travel-section

Category : Travel

Holiday Gifts for Travelers Savvy Sassy Moms

10 Travel gifts for her

The girl who seems to have her next adventure planned before the wheels even touch down on her previous trip can be hard to shop for — she isn’t typically held down by stuff and everything must be ready-to-go at any moment… just in case the travel bug hits! These travel gifts for her will be a huge hit for the women with wanderlust in your life, whether she’s traveling with kids or without!

1. Bose Quiet Comfort Headset, $299
2. Stephanie Johnson ML Traveler Cosmetic Case, $88 & Susan Jewelry Roll, $60
3. MAC Essential Brush Set, $53
4. Luggage Scale, $20
5. Tieks Ballet Flats, $265
6. Axel + Ash Bucket List Journal, $40
7. Wanderlust Bangle, $45
8. TWELVElittle 3-in-1 Fold Over Bag, $205
9. S’well Blanc Crocodile Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $25
10. Kate Spade Everpurse iPhone Charging Clutch, $198

What’s on your travel wish list?
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SKI GUIDE.001
Hey, ski and snowboard mamas! It’s that time of year… the slopes are calling! Have you brought out all the ski gear to take inventory yet? Do those snow pants still fit the kids and did you ever find that missing glove? Have you planned this winter’s epic family ski vacation? I know, there is so much to do in the holiday season, and teaching your children to ski or snowboard or planning that dream winter getaway can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help!

Together with our friends at Momtrends and Luxury Travel Mom, we’ve compiled everything you need for a successful year on the slopes! The 2015/2016 Family Ski and Snowboard Guide is packed full of ski resort listings and expert tips from family travel blogger, as well as ski interviews from Sarah Schlepper, Jonny Mosley and Krista Parry. We also have all the hot new ski gear you need for both on and off the slopes, including how to keep your kids feet warm and a handy printable packing list!

 

Family Ski & Snowboard Guide

Throughout the winter, we’ll be hosting fun and informative #SKiMoms Twitter Chats. Stay tuned for details and joins us to chat! Make sure you’re following our ski and snowboarding adventures over on Instagram, too… I’m hitting the slopes of Whistler with my own family in just a couple of weeks!

What Kind of Skier are You

Andrea Fellman Family Ski Guide with KidsSavvy Sassy Moms on Instagram

 

 

 

NIcole Ski Headshot Photo

Momtrends on Instagram

 

 

 

Kim-MarieHelmetLuxury Travel Mom on Instagram

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I love cold weather favorites like scarves, fires and hot apple cider as much as the next person. But you know what else I love? A winter getaway to somewhere warm! Recently, I had the chance to escape for a mom’s weekend away in Palm Springs with one of my besties to the Two Bunch Palms Resort. Here’s why you should plan a mini warm-weather getaway with someone special, too.

How to Plan a Winter Palm Springs Getaway

Two Bunch Palms Resort is located in Desert Hot Springs, just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. The resort is the perfect place to plan a couples trip or BFF getaway. I grabbed my bestie from high school who lives 8 hours away from me and who I don’t get to spend nearly enough face-to-face time with. With five boys between us, we were due for some girl time!

The 270-acre property at Two Bunch Palms is perfect for a relaxing getaway. It’s hidden away on a hill in Desert Hot Springs (you have to watch carefully so you don’t miss the driveway!) and is very quiet and secluded. In fact, the entire time I was there, not a single person asked me for a glass of milk or to tie their shoe! Here are my four must-haves for any good mom getaway:

Two Palms Resort in Californai

The perfect place to soak

Two Bunch Palms Resort’s Grotto is one of the highlights of the resort and one of the places where you’ll undoubtedly spend a great deal of time. Not surprisingly, it was just voted “America’s Best Hot Springs” at the 2015 Wellness Travel Awards, hosted by SpaFinder 365! With two adjoining hot springs to choose from (a 99°F one that is perfect for lounging in and a hot 104°F one for truly relaxing those tight mama muscles), the mineral hot springs have been flowing at this location for over 600 years!

Besides the water itself, the ambiance of the Grotto is sublime. There is a waterfall and whisper-only policy to help you zen out, built-in seats and floaties to help you bliss out in the water, and lots of nooks and crannies in and around the Grotto to find your own personal space to finally take a deeeeeep exhale.

Planning the Perfect Girlfriend Spa Weekend

Get your spa on

Any good mom getaway has to include a spa treatment. Two Bunch Palms has a number of traditional treatments to choose from like massages, facials and scrubs. But, they also have a number of unique treatments to their resort like their Watsu — a pool-based treatment where your body is gently guided through warm water to encourage flexibility, relaxation and balance — or their 7 Centers Chakra experience (I tried this one!), which blends a massage-like experience with aromatherapy oils designed to correlate to each of your seven chakras. I had no idea what my chakras were, but I do know that I left my treatment relaxed, renewed and smelling divine!

