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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.

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Traveling on Mixology

Travel in style

This year, we were so exited to be invited to New York Fashion Week. New York Fashion Week is where designers showcase their new lines and showcase fashionable trends. What you wear as a guest must be on-trend because you never know where you will be sitting or who will be admiring your look! Thankfully, we had Mixology to help us mix up our looks for New York Fashion Week.

With three days in New York on-the-go with scorching temperatures and freezing air conditioning, we needed it all! Flying in style is a must as once you land, it’s go, go, go! Since Lisa is always cold, she threw on the Sunday Stevens Love of the Game Bomber Jacket and Jenna wore the Decker Mila Top, which allowed us to remain comfortable and fashionable during our travels.

Mixology Decker Top

Dance the night away

Nightlife in New York is where it’s at! At the Laura Michelle NYFW Kick-Off Concert at the Norwood, we styled ourselves in Mixology’s trendy Decker Melanie Top for a night on the town. We were swaying to the hit single “Chuck Norris” in our flowy tops. The Barcelona Crossbody added a pop of color and was essential to a travelling around with a phone, room key and credit card.

Gab & Kate Moonlight Top

Business as usual

While we loved every minute of our trip, we had to make time for business, too! We couldn’t wait to share what we were doing with our readers, stopping along the way to send an update on the blog or on Instagram. The Gab and Kate Moonlight Top was perfect for a crisp, yet casual, look paired with a pair of comfortable jeans.

We wish we were there for longer so we could have worn more of Mixology’s trendy and fashionable clothes!

To get the look, shop Mixology and save 15% with the code SASSY15 at checkout. Be sure to tag us in your new look on Instagram!
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St. George Island Florida Vacation Guide

St. George Island, Florida has been our vacation destination for 10 years now and it’s become our little family’s happy place in the sun. Located on the Eastern edge of the Florida panhandle, St. George is one of the last unspoiled barrier islands and one of the most beautiful, undiscovered, pet-friendly and relaxing areas in all of Florida. If you’re on the lookout for a beautiful, affordable, non-touristy vacation spot, look no further than St. George Island.

Where to stay on St George Island Florida

Get to know the island

St. George Island is located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles East of Panama City, on what’s appropriately named The Forgotten Coast. It’s a long narrow barrier island that separates the Gulf from the Apalachicola Bay, creating a natural estuary that produces some of the most delicious oysters in the world. The island is connected to the mainland by a 4-mile bridge, which takes you over the Bay from Eastpoint, Florida. St. George is 22 miles long, but only a few blocks wide, making it an easy walk from the “bay side” to the “beach side” of the island.

The island consists of three main areas: (1) St. George Island State Park, which takes up 10 miles on the Eastern end of the island; (2) St. George Plantation, a private gated community consisting of 900 multi-million dollar homes and estates, which occupies the Western end of the island; and (3) a public strip of land in the middle that consists of restaurants, shops, private homes and public beaches.fun things to do with kids on St George Island florida

Where to stay

While St. George does have a handful of inns and hotels, it has an overwhelming abundance of incredible homes, condos and estates that can rented out all over the island. There are three main property rental companies on the island: Collins Vacation Rentals, Resort Vacation Properties and Fickling & Company. Whether you’re looking for a small condo or cottage on the beach for a couple, a nice-sized private home with a pool for a family or a multi-level villa for your entire extended family, you’ll have a variety of options, locations and amenities.

Houses are usually rented by the week during peak seasons and come with lots of amenities like WiFi, private pools, fireplaces, ocean views, beach access and grills. Whether you’re right on the beach, across the street or with “beach access,” the beach is never more than a short walk away. Most homes (as well as the beaches and restaurants) are also pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your pups along, too! The island loves dogs and they’re welcome nearly everywhere you go! And if you want to “ruff” it, another fun option would be camping in the State Park, either in a tent or an RV, dogs are welcome there as well.

fishing with kids on St George Island

What to do

St. George Island is an outdoor adventurer’s dream, there are so many great things to do to get you outside and back to nature! The Gulf side of the island has twenty miles of gorgeous uncrowded white sand beach, perfect for shelling, fishing, sunning, sandcastle-building, swimming and playing in the surf. The bay side of the island is miles of pristine bay marsh, inlets and oyster bars, perfect for fishing, crabbing, watching wildlife and sunset viewing. St. George is covered in bike paths and hiking trails for anyone wanting to explore. Kayaks and boats are available for rental, or hire a charter and guide for a day of fishing, dolphin-spotting and shelling. If your kids are into treasure-hunting, there are tons of geocaches on the island as well. I’ve got an intro guide to geocaching with kids on my blog, if you need a primer. There are also a handful of shops and boutiques in town for anyone looking to stock up on souvenirs, as well as a playground for kids, the visitor’s center and the St. George Lighthouse.

