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Your Fail-Safe Guide to Healthy Hotel Travel

find your inner self

Traveling is one of life’s great adventures – a chance to explore foreign cities, meet new people, and try out alternative lifestyles. Whether you travel for work or pleasure, you probably know that exploring new territory can be as thrilling as it is occasionally draining. Why is that? For one, it gets us out of our routine…for better or for worse. We might escape the cares and worries of our daily life, but can also slack on fitness routines and healthy eating plans. But that’s the trade-off, right?

Well, not necessarily. More and more people are deciding that travel shouldn’t necessarily make us throw out healthy practices. Key to this is the ability of hotels and other accommodations to provide services and amenities that support healthy eating, fitness, mindfulness practices, and the like. But finding such places can be tricky.

Here are 5 sources to help you pick a hotel with the best healthy amenities to keep you fit and happy, even on the road:

Hotels with outdoor fitness amenities (Reuters)

 “StayWell” Hotel Rooms: Keeping You Healthy in Vegas (Forbes)

Hotels that offer yoga classes, fitness experts, and more (Well&Good NYC)

How to have a “green” hotel experience (Greatist)

Turn Your Hotel Room Into A Healthy and Budget Friendly Kitchen (Living Harvest)

 

So next time you find yourself away from home and in search of accommodation, keep in mind the kind of healthy amenities you’d like to find in a hotel. There are so many great offerings these days, and it won’t be hard to stay healthy and happy while you explore!

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18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

How to Keep Your Mind and Body in Shape While Traveling

Yoga in MalaysiaBy Kendra Thornton

Heading out of town for a business trip or vacation can be a stressful time, but you should really try to minimize this stress and focus on the experience of being in a new place. Here are a few tips that can help you stay mentally and physically prepared for whatever journey is ahead of you:

1. Keep it Nutritious

Nutrition is a very important factor to be conscious of when traveling, especially during the warmer summer months. When I travel alone, one of my top priorities is staying happy, healthy and focused, which is why I make sure that I bring along some nutritious snacks, like cut up fruit, trail mix and similar treats. These kinds of foods are easy to carry around and have the added bonus of helping regulate body temperature, which is ideal when you’re in a hot airport or on a warm hike!

2. Select the Right Hotel

You can find some hotels in W. Scottsdale, Arizona that offer complimentary yoga classes, even to those that aren’t staying at the hotel! They’ve created a partnership with Lululemon Athletica to make 60-minute Vino & Vinyasa classes available two times per month. Before I pick a place to stay, I like to skim through Gogobot’s travel review site to find places like this that offer similar perks. For example, when I went to California I found a ton of really great San Diego hotels by looking through their reviews! I found out that the Porto Vista hotel had sunset yoga on their rooftop terrace – how cool is that!

3. Don’t Slack on Your Yoga Time

Even if you’re about to head out for a vacation, business trip or family adventure, you don’t have to leave your yoga routine at home. Take a yoga mat, a few candles and some of your favorite tea with you to get your yoga on wherever you find yourself. A happy mind promotes a healthy trip, so feel free to set up your mat right in your hotel room!

4. Stress Doesn’t do Anyone Any Good

It’s no secret that flights rarely go off without a hitch, be it due to excessive turbulence or a rowdy passenger. So, in these situations, I like to help relieve stress by focusing on my breathing. A bit of meditation right in your seat can do wonders for travel anxiety. Just focus on your breathing or put on some relaxing music, let your thoughts pass and you’ll be feeling more at peace in no time.

5. Regulate Your Sleep

Find yourself jetlagged in a new time zone? Get used to your new surroundings by exploring as soon as possible. If the sun is out on a nice day, head over to the beach and soak up some rays! MacGregor of Yoga Journal attests that your internal rhythm is rested when spending time in the sunlight, so get to it!

Keep in mind that a vacation or trip should be enjoyable and stress-free, so utilize these tips and keep your mind and body in the best shape possible to maximize your fun!

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HeadShot 8.38.02 AMFormer Orbitz Director of Communications, Kendra is now a full time mommy of three. Before becoming a mom, she traveled all around the world – 28 countries on 6 continents. She has been quoted in the news about seasonal travel trends and destinations all over the United States, and she is excited to share some of her favorite tips on how to travel in a peaceful and balanced mindset.

