Choose the Right Luggage before You Travel

Bluegreen Resorts operates dozens of enticing vacation getaways all over the United States and in the Caribbean, thus giving you plenty of travel choices. Whether you’re traveling to Las Vegas or Nassau, you don’t want to worry about your luggage withstanding the trip. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for new bags.

Today’s suitcases and travel bags come with a variety of choices in straps, handles, and wheels. Some travelers say that two-wheeled roller bags strain their backs, necks, and shoulders. If you’re concerned about stiff wheels making a bag unwieldy, opt for a four-wheeled, 360-degree spinner, which will give you more ease of movement. However, before you buy, you should verify bag measurements because the non-recessed wheels on a spinner take up extra room you could have used for packing.

Luggage comes in two body types: hard-shelled polycarbonate or polypropylene, and soft-sided nylon, leather, microfiber, or polyester. Each type offers advantages and disadvantages. Some soft bags can offer as much as 25 percent more room when they expand. In addition, soft bags tend to be more shock-absorbent than their hard-shelled counterparts are. They are also easier to manipulate into the dimensions of an airplane’s overhead compartment. On the other hand, hard-shelled luggage can better protect fragile items. Remember that whichever type of luggage you choose, you should get the best quality you can afford. A poorly made soft bag can rip apart easily, and a cheap hard one can crack or break if mishandled.

Polyester is the poorest-quality luggage fabric. Leather is luxurious, but tends to scratch easily. Cordura nylon is softer and more resistant to abrasion than ballistic nylon, although abraded ballistic nylon remains just as strong as in its undamaged state. Soft luggage fabric is typically listed with a denier count, which is a measure of fabric thickness.

Major United States-based airlines post their baggage size and weight restrictions on their websites. Before you fly, be sure to check out any recent updates. As of early 2015, the standard allowance for an economy passenger’s checked bag was 50 pounds and 62 linear inches (length, width, and height). A bag over that size is subject to additional fees, depending upon the airline. The standard size limit for a carry-on bag is 45 linear inches, and you must be able to lift it over year head into the compartment.

Manufacturers known for the quality of their luggage include High Sierra, Samsonite, and Tumi.

How to Pack for a Flight with a School-Age Child

Whether you are taking your children to a Bluegreen Resorts vacation on the ski slopes in Boyne Falls, Michigan, or to Kaua’i, Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” there are several items all kids will need on a flight. Be sure to pack these essentials in ways that make the items easy to access and keep everyone happy.

School-age kids can repurpose their backpacks as carry-on bags. Multiple compartments make it easy to store extra clothes, a favorite stuffed animal, hand-held games, books, decks of cards, and personal care items. Your child can add snacks, bottled water, or energy drinks bought from a kiosk after you’ve cleared security.

Choose individually wrapped and labeled snack bags so that each child has his or her own. This will reduce both fighting and mess in your seating area. This recommendation also applies to crayon boxes and small toys.

Don’t forget to pack any prescription medications your child may need, and bring an amount sufficient for the trip and any possible delays. If your child must consume certain nutritious foods or drinks regularly, you may want to pack an empty thermos or other container and fill it with milk, fruit, or vegetables from an airport food stand before you board. Many airlines will not serve these items in flight. Other handy items to pack in a child’s carry-on include hand sanitizer, plastic cutlery, straws, and napkins.

Ensure that your child’s checked bag is sturdy and easy to pull. Some trendy children’s luggage can be flimsy and difficult to maneuver when actually used for travel.

Several parenting websites provide printable packing lists. On TravelMamas.com, for example, you can find a list specifically for vacation-bound school-age kids. This list reminds you to pack not only a portable DVD or MP3 player or gaming console, but also the headphones and batteries to go with it. In addition, kids bringing books along will appreciate the reminder to bring a book light. The lists also points out essential toiletries that you might otherwise forget: shampoo and conditioner, detangler, and sunblock.

Touring Aruba’s Fort Zoutman

Fort Zoutman is the oldest building in Aruba’s capital city, Oranjestad. Since its construction in 1798, it has served as the island’s post office, jail, tax collector’s office, library, courthouse, and police station. Since the mid-1980s, the restored fort and tower have taken on new life as the Historical Museum of Aruba, where residents and visitors can enjoy poring over the objects and documents that have defined the island over the years.

Fort Zoutman is named for a man who didn’t even visit it: It honors Johan Arnold Zoutman, a Dutch naval hero who held the rank of rear admiral and defeated British naval forces in a North Sea battle. By the close of the 18th century, Oranjestad’s harbor, known as Horses’ Bay, had become a key stop on the trade route between the island of Curaçao and Venezuela, but was plagued by pirates. The Dutch settlers of the island constructed the fort for protection, and by the mid-19th century had added the Willem III Tower, a combination lighthouse and clock tower.

