More Than Just Mouse Ears in the Sunshine State

The following post is written by Lori from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

For 45 years, Boscov’s Travel has made it easy to get to the most magical place on earth with non-stop flights from select local airports (Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). A majority of our clients use this convenient way to travel and decide to spend the whole 7-days in Disney, but others – like my family and I – venture to other parts of the sunshine state. Below is an overview of our vacation, my recommendations on traveling with a 6- and 3-year old, what we loved about it and why we are already planning to do it again next year.


Non-stop flight from Lancaster Airport to Orlando, FL 

So much to do, but who can go to Florida without going to Disney?

After a relatively easy trip down to Florida (hop to CVS if you are traveling with anyone who doesn’t like the ear popping from the cabin air pressure and purchase Earplanes; I’m not sure they worked or were a placebo, but no complaints from my otherwise not so happy to fly son) we hopped in our rental car (ahem, van) and headed to Animal Kingdom for the day. Our FastPass+ for the day included:
1) Expedition Everest – my 6 year old son LOVED this ride! I was surprised because he is typically timid about trying new things, especially a roller coaster, but he was grinning from ear to ear after both times riding it. And how did he ride it two times back to back? Disney has genius people who work for them and developed a Rider Swap/Switch program…. “If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem! With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!” 3 guests are allowed back per rider switch pass which is how he got to ride it twice, lucky kid! Recommendation: A+
2) Kilimanjaro Safaris – bigger than all of Magic Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris is truly a unique experience every time. Highlights this time around included a baby giraffe and an aggressive ostrich. Recommendation: A+

Kilimanjaro Safaris

3) Dinosaur – noted as being dark, scary, loud and jerky… I would say those are 100% accurate statements. My adventurous 3-year old daughter (who is surprisingly tall for her age and met the height requirements) was excited to ride it, but noted “I didn’t like that ride at all,” at the end. My recommendation would be to not use a FastPass+ on this ride. If the standby wait is under 15 minutes and someone in your party really wants to try it, go for it. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a leave-it attraction. Recommendation: thumbs down

We also all went on Kali River Rapids (check the height requirements for little ones). While in the standby line, which was about 45 minutes, we ordered some counter service food from Harambe Market with the new mobile ordering feature offered on the My Disney Experience app. Having that extra time to look through the menu – especially with picky eaters – was super convenient. And not having to stand in the long lines that can form was icing on the cake (I didn’t get cake). And we got to fully enjoy Kali River Rapids. Both of my kids loved this ride and while you do get wet, it’s not terrible. We would have rode it twice, if our lunch wasn’t ready for us already!

Kali River Rapids

With loads of shows, attractions, rides, Animal Kingdom has grown into a park you can truly stay the whole day at and never truly see it all.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 1) Gorgeous beaches

About a 2 hour drive from Orlando, Sarasota boasts diverse dining options, enriching arts and culture and last but certainly not least, the most beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters you typically find in the Caribbean. Plus, there is usually little to no waves, so the ocean becomes the biggest swimming pool and is always just the right temperature. We adore the beaches in Sarasota for free parking, free “admission” onto the beaches, concession stands that have delicious lunch options, playgrounds with shade and nice running paths for a pre-beach workout. Our go to beach is Lido Beach for all of the previous mentioned amenities, especially the lobster rolls at Lido Beach Restaurant.


Lido Beach, Sarasota

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 2) Myakka River State Park

Noted as being the “real Florida”, Myakka River State Park is full of wildflower cover prairies, wild wetlands and gorgeous pinelands. The majestic Myakka River flows though 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. I would recommend first time visitors to stop at the Visitor Center to learn about all the park has to offer including hiking, biking, camping, boat tours and more. The park rangers at the Visitor Center are very knowledgeable about the park and debunked the tale if an alligator is chasing you, run in a zip-zag pattern (do this and they’ll just get to you quicker as they can do short spurts up to 30mph). We enjoyed driving around the park, exploring and stopping at all of the “alligator sighting” spots. Although the highlight of the day was the canopy walk. “Completed in 2000, this structure is the first public treetop trail in North America. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy. The taller tower soars 74 feet in the air to present a spectacular view of treetops, wetlands, and the prairie/hammock interface. You can look down on eagles, hawks, vultures, and the tops of Live Oak and Sabal Palm trees.” Florida State Park site. 

Canopy walkway, Myakka State Park

Hammock Canopy, Myakka State Park

A pre-packed picnic lunch by the lake, enjoying the beauty of wildflowers blooming, some shopping at the gift shop and more adventures to see alligators ended our day at Myakka State Park. A definite must see in Southwest Florida.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 3) Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Mixed reviews had us going into this adventure with little expectations, but it ended up being one of our favorite activities for both the kids and adults alike. Activities include: feed a flamingo, hold a parrot, attend a variety of wildlife shows, feed an alligator and more. The highlights of the day were obviously feeding the flamingos and holding parrots, seen below.

 

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 4) Miscellaneous

Along with everything mentioned above, Sarasota offers unique shopping and dining in St. Armands Circle, boat tours, – or if you are more adventurous – boat rentals, miniature golf, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey museum, beautiful botanical Gardens, aquariums, famous sights and landmarks including the Unconditional Surrender Sculpture and so much more.

If you are looking for for a well-rounded vacation with tropical vibes all while still staying in the US, I’d highly recommend Sarasota for all the area has to offer. And most importantly, traveling the Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania made getting to Florida super convenient and stress free, a service in which only Boscov’s Travel can provide on the Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Orlando. To learn more about this feature (non-stop flights from select local airports: Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), contact your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist or call 800-755-8020.

If you’re ready to start planning your Florida getaway, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

My Stay in Iceland: The Top 5 Places to Visit Within A Day’s Drive of Reykjavik

The following post is written by Kristin from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. Kristin traveled to Iceland in September 2017. 

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Tourism in Iceland is booming; more tourists visited in the past decade than the previous 6-decades combined. Tourism in 2017 exceeded 25% growth over the previous year. Hearing about the beauty of the landscape and encouraged by a friend who had recently visited, I planned a short trip for September.

We stayed in Reykjavik, the capital city, during our stay from Sunday through Wednesday. Only a short 30-minute drive from the airport, the city is home to a majority of the population and provides easy access to amazing natural landscapes. Equipped with Google Maps and a rental car, we spent each day venturing out to central and southern Iceland seeing the best the country has to offer. Here are my favorite sites we experienced all within a day’s drive of the capital city.

Experience the best of Iceland all within a day’s drive of Reykjavik: 

5. Geysir & Gullfoss Waterfalls

Drive time from Reykjavik: 1 hour 45 minutes (part of the Golden Circle route)
The active Geysirs are just an 8-minute drive from the double-tiered Gullfoss Waterfall which are the largest volume falls in Europe.

4. Vik Beach (Reyinsfjara)

Drive time from Reykjavik: 2 hours 15 minutes or half an hour from Skogafoss waterfalls
Black sand from lava makes this beach one of the most unique in the world. The allure of the site is enhanced by the basalt cliff made of symmetrical columns formed by lava. This is not a swimmable beach (if you go, watch for the ‘sneaker waves’) but is perfect for a scenic walk.

3. The Blue Lagoon

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Drive time from Reykjavik: 45-minutes (20 minutes from the airport)

An obligatory stop if you’re in Iceland, this Instagram-worthy photo op is worth the price of admission. Most of the country is powered by geothermal energy, and this lagoon is made from water powered by the local plant. The temperature is about 100 degrees Farenheit and is said to have relieving effects on the joints, while the rich silica water leaves your skin feeling nourished for the next few days.
After about an hour and a half you’ll come to the realization that you’re basically in a hot tub with 200 strangers and be on your way.

2. Skogafoss Waterfalls

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Drive time from Reykjavik: 2 hours or a half hour drive from Vik Beach
The drive to this attraction near the southern coast is a beautiful one. Stop on the side of the road to pet the horses, spot the free roaming sheep or take a panoramic of the picturesque landscape.
Drive around a mountain and you’ll be greeted with the beautiful waterfall. A quick hike up the stairs gives you an unparalleled view of the fall’s crest, countryside and sea. Make an afternoon of it climbing for even more impressive views.

1. Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir)

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Drive time from Reykjavik: 1 hour (part of the Golden Circle route)
This place has it all. Waterfalls, a lake, mountains, marsh lands, diving, rainbows – this is a must-see for anyone traveling to Iceland. Game of Thrones fans will recognize the landscape as the entrance to the Eyrie and the tundra where Brienne defeated the Hound.

Know before you go: 
– Water in many parts of the country have a strong sulfur smell. If you stay in the capital, be prepared to notice it while you shower, in your water and more. Though they say it’s safe to drink, we opted for bottled water – the locals will tell you it’s the same thing, but judge for yourself.

IMG_5881-Layers are your best friend. The temperature ranged in the mid-40’s at night to the low-50’s during the day. We experienced three of four days of intermittent showers. The temperature felt as though it ranged from the 30’s – 60’s. Quickly convert Celcius to Farenheit: multiply by 2 and add 30.

– Things are expensive. Most goods need to be imported leading to a high cost for eating out, souvenirs, fuel for driving and more. For example, a bowl of soup cost $20 at a local restaurant. There are grocery stores where you can purchase provisions for day trips – locals recommended Bonus and Kronan (look for the big yellow signs for both).

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Iceland is a truly breathtaking country and a bucket list destination for any adventurer. It is the ideal layover stop when traveling to/from Europe and Icelandair’s incredible stopover deal allows you up to 7-nights to experience the best of Iceland without an additional ticket charge.  If you’re ready to start planning your Icelandic getaway or make it a layover on your journey to Europe, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Seven Things to Do with Your Tax Refund

Tax season is almost (thankfully) over! If you’re one of the approximately 83% of Americans who receive a refund, figuring out what to do with it is most likely on your mind.

We recommend using it (or a portion of it) to plan your next vacation. According to a recent study, vacation had similar stress-reducing benefits as meditation and participants showed positive effects 10 months after taking the vacation. Still need more reasons to get away? It’s good for business.

Now that we’ve established that it’s in your best interest to get away, let’s talk vacations! Whether you get re-energized from an adventurous hike or by kicking up your feet by the pool, we’ve got an idea for you. Here’s our list of seven things to do with your tax refund:

1. Cruise
RCI_MJ_AerialCocoCay158R.pngSail to the Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, New England and more! Going on a cruise is easier than ever. There are literally THOUSANDS of options – number of days, destinations, activities, room accommodations, departure ports – that there is a choice for every budget. We recommend Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International who make it easy with cruises directly from ports in New York and Bayonne, NJ (plus Royal Caribbean also sails from Baltimore, MD). With all the options and activities to do on board and off, cruising is the new go-to for vacationers with the bonus of unpacking only once. Looking to save your hard earned money? Opt for an inside cabin.

2. All-inclusives
SESRC_Aerial_Year2016_1.pngLeave your wallet at home because everything’s included on these easy vacations. Pay one price for your flight, transfers to the resort, hotel, meals, drinks (including open bar), most activities, and entertainment. Options include family friendly accommodations as well as adult only resorts. Popular destinations include Punta Cana, Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and Jamaica. A four-night vacation with flight could be less than $800 per person. Search now

3.Walt Disney World

cinderella-castle-gallery02.pngIf you have kids, they have inevitably asked, “Can we go to Walt Disney World?” Whether you’re ready to go this year, or want to put a deposit on a future trip, Boscov’s Travel gets you to the magic faster with the Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World. Fly non-stop from local Pennsylvania airports including Harrisburg, Lancaster, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, or Reading Airports. Service is in the spring and fall, fly Sunday/return Saturday, and every weekend in spring through fall (airports vary). Learn more here.

4.Cuba
Get major bragging rights for being one of the first to see this newly opened country. We make it easy with cruises that stop in this unforgettable country. Get all the Cuba facts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.River Cruise

Offering a whole new perspective on your destination, river cruises have grown in popularity due to their immersive experiences and less time spent traveling (you’ll sail to your next destination while you sleep). Stops include popular destinations as well as less crowded villages easily accessible from the river.

 

6.G Adventures
154e86bc0b91759f6ff328aac9cc8101.pngIf you seek adventure, look no further than G Adventures. One of our preferred tour operators, G Adventures gives you access to the world. Camp on your hike up to Machu Picchu, tour the Great Pyramids of Giza, kayak in Antarctica, or view the Irrawaddy dolphins on the rivers of Mekong.

 

 

7.Buy travel protection
Boring, right? There’s nothing exciting about planning for a vacation to go awry, but it can happen. But just like in life, by protecting your travel investment with travel protection, you buy yourself peace of mind and assurance that you will (eventually) take a vacation. Purchasing travel protection is easy. Get an estimate here.

If you’re ready to put your tax refund to good use, call us at 800-755-8020, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or visit us for current deals.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com. As to Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney

Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service, Part 2

As the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of preserving the natural wonders of our beautiful country, two of our employees tell their stories of recent visits to national parks. Jennifer planned for two years and traveled with her family spending 9-days exploring the Yellowstone area, while Kristin traveled to the Grand Canyon on a last minute trip with a friend. You can read Jennifer’s story here. Below is Kristin’s story…

The Grand Canyon

The following post is written by Kristin from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.  Kristin traveled to Red Rock and the Grand Canyon in September 2016. 

I had the opportunity to travel to Europe in my youth, but for the past few years I traveled locally with weekend trips in the tri-state area or trips to the Jersey shore. I joined Boscov’s Travel a year ago, and since then, working at a travel agency has opened my eyes to the immense opportunities for travel!

Adventure travel wasn’t a term with which I was familiar, but learning about it over the past year made me eager to pursue my own adventure travel. When I learned that the National Park Service was celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, I knew I was due to explore our beautiful country. In August, I asked my college friend if she wanted to go west a month later.

Boscov’s Travel offers Journey West Tours, excursions guided by a western tour guide which explore the beauty of the west and Alaska. I loved the itinerary of the Southern National Parks tour which included tours of Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and more, but because of time constraints we were unable to go on this tour. With three full days in Arizona, we decided that the Grand Canyon was our ultimate destination.

I worked with Michael from our East location to coordinate the flights and hotels. I wanted to hear his recommendations of what to do, where to go (and what to avoid). Because we were doing a last minute trip, some of the accommodations were limited but he worked with me to get me the best deals on the days we wanted.

We flew into Phoenix on Wednesday evening, rested at the Sheraton Four Points North, then ventured to Sedona early the next day. Because the Grand Canyon is about 3.5 hours from Phoenix, we wanted to break up the trip and thought a hike at Red Rock was the best idea.

Having never been to Arizona, the state’s geography was in sharp contrast to that of img_3223Pennsylvania. One minute you’re driving on a barren, sandy flat plain and the next you’re cruising down a canyon and beautiful natural rock formations are visible in every direction.

The town of Sedona is a sweet little town worth a visit. There are options for seeing the Red Rocks, the most popular being the guided Pink Jeep Tours. We decided to venture on a hike instead. After researching the top 10 Red Rock hiking trails and taking the advice from a seat mate on the plane, we settled on the West Fork trail. About 6-miles round trip, the trail is relatively easy and navigates through forest, rock formations and creeks. We finished the trail in about 3.5 hours and headed to dinner. As a pescatarian (half committed vegetarian who eats fish) I was pleased to see that everywhere we went, there were lots of options for vegetarians and vegans – tempeh, tofu and TVP were present on almost every menu.

We headed to Williams, AZ for the evening and stayed at the Ramada. Williams is one of the closest towns to the Grand Canyon, though still about an hour from the park system. The town is quite tiny, but historic Route 66 runs right through the heart of it.

On Friday, we made our way to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. We were in early enough that we avoided crowds at the entrance. If you travel on a weekend or during the summer when school’s out, expect to wait.

Upon entering the Grand Canyon Village, we were treated to a breathtaking site. This place is absolutely worth a visit and was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We took our gratuitous canyon shots and headed to the trailhead.

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We were very fortunate and had reserved a very last minute reservation at Phantom Ranch, the only lodge within the depths of the canyon. If I were to do this again, I would give myself more planning time. We lucked out with the reservations within the canyon but others may not be so lucky.  Only 1% of the canyon’s 5 million annual visitors stay below the rim overnight, so they recommend planning at least a year out. Only accessible by river, foot or mule, the ranch site was home to Indigenous people a millennia ago. More recently, Theodore Roosevelt (subsequent President who established the National Park System in 1916) stayed there on a hunting trip.

Before heading down, we spoke to a ranger about our plan to hike down South Kaibob trail and hike up Bright Angel trail the following day. Because we were getting our start around 11AM, he recommended that we head down Bright Angel. In the heat of the day, the water stops along the trail and the shaded areas were a welcomed site. We headed down the 9.9 miles to Phantom Ranch. During our 5 hour hike down, we took in some of the most beautiful views of the canyon. My best tip for hiking the canyon is preparation! We saw multiple people who were ill-prepared for the hike. Our worn-in hiking boots were much better than the sneakers, Toms and flip flops we passed on the trail. Salty snacks and drinking plenty of water are key. It is basically an inverted mountain, so doing some quality training hikes prior to a visit is in your best interest.

The Colorado River was a welcome sight and a walk across the bridge and final flat mile brought us to Phantom Ranch. Accommodations include cabins and male and female dormitories. Though small, the 5-bunk dormitories offered heated showers and a restroom. They supply towels and bedding, so within the canyon it’s considered glamping.

The steak, beef stew and vegetarian dinner options are served family styled as you get to know your fellow hikers. Complimented by salad, cornbread and chocolate cake, the meal was not fine dining but one of the best of the trip knowing that it was delivered by mule. The mess room closed after dinner and opened an hour later for games and happy hour where you can enjoy a beer named in honor of the Bright Angel Trail. If you visit, be sure to send postcards that will be delivered to friends and family by mule!

Wake up call was 4:30AM and we started up South Kaibob trail which was lit by the Harvest Moon. There were a handful of hikers who passed us on the way down and indicated that they started after midnight. Going up this trail is not for the faint of heart – it is quite steep, offers no water and has very few flat spots for rest. After 5.5 hours and with a great sense of accomplishment, we finally conquered the canyon.

With photos and memories in hand, we headed back to Phoenix and flew out the next day.

The trip was spectacular. I highly recommend it whether you have a week or only a few days like we had. I discovered my love of adventure travel and can’t wait to plan my next trip.

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If you’re ready to book your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.