Holiday Travel Survival Tips

There’s an old expression that says “getting there is half the fun”, but if you’ve ever Happy family driving in  the car surrounded by snow.taken road trip, you know that all that time spent traveling in close quarters for long periods of time isn’t exactly restful. Throw in extra holiday traffic and the excited frenzy of the holiday season and traveling by car can be especially stressful.

Ways to Make Your Journey a Little Less Bumpy This Holiday Season

Before you head out on the road with your family to visit loved ones or take a much-needed vacation this holiday season, be sure to read these important survival tips:

  1. Take a reliable vehicle. Your old minivan might be comfortable, but it also could break down, leaving you in the worst situation possible: stranded with cranky children. Even if you have a newer car, it’s important to have routine maintenance done before you leave.
  2. Join a travel club. In the unfortunate event your car breaks down, you’ll be able to get roadside assistance. Companies like AAA can also bring you other benefits like discounts on shopping, dining and hotels, in addition to helping you out if you’re stranded.
  3. Map your route in advance. Today there is no shortage of online tools to help you map out a route. Give your route to a family member so that they know how to locate you.
  4. Plan your travel times. If you have younger children, plan your travel around their sleep schedules. Traveling at night is a great way to avoid heavy rush hour traffic.
  5. Pack healthy snacks and refreshments. Bring along a cooler with water, fruit and other refreshments, and pack other healthy snacks. Avoid unhealthy sugary foods.
  6. Stay connected. Charge your cellphone before leaving, and don’t forget bring along your car charger. Also, be sure to charge those electronic games and music players in advance!
  7. Play family games. In the event that those electronic games or players run out of battery life, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned game of “license plate” to engage children.
  8. Dress comfortably. Dress kids in loose, comfortable clothing or even their pajamas for nighttime travel.
  9. Play good music. Bring along relaxing music for the ride. Be sure to select songs you and your children will enjoy.

And lastly…

  1. Remember to keep your sense of humor and a positive attitude!

Online Holiday Shopping Tips

If the weather outside is frightful (or if you’re just looking to save some time), online shopping is the way to go for your holiday purchases. The advOnline shopping safetyantages to the online marketplace are many: no lines, no crowds and no multi-store trips to find that one specific toy. As you zoom from Amazon to Etsy and back again, here are some tips to make your holiday shopping as productive and safe as possible:

  • Protect your data

The holiday shopping season always comes with a host of horror stories about identity theft, so when you log on, make sure you take the proper steps to keep your information safe. Shop only through sites you trust and always check that the site is secure. Secure sites typically have URLs that being with “https” instead of “http” on any page where you’re entering card information. Additionally, you should always see a lock icon somewhere in your browser window when you’re on a secure page.

  • Choose credit

When it comes to checkout time, it’s better to use a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases. Credit cards tend to have a higher level of fraud protection than debit cards, and you are not liable for debt incurred after a credit card is reported lost or stolen. On the other hand, if your debit card information is compromised, your entire bank account balance could be at risk.

  • Keep track of those receipts

Have a designated place (either a physical folder or folder in your email inbox) to keep track of your receipts, payment confirmations and tracking numbers for your purchases. Always be sure to read the fine print with respect to returns; different vendors’ policies will differ where returns and exchanges are concerned.

  • Buy items together to save on shipping

The one obvious downside to online shopping is the cost of shipping. Depending on the site and the shipping option you choose, a reasonably priced item could easily become one that causes you to hesitate at the checkout page. Sites like Amazon offer you the option to bundle items together and ship them in the fewest boxes possible to save you money, and may also offer free shipping when you spend a certain dollar amount. Plan out your shopping in advance to maximize your transactions on each site—it will help you take advantage of these benefits and keep your shipping costs low.

  • Check the dates

Speaking of shipping, pay close attention to the estimated shipping times on your purchases and make sure to leave enough time for things to arrive. Most sites will provide you with a tracking number for your package once it’s shipped.

Remember: Identity theft increases around the holidays, so take extra care when shopping online. Here are some additional safe shopping tips from Webroot.com.

Friday Feature: La Plata Business Association – Small Business Saturday

LBA logoYou’ve heard of Black Friday, but did you know that the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday? Local businesses are the backbone of so many communities, and each year, shoppers are encouraged to support then as they do their holiday shopping. This year, the La Plata Business Association has been working hard to plan the first-ever “Shop La Plata” celebration, taking place this Saturday. We spoke to Keith Grasso, the Association’s President, who shared some details on the event and why you should be shopping local this holiday season!

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: LPBA provides opportunities for businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in the development, redevelopment and preservation of the downtown business district of La Plata to work together to promote the interest of the La Plata Business community through the sponsoring, marketing and programming of special events and to provide opportunities for advertising and joint marketing development.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Small Business Saturday® helps small business kick off the busy holiday shopping season. The role of a neighborhood champion is to inspire communities to participate in the day and support local Small Business Saturday celebrations.

This year, LPBA has partnered with Business Alliance of Charles County, Charles County Chamber of Commerce, Charles County Government Economic Development and Tourism, Town of La Plata, and University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center among other neighborhood champions for the “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday.

To date, more than a dozen neighborhood champions have joined together to recognize the day and to commit to serve as ambassadors, encouraging family and friends to shop small at independently-owned shops and restaurants in our neighborhood.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Public awareness is important. LPBA appreciates this opportunity to be featured on Community Bank’s blog to promote public awareness about the “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: LPBA will host an inaugural “Shop La Plata” celebration on Small Business Saturday® to be held on Nov. 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the downtown business district of La Plata, Maryland.

Small Business Saturday® is held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and was original created by American Express in 2010 to help small business kick of the busy holiday shopping season. By supporting independently-owned shops and restaurants on Small Business Saturday® and throughout the holiday season, you are helping to grow the local economy and build a better neighborhood.

“Shop La Plata” for one of the best small town holiday shopping experiences Southern Maryland has to offer.

Streets and storefront windows will be decorated with whimsical holiday décor. La Plata’s tops chefs at Casey Jones Restaurant & Bar and Charles Street Bakery will fill the air with wonderful aromas of sweet treats and tasty desserts! Shop La Plata for homemade pizza at Pizza Hotline.

Shop La Plata for fine jewelry, fashion eyewear, baby boutique and one of kind gifts, ornaments and chic home decor at Centerpiece Boutique and Home Design, House Boutique, and Joson Fine Jewelry & Home Boutique. Shop La Plata for holistic health and wellness, beauty, spa and yoga holiday specials at Alchemy the Salon, La Bella Viso, Live Out Loud Yoga Studio, New Moon Bodywork & Botanicals, Rejuvenation Medi-Spa, Tangles Hair Salon, The Loft Salon, and World Gym. Shop La Plata for new and hard to find vintage musical instruments at Island Music Company, high quality custom framing for your holiday family portraits and handmade furniture at Bernie’s Frame Shop. Shop La Plata for quality resale clothing at Hooks and Hangers and iPhone, iPad and iPod repairs at Wireless Junkies.

Participating merchants will be collecting canned goods and nonperishable food items on Small Business Saturday to support Southern Maryland Food Bank.

Ask participating merchants how to win prizes, no purchase necessary.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Look for a full page ad in the Maryland Independent “holiday shopping guide” on Wed., Nov. 26 and Dec. 10. The guide will be available from Wed. Nov. 26 through Mon. Dec. 22 at Southern Maryland Newspapers Online web site www.somdnews.com

Stay updated and informed about the event by following the La Plata Business Association Facebook page. For inquiries, please contact Christine Parker, co-chair of the Shop La Plata celebration at 301-751-7553.

Holiday Food and Toy Drive November 12-December 12

You can help us make a difference and brighten up the holiday season for those in need.Holiday Food & Toy Drive

We’re proud to announce the start of our Fourth Annual Food and Toy Drive. Each year it brings us great pleasure to bring back this special seasonal event to help support the organizations and individuals in our communities.

Helping others during the holidays

You can drop off non-perishable food goods, such as canned vegetables and fruit, soups, baby formula, powdered milk, peanut butter and hot/cold cereals, at any Community Bank branch between November 12 and December 12.

Collections made in Southern Maryland will be donated to the Southern Maryland Food Bank, collections in King George County will be donated to the Department of Social Services for the King George Food Pantry and collections in Fredericksburg will be donated to the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

We are also collecting new, unwrapped toys to distribute to local families with young children during the holidays. Toys collected will support the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

Last-minute gifts – There’s still time!

Last-minute holiday shoppingBlack Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone. And your holiday shopping still isn’t finished? You’ve waited too long to rely on “overnight shipping,” and Amazon’s 30-minute drone delivery hasn’t “taken off” yet! Here are a few last-minute gift ideas to help ease the stress.

Think “homemade” and “handmade”
Check out Pinterest for the site’s featured pinners’ favorite recipes and hundreds of do-it-yourself and craft ideas. And the best part is, you don’t have to sign up to take advantage of these online pin boards — just click away. Continue reading