Are You Eligible for These Sunshine State Travel Discounts?

If a Florida vacation is in your future, then find out if you’re eligible for these travel discounts in the Sunshine State. Although they are relatively easy to get, if you don’t know how or where to apply for them, you’ll totally miss out on some hefty savings.

Save at the Toll Booth

First and foremost, if you have a significant dexterity disability, you may be eligible for a free pass when it comes to Florida’s toll roads. The Disabled Toll Permit saves drivers both time and money; and although it’s often overlooked by visitors, it’s easy to obtain if you meet the minimum qualifications.

In order to qualify for a Disabled Toll Permit you must have:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • An upper limb or dexterity disability that prevents you from tossing coins into a toll booth basket
  • An adapted vehicle

The permit is valid for five years, and it can be used at manned toll booths throughout the state. Just show the toll booth operator your permit, and you’re good to go. For more information about the Disabled Toll Permit, call (800) 983-2435.

Once you receive your Disabled Toll Permit, you can also apply for a Sun Pass non-revenue mini transponder. There is a $4.95 fee for this electronic device that attaches to the windshield, and allows users to pass through unmanned toll booths at no charge.

For more information about a Sun Pass non-revenue mini transponder, call the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged at (561) 488-5344.

State Park Savings

Additionally, veterans with a service-connected disability can receive a free military entrance pass, good for admission to all Florida State Parks. This lifetime pass is valid for park admission of up to eight people, except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife and Weeki Wachee Springs parks, where it’s good for up to two people.

Proof of identification, service-connected disability and honorable discharge are required. Acceptable documentation includes:

  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Documentation from Department of Defense or another appropriate agency of service-connected disability.
  • DD Form 214 showing honorable discharge.

The military entrance pass can only be obtained in person at any Florida State Park. Surviving Spouses and parents of US military members who have died in combat are also eligible for this pass.

Honorably discharged veterans can also receive a 25% discount on individual or family passes. These passes, which are valid for one year, are good for admission to all parks. A valid driver’s license and a DD Form 214 are required to get the discount; and like the military entrance pass, it can only be obtained in person.

And if you don’t qualify for either of those passes, but you plan to visit a number of Florida State Parks, you can still save some money by purchasing an individual or family annual pass. These passes are good for one year and they can be purchased at any state park entrance. The individual pass is priced at $60, while the family pass costs $120.

So plan ahead, bring your documentation, and rack up some savings on your next Florida vacation.

Outdoor Gear Care Tips – How to Clean a Backpack Like a Pro

You tried, after that last hiking “incident” you swore it would never happen again. But who could have guessed that the rock would have been so slippery? Now, your best backpack is filthy, dirty both inside and out. And it’s still sitting outdoors because of the spoiled food smells. What should you do now: clean it or throw it away? Once you know how to clean a backpack using the following tips, you never have to worry about throwing a “nasty” backpack ever again.

Cleaning a Backpack Inside

o Turn the backpack completely inside out. If it has metal stays, remove them and set them aside. Dump any debris out onto a newspaper. Use a soft brush to clean off any dried dirt or residue. If you have one available you can always, use a vacuum with a brush attachment.

o Wash off the interior using a little mild detergent with a damp sponge or cloth.

o Be sure to clean in all the nooks and crannies and seams. Use an old toothbrush to dig in deep.

o Rinse using cold water and clean sponge or cloth.

o Use paper towels to dry the interior of the bag completely.

Cleaning a Backpack Outside

1. Turn the backpack right side out now. Use a dry brush to remove any loose dirt or dried mud.

2. Wash off the exterior using a little mild detergent (dishwashing liquid with degreaser) with a damp sponge or cloth.

3. Be sure to clean in all the pockets, flaps and seams. Use an old toothbrush to clean around the edging.

4. Rinse using cold water and clean sponge or cloth. You can submerge the whole pack into tub of cold water or use a hand held shower head or hose to remove all traces of soap both inside and out.