where to eat on St George Island florida

Where to eat

You won’t find anything fancy or posh on St. George Island, but if you love seafood, this place is paradise. There are only a handful of restaurants on the island and none require reservations (most don’t even require shoes). The Blue Parrot is our family’s favorite, with its expansive deck right on the beach, tiki bar and views of the ocean. Order the softshell crab sandwich with conch fritters and a mango daiquiri and thank me later. Paddy’s Raw Bar, on the bayside of the island boasts incredible Apalachicola Bay oysters, tons of beers on draft and live music on the patio in the evenings. And if you’re not a seafood fan, BJ’s Pizza is the perfect place to pick up pizza, subs, salads and appetizers. If you want to cook at home, there’s a small grocery store on the island with all the necessities as well as seafood trucks offering daily fresh catches of shrimp, halibut, snapper, grouper and shucked oysters.

St George Island 5

Tips from a veteran vacationer

After 10 years of vacationing on St. George Island, we’ve come to love this place as our own and enjoy sharing our knowledge about the island with anyone looking for a laid-back family vacation. Here are a few things you may not read in a traditional guidebook.

  1. Rent a golf cart – there’s no better way to explore the island than by renting a golf cart for the week. While it may be easy to walk from the bayside to the gulf, the island is 22 miles long and you’re going to want to check out everything it has to offer. Instead of dealing with buckling kids into their carseats in a hot car, get a golf cart for the week and enjoy cruising to a new section of beach, to the playground or into town for ice cream. You can get nearly everywhere you want to go in a golf cart and never have to worry about parking!
  2. Nightlife – the nightlife on St. George is wild…and no, I do not mean bars or partying! Make sure you pack your headlamps and flashlights and hit the beach or bay to discover the wildest nightlife around…crabs! When the sun goes down, the crabs come out and they are so much fun for kids to chase and catch. You can also discover tide pools filled with snails, hermit crabs, sand fleas and other interesting aquatic life.
  3. Apalachicola – just on the other side of the Bay Bridge on the mainland is a hidden gem of a town called Apalachicola. This quiet little river town is home to some of the best seafood restaurants and raw bars around. Take a stroll through town and check out the adorable boutiques, gorgeous oyster boats lined along the river and the hauntingly beautiful cemetery covered in willows and moss.
  4. Bring your dogs – for as long as we’ve been vacationing on St. George Island, we’ve been bringing the entire family, which consisted of dogs before we ever had kids. Franklin County prides itself on being incredibly dog-friendly and our four-legged friends are welcome on the beach and in many of the shops and restaurants. You’ll see dogs out with their families everywhere, making this a pet-lover’s paradise.
  5. Old Florida charm – if you’re used to vacationing on 30A or Sanibel, you may be in for a shock on St. George. You won’t find any high-rises, chain restaurants or mega-markets here. There are no fancy eateries, delis or coffee shops. There are no arcades, putt-putt courses or movie theaters anywhere close. This island is small, quaint and secluded, which is exactly what we love about it. But don’t worry, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how warm and friendly the people are, by how unspoiled the waters are and how uncrowded the beaches are. This is undiscovered all-natural Florida at its finest. Be prepared to choose your own adventure and provide your own entertainment.

St George Island 6

Have you ever been to St. George Island? What’s your favorite Florida vacation spot?
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This is a sponsored blog; while the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by PADI to review this product.

Discover Scuba Diving for PADI Women's Dive Day #padiwomen #padiwomensdiveday #sponsored

Discover (or rediscover!) scuba diving for 2016 PADI Women’s Dive Day

Scuba Diving is an incredible adventure! The 2016 PADI Women’s Dive Day is coming up and it is a day you won’t want to miss — it truly is a day like no other, a day to share a life-experience with current and new friends. If scuba diving in on your list of things to do, whether it be for the first time or the hundredth, Women’s Dive Day is the perfect day for you.

