When teardrop trailers first appeared in the late 1930s, they captured the fancy of a nation that was discovering paved roads, the thrill of the road trip and the joy of camping. Today, these tiny tag-alongs have made a big comeback, and there’s no indication that their popularity will fade anytime soon.
“It used to be that our biggest issue was awareness,” says Chris Baum, chief operating officer of Little Guy Teardrop Camper/Trailer in Massillon, Ohio. “But now we’ve been on shows like `The Price is Right’ and `Home Free.’ There’s a lot of interest.”
The mini-campers get their name from their distinctive sideways-teardrop shape. They’re small enough to be easily towed by a car or even a motorcycle, and light enough to move by hand.
“They’re lightweight and easy enough to move around, but they also get you off the ground so you feel safe,” Baum says.
Retro style, modern appeal
Sometime in the early 2000s, interest in the teardrop returned and today a growing number of enthusiasts are enjoying the “teardrop lifestyle.” The initial craze was born when magazines began publishing do-it-yourself plans for building the tiny trailers. Americans found them irresistible and, by the end of the 1940s, nearly three dozen U.S. manufacturers were making teardrops. The trailers could be purchased as complete, finished products or as kits; the ambitious do-it-yourselfer could even buy plans and build one from scratch.
Production of the lightweight trailers peaked in the 1950s but then, as larger trailers, campers and eventually RVs entered the market, the teardrop was all but forgotten.
Today, teardrop buyers span all age groups.
“Our demographic is all over the place,” Baum says. “We’re not relying on a certain group; our ideal client is anyone who wants to enjoy camping, doesn’t want to do the RV thing, and wants to keep their current vehicle.”
More than two dozen companies in America build custom teardrops, which allows buyers to choose the amenities and accessories that are important to them. Most teardrops are about four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long, although some are as long as 10 feet and others may be smaller.
The rebirth of the teardrop trailer has been buoyed by a global online community, with blogs, websites and forums devoted to different aspects of the teardrop lifestyle.
There are even “gatherings” of campers who get together for weekend (or longer) events; each year, Little Guy hosts TearStock, a “rolling home tour” that brings together teardrop owners for food, music, wine tasting – and, of course, admiring each other’s trailer. Baum says this year’s gathering drew about 150 attendees.
State and regional chapters of teardrop clubs also meet on a semi-regular basis.
“There are more than 50 teardrop organizations around the country,” Baum says. “There’s so much customization today that people just want to see what others are doing. And there’s the feeling of being part of something that’s so much cooler than what most people have.”
Thinking big, living small
Trailers can hold up to a king-size mattress, and Baum says people are surprised to learn how much room is inside.
The typical teardrop has just enough room for a mattress that sleeps two, and outside there’s usually a small chuck-wagon style kitchen that has a propane stove, stainless steel sink, water tank and icebox – enough to prepare meals, but don’t plan a dinner party. Do plan to park near a bathroom when you stop for the night, however, because there’s no room for such a luxury in a teardrop.
Those who want to try the teardrop lifestyle should probably rent one for a few days, and those who are ready to buy have a number of options. Forums and sites like Craigslist are a good source for used trailers, or you can buy a kit for as little as $2,500 and build it yourself. Starting prices for a new teardrop are around $5,000, although they can run more than double that for replicas of the 1940s and 1950s trailers.
“You can go online and watch videos, but the best thing to do is just to go see one for yourself,” Baum advises. “It’s important to crawl inside one if you want to understand what it’s all about.”
Life insurance might not make headlines or trend on Twitter, but it is important to talk about. Forty-three percent of Americans say they would feel a financial burden within six months if the chief wage earner in the family died. Yet, just 44% of Americans have life insurance.
To help consumers understand various policy options, here are 10 questions you should know the answer to before buying life insurance:
Question #1: How does life insurance work?
At its core, a life insurance policy provides your family with an amount of money, called a death benefit, should you as the insured die.
Question #2: My employer offers life insurance. Why should I buy an additional policy?
