Trouble Buying Tequila in a Liquor Store?        6 Great Insider Tips to Help!

Trouble Buying Tequila in a Liquor Store? 6 Great Insider Tips to Help!

6 Insider Tips to Buying Tequila in a Liquor Store

Shopping for just the right bottle of tequila can be overwhelming.  Do you have trouble knowing how to buy tequila with over 1300 different types on the market?  Do you want some insider tips to buying tequila in a liquor store?

Understand these 6 insider tips about tequila placement and marketing and you will navigate the liquor store shelves with ease and confidence.

I wish that liquor stores would place the bottles in alphabetical order or even NOM (the number and name of the distillery) order.  However, they don’t, and here is why.

It’s all about effective marketing

and product placement and profit.

If you don’t spend a lot of time studying the shelves in a liquor store, we have your back.

Robb and I spend quality time together cruising the big box stores and the smaller local digs, looking for those special bottles of tequila.

When you find that elusive bottle, sitting alone and dusty, it feels like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine!

So take a walk with us for just a moment, and let us give you the 411 on product placement.  Learn these 6 insider tips to buying tequila within the spirits industry and you will know how to shop like a pro.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

Eye-Level Placement

The first place you look is eye level, of course.  The tequilas you find in your sight line will usually be the most popular, and the tequilas that are widely distributed in the US.  These are the brands that are familiar to you, and they are also the ones that the distributor and store want you to buy.  Many times the supplier pays the store for that perfect shelf placement.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

What’s on the Bottom Shelf

Notice the bottles on the bottom shelf. Typically, these tequilas are the cheapest ones on the market, and you might even find “handles” on this shelf.

Handles are normally double the size of a regular bottle, almost 1/2 a gallon.  However, the bottom shelf is definitely worth the look because sometimes you can find that hidden gem hanging out right there on the down low.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

The Golden Shelf

Between eye level and the bottom shelf is the golden shelf.  These are the bottles that we are looking to purchase.  Take extra care when shopping on this shelf. Unlike the popular brands on the eye level shelf, there will be fewer bottles available.

These are from smaller production distilleries which many times are the ones that produce the best tequila using sustainable and best practices in their manufacturing process.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

Top Shelf

Now, direct your eyes to the top 2 or 3 shelves. Here you will find the fancier bottles.  Hand-blown bottles, character bottles, and artistic bottles rest on this shelf.  You might find a 6-shooter revolver, a Calavera skull bottle, or other novelty bottles.

These are fun bottles to have in your home or give as a gift.  However, they are not always quality tequila.  In other words, buy carefully.  Fancy bottle doesn’t mean fancy tequila.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

Bulk Pricing and Brand Exclusivity

Many stores partner or contract with larger distilleries to buy in bulkThis can result in several different ways the tequila is marketed.

If the store buys a massive amount of a particular brand at a heavily discounted price you will notice a shelf full of a specific name.  The clerk will always point you to these tequilas as these spirits are more profitable for the store.

Some stores have their own private label brand as well.  This can be very good tequila and some not so much.  You have to investigate a little about where the tequila is produced via the NOM.

You may also see exclusive packaging which is designed just for that reason to make you feel like you are buying something special and willing to pay extra for it.

In fact, the store bought it in bulk for a cheaper price to get the exclusive branding so they can increase their profit margin.

Insider Tip to Buying Tequila:

The Show Case

Finally, feast your eyes on the locked glass case.  Ah, the most expensive tequilas are carefully displayed here or high on the shelf behind the register.

Buyer beware, though; pricey does not always equal quality well-made tequila.  Again, do your homework before buying a $150 bottle of sugar water.

Now that you know the 6 insider tips to buying tequila by taking the shelving and placement tour, you will feel more confident in your buying decisions.

Spirit shopping is not much different than grocery shopping.  Familiarize yourself with what the labels mean and read them, be informed, and continue making better tequila decisions.

If these insider tips to buying tequila still leave you not quite sure which bottle to buy, we have put together a list of our favorite brands.

It may take a little looking to find some of these tequilas, but you will not be disappointed.

