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From the time I was two years old, Walt Disney World was my family’s holiday destination. Once a year we’d pack our bags and head south to find the magical mouse and his gang of happy mates. For us, a trip to Florida was often a much-needed escape from a New York winter or a fun way to head into spring. As the kids grew, we continued to head south, but the destinations changed. There were many visits to family and even cruises out of the Fort Lauderdale area, a visit with a friend attending Tampa’s University of South Florida, a west coast extravaganza on sunny Marco Island, and a drive across the famed Seven Mile Bridge deep in the keys.

These days my parents can’t wait to head south for weeks on end every winter. Retirement is treating them well as they ditch New York for the warmth of the Florida sunshine. There are friends who constantly remind me about the nightlife in Miami, the northern fun near Jacksonville, and a former student who often shares her joy about working in Orlando’s mecca of Disney magic. The Sunshine State has always been a part of my existence and it has more to offer than just vitamin D.

Time Your Travel

If you get to choose when to travel, choose wisely. Consider the temperature in which you prefer traveling, the seasonal shift in crowds, the time when the price is best for you, and of course, factor in hurricane season. Whether you’re looking for the least amount of time you’d have to wait for your butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the best time to visit Grandma in Delray Beach, or the most amiable weather for you – do your research, pack accordingly and always purchase travel insurance.

  • In subtropical Florida, humidity is highest from June through September
  • High season in subtropical Florida is mid-December through mid-April
  • Northern Florida has higher tourism rates from late May through early September
  • Hurricane season is from June through November (if visiting then, be sure to purchase travel insurance)
  • Consider shoulder seasons for better pricing (April-May/September-November)
  • When Orlando and Walt Disney World are your destination, know that all holiday weekends and holiday seasons are the busiest and most expensive (make restaurant and show reservations ahead of your visit)

What to Pack for Florida

You know those ‘don’t leave home without them’ items that are always with you no matter what – pack those first. These are the items that don’t care where you’re going, they’re coming with you. Camping in Dry Tortugas? Grabbing ice cream in Fort Lauderdale? Visiting the panhandle? Partying in Miami? Your personal items don’t care where you’re headed… they’re coming along for the ride. Who you are, how you pay for stuff, any medical necessities, and the number to call if you need medical assistance have to make the cut. The rest, truly, is optional. Click to continue…

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For many, the last weekend in May signifies a time to change over closets, bring out those flip-flops and clean off the barbecue. College graduations have finished, high school seniors see the light at the end of the tunnel, teachers are counting the days ’til school’s end and thousands plan a long weekend of reveling and relaxation either near or far from home.

Some see that weekend in May as the one to kick back, grab a treat, interact with friends and family, and enjoy. Others find a way to do exactly that and add in a portion of time for reflection, thanks, and recognition of the meaning behind the holiday. And still others spend most of the weekend in celebration of those in the Armed Forces and paying respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

All weekend long Memorial Day traditions take place in towns and cities across the United States. There are countless parades that include military personnel and members of veteran’s organizations. Three of the largest parades in the country take place in New York City, Chicago, and Washington DC. Flags are flown at half-staff and respect is paid at local cemeteries or places of worship around the nation, both publicly and in private.

“I’m not one for the parades and hubbub on Memorial Day and instead want to reflect and remember. One of the best places I spent the day was on the beaches of Normandy, France. It was like you could feel the ghosts on Omaha and Utah beaches, and it was the perfect way for me to remember and honor all those who came before and alongside those I lost. It helped keep the day in perspective, and made it somehow more comforting”. -Elana Duffy, US Army Veteran, Founder www.pathfinder.vet

Why Celebrate Memorial Day?

Far more than a three day weekend celebrating the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a national day of remembrance for all who have died serving in the American Armed Forces. Beginning as ‘Decoration Day’ after the Civil War, the 30th of May was designated to honor the dead of the Union and Confederate forces. The holiday earned a national identity in American history shortly after WWII.

In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York as the official birthplace of the holiday, and in 1967 the day officially became known as Memorial Day. In 1968, the Uniform Holiday Act was passed by Congress which designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day and officially moved it from the 30th of May. This way, Americans were guaranteed a 3-day weekend to reflect on those who have given service to country.

How to Observe Memorial Day

Take a few moments, spend part of the day (or take the whole weekend) to remember the focus of the holiday in whatever way is meaningful for you. Visit a memorial, wear a flower, fly a flag, hug a veteran, share your story, teach the next generation about the past, or give thanks in some way to those who give their service for the freedoms enjoyed daily.

  • Wear a red poppy from the first of May through Memorial Day
  • Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on graves
  • Participate in a national moment of remembrance at 3pm local time
  • Fly the American flag at half staff on this national day of mourning
  • Visit war memorials to pay your respect
  • Help out families of fallen soldiers
  • Come to the assistance of veterans

Click to continue…

Welcome to The Lab, your inside look at Tortuga’s product development. Every two weeks, we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re working on and provide updates on new products. If you want to stay updated, sign up here.

We’ve been known to criticize bags that try to be too many things at once, because they end up doing nothing particularly well.

A duffle that converts to a backpack is heavier than it needs to be when you’re carrying it as a duffle, and is hardly comfortable on your back. A hiking backpack adapted for city travel misses key features like electronics pockets and weather resistance. An everyday lifestyle backpack marketed to travelers isn’t easy to pack, ergonomic, or particularly lightweight.

Our strategy is the opposite. We want to make highly focused products that are ideal for a certain kind of traveler and a specific type of trip.

Because, here’s the thing: You can’t make an excellent bag that’s both ultralight and ultra padded for comfort. Padding makes a bag heavier, so you have to pick one. We chose “comfort” and “organization” as top priorities for Outbreaker, because that’s what our audience of leisure travelers values most. Because we prioritized comfort and organization, the Outbreaker travel backpack is heavier than other bags.

We didn’t ignore those who asked us for something lighter and simpler. We’ll address those concerns with a completely different set of bags in our next collection: Homebase. The Homebase collection will specifically cater to the digital nomad. Click to continue…

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