Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Last year, when visiting the Stonehenge area, I had the pleasure of meeting up with my UK travel writing friend, Sascha Stokes. I arrived the day before she was due with her first child.

    Sascha and Baby at Lee AbbeyI recently caught up with Sascha to see how her life and travels have changed, now that she is a traveling mama. So, for you mamas out there thinking about going on that first romantic escape or girlfriend getaway since baby came into your life, you be inspired by one mama’s reaction to leaving baby at home.

    TravelingMamas: What is your favorite travel memory?

    Sasha Stokes: Stale popcorn in a forsaken motel somewhere north of Atlanta at 3am while watching a shopping channel and feeling homesick. The place stank of chlorine and cheesy feet. It seemed like the absolute highlight of my travel writing career. Not! In retrospect, it’s one of my favourite memories. Nowhere else in the world would ever again feel quite that destitute and ‘cheap 1970s TV flick’.

    TM: Did you travel while pregnant? If so, what are some things you would’ve liked to have known beforehand?

    SS: Nobody told me that you need three sick bags per mile in the first trimester…that’s on a good day. I drove all the way to Germany (ten hours in the car) when I was eight months pregnant and it was absolutely fine. As long as you still fit behind the wheel, go girl, gogogogo.

    TM: Once your beautiful little girl entered the world, did your views of travel change?

    SS: My views didn’t change. The practicalities did. Travel used to be something I would do at the drop of a hat. Now it takes weeks of planning, hand luggage the size of Mount Everest and a very good sense of humour.

    TM: Have you taken her on any trips? Any tips you would like to share with other traveling mamas?

    SS: Whatever it is, do it at night. It might take an ungodly amount of caffeine tablets to get you from A to B. But, HELLO! The anklebiter will be sleeping peacefully beside you for most of your journey. And that, my dear friends, is worth any amount of sleep deprivation. Most travelling mamas will agree! Oh, before I forget: an industrial strength under eye concealer should be in every travelling mama’s handbag.

    TM: Have you taken a trip without her yet? How did you feel and how did you cope with leaving her at home?

    Sascha Stokes and Amanda CastlemanSS: Leaving? I danced a dance of joy. And I sobbed at the same time- all the way to the airport. My daughter was nearly ten months old when I headed for five days in Rome. Hubs was left holding the baby. I plunged into the ultimate girly indulgence. My power friend and fellow travel writer Amanda Castleman was waiting. Fresh from Seattle with a good dose of Italian ancestry, she painted Rome for me. In VERY bright colours. We stopped traffic and started a flood of marriage proposals in mini skirts and stilettos. We didn’t sleep for espresso overdoses and fought with screaming Italianites over cheap import handbags. We flirted with Carabinieris, and wept over crying angels on the protestant cemetery. We got our heels stuck in tram lines and ran into friends on more than one occasion. We cruised arm in arm through Emperor Aurelius’s super-state and accosted students in plastic Roman solider outfits. Basically, we had a fabulous time and never crossed the tourist trail. And, yes, I missed my little girl like hell. And, no, I didn’t want to leave Rome one minute too early.

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  • We now have our own YouTube page where we will add videos and slideshows to go along with our posts.

    You can visit the page here and see a slideshow about The Westin Maui Resort and Spa.

    We hope that this will enhance your visits to TravelingMamas.com and give you a glimpse into the various hotels and destinations we’ve reviewed.

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  • My travel companion and I decided to relax during our visit to Westin Maui Resort and Spa. The two of us spent a day enjoying lomi lomi massages at The Heavenly Spa while the other Mamas went hiking. We found out that the lavender spa products being sold were made right there on Maui. So we hopped in the car the next morning in search of lavender.

    Ali'i Kula LavenderAli’i Kula Lavender is located in Maui’s Upcountry, which is a day trip experience that will delight all the senses. The drive from Ka’anapali was a beautiful, relaxing 1hour journey into the higher altitudes of Maui. We could inhale scents of ocean and lavender at the same time. The calmness of the Upcountry enveloped us in a comforting embrace.

    Upon our arrival to Ali’i Kula, were were greeted with warm lavender scones topped with lavender liliko’i jelly, lavender herb tea and lavender coffee. We sat at a corner table overlooking the gardens and valley while we awaited our tour. Our guide, Cookie, came to lead us around the gardens, snipping flowers here and there while educating us on the different types of lavender. By the end of the tour, each of us had a small bouquet of lavender. Of course I had to stop at the gift shop on the way out and my travel companion had to drag me out of there before I spent all of Mr. CajunMama’s money.

    Maui's WineryOur next stop was Tedeschi Vineyards, Maui’s Winery. It is said Ulupalakua simmers in each sip and that you can taste the sun, the soft evening fog, and a hundred years of history in each glass. We were already relaxed from the scent of lavender that enveloped the car, so we decided wine tasting was a fitting activity to pursue next.

    Maui’s Winery Tasting Room is located in a historic cottage. The cottage was built in 1874 for King David Kalakaua. My companion and I walked up to the bar, which is made from the trunk of a mango tree. The winery offers grape, pineapple and specialty wines.

