will disrupt the pitching schedule.

The trips to Cincinnati and Milwaukee represent another scheduling quirk, in that the A’s are repeating interleague trips from 2013. That flies in the face of the supposed interleague policy that every team visits cities in the other league every six years. The exception in the A’s case would be the Giants, whom they play home and away every season.

It sure seems like the A’s have good reason to be annoyed, but there’s really nothing they can do other than point out the issues and hope they aren’t repeated.

“Every year there are challenges with the schedule, and, unfortunately, a number of teams either have or will find themselves with similar scheduling/travel challenges,” MLBPA head Tony Clark wrote via e-mail. “I say that with a complete understanding as to just how challenging it is to put the schedule together. As always, we look forward to discussing and addressing as many of these scheduling challenges and issues as possible, which will invariably be beneficial to everyone involved.”

The planning and logistics that go into formulating the MLB schedule have to be overwhelming, even with a computer assisting in the task. Between limiting miles, adhering to the CBA and simply lining up opponents, it doesn’t sound like much fun to figure out. All things considered, the league does a good job piecing it together. It’s just too bad that some team’s will always be victims of geography.

More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/a-s-unsuccessfully-attempted-to-have-2016-schedule-altered-due-to-travel-concerns-061009387.html

Ways for retirees to travel for less

When Marie Koski of Springfield, Mass., was in Tuscany, cleaning pottery and bronze items that were more than 2,000 years old, she knew she was on the right trip for the right price.

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Koski, 61, a special-education teacher who retired in September, and her husband, John, 62, who is still working, spent seven days at what once was an Etruscan fort, helping an archaeologist excavate the site in the Italian seaside city of Populonia.

They arranged their trip through Earthwatch Institute, an international environmental organization that allows travelers to assist scientific researchers. Participants pay to be part of an expedition, but the contribution is tax-deductible. “That helped our taxes quite a bit,” Marie Koski said.

They spent $1,600 each, and airfare, to participate and stayed in a three-bedroom apartment in a gated community, sharing a bathroom with another couple.

There are many ways for older Americans to travel for less.

Some retired people find jobs aboard cruise ships. MSC Cruises, for example, hires retired and semiretired people as guest lecturers, port lecturers, language teachers and art and crafts instructors, according to Gary Glading, head of entertainment and guest experience for MSC Cruises.

Mary Lichty, 59, worked as a sales representative in direct mail marketing for 34 years. She always wanted to travel, and while still working began taking wine courses at Napa Valley College, and in 2012 she began working part time at Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena, Calif., as a tasting room associate. Through that job, she met Jeffrey Maltzman, the founder of Blend Craft Wines’ winery at sea programs. She now works as a wine educator on the MSC Divina, which sails in the Caribbean.

“I’m cruising, and they’re paying me for it,” Lichty said. Her husband, Peter, 60, who recently retired, travels with her. “It’s not a lot of money,” she said, but the cabin and food are included. The ship has the option to assign them to the crew’s quarters, but that has not happened during their several cruises.

You can also work at sites run by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service or even the Army Corps of Engineers.

Grand Portage National Monument, for example, is offering an opportunity next summer to be a living history volunteer, interpreting North American fur trade history and Ojibwe culture in three eight-hour shifts a week. When not dressed in period costumes to depict the year 1797, participants will have time to hike, canoe and kayak in and near Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.

Here are ideas from experts on how older Americans can get the most value from their travel dollars:

• Figure the approximate cost of the entire trip before you go. “Look at the final price,” said Anne Scully, president of McCabe World Travel in McLean, Va., including “what you pay when you leave the hotel or the ship.” Cruises and all-inclusive trips can make it easier to calculate the final cost before you travel.

• Look for loyalty programs for air and hotels, two-for-one offers and last-minute bargains, which are often easier for retirees to take advantage of than people employed full time.

• Consider home exchanges. John Adams of Anacortes, Wash., a retired publisher, 64, and his wife, Martha, 63, began using home exchanges in 2013. “No money exchanges hands,” Adams said. “They’re going to take care of my house like I’m going to take care of yours.” Among home exchange sites are myplaceforyours.com, homeexchange.com and homeforexchange.com.

• “Protect yourself and your travel investment,” Scully said. Will your health insurance cover you while traveling? Medicare generally doesn’t pay for health care or supplies received outside the United States. But Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans often help pay for emergency care overseas. Even with those, it is advisable to buy travel insurance with emergency health coverage and trip interruption protection.

• Consider renting an apartment for longer stays. A site like onefinestay.com helps travelers find a place with a kitchen and a washer and dryer.

• Use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made while traveling internationally.

Article source: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/personalfinance/ways-for-retirees-to-travel-for-less/2243437