Getaways With Food Options That are Healthy

Meals matter

I love healthy food that fuels your body with goodness. I also love wine. And chocolate. And chips and salsa. All things in moderation, right? So on our girl getaway, we tried to balance the healthy and the indulgent. We started off each day on a good foot with a healthy breakfast at Essence, the farm-to-table, on-property restaurant. Fresh-pressed juice blends, homemade home fries, and an omelet with seasonal veggies was the perfect start to the day. Be sure to save time for a espresso from your in-room coffee machine and some morning reading on your private patio.

Dining Options at Two Bunch Palms Resort

While Essence is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we opted to explore off the property for our other meals. For lunch, we ventured out Appetito, a Cal-Italian deli in Palm Springs. With a variety of snacks, small plates, pasta, salads, pizzas and more, you’re sure to find the perfect nibble to satisfy your appetite. Appetito has a great patio for outdoor seating if it’s nice, and cute, modern booths inside if you want more privacy.

Where to Eat in Palm Springs

For dinner, we decided to venture into downtown Palm Springs for a few more, um, indulgent meals. Chips, salsa, fresh-made guac and margaritas are a must at Las Casuelas. With an extensive menu of Mexican favorites, you can’t go wrong here. Sit outside along the street for great people watching, inside for more privacy or in the outdoor bar for great live music and dancing. Also, I can tell you from experience that the Mexican Chocolate Kahlua Fudge Brownie with ice cream is an excellent way to end your meal.

Where to Get Cocktails in Palm Springs

We only had drinks at the Workshop Kitchen + Bar, but will definitely be back for more. The modern ambiance inside this place and inventive menu is worth a longer visit. Our waiter recommended an off-menu cocktail called the Army Navy which I highly recommend. Next time, drinks and dinner.

Restaurants for a Girls Palm Springs Weekend

Finally, we tried out Eight4Nine, a new restaurant in downtown Palm Springs set in an old design store of the same name. With tall white walls, black-and-white photography and accent pops of pink, the interior feels very chic and very Palm Springs. Try their signature Eight4Nine cocktail or their exclusive LVPolitan. The eclectic menu offers everything from fried chicken and ahi tuna poke bowls, to lobster pot pie to chile relleno. Either way, be sure to start with the Mushroom & Brussels Sprout Toast appetizer — you’re welcome. Best of all, there are a lots of different rooms at Eight4Nine so whether you are hosting a lively party of 12 or a private dinner for two, they’ll have the perfect table for you.

Feeding Your Soul with Yoga in Palm Springs

Feeding your soul

Sure you’ve booked a gorgeous room and a relaxing spa treatment, but Two Bunch goes a step beyond when it comes to creating the perfect kid-free getaway by including a number of daily wellness activities to round out your relaxation. Depending on the day, you can choose from a Tai Chi, yoga, juicing class, wine tasting or a guided mediation, among others.

Morning Yoga at Two Bunch Palms ResortSome of my favorites were the morning yoga in the Yoga Dome, a gorgeous, calming room and the perfect way to set the tone for the day. The afternoon Vino and Van Gogh class was also a must. The teacher is a lovely soul and no, there’s no artistic ability needed — the wine helps with that, too.

Vino and Van Gogh Paining Classes

So, are YOU ready to get away? Visit TwoBunchPalms.com for more information on the resort and to plan your own getaway. See their current specials here!

SSM was not paid for this post. We were provided travel accommodations.

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Savvy Travel Items: Savvy Sassy Moms

Travel savvy must haves

As a woman who travels frequently, there are certain things I have to bring along to help me stay completely mobile and organized. When packing up my carry on or large tote — whether I’m traveling solo for work or on a trip with the family — these are some of the things that help keep me sane on the go: Laptop, iPad mini, headset, snacks, lotion, lip gloss, facial wipes, external batteries for my phone, tech bag for chargers and cords, business cards, sunscreen stick, notebook, Sharpies, screen wipes and my new wanderlust journal. I also always have a sweater or scarf tucked in my bag and my travel socks handy, just in case I am wearing sandals, because my feet get so cold on the plane.


Jackery External Battery Chargers: Savvy Sassy MomsJACKERY

Every savvy traveler travels with at least one external battery charger and, depending on if you are traveling with family or solo, you may need more than one for all those devices! There are a variety of Jackery chargers available, both in size and charging capabilities.

Jackery Mini is the size of a lipstick and a great option that will literally fit in your pocket or a clutch for an evening out. This is really for a one-time charge on-the-go — it’s a great back-up emergency charger or perfect for your kids phones. The Jackery Bar is a little bit bigger and will charge your phone twice before needing to be plugged in. I like having these in my carry on because they are small in size and will not weigh you down. You can always pack a larger one in your main luggage.