Your employer’s plan may be affordable and easy to enroll in, but the policy may not provide enough of a monetary benefit to your family if you die. In addition, you may not be able to continue the policy if you change jobs. That’s why it’s always recommended to have an additional life insurance policy.
Question #3: From whom should I buy life insurance?
Look for a reputable company with name recognition and a history of serving consumers.
Question #4: How much life insurance do I need?
There are two major factors to consider here: your debt, and your spouse and children’s needs.
You want enough life insurance to pay off all of your debts – such as your mortgage and car loans. In addition, you want to leave behind enough money for your family to continue their current lifestyle. An insurance agent can crunch these numbers for you.
Question #5: Do I have to get a medical exam to get a policy?
Some policies may be available without a medical exam, but those might be more expensive.
Question #6: What’s the difference between term and permanent policies?
Term life insurance provides a death benefit for a certain period of time, usually 10, 20 or 30 years, and is typically less expensive than permanent life insurance.
Permanent life insurance provides both death benefits, and sometimes may build up cash value. It’s more expensive than term insurance but never expires, provided you pay your premium.
Question #7: Why are there so many permanent life insurance options?
There are a handful of permanent life insurance options – but the most common are: Whole Life, Universal Life and Variable Life. Permanent life insurance typically requires more premium, but it is designed to last for an entire lifetime. It’s something you’ll want to discuss with your insurance agent.
Question #8: Will my premiums increase?
It’s important to know what your premiums will look like in the future. Some policies are designed to have guaranteed premiums that will never increase, and others are designed to be flexible.
Question #9: What is involved in purchasing life insurance?
Life insurance companies will want to get an understanding of the health of the individual who is applying for the insurance coverage. This underwriting process will typically involve meeting with a medical professional to gather personal information such as height, weight, blood work, and medical and personal questions.
Question #10: When is the best time to buy life insurance?
The sooner you buy life insurance, the more money you’ll save. Young, healthy policyholders get great rates, but older consumers need protection, too. Bottom line – if you don’t have life insurance, talk with an agent today.
If you still have questions about life insurance, check out these helpful resources which can help you find out more about different types of life insurance and how much insurance you’ll need.
More than half of U.S. adults bank online, according to Pew Research Center, and about a third of them bank via cell phone. Given the popularity, it’s important to ask; Is online banking safe?
Despite concerns about identity theft, online banking is as safe as any other banking transaction, says Murray W. Kenyon, senior vice president of technology risk management for BITS Financial Services Roundtable. However, when consumers conduct transactions online, they need to be conscious of their decisions because certain online behaviors can put them at risk, he adds.
Here are six online banking security tips to help keep your money and identity safe:
1.Change your password regularly
The best thing consumers can do to protect themselves is to change their passwords every 90 days, Kenyon says. Never use a word and always use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Words are too easy to guess, particularly if they’re related to your persona, such as your mother’s maiden name, the street where you live or your pet’s name.
The longer the password, the better, Kenyon adds. Many government agencies require passwords to be at least 14 characters. Kenyon offers this tip for creating a long password that is easy to remember: Pick a well-known verse and add numbers and letters to it that will be easy to remember. Make your password even harder to crack by replacing letters with special characters.
2. Refrain from using public computers or Wi-Fi when banking online
Anytime you are using public Wi-Fi, you have to assume that someone can access your browser history and your password. So if you are doing anything that requires you to log in, such as banking or reading email, you are putting yourself at risk, Kenyon says. This applies even if you have your email or other password-protected sites set up to automatically insert your password for you and log in.
3. Check your bank statement regularly
Check your bank statement each month, Kenyon suggests. Even though banks are highly skilled at recognizing fraud, particularly with credit cards, they might not always be able to catch every questionable transaction among every customer, so you should be sure to review your statement monthly.
4. Use licensed anti-virus software
Even Mac users need to invest in good anti-virus software, Kenyon says. Be sure to check for updates frequently. Either set your computer to check for updates automatically and alert you or plan to check yourself every Saturday or Sunday morning. But, Kenyon warns, don’t set your computer to download the update automatically. Downloading manually provides the best protection from malware and viruses.
