Great places to visit when visiting Washington DC in the Fall.


Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Washington DC area as fall colors of red, yellow, purple, and brown start blanketing everything from the National Mall to charming neighborhoods. The beginning of fall offers an assortment of opportunities to enjoy the uniqueness of the nation’s capital. 

For some, fall brings the spookiness of Halloween, for others the perfect tailgating weather, or early evening meet-ups at local restaurant patios. Regardless of the tradition, it seems the phenomenon of autumn brings a particular excitement. To make the most out of your fall experience Rachel Cooper from TripSavvy offers some popular places to enjoy fall foliage in the capital region.

Rock Creek Park

One of the largest parks in Washington, D.C., and the third-oldest in the nation, Rock Creek Park stretches 30 miles from Montgomery County, Maryland, to downtown D.C. Here, you can enjoy some leaf-peeping and a picnic, take a hike, bike, or horseback ride, or attend a park ranger program.

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Washington.org

Throughout the year, you can explore the Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium, the historic Peirce Mill, or Old Stone House. Popular annual fall events include the Rock Creek Park Day in late September and the Heritage Festival in mid-October. Admission to Rock Creek Park and all attractions within the park is free.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Starting in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park spans over 184 miles to Cumberland, Maryland, and offers guests breathtaking vistas and plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, fish, boat, and horseback ride along the towpath.

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 Guillermo Olaizola / Getty Images

Access to the park boasting more than 20,000 acres is free, except for the Great Falls Entrance Station, where you can purchase passes near the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Popular events this time of year include the Dulcimer Music at Great Falls series, “A Very Retail Georgetown” historic walking tour, and Scary Stories on the Canal at the Great Falls Tavern.

United States National Arboretum

The United States National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., is a living museum that showcases 446 acres of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. You can tour the gardens on your own by foot, car, or bicycle or take the 40-minute tram ride and hear an informative taped narrative about the Arboretum, its history, and the display gardens and collections.

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Japanese maple trees in park, autumn (Connie Coleman / Getty Images)

The National Arboretum offers a variety of hikes and public education programs throughout the year, but they typically wind down for the winter season. In October, you can catch the annual Under the Arbor: Chile Pepper Celebration in the National Herb Garden or try some full moon forest bathing in the middle of October.

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

The 500-acre estate of George Washington, located along the shores of the Potomac River in Mount Vernon, Virginia, is exceptionally beautiful during the fall foliage season. You can tour the estate while you’re there, but make sure you spend plenty of time outdoors exploring the gardens and taking in the natural scenery, too. 

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Peter Johansky / Getty Images

Fall Harvest Family Days, Fall Dried Wreath Workshops, and Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon are among the most popular annual events on the estate. 

Great Falls Park

Stretching from Great Falls, Virginia, to Potomac, Maryland, Great Falls Park has some of the most spectacular views in the region. At various overlook points spread throughout the 800-acre park, you can witness all of the vibrant fall colors from 50-foot cliffs overlooking the Potomac River. Great Falls also offers hiking and biking trails, and picnic areas. 

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flownaksala / Getty Images

Due to flooding during the hurricane season (September through November), some trails and locations may be inaccessible. Swimming and entering the river are prohibited at the park due to deadly currents and flood possibilities, though kayaking with safety measures taken is allowed. Admission costs depend on if you are entering by vehicle or on foot, bike, or horseback, and grant access for seven consecutive days.

Seneca Creek State Park

Located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Seneca Creek State Park spans over 6,300 acres alongside 14 miles of Seneca Creek. During October and November, you can spend an entire day hiking through the park, snapping pictures of the fall foliage reflected in the water.

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Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

The park is also home to the 90-acre Clopper Lake, hiking trails, a disc golf course, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a restored 19th-century cabin. You can witness all the brilliant fall foliage from the lake by renting a boat, canoe, or kayak (or bringing your own), and there are also plenty of opportunities to fish from the shore. There is a charge for Maryland residents and a higher charge for out-of-state guests to enter the park.

Sugarloaf Mountain

This small mountain in Dickerson, Maryland, is a National Historic Landmark with an elevation of 1,282 feet and a vertical height of 800 feet above the surrounding farmland. In addition, Strong Mansion on Sugarloaf Mountain is a popular destination that hosts events year-round.

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Matthew T. Carroll / Getty Images 

Hikers can enjoy striking views of foliage along the trails, including several well-marked loops ranging in distance from 2.5 to 7 miles. Horseback riding and picnicking are additional recreational possibilities. Those driving can also pull up to the Sugarloaf Mountain lookout point get equally stunning views. Access to both is free year-round.