Savvy Travel Petunia Pickle BottomPetunia Picklebottom Case Jackery Savvy Sassy Travel

PETUNIA PICKLE BOTTOM

Packing up the electronics means lots of messy cords and chargers. I like to put all my cords and chargers in a designated tech case and I’ve found that a cosmetic bag is the perfect fit — not only doe sit get the job done, but gets it done in style! The Petunia Pickle Bottom Cosmetic Pouch is perfect for keeping all your cords, plugs and charges all together in one pretty place.

Savvy Travelers Screen Wipes and Teeth Wipes Savvy Sassy Moms
SAVVY TRAVELERS

One of my favorite new discoveries for savvy traveling is the products from Savvy Travelers. These small, disposable pouches of travel must-haves are so easy to travel with. They’re individually packaged and super lightweight, so you can throw them in your bag without worrying about it. Savvy Travelers IN THE KLEAR are lens and screen luxe sheets for cleaning all your devices and glasses — there’s nothing worse than a smudged up screen! While the SPEAK EAZY luxe wipes are the perfect alternative to packing your toothbrush and toothpaste on the plane — give your teeth a wipe and you’re fresh and ready for meeting friends or family at baggage claim!

One Truffle Travel Accessories Savvy Sassy Moms

ONE TRUFFLE

I’ve been a fan of these clear pouches for years now. One Truffle makes clear bags that keep things organized and protected from any spills. The large One Truffle Pouches are great for protecting electronics, cords and chargers or they can be used for cosmetics or jewelry. When you have all the important items in one nice bag you can easily transfer it to different handbags in a second. The larger pouch is perfect for my notebook, iPad mini, Sharpies and my business cards!

Wanderlust Bucket List Axel and Ash Savvy Sassy Moms Travel

AXEL & ASH

The latest add to my carry on is the wanderlust journal from Axel and Ash. This book is great for documenting where you are going, what your travel expectations are and for journaling about what you see and do. I realize that many of us take notes and document things by photographs and thorugh social media, but there is something wonderful about physically writing with pen and paper what you are experiencing. These books also prompt you with questions, so you might even discover more about a place then you originally intended.

Other travel style savvy must-haves

Hand cream: Kiehl’s First Class Hand Purifying Treatment  / Facial wipes:  Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes / Sunscreen stick: Sun Bum Face Stick

Travel safe & stylish!
Savvy Travel packing your carry on Savvy Sassy Moms

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‘Tis the season for dashing through the snow — in a car or on a plane — off to Grandma’s house we go! Adding small children to the mix makes this terribly exciting — and a huge stress-factor for lots of moms. I know this, firsthand, so I’ve gathered together a list of the best products to make your holiday travel with kids as easy as pumpkin pie… mmmmm pumpkin pie.

Holiday Travel with Kids: Portable Night Light from Skip Hop

1. Skip Hop Take-Along Nightlight

Possibly the cutest way to keep nighttime fears at bay, the Skip Hop Take-Along Nightlight mixes the adorable characters from their Zoo collection that your kids already know and love with portable, cord-free nightlights. They are easy to use with only one big button on the back and an automatic 30-minute shut-off. This little night light is perfect for middle-of-the-night potty trips in unfamiliar places or for comforting one child without keeping everyone else in the hotel room awake. Also comes in monkey and butterfly. (Skip Hop Take-Along Nightlight, $18)

Zoomkit Pic
2. ZoomKIT by Kids Go Co

Are we there yet? Keep your kids occupied and happy with the ZoomKIT, a portable desk that can be used in the car, stroller or on its own. What makes the ZoomKIT so genius is the interchangeable ZoomIN inserts — from a miniature art kit to a bento box style lunch box — allowing you to quickly and easily go from one activity to another while on the move. My favorite is just the basic universal ZoomIN. For one car trip, I actually filled it with popcorn for a movie, which kept my 5-year-old entertained and popcorn off my car seats! ZoomKIT comes in two colors and ZoomIN inserts are sold separately. (ZoomKIT, $50)

Travel Must-Have: Car Seat that Converts into a Stroller

3. Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller

From the airport to errands, it really doesn’t get any easier than this. The Doona Infant Car Seat is the first of its kind to go from a car seat to full stroller system, all in one adorable little package. Gone are the days of lugging around your car seat and travel system, with the Doona all you do is lift and pop out the integrated wheels and you’re off. And less stuff means more room in your car for everything else. Weighing only 15 pounds with a child weight limit up to 35 pounds, now coming in several vibrant colors and with a variety of accessories, the Doona is all you will need when the last thing you need is one more thing. Plus, it’s FAA approved! (Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller, $500)

