Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • We love to travel at TravelingMamas.com and we also love to give things away. What gets us jumping for joy is being able to give our readers a trip so they can experience a smidgen of what we get to do when we’re on the road looking for the best travel destinations to highlight here.

    For the month of September, we’re celebrating the end of summer vacation with trip giveaways along the Gulf Coast. Each week we’ll announce a new trip giveaway, where readers can win one of many trips, including multi-night stays at various properties in Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, Alabama. We fully support visiting this oil spill affected area.

    How to enter: Write a blog post about a recent summer trip and place the following text somewhere in your blog post – “This post is part of the TravelingMamas.com Tripapalooza Contest.” Be sure to link the term TravelingMamas.com back to this site. If you want your entry to count towards the giveaway, you’ll need to leave a comment on THIS POST with a link to your entry blog post. We’ll verify each post. You can write as many posts as you like and live anywhere in the world. You’ll get extra Karma is your post is about visiting the Gulf Coast. Don’t have a blog? We still want you to be able to enter. Just submit your story to TravelingMamas.com and be sure to leave a comment in this post that you submitted a story – Story Submission Form

    Bonus Entries: Once you officially enter, you can get bonus entries for tweeting this post, liking us on FaceBook, or being a subscriber to our newsletter. Make sure you leave a comment for each bonus entry option to count. Good luck!

    Winners will be selected randomly via Random.org. Prizes will be awarded throughout the month of September, with contest officially ending on the last day of the month. Former contributors of TravelingMamas.com not eligible to enter. Winners will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to claim their prize or will forfeit their prize, which will be awarded to a secondary winner. Prizes have restrictions, including blackout dates and expiration, determined by each prize sponsor. Legal name and physical mailing address must be provided to claim prize.

    Comments will be rescued from Spam.

    Prizes awarded include, but not limited to:

    5 Nights at The Beach Club Gulf Shores, Alabama

    3 Nights at a Brett-Robinson Gulf Shores, Alabama Property

    3 Nights at a Meyer Real Estate Gulf Shores, Alabama Property

    Good luck and happy blogging! Be sure to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama’s White Sand Beaches, where we recently checked out the beaches and found them absolutely gorgeous!

    Worried about oil in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach? Cultural travel blog, Hole in the Donut shared this profound video:

    Winner of 3 Nights at a Meyer Real Estate Property: Congrats to Jamey Tucker who was randomly chosen for this Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Trip Giveaway. His winning entry was a post on his blog about how his kids chose a family vacation in Gatlinburg over a family trip to Florida. You can read the full story at Jamey Tucker’s BlogSquat.

    Winner of 3 Nights at a Brett Robinson Property: Congrats to Trisha who won with her Facbook like entry. She also blogged about the contest also. You can read her beach post on Momdot.com.

    Winner of 5 Nights at The Beach Club, Alabama: Congrats to Tracey Dillard who won with her post about the Hard Rock Casino Biloxi.

    Thank you to everyone who entered. Keep checking back for future giveaways.

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  • While in New York City, TravelingMamas.com was invited to test out a few new Chevy models coming to the market for 2011. The event was called Chevy Blogher (being that it was held just before Blogher began) and bloggers from around North America participated in the ride and drive.

    The plan was to break into small teams and drive the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze from Manhattan to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY. Themeparkmom, MommyMusings, and I went with Chris, a representative from Chevrolet. We checked out the interior to see how comfortable and practical this vehicle would be for a family or group of friends on a road trip.

    MommyMusings, ThemeParkMom, and CajunMama at Chevy Blogher Event in NYCThe Exterior: This vehicle is designed as a compact sedan. The Chevy Cruze is a tad bit bigger than the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic (I used to own a Civic) and definitely more pleasing to the eye. It comes in some nice colors, with the red version being my favorite. It is a four door vehicle making it a smart purchase for families, couples thinking about expanding their families, boomers, college students, or for a company vehicle.