Cunningham Falls State Park

In the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont, Maryland, Cunningham Falls State Park has a 78-foot cascading waterfall, a lake, and hiking trails ranging from 0.5 miles to 8 miles long. The park is a great place to enjoy outdoor recreation all year, featuring swimming, fishing, canoeing, camping, and events throughout the summer and fall.

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Brittany22bm / Getty Images

Costs at the park are slightly higher if you are from out of state. You can rent camping and hiking gear from the park store.

Black Hills Regional Park

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Can Onur Gunay / EyeEm / Getty Images

Covering over 2,000 acres in Boyds, Maryland, Black Hill Regional Park offers a wide variety of activities, including hiking, picnicking, boating, and guided nature programs. Visitors can enjoy spectacular views over Little Seneca Lake, and hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can explore miles of trails in the park. There is also a visitor center that hosts nature programs and offers interpretive tours throughout the year, which are child-friendly.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is located about an hour outside of Washington in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and was the site of a famous battle in the American Civil War. The park covers over 2,300 acres and also crosses into Maryland and Virginia. Visitors can enjoy a variety of scenic hiking trails and exploring the historic town, ranger-guided tours, craft shops, museums, and restaurants.

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Walter Bibikow / Getty Images 

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is open year-round, but some areas may be inaccessible in the winter months. Admission costs to the park are higher if entering per vehicle than if arriving on foot or bicycle, and you can also purchase an annual pass to save money.

Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park is located in Fairfax Station, Virginia, and offers a wide variety of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and boating on the 218-acre lake within the park’s 888 acres. There is also a miniature train, a carousel, an 18-hole, par-3 golf course, disk golf horseshoe pits, an amphitheater, and a miniature golf course onsite.

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ablokhin / Getty Images

Burke Lake Park is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, depending on the weather, and then on weekends until late October. There is no entrance fee for Fairfax County residents, but non-residents must pay on weekends and holidays only (weekdays are free).

Special events at Burke Lake Park include a sunset cruise, the annual Fall Family Campout, and the special Halloween campfire in October, as well as several fall foliage boat tours offered throughout November (until the leaves fall).


As we enter the fall season, take the opportunity to acknowledge the many blessings we enjoy in our lives. Don’t let the noise of our busy world distract you from the beauty of nature’s transition. Take a few minutes and stand still and take in the sights, the smells, and the feeling of life. (Andrew Appleton)

Travel Agent Training Video

Welcome to the world of travel! I thought I would create a quick video to explain our military travel agent program and how you can start your own home-based business.

The Travel Agent Online Training Program will teach you all you need to know to start a travel career. You will learn about the airline industry, ground transportation, hotels and resorts, cruises, tours, international and domestic travel, reservations and pricing, specialty travel, and more.  

This online program consists of three modules. You will first participate in a travel career development program, which will teach you the basics of the travel industry, followed by a second module in which you will study geography for leisure travel professionals, focusing on destinations all over the world that you are most likely to recommend and sell to your clients. In the final module you will choose the GDS computer reservation system you wish to study. We will help you to select the proper GDS system to best achieve your career goals.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Our limited for this week is five new agents so if you are interested please register quickly. The price is $200 after the promotion code and there are no other fees or ongoing costs.

Thanks!

Andrew, CEO (USMC Veteran)

Disney Parks Salutes U.S. Military with Special Ticket Offers, Room Rates in 2020

Disney Destinations continues to honor active-duty and retired members of the U.S. military with special offers on theme park admissions and resort stays at Walt Disney World® Resort for most dates in 2020.  

Members of the U.S. Military can choose between 4-Day, 5-Day, and, new for 2020, 6-Day Military Salute Tickets. A 4-Day ticket costs $265, a 5-Day ticket costs $283, and a 6-Day ticket costs $301. The Park Hopper Option is included on all Military Salute Tickets, and the Park Hopper Plus Option can be added to each ticket for $50. Prices are the same for both children and adults. Tickets must be used during the period from January 1, 2020 through December 18, 2020. 

Your Clients can purchase tickets at U.S. Military Bases. Military Salute tickets will also be available to purchase at Walt Disney World Resort theme park ticket windows beginning January 1, 2020. Tax is added to the price of the tickets when purchasing at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows. Because a valid military ID is required at time of purchase, Travel Advisors cannot purchase Military Salute tickets on their Client’s behalf. 


Your Clients can also enjoy great rates at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays most nights January 1 through April 4 and April 19 through December 18, 2020 when booked by December 18, 2020*. Travel Advisors can book these rates on their client’s behalf by calling the Disney Reservation Center. Valid Military ID will be required upon check-in and military member (or spouse) must stay in the room. 

Memory Maker will also be available for a special price of $98 from January 1, 2020 through December 18, 2020 and can only be purchased at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows.   

Disneyland® Resort Military Salute Tickets will go on sale beginning November 5, 2019. Special room rates are now available for booking at Disneyland® Resort by visiting with a Military Travel Agent. Stay tuned to Disney Travel News for more information! 

Here are some other important details you should know: 

  • Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased at participating U.S. military sales outlets by Eligible Service Members (defined below) or their spouses (but not both), for use by themselves and family members and friends, as provided herein. These Tickets may not be otherwise transferred, distributed or resold. 
  • “Eligible Service Members” are active or retired members of the U.S. Military, including the National Guard, Reservists, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Spouses of Military Service Members also qualify if they are able to present valid and active U.S. Military IDs in the absence of active or retired Military Personnel or Commissioned Corps Members. 
  • The actual prices charged at the individual U.S. military base ticket offices for Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be less than the prices set forth above. 
  • Participating military sales outlets must require that Eligible Service Members (or their spouses) present valid military identification to purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets. 
  • Subject to certain exceptions, Disney 4-Day, 5-Day and 6-Day Military Promotional Tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort are not valid until activated by the Eligible Services Members (or their spouses) at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows. 
  • Tickets and options expire and may not be used after December 18, 2020. Valid military identification will be required for purchase and use. 
  • No more than six (6) Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased and (if applicable) activated by any Eligible Service Member or spouse (regardless of the place of purchase and whether purchased by that person or that person’s spouse). In addition, one of the six (6) Tickets purchased must be used by the Eligible Service Member or his/her spouse. 
  • Each Disney Military Promotional Ticket must be used by the same person on any and all days. 

*Room offers are subject to availability as the number of rooms allocated for these offers are limited. Eligible Service Members or spouse must present a valid military identification at check-in. If valid military ID is not presented, the non-discounted room price will be charged for the duration of the stay. Offer is non-transferable, and Eligible Service Member/spouse must stay in the room. Not valid on previously booked rooms. Advance reservations required. Not valid in combination with any other hotel discounts or offers. Subject to restrictions and change without notice. Separate Theme Park admission required to enjoy the Parks. Additional per adult charges may apply if there are more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Offer excludes suites in Moderate and Deluxe Resort hotels. Advance reservations required. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Length of stay requirements may apply. Offer excludes the following room types: 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. 

Military Cruises with Disney

Disney offers great rates and specials for the military community. Please make sure you double check with one of our spouse & veteran certified Disney Agents before booking.

Discover spectacular destinations, magical experiences and breathtaking ports of call. Enchanting locations include majestic Alaska, the tropical Caribbean, the blissful Bahamas, and more than 15 European countries. Itineraries may fill up quickly, so don’t wait too long to book your cruise!

Magic for Every Member of Your Crew.

When you set sail with Disney, you’ll experience an unforgettable vacation that boasts fun and leisure for each and every member of the family so that no one ever has to compromise. Whether it’s relaxing “me time” for adults, imaginative activities for the kids or thrilling entertainment for the whole family, a Disney cruise invites everyone to enjoy their favorites—and share in the magic together.

Read more

Onboard Activities

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When you set sail with Disney, you can be sure an unforgettable vacation is always on the horizon. Overflowing with imaginative fun for the kids, unique recreational offerings for adults and thrilling entertainment for the entire family, every Disney ship in the fleet provides fun for one and all, so that no one ever has to compromise. Discover the excitement and magic that awaits you on board.

We look forward to assisting you with your next vacation.

5 Tips on planning your Recruit Graduation Travel.

Congratulations on your loved one attending basic military training. Joining one of the United States military branches is honorable and opens the door to an exciting life journey. I am proud to be a US Marine Corps veteran and look back at my days in boot camp as a launching pad for the many habits I demonstrate daily in my professional life.

Over the past ten plus years, I have had the honor of supporting the travel needs of the military community, specifically with travel related to boot camp graduation. I want to share a few tips I have discovered over the years in hopes of making your trip to graduation a great experience.

My five big tips are:

  • Reserve your hotel early
  • Book your flight through a dependable source
  • Ensure your flight reservations can be changed or cancelled
  • Purchase your recruit’s flight if leave is an option after graduation
  • Plan your trip, so you don’t miss any of the activities

First. Hotels are easy to reserve and often require no deposit and can be canceled within 72 hours before arrival. Unfortunately, many of the hotels located by military bases are limited and book quickly. And in some cases, such as San Diego in the summer months, rates sky-rocket to over $300 per night. In some cases, hotels offer free amenities to military families such as free breakfast, shuttle service to graduation, and late check out.

As a travel agency we have access to all available hotel inventory and any promotions being offered. We recently partnered with Expedia and Booking.com and can often beat any of the rates you find on their sites using our agency accreditation. Use our Hotel Rate Verification tool to make sure you are booking the best rate.

No Deposits. Free Cancellations.

My Recommendation: reserve your hotel the day your recruit leaves for boot training. We will make sure you can cancel or modify the dates with no penalties.

Second. I am a big believer in saving money on flights; however, as a travel agent, I am very familiar with the many pitfalls of booking ‘cheap tickets.’ There are a variety of sources, including online sites, such as Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak that offer cheap fares. These online sites sell millions of tickets and not trained in military travel. With such an important trip you need an agent that has ‘been there, done that.”

Let our agents share their decades of experience working with military families to ensure you are booking the right flight.

My Recommendation: book your tickets through our agency and we will take care of you before, during, and after your trip. All of our agents are veterans or active duty spouses. We will make sure you have the best fare, the right times, and can change your ticket.

Third. Ensure your flight reservations can be changed or refunded. In most cases, the cheapest tickets are booked as Basic Economy and can’t be changed or canceled for any reason. Once you purchase the ticket, you must use it or lose it. And with Basic tickets you are not eligible for seat assignment until you arrive at the airport. And finally, don’t wait to buy your ticket until the 8th week of training. The fares will be extraordinarily high and limited.

My Recommendation: book your flights to graduation once your recruit passes the 3rd week of training. Most recruits’ are acclimated and the chances of them not completing training has reduced greatly.

Book an Economy class ticket which we can change without a fee in case graduation dates change due to injury. And most importantly, when booking through one of our agents, you will receive a 100% refund if your recruit doesn’t complete training.

Four. Purchase your recruit’s flight if leave is an option after graduation. Depending on the branch of service your recruit may receive leave after graduation. For example, the Marine Corps has a mandatory 10-day leave once graduation is complete. The recruit (new Marine) is free to leave once the ceremony is over, which means they need to purchase an airline ticket home and back to training. Active duty members can be booked as a ‘military class’ passenger and benefit from specials fares and perks. However, this is not an option on an online travel site.

My Recommendation: If your budget allows you should book your recruit’s ticket when you purchase your own. This will ensure your new Marine is on your same flight, and second, you will take the worry away from your recruit (they have enough to worry about). Recruits must wait until week 8 or 9 before they have the opportunity to purchase their ticket; and again, fares will be higher and seats on your flight not available. And by the way, we can make sure they are receiving any available military discounts.

Five. Plan your trip, so you don’t miss any of the activities. Most of the graduations offer a variety of events before the actual graduation ceremony. It is essential to schedule your flights accordingly and take advantage of everything offered. There are several options of airports to choose from, and often the distance from the military base will differ.

For example, families attending the Marine Corps graduation in Parris Island can choose between Savannah (60 minutes from the base) or Charleston (90 minutes from the base).

My Recommendation: Let us verify the activities and provide you with the most up-to-date schedule and the best airport. We can search for flights that allow you to arrive with enough time to rent a car and check in to your hotel. In many cases, flights are available shortly after graduation saving you a few dollars by not paying for an extra night. And believe me, your recruit will be ready to head home.

I know this is a lot of information and can seem overwhelming. For that reason, we offer free travel planning and are always available for a call. Don’t go this alone. Let our experienced military agents support your needs and take away your stress.

Congratulations again, and have a wonderful trip.

Why Work With a Travel Advisor?

You can book travel yourself – but why would you want to? A Virtuoso travel advisor elevates every trip. They know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to their global connections, they can VIP you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and more. With a portfolio of nearly 1,700 top hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more, Virtuoso represents the best of the best in travel.

A great travel advisor…

…takes it from ordinary to extraordinary.

A Virtuoso travel advisor can secure special benefits that you can’t get on your own, such as complimentary breakfast, spa credits, and upgrades at hotels. But they also see the nuances in every trip. From big-picture aspects (where to go – and when) to the details that matter (booking the hotel rooms with the best views, where to get the most authentic pizza on the Amalfi Coast), your travel advisor knows how to plan a memorable trip.

