Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes - May 14, 2011
"Travelers411" Radio Show - May 14, 2011
Webber High School Senior Class Trip A Trip to Branson, Missouri with the Senior Class of Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois; Travel Tips on Long-Term Parking, Antiquing in Branson, Missouri, and Checking Prices on Car Rental Deals.

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Hour 1

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Roger Pauley, Superintendent and Principal, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show welcome back Roger Pauley, Superintendent and Principal of Webber Township High School in Bluford, Illinois. Stephanie just returned from a trip to Branson, Missouri, where she met up with the senior class from Webber Township. She organized the trip for the students after hearing that they voted unanimously to donate the funds they'd raised for a senior class trip to the family of a classmate who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Webber Township Seniors in Branson, Missouri: Haley Drew; Shelby Elliston; Kelly Knauss; Chelsea Laird; Allison Lawler; Amanda Lenz; Karlisa Loker; Hailey Martin; Christina McLaughlin; Jane Otey; Kristin Rudofski; Courtney Schrum; Cassie Shields; Amanda Tooke; Josh Bergbower; Jesse Bodendieck; Zack Bullard; Dakato Church; Jacob Corbett; Ethan Gowler; Fernando Jacinto; Brandon Johnson; Mitchell Sharp.
Webber Township Seniors in Branson, Missouri: Haley Drew; Shelby Elliston; Kelly Knauss; Chelsea Laird; Allison Lawler; Amanda Lenz; Karlisa Loker; Hailey Martin; Christina McLaughlin; Jane Otey; Kristin Rudofski; Courtney Schrum; Cassie Shields; Amanda Tooke; Josh Bergbower; Jesse Bodendieck; Zack Bullard; Dakato Church; Jacob Corbett; Ethan Gowler; Fernando Jacinto; Brandon Johnson; Mitchell Sharp.

"It's quite a wonderful story," says Stephanie. "The idea was that they would go to Branson and stay at the Hilton Branson Convention Center and the Hilton Promenade. One is attached to the convention center; one is literally in the middle of this mile-long outdoor mall called Branson Landing. And at the Hilton Branson Convention Center, there's the Level 2 Steakhouse, which is beautiful and very well-done."

Titanic Museum in Branson Missouri.
Titanic Museum in Branson Missouri.

There's plenty to see and do in Branson for the whole family. Not only were there mini golf courses that Stephanie says blew her mind, but the downtown area reminded her of a New England village. "If you like antiques, I say that everything is in grandma's attic somewhere in the Midwest," she says. "They had a shop called 1946 that was full of Fiestaware. If you don't know it, Fiestaware used to be sold at Woolworth's as very cheap dishes, but it's now a very chichi collectible. They had pitchers there in every color, and for not very much money."

Hilton in Branson, Missouri.
Hilton in Branson, Missouri.

Beyond the tourist attractions, Stephanie was most impressed with the senior class from Webber Township High School. "Roger is the principal of the most well-behaved, well-mannered, delightful young people," she says. "They've lived through the experience of watching how quickly life can change – and did, for one of their classmates." The students stayed at the Hilton Promenade, also known as the Hilton Garden Inn, which is adjacent to the mall and has its own pool.

Related Photo Galleries:
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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3438

For more information visit www.webberhs.com


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Carol Rudofski, Account Executive, Charter Media, Mt. Vernon, Illinois, USA.
www.chartermedia.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show talk with Carol Rudofski, Account Executive with Charter Media in Mount Vernon, Illinois. Carol is the mother of Kristin Rudofski, a senior at Webber Township High School in Bluford, Illinois, and was one of the sponsors of the class trip to Branson, Missouri.

Historic Branson Landing Missouri.
Historic Branson Landing Missouri.

"As parents – and teachers – of these students, we're just surprised and amazed that the kids brought this idea up of donating their money to this family," Carol says. "When my daughter came home and told me, I said, Really? These are 17- and 18-year-olds who took it upon themselves to do this. And when I heard that Stephanie had offered to pay for the trip, I honestly just started crying. These kids helped the family, they were helped in turn, and now they need to continue paying it forward, back into the community."

Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Legends In Concerts, Branson, Missouri.
Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Legends In Concerts, Branson, Missouri.

Stephanie agrees that the ripple effect of helping others can be amazing. "When you drop a pebble in a pond, you never know where the ripples are going to take you," she says. "It's especially important when you're traveling; you can get the most experience out of it." Carol emphasizes the importance of doing good from the heart, not in order to get something in return.

Webber Township Seniors in Branson, Missouri; Haley Drew; Shelby Elliston; Kelly Knauss; Chelsea Laird; Allison Lawler; Amanda Lenz; Karlisa Loker; Hailey Martin; Christina McLaughlin; Jane Otey; Kristin Rudofski; Courtney Schrum; Cassie Shields; Amanda Tooke; Josh Bergbower; Jesse Bodendieck; Zack Bullard; Dakato Church; Jacob Corbett; Ethan Gowler; Fernando Jacinto; Brandon Johnson; Mitchell Sharp.
Webber Township Seniors in Branson, Missouri; Haley Drew; Shelby Elliston; Kelly Knauss; Chelsea Laird; Allison Lawler; Amanda Lenz; Karlisa Loker; Hailey Martin; Christina McLaughlin; Jane Otey; Kristin Rudofski; Courtney Schrum; Cassie Shields; Amanda Tooke; Josh Bergbower; Jesse Bodendieck; Zack Bullard; Dakato Church; Jacob Corbett; Ethan Gowler; Fernando Jacinto; Brandon Johnson; Mitchell Sharp.

For Carol, the highlight of the trip was being with the kids. "They really impressed me," she says. "I expected a little more out of them in the way of resistance, and then they were just great. We were in the halls at 1 a.m. and there was no mischief." The experience reminded Stephanie of a 7-night Caribbean cruise she took where a group of high school students was also on board. "Like your kids, they were so well-mannered and thrilled with every experience that it was a joy to be a passenger," she recalls. "It added so much to my trip to watch them experiencing the ship, the ports, the formal nights, dinners, pool area, and buffet."

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Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3439

For more information visit www.chartermedia.com


Link to this segment

Link to this segment

Dakota Church, Student, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Kristin Rudofski, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Hailey Martin, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show meet with students from the senior class at Webber Township High School in Bluford, Illinois. Stephanie recently played Travel Fairy Godmother to the class and sent the kids on a trip to Branson, Missouri. Now that the students have returned home, they're reflecting on the experience.

Dakota Church (L) and Kristen Rudofski (R), Webber Township Seniors during Radio Interview with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in Branson. Missouri.
Dakota Church (L) and Kristen Rudofski (R), Webber Township Seniors during Radio Interview with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in Branson. Missouri.

One student, Jesse Kressinger, enjoyed the whole trip, start to finish. "The highlights were whenever we left school to the time we came back," he says. "It was amazing, especially that you gave us the opportunity to hang out and be with friends and classmates that we've known forever. That was a huge blessing in itself. My favorite experience was Legends in Concert, though; the Blues Brothers were amazing." The concert also included tribute performances by Aretha Franklin, Buddy Holly, Toby Keith, and Elvis.

Hailey Martin, Webber Township Seniorr, during Radio Interview with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in Branson. Missouri.
Hailey Martin, Webber Township Seniorr, during Radio Interview with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams in Branson. Missouri.

Students Hailey Drew and Tamara Fritz name Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede as their favorite experience of the trip. A particular highlight was sitting down in the huge arena and eating dinner with nothing but fingers. "They serve you a really wholesome and delicious meal, chuck-wagon style," explains Stephanie. "The soup bowl has a handle, so you can drink the soup. Then they bring out chicken, corn on the cob, a slab of roasted potato, and an apple turnover for dessert."

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, Branson, Missouri.
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, Branson, Missouri.

While the audience is eating, performers entertain the arena by bringing out trained animals, including a herd of buffalo. "One of the chaperones was selected to come down and participate in the show," Stephanie continues. "They also split the room down the middle into north and south and had a competition. And they brought out the buffalo and steer, these huge, amazing, formidable animals that are so impeccably trained."

Attendant in constume at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Branson Missouri.
Attendant in constume at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Branson Missouri.

The seniors also had the chance to visit the Titanic Attraction in Branson. They enjoyed the fact that visitors each get a boarding pass with the name of a real Titanic passenger. At the end of the attraction, guests get to see whether they survived the disaster or not. Most of all, though, the seniors are grateful for the chance to take a trip with their friends. "We just wanted to say thanks for an amazing trip," says Jesse, "and for the opportunity to get together as a class for the last time."

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Branson Missouri.
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Branson Missouri.

Stephanie observes that travel is an important part of life. "If you never leave your region, state, or country, you miss out on finding out so much about the world and understanding so much about other people," she says. "So I was really glad to participate and hope that travel will become a priority in your lives." She adds that when others heard about the students' generosity, it opened up their hearts, too. "There was a couple in the first row who found out why the kids were there," she adds. "They came up to me and gave me something – and not a small amount of money, either – for the family [of the injured classmate]."

Other students on the trip include: Haley Drew, Shelby Elliston, Kelly Knauss, Chelsea Laird, Allison Lawler, Amanda Lenz, Karlisa Loker, Christina McLaughlin, Jane Oteyi ,Courtney Schrum, Cassie Shields, Amanda Tooke, Josh Bergbower, Jesse Kurtsinger, Philip Bodendieck, Zack Bullard, Jacob Corbett, Ethan Gowler, Fernando Jacinto, Brandon Johnson, Mitchell Sharp.

Related Photo Galleries:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=523
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=495
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=501

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3440

For more information visit www.webberhs.com


Guests Include:

Roger Pauley, Superintendent and Principal, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Carol Rudofski, Account Executive, Charter Media, Mt. Vernon, Illinois, USA.
www.chartermedia.com

Dakota Church, Student, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Kristin Rudofski, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Hailey Martin, Webber Township High School, Bluford, Illinois, USA.
www.webberhs.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Alexander Anolik, Renowned Travel Industry Attorney, author of 'Traveler's Rights, San Francisco, California, USA.
www.travellaw.com

Due to a poor cell-phone connection, this interview was cut short and rescheduled.

For more information visit www.travellaw.com


Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams kicks off this hour of the "Travelers411" Radio Show with a few travel tips on long-term parking, visiting Branson, Missouri, and how to avoid surprise charges when renting a car. Stephanie just returned from a trip to Branson and encourages others thinking about a trip to go. "The best time of year to go anywhere is when you have the money, the time off to do it, and the health," she says.

Giant Chicken in Branson Missouri.
Giant Chicken in Branson Missouri.

But before traveling anywhere, you have to get to the airport. There are several inexpensive ways to do this. "If you're driving to the airport rather than taking a taxi or limo, it's probably the least expensive way," says Stephanie. "There are also airport group rides that leave from central locations. In New York City, for example, they leave from hotels or across from Madison Square Garden. You ride in a 9 or 14-passenger van and it comes out much cheaper than taking a taxi."

Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson Missouri.
Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson Missouri.

Travelers driving to the airport may want to check out www.longtermparking.com, which offers coupons for many long-term parking facilities. "You go on, click the state and airport that you're flying from, and you'll find coupons for reduced rates," Stephanie explains. "Instead of paying $12.95 a day, I paid $9 and change, with tax. You usually have to make a reservation online and print the coupons and the reservation; sometimes they'll ask you for $3 to reserve the space.

Branson Harbor Shoppes
Branson Harbor Shoppes.

"Still, if you're going for a long time, it makes a difference," she continues. "Sometimes you can get one free night for every 7 days or something like that. Between the free days and the lower rate from the coupon, I saved almost $100 on my last trip." Travelers also have choices between different parking lots. Stephanie suggests looking for a lot that has a fence, security cameras, and shuttles that drop travelers off right at their cars, in case of inclement weather or heavy luggage. Some parking lots will even pull cars out and check for flat tires or dead batteries.

Hollywood Wax Museum stone mountain.
Hollywood Wax Museum stone mountain.

"Usually at airport parking lots, there's nobody to help you if you have flat tires or a dead battery," she says. "At off-airport lots, there's security that will pull your car out. There may be a fee associated with a jump start or changing tires, and you should certainly tip whoever does this. Other places offer washes or detailing while you're away for an extra fee. That's nice when I go away in March – if I'm away for a month, I pay them to take off the road salt. And then I come back ready for spring with a nice clean car." The only inconvenience of off-airport lots is that passengers may be asked to wait at a designated long-term parking pickup point, but this is not generally a problem at smaller airports.

Webber Township Seniors on stage at the Blues Brothers performance at Legends in Concert in Branson Missouri.
Webber Township Seniors on stage at the Blues Brothers performance at Legends in Concert in Branson Missouri.

While in Branson, Stephanie hoped to visit the antique auto museum, but ran out of time. "It didn't look very big, but they had mostly American classics – some gorgeous older Chevrolets, red and white with the big tail fins," she says. Other curiosities in town included the wax museum building, which featured a giant replica of the Empire State Building, complete with King Kong hanging off, and a version of Mount Rushmore with celebrities' faces instead of presidents' visages.

Lobby at the Hilton Garden Inn, Branson, Missouri.
Lobby at the Hilton Garden Inn, Branson, Missouri.

"Another thing that we didn't get to do was past all the different shows, restaurants, theaters, go-karts, mini golf courses, and up on the hill," Stephanie says. "There's a great view of Branson and environs and a place called the Butterfly Palace. It was closed when we got there, but I'm going to guess it's a butterfly sanctuary. The view is spectacular, though, and there are interesting metal sculptures of butterflies all around the place. There's easily enough to do for a week in Branson, although my impression is that most people go for a few days."

Show rehersal at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Legends in Concert, Branson, Missouri.
Show rehersal at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Legends in Concert, Branson, Missouri.

Stephanie highly recommends the town to antiques shoppers. "If you're into antiques and collectibles, this is the place," she continues. "It's a cute little town with all kinds of ice cream shops and little boutiques. There's a store called 1946 that's endless. It's divided into 10 by 10 spaces, and each one is a different concession. I bought a Havilland Limoges tray, a very pretty little handpainted item, and it was only $19. And I saw a lot of Fiestaware: pitchers in every color you could imagine." Stephanie advises travelers to think about the cost of taking their purchases home or to plan ahead and leave room in the suitcase for a pitcher or two.

Blues Brothers performance, Legends in Concert, Branson, Missouri.
Blues Brothers performance, Legends in Concert, Branson, Missouri.

To reach Branson, Stephanie flew into St. Louis and rented a car. "I went online looking for a car and saw something for a full-size car for $21.99 a day," she recalls. "That's a good price. So I went through the process and it came to $200 for just 4 days. Why? Because the first day is $21.95. Each additional day is $49.95 plus tax! So you have to watch out – look at the final figure and think about what you're paying." Stephanie also suggests checking the rental company's policy on days. Companies can either charge by 24-hour days or calendar days. "You better know what's what, or you'll get charged for an extra day," she warns.

Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Branson, Missouri.
Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater, Branson, Missouri.

Guests Include:

Alexander Anolik, Renowned Travel Industry Attorney, author of 'Traveler's Rights, San Francisco, California, USA.
www.travellaw.com

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