HOW TO USE FACEBOOK TO PLAN YOUR VACATION

 

Travel journalist Chris Gray Faust dishes up travel tips on her award-winning blog;  Chris Around The World.   Chris says “Move beyond your inner circle and use Facebook to find travel deals and get travel advice.”

When Holly Jespersen’s parents needed a Savannah restaurant for their 40th anniversary dinner, she did what is second nature to those who use social media: She asked her 800+ friends on Facebook for ideas.

“I got some great recommendations,” said Jespersen, a public relations professional based in Darien, Conn. (Alligator Soul won out). “They were so pleased and I couldn’t believe how many of my friends chimed in.”

Using social media to make travel plans isn’t as widespread as the wired may believe, however. In a January 2011 Destinations Analyst survey called “The State of the American Traveler,” only 25.8% reported using social media sites for planning their vacations, compared to 39.7% who relied on print publications such as travel magazines and guidebooks, and 42.5% who swore by user-generated sites (think TripAdvisor.com or Zagat.com).

Yet the same semi-annual survey found that nearly 35.8% of travelers listened to the opinions of friends, colleagues or relatives when making travel plans. And with the average person having 130 Facebook friends, social media seems like a natural place for gathering recommendations from those you trust — and interacting with destinations in a personal way.

Whether you’re a power user who checks Facebook on your phone before you get out of bed or someone who rarely updates their status, here are a few tips for using Facebook to plan your trips.

Look beyond friends. If you rarely use Facebook, you may not have moved beyond finding friends that you knew in college or high school. There’s a whole commercial world out there on Facebook, though — one where companies are competing to make you their connected customer.

Thumb up the places you want to go. Many destinations have amped their Facebook presence, making it easy for travelers to plan their trips without leaving the social network.

When you go to the Pure Michigan Facebook page, for example, you can read a list of upcoming events, sign up for a newsletter, and learn how to connect with Michigan tourism experts. Their Wall is full of photos and advice from other travelers, making it a natural place to look for information if you’re heading to Michigan this summer. Click the “like” button for updates to appear in your feed.

Look for sales, sweepstakes, and discounts. In the race to gain “likes,” hotels, restaurants, and airlines have been offering special Facebook-only sales and sweepstakes available only to their fans.

Right now, Southwest Airlines is running a Share for a Share sweepstakes on their Facebook Page, where the amount of Rapid Rewards points you can win is increased by the number of “shares” it receives (contest ends Thursday).

Monitor Facebook Page activity. Vegan Sam Hartman always checks to see if the restaurants or hotels where he’s going have a Facebook Page with regular posts, pictures, and videos, operating hours and prices, and comments from other customers. He sees it as a vital part of 2011 customer service.

“Anyone can open a place and run it the way they see fit,” said Hartman of http://thenailthatsticksup.com. “But if they’re willing to take the time to open up feedback to the amalgam that is Facebook, they’ll improve just by listening.”

Hook up Facebook with another travel site. Facebook Connect allows you to view other travel websites while remaining logged in to your social network. So you can see if your friends have stayed at a specific apartment on Airbnb.com or find out what countries they’ve visited through TripAdvisor. It’s a great way to figure out which friends you should ask for advice about your trip.

Organize with lists. If you went overboard with your likes, you may notice that your Facebook feed is cluttered with shared links, photos, and status updates. You can organize your updates by putting all of your trip-related companies and destinations into a single labeled list, leaving your feed free for updates from your real friends.

Blog via Travel journalist Chris Gray Faust dishes up travel tips on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World. She’s also the author of the Philadelphia Essential Guide, an app for iPhone and iPad.

 

10 WAYS TO GAIN MUSCLE MASS IN FITNESS TRAINING

1.   FUEL UP; take in one gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.

2.   LIMIT CARDIO; To lose fat while sparing muscle, you’d do even better to perform sprint intervals—for instance, running all-out for a minute and then backing off to a light jog for two minutes. Do this for 30 minutes, 3 X a week.

3.   DO LESS; do no more than 20 sets per muscle group—closer to 12 is even better. Your reps should be between six and 12 per set for the most muscle growth, and your workouts should never last much longer than 45 minutes.

