Travel

A beginner’s guide to your next family ski vacation

Brainstorming with the family over which holiday to go for next can be quite a task, but you know what’s the ultimate challenge? Getting them onboard for a ski vacation! Witnessing your kids go berserk on a roller coaster on a sunny day is so much more different than motivating them to learn an intricate hobby in cold temperatures. However, there is nothing more fulfilling than watching your kids embrace the thrill of this winter sport. Moreover, it is an incredible way to hone their qualities such as confidence, awareness, perseverance, and balance.

Well, no one can promise you a family holiday in the mountains without its own set of hiccups, but we’re here to help you make it memorable despite the obstacles that you can come across. Here are some travel tips and tricks that can help you plan smartly for your next snow-blanketed adventure with your loved ones.

Preparing for a family ski vacation
Unlike a solo trip, where you can afford to be spontaneous, there are numerous arrangements to be made planning when a family vacation, especially when skiing is involved. To make this process as good as smooth sailing, here are some factors that you will need to emphasize on while planning a perfect family ski vacation.

  • Location
    The location you pick purely depends on your budget and personal preferences. An international ski vacation in the Alps or Dolomites will obviously require you to make a generous investment. However, if you have a budget to honor as well as limited time then you can opt for a ski trip either in the Eastern or Western side of the country. In the US alone, there are approximately 500 ski locations scattered across 37 states which surprisingly also includes southern territories such as Alabama and Tennessee. So, you have plenty of places and options to choose from.
  • Stay
    One of the best parts of taking ski trip today is that there are numerous resorts available that specifically only cater to families. If your kids are too young to ski, then look for places that offer other kid-friendly snow activities and daycare amenities. Likewise, the location of the resort matters a lot when you are traveling with kids as schlepping heavy gear can easily tire them out. It would be wiser to book accommodation that is in close proximity to the terrain so that kids don’t have to cover long distances with the ski equipment. Additionally, some ski resorts offer equipment rental and lift tickets at no cost for kids belonging to a certain age group.
  • Alternative activities
    You have to consider the possibility that your kids might not want to ski after the first few attempts or the destination you intend to go might not have the right conditions for skiing. Fortunately, there are several ways to make the most of your holidays in the mountains. So, while planning a ski vacation, ensure that you have some nonskiing activities included in your travel packages, such as dog sledding, ice skating, ice-fishing, sightseeing and shopping, snowmobiling, and stargazing.
  • Terrain
    For a gratifying experience, it is essential that you choose the right terrain, particularly, when this is your family’s first time skiing. For instance, Aspen (Colorado) isn’t the best pick for novices because this particular area encompasses multiple tricky terrains, suitable for advanced skiers. Learning to ski in such an environment can be extremely intimidating, especially for kids. To get off on the right foot, you should opt for locations such as Telluride (Colorado), Deer Valley (Utah) or Mammoth Mountain (California) which are abundant with beginner terrains.
  • Ski school
    Enrolling the kids in a ski school is the best way to help them develop the right skiing technique. Ski lessons are typically arranged by the resort that you are staying in. Specialty camps, group, private, and semi-private lessons are some common options rendered by most ski schools. It is also crucial to remember that every resort will enforce different rules with regards to the minimum age eligibility, length of the lessons (half or full day), and how many beginners they include in a single session. It might be surprising but taking a private lesson as a family can be more economical than booking slots for the kids in a camp or a common group lesson.
  • Insurance
    While all the dare-devilry on the slopes seems to be exhilarating it is important to make arrangements for your family’s wellbeing. Apart from the safety gear, it is also important to check the range of your medical coverage in case things goes south. If your current health plan doesn’t reimburse expenses for skiing accidents then consider travel insurance. Besides medical expenses, travel insurance can also protect you from damages involving misplaced or stolen luggage, personal liability, and lost holidays due to weather.
  • Season
    The best time to enjoy a family ski vacation is during December and January as the snow conditions and weather are fairly predictable. Moreover, since the winter season lines up with Christmas and New Year’s, your family will get an opportunity to attend some fun events and festivals including concerts, torchlight parades, and fireworks. However, expect the ski locations to be crowded during this season as most kids are on a school break. If you make reservations any time after October then the prices of accommodation and air tickets will surge accordingly. Unable to make a booking during the peak season? Don’t worry! You can plan for a ski holiday in the month of February or March, however, avoid pushing it till April as most ski areas start closing when spring arrives.

Best family ski resorts
Here are some of the most popular options for family ski resorts that you can consider for your next holiday.

10 top family ski resorts in the USA

  • Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
  • Aspen Snowmass (Colorado)
  • Alta Ski Resort (Colorado)
  • Beaver Creek (Colorado)
  • Deer Valley (Utah)
  • Telluride Ski Resort (Colorado)
  • Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico)
  • Sun Valley (Idaho)
  • Vail Ski Resort (Colorado)
  • Snowbird Ski Resort (Utah)

10 popular family ski resorts in the world

  • Alpe d’Huez (France)
  • Breuil-Cervinia (Italy)
  • Åre (Sweden)
  • Whitewater (Canada)
  • Wengen (Switzerland)
  • Gervais Mont-Blanc (France)
  • Gstaad Palace (Switzerland)
  • Ski Welt (Austria)
  • Beaver Creek (USA)
  • Madonna di Campiglio (Italy)

7 ways to save money on family ski vacations
Enjoying a skiing adventure with your family in the midst of snow-capped mountains is a priceless experience, which unfortunately comes at a significant price. Pinning down an average estimate for a family ski vacation can be tricky business as multiple factors come into play including location, accommodation and meals, lift tickets, ski lessons, rental equipment, airfare, and ground transport. Needless to say, it is easy to blow the budget on a family ski vacation. Worried? Don’t be! The next time you plan to hit the slopes with your family, try these hacks to save big on your ski vacation.

