Posts Tagged ‘ Travel ’

How to Get Into Diagon Alley Early

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Seeing pictures of hours-long lines at Universal Orlando Resort, full of fellow Harry Potter fans eager to get into the newest Wizarding World on it’s first day, got us scheming: How can you get into Diagon Alley before the crowds?! Obviously no day will be as busy as that opening day, but still. Here are some places to stay that will get you in an hour earlier than most muggles!

Stay at a Universal hotel. All four of them, Loews Portofino Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort (named one of American Baby’s Most Baby-Friendly Resorts), and the brand-new, moderately priced Cabana Bay Beach Resort grant you early access to both Universal parks. Read all the fine print here, but the bottom line is, there’s not much fine print. As long as you have park tickets and an active room key for one of the hotels, you can get in early, which usually means 8am versus 9am. The other obvious advantage to a Universal Hotel is you’re right next to the parks and can either walk or ride a free shuttle, skipping the parking hassle. Hey, every minute counts!

There’s a $135 per adult, per night, tax-inclusive offer for a four-night stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort that includes multi-day park-to-park tickets and some breakfasts, so it’s a deal, as long as you can do a four-night getaway. Travel has to be August 17 to October 2, or November 30 to December 18, and must be booked by July 31. Start here. There are upgrade options too!

Buy a Universal Orlando package. Quite a few hotels in the area partner with Universal Orlando Resort and, if you buy a Universal-specific package, you’ll be granted those same benefits (early admission, park-to-park tickets) for about half the cost, you’ll just need to drive to the parks. For instance, Hilton Orlando’s “Universal Orlando Vacation” package boasts early admission and two park-to-park tickets for just $102/night for two people through December 18th, 2014, and $50 off if you book four or more nights using the promo code UNITRAVEL. (Based on availability, and some blackout days apply.) Those savings will buy you a serious amount of butterbeer and probably a wand, too!

Watch one staffer’s 11-year-old’s take on the Hogsmeade features at Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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American Baby’s Babymoon Special: Caribbean, Arizona, Florida and NYC Deals All for Preggos!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

This week we’ll take a break from family-travel deals and go back to our other favorite travel topic: babymoons! About half of expectant couples say they take a pre-baby vacay; we’ll help you be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Vieques Island, eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, at the W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL!  Their new “Indulge with a Babymoon” experience caters to expecting couples with a $50 Cravings Credit for late-night snacking, a $100 AWAY Spa credit for couples treatments, an in-room calming essential oil amenity, and special pregnancy pillow in order to ensure a restful retreat. The experience is bookable with the rate plan WBBYMOON and starts at $319 nightly.

 

THE DESTINATION: Arizona, specifically the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson. 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Expecting mothers can visit the iconic Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa for the “Mother’s Dream” package, including a pregnancy massage, sensitive skin facial, customized eye contour, warm cream mani + pedi, makeup refresher and a spa lunch for $406. With an exclusive adults-only pool, a swim-up bar (for Dad to be), numerous waterfalls and five pools, parents-to-be can escape and relax before the baby comes. The two “Summer Savings” packages have rates starting at $99 from May 25 to August 31, one inclusive of a $50 food and beverage credit when booking two or more nights.

 

THE DESTINATION: Florida, minutes from all the parks and entertainment at the Hilton Orlando 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Couples can enjoy favorite attractions and shopping, then mom can ease her muscles with the “Mom’s To Be” full-body massage at the on-site spa for $120. The property also boasts a winding lazy river, two resort pools complete with a waterslide, 9-hole golf, bocce ball courts and more. Rates start at $99 a night.

 

THE DESTINATION: New York City, at the famed Towers of the Waldorf Astoria New York, the city’s luxurious hotel occupying the upper floors of the Waldorf Astoria. 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! The Guerlain Spa, located within the Towers, features a “When You’re Expecting Massage,” a customized prenatal body therapy to alleviate discomfort and relieve muscle fatigue, along with a Body Polish service that helps exfoliate and soften skin, leaving skin smooth and hydrated and possibly minimizing stretch marks. Answering to the high demand for pre and post-natal services, the spa features appropriate pregnancy pillows for body support in any treatment position, and has also established a partnership with Mama Mio to incorporate their skincare products.

Two packages are available. “Babymoon, An Evening In” includes a Towers suite, breakfast in bed, and Guerlain Spa Couple’s Service (massage, training session, mocktails and milkshakes), with rates starting at $975 a night. “Babymoon, A Weekend at the Waldorf” includes a Towers suite for two nights, Guerlain Spa Couple’s Service (massage, training session, mocktails and milkshakes), dinner at the Bull and Bear, and breakfast in bed, with rates starting at $1,685.

Do a search and you can find all of our American Baby babymoon specials on Goodyblog.

