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cars

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know about you but travel is a form of religion to me. Nope, I don’t think travel is my God but in a profound way, I feel closer to something bigger than myself when I’m experiencing the beauty and the wonder of the world, especially if there’s music playing loudly in the background. For example, when I am flying or on a boat in the ocean, I feel freer and smaller than I’ve ever felt before yet, at the same time I feel grounded and significant in my small part. Sometimes when you’re on the open road headed toward a destination, driving can feel almost like a holy experience. I know, it might sound weird to some of you but to others you completely understand.

There is just something about taking all of that beauty in and really comprehending the enormity that this planet is where we get to live, in all of its natural glory. I’ve always loved travel but it’s only been the last few years where I’ve really begun to appreciate the beauty of the different landscapes, people and cultures. I want to show my children the entire world and everything in it

Last month, I was loaned the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited in toasted walnut pearl. I mean, is there a more perfect color name for a car that you are driving around amongst the changing leaves? The 2017 new front fascia with an updated front grille and redesigned headlights make a bold first impression.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know everything there is to know about the Toyota brand, as I have never owned one myself but I know what I like. I have friends and family members who will only buy Toyota because they hold up so well and last for so long. To me, that says something about the brand. The Highlander certainly exceeded any expectations I had.

I was pleasantly surprised by what it added to our travel experience. Not only is it a beautifully sophisticated piece of machinery, it is eco-friendly, which is something else that I tend to look for more as my fondness for the planet grows deeper.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

Traveling with my family is my favorite thing to do and we do a lot of that traveling on four wheels. We like the freedom to stop and explore along the way. So the little things matter, especially when you are in a car for 18-24 hours.

Here are some of my features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal lights and blind spot warning indicators and folding features. Safety, convenience and indulgence all rolled into one.
  • Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade and jam protection. This moonroof adds a level of sophistication and adventure.
  • Three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers, and second- and third-row vents. This is perfect, especially for long road trips with children, tweens and/or teens. Everyone controls their own temperature, a little less complaining and distraction for the driver.
  • Integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines. At this point, I am annoyed with any vehicle that doesn’t have backup cameras but the dynamic gridlines feature is perfect for new drivers learning to parallel park and just be safe in general.
  • SofTex®-trimmed 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat with sliding headrests and recline function. I know this sounds like an unnecessary luxury but believe me when you have tall passengers, stuck in a vehicle for long amounts of time the recline functions is definitely one that you will appreciate.
  • Blue LED ambient lighting on the interior of the front and rear doors and in-dash shelf. This sounds so unnecessary but I’m telling you, it’s one of those things you never knew that you always wanted. That little bit of ambient lighting makes all the difference when getting into your car at night.
  • Five total USB ports (three front and two second-row). Talk about convenience and luxury. There are 4 of us, we each have an iPhone and iPad and they need to be charged. No more fighting/bickering over whose turn it is to use the charger.
  • Second-row retractable window sunshades. If you have babies, this is a lifesaver on long trips. If you have children of any age sitting in the back seat trying to stay entertained with electronics or just not spend the drive with the migraine-inducing sun in their eyes, you too will love these window shades.
  • I love the safety features. I will have teen drivers in not too many years.
  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) — Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). My girls will be driving before I’d like to think about and I will feel a lot less anxious if I know they are driving in a vehicle that does its part help keep them safe.
  • More safety features we can all get behind. Star Safety System™ — includes Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST).
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) like backup cameras, how did we ever live without these features?
  • toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

**No husbands were harmed in the taking of this photo. He just has a morbid sense of humor and was in desperate need of a nap.

  • The storage space is huge. I was able to put my 6’5″ husband in the back. Not that you’d move a body in the Highlander but, the point is, you could if you needed to 😉
  • And, did I mention the mileage on the Highlander Hybrid? If I didn’t I definitely should have. I had the vehicle for 10 days and never had to fill it up. The mileage is out of this world compared to my Enclave.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travelI could go on for pages but these are just a few of my favorite features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. All of these features help me to focus on what is important about family vacations, family and not let the small stuff like comfort, charging stations and gas mileage ruin the whole thing.