Visit her website for more!

Healthy Travel: 5 Things to Look For When Choosing a Hotel

[ 29th Floor Pleasures : Studio Queen Suite ] The INNSIDE By Melia @ THE EUROTHEUM Frankfurt Am Main, Germany

Travel brings power and love back into your life. ― Rumi

Traveling brings a mix of adventure, invigoration, relaxation, and appreciation to our lives – I love it. However, more often than I care to admit, I return home feeling bloated, tired, and in need of a long overdue sweat session.

Can you relate to missed workouts, consuming way less fruits and veggies than normal, eating unhealthy foods in general (it’s not like you can cook your own meals), maybe having a few extra cocktails (or desserts, or both), and only getting so-so sleep? These are the not-so-fun parts of traveling that most of us don’t think about before the trip (afterwards our bodies won’t let us stop thinking about it).

The great news is that the hotel industry finally realized that many travelers want to maintain their healthy habits while on the road, and some hotels are now giving the whole guest experience a healthy makeover (thank you, thank you, thank you!). We thank you hotel gods.

Below are 5 things to look for in a healthy hotel:     

1.       Healthy Food Availability: Make sure the hotel offers healthy food options such as fresh fruit and vegetable juices, a variety of fruit options, fresh smoothies, or gluten-free and vegan meal options. Also, check to see if the hotel rooms have mini-fridges – it’s the perfect place to store healthy snacks you can bring with you our buy locally.

2.       Fitness Options: Many hotels are ramping up their guests’ fitness experiences by creating larger and better-equipped gyms, offering group classes, providing in-room yoga mats, or showing free on-demand fitness TV programs. They’re giving you everything you need to get your sweat on while away from home.

3.       Eco-Friendly Cleaning: Toxic cleaning products (still commonly used) can create a host of problems for our health. Health and wellness focused hotels understand this and choose to use eco-friendly cleaning products – to keep your room both clean and toxic-free.

4.       Hypoallergenic Bedding: We all need a good night’s rest (it’s not just for toddlers and kids), and being away from home often makes it more difficult. With hypoallergenic bedding, you don’t have to worry about itchy skin or any allergic reactions to the detergent or softener and can just focus on getting your beauty sleep.

5.       Healthy Extras: Some hotels provide some cool, healthy extras such as Vitamin C showers, aromatherapy, air filtration systems, and lighting designed to maintain your natural circadian rhythm even when you stay up late (you are on vacation, after all).

Next time you’re planning a vacation, check the hotel website or read customer reviews to find out which hotels keep your health and wellness in mind – and are worth your money. Then sit back and make the most of your well-deserved vacation.

Where are you planning or would like to travel next? Share in the comments below.  

 

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18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

 

Fragrance Free: 10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Toxic Scents

Stinky, sweet smelling air fresheners, cologne, body sprays, and scented shampoo are made with synthetic fragrances, and they’re bad for your health…especially children and pregnant women. These factory-made fragrances contain phthalates, which are chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems.

I tell my clients not to buy artificially scented products for their home or office because they can also trigger migraine headaches, allergies and asthma attacks. A recent Institute of Medicine study sponsored by the EPA put fragrances in the same category as second hand smoke as a trigger for asthma in school-age children. Also, in homes where aerosol sprays and air fresheners were used frequently, studies found that mothers experienced 25% more headaches, and infants younger than 6 months old had 30% more ear infections.

Scented disinfectants and air fresheners are showing up everywhere! I now call ahead and request no air fresheners in rental cars and at hotels, just like asking for a non-smoking car or room. I ask my groomer not to use fragrance when she washes my dog. But it’s hard when you work at a school or non-service oriented business because most people think the person who is sensitive to fragrance is just plain weird. I know a chemically sensitive woman who was told to attend staff meetings by using Skype on her computer, so her co-workers wouldn’t have to give up using cologne or perfume. “They think it’s all in my head,” she said.

