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road trip

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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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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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. 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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vacation, disney world, Orlando Florida, Universal Studios, Shingle Creek, paradise, family vacation

Vacation

Family Vacation, the very term conjures up images of the Griswolds driving cross country, singing songs and wreaking havoc all while narrowly escaping death. This was sort of what our trip was like. Only it was a much needed and soul replenishing vacation in Orlando, Florida that began in an amazing hotel ans ended in Disney world. I can’t believe how much vacationing we fit into our 10 day road trip. Oh yeah, that’s right, I did it again. I swore I never would but I did and what a difference a few years makes. The difference between traveling with a 5 and 7 year and a 2 and 4 year old is the difference between strolling through the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon and being chased through the park during the middle of the night by an axe murderer with Mommy issues. World of difference. Vacation road trip was a huge success, if you don’t take into account the fact that I developed a raging case of shark week on the return trip home. Oye vey, my poor family.

Honestly,there is so much to tell you and so many great places and things to do in Orlando that I want to share with you that I am going to write this as a series over the next few weeks, every Friday will be Florida vacationing tips, tricks and honest reviews of some of the places we visited. Unfortunately, all were not great experiences.

As you can see from some of the photos above, there is a LOT to do in Florida and so many places to choose to spend your time and money so I feel it’s my duty to share what I learned; good, bad and ugly. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind while road tripping with small children:

  1. Invest in a DVD player for the car. It will save your sanity and their little lives.
  2. Bring snacks because small children and husbands get the munchies when they are on the road and the only thing that is worse than “are we there yet?” is a screamed chorus of “I’m hungry!”
  3. Bring water because apparently in places where the humidity is 200% and you might die of dehydration, they feel it’s okay to charge $5 for a bottle of water. Hint: You can buy an entire case of bottled water for $5 in most cities, including Orlando, at the grocery store. Publix is  your friend.
  4. Never buy hotel rooms or tickets through a third party, there are hidden charges. Believe me we learned this lesson twice on this vacation to a total of about $300. Not a whole lot of money but it could have been spent on something better than what it was wasted on. Just say no to third party sales.
  5. Always make sure to have children’s ibuprofen, adult ibuprofen, a thermometer, Neosporin, band-aids, hydrocortizone and pepto bismol in your bag at all times.
  6. Bring a water proof back pack to carry your camera, passes, keys, extra clothes and bottles of water in while sight seeing.
  7. When staying in a hotel, if you are watching your money, it may be worth it to consider going off grounds to purchase dinner. Case in point: Dinner for 4 at one of the hotel restaurants was  $45 for sandwiches and drinks. Off grounds, the same meal would have cost about $20. Just something to think about.
  8. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take a rain poncho with you when visiting Florida. I know that no one wears those damn ugly things unless they are going to a sporting event in the rain or an amusement park in the rain. We never buy these things until we are being rained on and then it will cost you an arm and a leg for essentially the cheapest Glad trash bag you will ever encounter. Know this now. It rains in Orlando, a lot. I’ve been several times and in every season and it ALWAYS rains. Somehow, I forgot and left the $1000 rain ponchos that I bought on my last trip at home and had to buy more. 6 more! There are only 4 of us but 2 of them ripped. There I was in the middle of the happiest place on earth getting water logged and extremely pissed off and then I laughed at myself, grabbed my 7 year old and started dancing and singing in the rain. Fuck it. Life’s too short! But if you melt and rain annoys you, BUY A RAIN PONCHO!
  9. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen and Aloe. It is hot as hell in Florida and I’m not entirely sure that it is not the gateway to the underworld but it is beautiful and after awhile of looking into the sun and cooking yourself to 165 degrees, you get used to it. You may even stop sweating in 110 degree weather. Not me, I was sweating like a whore in church the entire time I was there but you may be a cooler cat than I on vacation. Once your eyes adjust and you get used to looking directly into the sun, don’t forget that you are probably being burnt to a crisp. Reapply sunscreen, SPF 50+ every 80 minutes and don’t forget the SPF lip balm. Believe me when I tell you, I forgot to reapply to myself. I thought I was safe because of my olive Latina skin. No one is safe. Florida chews up Latinos for breakfast every day and spits them out for lunch. Currently, I am no longer red but I am the damn freckliest Mexibilly you ever did see. But what about the children? I reapplied sunscreen to them every hour and they STILL got red.Please don’t let your babies burn. Nothing ruins a family vacation faster than a kid in pain from sunburn.

vacation, Disney World, Universal Studios, Orlando Florida, Rosen Shingle Creek,the Magic Kingdom, MGM Hollywood studios, Disney's Boardwalk, Kouzzina

So much to say and do in Florida, there’s definitely more than just face eating zombies to keep you entertained. Our Griswold family vacation to Florida was pretty much awesome, with the exception of a few minor shark week induced over reactions, being water logged while alternately sweating our asses off and being burnt to a crisp and the incident with public relations at the place I will hence to forth refer to as Florida Throat Punch Recipient #1 (Universal). We loved our vacation and still think Florida is the happiest place on earth. I’m already planning next year’s trip. I’ve got loads of info about all the hottest things to do with children on your family vacation to Florida and will be giving you the down low on Fridays.

I need a vacation from my vacation

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