5. Hang the backpack upside down to air dry for several days, preferably outdoors. DO NOT use the dryer.

6. If the backpack is still funky smelling, spray with Fabreze® or hunters’ Scent-A-Way®. But be careful because these may remove waterproofing chemicals like Scotch-Guard ®

7. Store in a cool dry place. Don’t cover with plastic.

Cleaning a Camping Backpack in the Washer (if all else fails)

o DO NOT soak in soapy water. This could cause the layers of the backpack to delaminate or any waterproofing to deteriorate.

o Follow the steps 1-3 from above.

o Place the backpack in the washer. Wash with cold water only on the delicate cycle with a very mild laundry detergent (Ivory Flakes or Woolite). Rinse and let air dry for several days.

o NOTE: This method is for using at the last resort ONLY. Cleaning a camping backpack in the washer can cause the materials in the pack to fall apart. So machine wash at your own risk!

Backpack Zipper Care

Clean a backpack zipper is really easy. First, use an old toothbrush to clean out any sand, salt or dirt and mud from the zipper teeth. Vacuum if necessary to remove debris. Trim any stray or loose threads to prevent tangling. Spray very lightly with a silicone spray, occasionally to lube.

Now that you know how to clean your best backpack, you never have to toss out a malodorous backpack again.

A Review of Popular River Rafting Trips and Services

Organized river rafting trips are a good idea for novices and experts alike. River rafting tours provide all of the equipment, guidance, and instruction necessary. If the trip covers several days, the rafting company may provide camping accommodations as well. Trips are available for rafters of all skill levels, from beginners rafting for the first time, to skilled experts looking for the toughest rivers in the country.

River rafting tours are offered on many major rivers in the country. Trips are available in many different lengths, varying from an afternoon to a two week trek. River rafting trips designed for families as well as trips that cater to experienced rafters are available almost anywhere. While much river rafting is done in the Southwest, it is by no means the only place for a river rafting adventure. North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and many other states have great rivers for rafting.

A couple of well-established river rafting outfitters are Dvorak Expeditions, California River Rafting Excitement, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. All three of these companies offer great guides, top-of-the-line equipment, and routes on some of the best rivers.

Dvorak Enterprises was the first outfitter given a river recreation outfitters license in 1969. Run by the world famous Bill Dvorak out of Salida, Colorado, this company offers exciting river rafting trips to visitors in many states including Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, and Texas, as well as New Zealand and Nepal. Dvorak Enterprises is known for its friendly, skilled, and knowledgeable guides.

California River Rafting Excitement is one of the top-rated river rafting outfitters in the Sunshine State. This company offers river rafting trips on five different California rivers, has trips designed for families as well as experienced rafters, and offers camping equipment for trips lasting several days.

Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina offers a variety of river rafting adventures on several rivers in the area. The rivers range in difficulty to accommodate rafters at any skill level, and Nantahala offers great guides as well as a rafting school for novices.

River rafting trips are a fun way for adventurous travelers to unwind and relax. River rafting adventures are available for rafters of all skill levels, insuring that everyone will have a good, safe time.

Affordable Travel Packages: Tips for Choosing the Ideal Vacation Package for Your Upcoming Trip

Finding and choosing the right vacation package has never been easier. There are so many tools on the internet to help you find discount hotel deals, bargain airfare, and more. Whether you’re looking for last minute deals or all-inclusive vacations, all you have to do is look over affordable travel packages and compare all of the offers. Which one is ideal for your travel needs?

When evaluating a package, one of the important things to consider is accommodation. There are so many types of accommodation, including budget hotels, chain hotels, hostels, cabins, inns, large resorts, serviced apartments and condos, etc. If you plan on spending most of your trip outdoors and have access to reliable transportation such as a rental car or bus, it’s okay to stay at a cheap hotel with basic amenities.