Travel really is an experience that transcends time and space, your mind needs to be free to wander without distraction and completely immerse in the people and places you visit. Traveling with my family, showing them the people and places of this planet, is having the very best of both worlds. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited makes the journey as fantastic as the destination.

What was your favorite family trip destination? How did you get there?

Disclosure: I was provided the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited to drive for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Ever wonder what the secret to the best road trip with family really is? I see families doing it all the time and I’m like, “that’s never how our road trips go.” We’ve spent countless road trips being tortured with, “Are we there yet?” So much so that I think I may actually have some road trip PTSD to join my stepping off curbs variety. I just always suspected all those awesome families having amazing road trips must be either the really patient types ( I envy them) or maybe just well medicated. But I wanted whatever they were on because I loved the road trips of my childhood and I want that with my girls. I love the whole “expect the unexpected” sense of it all.

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Vacation You Can Take Your Children On

A couple weeks ago, we went on one last summer road trip as a family. We just needed to go someplace to be one with nature and one another. You know what I mean. We needed to unplug and focus on what was really important before plunging headlong back into the craziness that is our day to day life. We decided to visit the Traverse City KOA in Michigan.

We’ve never been to Traverse City and the girls and I have never been camping but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Traverse City is about a 4.5-hour scenic drive from our house and there was a promise of quiet, stillness, sand dunes, waves and Lake Michigan for as far as the eye could see. Most importantly, it was going to be togetherness with no distractions.

READ ALSO: Places You must see and Do on San Diego Road Trip

The girls are 10 and 12-years-old now. Not to jinx it but I like them. They are becoming humans who I want to spend time engaging with, listening to and getting to know. So the only thing I had on my mind was getting to where we were going and enjoying the journey, company and the destination. I wanted to bask in every single moment of it.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Thanks to the generosity of KIA I was loaned a 2017 KIA Sorento for the journey. I’ve driven a Sorento before, a few years ago, on a press trip. But there is a big difference between driving a vehicle for a few hours and driving it for a few days on a trip trapped in the car with your family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

It takes some time to really get to know a vehicle and be comfortable driving it on different terrains, at different speeds, in stop and go traffic, local traffic and on the highway. These all make a difference in the feel of the vehicle and let you experience how it handles. Sort of the way, taking a group of city folks into the wild and letting them camp for the first time does. Put it this way, we all learned a lot about ourselves doing new things in a new place that weekend.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I’ll tell you about the camping trip in another post but I want to tell you about this vehicle. When I think of KIA, I think dependable and budget-friendly. I used to think of the perfect car for someone in their 20’s.

I love the brand and the brand’s mission. They really are working to make the world a better place with their hybrids and eco-friendly line but this 2017 Sorento SXL surprised me. It wasn’t what I expected.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Firstly, the Sorento is not only gorgeous, it rides like a luxury line vehicle not what I expected for this price point. Talk about getting a bang for your buck and being pleasantly surprised. Currently, we own an Enclave and a Cadillac SRX. We love both cars but the 2017 Sorento had the luxurious drive feel of the Cadillac at a much lower price point, about half even less if you didn’t get the SXL. It also had better gas mileage than both of our current SUVs. We do a lot of driving around town with our girls and all the activities they are in so gas mileage is important to us.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The Sorento has too many bells and whistles to mention all of them but some of my favorites were the reclining second-row seats, perfect for road trips and tired tweens. I’m all about convenience and comfort. We’re tall people, well they all are, and they need lots of leg room. There was plenty in the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Speaking of the tweens, they loved the panoramic sunroof and power shade and the integrated 2nd-row window sunshades. This is perfect to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes or for the tween trying to sleep or shoot a Music.ly without being washed out on film. Either way, it beats the heck out of those shades we used to buy at the baby stores to keep the sun out of their eyes. It was super convenient and seamless, not obtrusive and ugly.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

I, personally, loved the power-folding outside mirrors, windshield De-Icer, heated and cooled front seats, smart key immobilizer and adjustable height smart power liftgate. My husband is 6’5” so he needs super-sized everything and not banging his head on the liftgate is a definite bonus. He fell in love with the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Did I mention the UVO eservices with navigation, 8” color touch screen display, SiriusXM traffic, HD radio, Android Auto and Apple Car Play? All pouring into the car via the Infinity 10-speaker audio w/Clari-Fi External Amplifier and subwoofer. We are huge music people and a road trip is just not a road trip without music. I mean, seriously, you need your Despacito to be loud so you can all sing along but be able to hear it so crisp and clear that it feels like you’re at the concert, was the icing on the cake.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Now, on top of all of this, the 2017 Sorento SXL has everything I’d want in a car for my girls who are approaching the driving age faster than I’d like to admit. So in addition to being sleek, sexy and beautiful, having a ride like you’re in your Lazy-boy at home and every convenience, you could ever possibly dream of it is safe because KIA is all about family.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

The 2017 Sorento has a rear-camera display, rear parking assist system, surround view monitor, blind-spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system, autonomous emergency braking and steering wheel mounted audio, hands-free phone and cruise control so no searching around and not paying attention. For me, this makes the Sorento the perfect vehicle for everyone in my family.

READ ALSO: Best Things to do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

From the mom with the precious cargo on board to the family with tweens in the back seat as your road trip across America to the new teen driver who you send out into the world on their own; there’s no car I’d feel safer doing so in than the Sorento.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travelI can honestly say that driving the 2017 KIA Sorento SXL on our road trip made the journey as amazing as the destination, and the destination was pretty damn amazing.

Michigan, road trip, family, KIA, Sorento, travel

Disclosure: I was provided the KIA Sorento to drive on our road trip but all opinions about this vehicle are my own and those of my family. We loved it and that’s the secret to the best road trip ever.

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado, HardRockHotelSD

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.

This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?

When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!

Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.

If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Balboa Park

Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Chicano Park

I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.

USS Midway Museum

The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)

Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Mission Basilica de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.

The Gaslamp Quarter

I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

If you’ve been to San Diego, what’s your favorite place to visit on a San Diego Road Trip?

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Disclosure: I was invited to San Diego for a press event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. All opinions are my own.

Road trips and travel are things that I thrive on. The open sky, ocean, and road call to my soul. The wanderlust is strong with me. Seriously, put me on a plane, train, boat or automobile to anywhere and I’ll have a good time immersing myself in the culture and surrounding myself with the people. I look at every new destination as an opportunity for adventure and we’re teaching our daughters to embrace the journey as much as the destination.

Now that you have an understanding of my absolute adoration of travel and road trips, I’d love to share one of my most recent trips with you. A few weeks ago, KIA invited me to a ride and drive event in beautiful (heaven on earth, as I like to call it) San Diego, California.

The icing on the cake, I got to road trip and explore all over the city in my pick of the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. I drove the all new eco-dynamic Niro and the Optima Hybrid EX. But also available were the SOUL EV and the Optima Plug-in Hybrid.

 

I explored San Diego with my girls, Becky Boricua and Wendy Nielsen jamming out to Despacito on the amazing Harmon Kardon sound system (sorry about the repeat playlist Wendy. You were a good sport) and we had a blast. It was so nice to drive around knowing that the whole trip wasn’t leaving a nasty carbon footprint.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The new line is not only eco-friendly and good for the earth (which hello, with Trump’s recent antics pulling out of the Paris Act, we definitely need to do all that we can to help take care of this planet for our children’s sake) but they are also fun to drive. I think they are the perfect marriage of beautiful, fun and budget-friendly.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

A few fun facts about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line that maybe you didn’t know. Firstly, did you know that KIA is the only car company on the planet to earn the environmental validation award? I am all for helping the environment. I have a crunchy streak in me a mile wide but there’s a lot I didn’t know about eco- friendly vehicles and I don’t think I’m the only one.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The Optima Hybrid that I drove was completely redesigned for the 2017 model and gets 39 miles per gallon (MPG) city and 46 MPG highway. Since it’s a hybrid, you have the best of both worlds; eco-friendly but still get that torque for a little extra kick. Don’t think an eco-dynamic vehicle can be badass? You would be wrong. You should hear the 630-watt Harmon-Kardon sound system in the new Kia line. The Optima plug-in hybrid can drive from San Francisco to San Diego without stopping, on one battery charge. What? That’s pretty amazing, right? Now, if only I could get m bladder to go as long as that battery.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

If you are looking for something a little bigger, the Niro gets the best mileage around at 76.6. mpg. It is a hybrid with some kick. Want to be an eco-warrior? This is the vehicle for you.

Still not convinced, here are 5 reasons why you should choose the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles for your next road trip:

1. They are good for the environment (duh).
2. They will save you money.
3. They are loads of fun to drive (I know from experience.)
4. The government supports eco-friendly vehicles and there are perks like preferred parking up close for plug-ins and HOV lane access.
5. Never worry about running out of gas and being late again because you forgot to fill up the tank the night before. Simply plug it in at night and go on your way in the morning.

In case you are worried that you are going to run out of juice on the road, don’t be. The battery can charge while you drive. Worried what effect plugging in and charging up with have on your electric bill? Don’t be. The cost is 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt so for the Optima, that averages out to be about $1.50 a day to recharge. You can even contact your local electric company and, in some cases, get lower charging rates in the evening! Who knew it was so easy to be kind to the planet? What are you waiting for?

If you have any other questions about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try my best to get you the answers. Also, the news just came out that after ranking highest in 2016, the new KIA keeps the top spot for 2017 and has more segment award winners than any other brand!

What is your favorite new KIA eco-dynamic vehicle?

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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.

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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mom, driver, minivan, #Swaggerwagon, crazy

Do you refer to your car as a swagger wagon? Wait! Have you heard that the latest technology in minivans makes it so that I can yell at my kids in the car without having to scream over the Kids Bop #71 millionth edition CD and the two of them out octaving one another to the tune of, “NO, YOU’RE THE worst sister ever!” What?

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post about the swagger wagon; I just think that this is really cool and I want these features STAT.

Apparently, Toyota knows that parenting is hard work and it is not for the weak. Quite frankly, we can use a few more tools in our parenting toolbox especially in times of parenting desperation like road trips or 10 minutes drives to school or around the block. The 2015 Toyota Sienna has not one but TWO features that I cannot believe were not already invented. When you have kids you need all the blind spot detection, three rows of seating, airbags, entertainment system, auto warning this and that and braking in times of danger. You need all the safety bells and whistles, don’t let your husband convince you otherwise. He’s not the poor bastard driving around town in a vehicle covered in Goldfish dust with sippy cups and overpriced hard plastic, educational toys being hurled at HIS head trying to look cool with the Wiggles blasting on the radio.

Damn it people, we’ve got babies on board! I did not house those little people so some damn drunk driver can run a red light and t-bone us and I certainly didn’t sign a waiver allowing my sanity to be taken away on loooooonnnnnnggggggg road trips to places like Disney World nor did I read the fine print that said that I may or may not have to dislocate my shoulder to hand toys and sippy cups hurled and then cried for immediately while driving back to toddlers who think its funny. P.S. It was not funny! Why did no one warn me about teenagers texting on the road? I want all the blue tooths. Every time I go on the road, it feels like I’m in a game of frogger as I try to avoid all the texters, drunkards and stay in the line and not miss my exit all while little people are shouting at me and licking one another and choking on cheerios. It’s like extreme driving. I need a xanax just thinking about it.

Anyways, what are the two features I am referring to? Wait for it….
“Driver Easy Speak.” It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through speakers in the back seats. Translation: You no longer have to actually scream at your children, you can whisper (that’s more scary any ways) into a built in megaphone. Take that, little people and the best part is this is not two-way. It’s just me, talking at them…all day long! So, instead of yelling, “If you lick your brother’s face one more time…I’ll drop you off at the orphanage!!” YOU can now simply whisper from the comfort of your front seat, “I see dead people!”

