travel-section

Category : Family

Over the winter break, we decided to travel to London as a family. The trip ended almost too soon, it seems, since we were having so much fun. Over the course of five days, we enjoyed many teas, tons of shopping and quite a few tourist attractions throughout the city. Through our travels, we learned 10 tips for taking kids to London, through trial and error.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London 1. Location is key

Select a hotel in a convenient location. London can be expensive and when traveling as a family of five, it is occasionally challenging to find an accommodation that works, especially when a destination is not within walking distance. Most of the hotels we looked at could accommodate four, but once we added the fifth person, it became quite costly. We decided on a hotel close to everything, ME London, located in the theatre district. Just a block away from the River Thames, we could walk to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

2. Contact the hotel concierge prior to your stay

Don’t be afraid to email the concierge team at the hotel before you arrive for suggestions about tours and restaurants. They have a wealth of information and are experienced in getting around town and picking great restaurants. The team at the hotel even asked questions based on our children’s interests prior to making suggestions.

3. Get an Oyster card when you arrive

Traveling around London is very expensive. The Oyster card is a smartcard that can be used as a travel card to give you access to public transportation based on your preference of travel. These cards can be purchased at nearly any corner store or at any local underground (subway) station. If you purchase a pass and have leftover funds, you can return it at the end of your holiday or top it off if need be. We used our Oyster pass daily, and the savings were huge. You can take the bus almost anywhere and we definitely didn’t feel guilty if we needed a break in touring midday to head back to the hotel and then head out again.

4. Plan your tourist attractions in advance

London in December is busy! At some of the landmarks, we had to wait for long periods of time. Book tickets and print them off prior to arriving at your planned sightseeing locations. Some tourist attractions even have fast passes, similar to Disney! We could only get in two attractions per day because of the massive lines. We visited the Tower of London, where we waited for a long period of time to see the Crown Jewels and chose a tour with a guide.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel, The London Eye, in South Bank by the River Thames was a great place for photo ops and to see London from a 360 degree perspective! The line moved very quickly, so you don’t need to buy a fast pass for this one.

5. Book a play

Since we were staying in the theatre district, we decided to see the play, Beautiful based on Carole King’s life story. I found myself smiling throughout the entire play because of the absolutely incredible singing and dancing. My family loved it, and we all considered it a highlight of the trip.10 Tips for Family Trips to London

6. Take a bus tour

My favorite thing to do when I arrive at a new place is to take a tour to get perspective. Taking a bus tour allowed us to acclimate to our surroundings and to see what sites were close to our hotel.10 Tips for Visiting London in Winter... with Kids!

7. Dress for the weather

Prepare to be cold if you’re visiting London in December!  Layer up when going out and don’t forget your hat and gloves.

8. Get New Year’s Eve ready

Central London is closed off during New Year’s Eve for security purposes. If you are planning on going for New Year’s Eve, you will need to purchase tickets to access the streets of London or to get to the London Eye for an incredible fireworks display at midnight. At our Concierge’s suggestion, we booked a restaurant for the latest seating possible, in close proximity to the London Eye. We received wristbands from this reservation, which gave us access to the fireworks. Our wristbands allowed us to walk around freely, which was amazing, especially since most of the streets were closed off for New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m., as well as the next day for the New Year’s Day parade.

9. Allow for travel time

Be prepared for crowds. You will need to plan for the always-heavy traffic if you have booked reservations. Be sure to leave plenty of travel time and consider the traffic.Where to have high tea in London

10. High tea is a must

My family and I enjoyed a high tea at the Savoy! Having a high tea midday was the perfect time to debrief about our day and take a break from all the walking. Plus, the food was absolutely delicious.

Overall, my family and I loved our trip to London. Though we were traveling, the most important part of our trip was spending time together. With my daughter away at university, it is a rare treat get a full week together with the entire family.

Check out Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Sightseeing Guide by HotelsCombined to enjoy more of London with the family!

What are your tips for a great family holiday?
Read More →

Tips for Kids Winter Travel Safety

With the holiday season in full swing, we have booked our trip and are ready for quality time together as a family. As our trip drew closer, it was time to start thinking about what travel with my children would look like. Would we take a cab from the airport or rent a car? Without kids, we didn’t think too long and hard about it, but with two kids under five, our transportation needs are at the top of the list!

