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Ways to Go Green on Your Next Vacation

Ways to Go Green on Your Next Vacation

Contrary to what Vogue may tell you, green really is the new black. With Earth Day coming up, many of us are in the environmental spirit, but it can be hard to stay eco-friendly away from home.

The next time you’re exploring this beautiful planet, keep in mind these awesome travel tips:

1. Use Alternative Transportation
Forget trains, planes and automobiles. Did you know…

  • A couple traveling by bus will cut their carbon footprint nearly in half compared with driving even a hybrid car.
  • And if they take a bus rather than a plane, they will cut their emissions by 55 to 75 percent, depending on the distance they travel.
  • Buses emit the least carbon dioxide per passenger mile compared to other vehicles, and are 7 times more energy and fuel-efficient than single occupancy automobiles.
  • Buses are 3 times more efficient in reducing carbon dioxide output compared to commuter rail.
  • Buses are the most fuel-efficient transportation mode in North America when measured in terms of passenger miles per gallon of fuel providing 206.6 passenger mpg compared to commuter rail (92.4 passenger mpg), airlines (44 passenger mpg), and single occupancy automobiles (27.2 passenger mpg).

Switch up your usual style of travel and take a vacation by bus. It cuts down on emissions, making for a more fun trip with much cleaner air. Take a deep breath and enjoy the cool, clean clear air free of emissions and pollution.

2. Don’t Litter
Nothing wrecks a scene quite like a Coke can blowing in the wind. No matter where you are, it is awful to have a pretty picture ruined by some stray pieces of trash. Next time you have a wrapper, take the extra four seconds and toss it in a waste bin. You’re saving the view for others. Better yet…take care of someone else’s litter and improve the view for the next person.

3. Carry Your Own Trash
On a related note, sometimes you just can’t find a trash can. Whether you’re in a canoe, or on a long hike, it’s a good idea to bring a reusable bag to carry your trash. Whether it’s a bubble gum wrapper or your lunch debris, carrying a little extra trash can be annoying, but is worth it in the end. The earth and your fellow travelers will thank you.

4. Reuse Old Containers or Recycle Them
Reduce the clutter in your cabinets and reuse containers for other things. Old ketchup bottle? Clean it and use it for spare sunscreen! Recycle the ones you can’t use, but be sure to check to see what is recyclable in your area. Get to know your local Waste Management company to find out what is accepted in your recycling bin and what isn’t. For example, Mercer County, NJ only recycles #1 and #2 plastics and too much other plastic mixed into the batch could result in the entire batch getting tossed. “Understanding the seven plastic codes will make it easier to choose plastics and to know which plastics to recycle.”

5. Bring Your Own Water Bottle
In landfills, plastic bottles are everywhere. Cut down on your own personal waste, and save money by investing in a reusable water bottle. With countless colors and prints, you can even choose a pretty one. Stylish and environmentally friendly? Now that’s something I can get behind.

6. Pack Light
As anyone who has ever carried a heavy backpack knows, it can be a struggle. With sore shoulders, it can be a huge pain. But it is also a pain for the environment. The more weight on a vehicle (car, bus, plane, etc), the more fuel it uses. Every ounce counts, so save your back and your buck and forgo that extra four pairs of pants. The earth thanks you.

7. Bring Your Own Shopping Bag for Souvenirs
At the grocery store, we often hear the phrase, “paper or plastic?” Now, introduce a new option when you’re on the go. Bring your own reusable bags for souvenirs, and save the shop some money, and the world a few extra trees.

8. Go Digital Instead of Disposable
When it comes to capturing the perfect memory, there are a lot of strategies. Although many people are attracted to the convenience of a disposable camera, try a digital one on for size. It’s a long term option with great settings and HD. It can save the earth, and save your pictures – no print shop visit required.

9. Support Local Businesses
When out and about, it’s easy to go the Wendy’s or McDonald’s route rather than the local place. After all, we love something predictable. But trying out a local place is a new experience, it also helps support local businesses, and local farms. Take a bite out of the local agriculture and try Joe’s Grill for a change instead of Jack in the Box.