Even the mall isn’t a safe haven. The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch sprays its signature fragrance Fierce inside as well as outside, so people are unknowingly being exposed to harmful chemicals by simply walking by the store. One environmental group,Teens Turning Green, held protests in San Francisco and New York demanding that the spraying stop. Their effort is supported by more than two dozen groups, including theCampaign for Safe Cosmetics, which revealed that A&F’s Fierce contains 11 secret chemicals that are not listed on the label.

When you see the word “fragrance” in an ingredient list, you can assume it’s all synthetic—and not a blend of natural flower extracts. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reports that “95% of the ingredients used to create fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers.” According to the EWG, there are potentially hundreds of chemicals in a single product’s secret fragrance mixture.

Be forewarned: Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top 5 allergens in the world.

Ten powerful ways to protect yourself from toxic synthetic fragrances:

  1. Avoid air fresheners. They are made with synthetic fragrances, containing phthalates.
  2. Watch for any product that lists “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label — these are FDA-approved catch-all words synonymous with hidden phthalates.
  3. Products that claim to be “fragrance free” or “unscented” could contain masking agents that give off a neutral odor, so it is best if the word “fragrance” does not appear on the label at all.
  4. Look for scents that are naturally derived or are plant-based or labeled as 100% essential oils. These are not the same thing as fragrance oils which are artificially created and contain synthetic chemicals.
  5. If a product says “Made with…” it can mean as little as 1 percent of the ingredients in the bottle.
  6. For scented candles, try those made from soy or beeswax, and make sure their fragrance is made from 100% essential oils.
  7. To clear the air use a non-aerosol citrus spray containing only citrus peel extracts, which are effective at dissolving airborne odors, instead of scented aerosol sprays, liquids that emit a continuous scent, or solid air fresheners.
  8. Labels that claim a product is “natural” or “biodegradable” do not mean that it is necessarily free of synthetic fragrances or other chemicals
  9. Certified Organic products do not contain synthetic fragrances.
  10. Make requests at hotels, car rental companies, dog groomers, schools, and offices to not use scented cleaning products.

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, radio talk show host, former President of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green healthy home makeover specialist, eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, Super Natural Home, endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, etc. She’s leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy home environments and informs and inspires people to transform their homes into safe havens. Beth consults for residential and commercial clients nationwide.

Valentines Day Vacation Spots

One can never outgrow the charm of Valentine’s Day. No matter what people say, it is a occasion to celebrate love. Add to it the fact that this year, it happens to fall on a long weekend with Friday, February 12 being Shivratri and a holiday for many. So pack your bags this Valentine’s Day and take a weekend break to one of these magical places in India, perfect for a romantic getaway.Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a great excuse to take a break from the daily grind and spend some quality time with that special someone. And with V-Day falling on a Sunday this year, it’s the perfect opportunity to skip town and head out. So we asked readers to send in their most romantic vacation spots that would make great V-Day getaways.

The Misty Hills of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
How much ever people try to dissuade you, do not listen. Shimla, about 370 km from Delhi, is the eternal favourite honeymoon spot in North India and for good reason too. The nip in the air, the misty skies, the breathtaking views and evening walks on the Mall road make it the perfect romantic location.Must-do: Walk hand in hand with your beloved while devouring a softy ice cream from the famous stall near the church. The toy train from Kalka to Shimla is also a must do.

Where to stay: Unless you want to go the luxury way and stay at the Oberoi, be adventurous and walk down the mall towards a campsite called Potters Hill. The Swiss Tents are comfortable and the location in the middle of the pine forest perfect.

 
Marvelous Matheran, Maharashtra
Leave the hustle bustle of city life behind and lose yourself in this tiny hillock called Matheran, about 108 km away from Mumbai.The only hill station where there is no vehicular traffic allowed, spend leisurely afternoons taking pony rides or treks along the unused railway track.Matheran is delightfully accessible from Mumbai and Pune by local trains that don’t need prior booking.

Must-do: Take a walk along the lanes that wind their way through the forests, buy a guava from the stall on the way and hear the birds twitter.

Where to stay: Maharashtra Tourism has excellent cottages at throwaway prices.

Gopalpur-on-Sea, Orissa
It may sound like a description but Gopalpur-on-Sea is actually the name of this sleepy town located about 180 km from Bhubaneshwar in Orissa.Once a busy sea port, it is now a quaint and quiet beach side town. There is a lighthouse for some sightseeing but besides that, there is just the sand, the sea and you. Perfect for a quiet romantic weekend vacation packages .The waters of the sea here are a pleasurable deep blue which is rare to find in the ever crowded Goa.

Must-do: Walk barefoot in the sand and watch the sun go down on the sea.

Where to stay: Swosti Palm Resort is a nice and clean but affordable stay option here.

The Spice Route through Kerala
One would never think of Kerala as a weekend vacation. But if you happen to be in that part of the country, this is the perfect answer to your Valentine’s Day plans.What could be more romantic than a cruise in a houseboat down the backwaters at Alleppey and fresh prawns for dinner!Plan a 2-day trip to Cochin and go down to Alleppey (2 hours away) for a day’s cruise.Must-do: Visit the Mattancherry Antique market in Cochin and pick up a 200 year old souvenir to remember your trip.

Where to stay: Book the houseboat for the night and return to Cochin the next day.

The epitome of Love – Taj Mahal, Agra
It would be sacrilege to talk of romance and not mention the monument of Eternal Love, the Taj Mahal in Agra, about 203 km away from Delhi.As hyped that the monument may be, a visit to the Taj will convince you that it still remains magical in its power to amaze.Club a visit to the Taj with a tour of the magnificent Agra fort and you are in for a treat. Immerse yourself in the romance of years gone by and rediscover each other.

Must-do: When you visit the monuments, do make sure you hire a guide. They may charge an extra Rs.50 but they will help you appreciate the beauty much more than you otherwise would.

Where to stay: There are plenty of 5 star options in Agra, the best of which is the Jaypee Palace.

Seeped in history – Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
This may not be an obvious choice but it is merely a lack of marketing and not of potential. Madhya Pradesh remains one of our most unexplored jewels and Orchha may just be the crowning gem.A town seeped in history and culture, Orchha, about 170 km away from Khajuraho, is a historian’s dream.You don’t necessarily need to appreciate architecture to pay this town a visit though. The quiet little town on the banks of the Betwa river is as romantic as it gets. Orchha is best reached by taking a train to Jhansi (16 km away).

Must-do: Watch the sunset over the river.

Where to stay: Book the Orchha Resort and stay in the Swiss Tents instead of the rooms. You will have your morning tea literally in the lap of the ruins.

Coorg (Kodagu), Karnataka
Referred to as the Scotland of India, nestled between teakwood and sandalwood forests, Coorg is beauty that must be experienced.A popular destination yet so abundant in natural beauty that it seems untouched. The region is known for its stunning scenic beauty and undulating coffee plantations.A comfortable drive from Bangalore (252 km)/ Mangalore (135 km), Coorg is the perfect Valentine’s Day weekend if you live in these cities.

Must-do: The Abbey Falls, near the main town of Madikeri can be reached by hiking through the cardamom and coffee plantations.

Where to stay: The best part about Coorg is to stay in the midst of the plantations. For a luxury option, the best recommended is Orange County. But if you want to save the dough, experience Coorg by staying in one of the homestays like Ashraya Homestay or the Palace Estate Homestay.

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Though Udaipur is rumoured to be the romantic capital of India, take a cue, bypass the city and plan a trip to Jaisalmer instead.There are few things more romantic than endless sand dunes till the eye can see, villagers dressed in the colours of the rainbow and a camel ride watching the sun go down.All this and more, only at Jaisalmer the desert capital of India Tours.

Must-do: Take a guided tour through the ancient fort of Jaisalmer, once an important stop on the trade route between India and Persia and Egypt.

Where to stay: Fort Pokaran has fabulous location and completes the Rajasthani experience. For a more budget option, stay at the lovely Hotl Fifu. Despite the strange sounding name, the hotel is well located and has tasteful rooms.

Getaway: Lansdowne, Uttarakhand
If there is heaven on Earth, it is here. Lansdowne offers majestic beauty, serene surroundings and lovely atmosphere, perfect for a couple to share their best moments with each other. It truly is one of the most romantic getaways for special occasions.

Sights: St Mary’s Church and Tip-n-Top are two of the most reknowned tourist attractions. Though Lansdowne also boasts of a quiet lake where you can find swans and ducks swimming around.

Eats: There isn’t much to offer as regards Lansdowne in terms of eateries. Almost all the hotels provide good food included in the package of your stay there. Though the ultimate fun is cooking your own food on a fireplace.

Shopping: Lansdowne has shops operated by the Garhwal Rifles from where you can buy cheap leather goods and other winter accessories like bags and boots.

How to get there: Lansdowne is about 250 km from Delhi. It is roughly a six-hour drive. The highway till Kotdwar is good. After that, for the last 40 km, the hilly terrain is really enjoyable with pines and cedars on both sides of the road.

 

Amid mountain mists
Getaway: Amboli, Maharastra

A great weekend destination worth visting.

Sights: If you like silence, if you like nature, Amboli is for you. The best thing about this place is that unlike other hill stations, this one is not yet commercialised, hence Amboli offers you natural beauty. Amboli is highly recommended if you like to spend some time in peace and would like to relax in nature. Amboli has not much to offer in terms of entertainment, but it’s a real paradise for nature lovers. Some facts about Amboli: receives the highest rainfall in Maharastra; has the largest green cover; is home to around 30 species of animals, around 129 species of birds and over 350 species of medicinal plants; is a great location for adventure tourism; has cool and pleasant pollutuion-free climate round the year.

Eats: Vegetarian food at Vithal Kamat. We were there for lunch and the only option available was Veg Thali. We asked for some other options but they had none so we had to go for the thali. They charge around Rs 35 per thali. The food was simple and good with great dessert. It is on the main road, near Sunset Point.

Green Valley Resort: This resort has an in-house restaurant. The menu offers a wide choice of veg and non-veg food(including Chinese). This restaurant has no bar. Though I tried only the veg food here, I am sure they serve good non-veg food also. Prices seemed to be on the higher side. Service was good.

Shopping: The small Amboli market has nothing much to offer except for some local masalas at Narvekar (opposite Sailee Hotel).

Sights: If you are not travelling by your own vehicle, you can hire an auto (Rs 400) or a taxi (Rs 700). It takes around 4- 41/2 hours to cover the 5-6 spots. The siteseeing locations are Hiranyakeshi Temple (a small temple where the river Hiranyakeshi originates, a beautiful location but the approach road to the location is pathetic, it is around 4 km from the Green Valley Resort); Kavalesaad Point (beautiful location with awesome views; if fogs allow, you can see the beauty of the Sahyadri range from this location; it is around 9 km form the Green Valley Resort on the highway towards Belgaum; here too the approach road is quite bad); other locations to be covered are Madhav Ghad, Raghaweshwar (Maruti Mandir) and Nagarthas Falls. The last one is the waterfall ahead of Sunset Point. Make sure you are ready to get yourself totally drenched in this beautiful waterfall. It is located 3 km away, at the Sawantwadi-Belgaum road. Thirty minutes in this fall will make you feel awesome. Have a cutting chai with some hot pakoras while you are wet, I bet you will love it.From Belgaum, Amboli is about 68 km which is covered in two hours. You can either take the NWKRTC or the MSRTC bus heading towards Sawantwadi at the main bus station. Fare is about Rs 45.Please make sure to make advance reservations if going on a weekend.

Tucked away in peaceful hills

Getaway: Writers Hill, Himachal Pradesh

Description: Romantic and peaceful

Sights: Renuka lake, zoo, campfire

Shopping: Local antiques, small carvings

Activities: Visit to Renuka Lake and Zoo, picnic by the river, fishing, trek to Churdhar.

How to get there: Writers Hill is 220 km from Delhi. Take a right turn from Ambala flyover and go upto Nahan. Writers Hill is 20 km drive from Nahan.

Accommodation:

There are three cottages with a central kitchen. Two of the cottages have a study attached and each of the cottage looks into the Jalal river valley. The mountain in front gives you a breathtaking view. With all the cottages having bay windows, it’s an unrestricted view.The cottages are large, airy and offer a simple yet very comfortable stay.Each study has a collection of books both fiction and non-fiction and in the days to come the collection will only increase and improve.

