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camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I’m definitely a 5-star resort kind of girl . I love luxury, lazy rivers, hot tubs, and wifi. I blame my husband. Before him, I was the outdoorsy type. I’m not sure if I loved roughing it or I just grew up in a family of 6, so roughing it was the standard on vacation. I never considered that RVing is the best family trip you can take your children on.

I could often be found hiking, swimming, rolling down some grassy hill, laying outside looking up at the stars or just staring in wonder at the natural beauty surrounding me. I took great pleasure in the simple things. The beauty of a sunset, the grass beneath me and the sand and surf between my toes. These things made me happy.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I graduated from university, started having babies, a bad back and no time. Suddenly, 5-star resorts became my gold standard. I’m not afraid to admit that I adore a good room service breakfast in bed. Achy bones and a weary body make a good bed and a deep tub my happy place. Until a couple years ago.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family should go RVing before their Kids Grow Up

I attended an epic road trip with Ford where I drove from Kamloops to Calgary and it was a life-changing moment for me. I was reminded of how truly awesome this world is and how it is ever changing. I knew then that I needed to share this with our girls.

I came home from that trip changed forever. I wanted nothing more than to immerse them in that inspiring, mind-blowing beauty in person; to see how breathtaking mother earth is without the distractions and noise of everyday life. I wanted to take them to this quiet solitude with nothing but the hum of cicadas, the soft summer breeze as it rustles the trees and the crash of the surf meets the shore. I wanted them to hear the ripple of their life that you can only hear when alone in nature.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

My love for nature is innate. Both of my parents descend from farmers, so we appreciate the earth because we know it gives life. I guess I just never realized how damn beautiful she was until that moment in Banff. I was ready to share this immediately but photos can’t do justice to that sort of beauty. It always falls short plus that kind of natural peace has to be felt to be understood. But due to circumstances beyond my control, that moment would have to wait.

Finally, last month, we got the chance to give them a taste of all that beauty. We took the girls on a camping trip to Michigan, courtesy of the Traverse City KOA and GoRVing and it did not disappoint.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

A bad back and age sometimes make me feel like I’m in my 80’s. But, I dream of sharing all the national parks in the United States with my girls; being outdoors and appreciating the small things that we take for granted so often. I want them to look up at the sky at night and see the millions of stars surrounded by nothing but nature and love. I want them to see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky and be left breathless. To do all of that, you have to leave the bright lights of the city and go to where nature is still untouched. You have to go camping to really be in it.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We stayed in a stationary RV that looks just like a cabin but is actually built on an RV chassis and towed to its final destination by towingless.com. It was gorgeous and perfect for the first time camper, the person who wants to be one with nature but prefers indoor plumbing with a grease trap installation to improve the house, the avid glamper or those of us who just might prefer some of the luxuries of home, while communing with nature.

READ ALSO: The Secret to the Best Road Trip Ever

However, you slice it, I would highly recommend staying at the Traverse City KOA and renting a GoRVing RV, stationary or otherwise. You won’t be disappointed. I know we weren’t. It had all the comforts of home, including tv and WiFi, which we didn’t really use but it was nice to know it was available if we needed it.

Our trip was for 4 days and it was the best vacation we had all summer. We travel a lot and we do love it. We love big cities and exciting things but being in nature is a different kind of vacation. There was no need for scheduling and planning. The only plan was to get on the open road, enjoy one another and the nature all around us.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Camping is the kind of trip that refuels your soul. There was something absolutely magical about sharing the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my daughters, swimming on a private beach and eating the best pizza ever at a market.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We combed the beach for rocks to make kindness rocks for others. We danced and sang with our tweens as we barbecued outside and laughed so hard that we cried while sitting around a bonfire talking and roasting smores. It was magical because we slowed down enough to just be with one another. We talked. We listened. We laughed. We came back together stronger.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I don’t know about you and your family but I suspect it’s similar to mine, we work all the time. We work hard. Between the Big Guy and I working, the girls going to school and 6 days of ballet a week, there is not a lot of time for just being, as much as we would love more of it. We try to have dinner together and we do talk to each other every day. We make the effort to ask questions even when we are all so busy and tired all we want is a nap and some silence. Camping together allowed the rest of the world to fall away for four days and it was just us and nature and it was truly the most special time.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Before we even got home, the Big Guy was talking about making this an annual trip. But I think we want more. I’m hoping to get to take my family to the national parks out west next summer, hopefully in an RV. I want that togetherness that camping provides.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I only have 6 more summers with my oldest daughter before she goes off to college and that fact is not lost on me. Each moment is precious. I’d love to have at least 6 more RV camping trips with our girls. I want them to look back on their childhood fondly and remember all the magical moments together standing in awe of the beauty of nature surrounded by all the love.

Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On, sleeping bear dunes, camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I want to extend a sincere thank you to GoRVing.com and the Traverse City KOA for facilitating this absolutely magical trip for my family. It’s changed the way we vacation. I guess I’m not as much of the 5-star hotel girl as I thought I was. The outdoorsy me is still inside and begging to sleep out under the stars.

If you don’t have an RV, staying in a park model cabin like the one we stayed in is a popular option to try out the RV lifestyle.  Some campgrounds also have travel trailers all set up on site available for rent.
In addition, there are some companies like Camp N Style located in San Diego that will bring an RV (could be a travel trailer or a motorhome) right to the campground and hook it up so when you get there, its ready to go!  These are generally equipped with pots, pans, dishes, full kitchen & bath, AC & heat, too!.

Ready to plan an RV adventure of your own?  Visit GoRVing.com for info on how to get started, how to choose the RV that’s right for you, where to go, what to bring and so much more!

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Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay on your next family vacation., walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Going to Walt Disney World on vacation is one of a kind experience. There is nothing else like it in the world. However, staying in Walt Disney World Resorts takes that vacation to an entirely new level. Aside from being fully immersed in the Disney experience, there are lots of perks and extra magic involved in staying on property. Can you say Free Disney Dining Plan? Yes, some magical promotions include free food. If you are wondering which are the best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at, I’ve got you covered.

We’ve vacationed to Walt Disney World several times and no trip has been the same. That is part of the magic of a Disney vacation. You can have a different adventure every single time. We’ve gone as newlyweds, as a couple and with our daughters. We’ve stayed in several of the Disney Resorts and we’ve stayed off grounds and, for us, staying on property is our favorite way to vacation at Disney World.

READ ALSO: Secrets To Use Disney Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

I imagine for first-timers, you may ask yourself, “Why stay on property when there are so many affordable resort options so close?” You make a valid point, on paper but once you’ve spent a Disney vacation staying in Walt Disney World Resorts with your family, you will know why you’ll never want to stay off grounds ever again.

Aside from convenience, early Magic hours, early access to fast pass and dining reservation plans, free transportation to and from parks and full immersion into the Walt Disney World experience for your family, there is the incomparable Walt Disney World resorts customer service. It is unbelievable and it doesn’t matter if you’re staying in the Grand Floridian or Pop Century; the warmth, helpfulness and general disposition of the characters are always the same…top notch. The best thing about Walt Disney resorts is that they have something for every budget.

READ ALSO: Tips to Beat the Heat at Disney

Here are my recommendations for the Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay at

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Yacht Club

The Yacht Club where we stayed on our first trip to Disney World on our honeymoon. I was dazzled by the grand, turn-of-the-century Martha’s Vineyard summer home vibes that Disney’s Yacht Club Resort was giving off. It’s a deluxe-category hotel at Walt Disney World Resort and it felt romantic and whimsical for these honeymooners.

