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The Season of Giving – How Travel Experiences Enrich Lives

Research shows that travel/experiential gifts create more lasting memories than material gifts. Take, for example, the last holiday season – can you remember every gift you received? Now, think about your last vacation, or a vacation you took in your 40s, or 30s – that’s easier, isn’t it? No matter how much time has passed, we recall fond and challenging memories more easily. Plus, the experience begins before the trip even departs. The planning and the anticipation of the upcoming adventure create joy before the trip begins and the memories from the vacation last a lifetime. So, why worry about the perfect fit, color, brand, style, etc. this year? Give the gift of travel!

Check out these four reasons why a travel gift card or vacation is the best gift your money can buy:

  • Travel lowers stress and enhances creativity. We’ve already covered how travel can lower stress, even for retirees, but did you know that travel enhances creativity as well? Immersing oneself in the different traditions and way of life of a group of people increases cognitive flexibility and the ability to adapt to changes. Trying new things, working through new challenges, meeting new people and getting away from daily routine change a person for the better. You’ll be giving the gift of happiness and health!
  • According to a Cornell University study, experiences make us happier than material goods do. It turns out, doing things rather than having things brings more lasting joy.
  • Experiential gifts and the memories they create last longer than the book that will be read in a month, the clothing that will be out of style next year, the object that will eventually break, and the electronic that will be obsolete by the next holiday season. Plus, they require less wrapping and the recipient doesn’t have to figure out where to put it!
  • You’re giving the gift of friendship. Spending a few days on a bus with a group of people is a surefire way to come home with a few new friends! We have many stories of solo travelers and couples teaming up with other passengers while on vacation and continuing the friendship after they return home. Many regularly meet for dinner or plan to take their next Starr vacation together. There’s also been quite a few matches made on a Starr motorcoach!


Don’t take our word for it, click here to see why Travel is the Secret to Happiness!  Then, head over to our website to purchase your gift cards! And don’t forget to bring your kids on your next vacation!

Starr gift cards for bus trips come in any denomination, and they never expire! Your loved one can choose from over a hundred destinations for a day trip, multi-day domestic or international vacation or an all-inclusive cruise! Browse our bus tours, then call or stop by our office to pick up a Starr gift card for everyone on your list!

Stay tuned next week for our Vacation Gift Giving Guide with suggestions for trips you can gift to that special someone!

Honoring Our Veterans Through Donations

Doc Hastings once said, “We owe our World War II veterans, and all of our veterans, a debt we can never fully repay.” This November 11th is Veterans Day, a day when we remember and honor those that have fought for our freedom. This Veterans Day, keep in mind the privileges we hold as Americans, and help to empower those that have served our country.

Here are some ways we can help our veterans, no price tag attached.


Donate Candy:

Have a lot of leftover Halloween candy? Or, can you just not stand the taste of Twizzlers? Either way, your Halloween candy rejects can go to a good place, and brighten up the day of a soldier. Soldier’s Angels is a charity that, “provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families.” Their mission is to make no soldier go unloved, and you can help them do just that. As part of their Treats for Troops Program, you can donate candy through the mail, or visit or start a registered collection site. They have a goal this year of 17,000 pounds of candy, so drop on by and give some soldiers some sweets. In the event you don’t have any candy, they also accept donations year round, or join their Adopt-A-Soldier Program, and change the lives of some heroes.


Send a Thank You Letter:

Nothing can make people smile more than a nice handwritten letter to make you feel more at home. Through Operation Gratitude, you can send letters and thank yous to soldiers that will be sent in the care packages the company delivers. They encourage to include your child on this journey with you, make it happy and colorful, and get ready to make a veteran’s day. Maybe you’ll even make a new friend in the process.



Donate Your Old Cell Phone:

Sometimes just hearing the voice of a loved one, even if they’re a million miles away, is all you need to feel a little bit closer to home. Sadly, many veterans do not have this opportunity. In 2004, Minutes That Matter was started by two young kids who wanted to change the lives of soldiers. They started this charity and have provided 300 million minutes on the phone for soldiers to talk to their family and friends. To help out Minutes That Matter, donate any old flip phone, smartphone or tablet, even if its cracked. Your donation will help connect families.



How Starr Honors Veterans:

Starr values veterans, and would like to formally salute anyone who has risked their lives for our country. We honor their sacrifices and they will never be forgotten. Starr’s bus tour division gives a 5% discount to all active or retired military, disabled veterans, and military reservists. When making a reservation for a bus trip, please provide Military ID and Starr’s Travel Advisor will be happy to offer the discount.


Be sure to check out last year’s post for more charities to check out to support our veterans!

Breaking Bus Records

Everyone knows that Starr buses are luxurious. Between comfortable seats, on board entertainment and wifi, they have all you need to make getting to each exciting destination enjoyable. Our buses, Drivers, and Tour Directors make noteworthy accomplishments every time they head out, but what about the other buses in the world? As it turns out, Guinness World Records has a whole list of the best world records involving buses! Some of them are unbelievable feats. So, sit back, relax and enjoy.


Longest career as a bus driver

Many things in our world have changed since 1946. One thing that hasn’t, however, is Carl Fisher’s career as a bus driver. Set in 2011, Fisher holds the world record for the longest career as a school bus driver. He started driving school buses at age 16, and found a job he loved and excelled at. Fisher estimates he has driven over two million miles, and has owned twelve different school buses. He finally retired at age 82, after spending 66 years driving Missouri’s children to and from school.


Furthest distance to pull a single decker bus with the ears

Famous strongman and grandfather Manjit Singh has been training as a strongman all his life, and he has broken over 55 world records. On March 31 2008, Singh pulled a single decker bus 20 ft in Loughborough, UK. Singh attached cables to his ears, and yanked the bus almost 6.1 meters. He did this to raise money for the Manjit Fitness Academy. Read about his other bus pulling record here.


Most people crammed into a single decker bus

According to Guinness, on June 1st, 2011, a group of people in Poland took a 57 second journey, but this one was no ordinary bus ride. Normal buses of this size can usually fit somewhere around 50 people. But this bus contained 229 people, most were faculty at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Krakow University of Technology.


Longest Journey by Bus

In 1988-1989, longtime friends Hughie Thompson, John Weston and Richard Steel took the world’s longest journey traveling by bus, as reported by Guinness. The group rode a red London Routemaster double-decker bus, which was their home for over a year. In the end, the boys traveled 54,289 miles and visited 18 countries, going all throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and the USA.


Our Cross Country Trip of a Lifetime

While they may not have broken any world records, our annual Cross Country trip accomplishes its own set of impressive stats!
June – July 2017, 34 passengers, 1 Tour Director, and 2 Drivers traveled across our great country and back in 26 days.
– They slept in 20 different cities, enjoyed 30 attractions, visited 5 National Parks, and gambled in 4+ casinos (with the possibility of many more on their free day in Las Vegas).
– They drove on 30 major routes and highways across 19 different states, passing through all 4 time zones for a total of 7,304 miles!
(You can set your own personal records on our Cross Country trip in 2018!)


So, the next time you’re relaxing on a bus trip on a Starr bus, think about all of the incredible things that were accomplished in buses just like these, and relax as you travel to your wonderful destination.

The Magic of Radio City

The Magic of Radio City

One of my favorite childhood memories is watching the movie Annie when I was a little girl and delighting with wonder and fascination at the scene where Daddy Warbucks takes Annie to Radio City to watch the Rockettes perform. I stared at the beautiful dancers in the same way Annie did, with such wonder and fascination, as the Christmas carols played in the background. Although I am far from being a red-haired orphan living in the 1930s, the wonder of the Rockettes is a universal feeling, one that many have shared for decades.


There is nothing quite like the holiday magic of Radio City Music Hall, which opened in 1932. Over 300 million people have flocked to the theatre to escape to the world created between the velvet curtains. Despite being 80 years old, the theatre still creates that pure sense of joy and wonder for people of all ages, while staying true to its history and roots. This season, millions will take a step back in time and enjoy the Christmas Spectacular which has wowed audiences from around the world with sparkling costumes, twinkling lights, and of course, the high-kicking Rockettes.


The first Christmas Spectacular, which debuted in December of 1933, was only thirty minutes long, but today the show has bloomed into a 90-minute celebration of the holiday season straight off the pages of a storybook. However, to the delight of audiences everywhere, two iconic numbers done by the Rockettes have remained completely unchanged for decades. “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity” give the same holiday joy to millions over, and over again while transporting them back to a similar, classic era.


Every April, hundreds of New York’s best dancers strap on their tap shoes to audition for a chance to dazzle audiences on one of the world’s most famous dance teams, the Rockettes, and continue this iconic piece of history. Over 3,000 women have performed as Rockettes, and even more hope of someday joining the kick line that so many dancers dream of being a part of. Those dances have become a part of history, and many want to continue that tradition.


This season, you can be part of history and experience the timeless beauty of the Christmas Spectacular. Take a relaxing motorcoach trip and gawk at New York City, glistening and shiny with the Christmas season. Then, take a step back in time to Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Spectacular like no one has seen it before. Watching from Orchestra Seats, you’ll be immersed in the sounds and sights of show. Finally enjoy some free time, and look at the cheery holiday energy in the City, maybe watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center, or just enjoy a bite to eat under that massive Christmas tree. This is an experience that is essential for the holiday season. Dazzle your eyes, maybe bring a little dancer with you, and book your trip now. Starr tours has 28 departures this year – but tickets are selling fast. Spend a day in the city with us and experience this once in a lifetime opportunity!

The Science Behind Fall Foliage

The Science Behind Fall Foliage

There’s something about fall weather that people just seem to love. From drinking apple cider to hayrides, and dressing in spooky costumes for Halloween, fall is a great old pumpkin of fun. But my favorite part of fall is watching the leaves change color and turn into brilliant shades of red and yellow before floating to the ground. But why do the leaves do what they do? Come with me on a scientific journey as we find out why! So welcome to Melanie’s fall foliage spectacular! I will be taking the role of sort-of a Bill Nye the Science Guy character as we discuss the interesting science behind fall leaves.


Nighttime Gives Leaves Their Color

When I was in school, we learned what makes leaves green is this magic little stuff called Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what enables the leaves to take carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into the sugars and starch that feed the plant. When the days begin to get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, the trees begin to go into a state of dormancy or hibernation and slow down their food making process thus producing less chlorophyll. It’s kind of like how our skin gets paler in the winter because we are outside much less often. Well, except I am a human and these are leaves, but you get the picture.




The Chemistry of Great Foliage

There are three pigments that give leaves their color:

Chlorophyll uses the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into food for the plant and gives the leaves their green color.

Carotenoids are the pigment that give many fruits and vegetables, like carrots and bananas, their bright yellow/orange coloring. They are always present in the leaves, but are often masked by the green of the chlorophyll.

Anthocyanins are responsible for the red coloring of cranberries, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. This pigment only shows up in autumn under the right circumstances and is not produced by all trees.

Every color observed during the fall is a result of the mixing of varying amounts of chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf. As the days become shorter and the chlorophyll breaks down, the carotenoids get their opportunity to shine through, thus giving the leaves their common yellow/orange coloring. In the warm autumn days, the leaves can produce a lot of sugar, but cold nights prevent the sugar sap from flowing from the leaf veins into the branches and down the trunk. In order to recover the nutrients in the leaves before they fall, the tree produces anthocyanins and the result is brilliant red leaves.

So, what is the perfect combination for a fabulous display of fall foliage? The winning combination is a warm growing season with a lot of moisture in the air, a summer that isn’t too hot or too dry, and a warm, sunny autumn with cold nights. These cold nights are very important, but temperatures need to stay above freezing as frost will cause more subdued reds. A severe drought will delay the leaves changing color, and a warm wet fall will dampen the intensity of the colors. Heavy wind or rain can also cause the leaves to fall before they fully develop color.


The Science Behind Purple Leaves

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture all play roles in how exactly the leaves will look in the fall. We know what exactly causes the leaves to change, but what determines what color they will turn into? Back to anthocyanins! The key to getting purple leaves is also cooler nighttime air. If you notice, we haven’t had a whole lot of purple and red leaves this year, and that’s probably because the nights have been warmer. Science is cool, right?


So the next time you look out the window and see a glistening leaf floating gently to the ground, think about the fascinating science behind it!