  • Get it right with the early bird packages
    There is nothing like relishing a last-minute travel deal, at the same time, waiting for one can be a bit of a gamble. So to be on a safer side, scour for early bird ski packages. Booking sites usually release these travel bundles by the end of May. You can save up to 50% on travel deals if you start making reservations before early October. Apart from the price factor, booking during this window will give you some wiggle room, helping you score the best of deals such as upgrades on accommodation and other amenities.
  • Make the most of all-inclusive offers
    Shelling out money for an all-inclusive family ski vacation initially may come across as a big-ticket expense, but you will have almost no costs to bear during your stay at the resort. Typically, all-inclusive ski vacation comprises flights, ground transportation, lodging, meals and drinks, equipment rentals, and ski lessons. Some packages also might also cover off-piste guiding. Getting a package with lift tickets will also help you save some big bucks. Their prices can surge to almost $100 when directly purchased from the ticket counter. On the other hand, discounted lift tickets included in the ski packages offer almost 40% off on the original price.
  • Get acquainted with all the discounts
    If you are independently organizing a ski trip for your family, then ensure that you are well-acquainted with all the discounts and deals offered by the ski resort. Numerous accommodations have special offers for big families, students, physically challenged individuals, and seniors. These deals can come to your rescue, especially if you have missed the early bird booking window.
  • Try the shoulder season
    December and January are the best months for skiing, however, they are equally expensive. The Christmas holidays and winter break further amplify the demand for ski vacation packages during this period. If you want to steer clear of the steep prices and crowds, then you can plan for a skiing trip in spring or fall. However, ensure that you check your ski resort’s closing time and the area’s weather conditions to avoid disappointment.
  • Save on air tickets
    The classic trick of saving on flight tickets is by directly flying into a local airport instead of busy, domestic ones to avoid extensive road trips to the mountain or completely eliminate the need for a rental. However, this trick won’t work during peak seasons as the flights landing in the local airports are much more expensive. For example, if you have made reservations in Lake Tahoe’s ski resort during the peak season, then it would be cheaper to book a flight to Sacramento International Airport instead of Reno-Tahoe International Airport which is closer to the prime skiing locations. However, if you want to stick to the closest airport, then ensure that you buy air tickets well in advance to dodge the wrath of exorbitant prices.
  • Don’t let the baggage get you down
    If you are bringing your own skiing and snowboarding equipment, ensure that you pick an airline provider that doesn’t charge extra costs for it such as British Airways and Lufthansa. However, the overall ticket prices offered by these airlines might be comparatively expensive. Another way to minimize any baggage expenses is by making airfare payments via an airline travel credit card so that you can get a waiver on a few checked bags. If you aren’t a frequent skier then it would be wiser to rent the equipment at the slopes. In case you don’t want to rent or buy skiing gear, then you can borrow it from family or friends.
  • Pick a smaller mountain
    If this will be your family’s first skiing experience, then it is better to book a resort on a smaller mountain. Ski resorts and schools located near smaller terrains are often cheaper. However, ensure that the budget-friendly resort you choose has all the required amenities. It would be an added bonus if your resort is closely situated to the social establishments in town.

Popular, budget-friendly resorts
If you are craving to spend some time with your family skiing without burning a hole in your pocket, then consider these popular, budget-friendly choices.

10 affordable family-friendly resorts in the country

  • Copper Mountain (Colorado)
  • Big Sky (Montana)
  • Taos Ski Valley (New Mexico)
  • Mad River Glen (Vermont)
  • Steamboat Springs (Colorado)
  • Heavenly Ski Resort (California)
  • Schweitzer Mountain (Idaho)
  • Cranmore Mountain Resort (New Hampshire)
  • Red Lodge Mountain (Montana)
  • Crystal Mountain (Washington)

10 budget-friendly family ski resorts in the world

  • Serre-Chevalier-Briançon (France)
  • Bialka Tatrzanska, (Poland)
  • Kranjska Gora( Slovenia)
  • Les Rousses (France)
  • Vialattea (Italy)
  • Arosa Lenzerheide (Switzerland)
  • Obergurgl-Hochgurgl (Austria)
  • Pamporovo (Bulgaria)
  • Harrachov (Czech Republic)
  • Kiroro Ski Resort (Japan)

Family ski vacations can be full of fun, adventure, and adrenaline. They also give you the chance to relax by the fireplace and cozy up with a book and some hot chocolate. Plan your trip well in advance to avoid hearing that the ski resort your family decided on is booked out. You are now armed with the sources you need and deals to steal.

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Society

Here’s everything you need to know about background checks

Terrific resumes and exceptional interviews make for paramount elements of decision-making when hiring a candidate for a job role in the company. However, it does not end at making a first great impression, something that Chandler bling often struggled with at job interviews in the iconic FRIENDS series. Acquiring a dream job goes well beyond a notable impression and can only be attained after passing the different employee screening checks. Fairly known, background checks and criminal record checks make for an essential piece of the job hiring process. Irrespective of the position of an employee, hiring a new candidate involves letting a stranger have full or partial access over data systems, assets, consumers and more. In an attempt to minimize any possible risk, every company today runs a background check during its hiring process.

The statistics on white-collar offenders are on the rise and the elimination of background check also compromises on the safety of the workplace. In fact, a study conducted by a private institution revealed that nearly eighty-five percent of the candidates provided false information during the interview process. It is true, a company can only thrive when it hires the best candidates. This makes the lengthy process of screening and background checks an absolute necessity. An organization cannot be positive about their hiring process while missing the imperative factor of employee background checks.

Without any further ado, here is understanding the elements that comprise background checks:

  • Essential of a basic background check
    There are several inclusions which make up a basic background check. A check that is not carried out in an effective process will only create complexes in the process of hiring. Moreover, it can also land one into a soup if a candidate is not considered due to inapplicable discriminating factors.
  • Consistency in the background check policy
    A background check is best conducted in a formulated flow that involves consistent steps to be followed. Background checks that involve a good flow reduce the chance of haphazard curations. Well, more than just hiccups, it can cause the eruption of legal issues in case of conducting certain checks only for persons from certain backgrounds.
  • Legal advice
    Most states put down laws that govern the kind of information which can be sourced through a background check, especially for criminal records. The unearthing of sensitive information that is not permitted can lead to legal issues for an employment background check company. Thus, it is essential to seek advice from a lawyer or advisor who specializes in this area of legality.
  • Space for error
    The background check for people can often be flawed or even outright wrong in certain cases. This may be due to the error that comes up during the process of data collection and the same cannot be completely avoided. It is imperative for a candidate to be given a chance for any rectification or explanation that can prevent incorrect exclusion.
  • Exclusion of information on character
    Understanding of character, attitude and more are not part of the background check. These factors are validated during the interview process; however, the candidate can be given an option to ask for details. The organization must comply with the request of the individual or they can seek legal advice in case of absolute necessity.

