June 2017 - Starr Tours & Charters
  • Call us, we’re here to help: 800-782-7703

All is Not Lost!

Traveling on a bus trip with Starr is an exciting experience, and you’ll want to bring all sorts of things to help you enjoy it; cameras to capture the scenery, hats to shield your eyes from the sunny skies, iPads and e-readers to pass the time, and of course souvenirs to remember your Starr Vacation!

 

Sometimes, however, these items don’t quite make it home with you, whether they fall out of a pocket, get left in a hotel room, forgotten in a theater, or fall to the back of a Starr bus’ overhead bin. That’s where Starr’s Lost and Found comes in. We see a vast assortment of items including souvenirs, shoes, alcohol, and laundry, which could be returned to their owners if a few simple steps had been taken before the traveler left for their trip. Here are some tips which could help return your belongings to you after a Starr Vacation!

 

Before Your Trip

  1. Label Important Items
    Print out a small piece of paper with your name and phone number, and attach it to important belongings, such as a phone, iPad, camera, book, glasses case, car keys, a medicine bottle, or wallet. This is the easiest way for us to contact you. Alternatively, attach an address label to each item.
  2. Bring Labels with You
    Pack a sheet of address labels, a stack of business cards, or several pieces of paper with your contact information in your luggage. These can be used to label your water bottles, souvenir bags, etc.
  3. Take Photos of Your Belongings and your Driver’s License
    In the event that you’ve lost or misplaced something, you can send us a picture of the item so we know exactly what to look for. You can ALSO take a picture of your driver’s license! As we scroll through the pictures on lost, unlocked devices, we are looking to see if we can recognize anything, and a driver’s license is very recognizable.
  4. Tell Siri/Google Who You Are
    Sometimes returning an iPhone is as easy as asking “Call my wife!” If your iPhone, iPad, tablet, or Android device can connect to the internet without wifi, leave that function on. Even if we can’t unlock your device, we can use a few smart built-in features like Siri or the Google Assistant to ask who the device belongs to! To help this work, make sure you have told Siri or your Google contacts who you are, who your spouse is, who your children are, and your home phone number.
  5. Find My Phone Function
    If you have an iPhone, consider activating the “Find my iPhone” function; and if you have an Android device, activate the “find my device” function alongside your GPS. Both of these can allow you to remotely lock and locate your phone should it be lost.¹

 

During Your Trip

  1. Look Around
    As you get on and off the coach, check on your seat, under your seat, and in the overhead bins carefully to ensure you have everything that belongs to you.
  2. Souvenir Bags
    If you purchase souvenirs, place a business card, address label, or slip of paper into the bag along with the souvenir. If that is not immediately possible, write your name and phone number on the receipt. Consider putting the souvenir directly into a carry on or luggage if possible.

 

At the End of Your Trip

  1. Look Again
    Check again on your seat, under your seat, between the seat, in the seat back pocket (if your bus has them), in the overhead bin, and into adjacent seats. These are also checked by your escort and the driver at the end of the trip, and by the cleaners when the coach returns to our garage.
  2. Is That Your Bag?
    If you did buy souvenirs, check your bags to make sure they are YOUR bags and not someone else’s! We have had situations where people have taken the wrong souvenir bags home—and yes, they did get back to their original owners!
  3. Where Did You Sit?
    Remember the bus number and where you were sitting, the dates of your trip, and where you were going. If you were part of a large group of buses, perhaps for a charter, try to remember your driver’s name or some of their identifying attributes.
  4. Was there a Shuttle?
    If you have to take a shuttle to your final destination, take note of what kind of shuttle you have: whether it is a car limousine, a Starr van, another Starr coach, etc.

 

Where did my Item Go?

If you did leave something on the bus, it would be seen one of two different groups of people.

  1. Driver/Escort: They check EVERYWHERE before they get off the bus. They may even contact you before you get back home. If they can’t reach you, they’ll label which coach it comes off of and deliver it to the office along with their tour materials.
  2. Bus Cleaners: If the cleaners find it, it goes into a bag along with items from other coaches. A day or two later, it is delivered to the Starr Receptionists who handle the cataloging and processing of lost and found. Oftentimes, these items have no identifying information, which is why labeling your items is helpful to us!