July 16, 2016 marks the second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day. It’s an annual celebration of women in scuba diving and provides special opportunities for more women to enter the sport of scuba diving.

Join 2016 PADI Women's Dive Day #padiwomen #padiwomensdiveday #sponsored

During PADI Women’s Dive Day, PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, dive clubs, and other organizations around the world will offer female-friendly dives and events, ranging from first-dives to shark dives, beach clean-ups to special speaker engagements, and much more. Some PADI Dive Shops will also offer the opportunity to try scuba diving, for the first time, through the PADI Discover Scuba® Diving program. Others will focus on PADI ReActivate™, which gives lapsed divers the opportunity to refresh their scuba skills, rediscover the sport they love and reactivate their dive certifications!

Have you tried scuba diving?

The inaugural 2015 PADI Women’s Dive Day event was an historic day for diving. More than 6,000 divers from 65 countries participated in 335 special events on all seven continents. The PADI photo album on Facebook shows how women — some with their families — from all over the world enjoyed the 2015 event.

How to Participate

If you would like to participate in PADI Women’s Dive Day, you can find an event near you or get more information on the PADI website.

If you’re not yet a PADI-certified diver, you can contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to get started or you can explore options in the PADI course catalog.

If you are already a PADI-certified diver who is interested in participating in a the 2016 PADI Women’s Dive Day event, please contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to see if they’re hosting an event – and encourage them to get involved, if they’re not already.

You can also visit the PADI blog to read all of the details about Women’s Dive Day.

Get under water and have the time of your life! Tag us using #savvysassymoms to share your experience with us!

 

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10 Summer Travel Must-Haves for Toddlers

With summer right around the corner, many of us are thinking about family vacations. Traveling with young kiddos — especially active toddlers — can be daunting, to say the least, but the time together and the memories made on the other end usually make it all worth it. When traveling with toddlers, you have to go into it with a good attitude, lots of snacks, and fully equipped with the right gear. Here are some of our favorites to travel with:

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Trunki
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Versitile Diaper Bag
Baby Jogger City Mini
Toddler Travel Must-Haves- Beco Toddler Carrier
Toddler Travel Must-Haves- lil gadgets Headphones
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Portable Toddler Bed
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Mess-Free Activities
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Hand Sanitizers That Smell Amazing
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Wheels for the Airport
Must-Haves for Summer Travel with Toddlers- Yummy Face Wipes
1. Trunki

I think I’m late to the party, but we just discovered Trunki and my boys love them. They have lots of fun packing them for a trip, they feel independent pulling them through the airport, and have a blast going for a ride during a layover.  (Trunki, $50)

2. Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Bag

When traveling with young kiddos, a versatile bag that can be worn as a backpack is a necessity. While this is technically a diaper bag, I consider it an everything bag, with a perfect design and easy to wipe fabric for traveling. (Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F., $180)

3. Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller and Glider Board

There are a number of great travel strollers out there, but my go-to still remains the Baby Jogger City Mini. With a truly simple one-hand fold, a lightweight design, and its ability to accommodate any of my kiddos, it has been on many trips with our family. With multiple kiddos in town, especially non-stroller riders, attaching the Baby Jogger Glider Board is a lifesaver. (Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller, $250 & Glider Board, $85)

4. Beco Baby Toddler Carrier

I never leave home without a carrier — I find babywearing both convenient and calming for my little ones, especially when we’re traveling. For toddlers, Beco makes a great carrier that’s comfortable, well designed, supportive, easy to adjust between parents, and available in some great patterns. (Beco Baby Toddler Carrier, $180)

5.  lil gadgets Connect+ Kid’s Headphones

I’m not going to lie, technology can be a lifesaver during traveling situations with my little guys. I’ve learned the hard way that headphones are a must for plugging into our own devices or to TVs on the plane. These headphones from lil gadgets are great — they’re sized for little ears, volume limiting, come in cute colors, and use Shareport, which allows you to connect multiple pairs to one device without a splitter. (lil gadgets Connect+, $20)

6. Shrunks Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed

I love this bed and it has been on countless trips with our family. It’s perfect for kiddos who are out of a crib, but do too much rolling or wiggling for a hotel bed. It’s surprisingly lightweight and easy to tuck in a suitcase. (Shrunks Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed, $79)

7. Melissa and Doug Water Wow

I always stock up on fun new activities for our trips, hiding them until the day we leave to keep their novelty alive! I love Water Wow pads because they allow the kids to color and feel creative without the mess of markers or the hassle of loose crayons.  (Melissa and Doug Water Wow, $5)