Additional options for background checks
In-depth background checks may be common for certain industries. This is when additional types of checks are employed to source more information and they include:

  • Credit reports
    Credit reports are sourced to understand the applicant’s ability to handle financial obligations. It also generates information about one’s previous addresses and personal information.
  • Driving records
    Driving record checks are usually conducted when hiring candidates for driving jobs. It brings a better perspective on the history of one’s driving capacity and the ability to take on the job.
  • Military service records
    This form of background check is specifically used when the military service of an employee affects the current application. This check cannot be conducted without getting permission from the concerned authorities.
  • Student transcripts
    Student transcripts are used when checking the performance of the applicant at school. The transcripts are sourced in many industries as they are very useful in understanding the academic performance of the candidate. However, student transcripts can only be sourced after getting permission from the applicant.

Employee’s permission for a background check
Employees do understand the importance of a background check for criminal records and other factors when joining a company. However, in the case of an external employment background check companies, an employee will have to grant written permission. This is especially true for extremely sensitive checks that include credit reports, military reports and access to school transcripts. In the case of reasonable request and denial of permission by the prospective employee, the individual may be excluded without further consideration.

Picking an employment background check company
Hiring the right employment background check company is imperative, irrespective of a small or large business. They play an essential role in ensuring the right checks are incorporated during the process of hiring. However, the proliferation of numerous background check companies can make it difficult to arrive at the right decision. Here are considerations that aid in making the decision easier:

  • Accreditation
    The background check company must be accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Under this program, the procedures and the policies of the service are constantly reviewed. The areas of inclusion include the standard of verification, ethical industry practices, consumer protection, and ethical industry practices.
  • Information access
    The service must be equipped with the tools required to access information that the organization requires. A company that possesses the right tools will be able to effectively collate the required data for background checks.
  • Quick and clear reports
    The recruiting process cannot be prolonged or extended far too long. The company must be able to produce reports in a stipulated time period. Also, clarity and error-free checks are essential, or it could hamper and lead to missing on value-adding candidates.
  • Costs
    The costs are imperative to consider when choosing from the several employee backgrounds check companies. Several services are offered at exorbitant cost due to the several inclusions. However, the ultimate amount will be driven based on the type of checks required by the organization.
  • Customer service
    The employment background check companies must not only render a great user experience for the candidate but the job-generating organization too. For this purpose, it is essential to ensure that a service provider has a specialized customer service platform that can be conveniently accessed. There must also be a dedicated customer service agent who can help when there is a glitch in the process. A service with customer service in the form of live chat and phone service brings good value.

Are online background checks helpful and accurate?
For a company looking to employ a simplistic and inexpensive form of background checking, the online route can serve well. However, the service type is not always a complaint with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Online checks require one to fill the key information of the candidate into the data fetcher. The service platform then generates information of addresses, marriage records, social network profiles, criminal records, security number verification and more. There may be glitches however as the information is at the risk of being inaccurate. Also, this form of a check cannot be typically used for pre-employment screening.

Cost of background checks
Employment background checks companies will levy a cost that can range anywhere between $20 and $80. The final fees will be dependent upon aspects that include the amount of information which is required, the kind of information and the permitted time duration to conduct the check. Add-on information such as license verification, criminal records, credit record check and affiliation with previous institutions are likely to up the cost.

Are free background checks for real?
It is amazing to understand how much information or data is tangled up in the web space. Irrespective of how hard one tries to keep the past under wraps, there is enough and more that is achieved in the digital world. While there are several tools which spit out an entire report, one does have to pay up to access the same. Good news is that there is a way of conducting free background checks! Albeit, it will take up a lot of time and energy. The first step involves using major search engines. This search must extend beyond the basic search engines as the output will not be identical. It is essential to delve into the deep web too as it churns out surprisingly vast databases that include government archives and academic reports. The phone numbers can be searched through different search engines. However, a phone directory serves as the best aid when seeking the exact information. Typically, landlines numbers may be covered under directories. Checking cell phone numbers may require one to go through paid databases.

Another aspect that makes the process of free background checks easier is the treasure trove that is public records. Interestingly, public records bring forth information that cannot be accessed anywhere else and is widely used by private investigators.

However, there are certain functions of a background check that cannot be undertaken without possessing given tools and specialization. It can be effectively done only by private investigators or companies that do the same professionally. After all, these professionals and agencies are better-equipped and have a hold on more database records.

Different background check services for different industries
A question that looms, can one background check company serve every kind of industry? This factor is completely based on the ability or the functions of the service provider. There are some employment background check companies that have limitations or specialize in their offerings. On the other hand, there are some which possess the expertise to serve a wide range of industries. A business requirement will essentially dictate the kind of background check company that can be roped in.

What makes a federal background check different?
A Federal background check comes into the picture when one applies for a government job. But how different is a federal background check from the usual background check? Well, there are several factors that make them very similar, apart from the specifics that are reserved for federal background checks. Under this process, the arrest records are reviewed, and any kind of criminal history is recorded. The charges are related to the different criminal charges that may have been applied in the past. It also includes a check of the individual’s social security number that is used essentially to track any changes in the address and the name. Essentially, there is also an evaluation of the past work and a check on an individual’s lawsuit records.

A federal background check can be thought of as subjective. This is because the type of checks can be influenced based on the position that an applicant wants to pursue. There is a level of clearance required for every position and the elements included as part of the check vary depending upon the same. While a federal background check is majorly employed for government jobs, it is also commonly used for employees who apply to a job at hospitals or for child care.

An unscreened job force or employment process can bring an undeniable threat to the employee and organization. There is a growing awareness that is surrounding this concept and its importance is widely recognized in the hiring industry. Effective employment processes are hectic and are undoubtedly only successful after completion of the background check on every applicant. Needless to say, it is the best approach and brings along peace of mind.