In bloom in Sant’Angelo on the Italian island of Ischia.
 
Photo by Photo by GoneWithTheWindStock/iStock/Getty Images Plus
In bloom in Sant’Angelo on the Italian island of Ischia.
 
Photo by Photo by GoneWithTheWindStock/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Looking to become a Certified Home-based travel agent? Learn more.

…knows the world.

Just as you might use a financial planner, an interior designer, or personal shopper, it makes sense to entrust your most valuable asset – your time – to an experienced travel advisor.  The best advisors spend a lot of time on the road themselves – scouting out hotels, deepening relationships with tour guides, and finding the best restaurants and things to do. 

Watching the sunset over temples in Myanmar.

…knows your travel style.

A Virtuoso travel advisor understands what’s most important to you and your traveling companions. You may want to take a cooking class or a private tour, or you may not want to leave the resort pool! Perhaps you want to use travel to educate your kids, plan an unforgettable anniversary trip, or celebrate a milestone birthday with friends and family. Your Virtuoso travel advisor will have plenty of suggestions on what might work best for you.

Relaxing with food and wine along the coast of Greece.

…expands your horizons.

A great travel advisor will help you think creatively about where to go and what to do. Italy, France, and Hawaii will always be popular. But your advisor also knows the best ways, say, to see Chile, Portugal, New Zealand, and many other hot destinations – plus new ways to experience the places you’ve already visited. Together, you can plan your next dream trip or weekend getaway. 

Spelunking in Iceland.

…can handle anything.

Have you ever been on a trip where everything went exactly as planned? Right – this almost never happens. Issues are bound to pop up, and your Virtuoso travel advisor is your personal help line and “fixer” who knows how to quickly turn things around for the better. When they follow up after your trip, you’ll surely have an answer to this question: “Where do you want to go next?”

Camel ride in Egypt.

Ask a certified TravelAgent for your next trip.

14 Islands of the Bahamas are Ready to Welcome Visitors With Open Arms

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The Islands of the Bahamas is an archipelago with more than 700 islands and thousands of cays spread out over 100,000 square miles of ocean, starting just 50 miles south east of the coast of Florida. While the country grieves the devastation Hurricane Dorian brought upon two of the most northern islands, Grand Bahama and The Abacos, there is a silver lining. The majority of The Bahamas, including 14 of the most commonly visited islands, remains unaffected by the storm. The warm and friendly people of The Bahamas, along with hotel and travel partners, from Bimini to Nassau and Paradise Island, The Exumas to Inagua, are ready to welcome travelers with open arms.

As the public seeks information on how they can best help the country recover, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) urges consumers to know that the best thing they can do for the country, now more than ever, is simple: visit The Bahamas. Airports, cruise ports, hotels and attractions throughout the Northern, Central and Southern Bahamas are open and operating.

These islands include:

  • Nassau and Paradise Island
  • The Exumas
  • Eleuthera and Harbour Island
  • Bimini
  • Andros
  • The Berry Islands
  • Cat Island
  • Long Island
  • San Salvador
  • Rum Cay
  • Acklins and Crooked Island
  • Mayaguana
  • Inagua
You've shown us great love. We're so grateful, we'd like to return the favor. 14 islands welcome you with open arms. Map of the Islands of the Bahamas

“Maintaining a robust tourism industry will be vital in helping the country to recover and rebuild,” said Bahamas Minister of Tourism & Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar. “We are grateful for the outpouring of support and love for our islands, and we would like everyone to know that the best thing they can do for us right now is visit Nassau, Paradise Island and the Out Islands. Our beautiful island nation is ready to welcome you.”

Travelers should visit www.bahamas.com to learn about the unique characteristics of each Bahamian island and find the one, or two or three, that best suits them. Bahamas.com is a portal to vacation discovery with a wealth of resources for planning a trip. Travelers can start with the Island Finder – an interactive tool that measures personal preferences to match consumers with the island for them – then explore a pre-approved list of Places to Stay and an always-updated database of Deals & Packages to book. For island cuisine, upscale resorts and endless family activities, Nassau and Paradise Island are where turquoise waters and culture collide. For a quaint, boutique getaway where the sand is as pink as the colonial cottages, visit Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The options are infinite.

In addition to planning a trip to The Bahamas, monetary donations to a reputable relief organization are most critical at this time. Those who wish to contribute can find a list of The Bahamas’ verified partners at www.bahamas.com/relief.