Amongst my group of friends, the conversation always goes the same way… what will you do when you get to your destination? Will you bring a car seat or rent one? Can you take a car seat on the airplane? This year, we decided to travel with our Britax car seat, using the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart and Britax Travel Bag, which made it so easy. The travel cart made it a breeze to pull the car seat through the airport, while the travel bag kept it safe and clean when we checked it during the flight. Check out the video on our Facebook page to see just how easy it was to travel with our Britax in tow. 

Whether you are traveling somewhere near, far or simply staying in the city, it’s always important to make sure that you are keeping your kids as safe as possible in their car seats. Living in a city with very cold winters, the question that’s always at the top of my mind is whether or not my children can be in their car seats with their jackets on. The Britax website has a great post on winter travel safety tips to answer this question and so many more. The first and most important part of car seat safety is the straps, no matter what the season. When buckling your child in the carseat, you must ensure that you cannot pinch the straps at the collarbone. If you are able to pinch the slack, you need to tighten the straps until you are unable to pinch any of the strap. Once you know what a secure strap looks like, then you can determine if your child’s jacket is safe to wear in the car seat. 

What should my child's car seat straps look like?

Place your child in the car seat with their jacket on and tighten the straps appropriately, as discussed above. Once that is done without any slack, open the car seat and remove your child without loosening the straps. Take off your child’s jacket and place them back in the car seat. Do up the buckle without tightening the straps. If the straps are snug and you cannot pinch them, then the jacket they were in is appropriate for the car seat, but if there is slack and you can pinch the straps, your child is not safe in the car seat in that jacket. 

If your jacket is too thick for the carseat, here are some tips to try from Britax to keep your kids warm during car travel:
– Preheat your vehicle
– Place your child in the car seat and then put the jacket on your child backwards
– Cover your child in the car seat with a blanket
– Try a coat made out of thin, but warm, material

When going in the car with my kids in cold weather, I start the car a few minutes before we leave and I put them in thin coats. Before they get out of the car, they change into their thick winter coats to keep them toasty in the cold winter weather! While it takes some additional planning and preparation, I know that I am making the best decision for my children’s safety when we head out on the icy roads. 

There are so many fun activities to this winter and while travelling with a car seat may seem overwhelming, I can tell you that it was no big deal! My son loved being pulled in the car seat as well! Stay tuned for clips on Instagram and Facebook as our trip continues! 

We did receive product to review and photograph for this post. This post is not otherwise sponsored.

Read More →

Kids Travel Gear to Make Holiday Travel Easy

Over hills of snow, off to Grandma’s house we go… but not before you pack these 10 kid travel gear essentials that will delight and, best of all, make your holiday travels a bit more cheery and bright. Make sure you check out the entire list and more in our 2016 Holiday Guide!

Kid Travel Must Haves

Bumkins Nixi Snack Bags

If you already love Bumkins bibs, then you’re really going to love the Bumkins bags. Made from the same waterproof and wipeable fabric, these eco-friendly (and dishwasher safe!) bags come in all sizes and can handle everything you can throw at them, from crackers to crayons. Their newest collection, the Nixi Bags and Organizers, includes designs by Coveted Things.

Holiday Travel Must-Haves

Babymoov Traveller Diaper Bag

The Babymoov Traveller Diaper Bag will fit everything you need, and then some. With included changing mat, insulated bottle bag, pacifier pod and integrated stroller clips, this deceptively huge bag will be all you need from hospital to airplane and beyond.

The Brushies

The Brushies

It’s never too early to start good habits, especially when habits can be as cute as Momo, Chomps, Pinky and Willa, the world’s first finger-puppet toothbrushes. The Brushies are made of 100% food-grade silicone, these finger puppets will keep little teeth clean, gingerbread cookie after gingerbread cookie. When it comes to holiday travel, throw a set in your carry-on for a quick brush on the go.

Kid Travel Gear for Holiday Travel and Beyond

Splash About Swimsuits

Just because it’s winter where you are doesn’t mean it’s winter where you’re going. Be water-safe where ever you go this holiday season with the Splash About FloatSuit. With 16 adjustable floats integrated into the swimsuit, your little swimmer will be safe and sound no matter where your holiday travels take you.

Family Travel Maps

76th and Newbury Travel Maps

Family travels can be more than just a trip to Grandma’s house — it can be an entire learning experience, as well, and the beautiful maps from 76th and Newbury will put the world at their fingertips. From push pin travel maps to maps that can be customized to highlight your vacation photos, these beautiful maps will be the perfect start to your next family adventure.

Check out the entire Kid Travel Gear list in our 2016 Holiday Guide.

Portions of the 2016 Holiday Guide are sponsored and contain affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the brands who support Savvy Sassy Moms. 

Read More →

 

5 Reasons to Vacation with a HomeAway House Rental

My family loves to travel. This summer we spent the entire month of July on the road exploring everywhere from the peaks of Switzerland to France’s most famous city, from the mountains of Steamboat, Colorado to a few nights river rafting the Green River in Utah. While our trips often combine a variety of hotels and camping, on this trip, we tried a new way a stay: renting three different homes around the world from HomeAway. Today I’m highlighting one of our favorite HomeAway stays in Paris’ Latin Quarter and five reasons you should consider renting a home on your family’s next vacation. (Seriously, folks. These were the views out of our two apartment windows. #heaven)

Why You Should Use a Paris House Rentals

Reason #1: Enough room for all

Raise your hand if you love cramming in a hotel room with your kids? Me neither. Traveling as a family of five can make it tricky staying in a hotel… especially as my boys get bigger. Many of the hotels in Europe wouldn’t allow five people to stay in one hotel room and those that do in the states, often end up with us feeling cramped with a combination of too much luggage piled around folded out hide-a-beds or rolled-in roll-aways. At our flat in Paris, there was a large bedroom that gave my husband and I plenty of room and a separate living area with a convertible couch for my boys. We not only had the space we needed, but we didn’t need to tiptoe around in the dark when our boys went to bed. Plus, there was a spacious bathroom, a full kitchen, and a dining table that could seat all of us for meals.

Travel Breakfasts for Families

Reason #2: Save money by eating in

I love eating my way through a new country, but with three growing boys in toys (who are always hungry), this can be an expensive activity. By renting a home instead of staying in a hotel, my family was able save a ton of money by having many of our meals in. We picked up cereals and fruit and the nearby market to make breakfasts quick and cheap, pre-made sandwiches to take with us when we went out to explore and even made dinner at “home” a few nights. Besides the money we saved, I loved being able to explore the shops and farmer’s markets of a new country. A Paris sunset, an open bottle of wine, my kids occupied with UNO? I was in heaven.

HomeAway dinner in Paris

Reason #3: Experience the city as a local

Don’t want to feel like a tourist? Many hotels are located in busy areas that are filled with souvenir shops and American-ized menus. In contrast? Our HomeAway rental was located on the 6th floor of an apartment building in the Latin Quarter. The street was filled with local markets and little cafes with waiters who didn’t speak much English. Instead of a hotel shuttle, we took buses and the metro to get around and spent the afternoon walking through the nearby Jardin des Plantes where locals sat, read and let their kids play.

Jardin de Plantes

Reason #4: Insider tips from your host

HomeAway rentals are owned by real people who get in touch via email or in person to give you the inside scoop on the area. Our Paris apartment host not only helped provide directions to get us from the local train station to the apartment, but met us on arrival to give us tips on the best place to get a fresh croissant for breakfast (just three doors down), how to walk to the Seine River (just a block away) and the DIY rentable bike station (the first 30 minutes are free and there are drop-off stations all over town!) hidden around the corner from the local market, something we never would have found on our own.

seine

Reason #5: The amenities you really appreciate

Sure mini soaps and robes are nice at a hotel (really, I do love me some robes). But you know what kind of amenities I really appreciate when we travel as a family? Free laundry. Because, well, kids. And kid games in the drawers. And a wine opener and real glasses. True there is no one hanging up your towels and remaking your bed each day at a HomeAway, but renting a home or apartment when you travel gives you access to all sorts of other amenities that are a whole lot more useful than someone making your bed.

washer

For your next family vacation, check out HomeAway or their collection of other home rental partners (VRBO.com and VacationRentals.com) to find an apartment, condo, cabin, house or even a boat (Yes, boat! We looked at a few options when we stayed in Amsterdam!) for your next getaway.

We were reimbursed for our stay in Paris. Opinions expressed are our own.