    2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ

    The Interior: When I sat inside the Chevrolet Cruze, I really felt like I was in more of a luxury car than a compact midline vehicle. This model starts at $16,995 but comes in fully loaded at around $22,000. We took a ride in the loaded model which has sunroof, leather seats, and for families with kids – plenty of power plugs for those DVD players, game systems, or laptops. This vehicle sits four and the back seat has a built in drink/gadget holder in the middle, providing a boundary line for kids that argue over space during road trips. ThemeParkMom and MommyMusings sat in the back on the ride up to the farm while I chatted with Chris and played with all the front seat gadgets. It does have the OnStar system, as well as an iPhone/iPod docking station and built in GPS. The ride was smooth and the noise level from outside was almost eliminated. I guess that would be from the triple-sealed, acoustic-laminated glass windshield and liquid-applied sound deadeners, which are just some of the techniques used to help make the road seen, not heard.

    2011 Chevrolet Cruze Interior

    Under the Hood: {from Chevrolet} The available small displacement 1.4L turbocharged engine, ideal for Cruze, is designed to deliver efficiency without compromising performance. Coming late 2010, the Cruze Eco is expected to offer an estimated 40 MPG highway. Cruze Eco adds ultra-low-rolling resistance tires and other technologies to boost efficiency. And Cruze Eco is decked out with a rear spoiler and 17″ wheels, so saving gas will finally look as good as it feels.

    2011 Chevrolet Cruze Under the Hood

    Safety: A Mama is always concerned about safety, and with the Chevy Cruze, you can feel confident that your little family pod will be safe and secure. {from Cheverolet} Cruze sets itself apart from other compacts on safety with 10 standard airbags, including frontal, front seat side-impact, roof-rail head-curtain, rear-seat side impact, second row side, and front knee air bags. Technologies like StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control System with Traction Control and four-wheel antilock brakes help you stay on the road and in control. And should the unthinkable ever happen, Cruze is equipped with OnStar® Automatic Crash Response standard for the first six months. Built-in sensors can automatically alert an Advisor, who is immediately connected to your vehicle and can request emergency help be sent to your exact GPS location, even if you’re unable to respond.(note: I work in emergency services and we really DO get calls from OnStar notifying us of emergencies.)

    2011 Chevrolet Cruze LT

    Overall Impression: The ride was smooth and quiet, so it definitely gets a thumbs up for comfort. I don’t know about the other Mamas, but I really liked the Chevrolet Cruze and I’m even considering investing in one as our next family vehicle. Besides the safety features and good gas mileage, the technology alone has sold me. I want to plug in my new iPhone 4 and listen to Pandora as I take a road trip to the Gulf Coast or Missouri with the family, opening the sunroof to smell and feel the fresh air. A bonus? Well, that would be the new OnStar iPhone app that allows you to check your fuel levels, monitor any service needed, and even start your car from around the block or inside your home. Now THAT’s rockin’ cool!

    As a mother of two (a tween and teen), I ditched my SUV a long time ago and realized that I could save money on road trips by driving a more economic and environmentally friendly vehicle. Plus, it’s easier to find a parking space in a smaller vehicle. I can’t wait until the Chevrolet Cruze is out on the market. You can check out the Traveling Mamas Chevy Drive experience by watching the video in the upper right hand of the page. If you can’t see it in your browser, here’s the direct link: TravelingMamas.com Test Ride the Chevrolet Cruze.

    Have you checked out the Chevy Cruze? What did you think?

    Disclosure: Chevy treated us to lunch since we were on a farm for the day. This had no influence on our impression of the Chevrolet Cruze.

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  • Consolidating all of a traveling mamas’ gear into one carry-on bag can be a daunting task. Shoes are items that can not only take up a lot of space, but can ruin the clothes you pack along beside them. A hot trend I’ve noticed lately is the wide variety of travel shoe bags available for all personalities. They’re not only practical, but they’re cute, too! Here are some of the best shoe bags and totes for women I’ve recently found:

    Peek-a-Boo by Leslie Hsu – These canvas shoe bags have a clear window so that your shoes are protected and you can see which shoes are in which bag. Currently they only come in two colors – magenta and beige, but at $14.99 for two, they’re tops on our list. Thanks, Leslie for sending us some samples to test out in the field. They are now a packing staple in my suitcase. These can be purchased online or in store at Bed Bath and Beyond.

    Zoe Tote on Etsy – These hand-sewn totes are cute, practical, and fashionable. Adorable woven cotton patterns created into hand sewn shoe totes and finished with a grosgrain ribbon and bead, designed to add flair to your favorite shoes. At $20, you’re not only investing in a fantastic travel accessory, but you’re supporting an independant artist. Purchase online at Zoe Tote’s Etsy Store.

    Lillian Vernon Shoe Tote – This is our bargain pick for a family packing a large suitcase. The shoe bag holds six pairs of small shoes. It isn’t compact like many of the other bags on our list, or is it the most stylish, but it is practical and keeps your shoes organized while on the go. This item can also be used at home if you have small living quarters. Just slide the shoe bag under the bed for storage. $19.99 on LillianVernon.com.

    Shubi – These shoe totes are a bit more than some of the other shoe bags we recommend, but they are oh so fabulous! Shubi  shoe bags come in a variety of patterns and they’re lined in a coordinating fabric, keeping your shoes from getting scuffed and your finer fabrics from getting nicked by your heels.  The drawstring top is made with grosgrain ribbon and they are machine washable. Pick your favorite fabric and let your shoes travel in style with Shubi. $29 online.

    My Tote Chamberlain Shoe Bag – This fashionable shoe bag has been featured in Bride’s Magazine and Oprah Magazine. The shoe bag has two pockets, to keep your shoes from scraping each other during transport, or you can put the shoes on one side and undergarments in the other pocket. The Chamberlain also comes in a swimsuit bag (as seen in Oprah Magazine) and has a waterproof liner. This makes a good option for carrying liquids (in your checked baggage). $27.99 at MyTote.com

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  • School’s back in session and many of you are already missing summer break. Take some time for a last minute getaway for the long Labor Day holiday. Pack your bags, hop in the car, and take advantage of the great deals along the Gulf Coast. It’s a traveler’s market right now. (Some of these deals were mentioned in my travel segment on 8/26/2010 on WAFB)

    SanDestin Golf and Beach Resort in Florida – Book 3 nights, get a 4th free PLUS a $250 Government Tourism Grant Gift Card to Silver Sands Outlet or Southwest Airlines. Restrictions apply, see Sandestin.com for details.. I personally checked out the beaches here and found them oil free.

    Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL – John Mayer Getaway: A few resorts (like luxury beach resort Turquoise Place) are offering free John Mayer tickets for Labor Day Weekend bookings in addition to almost 50% off on a 3 bedroom luxury condo. Check out SpectrumResorts.com or many of the other rental companies through AlabamaBeaches.com. The Mamas and I checked out the beaches here last week, and while there were spotty reports of oil, we didn’t see anything in the water and the beaches were pristine.

    Biloxi and Gulf Port, MS  – The Mississippi beaches are in need of visitors. Even if you don’t gamble, you can find some great deals at many of the casino hotels, some of them with family friendly pools.

    Galveston – Great beaches and fun activities for the entire family. Moody Gardens is one of my personal picks and there’s even a Schlitterbahn Water Park. Book your vacation deal through Galveston.com and you’ll get a coupon book with up to $500 in discounts.

    South Padre Island – Great deals at this destination and take advantage of the Schlitterbahn Water Resort that offers excitement for all ages. Be sure to check out the area sandcastle lessons. The Hilton Garden Inn is offering family fun packages with 4 Schlitterbahn tickets included in your rate. Book through the official South Padre Island website.

    New Orleans – The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans is currently offering a variety of packages that are all available over Labor Day.  Our favorite is GRANDTRAVEL WITH THE GRANDKIDS   – package include tickets to the Audubon Zoo and many other perks.

