Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

#MyFreeNight in Vegas

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.25.58 sent “improvisor, actor and delicious treat,” Robert Bacon to Las Vegas to kick off #MyFreeNight. All that ensued was the stuff of legend.

We’ll walk you through all the Bacon was able to accomplish during his #MyFreeNight experience  - check it out:

First, Bacon checked in to the MGM Grand Hotel on the Vegas strip. After a trip to the  MGM Grand Spa, where he played in the water fountain on the wall, he stopped at the MGM Grand Buffet for a quick breakfast.


After a relaxing morning, it was time for a bit of excitement at the Mandalay Bay pool & lazy river. Bacon made himself comfortable and enjoyed a nice drink on the lazy river.

But there wasn’t much time for lounging about… Bacon quickly climbed the stairs to the water slide and slid down wearing his #MyFreeNight helmet and GoPro!

Next up was a trip to Vegas Indoor Skydiving!

“Is it natural to be scared of a giant fan?”

He had no choice but to get over those fears quickly because moments later he was flying.

As if he hadn’t spent enough time in the air, Bacon’s next stop was at the Stratosphere Skyjump, where he jumped into a free fall from the 108th floor – about 1,149 feet up!

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.36.22 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.38.18 PM

All that excitement can really work up a guy’s appetite – so dinner came next.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.37.11 PMAfter  dinner at the Shibuya Restaurant at MGM Grand, he made his way backstage at Jubilee! at Bally’s Las Vegas, where he learned what it takes to be a Jubilee dancer… with his top hat and cane in hand, Bacon realized his dream of joining the show.

About five minutes in, however, it became apparent that a career as a professional dancer might not be in the cards, and decided to head out to enjoy the bright lights of the Vegas strip.

On the strip he made some new friends, saw the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas and went off in search of his next big challenge…

…Which he found immediately upon strolling into the PBR Rock Bar & Grill and spotting a mechanical bull.

“I’m going to predict that I rip my pants.”

 Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 6.11.55 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.26.44 PM

His wild ride on the mechanical bull lasted a matter of seconds and therefore he walked away unscathed with his pants and his pride intact.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.28.52 PMExhausted from the effects a long day and an angry bull, Bacon made his way to the Fountains of the Bellagio. Singing along to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” he held up a lighter and really soaked in the moment.

As he watched the sunrise, Bacon grabbed ‘breakfast’ at the Tao Las Vegas - where his 24 hour #MyFreeNight day came to an end.

Think you can top Bacon’s #MyFreeNight excursion in Vegas? Check out the full video here, below!

Where would you go and what would you do with one free night? Let us know in the comments!




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How to Take Better Photos on Vacation

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Man Photographing His GirlfriendSo the ol’ saying goes: “The best camera to have is the one that’s with you all the time.”  And with the prevalence of smart phones, we almost always have a camera in our purses and pockets.

It seems like the days of the endless photo albums are gone and we now post a few select photos to share with our social networks.  And lately, I find myself post-trip, post great experience, feeling like I don’t have any photos that truly capture how great the vacation actually was.

So I went digging to find the best tips, from actual photography experts, to help us all make our photos match the greatness of our memories.  Take this advice for photo taking prowess:

Basic Photo Taking Tips
Visual interest… Most of the people who view our photographs are friends and family, and they’ll be much more interested in the places you visit if you include people they know in your photos. So, look for other friendly faces taking photos and offer to snap their memories in return for taking a photo for you.

Shoot from different angles… Try zooming in, zooming out and shooting vertical, as well as horizontal. This will help you take different types of images. If you don’t pay attention, all of your photographs will be taken from your eye level. If you squat down, lie down or perhaps gain a perspective from above, you might end up with images that have a better sense of space.

Avoid Auto-Exposure You can control the amount of light in your shot with your iPhone (I didn’t even know that – and have already been taking better photos!) When shooting, tap the areas of light on your screen to help define contrast and exposure.  You can even lock the exposure by tapping and holding for a few seconds to keep your iPhone from automatically readjusting.

Minneapolis and Denver photographer and owner of Bloom Portaits, David Schmidt, had this advice for us photo novices:

Point and Shoots… “One of my biggest frustrations while I travel is always having to lug around my big camera bag so on less “touristy” days I just bring along my point and shoot camera. I shoot with the Canon Powershot G12 but if you like Nikons go with the Nikon 1 V1. These are easy to use and easy to print a quality 8×10.”

Couple Taking a Picture of ThemselvesFlashes… People walk around a lot during the day, which tends to have the harshest sun. While photographing people I would suggest always having your flash on to help “fill” in your image. This helps balance out shadows created by the harsh daytime sun.

Spares…. Don’t forget extra batteries and memory cards and I would always suggest taking something to back up your photos. A laptop or iPad will help make sure you leave your vacation with your photos with you. There is nothing worse than coming home from a vacation and something happening to your memory card or it getting lost in the shuffle of traveling.

Get more great insights from David at

New York photographer Dennis Kwan also provided some helpful tips:

High Quality… If you plan on printing and framing your pictures (which you should!) it’s great to invest in a decent SLR camera. Instagramming is fun for social media… but 20 years from now everyone’s going to wish they had actually captured their memories in much higher quality. If you’re spending the money to travel, it’s time to invest in a camera that will allow you to preserve your memories properly. You can buy professional-quality SLR kits at Costco these days for around $1000 or less.

Get there early, stay late… Beat the rush and visit places early in the morning when there aren’t hordes of goofy-looking tourists filling up your photos. Sunrise and sunset also provide much better natural light than harsh midday sun.

Use the Sun… Shoot with the sun behind your subjects. If you learn to use your camera to expose your images properly, having a back-lit subject will almost always look better than if sun is shining directly on it. MAKE SURE you are exposing correctly though (learn to use the manual settings on your camera, or to make auto-exposure work the way you want) otherwise your subject will appear totally dark.

1_59930362Overshoot! One of the advantages of digital photography is that you can take as many pictures as you want and try to get creative with different angles.

Learn more about Dennis and see his work at

Better Photo-Taking Apps
For $0.99, you can download TiltShift Generator by Art & Mobile to increase photo contrast and saturation.

With the FREE Adobe Photoshop Express, you can make so many fixes that your photos are destined to improve. I like that a copy of your original file is always saved, and you can undo and redo changes until you get just the look that you want.

Camera+ by tap tap tap let’s you “focus” on crisp photos and even has a burst-shooting mode that lets you shoot about five images per second.

Need a great spot for taking photos on your vacation? Look no further than your Picfari App. You can search for nearby places, or explore your vacation destination before you leave. There are tips, and the app will even tell you what camera settings to use to get the pictures you see in the app.



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How to Document Your Own Travel

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Nicole and kids

My favorite travel tales to share are the ones that include my family!

When you explore a new destination, city, hotel or discover a new super restaurant, it’s always nice that you share it with others; if not to prove that you’ve actually been there then to give great advice to those that may want to follow in your traveling footsteps.

Gone are the days of the private travel diary! In its simplest form, you can detail you trip highs and lows on many an Internet site. From reviews, to videos and even your own blog, digitally document your next sojourn. Here are few tips to get started!

Take lots of pictures and videos. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people take a road trip and forget to take any pictures, because they are too busy driving. Or, how many people are so in awe of the scenery that they don’t take out the camera to pose for a photo until the end of a tour; or never take a photo inside their unique hotel room and only grab a drab snapshot outside of the building.

Use Tout & Vine. It sounds like a hip new restaurant but Tout and Vine are both social video sharing apps designed to work with your smart phones. Tout can be used in combination with Facebook and Twitter to create short video Status Updates. Vine is a new free Twitter-backed iPhone app, letting you seamlessly post six-second video clips on-the-go.

If you review it, they will go. After a hotel stay, after dining at a fabulous restaurant, or experiencing a fun attraction or service: Immortalize your experience when you visit someplace new with a review on sites such as Tripadvisor,, and Yelp. And don’t just give advice, tell others all about your trip. Why you went and who you were with are important pieces of information to share with others who may be in the trip planning mode.

Become a travel blogger. In today’s world pretty much everyone has a blog. To make yours shine a little brighter, keep adding those photos and videos. And don’t forget to connect with other travel bloggers to join in the blogging community. At the very least, create this online diary for your family and friends to keep track of all your adventures! Blogger and WordPress are both solid options for templates and tutorials. Also, post links to your blog on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Don’t forget your map. Maybe you want to include a travel map of all the places you visit. Check out TravBuddy!


There you have it: a few tips to get you going on your quest to travel documentation. Now, get traveling and share with us here at Travel Smart Blog where we can read about your experiences!



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