8. The Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray

Germs are pretty much unavoidable when traveling. I try not to stress out about it, but I do keep hand sanitizer handy and distribute it liberally. The Honest Company spray is my go-to for keeping germ-free when we travel. It isn’t filled with harsh chemicals and I love the scents.  (The Honest Co. Hand Sanitizer Spray 2-pack, $6)

9. Go-Go Babyz Travelmate

With a young toddler, I find bringing a car seat onto the plane the easiest and safest way to ride out the flight, and a travel cart is definitely the easiest way to get schlep the seat around airport.  (Go-Go Babyz Travelmate, $90)

10. Neat Cheeks

Messy faces are inevitable when you’re eating out and in the car during your trip! These wipes are beyond handy, as well as being a natural and easy was to keep your favorite little faces and fingers clean.  (Neat Cheeks Peach Wipes, $5)

What are your must haves when traveling with your little ones?

 

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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What is Flipboard?

Flipboard is the latest and {greatest!} way for you to see and organize online content that you actually want to read. Because let’s face it, there is just too much content in our faces every day and it’s impossible to see it all. In order for you to filter out all the junk and items that you’d rather not ever see you really have to create your own carefully curated online magazine and Flipboard is helping you do just that! Flipboard is the one place where you can bring all of your interests and the topics you care about together into an online space you want to read.

Getting started and using Flipboard

Getting started with Flipboard is easy. The first step is signing up for an account and selecting categories that interest you — fashion, food, cooking, travel, lifestyle, entrepreneurship, social media, productivity, parenting, and photography. Then, when you open the app, only those types of articles show up in your feed.

This has been life changing for me. Every morning, I wake up and open the Flipboard app and I only see content that I want to see! Before Flipboard,  I would open Facebook first and go down that deep dark rabbit hole of scrolling and scrolling…. seeing things that I wasn’t really interested in, that annoy me, or news I wasn’t really ready to hear before I’d even had my first cup of coffee!

Now my mornings have changed for the better. I get up, make my coffee and open Flipboard to scan topics and read articles that help me start my day. My Flipboard is filled with positive content that matters to me.

How to Add Flipboard to your Toolbar

Install the Flip It Web Bookmarker

Not only can you create a custom magazine for your own interests, but you can create your very own magazines dedicated to the things you love! It’s a bit like curating your very own digital magazine pile or clipping articles from all around the internet into on magazine and not just from magazines, but your favorite blogs, too!

Once you’ve added the Flipboard app to your phone or tablet, you should install the “Flip It” toolbar bookmarker next. This will allow you to “flip” articles into your own magazines on Flipboard. So when you are reading that awesome article on how to make baby food over on the BabyCenter Blog, you can “flip it” into your magazine for Baby, Kids or Parenting. Simply grab, drag, and drop the Flip it Web Bookmarklet into your toolbar.

Flipboard for bloggers and content creators

If you are a writer, blogger or content creator then you’ll definitely want to take note! Flipboard is a great way to get your articles and content seen and shared on another platform! You can flip all your articles onto Flipboard and they will link directly back to your website, getting fresh eyes on your posts and content, all within the Flipboard platform.

Since this is a social sharing platform as well, you will also want to follow other content creators that have similar interests to you… or you can simply just follow one of their specific created Flipboard magazines. For example, i just followed Skimbaco Lifestyle’s Christmas Around the World Flipboard magazine, which is such a fun new way to learn about how other countries celebrate Christmas!

Follow me and see my magazines here!

Give the Gift of Flipboard This Holiday Season

Give the gift of Flipboard

Now is the perfect time to give the gift of Flipboard!

The gift of Flipboard gives your friends a way to get started on Flipboard with a curated set of stories about a specific interest. Flipboard’s editorial team has preconfigured 21 special packages, for everyone from travelers to tech enthusiasts. Anyone can “gift” these packages to friends or family to get them started on Flipboard with pre­loaded sections that make Flipboard instantly more useful. Each preconfigured package has about 25 sources to get people started with content that fits their interests.

The holiday season is a popular time to start dreaming about travel for the year ahead, so why not share some holiday wanderlust by sending them a gift of a beautifully curated magazine that will inspire their next big adventure!

You can follow Flipboard on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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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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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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‘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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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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