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Society

Top 7 self-publishing companies in the world

Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “if, when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing . . . then you are a writer.” But once you are done putting your thoughts on the paper, the next important step is to publish your work. When we think about publishing a book, we can get stuck between self and traditional publishing. Going with the traditional, big publishing houses such as Random House, HarperCollins, and Penguin might look like an easy bet, but making the cut is fairly difficult. According to Forbes, around a million new books get published every year in the United States alone, which makes the task of getting your book published in the traditional manner even more daunting. Most publishers will also tell that they receive 1,000 to 2,000 query letters every month. This shows that only a small percentage of the submissions make it to the publishing stage. Also, only because you’ve been contacted by a publishing house does not mean that your book would garner maximum revenue. So, unless you’re destined to become the best-selling book of the year, you should be either content with selling a handful of your book copies or start marketing your book on your own. So, if you are an author and want to have your book published and get noticed, why not have it self-published?

Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
Self-publishing allows the author to be in control of the literary content as well as the book selling process. As a self-publishing author, you are on your own and responsible for marketing and distribution, as well as for the capital investment required; however, the best part is that the maximum amount of your profit is yours. On the contrary, traditional publishing is where the publishing house prints, and sells the books through various retailers and booksellers. Here, the publishing house bags the maximum amount of the revenue generated from the sale of the book, also because the entire invested capital comes from the publishers in traditional publishing.

With more and more writers choosing their own ways of marketing and promoting their work, the concept of self-publishing is becoming the buzzword in the book’s world. Here are the top 7 self-publishing companies in the world for you to choose from:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
    Amazon accounts for 80% of the eBook sales in English-speaking countries. Without a doubt, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) remains one of the top self-publishing platforms among authors for eBooks. The platform allows authors in converting and selling their books to a wide range of reader base. A striking feature of KDP is the 90-day exclusive deal on digital distribution wherein the books are available in the Kindle Lending Library. This lets the Amazon Prime members in checking out the books free of cost and with no due dates. Also, the author receives the royalties for every borrowed book.
  • Draft2Digital
    Comparatively a new kid on the block, Draft2Digital is an aggregator that has already been making news with its services and market reach. Draft2Digital helps in converting your book and distributing it across various retailers such as Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. If you are looking to publish your book and make it available on a wider scale within a short time period, then this is a great choice. The easy-to-use interface of Draft2Digital has made it a preferred choice among authors.
  • Lulu
    One of the most popular sites known for self-publishing books, Lulu is best known for its attention to detail. The company comes up with more than 1000 book titles every day, which speaks for the volume they work with and the market reach. With a wide range of services offered at Lulu, you can simply consider them for everything – right from proofreading to marketing.
  • Kobo
    Although Kobo only has 2% of the current eBook market, one of the reasons why it made to the list of top self-publishing companies is its international sales. Once you upload your book to Boko, the platform makes your book available in 190 countries. They have a wider reach in Asia as compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. The royalty rates at Kobo are at 70% if the selling price of the book is anywhere between $1.99 to 12.99, and 45% if the price is outside this range.
  • Book Baby
    If you’re looking for value for money, then Book Baby is the self-publishing company for you. The simple process helps those who are not quite familiar with the digital self-publishing platforms. The packages start from as low as $99 and the site takes 0% commission from the book sales, which is an absolute treat. Moreover, if you are looking for an all-inclusive package – from proofreading and design services to eBook conversion and distribution, you can make the most of it, Book Baby helps you find it all.
  • Smashwords
    Initiated in 2008, Smashwords is the oldest aggregator website and lets you distribute your book title to library networks such as Gardeners and numerous small-scale eBook retailers such as Baker and Taylor. As far as the pricing goes, Smashwords charges you 15% of the book sales you receive. Fairly speaking, some of the authors are loyal to this self-publishing company, whereas other authors prefer a more modern site such as Draft2Digital.
  • Apple’s iBook’s Author
    Accounting for 10% of the eBook market sales, Apple’s iBook’s Author is particularly an enticing self-publishing platform due to the popularity of the Apple products. iBooks offers a royalty rate of flat 70% across all territories and selling prices. The platform requires iTunes Producer program to run, which is exclusively available for a Mac. To get your book published on this platform, you either need to have a software to run Mac programs on your PC, borrow a Mac to publish your book or visit a third-party publisher such as Smashwords, Kobo, and Draft2Digital to help get through the publishing process.

Why is self-publishing gaining momentum?
As it becomes difficult to get your book published through traditional, popular publishing houses, authors across the globe have found self-publishing as something to look up to. Moreover, the penetration of the Internet in all walks of life, including book publishing, has helped authors explore opportunities with self-publishing. From Kindle Direct Publishing to online retailers and aggregators, self-publishing or “indie publishing” is becoming the talk of the town.

  • A silver lining for aspiring authors
    Due to the rising popularity of self-publishing and e-commerce platforms, authors need not wait for half a year to get their manuscript read by a publishing house. Online self-publishing platforms have made self-publishing a reliable and lucrative medium. With Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, authors can upload their books, send it across to readers, and even make money out of it. The site that took the e-commerce world by a storm has also paved the way for reshaping how books are published and read. It is due to these mediums that aspiring and new authors can find self-publishing a great way to kickstart their writing careers.
  • A boon for specific genres
    Some of the genres work great through self-publishing. For instance, if you are a fiction writer, self-publishing is the way to go. This is because you can keep the maximum share of your profits with you as opposed to the 20% share under traditional publishing. Moreover, a cookbook would need aggressive marketing tactics to garner maximum sales, which is the specialty of traditional publishers and therefore would not be a great choice for self-publishing.
  • Great prospects for author-preneurship
    The present and future of self-publishing look bright thanks to the changing role of authors. In today’s hypercompetitive market, writers are constantly taking up the skills and responsibilities of a traditional publisher. This helps the writers to understand various stages of publishing along with learning different ways to use their books as a building block for multiple ways of income. Moreover, it is also due to the fragmentation of the media that led to the changing role of authors from being just the writers of the book to marketing and promoting it through various social media platforms. As authors now can meet and interact with their readers at literary fests and fairs, run their social media pages, and write blogs, they know their target audience well and no longer depend on the publishing houses alone to build the author-reader relationship. So, the prospects of authors in becoming entrepreneurs are continuing to grow.
  • International sales have become a possibility
    Initially, selling a book internationally would only be a dream for most of the authors as they wouldn’t find the way to get through the publishers to make this dream a reality. But today, due to the strong foothold and reach of international sales platforms such as Amazon that international sales through digital platforms have become possible. Moreover, the territorial rights of publishers are no longer seen as an important factor for authors. On the contrary, the traditional rights of the publishers such as not distributing a book in certain countries, are seen as a hindrance in the current marketplace.