10. Leave the Aerosol at Home
Everyone loves the ease and quickness of an aerosol sunscreen or hairspray. It’s quick and effective, but it’s also torture on the ozone layer. Now, don’t forget the sunscreen, but protect your skin with a cream-based option instead. Every little bit helps. Even better, invest in biodegradable sunscreen to protect our oceans!

11. Avoid Paper Maps
In the wonderful age of technology we live in, there’s no excuse to waste money on heavy and wasteful paper maps. Print them out at home on recycled paper, or better yet, keep the information on your phone. Save a tree while exploring the forest.

This Earth Day, don’t leave the celebrations at home – take them on the go! Keeping it green at home or away!

What are your favorite ways to Go Green?

 

P.S. Go Greener with Starr!

Hey Baby Boomers! How about a 2nd Career as a Charter Bus Driver?

Hey Baby Boomers! How about a 2nd Career as a Charter Bus Driver?

According to Investopedia, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are heading into retirement in droves (about 10,000 a day, in fact).  But what does retirement mean anymore? How many of you have celebrated the retirement of a friend, relative or coworker just to find out they have gone back to work? We can retire from one career and start another in a very smooth fashion. Here at Starr we hire lots of retirees on staff as Bus Drivers. We have retired Police Officers, Teachers, Firefighters, and many Veterans.  Driving a charter bus offers a lot of the perks that workers facing retirement seem to desire, such as flexible hours, a change of pace and scenery, and the opportunity to learn new skills. Folks who have held sedentary jobs often enjoy being “on the move” for a change; workers tied to one locale during their career may appreciate visiting new places; those who’ve worked alone—like accountants, lab technicians, or computer programmers—may enjoy the opportunity to meet and converse with many new people every trip.

Everyone knows Americans are living longer than ever so that means our ideas around retirement and needs going into retirement are changing. Although the U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the average retirement age in the United States is about age 63, many don’t retire until Age 70. And then there are those in good health, like Starr’s owner Alan Glickman, who are 75 and still going strong! The longer we work, the easier it is to afford a comfortable retirement. Longer lives and rising health care costs have made retirement more expensive at the same time that stagnant wages and the decline of the traditional pension have made it harder to save enough. Putting off retirement until later can mean less worry once you get there. Then you can relax and truly enjoy your golden years.

Bloomberg tells us that U.S. seniors are employed at the highest rates in 55 years which means that more and more Americans are spending their golden years on the job due to a number of factors. Many are healthier and living longer than previous generations. Some need the income, while others decide not to fully retire because they enjoy their jobs or just want to stay active.

While age discrimination is a very real consideration for older job seekers, a few gray hairs can actually be a plus for aspiring bus drivers.  Passengers might equate age with experience, authority, and sound judgment and they would be right.  A little life experience can go a long way on the open road.  For a generation pondering how to transition into the next phase of life, a stint as a bus driver might be the ticket.

Starr makes the transition into a new career as a motorcoach operator as easy as possible. First, we offer a full scholarship to qualified candidates to help get you the necessary CDL license you’ll need to operate one of our buses. Next, we offer a flexible schedule, premiere medical benefits, and full and part time options. Oh, and we also offer a $10,000 hiring bonus for full time drivers, and $2,500 for part time drivers, just to sweeten the deal even further.

Our drivers travel up and down the east coast and as far west as Michigan, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee. You work as a team with knowledgeable Tour Directors, and get to know many of our amazing passengers and groups – many of which have been traveling with Starr for years! If the idea of being paid to travel, see our great country, and meet some great people interests you, why not consider turning your retirement into an adventure and join our team? We’d love to have you!

Visit Starr’s employment opportunities and see current open positions by clicking the icon below:

Bus Travel Accessories Make Great Gifts

‘Tis the season for gifts in all shapes and sizes! With travel always on our minds, we’ve put together a list of some of the best travel gifts for any world traveler on your list this year. If you’re traveling by bus or plane, this list is great to share with friends and family or to just treat yourself. If you or someone you know loves to travel, look no further! Their perfect gift is just a few clicks away!