GB Pockit Stroller for Travel with Kids

4. GB Pockit Stroller

The talk of the ABC Kids Expo this year, the GB Pockit Stroller goes from a full size umbrella stroller to being small enough to fit under the plane seat in front of you in seconds (see how it works in our Instagram video!). However, don’t think you’re sacrificing options for this outstanding fold as the GB Pockit comes with a sunshade, locking swivel front wheels, a height-adjustable 5-point harness, an 11-inch basket, removable and washable fabric and a one-touch rear brake system. Useful for babies from 6-months, up to 55-pounds and weighing only 9-pounds this is the ideal stroller for jet-set families. (GB Pockit Stroller, $229, Available Spring 2016)

Great for On-the-Go: Portable, Foldable Highchair

5. GoTo 2-in-1 Infant Car Seat Station and High Chair

When it comes to seating for small children at a restaurant, options are limited, at best. For your infant car seat, it becomes downright dangerous (flipped over high chair anyone?!). Introducing the GoTo 2-in-1 Infant Car Seat Station and High Chair. Portable and lightweight with its own carrying case, this high chair safely holds your infant car seat and then easily converts into a toddler high chair, complete with a 5-point safety harness. (GoTo Infant Car Seat Station and High Chair, $60)

Finally! A Portable Baby Gate!

6. NAVIgate Portable Baby Gate

Traveling with little ones as much as I do, I’d have to say one of the hardest parts is being out of our element with dangers literally around every un-babyproofed corner. While we can’t control everything, the NAVIgate helps control where your child has access when you aren’t at home. When you usually think of baby gates, big bulky plastic walls comes to mind, but the NAVIgate changes that with a strong transparent mesh and a unique ratcheting and tube system that makes this amazing baby gate safe, easy to install, and most importantly, portable as it comes with its very own travel case. (NAVIgate, $98)

b.box

7. b.box Travel Bottle Drying Rack

Washing bottles, binkys and sippy cups on the go just got a tad bit more stylish — and easy — with the b.box Bottle Drying Rack. With a flat fold for easy storage and coming in four vibrant colors, the b.box bottle drying rack is just what you need when counter space is at a premium. (b.box Bottle Drying Rack, $18)

The Best Portable Travel Beds for Kids
8. The Shrunks Indoor Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed

Last week, we had an impromptu sleepover and thankfully I had the Tuckaire Indoor Toddler Travel Bed. It took only seconds to blow up since it comes with its own pump and the instructions are clear and easy to understand. What makes this bed so special is the ability to tuck the sheets in around the center and the “bedrails” insuring your little one doesn’t go rolling off in the middle of the night. From sleepovers to just having an extra bed when your house is full of visiting family, the Tuckaire is perfect for keeping the littles comfy all night long. (Tuckaire, $79)

A Travel Humidifier That Only Needs a Glass of Water!

9. Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Travel Humidifier

Traveling with a sick child is no joke, which is why Crane (known for making awesome and adorable nursery humidifiers) created a brand new humidifier that’s completely portable. What we love about this product is that it can be used in any standard sized cup while running whisper quiet for up to 10 hours. Includes its own travel pouch and has a power adapter that plugs into a standard outlet or USB port. (Crane Ultrasonic Cool Mist Travel Humidifier, $38)

Best Diaper Bags for Traveling with Kids
10.  Pacapod Portland Diaper Bag

Pacapod’s motto is “No matter where you wander… everything’s in its place” but I think it should be “the uber-organized part of your brain will do a happy dance” because yes, it will. Each Pacapod diaper bag comes with a Feeder Pod and a Changer Pod that are removable and will strap onto your stroller. And, the Feeder Pod even turns into a mini backpack. In addition, the Portland’s exterior is water resistant, has a large parent pocket that kept my keys, giant wallet and even bigger phone all within quick and easy reach. If all of that isn’t enough there is a third huge middle pocket for everything else. In fact, you will more likely run out of stuff to put in your Pacapod Portland before you run out of room! (Pacapod Portland, $260)

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Where to Stay in Costa Rica #FindingCostaRica
Finding Costa Rica

Perhaps you’ve already heard, but I live in Costa Rica. Yup, I’m “the girl from Costa Rica” as several people have told me recently. I’m not telling you this to boast or brag, I’m just telling you so that you get why I talk about Costa Rica a lot on Savvy Sassy Moms and, more importantly, why I am writing this post. To help you plan your own trip here.

Since moving to Costa Rica, I’ve started Wanderlust Living, a blog dedicated to our travels as a family, as well as working closely with the travel app Findery, which I love for sharing and capturing in-the-moment notes as we explore Costa Rica and rest of the world. Over the next two weeks, Findery is #FindingCostaRica, sharing my content about living in and traveling to Costa Rica, as well as the content of other Findery users, the Findery travel community and the Findery influencers. If you’re looking to travel to Costa Rica any time soon, #FindingCostaRica will be all that you need.