It’s conveniently located and guests can easily walk or travel by water taxi from the resorts to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land is coming sooner than you think). Convenient bus service transports guests throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

The luxury club hotel is on the shores of a 25-acre Crescent Lake. The resort’s décor will transport you back to the 1890s.

That east coast beach vibe continues throughout in Stormalong Bay, a 2 ½-acre water recreation area reminiscent of a Nantucket beach. It has a life-size shipwreck with water slides, snorkeling in a sandy lagoon and a lazy river swimming area that feels like it flows into the lake. The kids will love it and so will you. There is something about a sand-bottomed pool that induces relaxation. Also bonus, a standard room can fit up to 5 people with 2 queen beds and a twin daybed.

We love it so much; we will be staying there this fall for our anniversary trip.

Disney Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club resort is right next to Disney’s Yacht Club and they are both awesome in our book. Start your morning at Cape May Cafe for a delicious southern-style breakfast complete with Mickey. Then make your way over to Stormalong Bay. I told you it was awesome.

Tired of swimming? Take a break and grab a snack at the cabana or Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Feel like hitting the parks? Epcot is a mere 5-minute walk away or jump on a water taxi and hit Hollywood Studios.

At night, you can watch a movie under the stars with your kids at the pool or you can take advantage of the onsite childcare and enjoy a romantic meal with your spouse at one of the resort’s 6 dining locations.

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Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Guests at Disney’s Beach Club Villas receive exclusive access to Stormalong Bay at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Disney’s Beach Club Villas also provides the Sandcastle Club, a supervised activity center for kids. Villas are equipped with kitchens and, in some cases, room for up to eight people. There are also nightly clambakes, volleyball and campfires at the Beach Club villas for added family fun.

Disney’s the Animal Kingdom

Want some adventure on your Disney World vacation? The Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to 4 wildlife savannas which you can watch from the lobby, visit with animal specialists, or tour as part of the Wanyama Safari and Dinner.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has the option to stay in a villa, which can sleep up to 9 guests, if you’re traveling with the whole family. No need for separate hotel rooms.

While you’re in this beautiful hotel, be sure to check out the 11,000-square-foot Uzimi pool with waterslides and whirlpool spas. Or get your fitness on at the onsite fitness and massage center. Did someone say massage center? Yes, please. This mom desperately needs a massage.

Disney World’s Polynesian

Aside from being beautiful and having Moana, you can get a Dole Whip on site.  The lush Polynesian Village Resort has both traditional rooms and villas to choose from. The villas have kitchenettes, private back decks with barbecues, a plunge pool and room for up to 8 people.

This is perfect for big families or splitting costs with friends. If you’re like this mom, you heard the word kitchen and thought “Dishes. No thank you,” But if you stay at the villa, Mousekeeping takes care of washing the dishes. No dishes for you! I told you the customer service was amazing.

The resort has 9 restaurants, a nightly luau, and a character breakfast where kids can meet Lilo & Stitch. Lilo’s Clubhouse offers on-site childcare so you can enjoy a peaceful meal, visit to the spa, or a day at the pool while the kids are safely taken care of.

Bonus, the Polynesian Resort is on the monorail, making it super easy to access all of the parks, especially Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary

Bay Lake Tower has rooms with views of the fireworks, so in case you have little kiddies, you won’t miss the magic. And believe me, it is magic. It is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom and easily accessible via monorail. Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort features an unparalleled backdrop that includes Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain.

Bay Lake is a Disney Vacation Club Property. The resort offers up to three-bedroom villas with kitchenettes that accommodate up to nine people. It also has a restaurant and pool with a waterslide, so you and your family can relax when not at the parks.

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn

This is my husband’s favorite resort on property. Our favorite feature of staying at the Boardwalk Inn is the actual boardwalk. Situated along Crescent Lake, the boardwalk features carnival games, restaurants, shops and surrey bike rentals. The Boardwalk also has a really fun pool with a waterslide and standard guestrooms that sleep up to five or six guests.

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

At Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, families staying there share amenities with guests at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. However, Disney’s Boardwalk Villas provide more amenities like full kitchens and balconies.  Villas are larger and sleep up to four or eight guests.

Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter

Port Orleans properties are divided into two resorts, the French Quarter and Riverside. Disney’s Port Orleans is a PG13 way to experience Mardi Gras all year round. Our favorite is the French Quarter because it feels just like being in New Orleans. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter has 1,008 accommodations, most sleep up to four or five guests.

Guests have access to bikes, boats, horse-drawn carriage rides, cane pole fishing and a pool, live jazz and beautiful architecture all make this resort located on 325 acres that feel worlds away from the theme parks. Don’t forget about the amazing Louisiana-style cuisine and beignets.

Port Orleans, Wilderness Lodge, Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families to stay, best disney world resorts, disney word resort, yacht club, beach club, animal kingdom, DIsney's Polynesian, Disney's wilderness lodge, the Boardwalk inn, Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, #nowMoreThanEver

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Staying at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is like being in a beautiful, pristine national park cabin. While you might feel like you are off the grid in the serenity of your lodge, the Wilderness Lodge resort features added perks such as a beautiful pool and children’s activity center. Enjoy relaxing with your family at this rustic, luxurious rooms that sleep up to four guests, some even include bunk beds.

READ ALSO: Breaking News Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Revealed

Just announced Free Disney Dining Plan Day this Summer!

This summer, enjoy a little extra flavor during a fun-filled stay that’s sure to delight little ones and grown-ups alike. Receive a FREE meal per person (ages 3 and up), per night at a select Walt Disney World Resort quick-service dining location when you purchase a non-discounted, Walt Disney World Travel Co. Package that includes a room for 4-nights at a select Disney Moderate or Value Resort Hotel and a 5-day theme park ticket. Offer valid for arrivals most nights from May 28 through August 21, 2019.
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The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Everyone in the same room must be on the same package. Advance reservations are required. Theme park tickets valid for admission beginning on the date of check-in and must be used within a limited number of days, depending on the length of stay and ticket. Visit disneyworld.com/usage for more details. Each quick-service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage (or if age 21 or over, one beer, wine or cocktail). 

These are just a few of my favorite Walt Disney Resorts for families. What is your favorite place to stay in Walt Disney World? And where is your favorite place and thing to eat on the Disney Dining Plan?

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Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

If you are looking for a place to squeeze in one last family vacation, a long weekend for Labor Day or a romantic getaway this summer, I would recommend Ogunquit, Maine. Believe me, you will not regret it. Summering in Ogunquit is taking a break from the chaos of your life. It’s getting back to basics without being eaten by mosquitos in a tent. It’s not forcing yourself to unplug in a world that’s always dialed in but relaxing just enough to be in the moment so that you forget to plug in.

I am a traveler. I have wanderlust in my heart and I can never learn enough about new places and people. We are raising our daughters to have an insatiable wanderlust. I spent my summers in Mexico as a child. I don’t mean we summered in Mexico. We weren’t holed up at some resort. We were on my grandfather’s ranch in the small town that my dad was raised in. Sure they had a lot of the comforts of home but we weren’t allowed to have them. My dad felt like when in Mexico, do as the Mexicans and he was right. He immersed the shit out of us. If we wanted to understand what our grandfather was saying, even though he did speak some broken English, we damned better well be paying attention.

My dad’s idea was that when he came to America, he learned English. When we went to Mexico, we needed to adapt. This was a lesson that shaped the kind of person I would become. That simple no became the foundation for my tolerance and understanding of cultures and people different than me. Who cares if there was a McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the next town over, he said no.

When I was little, I didn’t get it. Why wouldn’t he just let us have the damn cheeseburger? Why did we have to try everything? And believe me when I tell you that we did. I’ve eaten rattlesnake, cactus, tongue and most animals from head to toe because that folks is what you eat in a third world country and your parents give you no options but to immerse completely. And there was no complaining.

Well, there was that one time I tried to complain but my dad shoved a piece of rattlesnake at me (without telling me what it was) and simply said, “Come!” As in, stop asking for cheeseburgers and eat the damn food available to you. You can have McDonald’s the other 11 months of the year. He was not the compromising sort. So, I ate it and I spoke Spanish to my grandpa. There were no concessions made and I learned a very valuable lesson; all cultures are important and the only way to truly appreciate and respect them is to immerse. This is what we teach our girls. This is how we travel. We dare to live open to all possibilities because there within lies our destiny.

This is not just for international trips. When we travel within the country, our girls know that people are different in different regions. People talk differently, think differently, believe and eat differently. Differences are good. We’ve taught them to embrace and respect these differences and from these experiences carve out who they want to be; how they want to live. I don’t want them to be limited by their geographical constitution.

This summer we took a road trip to the East Coast. First a weekend in Ogunquit, Maine and next, 7 days in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s not immersion into a drastically different culture but it is a different state of mind and certainly, a different mentality from the limited experience one normally finds in these fly over states that we live in. If you are a long time reader of The TRUTH, you might remember that we’ve visited both Ogunquit and Boston before. Well, we loved it so much we had to do it again and this time we discovered even more wonderful places.

Let me start by saying that our 15-hour long road trip was saved by my Bracketron phone holder and charger. We use a navigation app on our smartphone so to keep our phones from dying it has to be charging the entire time but then where does that leave me and my iPad. God knows I can’t survive a road trip without access to Netflix and Hulu. Luckily, my phone holder can charge not only one but two devices!

Then there is The Anchorage Inn. We love this place. It is clean, the staff is helpful and friendly and not only is it located on the Marginal way with views of the Atlantic, it is located on the main street of Ogunquit and located in walking distance to absolutely everything of relevance. If you are ever headed to Ogunquit, like so many of my friends now are since I can’t seem to shut up about how amazing it is, it is definitely worth trying to get a reservation to stay at The Anchorage. Just make your reservations early because they book peak season pretty fast.

Places to Eat

ANgelinas Ristorante, Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Angelinas Ristorante Wine Bar and Tuscan Grille

If you like a nice quiet evening with great food, candlelight, delicious food and superb martinis…Angelinas is your spot. I had the chicken franchese with asparagus and linguini in butter sauce. It was some of the best Italian food, I’ve ever eaten and my exotic martini got me knackered. It’s casual fine dining at affordable prices.

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Rose Cove

We ate here our first night there. We were all exhausted and crabby from the all day road trip but the casual atmosphere at Rose Cove was just what the doctor ordered. It’s a small unassuming place and, I won’t lie, we were lured in by the waiter giving out samples of the fudge from their confectionary shop attached to the restaurant. We sat outside under the stars, listening to the singers from the Front Porch piano bar as their voices wafted across the street, and we finally exhaled at our table with the mini fire pit in the middle. Nothing says beach holiday like a fire pit in the middle of your table, a fresh lobstah roll bigger than your head and an ice cold local beer. We came for the blueberry and the sea salted caramel fudge and we stayed for the lobstah.

Sweet Peas

Our daughters love this place for the menagerie of ever changing flavors that they offer. I love it because the kids who work there have endless patience and always greet you with a smile. My daughters ask to sample no less than 4 flavors every single time we go in there and these youngsters have nothing but great attitudes and sunny dispositions to share. We go there every chance we get. It’s the perfect afternoon snack after a day at the beach. Some of our favorite flavors are Maine Black Bear, Coconut chip with Almond Joy, Coffee Toffee with Heath Bar and Phantomberry.

AMore Cafe, Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Café Amore

I’ve got one word for you BREAKFAST! Oh my, this place specializes in breakfast. Firstly, again, beach towns have the friendliest staffs I’ve ever met. Everyone is always smiling and seem genuinely happy to be there. No one seems put out or annoyed when you ask a question about the menu. This time we sampled the lemon and blueberry cream cheese stuffed French toast, the Belgium waffle with strawberries and the Corned beef eggs benedict. I personally, sampled off everyone’s plate and can tell you that it was all scrumptious.

Bread and Roses Bakery

 

It has become our tradition to stop at this shop on the last night we are in town and load up on all the confectionary goodness and pastries we can walk back to our room at The Anchorage. The Big Guy had a praline and pecan bar, the girls had tiny mugs made of chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse and I had a chocolate cake layered with whipped peanut butter mousse. And oh yes, I did have my cake by the ocean. It was more decadent than should probably be legally allowed for people over the age of 30. My shorts fit a little tighter that day but it was worth every single calorie.

Things to Do in Ogunquit Maine

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Ogunquit Beach

When we go to Ogunquit we have one mission in mind and that is to beach. If you’ve never been to an East coast beach town, you may have no idea what the hell I am talking about. Remember the immersion I was talking about earlier? Well, being in Ogunquit is simple. You just let go. There is no planning. You just take a deep breath, walk outside and live and it is glorious. It is perfect for our family because we are always over booked. We need Ogunquit to decompress and get back to normal. Ogunquit pulls my family back off of the ledge where we reside on a daily basis. It’s that good.

Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

We truly spend most of our time at Ogunquit beach. It’s a 5-minute walk from The Anchorage and our girls love to play in the ocean; swimming, boogie boarding, body surfing and building sand castles. Thank goodness for the Snapper Rock swimwear, beach pants and most of all the neoprene wetsuit jacket and vest because the water was freezing in June. Thanks to these cute and durable pieces are girls were able to frolic in the surf without their lips turning blue.

perkins cove.Ogunquit Maine, Ogunquit, cake by the ocean, parenting, family travel, travel, wanderlust, kid travelers

Perkin’s Cove

Perkin’s Cove is a short 15-minute walk down the Marginal Way in the opposite way of the beach. It is a quaint little harbor full of small sailboats surrounded by restaurants that serve lobster rolls of all varieties and offer stunning views at sunset. It’s also one of our girls favorite places to stroll after dinner bobbing in and out of shop after shop searching for just the right souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate each trip. If you are in Ogunquit, you have to walk to Perkins cove and look around.

The Front Porch

The Front Porch is a restaurant located at the busiest corner of Main street that has great food downstairs and a wonderful piano bar upstairs. Children are allowed downstairs but not upstairs. Upstairs is where the magic happens. You can hear the gleeful singing ringing out into the streets as everyone joins in singing along. It is the place to go in Ogunquit for a good time on your beach vacation.

If you are still looking for the perfect place to have your cake by the ocean this Labor Day, my recommendation is Ogunquit, Maine.

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Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Boston is one of our favorite cities to travel to as a family. We fell in love with it on our first trip when the girls were just preschoolers and we’ve found new things to do and places to check out on every subsequent visit. It’s one of those places that you can go back to 100 times and still find new and exciting adventures to be had. Virginia might be for lovers but Boston is for families and the proof is in my best things to do in Boston with teens and tweens list that I’ve compiled.

