Tag Archives: family

Prepare for Holiday Travel

Vantage Point: The Gift of Preparedness

The holidays provide the perfect time for people to be out and about, traveling to various destinations.

You think about if you have all the gifts and various outfits with you in case different events arise. Did your family members pack what they need, and did you pack your toothbrush? Those are all very important things to focus on, but have you thought about what you might need if something during your travels goes awry?

Do you have what you need to make it through an unplanned emergency? Yes, I know it’s not fun to think about things that could go wrong. But if you do, it just might help or even be lifesaving, depending on the circumstance. Just one tip to remember when you’re playing the mental game of what could go wrong that I like to remember: not fear, just prepare. Don’t live in fear. Just try to have the basics covered.

Let’s imagine that you’re taking a holiday trip by car to visit family. Let’s say that they are pretty far away, a few hours, and the weather hasn’t been the greatest lately, but today it’s OK. They are forecasting snow closer to where your family lives, but you think you’ll beat the snow by an hour or so. But what if you don’t?

What if the car breaks down, and it throws your timeline off, and you do encounter that snowstorm? And what if you didn’t break down, but the storm is worse than predicted, and you can’t get to your destination? Do you have the supplies you’d need to get help or wait out the storm?

I know it’s literally impossible to plan for all the potential issues, but thinking of it in categories can help you plan the best items to have for you and your family. Think shelter, food, and water as a basic start. Your vehicle can hopefully be your shelter, so what about the other variables?

  • Stay hydrated and fed. 

    Because you’re traveling, you might pass through an area where there aren’t any stores close by, and now the family is hungry, and it doesn’t look like you’ll be moving toward your destination anytime soon. The first item you should think about having with you is water. It’s always smart to have water, from a few jugs or bottles to a whole case. You can never go wrong having extra handy. Next you should think about food. These can range from snack items to protein bars and high-calorie survival bars.

     
  • Keep warm. 

    Because you’re traveling in the winter in our imagined scenario, it’s probably going to be cold in your area. If something happens where you lose the heat in your car, do you have supplies to keep everyone warm? You might think about having warm blankets, hand warmer packets, layers of clothes to put on, and a thermos of warm soup, water, cocoa, or coffee. (And this isn’t the be-all-end-all list, but just some ideas to get you thinking!)

If you’re thinking that those are great starter ideas, but you might need more robust supplies, there are plenty of things out there to help. Winter travel kits at the local box stores make it easy to be prepared in a variety of situations. You can also search for more winter car travel safety tips online.

The possibilities are endless, and you really can tailor your needs to your family and their well-being. Happy travels!

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.

Fond Memories of the Spirit of Christmas

Long View: Princess of Christmas Past

As a child, my favorite time of year was Christmastime. It was not just Christmas day, but the whole season surrounding it. The spirit of being joyful, grateful, loving, and caring was something I thought should exist all year long.

The spirit of giving was my favorite of all. Everyone felt like a prince or princess waiting to receive their heart’s desire. It gave me joy to give someone a gift and see the expression on their face when they opened it, especially when it was thoughtful or something they really needed or always wanted.

The season also came with beautiful and vibrant decorations. Some of my favorites were the candy canes and stockings. I remember the candy-filled, clear plastic candy canes with the solid red hook. They could be filled with any kind of candy, from gumballs to M&M’s or even Sweet Tarts or jelly beans.

I also remember the red see-through netted stockings filled with both candy and small toys. I thought to myself, “Why would they make a stocking where I can see the goodies in it but then tell me I can’t open it until Christmas?” It was too tempting to not try and sneak some candy out of it ahead of time. Although I was anxious to open it, the wait built patience. And patience is a virtue.

More of my favorite memories include choosing our real, live Christmas trees. My daddy insisted that we get a real tree and not an artificial one. “Nothing can replace the scent of fresh pine in the house,” he explained. 

Our tree was even more special because it was decorated with not only store-bought decorations of lights, bulbs, and tinsel, but also ornaments I had made at school. And the tree had to be as tall as the ceiling with either a shining start or an angel on top.

My most memorable times at Christmas were when my family came together at my grandma’s and granddaddy’s house on Christmas Eve. I got to see all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Of course there was lots of food. My favorites were the turkey, dressing, and peach cobbler.  Everything was homemade, and I could tell it was made with love.

It’s my goal to carry the spirit of being joyful, grateful, loving, and caring into the present and the future. With or without the candy canes, stockings, or decorations, the memories of family and love are most important to me.

The material things pass away. The candy is consumed.  The stockings are thrown away. The light bulbs eventually burn out. The tinsel gets tangled, and the pine needles on the real tree dry out. But memories of family love will continue to live in our hearts.

Everyone here at Health Alliance wishes you and your family a joyous holiday season and a very Merry Christmas. Share your memories with someone you love, especially those older princes or princesses in your family who have years and years of fond memories on their minds this time of year.

Sherry Gordon-Harris is a community liaison at Health Alliance. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and enjoys traveling, collecting dolls, and hosting princess parties and princess pageants.

