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Technology is quickly becoming a cornerstone in society. Everything from ordering meals to paying bills has become more efficient through smartphones. While vacationing is a great way to escape and recharge, the surge in a technologically facilitated lifestyle begs the question – are there better ways to vacation?

Check out these top apps that are making everything from navigating to packing to exploring easier and more exciting.

  1. Cool Cousin (Free)

Top travelers will be the first to tell you that the best way to experience a new destination is by taking advice from ‘the locals’. This app goes one step ahead and connects you with locals in your destination area who serve as your own personal tour guide. Create your own profile and message insiders to get the best local scoop and download local city guides!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Streetography (Free)

This app gives users a unique street view alternative to traditional map viewing. Exploring cities, towns and tourist destinations through the photographs of others who have ventured there before has never been easier. You can see cities through the eyes of real people, and you can even add your own images to the map!

Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

  1. PlanChat (Free)

Thinking of planning the perfect girlfriend getaway or a family reunion, but can’t seem to nail down plan details? This app is the all-in-one trip planning lifesaver that operates like a group chat. Invite family members or friends to join your trip and discuss everything from flight plans, dinner reservations, to expense splitting. You can even plan for future adventures by utilizing the flight price scanning feature which ensures you get the best deals available. And that’s not all. The app includes a poll feature that can help your group make decisions easily and quickly over the app, SMS and even email!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Packing Pro ($)

Whether you are going on a solo getaway or planning your annual family vacation, packing can become a daunting task. Nothing is worse than reaching your destination, ready for relaxation, and realizing you have forgotten something. This app is perfect for keeping track of even the most complex packers while also helping optimize your list for the weather, your destination and your family members. Share your list with family and friends to ensure that everyone is packing what they need to and assign trip responsibility. The app goes one step further and helps predict luggage weight, monetary value and more to help ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your getaway!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Venmo (Free)

Traveling can get expensive quickly, especially when traveling with friends, couples and families. Venmo is a basic yet effective app that allows you to send, or request money from other users. Venmo is easy to use and it’s secure. This app makes splitting checks and paying for meals, or activities as simple as clicking a few buttons. You can link your credit cards, debit cards and even bank accounts up to the app, and then cash out your balance at your convenience, to help keep track of your finances and your spending!

Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Federal – State – Local  

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taken a toll on some of our most beloved timeshare locations in Florida, the Caribbean and Texas.  If you are a displaced owner or resort guest, there are resources for you to explore.  Our thoughts go out to you for your continued safety and recovery from these natural disasters.


FEMA – State/Local Assistance  

Need to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362

Some of the services may include:

– Guidance regarding disaster recovery
– Clarification of any written correspondence received
– Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
– Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
– Status of applications being processed by FEMA
– SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site
– Crisis Counseling Program
– Disaster Legal Services
– Disaster Unemployment
– Funeral Assistance – Individuals and Households Program


Federal Aid Programs for the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Need to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362

Application procedures for the territory will be explained at a series of applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the territory from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies. Application procedures for the territory will be explained at a series of applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the territory from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.


Texas Disaster Relief Fund 

www.Texas.gov


Florida Department of Children and Families

Disaster Recovery Centers provide assistance with disaster unemployment, financial assistance through FEMA, elder affairs issues, housing and rental assistance, aid for businesses and referrals for other needs. DCF’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office works with providers to staff centers with crisis counselors, and our Economic Self-Sufficiency staff are on site to handle replacement food assistance for clients who lost food due to power outages or flooding.


Food for Florida

The Department of Children and Families’ “Food for Florida” disaster relief program provides emergency food assistance to families in need after a hurricane or another disaster under federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. 

For more information and to sign up for text/email alerts, visit www.myflfamilies.com/fff


The American Red Cross

UNICEF – Emergency Hurricane Relief

U.S. Department of Transportation
(State & Local Disaster Emergency Fund)  www.DOT.gov

Labor Day is almost here, and for many families this marks the end of their summer vacation.  Kids are going back to school which means homework, long days, event filled weeks and extracurricular activities.

But the work isn’t just back for the kids – parents have more to do too. Creating a harsh reality, much different from the family beach trip you were just on.

While many families are feeling that they have to wait until next summer for another vacation, this is far from the truth, and fortunately our friends at Project:Time Off have provided everyone with five tips on how to take vacation time during the school year.

  1. Get Comfortable with the Calendar 
    Familiarize yourself with your school’s calendar and take note of any holiday breaks, long weekends, and teacher workdays that may be on the horizon. Key to creating a vacation strategy is not only knowing the happenings of your family calendar, but also taking the time to plan your time off before your schedule gets away from you. Less than half of U.S. households plan their vacations which is a problem, as only 39% of non-planners successfully use all their time off. Those unused days are missed chances to connect as a family. Look ahead for opportunities to extend long weekends to maximize time off and minimize absences.
  2. Communicate with Teachers and Coaches 
    Research your school’s vacation policies. Many schools allow for educational trips. Collaborate with teachers to find ways to make your vacation do double duty. Could your student give a presentation on a museum you’ll be visiting, or write a paper on a historical landmark you plan to see? One Pennsylvania dad felt so strongly about the learning opportunities of travel that he took his kids out of school to cheer him on as he ran the Boston Marathon. Think of your vacation as an extended field trip and explore ways to bring the classroom to life.

If you decide to take an educational trip, consider meeting with teachers and coaches to discuss your plans and coordinate makeup work well before you go. By communicating with your kids’ various program leaders early on, you can avoid any potential conflict down the line.

  1. Make a Game Plan for Makeup Work
    Unlike your child’s school, your office probably doesn’t have regular breaks or educational trip policies. To keep your vacation from turning into work in another zip code, hold a family meeting to discuss boundaries. If you are unable to unplug, make a family game plan so everyone knows when and how you’ll check in with work. Work only when it’s time to work and try to put books, laptops, and smartphones away when it’s time to play.
  2. Don’t Make it an Afterthought
    It happens every year: students’ summer schedules fill up with sleep-away camps, sport tournaments, and volunteer trips attempting to stave off boredom and mid-way into the season you realize you’ve left no time for simply being together. Before camps put a cramp in your style, block the family calendar with simultaneous time off. You can’t afford to keep pushing this precious memory-making time to next year.
  3. Make Your Memories Count
    Project: Time Off found that childhood memories formed during family vacations remain vivid well into adulthood. Three out of four parents believe that family vacation gives children experiences they’ll remember for years to come. Not only will your vacation be a cherished memory, but also a learning opportunity that they may not find in a textbook. After all, you only have 18 Summers.

As you can see, Labor Day no longer has to be the sign to halt your vacations for another nine months.  In fact, these months are a great time to enjoy unique experiences and travel to different locations – away from the normal beach routine.

And one of the best ways to continue vacationing throughout the year is by vacationing with timeshare. With over 1,500 resorts in the U.S., there is enough variety to keep up with your kids’ changing demands. You’ll be able to spend a long weekend adventuring at an amusement park, winter break skiing the mountains or a teacher holiday exploring a new city.

Start looking ahead to this year and see what new adventure your family wants to go on with timeshare.

Having a Kitchen and a Separate Living Area Greatly Improves the Quality of a Vacation

Timeshare vacations provide families with fantastic trips throughout the world, but there’s one thing that may get overlooked: all the extra space that’s available. In comparison to the cramped quarters of a hotel room, a timeshare provides the extra and necessary space for your family to spread out—for both time together and time alone.

In fact, this has been proven in a recent study from ARDA and conducted by Leger, which showed that 89 percent of respondents who had a kitchen on their last vacation said it improved their vacation experience, while 87 percent said that having a separate living area also led to a better vacation.

The kitchen and separate living area aren’t just making vacations better because they provide more space, but because the travelers are actually using them to their advantage.  Fifty percent said that they used their kitchen every day during their trip, while fifty eight percent used the separate living area every day. This helped traveling families create a better, stress-free vacation.

Having an in-unit kitchen can help you save money and eat healthier on your next vacation by:

  • Cooking family meals instead of dinning out for every meal
  • Having the ability to prepare healthy snacks for your day on-the-go
  • Allowing you to store any leftovers in the fridge for a later meal
  • Using the fridge so that you can buy, store and use local ingredients in your meal

Having a kitchen in your resort is fantastic for those who love to cook and want to stay healthy, while an extra living area is perfect for traveling families, especially those with young kids, because they allow for:

  • Family game time
  • A place for the kids to watch television, while the adults can enjoy some grown-up time
  • Uninterrupted downtime. While the kids are still awake and playing in the extra living area, the parents can take a nap or read in the separate bedroom, re-charging for another day of fun

The results from this survey are clear, having an in-unit kitchen and an extra living space in your resort can vastly improve your vacation. So, the next time you are thinking about traveling be sure to consider timeshare!

What do Instagram, Starbucks and the Broadway hit Hamilton have in common?

They were all ideas that were born on vacation!

And there’s a reason for that. According to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, while on vacation a person is “freed from the daily stresses of working life, it is more likely to have new insights into old problems and other flashes of inspiration you may have never thought of.”

Workers take vacations to get away from their 9 to 5 jobs, but traveling can also inspire, stimulate and encourage new ideas. Take it from these unbelievably successful businesses that stemmed from vacations, according Project: Time Off:

  • Instagram, the image-sharing app with 500 million users, came to fruition while founder Kevin Systrom and his now wife, Nicole, were walking on the beachin Mexico. Back in San Francisco, Systrom and his team struggled to revive a failing location-based app, so he probed the subject with Nicole during their stroll. She said, “I don’t want to take photos, because my photos don’t look good.” After explaining how filter apps helped enhance some of the photos posted, she said, “Well, you should probably add filters then.” Systrom calls it a true “eureka moment” that transformed never-heard-of Burbn to Instagram.
  • Dropbox, the file hosting and sharing site, started as a simple idea that founder Drew Houston had while traveling. He was trying to get in a few more hours of work done on the bus from Boston to New York City, but as he opened his laptop to get started, he realized he forgot the USB with the code he needed to work on. To make the most of it, he started building the code to access files over the web and, thus, Dropbox was born.
  • Starbucks became what we know it as today when CEO Howard Schultz was attending a conference in Italy and added some extra time to his trip to take in the culture. On a day trip to Verona, Schultz noticed the craftsmanship and reverence at each coffee shop. “In each shop I visited I began to see the same people and interactions, and it dawned on me that what these coffee bars had created, aside from the romance and theater of coffee, was a morning ritual and a sense of community,” Schultz shared in a company news release. “I left Italy absolutely energized by the culture. I couldn’t wait to sit down with the two remaining founders of Starbucks and tell them, ‘We’ve got to do this.’”
  • Hamilton, the Tony-winning Broadway show was created by Lin Manuel Miranda when the idea came to him on a vacation in Mexico. Miranda said that it was “no accident that the best idea I’ve ever had in my life—perhaps the best one I’ll ever have in my life—came to me on vacation.”

Being on vacation, and freed from their daily work duties, inspired these people to create million, and billion, dollar ideas. And now it can be your turn by ensuring that you use your vacation days and travel the globe – you could be the next to have your own billion-dollar company. And one of the best, easiest ways to assure a vacation each year is to invest in timeshare, which will make vacationing year-in and year-out a guarantee – and with locations in over 120 different countries who knows what will inspire your brilliant idea.

Workers are finally taking action after years of hearing about all the benefits associated with vacationing – better health, better relationships and relaxing times. It has taken a while, but for the first time since 2000 American workers have increased the number of vacation days they take in a year, according to Project: Time Off’s 2017 State of the American Vacation Study.. Now that workers are starting to use more of their vacation days, they see yet another benefit they never expected – they are more likely to earn a raise.

That’s right, those who vacation more are more likely to get a raise.

Although this seems backwards, there is some logic and facts to back this up. In a different report by Project: Time Off, the vast majority (84%) of managers agree that when employees take time off, they return to work with improved focus and creativity. In addition, time off makes it easier to ask employees to log extra hours at critical moments, when extra help is really needed. Not to mention, vacations help make a person happier, and managers view happier employees as more productive employees.

So, why are we still not using all of our vacation days? Most workers feel that there is still a negative stigma associated with taking a vacation. They presume that most managers would prefer employees to dedicate all of their time doing their job instead of say relaxing on an island – but this isn’t the case.

In fact, according to Deloitte Consulting CEO Jim Moffatt, relaxation can turn your standard employee into an exceptional one. He states “You’ll be amazed at what you can do when you’re unplugged—and what you’re able to accomplish when you plug back in.”

Now that you know that vacations could lead to earning a raise at your job, it’s time to continue the trend and take more vacation days. One of the simplest ways of accomplishing this is by planning ahead.

When comparing workers who planned ahead to non-planners, 52 percent of workers who say they set aside time each year to plan out their vacation days took all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners.

One of the best ways to plan a yearly vacation is to own a timeshare, which guarantees that you enjoy a vacation at least once a year. And with locations in over 120 different countries, timeshare vacations provide the perfect location for anyone to unplug from work.

So, start planning now.  You could make more money because of it.

Survey Shows an Overwhelming Majority of Respondents Think So

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2017 – A recent survey from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and conducted by research group Leger, found that 89 percent of respondents who had a kitchen on their last vacation said it improved their vacation experience, and 87 percent said that having a separate living area also led to a better vacation.

Respondents didn’t just like the idea of having this extra space, they actually used it. Fifty percent said that they used their kitchen every day during their trip, which helped traveling families create a better, stress-free vacation.