We’ve done the typical things like go whale watching, visit the children’s museum and walk the Freedom Trail. We’ve visited Harvard and explored every inch of the commons. As the girls grow older, from toddlers to teens, what they want t do and what interests them changes. Lucky for us, Boston is a city with endless options.

READ ALSO: Things to Do in Boston When Traveling with Children

One of my favorite things about Boston, and I’ve said this many times, part of what makes it such an amazing family destination is that the people of Boston are so kind and welcoming to their city. Every time we’ve been, it never fails, if I need to stop and ask someone for directions or for a recommendation of places to eat or things to do, without fail they stop and answer my questions. This plays a big part in why I feel safe in Boston and return every year.

If you’re looking for a city to visit that offers something for all ages where you and your family can explore, Boston may be for you.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

Shopping

Primark

Shopping on Newbury Street

Newbury street is more than just a shopping center, it’s a cultural epicenter with all varieties of food and .

Anthropologie

Intermix

Remember to pack a duffle bag because if you are with teen girls, there will be plenty of shopping done and you’ll need the extra space.

https://youtu.be/m4d2YayhO_Q

Eating

Pret a Manger

We only discovered this gem last year when I was sick and we needed something quick. Pret a Manger is literally, ready to eat. My girls are obsessed with grilled ham and cheese.

Cheers Boston

This is one of our favorite places to go with the girls. They love getting Shirley temples and Boston Creme pie and the Big Guy and I love the casual atmosphere and pub food.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Georgetown Cupcake

Most delicious cupcakes ever with a fantastic flavor variety.

Eating in Chinatown

Any place you try, it will be good.

The Q

Come for the hot pots and stay for the sushi.

The Gourmet China House

The Gourmet China House is a quaint, unassuming restaurant that serves up some of the tastiest Chinese food I’ve ever eaten.

Stoddards

Gastropub serving vintage cocktails & craft beer in a historical building & former corset shop

New York Pizza

It’s a little bit of New York in Boston. If NYC style is your favorite pizza, you’ll love it.

Legal Sea Foods

Places to Stay 

Westin Boston Waterfront

The Westin has the most comfortable beds and attentive staff. If you are in town for a conference, the Westin is attached to the conference center. It’s also within walking distance to downtown.

Hyatt Regency Boston

The Hyatt is a modern, clean hotel located in the theater district within walking distance to the Commons, Chinatown and Newbury Street. Also, the customer service at the Hyatt is wonderful.

Boston Park Plaza

Entertainment

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

The Swing Park at the Signature

This is such a fun thing to do for people of every age. We spent hours there from sunset until it was dark out swinging on those glowing swings.

Faneuil Hall

Exploring Boylston neighborhoods around the Public Garden Park

Catch a show at the Paramount Center

The Swan Boats at the Commons

Visit Harvard University and Cambridge

If you’ve never been, you have to go. It’s a beautiful campus with so much to see. Plus, it’s never too early to introduce your kids to the possibility of Harvard.

READ ALSO: Ogunquit Maine the Perfect Beach Getaway

These are just a few of the many places to go and best things to do in Boston with teens and tweens but there are several more. We’re going back this June and I’ll have even more things to do and places to go then.

What’s your favorite city to visit with your family and why?

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Happy New Year, New Year Resolutions, Easy Resolutions, Celebrate 2020

Every year at this time, I feel a wave of panic wash over me as an urgent impending need to accomplish all of the goals I set for myself last New Year’s eve. Every new year is a new opportunity for a new beginning or in some cases, another year to disappoint myself and feel like a failure but not this year. This year is the year of easy New Year resolutions to help you live your best life or as I like to call it, Wednesday.

For the first time in my adult life, here we are on the dawn of a new day, new year, new decade and I feel no regrets. I feel no sense of urgency to rush to change because I’ve spent the last few months focusing on reaching my goals (well, a set of goals). Today, tomorrow and the next day after that are just another day because that’s how I’m choosing to see them. Every day is just another day but it’s also the opportunity for a fresh start. Every single day. 365 days a year.

What is a New Year’s resolution anyways?

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

All of this is based on the premise that we find fault and imperfection in ourselves. We do. I can honestly say, I don’t know (nor have I ever known) a single grown woman who is 100% happy with her body or herself. It’s a sad statistic. I used to think it was just me but this year, I realized my unhappiness with myself stemmed not from imperfection but from the state of being fallible and doing nothing to better myself. I only feel like a failure when I’m not trying. As I believe there is no try only do, I feel like a failure when I’m not doing things to bring me closer to who I want to be.

READ ALSO: Resolving to Incite a Revolution

This year, when I was thinking of my word of the year and making my vision board (because goals without words are nothing but wishes) I decided that my main goal for 2020 is to live a life with purpose and intention. I want to find the courage and strength to pursue peace and success. I want to be able to confidently walk away from things and people who don’t work anymore with no regrets. I want to be okay with choosing me, no guilt attached.

These are more like habits I’m trying to grow than resolutions but for the purpose of the New Year, let’s call them New Year resolutions. Here are a few good choices to get you to a better life and your best self.

Easy New Year Resolutions to help you Live Your Best Life

Purge

Don’t Marie Kondo your house. That will only make a bigger mess. But clutter and mess cause a stressed mind and body. Take a deep breath, break big projects into smaller (more digestible) projects. If something no longer has a purpose in your life, get rid of it.

READ ALSO: Is the Marie Kondo Method for You?

Organization

It’s crazy how organization can give peace. A peace that you didn’t even know that you needed. Things need a place so that you can easily access them when you need them but don’t trip over them and frustrate yourself when you don’t. It’s that simple. I don’t know about you but piles of unfolded laundry make me nervous. Things without a place, just hanging out, stress me out. I don’t want to give those things space in my head in 2020. I want them to fade into the background so I can focus more clearly on the people and things that are important.

Be Intentional

Many of us live our lives unintentionally. We get swept up in what’s going on at the moment and we mindlessly move through the world. I know I do. My life, especially after having kids, became a series of putting out fires while I tried to keep my life on track. It doesn’t work. Distracted living isn’t living at all. It’s getting by and I (you) deserve more than just getting by. I pause and ask myself, is it worth it? The hard work, the loss, the gain, the calories, the time, the space? Is it worth it to me? If it’s not, I’m passing it up and walking away. Priorities matter.

Let it go

This is a hard one for me. I’m a hoarder at heart. I grew up with not a lot and it’s hard for me to get rid of things that are still in good condition, which includes people. I try to repurpose and find occasion. The result is a house full of clutter and a life full of stuff that I don’t need or worse, don’t serve a purpose. Sometimes the only purpose a thing needs to serve is joy. If it brings you happiness, it has a purpose. It doesn’t have to make sense. But if it doesn’t have any purpose, let it go. You don’t have to throw it out. I’m big on not being wasteful but pass it on. Donate it to someone who can use it. Let it serve its purpose and lighten your own load. Don’t think of it as gone, think of it as getting a second chance at a new life.

Move Your Body

I ignored this one for so many years. I have a bit of an addictive personality. I go all in or not at all. Or at least I used to. I’m trying to learn moderation and forgiveness for others and for myself. I know that saying that you’re going to start working out can feel overwhelming, especially as busy as we all are these days. And saying that you’re going to lose 20 pounds can feel daunting and burdensome, maybe even insurmountable. Then we just say bump it and give up. Well, that’s what I did, many times for many years.

READ ALSO: How I Reversed My Diabetes in 3 months.

I was either starving myself and obsessively working out or I was sitting on the couch, mindlessly snacking and binge-watching Netflix. There has to be a middle ground. Start with small goals. A 15-minute walk at lunch. Take the stairs. Drink your 64 ounces of water. Take your vitamins. One tiny goal at a time will put you on the path to where you want to be. Do not give yourself a deadline to get healthy because it’s a journey and a lifestyle not a destination. If you miss a day or eat the pizza/chocolate/cocktail so what? It’s ok. It’s just one day. As long as it’s the treat and not the norm, you’re fine. Move along.

Travel

The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to travel. It’s something that I’ve done since I was a child. My parents did it for us because we didn’t live by our grandparents and, in fact, my dad’s parents lived in another country. It was the best gift they could have ever given us. It made us compassionate, tolerant, inquisitive and instilled into our very soul, wanderlust. It was the catalyst for me to learn 4 languages. My greatest joy is sharing travel with my husband and our girls. Seeing the world through their eyes is priceless. Travel is worth more than any “thing” money can buy.

Read More

Remember those priorities I was referring to earlier? I’ve let reading fall off my list time and time again, and I love to read. I am a bibliophile at heart. But at the end of the day, it’s a luxury I can’t afford. But can’t I? I spend hours a day on social media? Why can’t I reclaim an hour a day back for reading and self-reflection? I can. You can too. Reading is knowledge and wisdom and can we really afford to stop learning in a world that is constantly changing? No. Reading helps us to better ourselves and build our brain muscles. It helps us to have more varied vocabularies and to become better versions of ourselves through understanding and knowledge. The question is, can we afford not to read?

Do it scared

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions. If you want to try something, do something new or change your direction in life, just do it. Of course, you’re scared. Anything worth doing will be scary at first. But as you shift onto your new path, you will get comfortable. Put your goals into the universe and follow it up with actions. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and will support you when you try new things. Do it scared and you will achieve your dreams but don’t try at all and nothing will change.

Relax

It’s so much easier said than done. I’ve always been a bit hyper and manic. I stress a lot. It’s my state of being if we’re being honest. Or it was. Even when I’m sitting still, my brain is flexing in so many different directions. My brain likes to show off and do 23 hours a day squats. Do you know what that makes me? Tired. Downright exhausted and when you’re exhausted you get frustrated and you might be doing squats but you’re half-assing them and the effects are not what you want. Eventually, you and your lopsided ass just give up. So stop. Stop what you’re doing and breathe. Relax. Meditate. Reset. Refuel your soul. Restart.

Make time for “Me” Time

Me time might not always look like a massage and facial. Sometimes “me” time is driving to the grocery store for formula at 11 p.m by yourself with the windows down, blasting Pitbull and singing at the top of your lungs. Me time is about doing what you want, what you need to reboot. Especially as moms, we give out pieces of ourselves all day long until there is nothing left for us. There has to be something left for you. If there is no you, there is nothing for you to give to others. I’m not talking about living to serve others, I’m talking about being alive enough to share your own special gifts. We are all special and worth it. We all bring something unique to the world. We are all here for a purpose. You might be everything to someone but you first need to be everything to you. Put you first in whatever tiny or big way you need to. Don’t fade into the background of your own life.

Don’t care what others think

I’ve never really struggled with this one, at least not outwardly. I come from a big family and it serves you best not to worry about what other’s opinions are of you unless you want to be a useless puddle of snot and tears on the floor. I do struggle with measuring myself up to other’s success but I am working on that. But as far as other people’s opinions (other than my parents and my children), they mean little to nothing to me.

READ ALSO: The Moment I stopped Caring what Other People Thought of me

Life is too short to live by someone else’s expectations and rules. You do you and I’ll do me. As long as were not hurting one another, we’re all good. My fashion choices, religious or political beliefs, parenting philosophy and the way I choose to spend my money should have no bearing on anyone else’s life and vice versa. So I wear the bikini, I am tolerant of everyone, I support my friends and family in their pursuit of happiness even if it’s not mine and dance like no one is watching, and even if they are, I don’t care. I’ll invite you to dance with me. Live in the moments because this is the life that you will look back on. Live it on your terms and be happy.

Forgiveness

This is the big one. Practice forgiveness of others and most importantly of yourself. It will be the best thing you ever do for you and your mental health. Love others and yourself for all that you are not for who you think you should be or want to be in a year. Love yourself and others for who they are right now, in this moment.

Wishing you all a very happy new year filled with lots of love, laughter, good health, fruitful endeavors, happiness, and travel. Forgive yourself often. Be patient with yourself and pursue your dreams; life’s too short not to.

Me, I’ll be pursuing some dreams, making some changes and sharing some truth we can all relate to on here ( 3-5 times a week; stay tuned.)  You can subscribe to get your weekly newsletter and everything in one place, directly to your inbox. Never miss a thing.

Please come back and follow along.  On InstaStories ( for my daily #journeytome),  TikTok for some silly, Twitter for some conversation, Facebook for great parenting information and conversation and Pinterest for all the beautiful things.

 

 

 

 

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#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, cinderella's castle

Wondering what Disney Creator Days is? If you’re an influencer, especially if you’re one who loves Disney, your dream collaboration is to partner with the Walt Disney Company. For years, the most coveted influencer invitation was to be invited to the annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, #DSMMC. This year that celebration is on hiatus. Enter Disney Creator Days. But what is it? It’s a new immersive influencer event. It’s not the same as Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

I’ve been very fortunate and been invited to Disney events and, for me, it felt like winning the lottery. We visit Disney World yearly so being invited to Disney hosted events is icing on the cake. Disney World is the first place we visited as a couple (on our honeymoon) and have continued to do so as a family for the past 20 years. 20-year anniversary coming at you this May.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

READ ALSO: Tips from Disney on how to get Invited to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

Growing up, my family loved Disney but visiting Walt Disney World was never an option for us. My mom stayed home with us and my father worked a blue collar job. They had 6 kids. Our vacations consisted of saving everything we could to visit grandparents in Tennessee and Mexico. I’m not complaining, we saw lots of states on our drives to these places (in fact, I’ve seen most of the United States and Mexico by car) but Florida was never “on the way.”

Every time I step foot on the grounds at WDW resorts, it feels special. I’m sure it has a lot to do with who I’m with but where I’m at makes it absolutely magical and has secured Walt Disney World as one of our favorite places to visit as a family. Disney is a feeling for me and I know I’m not the only one. Walt Disney World means dreams coming true, in so many different ways, for so many of its visitors.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, Magic Kingdom

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing Your WDW Vacation

When I’ve been invited to Disney events, my whole family celebrates because, for us, it is a big deal. The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was particularly exciting for me as an influencer because not only was I invited, which is an honor in itself, I was able to bring my family along with me. While there, I heard some of the most talented people in my field speak. Not only did my family get to share this experience with me, but Disney also provided me with tools to grow my website and brand. And on top of all of that, I had the opportunity to meet and network with some of my fellow influencers and their families.

This year, when Disney announced that Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was going on a “hiatus” of course I was disappointed because last year’s event was so meaningful to me but, in our field, stopping, reassessing and changing to fit the evolution of social media is what has to be done to stay current. It’s doing what’s best in the long run.

space mountain, #DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

READ ALSO: Is Disney Vacation Club for You?

When I heard they were hosting an event called Disney Creator Days I had no idea what that was because it’s a brand new adventure but I was excited to find out more. There wasn’t a lot of information out there but there was a lot of speculation. I don’t like to gossip so I did what I always do, I went directly to the source. I asked my contacts at Disney.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, mickey mouse, minnie mouse

What is Disney Creator Days?

Disney Creator Days is an invitation-only event being held at Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line in March.  It is a familiarization type experience for influencers to showcase these incredible Disney vacation experiences.   

Disney Creator Days is not the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

It is something completely new. From my research online, reading posts by those invited, Disney Creator Days is a week-long land and sea adventure that will be hosted by Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Lines. It’s a very small event for just a few select influencers and their families. It will be on March 5-11, 2019.

It sounds like it’s going to be awesome and include everything you could ever need for the ultimate Walt Disney World vacation.

  • 4 Days at Walt Disney World including park hopper passes and media Fast Passes.
  • 3 Night stay at a Walt Disney World Resort
  • 3 Night cruise with Disney Cruise Line
  • All Flights and Transportation
  • Unlimited internet both on land and sea
  • Most meals
  • Exclusive access, first-looks, events, one-of-a-kind special experiences, and surprises.
  • All of the above 100% paid for by Disney.

It seems to me that the key difference between the Disney Creator Days and Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is that Disney Creator Days is to showcase the Disney vacation experience.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

Whereas when at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, influencers attend a conference to grow their brand but are allowed time and encouraged to experience the Disney magic with their families in the parks. The focus is different for each event.

Another key difference, when you attend #DSMMC you pay a very reduced rate for the experience including the conference, lodging and parks. Disney Creator Days is 100% paid for by Disney. Either way, totally worth it.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, boardwalk

READ ALSO: Tips to Rock Your Disney World Vacation

Last difference, when you attend #DSMMC there are no clearly defined sharing obligations. Most influencers in attendance share a lot while we are there because the nuggets of wisdom are so great. Why wouldn’t we? Also, we’re are Walt Disney World and who doesn’t love to share family and travel adventures? So when you attend #DSMMC sharing is encouraged. When you attend Disney Creator Days there is a clearly defined expectation to create unique and engaging content about The Walt Disney Company and the experience itself before, during and after on all channels. Each influencer is expected to use their voice to provide a unique and honest perspective on the event. This is typical expectations of any press event with any company.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, castaway cay

The next question on everyone’s mind is how do I get invited to Disney Creator Days?

As I mentioned earlier, those invited were hand selected. Here are the tips that I have gathered over the years from Disney on how to be considered for any Disney press event.

Go to conferences where Disney will be at and connect/network with Disney PR. Write strong, engaging content about Disney and send the links to the WDW PR department.

Qualities that Disney looks for in the influencers they work with?

It really depends on the initiative that they have going on. But it is helpful if bloggers have an up-to-date blog, have great social reach and engagement across the different social platforms, Disney-friendly content on social and their blogs, and a good Travel section.

How does Disney choose who to partner with for press events? Do bloggers need a certain amount of traffic to be invited to hosted events? How important is the audience fit?

Disney does not host very many influencer events so they have to be super selective with invitations. A lot of it is based on a variety of things such as brand fit, reach, audience, specialty, engagement, niche, diversity, quality of followers and whatever product Disney is promoting, etc.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, space mountainThere you have it, everything I know about Disney Creator Days.

 

Disney Creator Days sounds absolutely amazing and I’m thrilled for everyone who got the invite. I can’t wait to follow along on the inaugural event. Who knows, if they continue this event, maybe one of these days I’ll get some pixie dust. Either way, my love for family travel and Walt Disney World will keep my family coming back year after year. See ya real soon!

 

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road trip, Ford, #Exploremore, Canada, travel, platinum adventure tour

I am writing this on the plane as I head out for my epic road trip adventure with Ford to explore Kamloops to Calgary Canada. I am bound for an adventure through some of the most beautiful terrains in Canada. For the next four days, I will be driving the new 2016 Ford Explorer on one of six legs of Ford Explorer Platinum Adventure Tour.

What better way to introduce the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum – a vehicle that combines the best of Limited and Sport editions – than with a road trip trek through western North America to end all road trips. At revologycars.com you can find 1968 Mustang Fastback for sale and many other classic Mustang ready to be purchased.

Ford has created a one-of-a-kind adventure for an all-in-one SUV that is ready to #ExploreMore. Over the past 25 years, Ford Explorer has reigned as the best-selling SUV in the United States, with more than 7 million sold. Yet even with those numbers, there are countless adventures still to be had. That’s where I come in!

Road trip time to #ExploreMore

Ford, #Exploremore, Canada, travel, platinum adventure tour, road trip

I have the honor and pleasure of joining the Ford Explorer team as they carve a path from Vancouver to Albuquerque, with a fleet of 2016 Explorer Platinum models. There are six distinct adventures planned that cover more than 2,000 miles along some of the greatest roads in North America.

My leg of this epic road trip journey is the Calgary Stampede. I chose this leg of the adventure because I am into pushing the limits in my travels and a huge fan of some of the most remote landscapes on the planet. When I travel some place, especially when by car, I want to be surrounded by beautiful majestic scenery and when I saw the itinerary for this adventure, I knew this was the road trip for me.

Today, I am journeying to Kamloops, British Columbia to join my fellow Ford explorers on this adventure. Tomorrow morning, my chance to really explore more begins as I depart Kamloops, cross the Canadian Rockies and eventually find my way back to Calgary.

Tomorrow, I will overnight in Revelstoke, near majestic Glacier National Park, home to more than 400 glaciers where 12 percent of the landscape is covered by perpetual ice and snow.

Over the next 4 days, there will be cerulean Lake Louise and lovely Moraine Lake which boasts views for which there are no words, but I will certainly try to find the words to share this once in a lifetime road trip.

Who knows, maybe I’ll take a gondola ride in Banff or a scenic drive around Lake Minnewanka. One thing is for certain; I will be sharing this epic adventure and all the information on how the new 2016 Ford Explorer handles. Follow along on my social media channels; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Periscope. Just keep your eyes on the #ExploreMore hashtag.

I brought the good camera, so expect some stunning photos of some of the most beautiful, majestic landscapes in the world.

If you had the chance to explore anywhere in the world, what would be your ultimate road trip?

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Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

I went to Boston and fell in love.

I am serious. I just got back from Boston and I have fallen madly, deeply and head over heels in love. The people, the food, the beautiful harbor and the accents that had me wanting to ask everyone I met to please say “The Hopper” it was my litmus test, the more “Ha-Pah” it was the more I loved it.

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

It was the first trip to Boston for the girls and I. We stayed at the Westin Waterfront Boston, which I would highly recommend because not only was it very clean it is conveniently within walking distance to the harbor, Faneuil Hall, The Freedom Trail, The Aquarium, Harbor Cruises, Boston Common and the Redline. It has amazing views of the Boston Skyline and the Harbor and let’s not forget about those “heavenly” beds that the Westin is famous for, which was like sleeping in a hug. The Westin Waterfront Boston also happens to not only house 3 great restaurants and a Starbucks and delicious room service, you are in walking distance to some of the greatest seafood in the country. They even helped me draft an itinerary specific to my children’s ages ahead of time. But more important than all of that, the staff and service is beyond anything I have ever experienced and I have stayed in some really upscale boutique hotels.