Family Time for the Holidays

Covered Bridge: If Only Time Stood Still

As a child with a birthday in December (of course shortly followed by Christmas), I can say I always wished the first part of December away. I was so excited about all the festivities to come that I merely wanted the days to pass until the real excitement began.

Even though I share a birthday with my twin sister and some of our presents consisted of sharing, I wanted nothing more than to see what gifts we might receive for our birthday. Fast forward 10 days, and all we wanted to see were the gifts we would receive for Christmas, hoping not to have to share those.

That’s usually the way kids work, right?

Now, as an adult, my daughter’s birthday is 2 days from mine, which means I care less about what I get and more about what we get to do for her. My husband and I rarely get gifts for one another. We find much more joy in giving to others than receiving ourselves.

These days, we look forward to making cakes for birthdays and favorite meals for our kids. We look forward to family coming to town to visit and trying our best to get thoughtful gifts for them that we hope they’ll enjoy.

We enjoy the extra company and chaos that ensues with it. We spend more time sitting around the table chatting with family and less time worrying about the cleanup of a meal we spent most of the day preparing. After all, it will be there tomorrow. Our family may not be.

It’s also important to remember that while some of us think of joy and family during the holiday season, others feel isolation and anxiety, and the shorter, darker days and cold weather don’t help. We often forget about those who may be living alone. I encourage you this holiday season to take an extra moment to make time for the ones who may need it more than you know.

During the holidays, which is oftentimes the only time we get to be with distant family, take the extra time to not worry about what can be put off until tomorrow. Spend it talking, communicating, and interacting. We rush through life as children to get to the next exciting moment, but what if the most exciting moments now are the ones shared over a meal and simple conversations?

Happy Holidays!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Healthy Holiday Tips

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry and Healthy with Healthy Holiday Tips!

If you’re not careful navigating the holidays, you can easily get sick and ruin your plans. Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, has healthy holiday tips to keep you healthy while traveling this holiday season.

From getting all of your last-minute holiday shopping done, to decorating the house, attending holiday events, and packing to visit family, the holidays can take a toll on your immune system. The changing weather and cold temperatures can also affect your health, and whether you travel by car, train, or plane, you may be in contact with germs that you’re not used to. Taking these easy steps can help protect you.

Before Travel

  1. First and foremost, get your flu shot.

    Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. While flu season begins in late October, it usually peaks from December to February. Crowded places where people are close to each other a stretch of time, like shopping malls, airplanes, or trains are prime spots to pick up the flu.

  2. Take a daily vitamin.

    While vitamins may not prevent you from getting sick, taking vitamins and supplements throughout the year can help boost your immune system. Talk to your doctor about which vitamins are best for you, and combine them with a healthy diet of fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats to be your best.

  3. Prepare a travel kit.

    While packing for your trip, prepare a small travel kit. You can include individual disinfectant, alcohol, and antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, a pack of tissues, bandaids, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. You can also use small plastic bags or a pill organizer to pack your usual vitamins, so you don’t stop taking them while traveling.

During Travel

  1. Watch what you touch.

    Be aware of what you’re touching when you travel. Door and suitcase handles, public bathroom faucets, and money are touched by people all day long. Make sure not to touch your face after touching things like these and wash your hands with soap and water regularly. If you can’t wash your hands, use your hand sanitizer.

  2. Clean your surroundings.

    Tray tables, plane touch-screen monitors and remotes, armrests, restaurant tables, and many other surfaces you touch during your trip are infamous for being covered with germs. Use cleaning or alcohol wipes to clean off these surfaces before you get settled. Then, wash your hands again after using them for extra safety.

  3. Avoid physical contact.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people with the flu can spread it to others up to roughly 6 feet away, so while it may be difficult to do in a crowded space, try to avoid close contact with the people around you.

    Once you’re with your loved ones for the holidays, avoid sharing glasses and silverware during meals, and use a strict single-dipping policy.

After Travel

  1. Take a shower as soon as you get to your destination.

    To wash off all the germs you might have been exposed to during your trip, take a well-deserved shower as soon as you get to your family’s or hotel. Change into a clean set of clothes after, and you’ll feel clean, refreshed, and ready to enjoy holiday celebrations!

  2. Eat healthy food.

    We all know too well that the holidays are no time to diet, however, you can be mindful of the types of food you eat. Make room for vegetables and fresh fruits at every meal. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, oranges, pears, and other exotic fruits are all in season in December, and they’re all a great source of healthy vitamins.

  3. Stay hydrated.

    When you’re in an plane, car, or train for a long time, your body can get dehydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids throughout your travel.

    During celebrations, you should also make sure you continue to drink plenty of water in addition to all the alcoholic and sugary drinks you may be tempted by!

 

By taking these few simple steps, you’ll give yourself and your family a better chance at enjoying a germ-free holiday season.

Still, if you do get sick while traveling during the holidays, remember to contact Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner who is available 24/7 to help you find a qualified doctor near your location or secure prescriptions at a local pharmacy. To talk to an Assist America coordinator, download the Assist America Mobile App or call 1-800-872-1414 or +1-609-986-1234 (outside of the U.S.).

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World Kindness Week

World Kindness Week

It’s World Kindness Week, and it’s the perfect time to give back, give thanks, and do something nice for your loved ones or community.

Bring flowers to your grandmother or the nice older lady next door, have tea, and listen to some of their stories and memories. You’ll probably learn something and brighten their day.

Tea with Grandma

 

Write notes of inspiration and kindness on slips of paper and stick them in books you’re lending to friends or library books you’re returning for the next reader to find.

Notes of Inspiration in Library Books

 

Cook a meal for a friend of family member going through a hard time or even just a busy season at work.

Cook a Meal for Friends

 

Go to the nearest public park with friends and pick up trash or volunteer with a group to clean up alongside highways.

Picking Up Trash

 

Bake extra of your favorite dessert and bring them to work to share or deliver them to a friend who could use a nice surprise.

Bake for Others

 

Babysit your friend or family member’s kids so they can go out on a date night or make time for self-care. Or pet-sit while they go on vacation.

Pay for coffee for the car behind you in the drive-thru or dinner for a couple or family at the same restaurant as you.

Pay It Forward with Coffee

Helpful Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Thanksgiving Travel Tips for Flying

According to AAA, nearly 51 million people in the United States traveled during Thanksgiving weekend last year, and 36 million of those were flying. Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, has a few handy Thanksgiving travel tips to help get you through the airport and on your flight in as little time as possible.

Sign Up for Airport Membership Programs

Airport programs like TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are 2 of the most helpful programs for getting through security lines quickly. TSA PreCheck grants low-risk travelers access to expedited security screenings when traveling domestically. And CLEAR offers their members quick security and screening lines. However, these programs require you to sign up well in advance. The process for getting approved can take anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months.

Global Entry is a program for faster clearance once you arrive in the U.S. and is perfect for international travelers. Finally, NEXUS was specifically created for travelers who frequently go between the U.S. and Canada.

Be Ready for Security Screening

Make sure you carry as little metal, such as jewelry, belts, coins, and keys, as possible. You might want to store them in your carry-on or in a plastic bag before you reach the security checkpoint. Security will also usually ask you to take your laptop, tablet, and camera out of your bags for screening, unless you’re enrolled in TSA PreCheck.

Resealable plastic bags are also ideal for storing liquids and gels, whether you’re packing them in your carry-on or a checked bag. Remember you’re limited to 3.4 ounce or smaller containers if you’re going through security with your liquids.

Keep prescription medications in a bag in your carry-on, so security can inspect them by hand if needed.

Lastly, remember that coats and shoes usually need to be removed. To make the process quicker, be sure to wear socks and easily removable shoes. Travelers over 75 years old may be allowed to keep shoes and a light jacket on. You can also have a head covering on during the screening process, however if it’s too concealing, you may have to go through a pat-down screening as well.

Tricks to Avoid Long Lines

To avoid long lines, avoid traveling at peak travel times, which are Wednesday and Sunday for Thanksgiving weekend. The further away from these days you can travel, the better. Low-fare seats are often more widely available on Tuesday or Thanksgiving Day. If you can leave on Saturday or Monday, you’ll probably enjoy less-crowded airports for your return home.

One trick to go through airport lines quicker is to avoid ones with a lot of families or older people and go for the lines with business people, who tend to be more efficient when it comes to traveling. Luckily, wait times have also shrunk since the TSA decided to let travelers under 12 and over 75 leave their shoes on going through security.

Download Air Travel Apps

Waiting in line can also be cut shorter if you download the airline’s app and check in before you get to the airport. You can also monitor the airport’s wait times with your phone using the TripIt app or the MyTSA app. This may help you decide when you need to leave home to make it to your flight on time.

 

These tips will help you make it through the airport quickly, so you can get back to focusing on enjoying your Thanksgiving break.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend with your family and friends and we wish you safe travels wherever this holiday takes you!

Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month

Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month

It’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month. Gluten-free diets are commonly used to treat Celiac disease, sensitivities, and allergies. If you or your loved ones need this kind of diet, these recipes can help this holiday season.

First up is a transformed comfort food, Gluten-Free Zucchini Chicken Parmesan Bundles.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Chicken Parmesan Bundles

Gluten Free Zucchini Chicken Parmesan Bundles

 

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Oatmeal is ideal for family gatherings during the holidays.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Oatmeal
Image and Recipe via The Blissful Balance

 

Whip up a perfect fall dinner with this Gluten-Free Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili.

Gluten-Free Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili
Image and Recipe via The Conscientious Eater

 

This Gluten-Free Creamy Mushroom Risotto makes an impressive light dinner for guests.

Creamy Mushroom Risotto (Vegan + GF)

 

Lighten up grab-and-go breakfast with these Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins.

Gluten Free Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Almond Flour

 

Making pasta at home doesn’t have to be a challenge! Try Gluten-Free Ravioli with Spinach and Cheese.

Gluten-Free Ravioli with Spinach and Cheese:

Gluten Free Ravioli with Spinach and Cheese

 

These soft Healthy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies will be a hit this holiday season.

Healthy Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies