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- Romance in Ireland
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- Dining on the Carnival Breeze Cruise Ship
- One Direction checks out new 3-D ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Orlando
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- Family Trip Giveaway: Colonial Williamsburg
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You may be traveling this holiday season – or you may have relatives traveling to your home this year. At TravelingMamas.com we’ve been putting together our personal holiday travel tips to help make your holiday travel easy and stress free.
If mailing or carrying on your holiday gifts, be sure to check and see which items need batteries as their power source. Nothing is worse than giving a battery operated gift without the batteries included, especially when gifting to little ones.
Rayovac recently polled moms and found out that 65% have forgotten to purchase batteries to go along with their gifts. To help these moms, and also ease your last minute holiday gift purchase stress, Rayovac has put together this handy batttery shopping list of some of the most popular battery powered toys this holiday season:
If you’d like the direct link to the Rayovac Battery Guide for Top Holiday Toys, be sure to check out the Rayovac official website. Also, the Rayovac Facebook Page offers coupons to help you save money on these already value packed batteries.
This post is sponsored by Rayovac.
Surveys are a great way to guage what readers are interested in and how to make content for a site more relevant. We recently did our own travel survey here at TravelingMamas.com and had fun reading all the results. Many of our loyal readers (you) send us emails requesting particular post topics or answers to your travel questions. However, we also get a good majority of readers who discover the site while using search engines. We took a look at all the information compiled by other travel sites to see just what’s popular among the travel masses and what destinations we’re all dreaming of for 2011.
Top Destinations in Europe
Tripadvisor revealed that 69% of those that took part in their recent travel trends survey admitted they are planning international trips in 2011, with Europe being the most popular international destination. So which cities in Europe are top on their list? Paris, London, and Rome.
Where will travelers rest their heads in 2011? The Tripadvisor Travel Trends Forecast suggests that vacation home rentals are on the rise, with 47% of travelers considering a stay in a vacation home, which is an increase of 8% over last year’s numbers. At TravelingMamas.com we keep our ears to the ground, listening for clues in what people are chatting about in travel, both online and offline. It seems that travel budgets and the potential for saving a few bucks on a vacation, plus the added space are the key reasons travelers are seeking vacation home rentals.
What US destinations are the most popular for 2011? I could base this information solely on TripAdvisor’s survey results, but wanted to look further than one press release. I began searching around on other sites, reading press releases, consulting with a few travel booking agents around the US, checking popular search terms (on this site and with the search engines), and talking to friends around the US who are planning trips. This reasearch has helped me to guesstimate the top destinations for 2011. Please keep in mind, this is a prediction of the destinations where I believe people are planning to travel in the new year and they are listed in no particular order.
Las Vegas, NV – Sin City is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest conference destination in the US. There is the perception of Las Vegas being the place to act wild. Fortunately, the stereotype of Vegas is slowly changing and has become a destination for luxury and decadence. Sure, you can still find the deals, free things to do in Vegas, and budget lodging, but Las Vegas is now a culinary and entertainment destination offering more than just chance games and 99 cent shrimp cocktails.
New York City, NY – The concrete jungle of New York City is always a popular destination. It’s consistently the top place for Thanksgiving holiday travel. It’s a city of style and has become a shopping pilgrimage for women from all over the US, thanks to that Sex in the City show and all those blockbuster movies.
The Florida Keys – Travelers looking for that island state of mind are traveling to Key West and the Florida Keys for a taste of the relaxing lifestyle this destination is known for. There are plenty of family attractions in the Florida Keys to keep everyone entertained and couples can escape at one of the many romantic resorts in the Florida Keys.
Maui, Hawaii – Maui has been a top honeymoon spot, but is growing as a family destination. This island isn’t all about beaches. Maui’s Upcountry offers magical views, a lavender farm, winery, and goat cheese farm.
Asheville, NC – The beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains makes Asheville a popular, growing destination. It doesn’t hurt that this artsy city is booming with culinary offerings, attractions, and of course, the Biltmore Estate with winery and spa. It’s a city with rustic elegance and offers indoor and outdoor adventure.