Not only is leisure travel good for your state of mind during pregnancy, so is exercise! Check out these ab exercises made for core-strengthening during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Workouts: Best Abs Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Best Abs Exercises
Pregnancy Workouts: Best Abs Exercises

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Score a Family Vacation Package from Stowe Mountain Lodge

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

* This is part of a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Stowe Mountain Lodge, in Vermont

Instead of going south again this year, travel to the northeast and escape to Vermont! This luxury lodge, which was named as a top family hotel in North America, is located at the base of the Stowe resort. If you’re someone who gawks at covered bridges, sparkling lakes, woodlands and majestic peaks, then this is the place for you!

BOOK IT! Be a first-timer at their unique activities including glider rides, a rustic Vermont furniture making class, and outdoor Yoga (Stowega). There’s also a 36-hole golf course, guided hikes, and the town’s famous bike paths, plus a world-class spa. PS your dog is welcome too.

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! By booking your reservation through the Mountain Memories special offer, you can save each additional day you stay. For instance, save 20 percent for a two-night stay, 25 percent for a three-night stay and 30 percent when you stay four days or more.

Also, if you’re on Facebook you may be able to win the Mountain Memories Facebook Photo Contest, which is worth more than $10,000. Submit a photo on their Facebook page from one of your own remarkable travel memories and tell your friends and family to “like” it in order to vote for you. The photo with the most vote at the end of each week wins. Four lucky winners will then be entered into the final week’s grand-prize drawing. The photo with the most votes at the end of week five wins a grand prize including a five-day trip to Stowe Mountain Lodge/ Stowe Mountain Resort, Airline Tickets from JetBlue, and items from participating partners, such as Burton Snowboards, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ferro Jewelers and more.

Want your child to grow a green thumb? Show them how to grow and play outdoors all summer long.

Gardening with the Kids
Gardening with the Kids
Gardening with the Kids

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MotherMag Editor Shares Travel and Fashion Trends

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

MotherMag.com editor Katie Hintz-Zambrano

MotherMag.com editor Katie Hintz-Zambrano with her inspiration, Diego.

San Francisco-based fashion journalist Katie Hintz-Zambrano always wanted to start her own website, but was stumped brainstorming a unique angle that would stand out in a sea of other fashion sites. Then she had her son Diego, and it clicked: “I had the idea for a parenting site that was style-leaning.”

Hintz-Zambrano says she noticed other fashion bloggers starting to have children too, and realized she had to stake her claim before somebody else did. “There’s no way after having a kid you’re going to want to write about how to style leather pants five ways,” she says. “Everyone was going to start having kids and that coverage was going to shift, and I wanted to be the person to do that.”

Hintz-Zambrano joined forces with Nashville-based blogger and mother of four James Kicinski-McCoy, and MotherMag.com was born. The lifestyle blog — which covers style, beauty, travel, and of course, motherhood — has only been live for six weeks but already has thousands of followers on Instagram. (Which makes sense: Kicinski-McCoy and Hintz-Zambrano were both finalists for Parents’ 2014 Social Media Awards in the Instagram category!). I had a chat with in-the-know mom Hintz-Zambrano about what’s on trend and on her radar.

P: I love MotherMag’s ‘Mother Hoods’ travel section! What is a great travel destination this summer?

HZ: For a fashion-leaning parent: Sayulita, Mexico. It can be a really fun trip where the parents get pleasure out of it, but so do the kids. It’s not that touristy yet, and it’s not far from San Francisco, so this could be popular with West-Coasters.

P: What are some summer must-haves for moms right now?

HZ: There’s something cool about fruit prints. A shirt with oranges or lemons is summery and fresh. That’s a trend that isn’t too huge, but it’s bubbling up.

Also for moms, we’re super lucky that flat shoes are in, like Birkenstocks. A clean, white, slip-on Van is great to invest in from summer to fall, and it’s on trend to have minimal, comfy shoes. They’re having such a moment now, and they’re so comfortable and breathable and you can run after your kids and not fall over.

Jumpsuits are super cool, and they always look unexpected even though they’re trendy. We’ve been calling them adult onesies on the site! They’re so easy, you don’t have to think about what to pair them with. You can wear them to the office, the park, anywhere, and it’s still appropriate.

P: What do you think will be the coolest back-to-school trends for elementary schoolers this year?

HZ: Harem pants for boys, that European silhouette. A year ago, I would have said, ‘No way that’s coming back,” but I see that happening. Maybe in a more conservative market, ethnic print pants. For girls, touches of neons and pom poms. Dress things up a little bit! And I don’t think you can go wrong with a beautiful striped shirt. They’re available at every price point, and they always look great on kids. Also a bold statement sneaker, for both boys and girls, with wild colors and prints will be an enduring trend.