First, let me start by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I was not in Boston or the Westin Waterfront working with the hotel or the visitors bureau, the hole system is one of the most clean in town, thanks to the plumbers in vancouver that keep the maintenance going 24-7.  I was there with my family, tagging along on a conference with my husband. I was having an adventure with my girls in my new favorite city. I never thought any city could beat my love for New Orleans or my hometown of Chicago but I was WRONG!

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

Being a blogger, I tweeted and Instagramed some of our trip to share with family and friends because I was so excited to be in Boston. This trip was almost 25 years in the making for me. I also tweeted before we left because I was sooooo excited to be finally going to Bean Town.  There started my relationship with the Westin Waterfront Boston, like most of my relationships these days. Twitter was my introduction.

When we arrived, there were some of my children’s favorite snacks waiting for us in the room with the breathtaking view after a 14-hour drive in the car… with kids. The only thing that could have made it better was a Jameson and Ginger for mommy and daddy. We were exhausted and starving, so this was a welcome and unexpected surprise.

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

Oh wait let me back up, I forgot to tell you that the Saturday night we arrived in Boston, the Boston Westin Waterfront was hosting a Walking Dead Fan Convention. What? I can’t believe I didn’t know beforehand. I am a huge Walking Dead fan. I so would have gone zombie mom for it. Anyways, imagine my surprise when I walked into the Westin Waterfront looking like an unintentional walking dead in my traveling yoga pants and running shirt (because obviously I was working out in the car all the way there) and completely disheveled hair, no make-up wanting nothing more to get to my room (You know the feeling) when a very adorable, kind gentleman held the elevator for us, nodded and said have a good night. Turned out he was Jon Bernthal….effing SHANE from Walking Dead! WHAT?? He was not sporting the Shane haircut, but lighter hair, scruffilicious facial hair and its actually even more attractive in person than he ever appeared on the show. Of course, I saw him, thought he looked familiar but couldn’t place the face and as soon as the elevator doors shut, our bellman told us that there was a Walking Dead convention there all week and the place was crawling with Walking Dead cast. So, alas, no photo proof but the memory is mine forever.

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

Anyways, needless to say our trip started out with a bang and only went up from there. Too much information to share in one post, so I will be sharing travel tips for Boston in a series that I will run on Wednesdays for the next few weeks.  But I can tell you this, growing up in the Chicago land area and traveling quite a bit in my life I can say that Boston had some of the kindest, most polite strangers I have ever met. It was apparent by strangers stopping during rush hour to point us in the right direction, explaining to us how the MBTA worked, chivalrous men giving us their seats on the subway/buses, hotel staff offering local restaurant favorites, one woman letting our child cut her in a very long line to the restroom so she wouldn’t pee on herself.

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston, Cambridge firefighters

I won’t even tell you about Firefighter Jeremy Marrache at the Cambridge Firehouse who not only saved the day at Harvard by giving one of the girls a Band-Aid for her booboo but actually took the time to give the kids a tour, let them on the fire truck, wear gear and demonstrated how to slide the poll simply because 4 little kids wanted to in the middle of a hot Wednesday. It was a day the kids will never forget. Thank you FFOP Jeremy Marrache!

Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

Yes, Boston and its people rocked my socks off. The awesome staff at the Westin Waterfront Boston who went above and beyond on the last night we were there. I tweeted a photo of my view from my bed where I was very sick with extreme dehydration from walking all day in the hot sun with only one Aquafina ( yes, poor choices were made, my friends), they surprised me by sending up room service with crackers, spring water, tea  and a note telling me to feel better. Now, THAT is good customer service. It was simply one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me without being asked to so. That made me a Westin Waterfront Boston fan forever and I can’t say enough good things about them, not in a lifetime of telling you how great they were.Boston, Family Travel, travel, #Latina Traveler, #Latina, #Boston, #Travel,Westin Waterfront Boston,

There is lots more to tell and I will be sharing all my tips for traveling to Boston as a family in the coming weeks. And, don’t think I’m not working on the Big Guy to make the move to one of the cleanest, friendliest and most fun and entertaining cities I’ve ever been to with my family. Can’t wait for our next adventure.

If you haven’t taken your family to Boston, what are you waiting for?

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Summer vacation, blues, travel, family,vacation,summer break, traveling with kids, Nashville, Charlotte, friends

I am just getting back from the first mini summer vacation; this one was 11 days. Not actually so mini.Our summer vacation started off with 7 days in Nashville, Tennessee and capped off with 4 days in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina with great friends (I’ll write you some great travel posts about that over the next few weeks but today we’re focusing on how hard it is to come back to reality.) I have to be honest, it was exhilarating but reentry is HARD! Really hard. Like I feel like I’m moving through molasses hard.

I barely looked at my social media except for sharing a couple of photos on Instagram (because my phone was out of actual storage space) and I went a little overboard on Periscope (@DeborahCruz you have to watch the video about the drive thru safari. There is nothing quite so funny/frightening as a Bison sticking his head into your car trying to eat your tiny people.) This vacation gave me a chance to decompress and look at things a little softer and less cynical. I saw the beauty instead of the time consumption.

I’ve been back from summer vacation for 24 hours and I just can’t get back into the swing of things. I miss exploring a strange town, hanging with great people and being unplugged. Coming home and back to my reality of cleaning house, obligations and deadlines is hard. Reentry into the real world and the summer vacation blues are real.

You know, getting caught up in the grind is what keeps us going. Every day we get up, do our thing and power on to the next. It becomes old hat and we do it because we are supposed to. We never step back and deeply inhale, enjoy the moment. We can’t because every moment precedes another moment. There is always something else pressing to be done; whether it be meeting with a neighbor, checking a status, writing a post or just getting dinner done. Life is full of obligations.

The problem is when you actually do take those moments to enjoy your life, the minutes, the days the people that surround you; then you realize what you are missing and this is what is causing my raging case of summer vacation blues. We left our bubble.

We were outside enjoying the summer weather, noticing all of the new sights and sounds around us. Trying new foods, talking to new people and doing new things. We were completely out of our comfort zone and I loved every moment of it. The girls were enthralled, in the moment and never stopped exploring and engaging. The truth is that if you stop to enjoy every moment of life, it goes slower and it is actually so good that you can’t help but want it to last forever. It usually is, we just never notice because we are stuck in the minutia.

My husband and I have had the conversation that when you are in your teens and twenties, you spend your life looking for someone to love and spend your life with. You just want that all consuming, never ending happiness but you never realize (until you have it) that THAT kind of love has a price. When you truly love and enjoy something so much, it can be your undoing. The same way slowing down and going on vacation can be your undoing. You change your perspective and you change your expectations and your limitations.

I married the man I love and I have my daughters but with that I learned that the price of that happiness, that gift, is that if I lose them, it’s not something I am sure I can bounce back from because once you’ve gone there, you can’t go back. Once you’ve seen the world in living color, it’s impossible to go back to black and white.

When you go on vacation and really enjoy it, it makes it glaringly obvious how unmagical your reality is. I know the purpose of vacation is to rest and relax but it makes the price of not resting and never relaxing almost too much to bear. I came home and it’s been raining since we returned, there are no new and exciting anything, there are no old friends to love and consort with and there are bills, responsibilities. Life seems less bright. Maybe we are gypsies but we all agree on this point.

The time with old friends was amazing, however now I am left feeling more than a little deflated because it reminded me of just how much I miss them. The places we stayed on our summer vacation were beautiful, vibrant and ethereal because we were in a dream. Reality is like a room filled with fluorescent light, it gets the job done but it is severely lacking the magic factor.

 

I have the summer vacation blues but there are some things I can do to cure them.

  1. Take more time to enjoy the moments. Consciously, make the effort.
  2. Explore your own town. There are a million places that I’ve never been or eaten or explored within 2 hours driving distance but I will.
  3. Go out of your comfort zone. Obviously what is comfortable is good but it makes us complacent. I am sick of complacency.
  4. Try something new. Introduce yourself to the new neighbor, visit a local gallery or the new Ethiopian restaurant that just opened. Go to see the live bands play in the park.
  5. Do it all while taking it all in. Don’t power through life, soak it in. Bask in it like the warmth of the summer sun.

Life might feel ordinary and boring after an exciting summer vacation but if you look, if you stop and breathe for a moment, you can always find the extraordinary right beneath the surface of the ordinary people, places and things.

 

How do you cure the summer vacation blues?

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Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Earlier this summer, we visited Portland Maine for the first time. I made of list of things to do in Portland Maine with teens and kids this summer. I fell in love with the state of Maine a few years ago on our first trip to Ogunquit and it’s been our summer New England vacation spot since. There is just something about Maine in the summertime that I find to be beyond quaint and charming. It is one of the most peaceful and relaxing vacations I’ve ever experienced.

Earlier this year, I was invited to visit Portland Maine and experience all that Portland has to offer but as many of you remember, I fell the week before I was supposed to fly out. I savagely dislocated my elbow and flying was not an option. Luckily, my family was headed to our annual Boston trip in June so I knew I had to get to Portland check it out.  I was not disappointed.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Portland for some of this trip so that I could experience some of the local flavor of Portland Maine but all opinions are my own.

We stayed in our first ever Holiday Inn By the Bay. It was right in the heart of Portland with a breathtaking view of the Casco Bay from our rooms. Yes, rooms, for the first time ever we got adjoining rooms with the girls and, parents (if you haven’t tried this yet) GAME CHANGER!!!

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

Here we were with this beautiful room, with a gorgeous view and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in (and I’ve slept in a lot of hotels over the years through my travels) and my girls are safely right next door. We left the door open (mostly) but there was the option to close it. Best of all, no sharing the television or listening to bickering. It had to be one of the most relaxing stays we’ve ever had in a hotel.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Also, though we were only a short walking distance from old Portland ( a quaint and fun walking area full of shops and restaurants) the Holiday Inn Express offered free shuttle rides to and from any Portland area destinations we wanted to visit. Mostly we walked but having the option at night after dinner, when the girls were exhausted, to be picked up and taken back to our hotel was awesome. It was also nice to get that time to chat with the driver, a local, and get recommendations for places to eat and things to do. He was super helpful and kind, as were all the staff at the Holiday Inn Express.

Here is my list of things I think everyone who visits Portland Maine should check out

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Schooner Sunset Sail

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

These schooners are a part of history and they are so quaint and charming. I had never been on one before. Seeing the sunset over the water is breathtaking. The crew is kind, engaging and entertaining. The ride is smooth and it’s hard not to feel relaxed and free on this sail. I recommend for anyone who wants to enjoy life and be present in the moment. You definitely don’t want to miss this moment. We went with our tween and teen girls, I would definitely suggest taking a small picnic to eat and if you want to make it a romantic evening with your favorite guy or lady bring along a cheese plate and some wine or champagne and watch the sunset with your favorite person.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Maine Duck Tours

So much awesome information and history. You get a complete historical tour of the entire town and bonus, you get to take a bus into the cove. My favorite part was learning all about Portland from our knowledgeable and good-humored tour guide. It was especially nice because it was our very first trip to Portland and we didn’t know a lot about the area. It was interactive and a lot of fun going through the town as the tour engaged with the people of the Portland. My only suggestion would be to make sure that you wear the provided life vests when you enter the cove as a safety measure in case of bad weather. The day we took our tour the weather was calm.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Portland Head Lighthouse

I love lighthouses. If I’m near a coast, you can be sure I’ll find the lighthouses. Cape Elizabeth is the home of Portland Head Light. Situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park. The Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Aside from being cool to look at the Portland Head Lighthouse is surrounded by beautiful trails, cliffs and photo ops galore.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland MaineThe Holy Donut

Holy ish batman! Who knew potato donuts could be this delicious? Who knew there was such a thing as potato donuts? They are definitely worth the wait. They are delicious. If you ever find yourself in Portland Maine, you must get yourself a hoy donut. Your taste buds will thank you.

 

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

The Porthole Restaurant and Pub

Fish and Chips and live music. The staff is friendly and helpful. They have the best fish and chips I have ever tasted and on Friday nights, it’s bottomless fish and chips. Also, live music on most nights. We loved it so much we had it twice.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Becky’s Diner

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Maine blueberry pancakes and the charm of old Portland is what  I ordered and exactly what I got! Becky’s Diner was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diner’s, Drive-ins and Dives. I had heard that Becky’s was a local must and when I showed up, the line didn’t lie. Thankfully, the staff at Becky’s is not only great at making delicious food, they are on the ball. They have great personalities and know how to get people in and out of booths with great customer service.

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Flatbread Company

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I am a pizza connoisseur and the pizza at Flatbread Company is next level. Made with all organic and locally sourced ingredients, this is definitely farm to table pizza. And you can taste the difference. They know food and they put twists on old favorites that I was pleasantly surprised by. I am a green pepper on my pizza kind of gal. When I tried to order it, I was informed that there was no such thing available there but they do put red pepper on pizzas so I tried it. OMG, so much sweeter than regular green peppers. Took my pizza experience to a new level.  Also, they have a summer salad that is out of this world.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Gorgeous Gelato

Oh EMM GEEEE! My girls ( and the Big Guy and I) love ice cream., frozen custard and gelato. Frozen treats are our weakness. In fact, if you have followed the TRUTH for any amount of time, you will realize I almost always seek out and find the best pizza and ice cream/frozen custard/gelato place in every single vacation destination we visit…ever. We try them all, I just tell you about the best. Gorgeous gelato in Portland Maine is an authentic and delicious gelato destination that offers a large variety of flavors to try.

Did I mention that Portland is a foodie heaven??? So many great food options and lobster to be eaten any way your heart desires.

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READ ALSO: Vacation 101: We’re not the Griswolds but We Play them on Vacation

There was so much to see and do that we definitely did not get to see and do it all in 4 days but I look forward to visiting again soon with my family and exploring some more.  There were so many delicious nooks and crannies, corners to turn and cobblestone roads to explore to this quaint and adorable coastal town. When you are in  Portland Maine, the people are so friendly that you truly feel welcome and relaxed. It’s the perfect place for a summer getaway with your family, your teens or just you and your partner. Portland offers something for everyone.

Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

Have you been to Portland Maine?

Things to do in Portland Maine with kids and teens, Things to do in Portland Maine this Summer, Portland Schooner Company, Portland, Maine, Holy Donuts, Becky's Diner, The Porthole, Maine Duck Tours, Flatbread Company, Gorgeous Gelato, Holiday In by the Bay, Portland Maine

What are your favorite things to do in Portland Maine this Summer?

 

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