 

Finding your Items

When you call our office to ask about your lost item we will ask you the following:

  • Give us a detailed description of the item
  • The dates of your trip
  • The coach number (or the driver’s name)
  • The group, the charter number, the trip, or where you were going
  • Your seat number, or where you were sitting (and if you changed seats during the trip)
  • If the item was on/under your seat, in the overhead bin, in the baggage compartment, or the seatback pocket.
  • If the item was in a paper or plastic bag
  • And if the item was a cell phone, what the number is so we can call it and listen for the ring

 

Please also keep in mind:

  • Our coaches have a high turnover rate in the busy season, and there is a chance that the coach you rode on over the weekend was cleaned overnight and is already out on the road again and can’t be checked right away.
  • We will make every effort to look for each item that you call for, but we are not responsible for items you have misplaced while on our coaches, and you may not get a call back from us if we are unable to locate your item.
  • If we DO find your item, we will call you back. It is then your responsibility to call us and arrange how you wish the item to be returned.
  • We keep all lost and found items that come to us for several months, and document them as they come in. If you realize a month after your trip that you lost an item, there is no harm in calling the office and asking if we have it.

 

Don’t let a fear of losing your items keep you from traveling. More often than not, Starr travelers are very proactive about keeping tabs on all of their belongings! The moral of the story is, LABEL your important things with your telephone number and your name at the very least.

 

Bon Voyage!
Ally Berger, Starr Receptionist

 

¹The author of this article has used Google’s function on a recent trip abroad to locate and erase a stolen smartphone, and can confirm her information was not compromised!

Favorite Picnic Recipes from Starr

Summer is upon us and that means the season of picnic potlucks has begun!

Here are some favorite, go-to crowd-pleasers from Starr:

Paula Deen’s Broccoli Cole Slaw
This is always a big hit when I make it for BBQ’s – Lisa Lande, Human Resources

 

Slaw Ingredients:
2 (3 oz) bags of Ramen Noodle Soup in Oriental (other flavors will work, too)
3/4 stick of butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 (12 oz) bags broccoli cole slaw
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
chopped green onions for garnish

Dressing Mix:
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Ramen Noodle seasoning packet

Directions:

Put the Ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally (keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions.


Orzo Salad
This Orzo Salad is always a hit at a party or gathering. Someone always asks for the recipe! – Diane Gillispie, Executive Assistant

Ingredients:
12 oz. Orzo pasta
2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups crumbled seasoned Feta cheese
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Cook Orzo according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Toss with 2 tbs. olive oil. Add crumbled Feta cheese, chopped bell peppers, Kalamata Olives, green onions, and capers.
Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt & pepper.
Add dressing to Orzo mixture and toss to blend.
Can be prepared in advance. Cover and refrigerate.


Baked Beans
Friends & family love this baked beans recipe.  Whenever I made them for parties/picnics – I got wonderful compliments.  It’s delicious – especially piping hot!! – Linda Ruggieri, Tour Services

Ingredients:
2 (16 oz) cans of baked beans
1 onion – chopped
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of maple syrup
¼ cup of spicy mustard
¾ cups of ketchup
8 slices of bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the baked beans, onion, brown sugar, syrup, ketchup and mustard.
Pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Lay strips of bacon across the top.

Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bacon is browned and the beans have thickened.


Pigs in a Blanket
There isn’t much to this recipe, but they’re my favorite! – Cassie Coate, Sales Assistant

Ingredients:
8 frankfurters
8 slices American cheese
1 (10 oz) package of refrigerated biscuit dough

Directions:

Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Wrap cheese around each frankfurter, then the biscuit around that. Put on a cookie sheet with the overlap of the biscuit faced down, so you don’t have to use toothpicks. Bake in preheated oven until biscuits are brown, about 10-15 minutes.