What makes self-publishing a hit among authors?

  • Quicker exposure
    One of the notable advantages of self-publishing is the faster exposure that a book receives as opposed to traditional publishing that takes anywhere between 6 to 18 months to publish a book. Self-published books can enter the market in several months or less, whereas traditional publishing of books can take up to 1 to 2 years. Interestingly, with the Internet and various eBook platforms, you can publish your digital book within a few days, including all the completed processes. This means faster market reach and faster cash in your bank account.
  • Higher creative control
    Wouldn’t you like to have the creative control over your book’s content and appearance? Self-publishing is all about higher creative control over your book, which also means you need to spend extra hours making your book a must pick. Publishing houses need you the writers to comply with the requirements set by multiple parties involved in the book publishing, editors, promoters, as well as designers. This hampers the creative control of the writer over the content of the book. On the other hand, self-publishing lets the writer have complete control over the book throughout the stages of publishing. So, when you decide to self-publish, you can write the book, design the cover, and decide the marketing strategy.
  • Greater networking opportunities
    During the self-publishing process, a book goes through a number of stages. It is during this time that you would meet various people from research advertising and marketing fields, consider meeting up a few people for writing a press release or discuss your book with others. This entire journey would help you discover new avenues, which will offer you great networking opportunities. Not to forget, social media does come handy here, but your rigorous marketing and promotional activities would play a key role to network with the best.
  • A longer shelf life
    As compared to traditional publishing, self-published books have a longer shelf life. It is one of the biggest advantages of self-published books as they will find a longer period for its audience to find about the book’s release and market presence. Thanks to the online publishing platform that allows digital books to remain on the platform indefinitely, helping respective target audiences to find the books at the click of a mouse. On the contrary, when you have your book published through a popular publishing company, the book will only have a couple of months of shelf life. This is because the bookstores are constantly revamping their book inventory and bringing in newly published books. Moreover, the longer shelf life of self-publishing books helps newer writers who are yet to find their right target audience.
  • Better royalties
    One of the pros of having your book published is the royalty that you receive. Did you know that when a book gets published through a publishing house, maximum profit of the book sale goes to the publishing house? This leaves the author with a maximum of 10% to 15% of the selling price of the book sold, whereas an author can receive a maximum of 70% of the list price when it comes to self-publishing mediums. An interesting highlight – self-publishing through digital forums helps in retaining the rights for adaptations such as TV shows or films. Also, if at any point, the writer needs to revise the digital book, he or she can freely do so without any constraints by the platform where the book is published. When it comes to publishing houses and print-on-demand services, a writer may face constraints set by the publishing house, making revisions or other adaptation rights difficult.

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Travel

9 romantic getaway ideas for every couple

Poets, songwriters, and artists have waxed eloquence about love since ages. It’s easier to tell your partner that you need their love seven days a week.

But let’s face it – love and romance require some hard work. Whether you are in the initial days of your relationship or celebrating decades of being together, you will always need something extra to keep the sparks shining. Date nights can be one example of spending time together. But they might rarely be enough; unless you guys go through something that Tina Fey and Steve Carell went through in the 2010 film, Date Night. But a regular date night turning into a night full of adventure is best left to the movies. In reality, you need something to give you and your partner a break from your routine. So why not go on an amazing romantic getaway?

A dash of fun and a sprinkle of adventure once in a while can do a lot to keep the romance alive. You can also spend some quiet time with your favorite person in a private resort to fall in love all over again. Here are a few romantic weekend getaway ideas – whether you’re looking for getaways on Valentine’s or to celebrate your anniversary.

Whisk your love away for a quick romantic weekend
Looking for romantic weekend getaway ideas close to home? A quick romantic vacation can be a great way to take a break from the everyday hustle. You can plan a short and sweet surprise for your SO (significant other) by taking them away to one of the best getaways for couples across the country. Here are a few romantic places for a quick weekend getaway:

  • Vintage Surfari Wagon, Los Angeles, California: Are you and your partner more of an adventurous kind? If yes, then this might be just be the perfect getaway spot where you can reignite the spark via road-trippin’. You can rent a VW camper bus from Vintage Surfari Wagons in California and hit the road leaving behind the humdrum for a couple of days. These retro buses from the ‘70s and ’80s are equipped with renovated interiors, a dining table, and a couch that can be converted to a full-size bed. These buses also have camping equipment, kitchen essentials, cleaning supplies, and potable water. You can either go on a pre-planned desert trip, or you can choose to cruise along your own route up Highway 1. The cost will range from $140 to $270 per day depending on the season and vehicle.
  • Blackberry Farms, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee: If you and your partner are looking for a stress-free and tranquil mini-vacation, head out south to Blackberry Farms near Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. This 4,200-acre family-owned farm has been ranked number 1 by Bon Appetit magazine. And why not? It has one of the most extensive wine lists (160,000 bottles!). Moreover, you will get farm-fresh food, as the hotel sources nearly all the ingredients from its own kitchen gardens and farms. Sign up for couples’ activities like wellness workshops, cooking demonstrations, yoga, Zumba, and couples’ massage sessions. You can make the best of your romantic weekend by trying out something new with your partner. Go for kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing, carriage rides, hiking, archery, paintball, biking, or horseback riding. For cost and other details, check the official website of Blackberry Farms.
  • Firelight Camps, Ithaca, New York: Want to experience the outdoors, but with indoor comfort? Then glamping, an ultra-glamorous style of camping, might just be for you and your partner. Firelight Camps are situated on the grounds of La Tourelle Resort and Spa in Ithaca. The camp has spacious tents, all tastefully done up with plush beds, battery-powered lanterns, and artisanal furniture. Here you can spend some quiet time with your partner as the serene sounds of nature drift into the spacious tent. The tents are covered with mesh screens, so you do not have to worry about creepy crawlies getting in. With two restaurants and a bar with outdoor lounge areas, the camp offers romantic ways to enjoy your meals. If you are in the mood to explore the outdoors, you can simply buy snacks from the camp canteen and walk around. Get a S’mores kit from the canteen and spend the night under the stars near a bonfire. At just around $750 per person, you can bring your partner for a quiet anniversary getaway or even for a Valentine’s Day weekend getaway. Moreover, this modern way of camping can easily be one of the best Valentine’s Day getaways for 2019. Be prepared to use #relationshipgoals in all your pictures!

In the mood for an offbeat romantic break?
You can opt for luxury hotel suites and glamping if you want an easygoing romantic vacation. But if you do not want to go where everyone is heading, you can go for something unusual, especially if you have more than a weekend to spare. Perhaps you can try gourmet dinner on the rooftop of a skylodge overlooking a cliff? Or are you more inclined toward adventure sports with your bae?Like being in the world’s coldest town where there is absolutely no cell phone network? You can pick these off-track romantic getaways if you belong to the school of YOLO. (You Live Only Once, for the uninitiated.)

  • Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru: Located, 1,200 feet off the ground level, Skylodge Adventure Suites is not for the faint of heart, and especially not for those afraid of heights. What’s more is that you have to hike through or use a zip line to get there. The lodges have clear glass walls. You can see the expansive scenery from a great height all through the day. The rooms have all the basic essentials. If you dare to go there, don’t forget to head out to the rooftop restaurant to enjoy a meal with a breathtaking, heart-thumping view!
  • Oymyakon Valley, Russia: Winter Wonderland gets a complete twist here in Oymyakon Valley. Every inch of the town is covered in inches of snow, throughout the year. In the winter, daylight lasts for just 3 hours. Known as one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, the lowest temperature recorded here was -96.16 degrees F, in 1924. The overall day temperature is around -58 degrees F. But if you are looking for something totally private and totally adventurous, this is the town for you. Book a cozy cottage and get under toasty warm blankets to have a quiet night in. Or if you want to a dose of thrilling adventure, head out for a drive along the infamous Road of Bones.
  • Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo: For all you water babies, Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo is the ultimate place. It is one of the best weekend getaways for couples who want to experience the bottom of the ocean up close. Situated 30 feet deep, the lodge has everything that a plush hotel has to offer, with the added benefits of magnificent underwater scenes. To get to your room, you will have to scuba dive. You can experience marine life by joining night paddleboard tours. You can swim with friendly dolphins in Dolphin Cove or go parasailing and paragliding, all offered by the hotel.

Fancy a luxury romantic getaway?
If luxury is what attracts you and your partner, nothing short of a deluxe romantic weekend getaway will do. What’s better than spending some delightful time with private pools, exotic spas, exclusive candlelit dinners? Nothing comes close to making your better half feel like royalty. Whether you have a big anniversary milestone coming up, or want to have a spectacular Valentine’s weekend, you can head out to one of these stunningly beautiful luxurious locales.

  • St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort: With hand-crafted cocktails, rare wines, and live music performances all week long, St. Regis Bal Harbour offers the perfect setting for an intimate romantic weekend. You and your partner unwind and enjoy performances by up-and-coming contemporary artists to jazz musicians. It is also the ultimate couples’ spa retreat with Finnish saunas and world-class spa services. This five-star resort offers some of the most exclusive amenities to make your weekend romantic getaway an opulent yet low-key experience.
  • Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain: If you and your significant other share a love for food, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain will be the perfect Valentine’s Day getaway. Located in the desert city of Scottsdale, Arizona, this retreat is an epicurean’s delight. It offers a “Mi Casa, Mi Chef” program, which is a personalized gourmet experience. You will get to stay in a beautiful private estate facing the beautiful Camelback Mountain. A highly-skilled chef will create a customized dining experience just for you. Accompanied by the chef, you get to pick the choicest and freshest ingredients from the local farmer’s market. Love cooking? You and your partner can join your chef in the kitchen. Or you can just lounge in the private patio, drinking wine and enjoying the sunset as your chef whips up your personalized meal.
  • The Chanler at Cliff Walk:  If you are looking for some old-world charm to fuel your romance, head over to The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport. This 19th -century mansion exudes elegance and luxury. With just twenty distinctive rooms, it offers an exquisite and private experience to those looking for an intimate getaway. Every room offers a scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean. From personalized butler service, in-room Jacuzzis, to enjoying delectable meals at an award-winning restaurant, you and your partner will surely enjoy it here.

Bring the spark back in your romance at no extra cost
Running low on cash? But still want to take your partner away on a sweet little romantic rendezvous? Worry not. Whether you are looking for a tropical paradise or mountain retreats, we have got some great romantic weekend getaway deals just for you. These are all-inclusive places where you can have the best time with your better half, and you need not stress over burning a hole in your pocket!

  • Winvian: This luxurious rustic hotel is located in the midst of Litchfield Hills. Here, you can book a quaint farm cottage for yourself. You will have your own private patio with a view of the forest and lakes. The cottages have a warm ambiance with a woody décor and a fireplace. Jacuzzis, home-cooked breakfast, a luxe spa, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a lot of couples’ activities like horseback riding and cooking classes add to the old-school charm.
  • Fair Hills Resort: This charming seasonal resort is perfect if you are looking for a serene getaway without the jazzy amenities. Located close to Pelican Lake in Detroit Lakes region, this resort has cabin-style rooms. Each room has a fully-equipped kitchen, private bathroom, and homely furnishings. This no-frills resort offers basic amenities at very affordable prices. The amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, nine-hole golf course, water-based sports, indoor and outdoor games, and a casual restaurant.
  • Red Mountain Resort & Spa: This all-inclusive resort offers the perfect setting for a quiet escape for couples. Located near the Snow Canyon State Park, this resort offers exclusive spa services at very affordable prices. You can book a charming room or a suite for yourself and your partner in one of the many low-rise buildings of the resort. The rooms are done up with elegant décor. They are also equipped with ensuite bathrooms, satellite television, and wireless Internet. The resort has a full-service bar, restaurant, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a fitness center. It also offers a number of activities such as guided hikes, fitness classes, photography classes, rock climbing, kayaking, and horseback riding.