5. Disconnect your Internet when not using it
Computers that are always connected to the Internet are vulnerable. Most consumers get their internet through their cable company and the Wi-Fi is always on. Be sure your Wi-Fi is password-protected, Kenyon states, and if you can, it’s a good idea to disconnect your computer from the Wi-Fi when you’re not using it.
6. Type your bank URL every time instead of using email links
Never click on a URL in an email, even if it looks like it’s from a trusted source, Kenyon says. “The email and link might look very legitimate but it could take you somewhere you don’t want to go,” he says. Always retype the URL into your computer before using it or bookmark your bank’s actual authenticated site, especially if you are using it for an online transaction or to provide sensitive information.
For more online banking security tips on protecting your accounts, as well as a cyber-security quiz to test your digital habits, visit Nationwide’s cyber security resource center. Nationwide Financial is a member of the Financial Services Roundtable.
Planning on doing some long distance driving? These long road trips tips can help you get there safely and comfortably.
If you’re taking a long road trip, you need to plan in advance. And we’re not just talking about packing. “Highway hypnosis” is quite common when travelers haven’t prepared for the endurance demands of an extended haul. In fact, more than 60 percent of drivers say they’ve gotten behind the wheel while drowsy, according to a survey by mattress retailer Sleepy’s.
With that statistic in mind, you should take steps to prepare for long drives before you get behind the wheel—and to stay alert and energized throughout your trip. These tips for long drives will help you down the road.
1. Stock your sleep time
Think about exhaustion before you begin your journey, not after. Get at least seven hours of sleep for two consecutive nights before the road trip to build up your energy reserves. “Also, try to avoid driving between 1 and 3 p.m., when the body’s temperature is lower and people are naturally drowsy,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a.k.a. “The Sleep Doctor.”
2. Fuel up
This time, we mean fuel for you, not your car. Carrying along a variety of vitamin-packed, healthy foods will allow you to get by on smaller snacks throughout the long drive, while skipping the fast-food stops. “To stay alert, carrots and almonds are my favorite,” says blogger and travel expert Gretchen Breuner from TheRoadScholarz.com.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep the water supply well-stocked for maximum energy. “A possible downside of this, of course, is that you’ll need to make more bathroom stops,” says Breuner, who traveled to 19 states with her family in an RV in three months. To learn more about items to stock your car with, check out this list of 5 must-have emergency items.
4. Plan your stops
One of the most crucial tips for long road trips is to get out of your car and stretch your legs every two hours or so, our experts suggest. Plan these stops into your long distance drive, whether they fall at mealtimes or can be timed to let you view interesting places.
5. Chew gum
The repetitive process increases circulation and alertness. “You don’t need the sugary kind to get the desired effect,” says Breus, who is a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
6. Use good scents
During long distance driving, Breus also recommends keeping a source of peppermint scent nearby. When you feel you need a boost, take a sniff. “It’s a pleasant, all-natural pick-me-up that has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase alertness,” he says.
7. Sit up straight
Make sure your seat is adjusted properly for your body, tilted for maximum blood flow. If you feel a driving “trance” coming on, sit up. “Take a deep breath and scan your body for tension,” says yoga teacher and wellness specialist Elaine Masters, of DrivetimeYoga.com. “If your right hip is feeling sore, for example, lean to the other side.”
8. Keep passengers entertained
Long drives—especially with kids—can often lead to bickering. That kind of aggravation leads to driver fatigue. So make sure children are entertained with books, puzzles and other time-killing diversions. On the flip side, games such as “find the license plate” are great for keeping everyone engaged with one another.
9. Treat yourself to some sounds
Books on tape help keep the brain active, without creating a dangerous distraction. Breus recommends listening to humorous books or even comedy CDs. “Laughing,” he says, “will keep you awake.”
These tips for long drives can help keep you and your car protected on the road. For more defensive driving tips, check out these 9 safe driving habits you should know.
In addition to safe driving habits, your insurance policy is key to protecting you while driving. Learn more about Sterling Peaks Insurance’s auto insurance coverage, including our 24/7 Roadside Assistance option.
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