 

 Here are our 13 travel accessories suggestions for the traveler in your life:

 

  1. Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag – this hanging toiletry bag or organizer comes in 4 sizes – small, medium, large, and family – and many fabric colors and patterns.  I love this bag because it saves counter space when traveling and has lots of pockets to section off items.  It hangs easily from a towel bar, shower curtain rod, or bathroom door.  With over 600 five-star reviews on llbean.com, it’s worth checking out.

 

  1. Vitamin Pill Case – this handy case is perfect for taking those vitamins or medications on the road with you! 16 pill envelopes can be used in a variety of ways (AM/PM for 8 days, one dose for 16 days, etc) and can be removed from the case to discreetly slip into your purse or pocket.

 

  1. Portable phone charger – There is nothing worse then having your phone die on the go. With this little gadget, you can save yourself a huge amount of stress. Plus, it’s super small and extra portable.

 

  1. Subsorb SPF 30 Lip Balm – for your traveler hitting the slopes or the beach, this is a terrific lip balm due to its SPF30 protection. Even for those not needing sun protection, (travelers often lament about dry lips on the plane or on vacation) this lip balm is ultra-moisturizing and full of aloe vera and antioxidants.

 

  1. Aquis Adventure Towel – this fast-drying towel is incredibly lightweight. It folds up really small, is quite absorbent, and dries quickly. Some travelers are known to keep one in their carry-on; it doubles as a light blanket on long bus trips.

 

  1. Travel Clothesline – a “must-have” for a world traveler who is known to do some laundry in their hotel sink. Also great to hang wet swimsuits and towels if you take advantage of the hotel pool. No clothes pin needed, this stretchy, braided line hangs nearly anywhere.  For our family of four, we travel with two and wouldn’t consider leaving home without it.

 

  1. Portable water bottle – Staying hydrated is essential, especially when on the go, and this cute little gadget can stay in your pocket, allowing you to whip it out when you need it. As a bonus: it comes in many fun colors.

 

  1. Road ID – simple, wearable identification for your next adventure, Road IDs hook to your shoe or come in bracelet form. First Responders are trained to look for these IDs, which are often faster to access in an emergency than finding a loved one or locating the victim’s wallet. Road IDs include contact info and health information (ex. diabetes, allergies) – vital information in an emergency.

 

  1. “Smart” luggageawaytravel.com has created a line of “perfect” suitcases. Features include a built-in battery to charge any device, integrated TSA-approved lock, lightweight design, impenetrable exterior shell, and easy-to-pull wheels. The best part?  100-day risk-free trial and a lifetime warranty.

 

  1. Compression socks – These socks are great for long walks or hikes, and are ideal for any day when you’ll be on your feet a lot. They are designed for flights three hours or more, but are perfect on and off your feet. They’re fun, come in a three pack and have lots of nifty colors to choose from.

 

  1. Noise cancelling headphones – There is nothing worse than that annoying plane sound or listening to someone cough or even worse, a baby’s cry. It can be fine for a few minutes, but after a few hours it can really get on your nerves. Plus, some people next to you are just such loud breathers. Well, luckily Bose has you covered. These headphones can be a little pricey, but they are specifically engineered to tune out excess noise, giving you some well deserved rest.

 

  1. Eye Mask – When you travel often, you learn to sleep almost anywhere, but it never hurts to have a little something help you out. These Kamossa sleep masks are incredible, and they are made of the softest memory foam, which can fit and form to your face. They keep their shape when folded and they come with their own carrying satchel and ear plugs!

 

  1. Slippers – Sometimes you would love to take your shoes off after a long day of traveling, but do you really want to walk around in bare feet on hotel room floors? Invest in a pair of lightweight, portable slippers like these to keep your feet clean and happy. They come in a variety of colors, are easy to slip on and off, and are machine washable! Be sure to check out their men’s designs, too. It’s great here and away from home.

 

So, that’s all folks! Enjoy these great holiday gift ideas, perfect for someone who travels often for work, or just loves exploring new places. I hope you enjoy some of these items on your next Starr Bus Tour!

What’s your favorite, must-have travel item?

Give the Gift of Travel – Vacation Gift Guide

Why worry about the perfect color, fit, or style this year? Give something that will always be in season, never goes out of style, and keeps on giving for years to come – give the gift of travel! We’ve already covered how travel experiences enrich life, here are a few suggestions for the perfect vacation, no matter your price range.

For Day Trips by bus under $100:

Atlantic City Air Show – for just under $55 you can send your loved one on a comfortable bus to the Jersey shore for the high-flying excitement of the Atlantic City Air Show and even a little casino fun! They’ll be treated to a casino package with $25 Slot Play and a $10 Food Voucher, along with the intense thrill of the famed military and civilian pilots flying acrobatic maneuvers above their heads!

Coney Island
Credit Daniel Fleming

Coney Island Express – Brooklyn’s famed boardwalk destination is less than $55. Imagine giving them a day at the beach with all of the history and unique flair of Coney Island. They can try one of Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, explore the New York Aquarium, ride the Wonder Wheel, catch a thrill on the Cyclone, relax on the beach, and more! It’s a perfect day away from the daily grind.

National Zoo, Washington, DC – for just under $70, your loved one can enjoy a day at one of the oldest zoos in the nation! Over 2000 animals call this 163-acre park home including Giant Pandas from China, exotic birds, reptiles, rain forest creatures, and more.

Cars, Collectibles, and Yuengling – new for 2018 is a tour just under $100 that offers an afternoon of history and nostalgia as they visit America’s first brewery and revisit the ’50s! At Jerry’s Classic Cars & Collectibles Museum, they will take a journey back in time to the 1950s and leave with an unforgettable experience.

 

For Broadway Show Packages by bus under $200:

The Lion King – Disney’s classic movie takes center stage in an amazing production of artful puppetry and incredible music.

Carousel – “One of the most hallowed works of the American stage” (The New York Times) returns to Broadway for the first time in more than two decades. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless musical Carousel comes to life in a new production. Elevated to an epic scale with a sweeping musical score and incandescent ballet sequences, this story of passion, loss and redemption introduced Broadway to a new manner of musical drama – one that “set the standard for the 20th century musical” (Time Magazine) and would captivate theatergoers for generations to come.

The Phantom of the Opera – this timeless tale of seduction and despair is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterwork and has been running on Broadway for 30 years. The unforgettable score, heart wrenching story, and captivating set make this a must-see show.

Hello, Dolly! – Bernadette Peters takes center stage in one of the most cherished musicals in theater history. Featuring music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, “Hello, Dolly!” tells the story of an outspoken matchmaker and her attempts to marry “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder.

 

Multi-Day Vacations by bus under $500:

Boston, Massachusetts – The famed and bustling New England city has never been so easy to visit! Your loved one will be treated to a comprehensive city tour by one of Boston’s most knowledgeable guides and enjoy plenty of free time to experience all of the wonders of “Beantown.”

Cooperstown: National Baseball Hall of Fame – perfect for the baseball fanatic in your life. This tour includes a one year membership to the National Baseball Hall of Fame including a subscription to Memories and Dreams magazine, Hall of Fame Yearbook, complimentary admission to the Hall of Fame for one year, and other perks. Combine this with the fun shopping and dining found in Cooperstown and your gift will hit a home run!

Niagara Falls, USA – No passport required! Our newest option for a Niagara vacation makes this wonder of the natural world even more accessible! They’ll enjoy a boat ride into the horseshoe of the falls on Maid of the Mist as well as a tour of the area and accommodations in Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. What a lucky gift!

Pittsburgh
Credit Derek Cashman

Pittsburgh, PA: The Golden Triangle – the intriguing “Steel City” awaits on this tour to western Pennsylvania. Truly a unique destination, Pittsburgh is home to a fascinating mix of historical landmarks, captivating architecture, compelling characters, and more! They’ll tour the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning, be treated to an in-depth tour of the city, and more!

Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun Casinos – this tour is every casino lovers dream! Featuring two of Connecticut’s greatest casinos this tour includes a casino package at each and ample time to try their luck at a plethora of table games, slot machines, Poker rooms, and more! They’ll be saying “Jackpot!” when they open this present!

 

One size rarely fits all and with Starr, you don’t have to settle for the generic! In addition to our immense lineup of incredible bus tours, we also offer gift cards. Our gift cards come in any denomination, and never expire! Whether you purchase a gift card so they can choose their own adventure or surprise them with a vacation you know they’ll love, you can rest assured that when you give the gift of travel, you’re giving a gift that will keep on giving for many years to come!

 

BFFs and Bus Travel

To tell how I came to work at Starr, I have to go back to July 1981 and the beginning of my 36 year friendship with fellow Starr Tour Director, Jane Peters Estes. Jane and I met at Hightstown High School (as employees, not students!). We both were new employees in the principal’s office so we spent that first summer getting to know each other as well as the school.

I had never worked in a school before and came in from private industry with a business background. Jane, on the other hand, had spent years in the elementary school system so she had a more colorful background. While my time had been spent dressing up for business, Jane’s time had been spent in costumes ranging from Santa’s helper to the Valentine Princess. All that changed my first year, and every year after that, as I traded in my business clothes and we collaborated for every holiday to add fun to our office. One Halloween we created bars on the windows between the office and the hallway and dressed in prison stripes. Another year, we painted flames on the windows and dressed up as little devils. During the winter, our decor included a working fireplace with a mantle with ice skates and skis next to it and winter scenes on posters on the walls. Snowflakes hung from the ceiling. Our first Valentine’s Day was an explosion of hearts all over the office walls and hanging from the ceiling.

We worked together for 6 years until Jane took another position in the school district, but we remained close friends. She is the Abbott to my Costello, the George Burns to my Gracie Allen, the… well, you get the idea. She’s taught me and opened my eyes to a lot over the years.

Jane began as a Starr Tour Director in 1992 and she took to escorting bus trips quite naturally. While I thought it sounded like a cool job, I had other things going on in my life and didn’t give it a second thought. A few years later, Jane asked if I’d like to go on a Starr day trip with her to Gettysburg. We always had a good time together so I decided, why not? It was a fun trip with a small problem to solve and happy passengers to interact with. I watched how she handled everything and started to think that I’d like to do it, too. My kids were grown and I had more time on my hands…

I finally got an opportunity to join Starr’s team of Tour Directors in September of 2004. Jane contacted me to say that Starr was hiring and asked if I was interested. I said yes without a second thought. At the time it worked well with my schedule and when I retired a few years later it worked even better. I trained under Eileen Markey, a delightful lady, and of course Jane helped me a lot too. She still does!

Since then, I have had the opportunity to train a few new Tour Directors myself, including Gene Gray, and have built many more friendships along the way. All of the Starr Tour Directors and Drivers have been wonderful to know and work with and the passengers have been pretty great, too! Starting your day before the sun has come up isn’t always easy, but the rest of the day is always uphill from there. It’s been fun learning about new places and expanding my stand up comedy routine. The only time I’ve taken my comedy on the road has been in a Starr coach, and although I have a captive audience, I realize that the driver really has the last word. I just keep an eye out to make sure he hasn’t opened the door and gotten the hook out… that’s a joke!! I’ve enjoyed meeting new people all the time and by the end of the trips I’ve gotten hugs and even applause on occasion, which I humbly accept!

In my first years at Starr I got to do a few Maine bus trips as well as a bus trip to Savannah and Charleston. They were both especially enjoyable because of the scenery as well as the people I met. As a Tour Director for Starr, I get to travel at a discount (it’s a perk!). So I traveled to Canyon Country as a tour guest last year. It was a wonderful trip and I got to know our passengers – as one of them! But out of all of the trips I’ve taken with Starr, Long Island remains my favorite – as I mentioned in my previous blog post! It’s not a long drive, and it’s a walk down memory lane for me, having grown up on the island. I guess there really is no place like home!

I have loved working as a Tour Director at Starr for the past 13 years (even when I have to get up at 4AM for a trip!) and hope to continue working and traveling for many more years to come. And I think I’m very lucky to be able to continue to share experiences with my BFF.

Hope to see you on a tour soon,
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director