Six Smart Packing Tips for your Summer Travel

Summer is a time when millions of people around the country travel for pleasure purposes. In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that over 650 million long distance summer trips are made between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, with at least 50 miles being considered long distance. They also report that 90 percent of those trips are done by personal vehicle. As people travel, they often pack too much, and could do a lot better job being organized, which will help the trip be more enjoyable.

Ziplock bags are a great item to bring in your suitcase.

Ziplock bags are a great item to bring in your suitcase.

“People often find it a challenge to pack smart. Instead, they pack way too much, the wrong things, and end up finding the luggage process exhausting,” explains Dr. Bruno Sharp, a fourth-generation dentist who created a line of products called Dr. Sharp Dentistry, and is celebrating his 10th year as a Natural Oral Care provider. “The key to enjoying your trip more is to pack smart, which is easy if you know where to start.”

Here are 6 smart packing tips for summer travel:

  1. Carry essentials. If you have essential documents or valuables, you will want to avoid packing them where it will be difficult for you to get to them. Keep these items in a separate bag that is easily accessible and can be used as a carry-on if you will be flying. This will help you save time and avoid becoming frustrated.
  2. Go travel size. Forget what the hotel offers, as it is usually not what you want to use and you won’t enjoy your stay as much. TSA allows up to 3.4 ounces or less for carry-ons per item so opt for brands that you like to use that come in sizes you can carry along. For example, if you use natural oral care products you do not have to compromise on that when traveling. Just opt for the natural care products you purchase in smaller travel size containers. Toothpaste such as the ones by Dr. Sharp Natural Oral Care are all airline compliant, so they won’t slow you down.
  3. Pack right. A lot of room can be saved in your bag or suitcase if you roll your clothing, rather than folding and stacking them. Take your items and individually fold them in half, then roll it up like a burrito.
  4. Separate shoes. Keep shoes to a minimum so you don’t pack more than you will actually wear. The shoes you do decide to take should be put into a separate plastic bag, before adding them in with the rest of your belongings. This will help keep your clothes from getting dirty or smelly from the shoes.
  5. Be prepared. If you are traveling and there’s an issue that comes up, you may spend a lot of time trying to find a remedy. Be prepared by taking a small bag of things like lip balm, antacids, and bandages. Pick up some individually wrapped antiperspirant wipes, antibacterial wipes, and mouth freshening wipes, like the ones from Savvy Travelers, so you are always prepared. Add a small stash of these items to a Ziploc bag and toss it in the suitcase.

    Giving sandals a bath in the hotel tub, a suggestion from Kelly Nystrom.

    Giving sandals a bath in the hotel tub, a suggestion from Kelly Nystrom.

  6. Have backup. For smart packing, add a few large Ziploc bags to your suitcase. These will come in handy for staying organized and can be used for things like dirty clothes, souvenirs, and keeping things separated.

“You don’t have to compromise when you travel, we have shown that even with our oral hygiene products by offering them in travel size,” added Dr. Sharp. “You just need to think ahead and plan wisely. Doing this will help ensure that you enjoy the trip even more and won’t be bogged down by the little things.”

Read more tips on packing on Travel.


The Black Forest Bursts with Green Vacations, Action-Packed Packages and Carbon-free Cars 

Solingen, Germany.

Solingen, Germany.