Mannavanur Valley Tours

Mannavanur valley

They say God is impartial, but there are some places on this tiny planet of ours that defy the claim. One such place is located right next to God’s Own Country  Kerala, not Africa.Just an hour away from Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu, lies the fresh-like-a-breeze Mannavanur valley. If, instead of taking a car, you choose to get aboard the state transport bus, do so on an empty stomach. You’ll save a tonne of money but super human powers of balance and courage will be needed to withstand the ride.

The ancient bus will hurtle through winding hilly roads and hairpin turns at the speed of sound. For the duration of the ride, which is about an hour and a half, the bus driver will nonchalantly chat up passengers and conductor alike, oblivious that the bus is almost a breath away from certain disaster. But then, as Calvin’s dad would say, “It builds character.”

Expanding views
As you leave Kodai town behind, wilderness and terrace farms alternate, expanding into the valley below. But all the views and valleys and busted valves (yes, the bus breaks down from time to time) cannot prepare you for the Mannavanur valley.

The very first glimpse will ensure instant silence. The second will cause disbelief. By the third glimpse you’ll try to take it all in. The rolling grassy hills with clumps of chola forests that take over at regular intervals, a lake located in just the right spot and the Perijam forest spread out like a blanket, its edges skirting the valley. Ferns of silver, bronze, green and brown invade the hills and offset the many shades of green.

A marshy stream escapes from the lake and snakes its way between the hills, its water plants straining against the wind. The road generously curves all around the valley offering you a panoramic view before it leads you to the Mannavanur village.

Rustic setting
With over a thousand households clustered around the road and spread over the hills beyond, the village offers little more than a few condiment shops and three or four tiny hotels or chai kadais (tea shops), where you can get meals and meat, dosas and steaming hot cups of tea and coffee.

There are a few places to stay in, if you are ready to rough it out.   Otherwise, a kilometre long walk back on the bus route (or you could request the driver to stop on the way if you’re alert) will take you to Bird’s Eye, the best accommodation for miles.

A different perspective
It’s pretty rustic as well, with bare stone cottages on a hill side with mattresses and coarse blankets on stone beds. But there are three things that redeem it. First, true to its name, a 200-degree view of the valley greets you every time you step out of your cottage. Second, there’s no back-breaking climb to get there. You cross the road, step off, and you’re in the valley, bounding over hills, racing towards the occasional trees carpeted with fluorescent fungi. There are several rough paths made mainly by zealously grazing cattle and, other than the marsh, there are no dangers you’ll encounter on your way. Third, the loos are fabulous. Richard the caretaker, doubles up as cook and the man will bring you warm water whenever you want. If you take your own supplies, the kitchen can also be used for an extra fee.

The magical nook
There are plenty of hidden surprises to uncover your tour, so if you have your own vehicle, explore the hills and valleys on your wheels. If you choose to to travel by walk, then do visit the magical enclave I stumbled upon.

A couple of kilometres beyond the village lies a path into a magical forest with plants and nooks the likes of which are rarely seen. And it all starts with a stream. Follow the stream and discover a wonderland that goes on and on, every turn revealing new curiosities and colours. Numerous visits aren’t enough to explore this pretty patch. Other than leeches in the rainy season, there’s nothing here that can bother you. With so much to explore, tremendous positive energy, an explosion of life and many scenes to drink in, Mannavanur is a place that promises to draw you back time and again.

Getting there
From Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, there are daily buses to Kodaikanal and trains to Kodi Road Junction located at the base of the hill, three hours from the town. The Nagarcoil Express leaves from CST on all days except Monday and Tuesday.

Getting around
There’s a bus that leaves every couple of hours from the Kodaikanal bus stand. The ticket costs Rs 30-40. Taxis are also available and are a more comfortable option. They cost anywhere between Rs 800-1,400 depending on the driver, your bargaining skills and the time of the year.

Important information
The best time for vacations is between March to August, before the rains begin. There’s a tiring 23km trek or jeep ride to Perijam lake but I wouldn’t even speak of it in comparison to this forest close by. Permissions are needed from the Government of Tamil Nadu Tourist Office, Annasalai, Kodaikanal, Ph: 04542- 241675.

Many Planet-Friendly Options for Eco-Friendly Travelers: Green Hotels Now Available in Florida and Elsewhere

Eco-conscious travelers to Florida will have more green hotel options this fall/winter.