Do you really need an all-inclusive package? Are the “inclusions” even worth paying for? It all depends on what you really want out of a vacation. For most people, airfare, clean room, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi is enough. Before selecting an all-inclusive package, ask yourself if you can do without some of the stuff it comes with.

Another important consideration is location. There can be hotels all over a city. Don’t think that just because you’re getting a room at a low price that you will be saving money. Depending on its location, you could end up paying more on a car rental, bus, or taxi. You might not even have to rent a car if your hotel is located walking distance from all of the places you plan to visit. At the very least, there should be a supermarket within walking distance so you can grab a few necessities.

Beware of Scam Affordable Travel Packages

Always know EXACTLY what you are booking and paying for. Don’t get scammed by so-called “affordable travel packages” that have hidden fees. Not that all of them do – some really are good bargains. You still need to be careful. It also helps to read the terms and conditions to understand the cancellation process. Some packages will charge you money if you have a change of plans and have to cancel. You might even come across some no-refund type of offers.

Use Google Maps or some other type of interactive street map for a better understanding of where a hotel is located in relation to restaurants, shops, bus stations, the airport, train stations, beach, etc. Having an idea of where everything is located will make it easier to sort through affordable travel packages.

Where can you find the most affordable travel packages? At online websites, there are some amazing deals to be found. Whether you to go on a cruise, fly to a big city, stay at a ski resort, etc., just use online discount codes to get a good bargain.

Guide To Baltimore – Outdoor Activities

Baltimore is a city teaming with natural trails and beautiful landscapes. An outdoor vacation is what this place is all about, with many naturally beautiful wonders waiting to be discovered in Calvart Cliffs State Park, Savage River State Forest, Janes Island State Park and many more wildernesses here. You can enjoy the outdoors in protected isolation, as this place offers a long list of adventure and leisure opportunities to its visitorswith activities such as camping, biking hiking and more with just a cheap ticket to Baltimore. Here is a list of outdoor activities you can enjoy in Baltimore.

Ride the Rail Trails. The state of Maryland has more than a dozen of these railroad trails. As more and more railroad tracks went obsolete, they were paved and converted into flat bike trails. This provides a wonderful opportunity to be amidst nature and view Baltimore first hand. This is very popular activity amongst the tourists. It will keep you close to your fitness goals as well as help you enjoy your trip at the same time. This is especially good as vacations are where we dwindle away from our diets and indulge in criminally high calorie feasts.

Appalachian Trail. This is a fairly easy hike if you are an active person. This is a 40-mile hiking trail from Pen-Mar to the Potomac River. This is a very scenic trail and you can take several pictures here. Being here will make you relive it again and again as you realize being in nature can be so beautiful.

Assateague Island. This is a one of a kind get away. Just outside the city this island is full of wild horses and serene beaches. It is a perfect place to have some alone time to reverberate on your life and goals. You get to see wild horses here -it is a very Hollywood sequel experience.

Smith Island. This is an island a short ferry ride away from mainland. This is famous for it's delicious layered pancakes and the wilderness that is not yet messed with. This offers a sneak peak into the world as it was intended to be by mother nature.

Gunpowder river tubing. This is a local annual event where everyone rides a tube down the cold waters of the river. This is especially a good way to beat the summer heat and have some fun. The river is not to worry about with just a few light rapids. Shuttle services are available to take you back up river once you are done.

Camping at Green Ridge Forest. This is a few hours away from the city. This is a dream come true place for outdoor lovers. Here you can camp in the primitive forest sites and can go fishing and paddle boating. The place is very picturesque and elevating.

Marathon. The state hosts more than a dozen marathons every year. Along with the marathons, ultra marathons, trail runs, 15ks, 10ks and other running events are scheduled every weekend. This is a very good place to get your running shoes on and get along other fellow runners to enjoy the natural beauty this place has to offer.

Being in nature is a luxury nowadays and one must enjoy such experiences whenever possible. Living in the cities we are drifting away from natural living, this is what we can correct on nature-centric vacations in places like Baltimore.