South Carolina Sweet Vinegar Coleslaw
Among the South’s great flavormates are barbeque and coleslaw. This favored rendition – a sweet but tangy combination of shredded cabbage and onion – provides the perfect foil to smoky meats or stews. It also is a welcome addition to another Southern favorite, the vegetable plate. This salad is best made the day of serving. – Carole Brown, Starr Tour Director

Ingredients:
2 green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 large head green cabbage, about 3 lb., cored and shredded
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, grated
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon celery seeds
Thinly-sliced red bell pepper rings for garnish

Directions:

In a large nonreactive serving bowl, combine the chopped bell peppers, cabbage, onions, and carrots and set aside.

In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, oil and vinegar.  Add the mustard, salt, pepper and celery seeds and stir until well blended.  Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.

Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until well blended and evenly coated with dressing.  Let cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

To serve, garnish with thinly sliced red bell pepper rings, if desired.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

(From The South: The Beautiful Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the American South, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1996, pp. 40-41)


Antipasto on a stick
This goes really well with a glass of wine (I recommend a nice Rose) and Italian bread! – Randi Charen, Retail & Group Travel Advisor

 

Ingredients:
Fresh Basil
Small mozzarella balls
Grape tomatoes
Assorted Italian meats
Olives
* you can substitute for your taste preference

Directions:

Place food onto a long toothpick in any order you choose
Lay on a plate
Drizzle with balsamic glaze and EVOO, pinch of kosher salt and pepper
Refrigerate and enjoy.


Star Spangled Dip from Tostitos
I love making food that looks like something else! When you’re finished, this layered bean dip looks like the American flag. – Dawn Nachbaur, Tour Services

Ingredients:
1 bag of Tostitos Bite Size Tortilla Chips
1 jar of medium salsa
2 cans of Fritos bean dip
2 cups of shredded cheese
2 cups guacamole
1 bunch of chopped scallions
1 (24 oz) container of sour cream
35 grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
50 sliced olives – drained on a paper towel

Directions:

Evenly spread your bean dip on the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish. Generously sprinkle the cheddar cheese and scallions on top.
Add a layer of salsa.
Layer on the guacamole, and top it off with a sour cream layer. Use as much sour cream as you need to give your flag a white base.
Build the rows of tomato and Tostitos chips, alternating tomato and chip until you have 3 rows (stripes) of tomatoes, and 3 rows of chips.
When you get to the third chip row, start placing your olives on the top left half (corner). Be sure your olives are “dry” so that the juice doesn’t run on the sour cream. The spacing of the olives is a row of 6, then a row of 5, until there are 9 rows and 50 “stars.”
Continue making the tomato and chip stripes on the right side until you have finished your flag.


Beef Hamburgers
These simple burgers are always a crowd pleaser! – Margie Mangione, Travel Advisor

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing & seasoning mix
2 onions
a handful of chopped parsley

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and form hamburgers. Poke a small hole in the center with your finger and toss on the grill.


Marilyn’s Green Salad
This recipe from my grandmother is from the good ol’ days of Jello salads and was always my favorite as a kid! It’s sweet, refreshing, and lightly savory.  – Shana D’Attilio, Marketing

Ingredients:
1 large package of lime jello
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of cottage cheese
1 small can of crushed pineapple
1/2 cup of mayonaise
1/3 cup canned Cowden milk

Directions:

Dissolve the jello in the hot water and add sugar. Add the remainder of the ingredients and refrigerate until firm.


Rice Pudding
I was never a fan of rice pudding, until I tried this recipe. It’s to die for! – Nancy Reese, Product Development

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup of rice
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Heat milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, and cinnamon stick. Stir in rice; reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, cream, and remaining sugar and vanilla.
Stir in rice mixture. Bring to a boil; cook; stirring for 2 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish; cool and serve.

 

Share your favorite picnic recipes in the comments below!

I Want to Be Alone… Really!

I Want to Be Alone… Really!

Did you ever want to go to the beach and no one wants to go with you because they don’t like the sand?  Did you ever want to go a flower show and you can’t find a companion who loves the greenery as much as you?  Did you ever want to take a trip near or far, but no one has the time to partner up with you?  Or, how about visiting some historic sites and no one you know has any interest in the Civil War.  Well, now you don’t have to keep wishing and hoping for that someone to make all of these adventures happen for you!  Traveling solo on a Starr bus tour is the perfect answer for the traveler who is leery about traveling without a partner.