Findery asked me to create a 10 Days in Costa Rica travel itinerary and it wasn’t as easy as it might sound! I tried to highlight my favorite places as well as put together a plan that lets you get well rounded sample of Costa Rica. I should also mention that this itinerary is for the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, since this is the area I know the best. There plenty of other amazing places to visit in Costa Rica, of course, and some that I still hope to get to, but for now this is how I would spend 10 days in Costa Rica.

And as for where to stay in Costa Rica….keep reading!
10 Day Itinierary in Guanacaste Costa Rica Wanderlust Living Findery Andea Fellman

Where to stay in Costa Rica

As far as where to stay in Costa Rica, it all depends on your budget and your sense of adventure! Costa Rica offers everything from totally off-the-grid lodges (with no wi-fi) to tree houses to luxury hotels to all-inclusive resorts to small boutique hotels to luxury condos for rent. Where you stay also depends on what is on your to-do list, who you are traveling with and the ages of those traveling with you.

Here are some of the places I have stayed in Costa Rica (some more than once) and I would recommend any of these for a variety of reasons:

Westin Playa Conchal Guanacaste Costa Rica Wanderlust Living Andrea Fellman

1. For an all-inclusive resort vacation:
Westin Playa Conchal

 

Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica All Inclusive Hotels2. For a fun stay with kids:
Dreams La Mareas Resort in Costa Rica

Lost Iguana Resort McKenna Grandma3.  For being tucked away in the rain forest:
The Lost Iguana Resort

Buena Vista Lodge Waterslide Gigantic Tree4. For a sweet rain forest water slide adventure:
Buena Vista Lodge

 

La Carolina Loadge Natural Jacuzzi and River Wanderlust Living5. For the best of rustic beauty:
La Carolina Lodge

 

Tabacon Hot Springs Costa Rica Travel6. For true Costa Rican hot springs:
Tabacon Hot Springs

 

Hotel El Rodeo San Jose Costa Rica Grounds

7. For a great hotel near the San Jose Airport:
El Hotel Rodeo

 

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens Costa Rica - 1948. For a charming cloud forest retreat:
The Montevere Lodge and Gardens

 

A few other hotels to consider are the Flamingo Beach Resort, JW Marriott, Four Seasons, Andaz and The Diria in Tamarindo. There are luxury homes and condos at Las Catalinas that I highly recommend as well.

Hotels are not the only option, of course. You can also rent some pretty fabulous houses! If you want to rent a house in the popular surf town of Tamarindo, visit Tamarindo Vacation Rentals by RPM Vacation Rentals. Tell them I sent you!

 

Leave me a comment if I can help answer any questions about Costa Rica! I would be happy to help.
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Why you need to make Maine your fall travel destination

You’ve probably heard about our summers — Maine isn’t called Vacationland for nothing. Fall, in my opinion, has just as much to offer and is actually my favorite season. Having been born, raised and come back to the great state of Maine to start my own family, I may be a little biased, but I am not exaggerating when I say Maine is a special place. A Maine fall is something everyone should experience at least once. Here are 10 of the many reasons why you’ll want to consider planning a fall trip to Maine. Fair warning: you may never want to leave!

10 Reason to Visit Maine in the Fall

1. Beautiful weather… without the summer crowds

Let me tell you a little secret, fall in Maine, especially September, has some of our best weather of the year. You can still sneak in a mail-boat cruise on Casco Bay, a whale watch or a walk on the beach without worrying about hoards of summer tourists.

2. Cheaper rates

Generally speaking, Labor Day is considered the end of peak season in Maine, which means rates go down in the fall and some top-notch spots become much more affordable. For traveling families the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth is a great place to stay in the Greater Portland area.

3. Leaf peeping

If you time it right, the fall colors are out of this world. Simply taking a drive through the back country or up in to the mountains will make your day. This foliage guide from the State of Maine will give you an idea of average timing for trip planning.

4. Acadia National Park

A visit to Acadia National Park, alone, will make your trip to Maine worth it and is guaranteed to take your breathe away. Acadia National Park is 49,000+ acres in Mount Desert Island marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks like Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast, and stunning views of the ocean. Nearby Bar Harbor is a great spot, full of yummy restaurants, top notch accommodations and so many fun opportunities for adventure. Fall is a perfect time to check out the area.

5. Lighthouses

Maine has over 60 lighthouses, including the iconic Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, all offering picturesque backdrops and a serious slice of history all along state’s rocky coast.

6. Lobster all year round

You can’t leave Maine without sampling locally caught lobster.  My husband is a commercial lobsterman, and I assure you that lobster is available all-year-round in Maine. Fall is actually his busiest season. A fun activity, especially if you’re traveling with the kiddos, is to experience lobstering first hand aboard Lucky Catch.

7. Apple picking

If you visit Maine in September or October, apple picking is a can’t-miss experience. Most orchards are welcoming and very quant with donuts and fresh cider, hayrides, picturesque backdrops and — of course — crunchy and delicious apples. Check out a directory of Maine apple orchards here.

8. Hiking without the heat

On a trip to Maine, you will not lack hiking and exploring opportunities. Whether it be oceanside trails, wooded state parks, the Maine section of the Appalachian Trail or scenic mountains like Katahdin, Cadillac, or Mount Battie, the options are endless. Fall hikes are perfect in my opinion. You’re not competing with the heat or the crowds, and the colors might just be out of a magazine.

9. Canoeing and kayaking the Quiet Lakes

The inland lakes regions tend to be a little bit warmer and sheltered, ideal for a fall paddle. In the summer, many lakes are bursting with boaters and visitors, but the serenity that comes over the lakes in the fall is pretty magical.

10. Good old-fashioned fairs and festivals

Maine has close to 30 agricultural fairs and many other fun, fall festivities that embrace local artisans, foods and traditions and offer a small town feel. You can find a list of Agricultural Fairs here.

acadia

photo credit: newmar

There is a lot of ground to cover in Maine, between the hiking and Acadia/Downeast, the dining and scenes of the waterfront in the Greater Portland, the serenity of the lakes and mountains, and the amazing beaches in the Southern region. There is so much to see and do; the hard part is cramming it all in to one trip. Visit Maine is a great resource to help you get a lay of the land.

Do I have you convinced and ready to plan your next trip?

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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You know when you find the perfect product to solve a problem you’re facing? Let me introduce you to the Trail-Gator, the new ways we’re experiencing easy family bike trips.

Easy Family Bike Trips with Trail-Gator

Let’s talk biking… with kids

There is the time when your kids are in a bike trailer and there’s the time when they can ride a two-wheeler on their own. And then, there is that awkward in-between time.

My 5-year-old has been practicing on his two-wheel bike for the last 4-5 months, and while he’s gotten good enough to go a few houses down the street without crashing (usually), I wouldn’t say he’s confident nor can he hang for a multi-mile trip. But, our family likes to bike. We’ll regularly ride the mile from our house to the beach or cruise downtown to grab lunch at our favorite taco place and we often take our bikes on the road with us when we travel. So what could we do with my almost-ready-to-ride rider?

Then, we met the Trail-Gator.

The Trail-Gator includes a bar that attaches to an adult bike and a connector piece that you attach to the handlebar stem of a child’s bike. When needed, the bar swings out from the adult bike and connects to the child’s bike allowing you to tow the child’s bike. When your child wants to ride alone, the bar detaches from the child’s bike and folds securely into the frame of the adult bike. There when you need it; gone when you don’t. Genius!

 

How to Use the Trail-Gator for Riding with Kids

We recently went on our annual trip to Yosemite National Park with a few friends. We spent a great deal of time riding around the park. By this time, my youngest was able to handle a mile or so on his own – crash-free! – but when he got tired or we hit a hill, my husband simply swung out the Trail-Gator bar, hooked him in and we were off again!

 

A video posted by katebayless (@katebayless) on Sep 27, 2015 at 8:57pm PDT

4 Reasons to Love the Trail-Gator
  1. It works with a regular kid bike. No need to buy a separate biking device or have your child feel like they are riding on something “different” than older siblings.
  2. There when you need it; gone when you don’t! I love how it stays attached to the bike, but stores out of the way.
  3. Super fast hook-up. Kid wants to connect up? You’ll only be stopped for less than a minute while you swing out the Trail-Gator bar and attach it to the child bike.
  4. Kids can still pedal. No free ride here! Kids still practice their pedaling and help propel the bikes forward. (Coasting is possible… just don’t tell them!)

The Trail-Gator is designed for kid bikes 12″ up to 20″ and for kids weighing up to 70 lbs. For more information and purchasing locations, visit www.trail-gator.com.

SSM was not paid for this post. Samples were provided.

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5 Fall Camping Gear Favorites for Families

I love me some fall camping with the family! It’s cool and crisp and uncrowded, making it the perfect time to pack up your family for a weekend camp trip. Did you know that all 4th graders in the U.S. get FREE entrance into National Parks this school year? Plus their families? Such a cool program and completely free. Just visit here to get your pass.

While getting out into the great outdoors is all about kissing some gear goodbye (we’re looking at you, iPhones and computers…), there definitely is some other gear that can make camping with your kids a whole lot easier. After spending a month on the road this summer with my family of five, I’ve rounded up a few of my recent fall camping gear favorites for families.

How to Pick the Right Camping Stove

1. A family-sized stove

Camping often seems to center around when the next meal is. Without the distractions of the modern world, it’s amazing how much you can think about food! Plus, if your family is like mine, they like to eat. A traditional two-burner, only-fit-one-big-pan-at-a-time stove just wasn’t cutting it for us anymore, so we upgraded to a supped-up, four-burner stove from Partner Steel. And, I’m in love.

We opted for the 18-inch four-burner stove with breakaway hinges, which means we can fit four big pans or pots on the stove at the same time. The breakaway hinges allow us to only use one set of burners if I’m just camping with my husband or separate the four burners if we have exceptionally large pots or pans. I also love that the burners have precision heating control (unlike our last camp stove that had two settings: off and full scorch), so I can adjust each burner to just the right temperature I need.

When we’re done, the stainless steel stove is quick to wipe clean, folds in half, locks shut, and stores easily until our next stop. If you don’t need something quite this big, Partner Steel also has lots of other stove sizes and layouts.

Must-Haves for Fall Camping with Kids2. Do-all dishware

Packing for camping can quickly get out of hand, so we do our best to travel light and pack multitasking gear. This year, we added a few multi-function pieces from Stanley that helped us save space without sacrificing feature, function or style.

The first change we made was swapping out our coffee mugs, juice cups and wine glasses (though I do love these camp-friendly ones from Lifefactory) for the do-all Stanley Classic Vacuum Pint. This single cup kept our coffee hot, our beer cold and worked just fine for water and wine. My husband and I got different colors to tell our cups apart and loved how easy they were to clean and how well they worked for whatever we were drinking. We have this four-pack of Adventure Stacking Steel Tumblers for our to-buy list for our kids, which includes four different colored cups to cut down on the “that’s my cup!” fights.

Another space-saving family favorite from Stanley was the Adventure eCycle Infinite Mug/Bowl. From oatmeal, soup and coffee to a salsa bowl and a pancake pourer, we used these mug/bowl/cups for just about everything on our trip.

Cutting Down on Road Trip Fast Foods

3. Fast food avoider

We don’t often eat fast food, but when we do, it’s often when we are traveling since the combination of quick and convenient often makes it an easy choice. But this summer, before our month-long road trip, my kids made a goal to completely avoid fast food (especially after we watched this as a family). I’m happy to say we manage to do it thanks to these two huge helps: Yelp and Planetbox.

We are huge fans of Planetbox’s lunchboxes for school (seriously, best ever), but they are also great to take on the road. The stainless steel design makes them easy to clean and let’s them chill if I stick the whole thing in the cooler. As we were packing up from one campground, I’d fill the Planetboxes with crackers and hummus, cut up fruit and veggies and leftovers we had from camping so the kids could snack while we drove without needing to succumb to fast food. We have both the Rover and Launch, but the Shuttle would be great for easy snacks-on-the go too.

When our food supplies were running low, we’d roll into the nearest town and rely on the Yelp app to help us find tasty, affordable, family-friendly cafes and diners to eat at, often just one or two streets off the main road where the fast food chains like to lay claim. You can see a few of the favorite eats we found on my Yelp profile!

The Best Kid-Friendly Camping Backpacks

4. Kid-friendly supply packs

When we are camping, my kids are a non-stop blur of movement. From climbing rocks to hiking, wading in the river to riding bikes around the campground, they are always on-the-go. In order to keep them ready for whatever adventures the day offers, I love them having their own gear with them so they can keep their water, snacks, extra layers and walkie talkie close at hand when they are off on their own and equally importantly, out of my bag when we are doing an activity together.

Recently we’ve been trying out some of the new kid packs from Osprey. The Moki Hydration Pack is perfectly kid-sized for biking or hiking and includes a 1.5-liter water reservoir, a zippered pocket for snacks and headlamps, and a quick-stash storage area to hold a long sleeve shirt. It’s so much easier to keep my kids hydrated with a pack like this than bugging them to get drinks of water.

For older kids who are ready for their first overnight backpacking trip, the Jet 18 backpack is lightweight and kid-friendly, but designed with many of the same features as Osprey’s adult backpacks like their AirScape™ back panel for comfortable support, an external water reservoir pocket, and lots of zippered compartments and mesh pockets to keep everything organized.

Tips for Easy Camping Clean-Up with Kids5. Cleaning essentials

I’ll be honest — camping and cleanliness don’t often go hand-in-hand. I’ve learned to be okay with this. The kids may be dusty and scrapped from climbing and exploring, my coffee mug may have the markings of yesterday’s joe and my fingernails… don’t get me started (though I’ve recently started traveling with one of these, which matched with some warm water and soap can be heavenly.) When the smiles are big and the adventures are memorable, I can let cleanliness take a backseat.