    To allow  those to give back during their visit, the New Orleans Marriott recently launched the “Spirit To Serve New Orleans” voluntourism package which allows guests to partner with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity or Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, to help rebuild homes hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and provide food to families impacted by the Gulf oil spill. This package is offered through the end of the year and starts at $109 per night, the “Spirit to Serve New Orleans” voluntourism package includes:

    * A dedicated concierge to coordinate volunteer efforts
    * Deluxe accommodations
    * Box lunch for two
    * Transportation to and from the volunteer site
    * Two commemorative t-shirts

    To book the Spirit to Serve New Orleans package, visit www.spirittoserveneworleans.com or call 1-800-228-9290. Booking code V5S

    There are many other deals available for Labor Day travel and beyond. If you come across some great packages, feel free to share these in the comments for other readers who are planning a last minute getaway. Have safe travels and make some fun family travel memories.

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  • During our whirlwind tour of New York City during Blogher, TravelingMamas.com had a chance to visit with the Hanes Comfort Crew and learn about organizing our socks and undies and getting the perfect fit for our personal mama support system (bras). The video included with our post gives you a behind the scenes look of what takes place during many of our brand meetings and research on finding the best products to bring to you, the readers. Celebrity stylist Jenn Falik shared her Hanes Fashion 411 tips and Michael Moloney of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition talked about the importance of cleaning out your drawers and starting fresh with Hanes! And yes, getting a foot massage will get you everywhere with me 😉

    Here are some of TravelingMamas.com’s tips for packing and also a few items from Hanes that help keep you comfortable and fresh while on your trip:

    1. Be sure to pack your shoes in their own drawstring bags so that you keep your clothing clean and germ free in your suitcase.

    2. Undies can be folded and rolled up and placed in empty corners and spaces of your bag.

    3. Taking care of your feet when traveling is very important. Pack socks that have a cushion or arch support to wear when touring on your travels. Hanes offers a variety of sock options for the entire family, including their All Day Dry socks and arch support socks.

    4. Save space in your bag and use socks for slippers when walking around your hotel room. I don’t know about you, but walking barefoot around a hotel room grosses me out. Hanes Casuals Cusion socks offer a soft thicker sole area and make for great slipper alternatives.

    5. Pack socks inside of your shoes. I can usually place two pair of socks in each shoe, saving space in my bag for other important items.

    6. Don’t ruin your bras in you bag. Stack them inside of each other and lay the stack out across the top of your suitcase. Yes, the TSA will get a look at your unmentionables, but at least your mama parts won’t look lopsided from having crushed cups.

    7. Bring along tanks with shelf bras. Hanes has tank shirts with shelf bras that won’t take up hardly any room in your bag and look great under casual sundresses or when you want to lounge around your hotel room in comfort.

    8. Eco friendly sweats work well for confort in colder climates. Fall is almost here and that means ski season will be upon us soon. While I don’t recommend wearing a sweatsuit to a restaurant, this clothing item is the ultimate in comfort when traveling. Hanes Ecosmart Collection offers sweatsuits made out of recycled waterbottles, making this a clean, green item.

    9. Pack a laundry bag for your dirties. Nothing is worse than living out of a suitcase going from location to location and having dirty undies, bras, and socks mixed in with the clean clothes. I always bring along a small laundry bag to place items that get gently used while on the road. Sometimes a mama just doesn’t have enough time to wash laundry while on a trip.

    10. Wash delicates in your hotel sink and hang them up overnight to dry. If you plan on being in one location for a few days, you can save space by utilizing the clothes line found in most hotel bathrooms. Wash in the sink. Rinse. And then hang your delicates to dry overnight.

    These are just a few of the many tips we found from experience in traveling frequently. With the increase in baggage fees, we here at TravelingMamas.com have learned to save money and space by taking advantage of smart ways to pack a carry on bag so that we can travel and still have all the neccessities needed for personal comfort.

    Disclosure: I did get a foot massage provided by Hanes at the Hanes Social Media Event in NYC. While that would be enough of an incentive for me to mention the brand (since I had just walked a few New York blocks to get to the party), I have purchased Hanes products for decades and have no issue in mentioning a brand that I use in daily life. Special thanks to Erika Lehmann of ChicShopperChick.com for inviting me and MommyMusings as her guests. Be sure to watch the video and see some amazing power bloggers talk about how they use Hanes.

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