Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • This teen essay contest came into the TravelingMamas.com inbox and because we believe travel is education, we just had to share!

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    Global Leadership Adventures, which offers life-changing international community service trips for teens, is offering a FREE trip to Costa Rica for ONE deserving high school student this summer. The winner will venture on the all-expense paid 10-day Tropical Ecology & Service program from August 14 to 23, 2010 – a $2,500 value!

    Here’s a link to official contest rules.

    GLA’s goal is to provide life-changing experiences that will cultivate a global perspective and open-mindedness in students that will ultimately inspire them to become great leaders and global thinkers who will seek positive change in their own communities.

    The 10-day Costa Rica trip includes volunteering at a non-profit nature reserve, zip-lining through the rainforest, whitewater rafting, hiking to hidden waterfalls and much more.

    Read more details about this program. Meals, lodging and airfare from Houston, Texas to Liberia, Costa Rica will all be paid.

    High school students ages 14 to 18 are eligible to enter. Students must answer the following essay question for the chance to win: Tell us how you’ve shown leadership in your community? And, how would performing community service in an international setting help you further develop your leadership skills on a local and global level?

    Responses must be no more than 500 words. E-mail responses to contest@experiencegla.com. All responses must be received by June 25, 2010, 12:00 a.m. PDT to be eligible for the contest.

    Contest Rules:

    * No purchase necessary.

    * Prize is not redeemable for cash or anything else.

    * Prize not transferable to other programs or program dates.

    * Students are responsible for travel to Houston, Texas.

    * Contest ends June 25, 2010, 12:00 a.m. PDT.

    * Winner will be contacted via e-mail on Friday, July 2, 2010.

    * Employees or family members of employees of Terra Education are not eligible.

    * Only one submission per student.

    * Anyone submitting more than one entry will be disqualified.

    * Global Leadership Adventures is not responsible for any issues that arise that prevent winner from claiming the prize.

    * In the event the winner is unable to claim the prize, the second place essay will receive the prize.

    Be sure to share this with a teen you know and encourage them to enter this contest – they just might win!

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  • A healthy road trip snack option is one of the most popular questions we get from our readers. All of our contributors take nutrition seriously when it comes not only to children, but also the parents. We’ve put together a list of healthy road tips snacks filled with both classics and new items we’ve tested.

    Snack Mix – Before any road trip, we make our own personalized bag of snack mix for each member of the family. All of the ingredients are set out on the counter and each member writes their name on a Ziploc plastic bag and then begins to make their favorite snack mix concoction. Everyone is happy and there are no arguments regarding who ate all the snacks.

    Chips – Yes, there are a few somewhat healthy chip choices out there in Consumerland. I was sent a selection of Pop Chips by the company (free samples), which are available in different flavors at grocery stores in the US. This snack is not fried or baked, but popped and is only 100 calories per serving. I would love to give a first-hand experience of each flavor, but the kids tasted a bag and ended up eating all the samples, save one bag – the cheese flavored Pop Chips. They were delicious! MommyMusings and her family tested out Pringles Multigrain Chips. She says, “The new Multigrain Pringles are light and crispy…I’d say even lighter in texture than the traditional Pringles. The flavors- Cheesy Cheddar, Truly Original and Creamy Ranch were all a hit in my house.”

    Healthy road trip snack - Pop Chips

    Breakfast – This is the most important meal of the day, right? What if you happen to be on the road? Be sure to bring along some fresh fruit, cereal bars, healthy muffins, and even yogurt! ThemeParkMom gives some great vacation breakfast tips along with a review of Yoplait Greek Yogurt.

    Drinks – Hot car rides can really make a traveler thirsty. It’s important to stay hydrated while on the road. Pack an ice chest and fill it with bottled water, fruit juices, or anything remotely good for you. OneMomsWorld is an Aquafina Flavorsplash Mom, meaning she’s tested out the products and is sharing them with her neighborhood. Her husband even liked this hydration option, from her blog – “My hubby is really digging the lemon flavor. The best part is this water is naturally flavored with the different fruits.” I’ve personally been keeping the new Crystal Light PUREFITNESS fitness drink mix packets in my backpack (free sample for review from company). This is an easy and healthy way to replenish your body after hiking with the kids. It is portable, gluten free, and only has 15 calories.

    Cheese – You already have that cooler full of iced down drinks. Why not add some of your family’s favorite cheeses? My kids like to snack on string cheese and those mini cheddar cheese slices. I keep all the cheeses in a plastic container and then set it on top of the drinks. I’m a cheese lover myself, so I make sure to bring along my favorite smoked Gouda, Brie, and whatever local cheeses we pick up along our route. I recently sampled (sent for review from company) a variety of Beemster cheeses and found a new favorite – The X-O- which is crumbly and granular but has a strong flavor that was wonderful!

    Cereal/Granola Bars – This is a little TMI, but travel can make everyone, well, IRREGULAR. Nothing is worse than getting three days into your family vacation and one of the kids starts complaining of stomach pains. You know why – they need to go! Be sure that everyone gets enough fiber in their diets by sneaking it in through granola bars or other means. I recently tried out Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Chewy Bars with Antioxidants. My favorite flavor was peanut butter chocolate, but it comes in other flavors to suit your taste. Special thanks to Kellogg’s who provided free samples for review.

    Healthy Road Trip Snack - Kellogg's Fiber Plus Bars

    Do you have a favorite road trip snack that’s not only healthy, but tastes good too? What are some of your healthy road trip snack tips?

    Disclaimer: Some of the products mentioned were sent by the companies or their representatives. While we get sent many samples to review, we only tell our readers about items we really like.

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  • Yellowstone National Park is documented in the US National Archives as a “Park or Pleasuring Ground for the People.” I found during my visit that not only is the wildlife abundant, but the flora and fauna make a perfect setting for romance to blossom.

    Researching romance in national parks, I found that there are more relationships that develop and endure in this active use of public lands. Here are a few of my favorite spots:

    Mount Washburn – Drive to as far as you can to the top of Mount Washburn. Near the car park area is a spot of rolling land that is sometimes covered in Alpine Wildflowers. It’s a wonderful spot for a picnic, or a proposal.

    Alpine Wildflowers on Mount Washburn

    Shoshone Lake – The black sand of Shoshone Lake is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon relaxing and holding hands. The lap of the water against the shore will make you think of a tropical getaway. The sand is black due to the volcanic rock (obsidian) that makes up its shores.

    Old Faithful – Old Faithful is a sight to behold for any visitor of Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful under starlight is even more dramatic. Visitors rarely venture to the geyser area after dinner. This is what makes it a perfect spot for romantics. Lovers can choose to await eruption on the bleachers, or they can venture around the boardwalk.

    Hint: Bring a flashlight.

    Lake Yellowstone Inn – When one walks through the doors of Lake Yellowstone Inn, they are brought back to an era when one dressed up for dinner and only the wealthy visited Yellowstone. The dining room is reminded me of the Titanic dining room and makes one think of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. The sustainable cuisine of the restaurant rivals any fare in the US. Be sure to order a Yellowstone Caldera for dessert, it is a sensuous prelude to an evening moonlight stroll.

    A Yellowstone Sunset – A Yellowstone Sunset is not only a local beverage, but it is also an event to behold daily (weather permitting). Take a drive to any lookout point and await the setting of the sun with chilled champagne. Kisses are in order after the sun dips over the horizon.

    Things to Do

    Yellowstone National Park is run by the National Park Service(US). The park service in Yellowstone endorses programs offered by the Yellowstone Association Institute, the official partner in education with Yellowstone National Park. Check into each visitor center to see what activities and presentations are planned. Also, be sure to read Yellowstone Today, it is given out at every entrance gate to the park as the ‘official newspaper for Yellowstone National Park’, a National Park Service publication. It is full of useful and valuable information for your stay.

    The Yellowstone Association Institute offers a Lodging and Learning program, in partnership with Xanterra properties. If nature, wildlife, or geology are your bag, these programs are for you.

    Lodging and Dining

    Xanterra is the Concessionaire of choice for Yellowstone National Park. They manage reservations and dining, as well as many of the gift shops in the Park. If you are fortunate, same day reservations may be secured, but this is like winning the lottery. Plan your stay ahead to assure lodging inside of the park. The rates are reasonable and choosing to stay inside the park will help make for a memorable visit.

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  • Summer family travel season is about to begin and here at Traveling Mamas we’re all getting ready with researching travel deals, special coupons and cash back on all modes of getting around, blowing off some steam and having some fun in the sun. Because we know YOU love travel, we thought there would be no better time than now to kick off a twitter party! Join us on Twitter Tuesday May 25th from 4-5pm PST for a night of travel deals, prizes and more. We will be hosting the party with Ebates, an online service that not only saves you money, but they even send you cash back. We’ll highlight special travel deals, share travel tips and give away a slew of prizes including iPod Nanos and Shuffles, gift cards to Bloomingadale’s and travel gift certificates too. Here is what you need to know to join the party and win prizes:

    What: an Ebates and Traveling Mamas Twitter Party
    Why: To share ideas about travel, tips on finding great deals — and win great prizes!
    When: Tuesday, May 25th 7:00-8:00pm EST (4:00-5:00pm PST)
    Where: on Twitter (You will need to have a Twitter account, it is extremely simple to sign up!)
    How: Follow the #ebatestravel hashtag (You can use services like TweetChat or TweetGrid to follow the conversation) — and don’t forget to follow your hosts, @travelingmamas and @Ebates, on Twitter throughout the party for contest details, updates, and prize information.

    RSVP to Win: Leave a comment to RSVP for the party.  At some point during the party, we’ll be giving away a Marriott gift certificate to one randomly selected  RSVP comment from this post. You must actively attend the party to be awarded the prize. This is just one of the many fabulous prizes we’re giving away! As a reminder, be sure to use the official hashtag #ebatestravel during the party.

    Check out Ebates.com for all the fantastic travel and vacation deals to earn cash back from some of your favorite brands!

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  • I found myself previewing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter a couple of days back, and I can honestly say that it’s everything Universal Orlando has promised. And more.

    My job involves visiting a lot of theme parks and seeing a lot of cool stuff, but I have never felt so immersed in a fictional environment. I was walking the streets of Hogsmeade Village. I was a student at Hogwarts.

    Visitors can drink butterbeer and pumpkin juice (both yummy!), pick up a chocolate cauldron at Honeydukes, buy a wand at Ollivanders.

    You can witness the squabbling portraits at Hogwart’s Castle, get growled at by the Monster Book of Monsters, and be admonished by one Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

    There is no doubt that fans of the Harry Potter books and movies are going to enjoy the heck out of a visit to the Wizarding World.

    And that’s an important note that this mom needs to make: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is aimed at the target audience for the Harry Potter series, tweens and older.

    It’s completely logical, of course. In fact, it’s best, because the creators of the Wizarding World could never be true to the environment they were creating if the land wasn’t aimed at the typical Harry Potter audience.

    But because many people think of a theme park as a family outing, I think it needs to be said: There are no kiddie rides in the Wizarding World.

    The new ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, has a 48-inch height requirement and a long list warning away anyone with a health issue more serious than a zit or a stuffy nose. The ride was not open during the preview, but obviously, it involves some intense thrills.

    The other two rides are both roller coasters, though one (Flight of the Hippogriff) is relatively tame as coasters go.

    And there’s some intense stuff going on in the shops and streets: Video “feeds” from Azkaban, a mounted Hog’s Head that startlingly comes to life. Like I said, it’s awesome. But it will totally scare a 3 year old.

    My rule of thumb would be this: If you would let your kids watch the Harry Potter movies, then they are old enough to enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If not, they aren’t going to get much out of it. Logical, right?

    I’m not trying to discourage you from going to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, just pointing out the realities of the new Wizarding World for those who may not realize it. There’s still plenty for the little ones to do in the nearby Seuss Landing while the older kids go off to see the wizard.

    And moms, be sure to switch off the babysitting duties and get some Harry Potter time for yourself. It’s awesome. Really. Just not for a toddler.

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