Austin, TX – I have some really cool friends in Austin and can see why this music city is gaining in popularity with the no-children crowd. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun for families, but I’m seeing an increase in travelers looking for a place to party in a cool, laid back way.
Orlando, FL – You can thank that mouse for making Orlando one of the top destinations in THE WORLD. I’m noticing an increase of families booking trips to Orlando and companies holding conferences in the area so the business trip can double as a family vacation. With the decrease in personal travel budgets and a lack of time off from work, it’s no wonder this trend is becoming popular. Orlando was also made the previous list of top summer destinations.
Branson, MO – Family travelers are realizing that Branson isn’t just for senior citizens and offers activities for all ages. I’ve even heard of a few people planning a Branson honeymoon. The Ozarks are beautiful to behold. Branson isn’t a wild town and is a wholesome destination for families.
San Francisco – TripAdvisor says it’s a popular destination for 2011, but I’m just not feeling it.
Unfortunately, I really wanted to add one of my favorite cities – New Orleans, LA. It’s not only so close to me that everyone seems to think I live there, but it’s also dear to my heart. Sadly, because of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and hyped up stories in the media, travelers have this perception that New Orleans is covered in oil and do not have plans to visit in 2011. Prove me wrong, people! Visit Louisiana. If you are interested in statistics, in August Travelocity polled Americans and released some disheartening information about tourism along the Gulf Coast.
Did we leave out a destination that you think will be one of the top destinations for 2011? Where are you planning to travel?
The Final Season of Oprah is closing with the ultimate adventure – Ms. Winfrey surprised an entire audience with a trip to accompany Ms. Winfrey on her first trip to Australia. The group landed in Oz and broke off to experience different adventures across the country. I’m so excited to see others get a chance to have an amazing and unbelievable adventure trip like this and hope they all have a wonderful, lasting travel experience.
Oprah landed in the country to meet up with the tour group. She and her best friend Gayle King (and entourage) spent some time at Hamilton Island Wildlife Park and The Great Barrier Reef. The friends enjoyed a barbecue on Whitehaven Beach prepared by Australian chef Curtis Stone. Now this is beginning to sound like one of the best getaways ever!
Stops for the various audience members (broken into smaller groups) include some of the following:
A helitour of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Lodging at Longitude 131 – I’ve had this luxury camping resort on my list of places to experience. You have to go glamping at least once! It’s near Ayers Rock (Uluru) and looks absolutely fabulous.
Surfing Lessons at Byron Bay
A Hot Air Balloon Ride in the Hunter Valley
Be sure to watch the entire coverage of Oprah’s Ultimate Australia Adventure which will air on two episodes. I can’t wait to watch and start planning my own ultimate Australia adventure and to follow along Oprah Winfrey as she takes her next path on her life journey with the upcoming launch of OWN the Oprah Winfrey Network which premiers January 1, 2011. Tonight I’ll be settling in to watch the Barbara Walter’s special about Oprah on ABC.
My family is spending Christmas Eve in St. James Parish, Louisiana to witness the bonfires along the levee of the Mississippi River. This Cajun Christmas tradition dates back to 1870 when plantations would light bonfires here and there on Christmas Eve. Today, this humble tradition has become much bigger than a small family gathering. The first time I saw the bonfires was in 1987 on a visit to see the bonfires under construction.
This year, I’ll be able to share this Louisiana tradition with my own children and maybe we’ll even read “A Cajun Night Befor Christmas” like my mother read to my brother and I when we were younger. While we’re all standing around the levee, watching the bonfires light up the Christmas Eve sky, we’ll be sipping on Louisiana’s Community Coffee and some hot chocolate.
Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube
This coming weekend will be The Festival of the Bonfires in St. James Parish, where there will be a fair, bands, and vendors with each evening ending with one bonfire being lit. On Christmas Eve is the big show, with bonfires of all shapes and sizes lighting up the levee of the Mississippi River in Louisiana from Gramercy to Lutcher.
Here are directions the bonfire festivities:
For The Festival of the Bonfires (December 10,11,12)
From New Orleans, Take I-10 West to Lutcher-Gramercy Exit (194), Make right on LA Hwy. 3125 to LA 3193. Turn left to festival site.
From Baton Rouge, Take I-10 East to Gramercy Exit, Travel South on U.S. Hwy 61 (Airline Hwy.) to LA Hwy. 3274 (approx. 7 miles on right), Turn Right on LA Hwy. 3125 to LA Hwy. 3193 (Lutcher Ave.) to festival site.
On Christmas Eve
It is recommended that you get into the area before 6:00 PM. The fires will be lit at 7:00 PM. Try spending the afternoon, walking the levee, taking pictures and touring the museum. Parking is available in lots along LA 641. Please do not park in lots that are roped off! There will be a 3 to 4 block walk to the levee. If you are interested in driving through, take LA 3213 to LA 44 (Exit before the bridge). This will take you to the first bonfire. Drive along River Road through Gramercy & Lutcher.
Have you ever heard of “A Cajun Night Before Christmas” by Tee Jules? Here it is, all animated and recited by Tee Jules himself before his passing.
Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube.
Last year I took my first ski lessons, thanks to SkiUtah.com. One thing I noticed about the fashion at the various ski resorts is that women want to look good both on and off the slopes. I had no idea what type of ski wear to pack for a cold weather destination. Keeping your feet warm and dry after a day on the slopes is important, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping with the current fashion. Here are some of the best apres ski boots that work for both function and fashion.
Teva Kiru Boot – We love Zappos.com, not just because they’re friendly people, but because they offer great products at fabulous prices. These Teva Kiru print boots will keep your feet warm and cozy when the temperatures drop. The side zipper makes it easy to slide these boots on and the top laces help with taking these beauties off. They not only look fabulous with your apres ski attire, but they keep you upright with their non-marking Spider soles that help grip on slippery surfaces.
Sorel Cate the Great Boot – Waterproof construction is important when temperatures are below freezing. Sorel is one of the top brands that keep feet warm and dry in winter and these Sorel Cate the Great will help you look fashionable too. The upper is leather and suede and the recycled inner felt InnerBoot is removable. These boots even fit those with a little bit larger calf, which is sometimes hard to find with taller boots. Be aware that if you are looking for tight ankle support, these boots fit a little loose in that area.
Keen Charleston Boot – Not everyone is comfortable wearing tall boots as their apres ski attire. Keen is a classic brand that produces quality products for all seasons. The Keen Charleston Boot boasts a soft, microfleece inner lining to keep your tootsies toasty. These boots aren’t just quality and will keep your feet warm and dry, they are also very light for apres ski boots and will be a welcome respite for your legs after a day on the slopes and the binding fit of ski boots. You can find these boots online at 6pm.com, the sister site of Zappos that offers AMAZING discount prices.
Khombu Moon Boots – The Khombu Moon Boots are cute, fur-trimmed waterproof boots for apres ski. They have a faux-fur lining and removable foam-cushioned insole. The rubber outsole is great for gripping icy sidewalks and stepping through snow to get to that apres-ski lunch or afternoon of shopping after a day’s adventure on the slopes. We found this boot and many others at SierraTradingPost.com.
Timberland Crystal Mountain Mid Pull-on Boots – Timberland is a classic outdoor adventure brand and their winter offerings won’t let anyone down. These Timberland Crystal Mountain Mid Pull-on Boots don’t have that bulky look of Timberland’s classic hiking boots. These are very fashionable for apres-ski adventures. The removable anti-fatigue footbed is an added aspect to these already quality boots. The rubber outsole not only provides traction on slippery surfaces, but it’s also eco-friendly. Campmor is one of the many places to purchase these apres ski boots for women.
These are just a few of the many apres ski boots available for women. What are some of your favorite brands of winter boots?