Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • My family loves to check out different destinations each year, however, sometimes we come upon a place that is so much fun for a family vacation, the kids beg to return. San Antonio is one of those wonderful destinations and offers something exciting for every personality.

    A few years ago we spent some time exploring the museums, checking out theme parks, and enjoyed quality bonding time consuming southwestern cuisine in a beautiful riverside setting. The kids were fascinated with the river taxis and we wore them out with so much to do that my daughter fell asleep in my lap during our dinner. There are just THAT many attractions to experience in San Antonio, Texas.

    TravelingMamas.com was excited when San Antonio approached us with an offer to share a family vacation with our readers. You know we love giving things away, and giving away a trip is the ultimate! Since I personally have experienced this destination with my family, I’m confident that the winner will enjoy their time in this city and will make lasting family travel memories. If you win this prize, all you have to do is get yourself to San Antonio (transportation and meals not included in the prize, San Antonio residents not eligible). Here’s what you could win:

    2 Nights at the Drury Inn & Suites San Antonio Riverwalk

    Passes for 4 to:
    San Antonio Botanical Garden
    Tower of the Americas/Skies Over Texas 4D Theatre Ride
    Enchanted Springs Ranch
    Guinness World Records Museum
    Six Flags Fiesta Texas

    To enter, simply leave a comment stating what you’d do while visiting San Antonio on a family friendly vacation. One entry per email address. Winners must be US residents, ages 18 21 years or older. Contest ends at 11:59 pm CST on May 22, 2010. Winner will be announced sometime after closing with winner being notified via email. Winner must respond within 3 days of notification or prize will be forfeit and another winner will be chosen. Winner will be randomly selected on Random.org. Bonus entries for tweeting contest, sharing link on Facebook, or being a subscriber to the TravelingMamas.com. Leave a different comment for each bonus method to be valid entry.

    The San Antonio Vacation Experience (SAVE) is a cooperative effort of the SACVB and local business partners to provide discounts on 28 attractions and almost 40 hotels to help visitors save money while in town. Register to get access to great deals and coupon codes for popular hotels, exhilarating theme parks such as Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Sea World, shopping destinations, and historic sites around the city.

    Sign up to receive special offers and the latest updates on San Antonio events and happenings. Or, request a SAVE brochure here, including coupons.

    Be sure to visit and enter on all 12 sites participating in this promotion for the best chance of winning! Some of the contests are already live! San Antonio saved the best for last, with ThemeParkMom giving away the ultimate prize with tickets to ALL the major theme parks in the San Antonio area.

    Winner Update: Congrats to Lisa Baker who was randomly chosen from the valid comment entries. We sure hope you enjoy your San Antonio Vacation Experience!

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  • I received a press release today from a resort that shall remain nameless. It started with this headline: “Spa Pampering While Still Wearing Pampers.”

    The spa says its new menu “designed for little angels” will help kids “pushed to the breaking point” by being told to eat their vegetables instead of ice cream and not being able to go to the playground when they want to.

    So, with my apologies to Saturday Night Live, it’s time for my own “Really?” segment…

    • Really? My kid needs a footbath ritual followed by a 30-minute massage with chocolate massage oil? Really?
    • Really? My “metrosexual little guy” (the resort’s words, not mine) needs a precision manicure and pedicure, followed by a hand and foot massage with chocolate butter? Really?
    • Really? All that playing in the resort pool leads to tiredness and tension in my 2 to 12 year old that needs to be “released” by a professional massage therapist? Really?

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but if my kids have that much stress and tension in their lives, I think I’ll be running to family therapy and fixing what’s wrong in my home instead of taking them to a spa.

    Sure, I appreciate that babies — all of us, really — will be more relaxed and sleep more soundly after a massage. If you want to massage your kids, go for it. And the fun of a mommy/daughter mani-pedi isn’t lost on me.

    But if my budget allows for spa treatments on my next vacation, I’m keeping them all for myself. Sorry, kids, that’s mama’s money.

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  • With the announcement of Free Disney Dining for 2010, and the new quick-service meal plan for families staying at value resorts, it’s time to highlight the best quick eats at Disney World.

    Don’t be fooled, quick-service isn’t all about burgers and fries. Some of my best Disney meals have come from these counter service establishments. Here are my top picks from around the parks.

    Epcot

    No doubt, Epcot has some of the best Disney dining options. My #1 quick-service  meal comes from Morocco at  the Tangierine Café. My personal favorites are the Shawarma Platters with chicken & lamb and the lamb wrap served with Couscous salad and Lentil salad. Portions are huge so have a light lunch and come here for dinner.

    My second choice at Epcot is located near The Land and Soarin’ in Future World. Sunshine Seasons is a great stop for the kids as they can get a rotisserie chicken leg, mashed potatoes, side and drink for their meal. I’ve had the Seared Tuna Salad on multiple occasions and it has always been fresh and delicious.

    Magic Kingdom

    I have a confession. I sometimes crave the Anchors Aweigh Sandwich from Columbia Harbour House. I know it’s just tuna sandwich, but it’s a surprisingly good one! Another awesome pick is the Lighthouse sandwich with hummus, tomato & broccoli slaw. A nice change of pace from the traditional theme park fast food.

    Hollywood Studios

    Starring Rolls Café is a cute little eatery connected to the Brown Derby. While small (only 3 types of sandwiches are served), the food is delicious, and the best part is dessert! This is where Starring Rolls really shines, with their ginormous cupcakes! On the dining plan you receive a sandwich, bag of chips, choice of dessert and drink.

    In general, Disney pizza doesn’t rate very high on the yum factor, but Pizza Planet scores extra points for its Toy Story theme and arcade. Meals here are pretty generous. On the dining plan each person receives a mini pizza, side salad, dessert and drink. Plenty to share- get 2 meals and split with the kids.

    Animal Kingdom

    Anandapur Local Food Cafes, also known as Yak & Yeti Counter Service serves Asian cuisine right in the center of the theme park. Highlights here are the Shrimp Lo Mein, Chicken Fried Rice and the Pork Eggs Rolls.

    Downtown Disney

    Another favorite of mine is Wolfgang Puck’s Express. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on the menu, but my favs are the Rosemary Rotisserie Chicken and the Chinois Chicken Salad. They also have the best chicken tenders on property. Eat here for breakfast, lunch or dinner- you will not be disappointed!

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  • At Traveling Mamas, we’re big fans of loyalty clubs and their perks. I personally, have a wallet full of those plastic little cards from hotels and airlines around the world. Loyalty clubs are a great way to earn upgrades and free nights for a family vacation or romantic getaway.

    Last year Traveling Mamas assisted Hyatt Hotels in getting the word out about their Big Welcome Gold Passport promotion. In order to spread the Hyatt love, we gave away complimentary nights to a few of our readers. This year, they’re doing it again, with The Big Welcome Back and we’re excited to let our readers know about Hyatt’s Gold Passport promotion.

    Hyatt Gold Passport recently announced The Big Welcome Back promotion, which encourages guests to make the most of their travel by giving members a choice to earn one free night award or 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after every two stays through June 30, 2010. Free night awards can be enjoyed without blackout dates between April 1 and August 31, 2010, and bonus points can be redeemed any time toward free nights, upgrades or airline miles.

    As part of Hyatt’s commitment to making guests feel more than welcome with each and every stay, The Big Welcome Back was designed to make it easier than ever to return to Hyatt for a complimentary stay. There is no limit to the number of free nights and bonus points a member can earn during this promotional period. Guests who travel once each week could potentially earn a full week’s stay for a summer vacation.

    “The Big Welcome Back demonstrates our sincere passion for delivering the absolute best travel experience in the world,” said Jeff Zidell, vice president, Hyatt Gold Passport. “Whether traveling frequently or infrequently, this promotion gives our members the opportunity to come back and visit one of Hyatt’s great hotels around the world sooner than they ever thought possible. After all, the only thing better than welcoming our guests is welcoming them back.”

    The free night awards or bonus points earned during this promotion are in addition to the Gold Passport points members earn for their stay. All free nights must be redeemed by August 31, 2010. There is no expiration date for Gold Passport bonus points. For full details read the Hyatt Big Welcome Back promotion release.

    Hyatt has offered a few bloggers two free nights in order to experience first-hand the Hyatt hospitality. I plan on taking my kids to the destination of their choice (within reason) sometime this summer. It wouldn’t be fair for me to get the chance to experience a Hyatt without giving some of YOU the chance to do so, as well. That’s why Hyatt is offering two nights to two readers of TravelingMamas.com.

    How to win? First, go sign up for your Hyatt Gold Passport account. While you’re on the Hyatt site, browse around at the options of where to stay and come back here leaving a comment stating where you would use your two nights. That’s all! Be sure to leave your comment before 11:59 pm May 12, 2010. One entry per email address. Bonus entry for tweeting (just leave tweet status as different comment). Must be 18 year or older. Winners will be announced sometime after the close of the contest. Winners chosen randomly through Random.org.

    Winner update: Travelers Barista won with a tweet entry and Marilyn L who wants to visit Florida, New York, or Las Vegas with her free nights. Congratulations to both of you and make lasting travel memories!

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  • The US Gulf Coast is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the US, if not the world. I’ve personally made lasting family memories that include beaches from each state along the Gulf of Mexico. As a toddler, my parents would take me to Biloxi Beach for an afternoon of making sand castles. As a tween I experienced my first moments of being able to explore a beach hotel on my own. The teen years are full of memories with multi-family trips, complete with groups of moms singing Margaritaville on a balcony, legendary frozen concoction in hand, as we kids laughed at our mothers until tears ran down our eyes. I also spent my senior trip on one of those beaches.

    Beach chairs at Seaside Community flickr image by UGArdner

    I remember an early Louisiana morning where I joined my soon-to-be husband and his friend as we all went fishing down in Venice, Louisiana. When we became parents, we continued the Gulf Coast beach vacation tradition, sometimes meeting relatives, other times just us. I even took a girlfriend getaway on one of those beaches, getting one of my best friends some much needed Mama Time.

    Hurricanes have left their mark on all of these coastal communities since before they were even recorded. Homes were flattened. Communities destroyed. Our fragile coastal wetlands and their ecosystems have barely survived. Now the Gulf Coast faces a disaster of another kind – an oil spill.

    Oil Slick Near Mississippi Delta May 1st View Flickr Image Copyright NASA Goddard Photo and Video

    We’ve gotten many emails from readers asking how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will affect their beach vacations. At this point, no one is sure, however this disaster will affect more than just those going to the beach for a week. This will affect the price of goods that you use and the future of much wildlife and marine animals’ longevity, as well as plant species.

    Consumers should keep their plans to visit the Gulf Coast for a family vacation. By cancelling already booked trips, it can cause a chain reaction making many of these destinations suffer further in this already tough economic time. There is no way to predict at this point how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will affect your vacation. Your beach experience may not be what you were hoping for. However, there are swimming pools, water parks, attractions, restaurants, and other natural areas to visit during your family beach vacation.

    How You Can Help

    Many Gulf States have issued volunteer information and updates about their particular areas. If you are concerned about oil spill impact or you want to help, here are some resources to assist you in making an informed decision. If you are not local, don’t be a burden to an already affected area. Being a volunteer can offer great personal satisfaction, but your assistance may not be needed in a particular area. Check ahead before you travel a long distance.

    Oil Spill Volunteers – This independent website is working with local areas to connect individuals and group with volunteer opportunities. Keep in mind that there are safety concerns. Many communities offering volunteer training, which may be required before lending a helping hand. It was organized by two Ocean Springs, MS residents in an effort to assist areas impacted.

    Brett Robinson Vacations – This company maintains a large number of beachfront vacation rentals. They are providing ongoing updates regarding the beach areas and environment surrounding the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas of Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

    Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – Deepwater Horizon is the name of the rig which suffered an explosion and subsequent oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The website offers updates, as well as facts and a timeline of the incident. It was launched by the US Federal Government as an informational resource regarding the response of the incident.

    CDC Toxin FAQ – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Fuel Oil and Petroleum Toxins FAQ in response to the number of concerned citizens calling with questions.

    Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) – When the incident occurred, Governor Bobby Jindal took action to access the effects of the oil on Louisiana’s wildlife and coast. Louisiana’s emergency operations website has been a wealth of information for all those possibly impacted by this disaster. This is the most comprehensive information provided by a Gulf Coast State and kudos to whoever is running their social media campaign. Live updates are being tweeted from @GOHSEP.

    Other State Sites: Mississippi, Alabama, Florida

    Do you live near the Gulf Coast? Are you planning a vacation to this area? Please share your thoughts and updates.

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