 

Travel websites suggest that the number one fear of traveling alone is feeling lonely.  Nothing could be further from the truth when traveling on a Starr bus tour.  As an experienced Tour Director, I have seen complete strangers board our tour bus in the morning, and by our lunch stop many acquaintances have been made.  Dinnertime brings on new-found friends, and truly by the end of a one-day or multiple-day tour, passengers are exchanging contact information.  Our Travel Advisers can attest to the fact that many of our solo travelers have buddied up with people they have met on previous tours and have been booking trips together for years!  This phenomena gave rise to the Starr Reunion Cruises and Starr Birthday/Anniversary-themed tours where many of our passengers reconnect with their Starr friends.

 

Some hesitant solo travelers may be concerned about safety.  Traveling in a group setting such as with our bus tours has a built-in safety feature all its own.  Starr provides a great balance of being with the group for attractions and some meals, and then having free time to decide whether to pair up with someone on the tour or to go off on your own.  It truly is the best of both worlds.  With today’s technology, everyone is in touch— or not— all day long and wherever the road leads.  A solo traveler on our Cross Country by bus trip, who was recently widowed, was encouraged by her daughter to take the 26-day journey by herself.  Her daughter was truly surprised that her mom almost never called during the four weeks away because she was having such a good time! We have another solo traveler who had so much fun on last year’s Cross Country trip, that she’s going again this year!

 

Susan Barkowski, a frequent solo Starr traveler, recently shared these highlights about traveling alone.  “During one Starr group meal, I sat next to a couple in their 90’s who told me that they still enjoy walking and jogging together and that they can’t wait until they get their new Christmas picture taken in their jogging gear.  At another group meal, a fellow solo traveler was telling our whole table about his job at the Philadelphia International Airport and all of the rock stars and Hollywood celebrities he has met over the years.  Each Starr trip has been more than just the places I have traveled.  It has been the people I have met on the Starr bus that has made me think about what is truly important in life.  It gives you the opportunity to meet people who you would never meet unless you traveled solo.”

 

The pluses of traveling “alone” with Starr simply outweigh sitting at home and wishing for a companion to go along.  You choose the kind of tour you want to go on.  You pick the time of year.  You never have to negotiate your free time—you can rest when you want, eat what you want, and book something special.  You are more open to your surroundings and the people you meet. Then, at the end of the day, you get to relax in the peace and quiet of your room with full control over the TV remote!

 

Rick Steves, world traveler, guidebook author and TV host, suggests that when struggling with the idea to travel alone remember, “Your trip is a gift from you to you!”  I hope you plan to treat yourself this travel season with a Starr bus tour with or without a partner!

 

Happy travels,
Christine Durling
Starr Tour Director

It’s Been a Great Year!

It’s Been a Great Year!

As our company celebrates its 70th Anniversary, our blog celebrates its 1st! One year ago we started with a new aim to bring you interesting and useful information to make your travel experiences even richer!

We started with a couple of great posts sharing the history of Starr.
Did you know that our family run business is currently in its third generation?
Have you ever wondered where the name “Starr” came from?

We’ve shared important safety information.
There was this post with information about motorcoach safety.
Starr’s CEO, Alan Glickman, shared information about Starr’s focus on safety.
We posted a few tips on staying safe when traveling solo.

And threw in some pointers for a few of our popular tours.
Like how to spend your time on Block Island.
How to make the most of your day trip to Rehoboth Beach.
Information about Washington, DC’s newest Smithsonian Institute Museum – National Museum of African American History and Culture.
How to make the most of your Florida Winter Getaway.
And interesting information about the Quebec Winter Carnival.

There have been some terrific posts by members of our Starr family of employees, sharing their memories and travel experiences with you.
Dawn Nachbaur, one of our Tour Coordinators, shared her experience of revisiting Ellis Island.
Christine Durling, one of our Tour Directors, shared what makes traveling 26 days Cross Country on a bus so special.
And Christine shared her experience of conquering St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.
Bette Barr, another one of our Tour Directors, shared her love of New York City.
Shana D’Attilio, from our Marketing Department, shared her love of the new Broadway musical, Come From Away.
Margie Mangione, one of our Travel Advisers, shared her Christmas memories.
Allison Berger, one of our receptionists, shared her memories of Hanukkah.