It also has what they are calling an optional “pull-down “conversation” mirror” I call it eyes in the back of your head and wait…wasn’t that already invented? I mean, isn’t that what your rearview mirror is for? Well, except for when you are backing up and the camera comes on and the kids could literally be back there setting shit on fire because you can not see a damn thing. Anyways, I like the idea of eyes in the back of my head and I convinced my little ones that I did in fact have this condition a long time ago. My 7-year-old still checks the back of my head from time to time. I think instead of a mirror, I’d prefer a camera…right there in my rear view left side that watched the backseats. You know, security footage to be used in a court of law.

I was so excited that for half a second, I actually considered swapping out my Enclave for the Toyota Sienna 2015 and then I remembered that I am allergic to minivans so, sadly no #Swaggerwagon for me but I do love these features and the new commercials. This one is my favorite.

P.S. Does anyone else hear Missy Elliot’s “Get UR Freak on” every time they see the word “Swaggerwagon” I’m serious? No? Maybe that says more about me than it does about you? I did learn to drive in an extended van with a bed in the back.

What’s the number one feature you look for in your mom Swagger wagon?

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Honda, Odyssey, minivan

Dear Minivan Mommies,

Do NOT go gentle into that good night. Fight it. Rage against the temptation nay the spiritual castration that is the minivan. Sure they make them in secret agent squirrel charcoal and sleek Land Rover black. Ooh, they try to fool us into believing those minivans are cool. But remember your senses woman, a grocery getter, is the station wagon of the 70s, is the fast track to Loserville…population you and every other pajama jean wearing mother in the pick up line.

Sure my Mommy friends have tried to convince me that their minivan is cool. They pull up to stoplights all over suburbia and rev up their engine, taunting me beckoning me to race them. Their tricked out grocery getter van versus my sleek, sturdy, gas guzzling SUV. Any way you slice it ladies, no matter how tricked out your minivan may be…you my friend are no SUV.

I don’t care if it has a built in movie room, seating for 16, plush leather interior, a bed, a kitchen and a craft room. I don’t care if you can fit the entire football team and cheer squad in that bitch. I don’t even care if there’s a built in wine cooler and keg refrigerator for tailgating. I may have just lied to myself, a wine cooler and keg fridge could possibly cause me to take a second look. So what if you come with all the bells and whistles for less than the cost of my yearly Starbucks habit. I will not be seduced. Hell, your minivan’s baby changer/bather/breastfeeder combo and human butler do not impress me. I have standards.

You can’t look cool, singing the Wiggles and driving a small bus. You are not sexy with your pony tail blowing in the wind as your onstar directs you to the nearest Starbucks. I don’t give a flying rat’s ass what that creepy bald guy told you at the dealership. Tell him he can keep his pajama jeans, you don’t need them. You want a big SUV, with a lot of power so that you can show all the other soccer moms who’s really the boss and it ain’t Tony Danza. It’s the mom with the biggest tank and the most European vehicle.Keep in mind that SUV also comes in handy for running punk student drivers off the road, if the need should ever arise. I’m just saying.

I think Minivans should be outlawed. Every time I pull up behind one, I instinctively want to ram it in the rear.I loathe them. I look at the minivan and I see all the hopes and dreams of the women behind the wheel…crushed into dust as they soldier on, getting their groceries, taxing their children and having their spirit stolen from them. I see dead people where there used to be vibrant, independent women.

I know this is an irrational fear of a vehicle but I refuse to go gentle into that good night. I will fight it kicking and screaming. I will throw a full on two-year-old tantrum, I don’t care who stares with gaping mouth. I will rage against the minivan for as long as I can take breath into my chest and as long as I can fit my kids into my SUV. I am throwing down the gauntlet and vowing to you to never have more kids than I can fit into an SUV, no matter how you tart it up and prance it around in front of me.I will not fall for your sultry, vixen like ways. I will resist temptation. Are you pro minivan? Anti-minivan?

Are you a recent convert to the church of minivan?

**This post originally went live on October 11, 2011 but I have been looking at new vehicles and I needed the reminder to be strong because I’ve got to admit with 2 kids, that new Honda Odyssey minivan with the built-in vacuum cleaner “almost” made me a convert. I am afraid of what might happen if I actually test drove that minivan.

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