Download our Best Tequilas to Buy list for FREE, right here.

Salud!  Our Friends!  Happy sipping!

Want to know more about Robb and Maureen?  Check this article out!

 

5 Important Safety Tips For Tires and Traveling

5 Important Safety Tips For Tires and Traveling

.****As an Amazon affiliate, we may make a small commission from your purchase at NO extra cost to you.

 

Road miles add up quickly.  Here are 5 important safety tips for tires and traveling.

The bottom line is:  As a road traveler, it isn’t a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN will you have a flat tire?

Whether your tires are brand new or have a few thousand miles on them, anything can happen at any time.  You can run over a nail, smudge a curb or just have a slow leak.  What are you going to do?  Are you prepared?

For 20 years, Robb and I, have been driving up, down, and throughout the country.  Sometimes we have trailers and sometimes we just have Tugg, our Chevy Equinox.  We have had more than our share of tire mishaps.  On one particular trip, we blew 4 trailer tires on our cargo trailer!!! 

As prepared road warriors, we know that we can be in some difficult situations.  Road conditions are not always smooth driving.  Changing weather conditions, uneven lanes and debris in the road are all dangerous to our tires.  Even cautious drivers will experience tire blowouts and it can be freaking scary when it happens.

A blowout sounds like a bomb!

What’s even more frightening is that you could swerve into the next lane or into the ditch.

While we can’t tell you how to prevent a blowout we can share some important preventative measures that may help you feel safer on the road.

 

The ALARM!!!

The Mothership is equipped with a TPMS and thank goodness for it.  Just this past week, coming in through Interstate 70, the alarm beeped.  Robb pulled over immediately and found that our sensor had jiggled loose and the air was quickly escaping.

Can you imagine what would have happened if we went flat?  Our Renegade is not equipped with a spare tire.  You might think this is irresponsible on our part, however, even if we had a spare, we wouldn’t be able to change it. Our tires weigh about 150 lbs.  For us, we have to wait for roadside assistance.

Conversely, our trailer usually contains two spare tires.  Robb and I have our tire change routine down to a science.  Most times it only takes us about 17 minutes to swap out a blown tire for the spare.

The Trailer-Aid Tire ramp has come to the rescue so many times we lost count.  Changing a tire on a trailer is not so easy using a jack.  With this block, you either pull up or back up onto it, raising the flat tire off the ground.  Swap the tires out, and go on down the road.

Here are 5 important safety tips for your tires and travel.

  • Check your tire pressure frequently. Road miles and heat will cause your tires to expand. Your tire pressure will increase.  Know how much pressure you should have in your tires.  Stop and get air if you need more, likewise, release some air if the pressure is too high.  This Digital Tire Pressure Guage is a great tool to have in every vehicle you own, plus it makes a nice stocking stuffer!

 

 

  • Invest in a TPMS. Tire Pressure Monitoring System., especially if you are towing a trailer of any sort.  The TPMS has saved us hundreds of dollars in blown tires.  Because the system alerts you to overheated tires and air pressure, you have time to pull to a safe space and investigate the situation.  Let me tell you, it is far better to get off the interstate than to change a tire on the driver’s side of the trailer while traffic is racing by you.
  • Put an eyeball on the tire.  Are the cords showing through? Are there any visible nails in your tire?  How soon do you need to replace your tires?

 

  • Check your tools! Do you have a spare tire, jack, and wrench to fix the tire?  Even if you are physically unable to change the tire yourself, having the necessary tools to do the job is important.  Imagine somebody coming to your aid and not being able to help because there is no spare.  Check this now!

 

  • Do you have roadside service?  Do you know your policy # and telephone number?  It is a good idea to keep this information handy.  In fact, have it in several places.  Your phone, in the glove compartment, and maybe even in your wallet.  Roadside assistance is especially important if you are physically unable to fix a roadside problem.

Keep in mind, safety first! A little preventative measure can save you a lot of headaches, stress, and anxiety.

    Where do you want to travel next?  This article is sure to give you a few ideas! 