And we’ve thrown in some informative posts with “How To’s” and recipes.
Like this one on how to take pictures with your smartphone.
And this one with recipes for hotel friendly meals.
Or this one with ways to research how to spend your “on own” time.
And this Tour Director’s guide on what to pack in your carry-on.

It’s been a great year and we’re excited to continue to provide you with information, anecdotes, tips, and everything in between to inspire you and to make your travel experiences as wonderful as possible! Be sure to check out our Archives to see our other posts and leave us comments to share your thoughts.

What topics would you like to see us cover in our second year?

Celebrating Starr’s Long-Term Employees

Last week we celebrated a personal milestone at Starr: Kathy Dolly, Starr’s Director of Finance celebrated her 40th anniversary. This special anniversary made me think of not only Kathy, but all the wonderful people who have experienced long tenures at Starr.

 

First thing’s first. Let’s define tenure in this context. Tenure is the length of time an employee has worked for their employer.

 

Kathy with Starr Owner & CEO Alan Glickman, and President John Gillispie

Next, let’s talk more about Kathy (because she deserves it!) This year Kathy is celebrating her 60th birthday (don’t tell her I told you). If you do the math, you can figure Kathy started when she was only 20 years old, back when she was a college student. Kathy has been at Starr longer than she has been married, longer than she has been a mother, and before office computers were a norm (remember carbon copies?)! Plus, during Kathy’s time at Starr, her daughter, Melissa, worked at Starr while she was in high school and college (and has since moved on to a career with a national accounting firm).

 

All in all, there are 19 employees with 25 or more years of tenure at Starr. With a total of 131 employees, that’s almost 15% of us who have worked here for a quarter of a century. Not too shabby, eh? And by the way, the average Starr employee has 12.5 years of tenure. Can you tell we are quite proud that our employees choose to stay at Starr for their career?

 

Congratulations to the following Starr employees with 25 or more years of tenure:
Alan Glickman, CEO, 47 years
Kathy Dolly, Director of Finance, 40 years
Henry Jarkowski, Maintenance, 37.5 years
Bob Multop, Courier, 36 years
John Ciborowski, Tour Director, 35 years
Margie Mangione, Travel Advisor-Tours, 34 years
Andy Waskie, Tour Director, 33 years
Jim Agasar, Driver, 32 years
Penny Rudolph, Tour Director, 30 years
Carole Brown, Tour Director, 30 years
Bill King, Driver, 29 years
MaryAnne Kostic-King, Tour Director, 28 years
Lucille George, Charters & Tour Director, 28 years
Mary Gasper, Tour Operations, 28 years
Rob Graff, Director of Transportation, 26 years
Joann Peate, Tour Operations, 26 years
Nancy Kozic, Travel Advisor-Tours, 25 years
Chic Suter, Driver, 25 years
Jane Peters Estes, Tour Director, 25 years

 

And what about me? Well, would you count the hours I listened to my dad talk about Starr at the dinner table or those tours I escorted while I was in college or the ad copy I wrote while I was in high school? OK, I guess not! So in that case, I will be celebrating my “official” 19th year at Starr this August!

 

Since I find employee tenure fascinating, I looked up some statistics on this topic and I learned the following from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of January 2016:¹

Did you know?

The median number of years that workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years just 2 years prior.

The amount of workers with 10 years or more of tenure with their current employer is 29% (men) and 28% (women). Not surprisingly, Employee tenure was generally higher among older workers than younger ones. For example, the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 (10.1 years) was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years (2.8 years).

 

What does tenure say about you?

Please feel free to chime in with your tenure and what you think it says about a person! Looking forward to all your thoughts!

 

Cheers to all of our great employees and here’s to many more years to come!

Sandy Borowsky
Vice President, Tours & Marketing

 

 

¹https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm