• EXPLORE eNewsletter from Travel Guard | September 2012 Not receiving the Explore newsletter? Click here to sign up!

    This summer was one of the hottest on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).1 After all the heat, chances are you are ready to welcome fall with open arms. Do you feel like taking road trip when the crisp autumn air arrives?

    America the colorful has fall foliage to enjoy from sea to shining sea. Here's a sampling of the many great places you can enjoy as the weather cools down.

    Vermont's Mad Colors and River Byway Viewing

    The northeastern United States is known for prime fall foliage viewing. It's no wonder that a mecca for champion leaf-viewers is located in Vermont – particularly where the Mad River runs, and hills and valleys unite among winding roads and picturesque views of a storybook-like countryside. Travel + Leisure recommends stopping along the way at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center for a tour and tasting or at Michael's on the Hill in the Green Mountains near Stowe.3

    Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive

    Perhaps one of the best drives for fall colors is a pass through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Dubbed as one of the top 10 scenic mountain drives in the United States, this skyline drive meanders along the crest of the Blue Mountains from Front Royal, VA to the Waynesboro-Charlottesville area and boasts bright orange hickories and deep purple dogwoods.3 Besides driving, travelers may want to immerse themselves in the scenery by going on a horseback ride through the park's beautiful wooded trails.

    Rustic Roads Lead to Wisconsin Color

    While the northeast might be a show-stealer when it comes to fall colors, some states in the Midwest are not far behind. In Wisconsin, several regions around the Great Lakes offer great fall foliage viewing with water as the backdrop and a cool, crisp breeze to boot. In the Hayward Lakes region of Wisconsin travelers can choose from six self-guided color tours, which highlight the best locations for fall foliage and even suggest potential stops to see historical sites along the way. The area's many maples, oaks, aspens, sumacs and tamaracks make for a breathtaking exploration via hiking, biking, picnics and wildlife viewing amid the rich colors of fall.

    There's History in Colorado's Fall Scenery

    Sometimes the center of the country deserves the center of attention – especially when it comes to a brightly colored tapestry of fall hues. Perhaps the best way to view the area's beauty is by taking the 63-mile Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, which begins off route 70 and flows by lakes, fields laden with wildflowers, mystical canyons, and mysterious forests.3

    Don't forget to take a pit stop around the town of Cedaredge, where you can tour a 19th-century western village complete with saloon, jail, and blacksmith shop. If you are looking to meet the locals and participate in a yearly festival, be sure to pass through during Applefest Gala which is held each October.

    Oregon's Columbia River Highway

    If you live in the West you'll want to check out the Columbia River Highway – the first scenic drive in the U.S. to earn National Historic Landmark status. This route was specifically designed to show off the area's natural beauty with a winding road that finds its way to the top of 900-foot cliffs overlooking a valley and river below. Be prepared to be wowed by the season's fiery hues combined with dramatic waterfalls and fields of wildflowers.

    Golden Colors in the Golden State

    Does the Golden State have more to offer than its historic gold rush? It does if you like vibrant fall colors. Not typically known for its festive fall, visitors will be pleasantly surprised to find a plethora of colors on the Feather River Scenic Byway. This 130-mile route begins in the Sacramento Valley and travels through the Sierra Nevadas before ending in the Great Basin. If you like history it's worth the trek to see traces of railroad and gold mine memorabilia hidden among the waterfalls, rivers, forests, and desert terrain along their journey.3

    Of course, California, Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia and Vermont aren't the only states with stunning views of fall foliage. To find out more about great leaf-peeping locations click here. Then, tell us about your favorite fall drives by sharing your story with us on Facebook, Tweeting about it on Twitter or Pinning your fall-tastic photos (don't forget to tag us) on Pinterest.

    [1]: http://www.weather.com/news/noaa-report-july-20120808
    [2]: http://www.midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/touring/scenic_byways/rustic_roads.html
    [3]: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/deals/inside/2009-10-01-fall-foliage-drives_N.htm

    Speed Through the Airport with Ease

    Speed Through the Airport with Ease

    Chances are at some point in your life you've been counting down the days, hours and minutes until that long-anticipated, carefully planned vacation. What you probably didn't look forward to were hassles getting through checkpoints at the airports or complications with long flights. Fortunately, there are tips you can follow to make your next trip close to hassle-free. Here are a few of them:

    • Check-in online
      Like the idea of a shorter bag-drop line or skipping the ticket counter entirely? Then try checking in online. With just a few clicks on your personal phone you will be set to by-pass one step of the airport - especially if you pack everything in a carry-on.
    • Arrive early
      This might be a given, but throw in an impending holiday or busy travel day and even "early" may barely cut it when it comes to time-consuming security lines. Best rule of thumb? Get to any major airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure time. Allow additional time if it's around a holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving.
    • Don't pack prohibited items
      While most of us don't aim to pack items that are strictly prohibited on a flight, some items may still make the list simply because the traveler wasn't prepared or didn't read the latest list of "no-no's" posted by the TSA. Solution? Be sure you become familiar with the prohibited items on the TSA's list and if you have questions, simply type it in the search bar here.
    • Don't check luggage
      You can save money if you don't check luggage and retrieving luggage won't hold you up when you want to leave the airport and get to your destination. Remember, there are laundromats around the world – so pack light and don't be afraid to wash a few items while traveling.
    • Remember the 3-1-1 Rule
      It's the rule for carry-on liquids – do you know it? The rule limits passengers to one quart-sized zip top bag of liquid toiletries of no more than 3.4 ounces each.1 It also is a good rule of thumb to place this quart-sized bag in an accessible place so you can easily take it out of your luggage and into a bin during screening.
    • Keep credentials handy
      This may seem like a no-brainer but many travelers seem to forget it all the time: Keep your boarding pass and identification ready as you enter the security line because you will be asked for it immediately.
    • The perfect outfit
      No, we aren't talking about dressing in the latest fashion for your flight. We are speaking of dressing to fly through security quickly and easily. To do this, skip the jewelry and belts, and keep your pockets empty. Also, make sure your shoes are easy to slip on and off. It's also a smart idea to wear comfortable shoes that allow you to walk (or run) quickly if you're at risk of missing a connecting flight.
    • Where would we be without apps?
      Annoyed by a long layover in a strange city? Want to book a different flight home? There are ways to simplify your life downloading various travel apps to your smartphone. Certain apps like YELP can help you find things to do in an unfamiliar place and apps like KAYAK can find new flights for you.
    • Remember to pack travel insurance
      Perhaps we are a bit partial, but don't forget to purchase a travel insurance plan when you are planning your vacation. Travel insurance can reimburse the cost of pre-paid trip expenses if you need to cancel due to a covered reason, or if your trip is interrupted. Plus a travel insurance plan can cover emergency medical expenses and lost luggage.

    Want more info on great travel tips? Click here. 

    [1]: http://travel.usatoday.com/deals/inside/story/2011-11-24/10-tips-to-sail-through-airport-security/51373042/1

    Where in the World?

    Q: Where in Europe is this spectacular fall display located?

    This waterfall is located in the French Alps. 

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    Planning a vacation? Don't forget to pack a travel insurance plan!

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