    14 Orlando Area Attractions That We Enjoyed Beyond The Mouse.

    Be mindful, travel safe, and adventure often! 

    Twelve Essential Road Trip Resources

    Twelve Essential Road Trip Resources

    *We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases, at no additional cost to you.   Click to review our privacy policy.

    Not all roads lead to the same destination. In fact, sometimes a wrong turn can be disastrous. Before anything, you are going to want to check out these Twelve Essential Road Trip Resources.  Whether you are camping, sightseeing, or driving alternative routes you want to consider all of the possibilities.  

    These apps and websites will help you navigate the roads less traveled.  It sure doesn’t hurt to save money along the way.

    Twelve Essential Road Trip Resources:

    RV Trip Wizard:  This is our new favorite trip planning tool.  Entering your destination, the wizard will plot your route, miles, travel time, fuel costs, site costs, and estimated food and entertainment expenses.  Sometimes scenic byways prohibit RV and trailer traffic, so it is better to plan your route with an app that takes all that into consideration.   Trust me; you don’t want to be caught on Apache Trail or Rt 66 into Oatman in a 40 ft. Super C. 

    Roadtrippers:  This app points out attractions along the route.  Maybe you want to see a ghost town or a quirky roadside tourist trap.  Roadtrippers shows campgrounds, eateries, and places of interest as you travel to your destination.

    HipCamp: This membership provides access to many “off the beaten path” campsites.  Many independent landowners provide unique remote camp spots for travelers. By using our link you will save $10 on your first booking. 

    Roadside America This fun website provides travelers with those quirky tourist traps we love to visit.  Want to find the biggest ball of twine or maybe The Thing?  Roadside America is the website for you.

    Gypsy Guide: This app narrates comprehensive driving tours of many national parks, scenic drives, and tourist destinations. The tour guide is well studied and has a pleasant voice. He may even direct you down a secret road to a secluded beach.   Destinations include Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Hawaii. 

    National Park Service:  NPS is your guide to all things National Parks.  Information about hiking, camping, road closures, and reservation requirements is available. 

    StroTIP:  If you are planning on visiting more than 1 National Park this year, buy a National Park Pass and save $$$$.  Last August, we bought our pass for $70 and visited four parks for a $50 savings.  This year we are exploring eight more parks bringing our savings to $290. 

    RV Parky:  RV Parky locates Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Casinos, and campgrounds along your designated route.  Users are encouraged to leave reviews and updates of their overnight stay.  The app conveniently links the phone numbers and GPS directions to your desired locations.  

    StroTIP:  Always call big box stores before pulling in and getting comfortable.  Situations and boondocking rules change all the time.  

    USA Rest Stops:  This app locates possible rest stops along most major interstates and highways.  Whether you are in a motorhome or corvette, you are going to need facilities on your road trip.  Take the guesswork out of planning your next bathroom break and use this app.  

    Harvest Host: HH is strictly for the self-contained boondocker.  For a small fee, members have access to over 2000 unique camping locations.  Spend the night at local wineries, breweries, and farms across the US, Canada, and Mexico.  Did I mention you stay for FREE?  

    TSD Logistics:  Save Big Bucks if you drive a Diesel.  Get huge discounts up to .65 a gallon on diesel fuel purchases.   Did you know big rig truckers get huge discounts on diesel fuel purchases?  They do, and now you can too!  TSD Logistics has a Diesel Fuel buying program that is free to join and can save you a ton of money when you fuel.  The savings vary depending on where you fuel and the discounts TSD is able to negotiate with the fuel stations.

    Currently, you can expect a discount off the posted pump price of anywhere from .16 to .65 cents and you get to keep 90% of that.  The other 10% is the fee TSD charges for the savings.  No joke that is a .59 cent savings per gallon.  Talk about money in your pocket.  This is absolutely one of the biggest ways to save money we have found.  When you use 3,000 gallons of diesel a year the savings add up quickly.  For us over $1,500 last year.  Wow, just wow.

    https://www.tsdlogistics.com/services/fuel-program/

    USE THIS CODE:  RVRS1124 or Robert Strobridge

    StroTIP: Save Big Bucks if you drive a Diesel.  Get huge discounts up to .65 a gallon on diesel fuel purchases just like the big rig drivers.  TSD Logistics has a Diesel Fuel buying program that is FREE to join.  You pay them a small commission based on your actual savings.  We saved over $1,500 this year in fuel costs!  Wow, just wow!  Show us little love and put my name where it says Referred By: After you save $500 they will give us a $25 fuel credit.  You can do the same thing with your friends.  Click here and start saving the Big $$$.

    Gas Buddy:  Everyone who drives can benefit from using Gas Buddy.  This app helps identify current fuel prices.  Ask yourself, why would you pay $.10 more a gallon for fuel than you need to.  Sometimes gas stations right next door to each other can vary in price.  Save money on fuel every day.

    Get Upside:  SAVE MONEY ON FUEL.  Fuel prices are already on the rise so every penny counts.  Get Upside finds the station with the biggest discount near you.  It’s easy to use and your savings build up and you can transfer them to a gift card or PayPal.

    StroTIP:  Best of all if you refer your friends at no cost they save 15¢/gal on their first fill-up, you get 1¢/gal a gallon every time they fuel. 

    Why not share the love and save some $$$.  Give it a try if you have to get gas — every dollar counts right now!  Use this link or enter my promo code ROBB5993 to get an extra 15¢/gal cashback on your first purchase: https://upside.app.link/ROBB5993.  I’ll also get an extra 15¢/gal cash back after you use the app (so thanks!) 

    We hope that you find value in using these twelve essential road trip resources.  As full-time traveling RVers, we understand the value of free camping and fuel discounts.  Over the last 3 years, we have traveled coast to coast several times and have clocked over 100,000 miles.  Saving money where we can is necessary.  We use these twelve essential road trip resources often and we hope you will too.

    When you travel, do you calculate tolls into your budget.    In a standard car, a single toll might only be $5. Driving through that same toll in our Renegade Verona with a triple axle trailer can cost us $50. We need to be aware of toll roads and avoid them if possible.  You can read about our experience here.

    Thanks for reading!  

    Travel Safe and Adventure Often!

    Refoam your Seat Cushions Yourself, and Save Big Money!

    Refoam your Seat Cushions Yourself, and Save Big Money!

    If you’ve had your RV for a while or maybe your couch at home, the foam in the cushions may be losing density and sagging. It not only doesn’t look good, it no longer feels good and becomes uncomfortable.
    This DIY fix is easy and can save you a lot of money.

    I am going to give you an overview here.  You can check out our YouTube Video also for some tips, and you’ll see how easy it is.  Most of the sites that sell foam will provide detailed instructions for measuring and installing the foam replacements.

    Getting started only takes a few measurements and a couple of decisions to order your foam.  It’s best to use a fabric tape measure or string instead of metal to get more accurate measurements.  You will also want to consider the firmness or density. Determining this will help you choose the feel you desire and how long it will last.

    You can have custom shapes cut that cost more or have sizes cut and then glue pieces to them if you desire a more economical solution.  Batting or Dacron is an option to consider as well. They will help fill out your cushions and give them a fluffy and fuller look.  Figure this all out and place your order.

    Once you receive the order, it’s important to note you need to unpack the foam and let it sit for a day before you get started.  You will need a few basic supplies to complete your project. A measuring tape, a sharpie or permanent marker, a sharp carving/serrated knife or electric knife, a straight edge, and some spray adhesive if you need to glue the foam.  A flat surface or table to work on is helpful as well.

    To get started, take the old foam out of the cushions.  As you do this, note anything that you may need to do to shape the cushion so it looks like it originally.  Use the old foam as a template for the new foam, especially if there are unique shapes or sizes.  You can glue any unique shapes to the foam so they stay in place. You may also need to put the special shapes in the cover first and add some batting or Dacron so the cushions fill out correctly. 

    The new foam will be a tight fit, and you may have to squeeze and compress it to get it in the covers.  Adjust it as necessary to fill out the shape and add more batting or Dacron to shape things.  Once you are ready to zip up the cushion, it’s easiest to push the batting down under one hand and zip over top of it, so the batting doesn’t get caught in the zipper.  You may have to work and adjust things a little to get everything in place and looking good.

    And that’s it. All you need to do next is test it out.  If you are like me, you will be amazed and fulfilled by how easy it was and how good it feels.

    For my foam, I used the Foam Factory in Michigan.  Their instructions were clear and provided all the information I needed to make a great decision. The shipping was free because my order was over $75, and the pricing was better than several other sites I checked.

    I saved about $175 doing it myself, and it was quick and easy.

    Let me know if you have any questions and how it works out if you try it yourself.  Don’t forget to check out the YouTube Video out if you haven’t already.

    5 Books to Read When You Need a Boost of Gratitude

    5 Books to Read When You Need a Boost of Gratitude

    **We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases, at no additional cost to you.  

    5 Books to Read When You Need a Boost of Gratitude

    5 Books to Read When You Need a Boost of Gratitude. The way life is going doesn’t always seem great, does it? But don’t worry–no matter how bad things are getting or have been in the past, you can take comfort knowing that others live with this on an even more regular basis and still manage to be thankful for what they do have! Find out by reading five books that will encourage you to find a new perspective and ways of being grateful.

    10% Happier, by Dan Harris, co-anchor for ABC’s Nightline and weekend editions of Good Morning America. Dan shares his journey to happiness through meditation practice. From interviewing some of the new-aged gurus to immersing himself in silent meditation retreats, he reveals his results of these experiences.  Is Dan happier? I guess you will have to read this book to find out!
    Buddhist Bootcamp, Timber Hawkeye.  Born Jewish and educated Catholic, Timber experienced great success in Silicon Valley.  He also found himself, unhappy stressed out, and ready to call it quits.  Walking away from the rat race into a Zen Buddhist Monastery was the start of his newfound freedom.  Buddhist Bootcamp is a compilation of journal entries and letters he wrote to friends and family.  Incorporating gratitude into his everyday practice is truly his key to happiness. (One of my favorite books to gift).

    Have A Little Faith, Mitch Albom.  Mitch was asked to write a eulogy for someone he only knew as his Rabbi.  Through this true-life account, he discovers so much more than the teachings of Reb, but more so what living a life of gratitude truly means.  Get your tissues ready…

    Happy Pocket Full of Money, David Cameron Gikandi.  Are you satisfied with your financial portfolio?  Would you like to experience more joy when you talk about your money?  Gikandi provides some practical exercises and daily practices to help you find more happiness with your money.

    Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty.  From being a college student with an aspiring corporate future to becoming a Monk, Jay’s story is sure to inspire you.  Practicing gratitude and mindfulness is what he attributes to his success.  You, too, can experience more happiness in your daily practices.  Find out what it means to live like a Monk. 

     

    Want more recommendations? Just ask!

    Ten Actions We Can Take To Support Small Businesses Without Breaking Our Bank

    Ten Actions We Can Take To Support Small Businesses Without Breaking Our Bank

    Ten actions we can take to support small businesses without breaking our bank

    Today, more than ever before, small businesses need our help.  2020 played havoc with so many industries and the livelyhood of many entrepreneurs.  It is time we help them, support them and give them the much-deserved recognition.  There are ten actions we can take to support small businesses without breaking our bank.  In this article, we are going to spell it out!

    Did you know that advertising is one of the highest expense line items on a business’s profit and loss statement?  Right behind salaries and taxes, advertising and marketing are our highest expenses. “You have to spend money to make money, right?”

    Whether a company chooses print ads, like newspapers or billboards, or face-to-face advertising like conferences and networking events, advertising expenses are eating into our bottom line.  We advertise for the future hope of making a sale.  Sometimes our endeavors work, and sometimes they fail.

     

    How much do you spend on advertising and marketing?

    These days, advertisements litter our blog feeds, social media, and email.  Marketers are paying premium prices to place ads where consumers will see them and hopefully purchase their offerings.  Make the sale, offset the cost of the advertisement and increase the bottom line.  It is a vicious cycle.

    For instance: Before COVID-19 and the shutdown,  most of our marketing was face to face at tradeshows and conferences.  The average cost for each show was around $5000, and we exhibited at five different shows throughout the US.  Our advertising budget between booth space, travel expenses, and collateral promo materials averaged around $25,000 a year.  That is a lot of money.

    However, the good news is we only needed to land one contract to consider our efforts successful.  Most times, we would book 2 or 3 or more clients from that show.  Booking a client was essential to offset the expense.  Sometimes the conference did not work out for us, creating a significant loss for the endeavor.

     

    But this is basic economics, and we don’t need to belabor the point.  We want to talk about the power of the referral and give you ten actions to support small businesses without breaking our bank.  These are simple steps to help our friends, family, and fellow entrepreneurs increase their exposure and, hopefully, their bottom line.

    Social media outlets, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, are vast advertising and marketing platforms.  Their exposure can also be quite costly and even ineffective if not used efficiently.  All of these channels have algorithms that determine the direction your posts take and who they are shown to.  Simply put, your posts have to meet specific criteria so that your potential client will see them.  There is a hitch, though, and it is this:  These platforms change their algorithms all the time, so we never really know what to do and how to do it.

    What we can be sure of is, the power of a referral is still king.  Telling your friends, family, and circle of influence is the number 1 most cost-effective and straightforward way to share your favorite business and help them succeed.

     

    Here are ten ways to support small businesses without breaking our bank: 

    1. Follow your favorite small business’s on Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat…wherever they are…follow them.
    2. Like and Love their posts.
    3. Make a positive comment on their posts, even if it is an emoji. Algorithms LOVE comments.
    4. Share their posts on your feed. Make a statement that says something like, “We had linguini and clams at Momma Sofia’s last night…OMG, it was amazing.  You should try it!”.
    5. Tag a friend that might be interested in their products or services.
    6. Post photos of their products, services and TAG them in the posts.
    7. Tell your friends about them. Carry their business cards with you and give them out (where applicable).
    8. Write a positive review. Studies show that online reviews hold as much value as a close friend’s recommendation.
    9. Sign up for their newsletters.
    10. Send a message to them telling them what you like about their services and their products.

     

    The Power of a Personal Referral

    The power of a personal referral is overall the most important and effective advertisement.  In fact, some of our long-term clients originated from a simple referral.  Either a friend or colleague mentioned our company to a prospective client, and bam, a contract.  This simple gesture increased our revenue exponentially and did not cost the person referring us any money and it saved us a lot of money in advertising and marketing costs.  Referrals have so much power!

    While we might not think that our influence is that great, I can assure you it is.  You know people that we don’t know and when you say, “I trust this company,” people listen.  Just as consumers buy products endorsed by celebrities, we can support our friends with businesses.

    As we wind this article down, we want to challenge you.  Robb and I are stepping up to take our social media time to the next level.  Each day, we will intentionally share, comment, like, and shout out to many of our colleagues and business associates.  Will you?

    And while you are hanging sharing and liking, would you give us a follow, like, and share?

    Here are our links!

    Let’s do this together and help give small business the lift it deserves!

    Thanks for reading and please subscribe to our newsletter.  Each week we will give you some travel tips, life hacks and other fun information.

    Travel Safe and Adventure Often,

    Maureen & Robb, aka The Stromads

    Tips To Save Cash and Time On Road Tolls!

    Tips To Save Cash and Time On Road Tolls!

    How to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Road Toll Charges

    Tolls, those pesky, used to be small, fees for the maintenance and upkeep of controlled-access highways and bridges.  Thirty-eight states have toll roads, so you are likely to encounter them if you are making road trips.  If you are like us and are an RV’er with a trailer or tow vehicle, tolls can significantly increase and become a significant expense.

    With a little bit of pre-planning, you can reduce your toll costs and stress drastically.

    The first step is to set up an electronic tolling account.  With this in place, you can reduce the stress of needing exact change sometimes and waiting in long lines at toll booths.  Thirty-one states have electronic tolling, and if you are in the eastern part of the US, you can cover 19 states with two accounts.

    In most states, you can do this at the toll booth or service areas, online, or can buy transponders at local retailers.  Costs vary by state and type of transponder.  However, if you do any traveling, you will quickly recoup the transponder’s cost.  Not only will you save money, but you will also save time by using the express tolling lanes where you don’t have to stop at a toll booth.

    Since we are most familiar with east coast travel, we highly recommend EZPass and SunPass.  EZ pass covers 16 states fully and part of Florida, SunPass covers Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

    So, how do I save $$$ on tolls?

    First, by setting up your electronic account, you save $ by getting the lowest toll rate available at the time, and if you are a frequent traveler on some roads, you will get an extra discount.  You also don’t have to worry about getting a violation if you don’t have the exact change or an upcharge for cashless tolling or bill-by-plate.

    How do you save big money on tolls?

    Don’t use toll roads at all.

    Maybe this seems a little weird, but you have to consider most toll roads and limited-access highways are built to streamline traffic flow.  So that means there is almost always an alternative route.  You say, yeah, well, duh, but how much more time is that going to take?  It depends, but we have found that it is an hour or less extra on a multi-hour trip in many cases.

    Again, it just takes a little preplanning and using a map or mapping app.  You can set the options in google maps or your GPS to avoid tolls.  Be careful with this because sometimes paying the toll is worth it.

    So let me give you a couple of examples.

    If we are going to the Midwest, our GPS would normally route us on the PA Turnpike, Ohio Turnpike, and Indiana and Illinois toll roads.  Not to mention straight through Gary, Indiana, and Chicago suburbs, which is somewhere you want to avoid driving at all costs, in our opinion.  Much like the DC/Baltimore Beltways, Atlanta, I-10 through Houston, and most anywhere around LA.

    So, back to the Midwest story.  If we reroute off the turnpikes and toll roads onto toll-free interstates traveling through Maryland, West Virginia, middle Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the drive is not only much more beautiful and less stressful. In that case, it saves over $80 in tolls.  I am sure you would agree that is a significant amount of savings.  We do it on every trip we can going and coming.

    For those of you headed to Key West or the Everglades, stay off of the Florida Turnpike.  The trip takes about 45 minutes more to travel I-75 through Alligator Alley, you avoid Ft Lauderdale and Miami stress and save $75.

    Bonus StroTip:  Instead of I-75 from Naples to Miami, take US-41 the Tamiami Trail, and you will encounter a most incredible scenic drive.  This drive is one not to miss.

    This next example is for those traveling I-95 from Richmond, VA to Delaware or vice Versa, who want to avoid Baltimore and Washington DC traffic and tolls.  Use US-301 instead of I-95.  It may take an extra 20 minutes, or it may save you hours when traffic is snarled around Baltimore and DC, which is most of the time.  This beautifully scenic route will take you over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and through some small towns and with cute shops and restaurants.  Just watch your speed, and be ok with tall bridges.  Savings will vary on this trip.  There are fewer tolls going South.  Coming north, you will save at least $50.

    These are just a few, and there are many others if you take some time and check it out.  Our friend Steve, a trucker, follows our travels on Facebook and always has tips for us.  If you don’t have a friend Steve, ask us, and we’ll have some suggestions.

    Of course, there are also apps out that do this as well.  Currently, we are testing TollGuru.  Do you have a favorite app or way to save on tolls?  Let us know.

    So there you have it, another super-saver StroTip!

    Thanks for reading!

    Travel Safe and Adventure Often,

    Robb and Maureen, aka The Stromads

    Four Tips To Get The Conversation Started Using The FORD Method

    Four Tips To Get The Conversation Started Using The FORD Method

    Would you like to make a connection through conversation and don’t have a clue where to start?  Well, you are in the right place with these four tips to get the conversation started using the FORD method.

    Dialogue doesn’t have to be hocus pocus, and you certainly don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to engage in some meaningful dialogue.  You can facilitate practical fun, meaningful conversation by asking a few simple questions to those around you.

    Oh my pounding heart and sweaty palms

    How do you feel about talking to people?  Is it easy for you to strike up a conversation?  Would you like to develop your skills and be
    more fluid in your communication?  Do you
    cringe at the thought of “making conversation.” 
    Maybe you are at a loss for words when you first meet someone.  Possibly, you just want to make a connection
    and don’t know where to start.

    Do you ever feel your heart pounding, your palms sweating,
    and you just wish someone would talk to you. 
    Perhaps you find yourself trying to think of things other than the
    weather or COVID-19 to discuss. How about that deafening awkward silence, does
    it bother you?

    Well, guess what?   You are like many of us out here.  That’s right; you are not alone.  Connection is one of our greatest needs as humans.  We want it, we need it, and now, we are going to help you get it!

    Open-Ended? What’s that?

    Let’s start with the basics or, as I like to say, ask a
    better question.  The proper term is open-ended
    questions or leading questions.  Simply put,
    these are questions that allow an opportunity for additional dialogue rather
    than a yes or a no answer.  These
    questions can be tricky, and you may need to practice.  Though, once you start using them, your
    dialogue will open up tremendously.

    Do you ever get stuck for open-ended questions?.    Well,
    if you do, then read on because we have some fun leading questions for many
    situations.

    Now, I love to talk to people or interrogate, as my partner Robb would say.  Developing effective question asking can be tricky.  So, I was pretty excited when I ran across this little nugget of information. 

    I love acronyms

    My research led me to this fantastic acronym F.O.R.D.   Simply stated, The F. O.R. D. method stands
    for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. 
    These hints and reminders help us to find more interesting and not so
    obvious information through open-ended questions. 

    I put together some of my go-to questions that may be helpful the next time you find yourself stuck.  If nothing else, remember the acronym, and you will find a lead into a conversation.  Be encouraged to use these as a jumping-off point and allow the dialogue to develop naturally.  There is no reason for rapid-fire unless, of course, it is an interrogation.  Allow the conversation to be natural and flowing.

    These are Four Tips to get the conversation started using the FORD method

    F-Family

    It is not always apparent as to whether or not someone wants to talk about their family.  Asking them a direct question such as “ Tell me about your family” can sometimes trigger some unhappy emotions.  Personally speaking, I like to wait until I am clear on a persons’ familial relationships before I close in on what could be sensitive territory. 

    Try these instead and be discerning.  Knowing what to ask and when to ask can be a little tricky.  Navigate your conversation slowly until you find your flow.

    • Where’s home for you?
    • What are some of your family traditions?
    • What was it like growing up in your neighborhood?

    O-Occupation

    Occupation is a subject that needs a little more attention and follow-up.  Sometimes the question may seem to be open, when in fact, the person on the other end clams-up 
    on us.  Be prepared to follow up with another similar question:

    • What kind of work do you do?
    • How did you come into that line of work or
      occupation?
    • Tell me about your typical day in the “office.”

    R- Recreation

    Everyone likes to talk about their “fun” life, hobbies, weekend ventures, and the places they’ve traveled.  So ask them! Personally speaking, this is one of the most comfortable places to start.  You will even find children respond to these questions.

    • Tell me what you did over the weekend.
    • When things get chaotic, how do you clear your
      head?
    • What are you reading these days?
    • What are some of your favorite restaurants?
    • Where was your last getaway?

    D-Dreams/Aspirations

    Some people think this question is prying.  For me, it is just another way to communicate.  Indulge your friends and let them tell you about their dreams and aspirations. 

    • When did you know you wanted to be…..?
    • What is your silliest fear?
    • What did you want to be when you were a kid, and
      how did that turn out?

    Hopefully, you will find value with these questions and using the F.O.R.D method. Perhaps you want more on this subject?  Here’s a quick and easy download of 30 easy
    open-ended questions you can use with just about anyone. 

    Productive, engaging conversation is a skill, and you may need to practice. 

    Be Mindful, Inspire Conversation, and Continue to Encourage
    each other.

    Travel Safe and Adventure Often,

    Maureen