 

Image: Courtesy of MotherMag.com

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One of the Coolest Science Exhibits Ever

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Last year, Parents rated Philadelphia as one of the 10 best cities for families to visit. If it’s in your summer plans, be sure to check out the massive new exhibit, Your Brain, that opens at The Franklin Institute tomorrow. Almost 10 years in the making, the exhibit has dozens of interactive features. When my daughter and a few friends (ages 9 to 12) visited during a sneak peek event earlier this week, they were blown away, and you know that tweens are not easily impressed. Some highlights:

The exhibit starts out with a large screen that lets you see your own skelten. Jump, bend your leg, raise your hand, and the skelton on the screen will move too.

 

The visuals in all the displays were bold and fun, like this one that demos what a brain scan is like.

The kids spent a half-hour on two-story climbing structure, complete with lighting and sound effects, that represents brain pathways. They would have stayed in there all day if we let them.

Many of the activities in the exhibit are geared to kids ages 8 to 13. But if younger sibs are exploring too, making a face on this magnetic board will be fun for them (and so will that climbing structure!).

Another section of the exhibit focuses on illusions. I won’t give away all the surprises, but be sure to go in the bedroom. I took this pic of the kids in an area designated for photo ops.

Bonus! A traveling exhibit, Circus Science Under the Big Top, is at the Franklin Instutute through September 1. Check out the dress-up area with amazing costumes (of all sizes), a tight rope that kids who weigh 50 pounds or more can walk on, and circus games.

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Travel Advice from the Kids

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I don’t know about your kids, but my 11-year-old has very strong opinions about our family vacations. It also amazes me what has stuck with her the most from her trips over the years—for instance, she still talks about the hotel in Orlando we stayed at several years ago that gives out rubber-band bracelets for free ice cream. According to this cool infographic, 66% of kids help plan daily vacation activities and 63% of parents say their children has influenced their vacation decision. Has yours?

 

Why We Loved Our Disney Cruise
Why We Loved Our Disney Cruise
Why We Loved Our Disney Cruise

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Score Free Meals During a Stay in Disney World This Fall

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

* This is part of a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Disney World Resort, in Florida

Fall is a great time to visit Disney World: lower temperatures, fewer crowds, holiday celebrations, and discounts, like this special deal that gets you free meals if you stay for six nights. If you’ve got young kids, grab this opportunity. For one thing, the older they get, the harder it is to take them out of school for that long! But also free meals takes a huge burden off you; whether your kids gobble half a buffet or turn all picky, you’re not shelling out money for food.

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Purchase a non-discounted 6-night, 7-day Magic Your Way package, including a room and theme park tickets, and for each night you stay everyone in your family gets one quick-service meal, one table-service meal (go ahead and make reservations once you know when you’re going), and one snack per person. Read all the details and check availability. Or talk to a vacation planner by calling 407-939-7709. 

BOOK IT! Rates vary widely but we jumped online and saw that it would be about $2,000 for a family of four to visit the week of Labor Day at the All-Star Sports Resort (a value resort on the park’s bus line). It would be about $4,820 for them to stay at the Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (one of the more posh properties, a walk from the Magic Kingdom). Note that this special is good for arrival August 31 to October 3, 2014; arrival October 26 to November 1, 2014; arrival November 9 to November 20, 2014; and finally arrival December 12 to December 23, 2014. All of travel must be booked by August 8, 2014.

New at Disney World: Magic Bands! Learn about this sanity-saver from our editor who recently visited.

Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands

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Getting Techy With Google Glass

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Based on the number of people who own smartphones and tablets, everyone appears to be a tech enthusiast these days. The latest must-have–Google Glass–recently became available to the public, allowing users to navigate town wearing a small, computer-like device (if they’re willing to shell out $1,500, that is).

A few weeks ago, at Google Glass’s Travel Event, I had the chance to test out the glasses themselves and explore some of their travel-themed features, apps which many smartphone users may already utilize via their handheld device. Restaurant enthusiasts, take note: Glass users can access reservation service OpenTable and set dinner plans in stone using taps and a few simple commands. While the program had some difficulty understanding my requests (my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, didn’t register even when one of the pros tried!), it was neat (and a little silly) to stand in a room and have Glass “listen” to my voice as I navigated the app. Got a little one? App-using moms who wish to complete tasks hands-free will enjoy the accessibility Glass provides while on-the-go with Baby.

Perhaps the most interesting–and possibly most helpful–feature I tried was Word Lens, which translates words and short phrases, such as those that appear on street signs and buildings. While wearing the glasses, I viewed signs that were written in Russian, and if I looked at the text from the correct angle, Glass could translate the word in front of me into English. What was especially interesting was that Glass didn’t change anything else about the building or background on which the phrase appeared. Note to self: This would have made my travels in Prague much less confusing!

While obviously the most important aspect of Google Glass is what it can do, the way the device looks is customizable. Buyers can purchase glasses with colorful components, order prescription lenses, and more. Still, the look is more techy than fashionable–if form is more important to you than function, you may not wish to sport these flashy frames.

Has your kid had an eye exam recently? Here’s why these tests are so important:

Vision Check
Vision Check
Vision Check

Photo by Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo 

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