4.   USE FULL-BODY WORKOUTS OR A SPLIT ROUTINE; you’ll get the best results from your workout by either training the whole body in a single workout or concentrating only on the upper body in one session and the lower body in another. Concentrate on lifts that involve lots of muscles at once, such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and pullups.

5.   STRETCH; stretching of any kind and getting massages will all help keep you flexible, prevent injury, and improve recovery between workouts.

6.   EAT REGULARLY; eat 5 to 6 small meals a day. As long as good-quality fuel keeps coming into your body—particularly protein and carbs—you’ll have the calories to build muscle and the metabolism boost to lose fat.

7.   CHANGE EVERYTHING; Every 4 to 6 weeks, you need to alter some part of your routine, whether it’s the number of reps you do, the amount of time you rest, the exercises you perform, or any other training variable. Keep a journal.

8.  TRAIN THE WHOLE BODY;  the more muscles you involve—either in one exercise or one training session—the greater the hormone release you’ll get from your training, and that stimulates muscle growth all day long.

9.  DRINK SHAKES; surround your workout with nutrition, starting with a high protein- and-carbohydrate meal about an hour beforehand — a ratio of about two grams of carbs for every one gram of protein, and sip that throughout your workout.

10. RECOVER; the ideal amount of sleep is seven to eight hours per night. Avoid excess stress.

Article from: Rachel Cosgrove, a performance-enhancement coach and the co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, Calif.

 

TOP 10 TENNIS RESORTS IN THE WORLD FOR 2011

Being an avid tennis player and even Captain of my 4.0 USTA team, I’m always in search of the  10 Tennis Resorts in the country.  Our team tries to take an annual trip together at the end of the summer season.  According to Tennis Resorts Online here’s the top 10!   They actually have listed the top 100 if you’re interested in going through the entire list!

What’s exciting is that I live in Charleston, SC and the number 1 Tennis Resort is Kiawah Island just 30 minutes from my home and Palmetto Dunes is just an hour away!  So here they are!  I think I’d like to try the one in Tirol, Austria!  Not sure I can get to many  gals on my team to bite on that one!

Happy serving!

1. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina

2. Rancho Valencia, an Auberge Resort, California

3. La Quinta Resort & Club, California

4. Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Tirol, Austria

5. Wild Dunes, South Carolina

6. Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort, U.S. Virgin Islands

7. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hawaii

8. Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, South Carolina

9. Topnotch Resort and Spa, Vermont

10. Longboat Key Club & Resort, Florida

 

IS YOUR SPA’S “RELAXATION ROOM” RELAXING?

Is your favorite Spa’s “Relaxation Room”  Relaxing?

I have been to plenty of Spas in my lifetime.  Some have been amazing experiences, some mediocre and some downright awful.  We all know for what you pay for Spa Treatments and/or that fabulous day at the Spa, mediocre and downright awful should never be words to describe your spa experience.

My biggest pet peeve is the “Relaxation Room”.   You know,  it’s the holding area before they come and get you for before your treatment.  Usually there are comfy chaise lounges, fountains,  citrus water,  all kinds of teas, fresh fruit, and Spa magazine…just a perfect setting to kick back, relax and meditate.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for friends spending their spa days together, but 9 times out of 10, I have to give the hairy eyeball or downright glare stare (NOT relaxing) because they talk the entire time in what is suppose to be a QUIET environment.  There are even signs that say “Quiet Room”.  Can’t they read!

I lay there and try and put it out of my mind.  Surely I can focus on the trickling noises of the fountain.  Read O magazine’s article on “Yes, You CAN Have…”  But no, this type A, who desperately needed that spa,  that particular day, finds herself getting up and politely, mind you, remind them of the name of the room; RELAXATION!  Some women get it, some just give me a head nod and keep right on talking.

I must admit, once I left the den of un-relaxation and I went to the front desk and turned a group of cacklers into the Spa police.  They knew it was me, but when I’m paying $150.00 for that 90 minute facial,  I deserve all the amenities that spa has to offer, especially the RELAXATION ROOM!

I’m not going to name names, but I’m sure you’ve had the same experience.  And if you are a guilty party, please have courtesy to your fellow spa mates and shhhhhh!  Thank you!