Save

Read More →


Sanibel Island Sundial Beach Resort and Spa Beach
A few months ago, I was able to spend a weekend on Sanibel Island, Florida. I had never been to Sanibel Island or in this particular part of Florida. We’ve pent time in Orlando and Miami and we’ve been to Tampa a few time because my mother-in-law lives there, but unfortunately we never went to much further down the Gulf Coast. I really didn’t know too much about Sanibel Island or what it had to offer before I arrived, but a quick Google search told me that Sanibel Island
was named the the No.1 family-friendly vacation spot in the country on NBC’s Today Show, in May 2015. You can imagine how excited I was to check it out after reading that.

So, what makes Sanibel Island so special?

Sanibel Island Shelling on the Beach

Sanibel Island No. 1 Shelling Beach

Sanibel Island is the No. 1 beach in North America for shelling and with 15 miles of beach and over 250 different types of shells, they take their shelling very seriously here. I have never seen so many shells on the beach in my life! To see them is one thing, but to walk barefoot and feel them is another. A storm was definitely a brewing during our visit in late fall, but that didn’t keep us — and many other people — off the beach to walk among the millions of shells beautifully scattered everywhere. My kids were not with me on this, trip but I could definitely see them collecting buckets of shells that would require an extra suitcase to take home!

My weekend in Sanibel was during the off-season, so it did rain quite a bit while I was there. But, rain aside, feeling the warm tropical breeze and listening to the waves crash made it special anyways.
Sundial Beach Resort Pool Sanibel Island Pool

Sundial Resort Living Room Sanibel Island
Sundial Resort & Spa

I was invited to get a little taste of Sanibel Island by the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, a condominium style resort that caters to families looking for that laid back beach family vacation. As we drove down the long coastal stretch of road to the Sundial Beach Resort, you could feel the simplicity and relaxed beach vibe instantly. One thing you’ll notice while in Sanibel is that there are no gigantic high-rise hotels or buildings obstructing your view or closing in on you. There are very strict building codes to preserve the island’s natural habitat and keep it from looking like a concrete jungle.

Our two-bedroom suite was just what you would hope to find in a fully-furnished condo for a family vacation at the beach. This is always a great option for families — plenty of room for everyone to have their own space, a large kitchen for making small meals, and a comfortable family room area for relaxing after a long day exploring the beach. Our condo faced the ocean and had a large screened in patio, which was perfect for watching the sunset, or the sun rise!

Sundial Beach Resort and Spa Sea School at Sanibel Island

Sanibel Sea School

The Sundial Beach Resort and Spa has many kid-friendly amenities including the Sanibel Sea School campus, which offers more than 30 half- and full-day educational classes, helping kids become ocean stewards. This was one of the most impressive features of the Sundial Resort. When my family travels we want our kids to be engaged with their surroundings and maybe even learn a thing or two. I’m not a fan of kid’s clubs that only offer television and video games as activities… they can watch TV at home! The Sanibel Sea School is a hands-on learning experience that is both fun and educational.

Sundial Beach Resort Kay Casperson Spa

Kay Casperson Spa

During every family vacation, there needs to be a little “mom-time” on the itinerary. The Sundial Beach Resort and Spa is home to the Kay Casperson Spa where you can spend an afternoon pampering yourself while the kids are at Sea School. The spa pedicure chairs face the ocean and the service was great!

Keylime Bistro Captiva Island Sanibel Island Florida
Captiva Island

Sanibel’s sister island is Captiva Island, a small charming town just a short and very scenic drive from Sanibel. Everyone told us to go and I could certainly see why! Captiva has many unique restaurants and shopping, so it’s perfect for spending the day just wondering around. We literally got caught in the rain, but it gave us the chance to stop for lunch at the famous Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill and then hit up the Key Lime Bistro for some of their award winning key lime pie. I have to say, it was the best key lime pie I’ve ever had!

Visiting Sanibel Island in Florida

 

The sea, once it casts its spell, holda one in its net of wonder forever.

My time on Sanibel Island was short and sweet but it definitely made quite an impression! It’s the quintessential spot for a family vacation that is less about the hustle and more about spending quality time as a family. This is a perfect spot for multi-generational family vacations and I can see why it has been awarded the No. 1 family-friendly destination in the country. So now, I am making plans to return to Sanibel Island… with the kids and both the grandmas, too!

Have you been to Sanibel Island?
Read More →

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

Read More →

 

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.
Read More →
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.

Read More →

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.

Read More →
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.

Read More →

Savvy Sassy Newsletter

  • Stylish News in Your Inbox...
  • All The Latest Trends...
  • Our Greatest Giveaways Sent to You....

Be Savvy. Be Sassy. Signup Below: