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Encourage staff and managers to take their vacation time. Even a day or two of vacation can make a huge difference in employee motivation. Now is the best time to plan the summer schedule and ensure that your employees are taking those earned and deserved vacation days and Nevada .

USA Today published that some 51% of executives surveyed by Accountemps, Menlo Park, Calif., a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, maintain they are more productive after a vacation than before.

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Now there is more proof that vacations increase employee productivity and even improve overall health, as the Travel Industry Association released its conclusions from studies of data that looked at the health benefits of vacation travel.

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Packing for a vacation can be a maddening experience. You spend hours digging through your closets, chests of drawers, and other storage spaces looking for all the right clothes. Then comes the fun part: Trying to pack it all into a suitcase while staying under the weight limit. You surely don't want to get socked with a surcharge once you arrive at the airline ticket counter.

Throughout this mind-bending exercise, it's easy to overlook some very important steps that can help make your vacation go smoother, especially if you suffer a loss. Here are some suggestions to consider before packing your luggage.

1. Buy a backpack. Talk about versatile baggage. Forget that small piece of luggage that comes snuggled inside your main suitcase. A backpack has multiple storage compartments that secure with a zipper, and it easily stores in the overhead bins. Best of all, you can sling it over your shoulder for easy transport.

2. Store your valuables in the backpack during the flight. This will keep them in sight, but also protects them. A 35mm SLR camera and a handheld transceiver (H-T, to you ham radio ops out there), bit the dust on separate trips because I stashed them in the suitcase. Even though I wrapped them in clothing, they still got jostled enough to break. A very costly learning experience.

3. Make photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home or with a trusted friend. The others are stashed in your room safe. (If you don't have access to a safe, hide the paperwork in rolled up clothing.) If your passport is lost or stolen, the sooner you can provide the consulate or embassy with a photocopy, the faster you'll get a new passport. You may even consider scanning the appropriate page, and leaving that file home. Your contact there can easily e-mail the file, should that become necessary.

4. Copy any pertinent medical records and prescription information as above.

5. Record the lost/stolen number of your credit card company. Include the last eight digits of your card number for quick reference. Keep a copy in your room safe and hidden in your suitcase. (Remember that thieves are most interested in valuables and cash.)

6. Leave contact information in your suitcase. Don't rely solely on the hang tag provided by the airline or tour company. Those can tear off during flight. Stash a couple business cards inside your luggage (ditto for your backpack).

7. Buy a money pouch. These are great for storing cash and documents, including your passport. They are inexpensive and available in lots of places.

Yes, packing for a vacation can be a lot of work, but is worth it. Every moment spent carefully planning for contingencies just adds to the comfort as you are relaxing on the beach or in the pool.

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Texas is a great place to visit no matter what time of the year it is. Each part of Texas has a unique scenery to offer and it tends to stay pretty warm down south. You are sure to find a lot of great events whenever you decide to visit. Head down to warm San Antonio for the annual Wine Opener. This is an annual event held by the San Antonio Express-News. The wine festival features gold-medal winning wines from American and Foreign Vintners. San Antonio's River Walk also hosts the Bud Light Mardi Gras River parade. The event turns the River Walk into Bourbon Street on water. There parade runs from 3 to 5 pm and features live entertainment and costumed revelers.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world's largest stock show and rodeo. The competition lasts 20 days and features rodeo events, concerts, livestock and horse shows, carnivals, educational exhibits and children's activities. There is also great shopping and food. Rodeo Houston features a large number of entertainers including George Straight, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, ZZ Top, Alan Jackson, Los Lonely Boys, Gretchen Wilson and more.

The Dallas Mavericks are full swing in their season. You can't miss the NBA 2006 Western Conference Champions compete against other great NBA teams for a chance to make it to the Finals. The American Airlines Center hosts the Mavericks' home games and there are several home games in the month of February. While you are in Dallas, don't forget to hit the West End for great dining and entertainment. The West End features a large number of popular restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

If you are looking for some place a whole lot warmer, head down to Port Arthur for the Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas and Holiday Razzle Dazzle. The event features huge Mardi Gras parades and events. They also feature a large number of bands including Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, and a whole lot of zydeco music. The Amarillo National Center hosts the National Cutting Horse Association World Finals. This is a cutting horse event that draws competitors from all over North America. Exhibitors and horses make their way into Amarillo for a chance to be world champion and win up to $50,000. More than five hundred of the top cutters come to compete at this show. Texas is a huge state and each region has its own special attributes and sites to see.


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