Not every couple is the same, neither is every relationship similar. But what remains constant is the need to keep the romance alive. What’s better than choosing to go on a perfect romantic getaway? A charming resort or an idyllic cabin house in the woods, just pick a place, get away, and watch those sparks from the first date light up again!

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Travel

3 Napa Valley Bed and Breakfasts to check out this wine season

If it’s great wine, scenic beauty and absolute luxury you seek for your next vacation, you cannot go wrong with Napa Valley. With 400 wineries, high-end resorts, cozy bed and breakfasts, upscale modern hotels, hot air ballooning, wine tasting, farmer’s markets and even golf to boot, it truly is one of the best holiday destinations. Calistoga, Napa, St. Helena, Oakville & Rutherford, Yountville, and American Canyon are some of the towns in the valley and each has its own attractions. Calistoga is famous for its hot springs and mud baths; St. Helena is the picturesque one fine-tuned for the shopper in you; Oakville & Rutherford have some of the best Cabernet & Chardonnay wines in Napa Valley; Yountville is for the culinary fiend; Napa has some great night life and American Canyon is family friendly.

A great place to just relax and simply soak in the culture, Napa valley is best enjoyed from the fine Bed and Breakfasts that pepper the locale. Whether it’s old world charm you seek or modern architecture that does it for you, there is something for every taste.

Here’re three B&Bs that are worth every penny you’ve saved up for a vacation.

Embrace Calistoga, 1139 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515 – Blending old world luxury with modern day amenities, this European-style luxury inn, reportedly has one of the finest breakfast spreads in the Napa Valley region. Run by innkeepers Brent Riederger and Chris Johansen, it only has 5 rooms with each designed in a unique yet muted style.

Hennessey House, 1727 Main Street, Napa, California 94559 – The Victorian architecture complete with saunas, spas, wine tours and tastings and of course a range of activities makes this one of the best places to vacation at. A short walk to the main attractions, like the Oxbow Market and Napa Valley Wine Train, simply sweeten the deal. With ten rooms making up the entire place owners Kevin and Lorri Walsh have earned the reputation of offering a relaxed vacation experience.

Maison Fleurie, 6529 Yount St., Yountville, CA 94599 – Literally the “flowering house” the architecture is reminiscent of the sunny South of France. 13 rooms complete this boutique B&B that is a part of the Four Sisters Inns Classic Collection, and each room is a blend of modern luxury amenities and European charm. Located in a secluded part of Yountville the B&B is a welcome break from the high energy hotels and accommodations in the area.

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Travel

4 tips for hassle-free train travel in foreign countries

Train travels are adventurous yet so nerve-wracking, especially when in an unknown foreign country. The perplexing schedule, inability to understand signage, bustling stations, and undetectable platforms, when it comes to train travel in a foreign land, there is so much that you must be mindful about. However, train travel also makes for an important part of a holiday and contributes to creating the most memorial experiences. It provides you with a comfortable journey while also making for some great sight-seeing.

If you follow a few tips and essentials before planning train travel, you may rest assured of a seamless journey even in a foreign country. Here are some tips to ensure you have the best train travel adventure abroad.

Plan in advance – Planning ahead is the key when taking on any journey. Ensure that the required tickets and confirmation emails are all printed and in place before taking off on the train journey. The time taken to reach the train station must be considered while planning how you would get there. Preparing in advance will ensure a hassle-free trip.

Be on time – It is common to run behind schedule when on a holiday; however, on days of train travel, it is essential to keep track of time. The train must always be boarded as early as possible with the luggage kept in sight. Also, keep note of the time when the destination will arrive. This will help in knowing when exactly you would have to get off.

Have the essential supplies – There is nothing better than having some key supplies that will aid in passing time when on long train journeys. When embarking on journeys that will run beyond two hours, a travel journal, tablet or an interesting book could help to keep you engaged. While most trains have travel carts that sell snacks and drinks, it is wise to pack some food if you have special dietary requirements.

Know about ticket validation – In some locations, such as Europe, the train tickets must be validated before the train is boarded. Typically, stations hold validating machines wherein one must just insert the ticket and the same is stamped with the date and time. Traveling with a ticket that is not validated can lead to getting fined by an onboard inspector or train conductor. Thus, it is essential to check if a ticket needs to be validated before travel to avoid any issue.

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shopping

4 incredible Christmas gift options for men

The unfortunate truth is that when it comes to buying gifts for women, there are a plethora of things you can buy, whereas, buying gifts for men can be a strenuous job. With Christmas around the corner, you will see distressed womenfolk searching the Internet for “gift ideas for him” or looking up videos that will help simplify the DIY item they are trying to put together. Gone are the days when you could get away with giving your partner a decent shirt and a nice pair of shoes, as the Internet allows you to be more creative with the gifts.

So, take a look at some of the popular Christmas gift options for men, and plan your surprise accordingly.

A professional bartending cocktail set: Here’s something he’ll be excited to own and flaunt. A professional bartending cocktail set like Root 7’s makes for an amazing Christmas gift for men. Any man who wishes to try his hand at bartending or fancies himself as a professional bartender can use this stellar kit to make his own delicious drinks. This set usually contains 6 tools that come in a water-resistant wax canvas bag and are easily accommodable in the kitchen or home bar.

A pocket knife with a corkscrew: A pocketknife is a perfect Christmas gift for a rugged outdoorsman, but you can up its coolness quotient by opting for an upgraded version that comes with a corkscrew at one end. The Opinel pocket knife with a corkscrew is a recommendable Christmas gift option for men as it is a handy tool that can be taken on a picnic or when you decide to stay home with wine and pizza.

Wireless headphones: If your partner is an audiophile, he will definitely be in awe of this gift. A pair of noise-canceling, comfortable, wireless headphones is every man’s dream come true as they can enjoy their favorite jams without any interruption. The Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones are a good option as these allow you to savor twenty-four hours of wireless listening with zero noise interference, and a built-in Google Assistant.

7-Day socks gift box: Does he always lose a sock and end up wearing mismatched socks to work? Well, for such people, a gift box with socks arranged for the entire week is a very thoughtful gift indeed. The Happy Socks 7 Day gift box for men is a great way to ensure that he never runs out of clean socks. These socks will add comfort and a little flair to his everyday uniform.

 

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Grooming Products

5 best razors for sensitive skin

A razor is a bladed tool that is used to get rid of unwanted body hair. There are different types of razors available in the market, including disposable razors, electrical razors, and straight razors. For someone with sensitive skin, it is important to scrutinize the products they use for their skin as a wrong product can lead to itching, irritation, and discomfort. Some of the best razors for sensitive skin that you can opt for are:

Gillette Mach3 Men’s Disposable Razor
Gillette has been providing the best razors and blades that can be used by all types of shavers for over a century now. Its Mach3 series is known to most people around the world. The Mach3 Men’s Disposable Razor is one of the best razor options for sensitive skin. It is designed in such a way that each hand stroke allows three blade strokes.

BiC Twin Select Sensitive Skin Disposable Razor
Combining inexpensiveness and effectiveness, Twin Select Sensitive Skin Disposable Razor from BiC is often rated as the best razor for sensitive skin available in the market. It flaunts a good design and durability for less than $10. It has a slim shaving head for reaching hard-to-reach areas.

Merkur 34C HD
Whether you have a sensitive skin or not, the Merkur 34C HD is apposite for getting a nice and clean shave. Its biggest perk is that it can be used with sharp blades like Feather to super-smooth blades like Personna. Moreover, the two-piece design makes it easier to assemble and clean the razor.

Feather All-Stainless Steel Double Edge Razor Model AS-D2
Handcrafted in Seki, Japan, Feather All-Stainless Steel Double Edge Razor Model AS-D2 is a worthy entry in the list of best razors for sensitive skin. Historically, Feather produced the first-ever safety razor made from stainless steel. The AS-D2 razor for sensitive skin is less aggressive, despite the blades used in the razors are labeled sharp.

Schick Hydro 5 Razor for Men with Flip Trimmer
Often considered as the best razor for sensitive skin, the Schick Hydro 5 Razor for Men with Flip Trimmer flaunts the best cartridge razor build for sensitive skin. The Hydro 5 Razor is all about moisture and lubrication. For this, the razor comes with a hydrating gel reservoir. The powerful hydrator can keep your skin hydrated for as long as one hour after shaving and uses aloe vera and vitamin E to nourish the skin.

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Home and Garden

Things to know about Christmas nativity sets

Christmas is around the corner, and you are probably looking for a nice sale on nativity sets or scenes. However, it can be a trouble to look for a sale on nativity sets. Fortunately, you can find a sale on plenty of websites with one simple search on the internet. Once you have found the right place to buy it from, another concern pops up as to what kind of nativity set you need for your home. Therefore, read on to know more about Christmas nativity sets on sale, the different options you can choose from, and the right way to choose one for your home.

Sale on Christmas nativity scene and sets
There are a lot of websites you can find that are running a sale on Christmas nativity sets. Some of those websites are WeBeChristmas, Amazon, Macy’s, Altiplano, Wayfair, Holyart, the Statue Store, Willow Tree®, and Outdoor Nativity Store.

Though there are many sellers you will find online and in stores who sell Christmas nativity sets, it is best to buy them from an experienced seller where there is a wide selection to choose from in terms of cost, and an array of options available. Therefore, you should look for a seller who has a huge selection on all Christmas related decorations that are also customizable.

Different types of nativity sets
There are plenty of options you will get to choose from while purchasing a nativity set online. They come in different sizes. The sizes you are more likely to find are the 3-inches tall miniature figurines as well as life-size and meticulously detailed 50-inches’ statues. Apart from the size, there are different options you can choose from that are based on several factors, including your budget, decor, and personal preference.

Some nativity sets are made of wood, while some are made from fabric. You can also find some Christmas nativity sets made using ceramic.

Choose the right nativity set
To choose the right nativity set, it is important to check the quality as you would like to reuse them for a couple of years. Additionally, you can also look for ones that are designed with precision so that they add to the beauty of your Christmas decoration.

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Home and Garden

3 popular Christmas card ideas for kids

Tis’ the season to be jolly, cheerful, happy and spread merriment. It calls for the lovely traditions that keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts. One such beautiful way to kickstart the festivities is to snail mail thoughtful Christmas cards from you to yours. There is just something very special about sending and receiving Christmas greeting cards. While people no more make a big song and dance about sending Christmas cards, it is still a tradition that manages to touch the heart of everyone.

If the kids want to indulge in some Christmas card making this year instead of picking something up from the store, here are some great ideas that they can choose from:

Fingerprint reindeer Christmas cards – Children never have a problem getting their hands dirty and thus, fingerprint reindeer Christmas cards make for an extremely fun and entertaining activity. These cards need all the family members to press their fingerprints along an outline on card paper. After finishing all the fingerprinting, children can transform the same into unique reindeer prints.

Palmprint Santa Christmas cards – The most ideal Christmas cards from kids, this one too lets kids indulge in some messy fun. The little ones must dip their palms into any preferred color of paint before pressing the same against card paper. The Santa must be then designed around this palm print. These Christmas cards are great to make especially if the kids are very young and you are short on time. Moreover, grandparents and other family members are bound to cherish these cards as a memorable keepsake even when the kids grow up.

Pasta wreath Christmas cards – The pasta wreath Christmas cards prove to be the most beautiful creation. The activity costs very little and yet is very effective. All the kids have to do is paint some bow shaped dried pasta in green and paste them in a wreath shape on a bright colored paper. Sprinkle some glitter onto the pasta and finally finish it by adding a satin ribbon bow at the bottom of the wreath.

Sending out these cards that are handcrafted by the kids will be a wonderful thing and it is bound to put a smile on the face of everybody who receives them.

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