From the north to the south, the Black Forest in Germany offers scenic beauty, top notch packages, tours and carbon-free transportation with the Konus Card!
SouthWest Germany’s Black Forest is a global epicenter for great nature conservation and green energy. The region is bursting with beautiful countryside and life and its residents enjoy spending their time outside in the fresh air and protecting that same future for their children.  A visitor to the Black Forest can spend their days outside hiking, biking and eating fresh organic food but also exploring beautiful country-side and charming villages with traditional craft-making. Farms with solar panels and towns fueled by manure or hydro or wind energy dot the landscape amidst historic castles and towns.
The Black Forest offers a genuinely exceptional and green vacation via the KONUS-card: a free bus and train ticket for all Black Forest visitors. When you arrive, you will be given the free KONUS card at one of the 11,000 vacation spots and hotels and can plan your entire vacation on public transportation – great for the environment and your wallet. E-bike lovers will be thrilled with the Black Forest’s more than 200 free charging stations and over 100 docking stations.
The northern gateway to the Black Forest is Karlsruhe, nicknamed the “fan city,” for the city streets which fan out in straight lines from the palace in an elegant urban organization. It has abundant gardens and a wonderful zoo so nature always seems close by.  The State Natural History Museum is an exciting way for all ages to learn more about Earth. This one-of-a-kind museum boasts many interactive exhibitions such as an Earthquake Simulator. Everything from minerals, gems, fossils, to animals, bugs and reptiles can be seen here. For additional fascinating animals and to learn more about the importance of biodiversity, head to the Karlsruhe Zooto see the elephants, polar bears and red pandas and where they just opened their newest Exotic House in 2015.
Not far from Karlsruhe, in the middle of the Black Forest, is the red-roofed town of Freudenstadt. Situated on three well-known tourist routes – The Black Forest Mountain Route, Black Forest Valley Route and the Black Forest Spa Route – Freudenstadt is an ideal base to discover wild romantic valleys, mountain passes and spectacular views. Several hundred kilometers worth of biking paths, either begin here in Freudenstadt or pass through the city. There are cross-regional easy paths, tours that last all day or half day tours with train access for your return trip. Whether you are looking for a challenging mountain biking experience or a gentler cruise, there are a plenty of paths for you.  Freudenstadt residents enjoy their bike adventures and have laid out easy-to-follow plans for each skill level. An example of a magnificent tour is the Tour de Murg that follows the Murg River sometimes canyon-like valley ending in Gernsbach. The tour takes you past many rest stops and gourmet restaurants and is an easy path that will have you back to Freudenstadt by the evening. Other tours, such as the Kinzig Valley Tour, are mostly on forest paths.  It is a longer distance, but there is a train that will take you and your bicycle back to Freudenstadt main station afterwards.
Close to Freudenstadt in the middle of the Black Forest is the tiny town of Baiersbronn, not only famous for its gourmet dining and eight Michelin stars but also for its vast array of hiking and mountain biking trails. There are over 400 kilometers of biking trails and some are dedicated to mountain biking only. The trails are between thirteen and eighty-one kilometers long and vary in difficulty. Both experienced and beginner mountain bikers can enjoy their time as the trails are marked with blue, red and black signs to display the level of difficulty.  In addition to its network of trails, Baiersbronn worked under the motto “Respectful Togetherness” and created new parallel trails so hikers and mountain bikers can enjoy the same scenery without trampling over each other. It is ideal for families who would all like to spend an active holiday together hiking and walking.   They can enjoy both and still meet at the same rest stops and destinations. Gourmet hikes and picnics are also available and can be organized for individuals and groups.

Washboard Music Festival Celebrates Appalachian Heritage in Logan, Ohio

Washboard Music Festival, Logan, Ohio.

Washboard Music Festival, Logan, Ohio.

The streets in downtown Logan, located in heart of the Hocking Hills, will come alive with the annual Washboard Music Festival on June 16 – 18, 2016. Folks planning to attend the festival during Fathers’ Day weekend are encouraged to put on their dancing shoes and join along with the unique style of toe tapping music that will be performed throughout the festival.

The event was created to honor the Columbus Washboard Factory that was purchased and moved to Logan from Columbus nearly two decades ago. It is the only factory in the United States that continues to manufacture washboards-thus the idea to establish a music festival that focuses on washboard music was born.

The festivities kickoff Thursday evening when Arnett Howard and Friends perform from 6pm – 9pm.

Friday has a lineup of performers day and night. Don’t miss Washboard Hank and 7 Mile Blue Grass on the main stage. The Sodbusters will be at the CIC stage as well as Washboard Hank, 7 Mile Blue Grass and Lone Raven. Sweet Funk will be at The Bowen House from 1-3pm.  Friday’s headlining acts feature Little Roy and Lizzie at 8pm and then 3 Piece and a Biscuit at 9pm. The night continues with Lone Raven starting at 10pm.

And that’s just the free music performances.

Families will enjoy the Children’s Park with rides. Mr. Puppet will be there to entertain the kids along with the magic of Dave Lehman.  A Quilt Show, hosted by members of the Hocking Valley Quilt Guild, will be held at The Bowen House from 12 – 5pm on Friday and Saturday. Plus a classic car show will be held Friday from 5 – 9pm near the Columbus Washboard Factory. The historic Columbus Washboard Factory will be open to visitors from 9am – 7pm on Friday and Saturday. Saturday includes a tractor exhibit from 9am to 5pm. Afterward, enjoy the annual Washboard Music Festival Parade at 6 p.m.In addition, the festival has plenty of food plus arts and crafts vendors. Click here to plan your good time.


Are You Just About to Travel and Sell Your Home? Here are Things You Should Know About Home Inspections

Home inspections are like scenes from a reality TV show playing out right before a person’s eyes. Right from the front door, strangers step into the seller’s personal space and look at every nook and cranny of the area. The search goes on for hours as the strangers open closets, flush toilets, turn everyProperty faucet in the house and run just about any other appliance they find in the property. These strangers then climb the roof and comb every inch of your yard. In this show, you can only stand back, be pleasant and adopt an accommodating expression.

However, if you survive this ordeal without losing your cool, the big payoff is certainly worth it. Home inspections around India are not as common as in the United States, but the practice is certainly gaining a foothold. In the U.S. four in every five homes on the market are evaluated by professional home inspection teams.

These people are hired by potential buyers to ensure that they do not purchase a property that turns out to require more to get in shape than bargained for. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), real estate agents encourage 99 percent of their clients to get house checks done. 84 percent of them heed the advice.

As you sell your property, it is critical that you understand the inspection process, how to prepare for the evaluation, and gain a top sale at the end of the day.

How Does It Work?
A potential buyer will contact you with a purchase contract that includes a clause where your residence has to be checked for any damages, according to an article on CalcXML. The clause in the contract gives the buyer the permission to hire a professional inspector to thoroughly check the home for any deal-breaking problems. Once the contract is signed, you can expect the whole procedure to be done fairly quickly.

Once the appointment is made with the seller, the inspector will arrive at your location with the buyer, and they will go through the entire property. Typically, the whole process takes about three hours and includes checking the building’s structural and mechanical condition. These people will be on the lookout for insects as well as perform any other services as requested by the buyer.

What Next?
Once the inspection is complete, expect a detailed report. In most situations, you should expect there to be some extra negotiation between you and the person buying the place if they have found any problems regarding your property. The difference between what your buyer expected to find when stepping into the transaction and what was uncovered by the report will define what you might be asked to fix.

In such scenarios, the best way to resolve the dispute is by sharing the expense of repairs. Of course, you did not promise to sell a house containing brand new tile flooring, while the person buying the place expected to go 20 years without replacing the current floor. Splitting costs makes for a reasonable and fair way to resolve the problem.

How to Dress
Many sellers do not consider themselves as competitors on the real estate market dealing with priced products. However, if your residence is on the market, you definitely are part of it. Houses are a premium investment and in any location, buyers have the choice of choosing one of hundreds of properties on the market. One way to attract people with the highest prices to your property is by dressing for success.

This means applying a fresh paint job and preparing the landscaping before listing your terrace house on DDProperty. Home inspection will require you to carry out minor repairs. Some of the things you should check include steps, gutters and the roof’s condition.

Inside, thoroughly test every mechanical system. If you have not serviced your AC unit recently, then do so now. Any minor electrical and plumbing repairs should be done now before the procedure begins. Some issues like broken electrical outlets, drippy taps and leaking toilet valves may seem minor, but at least you will have less to worry about during the inspection. It also shows that you are giving your house the right kind of attention.

The Silent Rule
Once you have prepared your property, the best thing to do as the process starts is disappear.  After all, the person making the purchase will not be comfortable discussing any concerns he or she may have with the inspector if you are within earshot. On the other hand, watching the process may feel like watching a doctor carry out open heart surgery while you are awake. Take a walk to keep stress levels low.

Never follow the buyer and inspector around. The former may perceive this as a sign that you are trying to hide a defect and makes it look like you are worried that you might be found out. The person checking the premises will find the behavior annoying and will make the whole process tense. If you are dealing with a person checking your house, the best thing you can do is prepare your house and get out of the way.

Paris Endures, But Istanbul and Brussels Take a Terrorism Hit


Rene Magritte's grave in Brussels, Belgium.

Rene Magritte’s grave in Brussels, Belgium

American travelers visiting Europe this summer are avoiding cities affected by acts of terror and are rerouting vacation plans to destinations recently left unscathed, according to an analysis of flight bookings by leading travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance..

Allianz Global Assistance reviewed more than 500,000 Americans’ travel plans during the summer vacation season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and found the number of travelers booked to visit Istanbul are down by 43.7 percent in 2016 compared to the same period last year, while the number of travelers visiting Brussels are down 30.4 percent. Neighboring Germany saw travelers from the U.S. to Frankfurt down by 22.9 percent. Paris, meanwhile, was more resilient with a 0.6 percent increase in summer visitors from the U.S., helping it maintain its spot as the second-most visited city in Europe by American travelers behind London

While some major cities saw a significant decrease in U.S. travelers visiting during the upcoming summer, Europe as a whole recorded an overall 9.3 percent increase to 515,676 travelers in 2016 compared to 471,823 in 2015.

The cities that benefited most from the redistribution of American travelers still interested in visiting Europe include: Dublin and Shannon, in Ireland, increased by 42.8 and 46.5 percent respectively; Athens, Greece, increased by 42.7 percent; Lisbon, Portugal, increased by 42.3 percent, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, increased by 34.5 percent.

“What we’re seeing is that Americans are still bullish on Europe, and travel to the continent is going to be resilient as tourists seek safety in traditionally popular destinations like London and Rome, as well as increasingly popular cities like Dublin, Amsterdam and Lisbon,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. “We’re pleased to see that summer travel to Europe will still be strong despite recent acts of terror on European soil. We’re seeing many travelers purchasing travel insurance so that they have the option to cancel or interrupt their trip should there be a terrorist event at their destination within 30 days of their arrival.”

Allianz Global Assistance offers travel insurance* through most major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies and directly to consumers. For more information on Allianz Global Assistance and the policies offered for travelers, please visit: or like us on Facebook at

Five Cities in Europe Where You Can Try Your Luck

Spiegelkwartier houses along a canal in Amsterdam.

Spiegelkwartier houses along a canal in Amsterdam.

If you want to feel like James Bond next Saturday night then jump on a plane and travel to one of these five European cities. We’ve chosen them because they’re famous for not only being cool in their own right but each one has a casino.

And if you show up in any of these city casinos wearing the right clothes, equipped with the right skills to play casino games and ordering the right drink (vodka martini –shaken not stirred) you just might feel like the British secret agent that we all long to be at some point in our lives. And these are skills you acquire or sharpen by practicing and playing poker with friends as you travel between the cities. But look at this list and start with Lyon, the capital of gastronomy in France but also the home to the Lion Vert casino, located in the heart of Lyon’s downtown.

Or how about taking the train from France to England through the Chunnel and get ready for an exciting evening in London at the Rendezvous Casino Mayfair. You’ve heard of Mayfair right? It’s the swankiest neighborhood in London and you’ll be surrounded by Arab sheiks and other people so vastly rich that losing a little money at the table will mean nothing.

There’s a good reason to have a casino in a city like London that has surpassed anywhere in Europe for the highest prices—people who can afford to eat there can also afford to lose lots of pounds at the blackjack tables.

Now let’s move on to the wonderful vacation destination of Spain. In the capital, Madrid you can on your dancing shoes and a nice looking tux. Before you check out Casino Gran downtown, how about a little flamenco?  Just let your partner lead and hang on!

If you have any euros left after your session at the tables in Madrid, and get a hankering for some smoke, why not hop the border to Amsterdam? Not only can you pick up some of the finest marijuana made in the world but you can take a shot at the Holland casino where swanky looking folks lose money every day. But some of them are so stoned they don’t even notice in this legally liberal city.

And finally for something a little more traditional— why not straighten up a little bit and head for Düsseldorf Germany here at the Hotel Nikko Dusseldorf offers many of the the games you already learned to play. Just make sure to look the part, a well-tailored new suit and your hidden Walther PPK handgun in the glovebox of your BMW supercar.