Adventure Walking: Walking for Fun and as a Sport

dreamstime_xs_33529235-walking-woodsImagine walking through dense woods. You’re surrounded by trees as far as the eye can see. You’re walking on a path perfectly carved in front of you. You’ve never been in these woods before, but you know where you’re going. Someone has marked the trail to guide you along the way. You breathe fresh, clean air as you make your way and you’re in the company of other walkers. You’re taking a walking adventure through the woods.

Imagine walking through a picturesque small town. You pass small shops and restaurants along the main street. Any minute, you expect to see a sign welcoming you to Mayberry or a similar town from a TV show. You take a turn at the barbershop, and there stands the Town Hall. A building built over a hundred years ago and still being used. You have all the details because you have directions with points of interest and fun facts. Someone gave it to you at the start of your walking adventure through a small town.

You enjoy walking? How about a walk through a Civil War battlefield or along the shoreline in a state park. You can explore an antique row or view historic architecture. A world of adventure (and exercise) awaits you in volkssporting (or volksmarching).

What is volkssporting? There are clubs around the United States that plan walking, hiking and bicycling events. These events take place nearly every weekend. Find your local walking club for a list of events near you (or check here). There’s a small fee (usually $3.00 per person) to receive the map, directions, and information for the event. Each event has a 3.1 mile (5 km) or 6.2 mile (10 km) option. It’s non-competitive, so you walk, run, hike or bike at your own pace. It’s family friendly so bring the kids.

Each event has a startpoint and an endpoint. Your local club will list the event and its startpoint. Drive to the startpoint. Pay the fee for the package of information and start walking. The instructions will guide you along the way. Long-time walkers are happy to answer questions at the startpoint and along the event.

I live in the state of Virginia (USA). There are 13 walking clubs around the state and over 75 walking events planned in the next 7 days. Find a club. Enjoy the adventure. Get the exercise!

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Rest Stop Bathrooms and the Curse of the Low Power Hand Dryer

dreamstime_xs_48754288-public-bathroomI’ve been on several road trips in the last year including an 18 hour trip to Florida. I enjoy road trips. I listen to audiobooks during the drive, and the view on scenic roads can be relaxing.

One side effect of a long drive is occasionally, you feel the call of nature. Suddenly, those information signs along the road become essential to read. You begin the search for a rest stop, truck stop or some other place to grab a snack and use the facilities. This is a familiar ritual on a road trip.

My problem is this. I’ve noticed more, and more of the public bathrooms don’t have paper towels. All you get are hand dryers. Most of the time, it’s a low power hand dryer. I can honestly say that low power hand dryer is good for nothing but building frustration.

Now I get it. Paper towels add to landfills. Plus, businesses can save money by not supplying them. My complaint is this. You can’t blow your nose or wipe something off your shirt with a hand dryer. There are times when you need a paper towel in a bathroom.

These low power hand dryers are not working for me. I decided I need a solution for my road trips. Kleenex hand towels to the rescue! I buy a box at the start of the trip. I grab a couple of towels before getting out of the car and put them in a pocket. If the bathroom is out of paper or has a hand dryer, I’m covered. I just reach into my pocket.

I know some of you will think this is no big deal or even silly. My view, it’s a less stressful road trip!

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Road Trip Time But Will Your Car Make it? When Should You Sell Your Old Car?

dreamstime_xs_24238838-car-balanceI spend a lot of time in my car on road trips. As a result, I put a lot of miles on my car. With all those miles, when should I sell my car and upgrade to a newer one? After all, I don’t want my car to die on me when I’m 300 miles away … on a road trip.

The best solution to this predicament is the Maintenance Cost vs. Car Value Rule. Here’s how it works. At the end of the year (or on an anniversary you choose), add up all the maintenance costs you spent on the car for the past year. This would include any deductibles for warranty work. If the total amount spent on maintenance in one year is greater than half the value of the car, sell the car.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you did the following things to your car last year; oil changes, fluid changes, a new battery and new tires. You also paid a $100 deductible to replace a broken windshield wiper motor. (The warranty paid for the rest.) Add it all up and the total cost for last year was $1,100. You then go to Kelly Blue Book (or some other car value site), and you find out your car is worth $2,000. The $1,100 spent on maintenance is more than half your car’s value. Time to sell. The car is costing too much for its value.

Share if you know another rule for selling a car.

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Road Trips: Should You Drive Your Car or Rent a Car?

dreamstime_xs_29500523 - Car ValueA lot of road trips can kill the value of your car. I had a conversation with a friend who was not a happy camper! He was trying to sell his car and was shocked to learn the vehicle lost $12,000 in value in 2 years. Why … a lot of road trips. He has a short commute to work, but he hits the road at least once a month for weekend stays.

He purchased a used car two years ago with 11,000 miles on it. He paid a little over $18,000 for the car. Today, the car had 91,000 miles and was appraised at $6,000. Wow! That’s a lot of value lost in 2 years. Should he have rented cars for all those road trips?

Drive my car or rent a carThe question you have to ask yourself is, do you care about the value of your car? What type of car owner are you? Are you the type to buy a car and drive it until it dies? If you are, you probably don’t care about car value. One day you’re mechanic tells you it’s time to replace the old set of wheels. You call some nonprofit to tow it away and buy the next car. You don’t need the value on the old car to help purchase a replacement car. If this is you, go road trip crazy and drive your own vehicle.

If you plan to trade-in your old car, your car’s value is essential. Here’s what you need to think about. How many miles do you drive per year? The average American drives 12 – 15 thousand miles per year. Let’s use 15,000 (or 15K) as a nice round number. Miles driven is not the only factor in determining the value of a car, but it’s an important one. At the end of each year you own your vehicle, how many miles did you drive? If you added less the 15K, GREAT. You slowed the rate of decline in value. If you added more than 15K … OUCH! It’s like tying a brick to your car’s value. Bottom line … if your road trips will take you over that 15k mark in any one year; fly, take the train or RENT A CAR. Don’t make your vehicle’s value a victim of your travel plans!

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Hotel Stay: Why You Should Tip The Housekeeping Each Night

I found an article on the Groupon website that caught my eye. It’s called “Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night and Other Hotel Tipping Etiquette” by Jorie Larsen. In the article, Jorie Larsen spoke with manners expert Lizzie Post. Read the article to see the complete info-graphic on hotel tipping.

My favorite part was tipping the housekeeper. Lizzie’s advice goes as follows:

Should you tip [the housekeeper]?: Yes.
How much?: It depends on the number of people staying in your room, although $2 per night is fairly standard. Larger families, or those staying in a large suite, should tip more, up to $5 per night. When deciding how much to leave, Post says to “consider the amount of work housekeeping has to do.”
Should I tip every night or once at the end?: “Tipping nightly ensures the tips go to the people who actually clean your room,” Post says.
Where should I put the tip?: On your pillow or nightstand. Better yet, place it in an envelope clearly labeled “Housekeeping,” then leave it on your nightstand.
What if I’m staying at a B&B or small inn?: It’s up to your discretion, but feel free to ask the inn’s staff what the tipping standards are. Generally speaking, you should leave a tip if there is hired help to clean the rooms.

dreamstime_s_48685237-hotel-housekeeperI often get into discussions with friends who don’t tip housekeeping at all or who only tip at the end of their stay. I hope this ends the debate for my friends that don’t tip. Follow the wisdom of Lizzie Post and start tipping!

For my friends who tip at the end of the stay … STOP IT! There are times when a different person cleans your room each day. If you tip all at the end of your stay, you are over tipping the last housekeeper and not tipping the others at all. When I stay at a hotel, I leave a $2 or $3 tip on the desk with a note that says “tip for housekeeper.” I want it to be clear to the housekeeper that it is a tip for him or her.

How do you handle tipping the housekeeper?

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Road Trip Tips: Bring Back Good Memories From Your Next Trip!

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

Words of wisdom I like to keep in mind every time I take a day trip in my car. Here are some things you should have for your next day trip:

© Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com - Cute Cars Driving On A Road Trip Photo

1 – Visit the ATM before you leave – Cash is still king in many small towns and roadside stops. My wife and I tried to attend a community fair on a trip 2 months ago. There was a cash-only entrance fee and no available ATM’s. Many stores, gas stations, and food outlets have minimum amounts for credit or debit card charges. A few bucks in your pocket will be very helpful in times like this.

2 – Get an E-ZPass for your car – I know some people feel they don’t travel enough or go through toll booths enough to justify an E-ZPass. They forget that convenience has a value and stress has a cost. I love being able to zoom by the toll booth in the E-ZPass lane! Without the E-ZPass, I would go crazy if I had to wait behind a long line of cars at each toll booth. To me, a less stressful vacation is worth the small cost for the E-ZPass. Note: Here’s a list of other toll collection services.

3 – Join the American Automobile Association (AAA) – The benefits are enormous; travel information, travel discounts and travel insurance. They’ve even added identity theft monitoring as an option. The main reason to join … roadside assistance! I locked my keys in my car on one trip and had my car break down on another. In both cases, all I had to do was make one call.

4 – Store a small first aid kit in your car – There are many first aid kits available for car use. Buy one! “Better safe than sorry!”

5 – If it’s warm, buy bug spray (or check the expiration date) before you leave – You never know when you will need this. I’ve been attacked while pumping gas! Flying critters are always on the lookout. Don’t be their next victim! I always have a can or some wipes in my trunk during road trips.

6 – Give your car a quick checkup – Here are 7 easy car maintenance checks for traveling motorists from AAA:

  • Check Brake Fluid Level and Color
  • Check Engine Air Filter
  • Check Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Check Windshield Wiper Blades
  • Check Tire Pressure
  • Check Tire Tread
  • Check Battery

7 – If you need a partner for the road trip – Read my post on this, “Find Travel Buddies.”

I hope this helps! Vacations are about building memories. These tips will help make them good memories. What tips would you add?

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Find Travel Buddies

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time
Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

My wife and I travel together and, we love it! An excellent trip for us is a long drive with a good audio-book and scenic views. We’re over the moon if we have a couple interesting of places to visit and a good meal at the destination. I maintain a list of places to go. When ever we have a weekend with no commitments, we’re in the car going somewhere! It’s about spending quality time together and building memories!

I have a lot of single friends who rarely travel because, well … they’re single. If you’re actively dating, this may not be a problem. Dating and travel go great together in the advanced stages. If you’re not dating and you hate to travel along, then it’s pizza time in front of the TV.

Not married. Not dating. Find travel buddies! I thought I would test my theory that it’s easy to find and make new friends. New friends who like to travel. Meetup.com is a site you can use to find people with the same interests. I set the location to a zip code in Fairfax County, VA and did a search for 25 miles in any direction. I used the search term “day trips.” 249 meetup groups came up! That’s 249 groups of people who sometimes travel together. You can also try a search for “travel,” “weekend getaways” or “weekend adventure.”

Pick a group. Join. Make new friends … and start traveling!

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Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

blur shot of a person in a restaurant
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

I eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Paramount Network. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was awful. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out, and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash their hands either. Then I realized, if a restaurant doesn’t take the time to clean and re-stock the bathroom, why would I think they clean the kitchen? If I see roaches or other critters in the bathroom (and I have), I bet there are critters in the kitchen as well. I decided a dirty bathroom is a good sign I should get out of there BEFORE I eat a meal.

Why worry about the restaurant’s bathroom? Bathrooms are used by customers. Some restaurant managers don’t care or are too busy to make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked. If a place customers see is a low priority for cleanliness, what’s the priority for places NOT SEEN by customers. It’s a red flag at least!

My sister-in-law works in the restaurant industry. She has another test. Look up at the air vents in the dining room. If they’re dirty, so is the kitchen. Do you have a test? If so, please share …

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