“Having extra living space can turn a regular vacation into an exceptional one—especially with a kitchen,” said Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations at ARDA. “Timeshare owners have known about these benefits for years. Whether you want to be able to eat together as a family or have the kids watch television while you and your spouse dine, in-unit kitchens and an extra living space take away the frustrations vacationers encounter in small, cramped quarters.”

Extra living areas and a kitchen are ideal for families, especially for those with young children. The living room and/or extra bedrooms, enables vacationers to spread out and have space to be together, and alone. Respondents noted that the kitchen is great for those who love cooking, or for saving money from not eating out for every meal. Kitchens also help vacationers maintain a healthy lifestyle while away from their normal routine, as well as give them the opportunity to try local dishes. Having a refrigerator and essential amenities in the kitchen, travelers can buy, store and cook with local, fresh ingredients.

For more, see the full infographic on why kitchens are the key to a happier vacation.

According to a brand new study conducted by Oxford Economics and Leger for the ARDA International Foundation (AIF) about the worldwide timeshare industry, timeshares around the world are attracting new owners who want to be a part of this lifestyle.  The industry now spans the globe and there are nearly 5,400 shared vacation ownership resorts which include more than 527,000 units and helped to generate more than 18 million room nights in 2015.

Shared vacation ownership is a truly global industry with properties in 121 countries.  And the resorts are truly spread out – there are nearly 2,500 resorts in North America, more than 1,300 resorts in Europe, The Middle East and Africa, and over 570 resorts in Central and South America.

By traveling to these worldwide resorts, vacationers help impact the global economy by:

  • Supporting nearly 1.3 million jobs; 577,000 direct and 702,000 indirect
  • Generating $146 billion in economic output; $57 billion directly and $89 billion indirectly
  • Generating almost $17 billion in taxes

The great amenities that timeshares offer, along with the wide variety of locations have led to a steady increase in ownership:

  • Between 2014 and 2015, global sales increased 11.5% from $17.7 billion to $19.7 billion.
  • Average worldwide shared vacation ownership sales price was $18,626 per interval in 2015, representing a 0.5% compound annual worldwide growth rate between 2013 and 2015
  • Global shared vacation ownership occupancy registered 79.4% in 2015, an increase from 76.4% in 2014

With the success the industry, and the owners, are seeing there are positive signs moving forward:

  • Data indicates the global shared vacation ownership industry will add 91 new properties and nearly 7,300 units in 2017 and beyond

Timeshare vacations are a fantastic way to ensure you can experience what the world has to offer.  And with the growing number of resorts worldwide, paired with the features and amenities, now may be the right time to look into becoming an owner.

For more details, see ARDA’s infographic and for a copy of the full study, visit www.arda.org/foundation.

 

Everyone is always looking for the newest, latest trends. We don’t want to deal with time consuming tasks, and we just want to press a couple of buttons on our phone to accomplish what needs to be done. Need a ride to somewhere? Open your Uber App. On a last-minute trip? Find a place to stay overnight with Airbnb. Visiting a new city? Rent a bike to travel around.

This trend of having access to use or rent assets owned by someone else is known as the sharing economy. Simply put, the sharing economy makes things easier, simpler and more cost effective for consumers by sharing products instead of buying their own car, bike or vacation home.

But when you think about it, the Timeshare Industry was actually the original sharing economy—not Uber or Airbnb—before it was a trend. In fact, in a Hotel Management Article, Gail Mandel, president and CEO of Wyndham Destination Network, said “Long before the ‘sharing economy’ was a buzzword, timeshare developers were innovating in the travel space by enabling travelers to enjoy the benefits of using a vacation property without having to purchase the entire vacation home.”

And on top of that, with vacation exchange programs owners can swap resorts, weeks or units all online in a simple and fast way. Timeshares truly were the original product of the sharing economy, and even offer greater benefits than other hospitality industry shared economy products.

The key advantage to timeshare in the sharing economy is that a timeshare is a professionally managed resort, while other alternatives, like Airbnb and HomeAway, are peer-to-peer services with no customer service or quality standards.

In the same Hotel Management article, Mandel states that “timeshare units are hospitality businesses at their core. The properties are run and maintained by professionals, have strict standards for what travelers will experience and find in their accommodations, and follow safety regulations and tax laws. The average homeowner on Airbnb may not even be aware of these practices, and that can make for some uncomfortable situations.”

Timeshare vacations are no longer grandma’s week at the same time in the same place every year. They offer an opportunity for shorter stays, flexible ownership and locations all over the world. And like Airbnb and other vacation sharing options, vacationers get way more space than a traditional hotel offers. But they also provide features that cannot be met by other services: consistency of offering, managed properties and service.

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