Eleven more lodging facilities have joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Green Lodging Program. They have implemented green practices that are protective of Florida’s natural resources.  To date, 579 lodging facilities in Florida are now designated in the state’s voluntary program.

Says DEP Director of Sustainable Initiatives Deas Bohn:

“Lodging facilities are recognizing the value in green just in time for fall visitors and the upcoming holiday travel season. By adopting practices that protect Florida’s environment without sacrificing the comforts of their guests, these 11 facilities are setting a great example of environmental stewardship for Floridians and visitors alike.”

The new designations statewide are:

Northwest
• Courtyard by Marriott, Panama City
• Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, Tallahassee
• Residence Inn Tallahassee Universities at the Capitol, Tallahassee

Northeast
• Courtyard by Marriott – Kendall Town, Jacksonville
• Park Place, Cedar Key

Central
• Country Inn and Suites, Cape Canaveral
• Hyatt Place, Lake Mary
• Nickelodeon Family Suites, Orlando

Southeast
• Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport, Fort Lauderdale
• Wyndham Garden Hotel, Boca Raton

South
• Holiday Inn Express, Bonita Springs

The Florida Green Lodging Program, launched in 2004, establishes environmental guidelines for hotels and motels to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution.  Designated members must adopt green practices to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, protect air quality and reduce waste.

For more information, visit the Florida Green Lodging Program online.

Hotel Key Cards And Your Identity

Can your identity be stolen off of the room key cards that hotels use? In my experience, the answer is “no.” I have never found anything other than my name, room number and occasionally a customer number encoded on the magnetic strip on the back of the card.

Here’s how key cards work. Hotels store your personal information (credit card number, address, etc.) on their computer system rather than on the card. When they issue you your key card, they encode your name and the room number onto the card. When you use your key card at the hotel gift store or at the bar, it simply records that charge to your room or customer number. When you check out, the charge is billed directly to your credit card.

To verify the accuracy of my experiences, I researched hotel key cards on Snopes.com. Snopes is an excellent way to verify the truth of possible scams, frauds and urban myths. Snopes supports my findings, however…

Why take the chance? I’ve never been to a hotel that actually charges you if you don’t return the cards. So, the responsible privacy reflex here is to minimize your chances by destroying the card, even if it doesn’t pose much of a risk. Just like you should shred mail that only has your name and address on it (the first pieces of information an identity thief needs to uncover more identity on the Internet), so should you eliminate the chances that something on the hotel key card will ever be used to steal your identity.

It costs you nothing and takes less than 30 seconds to CHOP. And in the meantime, this will get you in the habit of destroying identity exposure so that when it does count, you’re prepared.

Identity theft prevention isn’t about being paranoid, it’s about establishing good habits of privacy and being prepared.

About the author: John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To further bulletproof yourself and your business, visit John’s blog at Sileo.com. To book John at your next event, visit www.ThinkLikeaSpy.com.

Should I take a trip to India?

I am supposed to go with a friend on a one month trip to India in February and wanted to get your opinion on this trip, considering the latest incident. This trip is intended to combine 2 weeks of traveling mostly in Rajasthan (landing in New Delhi), going north to Rishikesh for one week to spend time in one of the ashrams, from there fly to Pune, spend another week in Osho’s ashram, and get back home from Mumbai. I normally follow my will, and simply trust!!! However is it too risky, considering the fact that I am American, and a mother of 3, planning to go to popular sites and destinations, and stay in those well known hotels???

I totally want to support India, especially in days where tourism will probably drop, however is it too risky? Honestly, I will be very sad to cancel this trip, or change destination. I would love to hear your opinion on:

  1. Do you think it is safe to travel to these destinations?
  2. Should I travel elsewhere within India?
  3. Postpone the trip?
Also, I need some help with an ashram in Rishikes:
  1. I don’t have a specific Guru/ashram to go to in Rishikesh’s , though I understand there’s many over there. Any recommendation of an Ashram in Rishikesh? 
I would greatly appreciate to get your opinion, if you know India, lived there or visited it. I always like to hear first hand experiences from people. This is my first trip to India!

Thank you–Zivi

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