    I’m not a big red wine lover, so I chose to taste the Upcountry Blush, Maui Blanc, Maui Splash, and Raspberry Wine. The Blush is a fantastic choice to bring home to friends and family. It does not need aging and its light berry flavors are subtle, yet nice. The Maui Blanc is my favorite. It is a pineapple wine with a subtle lingering tropical finish. The Splash was a delight as well, but very sweet with its essence of passion fruit. The Raspberry Wine tasted like a chocolate covered raspberry with a rich and full flavor that stays with you.

    The Winery will ship your order to certain states, depending on your local laws. This is a great help in bringing home memories of Maui now that the airlines are charging for baggage. Unfortunately I brought a small suitcase and my state does not allow me to ship wine home. Pooey! I guess that means I’ll just have to go back to Maui.

    We stepped across the street to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store and ordered burgers for lunch before heading out to find Surfing Goat Dairy, our last stop for the day. We went the wrong way and ended up being surprised by an ocean overlook. By the time we figured out the direction we needed to be going, we had the giggles. My travel companion and I were reminiscing about our favorite SNL skits of days gone by. We thought GoatBoy was fitting for the moment and we couldn’t sto-o-o-o-p laughi-i-i-ing!

    Surfing Goat DairySurfing Goat Dairy was a delightful surprise. At first we thought we just driving through a neighborhood when a long drive of palm trees appeared with a well-manicured entrance. We walked around the to the outdoor café with its funky surf architecture. The place just had a cool vibe. Tours are available and visitors can even milk a goat, but we opted to try a sampler of Surfing Goat Dairy’s award winning cheeses. The offerings are so delicious, it is no wonder their product is in demand at fine restaurants around the globe.

    The day was wonderful and Maui’s Upcountry is suitable for families (except the wine tasting), romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways. We even noticed a number of solo travelers biking their way around the Upcountry. Take some time to get away from your resort and discover the surprises Maui has to offer.

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  • by smenzel at flickrWhat is up with all the airlines’ nickel and dime-ing consumers? United Airlines announced today that it is cutting 1,000 employees and 100 flights. What the heck is going on? Just last week they had a free-for-all sale of $300 round-trip flights to Hawaii from certain hubs. Will these purchased tickets still be valid come August if they are cutting flights so soon after the sale? Will United also be jumping on the charge-for-a-bag bandwagon that American Airlines is implementing come June 15?

    I flew American last week and for a short-haul flight I could purchase a blow up travel pillow for $5. I chose to roll up a sweatshirt to use as a pillow. My longer portion of the journey was eight hours and only offered complimentary soft drinks and juice. If I was hungry, I could purchase a turkey sandwich for $10. What a deal. All this and you can pay for your checked bags, too.

    No wonder American Airlines is cutting back on flights to the Caribbean. Word throughout the travel industry grapevine is that American will be eliminating 300 jobs in San Juan and cutting back to 18 flights per day there, as well (come September 2008). We’ve also heard that American Eagle may be reducing flights into the Caribbean by up to 70 percent for some destinations.

    So what does this mean for American families wanting to travel by air? I say look to airlines such as Air Jamaica to take up the slack and profit from the US-based airlines’ lack of customer service, because that is what it all boils down to. They can cry crude oil prices all they want, but when you treat your customer poorly ($5 pillows, no more peanuts, $15 checked bag) the customer then shops elsewhere.

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  • The other night I strolled along Waikiki Beach with my local friend Jeanne whom I met a few years ago. We watched the fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village that occurs almost every Friday night. I noticed a bunch of people on Segways and they looked like they were having a blast. So, I went ahead and booked a morning three-hour tour of Honolulu History and Culture.

    First I was given a helmet, which made me feel a bit dorky, but for safety reasons I was glad to have something to protect my super powerful rock star brain. Alan, Segway of Hawaii owner, gave me a training lesson before the tour. At first I was hesitant, because this thing is just two wheels. It doesn’t look like something I should step my chubby body onto, but Alan assured me the weight limit is 280 lbs, so I’m all good on that problem.

    I stepped onto the Segway, thinking it would tip over, but to my amazement the thing balances itself. Before long, I was gliding in and out of cones and able to stop on a dime (almost). Michael, my tour guide, felt confident that I was able to maneuver the streets of Honolulu, so off we went.

    We started off on Waikiki Beach, where people stared and pointed. Yes, I wanted to tell them, it is CajunMama in the flesh, don’t be intimidated. We were almost like street entertainers, performing a ballet of environmentally friendly, gas free transportation, and I was the star.

    Michael took Jeanne and I through bustling Chinatown, where I felt sure I was going to take out a pedestrian, but I did well, even when a store curtain blew into my face blocking my vision of the sidewalk baskets of fruit. Thanks to my pre-tour training, I was confident enough to maneuver around three baskets of bok choy and two elderly Asian ladies with canes. Whew! Crisis averted.

    We stopped for a breather at Iolani Palace and glided by the King Kamehameha statue. Our return trip provided an open area for me to glide open wide. In fact, I think I’m ready for the Segway races now. I was glad I took the time for this environmentally friendly tour of Honolulu. The price of $130 for a historic, cultural and fun three-hour tour is worth it.

    Now I can say, “This is how I roll.”

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