Among the items you can see at the museum are artifacts from Aruba’s Native American past, as well as the island’s historic coins and currency, and even examples of the colorful kites that contemporary Arubans like to fly on the annual Queen’s Day holiday at the end of April. Regular special exhibits cover the geology, archeology, and architecture of the island, as well as native flora and fauna.

Many guests seek out Fort Zoutman as their first point of contact with Aruba’s history. The museum’s staff creates a special welcome party on Tuesday nights called the Bon Bini Festival. The event features steel drum music, dance, food, and a display of handicrafts. “Bon bini” means “welcome” in the native Aruban language Papiamento.

When you stay with Bluegreen Resorts at La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, a luxurious vacation destination on Eagle Beach near Oranjestad, you’ll enjoy access to some of the Caribbean’s hottest night spots and gaming establishments while still being close to the rugged desert beauty of the island’s natural world.

Aruba – The Desert Isle

La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, Bluegreen Resorts’ accommodations at Eagle Beach on the island of Aruba, offers you access to all the enchantment of sun and surf on a picturesque desert island that is far from deserted. Aruba’s terrain is flat and rugged, with views of the glistening turquoise waters of the Caribbean ringing the interior’s wild and wind-swept rock piles and caves just made for exploring.

The island’s nightlife offers everything from socializing at La Cabana’s swim-up bar to lively betting in the four casinos in the capital city of Oranjestad. Water sports enthusiasts will thrill to parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling, while golfers can enjoy a round on The Links at Divi Aruba or any of the island’s other exceptional courses. And Aruba’s climate – low humidity and consistently sunny weather spiced with plenty of cool breezes – is ideal for whatever daytime or evening plans you may dream up.

When you go adventuring in Aruba’s desert, you can choose from a range of tours. Some guides offer tours in an air-conditioned bus, while others travel the island’s 19-mile length by jeep or on horseback. You can even rent an all-terrain vehicle, jeep, or mountain bike to find out all about the desert on your own.

There are quite a few fascinating animals, including the wild desert goats that clamber over the large boulders strewn around the landscape. Plants include aloe, candlestick cacti, and the forlorn-looking spindles of the divi-divi trees. Then there are the island’s dried streambeds, known as rooi, another distinctive feature. Rooi are formed from the remains of Aruba’s earlier gold-mining endeavors. Among Aruba’s caves are some with mysterious sets of Native American inscriptions and petroglyphs.

Craggy cliffs formed from limestone hug Aruba’s north coast, with sand dunes and breaking waves at their feet. This part of the island is home to relatively little wildlife; donkeys, a rare type of rattlesnake, and a large species of iguana populate the lonely spaces.

The contrast with the coastal resort community could not be greater. After a day among the wild lands of the desert, change into your party clothes and step out to one of Aruba’s many glamorous nightspots.

Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park – An Orlando Oasis

Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park in Apopka (just outside Orlando, Florida) offers you and your family a day of swimming and tubing in the crystal-clear waters of the springs and its pools and lagoons. The park’s 248 acres are famous for the natural, free-flowing spring waters that remain at a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The park is also home to a children’s playground, designated picnic pavilions, and spots reserved for RV parking and camping. Conveniently, Bluegreen Resorts’ two Orlando accommodations, The Fountains and Orlando’s Sunshine Resort, are only a 30-minute drive from this favorite recreation spot.

Few activities surpass watching the fish and the rocks drift past as you float in a tube down the river. To get started, enter the headwaters of the bubbling spring near where it pours at a volume of 26,000 gallons per minute from its outcropping of rock, and then follow its course as it slows to a 25-minute glide down the stream. If you decide to get out, there are multiple exits at key points along the way. Remember that tubing is the method of travel that works best, because much of the stream is too shallow for adults to swim. To complete your idyllic outing, you can set up a picnic lunch in one of the grotto-like spring areas enclosed by shade and greenery, and wrap yourself in the quiet beauty of this place, which has enchanted Orlando-area natives for generations.

While Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park is off the beaten tourist trail, its popularity is such that you should arrive in the early morning to avoid the hordes of fun-seekers. There are often mid-morning closures on weekends and holidays and during busy summer months due to overcrowding. When packing for your outing, be sure to bring your own flotation devices and picnic foods of choice, although the park does offer full concession vending. Park entry fees are only a few dollars. Most importantly, do not confuse the park, at 400 East Kelly Park Road in Apopka, with Rock Springs Run State Reserve in Sorrento. This park is closed to swimmers.