But, there is one cleaning product I recently started bringing with us every time we camp: Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. It all started the one time I brought them on a whim and one of my boys got the stomach flu. I can’t tell you how glad I was to have those Lysol wipes! We camp in this VW camper van so our sleeping arrangements are, well, cozy, and I disinfected like crazy to keep anyone else from getting sick. Since then, I always pack a bottle when we go camping and use them for disinfecting cutting board when we are away from water, cleaning syrup off our tablecloth, sprucing up the van and keeping sickness at bay.

What are some of your family camping favorites?

SSM was not paid for this post. Some samples were provided.

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EXPLORING Long Beach
Tips for family travel in Long Beach, California

Isn’t it amazing how often we forget to explore the places right in our own backyard? Long Beach is a short 2-hour drive from my home in Southern California and yet this was my first time visiting! I was impressed. Whether you are visiting with the family or looking for a weekend getaway with your special someone, Long Beach has lots to explore.

Westin roomsWhere to STAY

When you’re traveling with the family, you want to spend your time doing, not driving. That’s why the Long Beach Westin is a great choice. It’s easy to get to from the freeway, provides great views of the harbor and is within walking distance of lots of great eats and activities. We opted for two adjoining rooms which helped give my family of five plenty of space — and meant that my husband and I didn’t have to go to sleep at 8 p.m., either! The central location made walking to a yummy breakfast at The Breakfast Bar or delicious deli sandwiches at Modica’s Deli easy.

belmont

Where to EAT

We found the 2nd Street/Belmont Shores area on a whim and wish we would have saved more time to be able to enjoy the many shops, restaurants and street musicians. Thanks to a quick Yelp search, we settled on Super Mex, an affordable Mexican food joint that looks questionable from the front, but has a festive back patio, excellent food and a family-friendly vibe.

Whatever style of restaurant (casual or fancy), location (indoor or outside dinning) or type of food (Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, etc.) your family wants, you’ll find a place on 2nd Street. We also saw tons of great boutiques, book shops and local stores to explore and interesting musicians on every corner.

Queen Mary

Where to DATE

If you’re looking to plan a special night out with a special someone, you can enjoy amazing five-star dining at the Sir Winston aboard the Queen Mary. The old-world decor makes you feel like you are cruising across the Atlantic, enjoying classics like French Onion soup, a table-side Caesar salad and Beef Wellington.

Guess who’s excited for a kid-less dinner?

It’s not a great place for toddlers or babies, but the food, service and views are impeccable. Since it was chosen as one of OpenTable’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2015, Sir Winston’s is the perfect dining spot for a romantic dinner for two.

aquarium

Where to PLAY

I’d heard about the Aquarium of the Pacific for years and had even considered making the day trip down from Ventura for it in the past. It would have been worth the drive. This aquarium is the perfect size to explore for a day in Long Beach. It’s located in a great area called the Pier at Rainbow Harbor which has a combination of shops — the outlets were under major remodel when we were there, but should be awesome — restaurants and activities like the aquarium, a Ferris wheel, and harbor boat cruises.

jelly fish

The aquarium itself offers fun for the whole family. In addition to the special jelly fish exhibit, there are interactive exhibits, tons of tanks, informative movies and expert-led shows and animal feedings. There were also lots of opportunities for kids to touch aquatic life including rays, hammerhead sharks and jelly fish.

touch

Gondola ride
Where to visit KID-FREE

If you’re traveling to Long Beach kid-less, kick off your romantic evening with a private gondola ride through the Naples Island canals by The Gondola Getaway. The boats are cozily decked out with pillows and blankets, and you can bring your own bottle of wine and snacks to enjoy on your cruise. Gondola Getaway will provide complimentary cups, ice-filled buckets and music. Dress warmly if you opt for a sunset ride, since the winds can come up in the late afternoon — or snuggle close to your date. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with one of the company’s singing gondoliers to truly transport you to the canals of Venice.

Catalina Island

Where to DAY TRIP

If you’re spending a few days in Long Beach, you’ll want to save at least one day to head out to sea and explore Catalina Island. The hour-long boat ride offers smooth seas, indoor or deck-side seating and gorgeous views of the Pacific. Once you’re out to Catalina, grab some lunch at Mi Casita Mexican restaurant — head upstairs for great views — stroll the oceanfront shops and rent a golf cart from one of the many rental companies to tour the island on your own. Tip: rent it before you go at the Catalina Express terminal in Long Beach — the companies do occasionally run out of available carts. We rented a cart for about an hour, which gives you plenty of time to drive around and explore this island getaway. Be sure to save time for dipping your toes in the ocean waters and a scoop of ice cream from Big Olaf’s.

catalina2

Have you been to Long Beach before? What are you favorite finds for families or couples?

SSM was not paid for this post. Our travel expenses were covered by the Long Beach Visitors Bureau. Opinions expressed are our own.

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