Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • What is a romantic escape? Does it really have to be about time with your significant other? Does is have to be a honeymoon trip or anniversary journey? Is it who you are with or is it about where you go?

    My affair with Ireland began before I visited this magical place. I read about it as a child, with stories of fairies and legends like The Blarney Stone. I read about the mists in history books and her heroes in my romance novels. When the offer was made to travel across the ocean and actually step foot on this island, I jumped at the chance to meet one of my crushes.

    My entire being began to change when I stepped off the plane. My hair curled up, and I longed to start my exploration of the land that inspired so many writers. I visited faery rings, wondering if any of these places were portals into other worlds, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. I enjoyed dinner at a private residence overlooking the inspiration of Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B. Yeats while my host read the poem aloud in between courses.

    I visited a seaside spa in Sligo and floated in a seaweed bath, imagining myself as a mermaid. I walked the streets of Dublin late one night, in search of Bram Stoker’s residence where he penned Dracula. I enjoyed a pint of Guinness at Davy Byrnes on Grafton Street, the place where James Joyce used to frequent.

    I learned about my name, Shannon, and the river my mother named me after. I also learned that the Irish don’t name their children Shannon, as it would be like an American naming their child Mississippi or Rio Grande, but the legend of Sinaan and how the river was named is a fascinating story in itself.

    I danced with friends and I danced with strangers all over the island, from Sligo, to Donegal, to Dublin. I enjoyed the food and the drink and the people. I fell in love with Ireland and I discovered a new depth in my soul and even fell in love with myself. I knew that when I returned home to my family I would be able to hold the memories of Ireland dear to my heart whenever I thought my life was dull with dishes, laundry, and carpools.

    Every once in a while, when life gets still, one might be able to find me listening to a bit of Celtic music, drinking a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea, and flipping through photos or reading the poetry of Keats. My romantic affair with Ireland will always be in my heart, never to be forgotten.

    Ireland is a welcoming destination for families, romantic escapes (with or without spouse), girlfriend getaways, and definitely soul-oh trips. When you find the real Ireland, you find yourself. For more information visit DiscoverIreland.com or find your own romantic escape closer to home.

    This article was originally published here on October 26, 2008

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  • This post is dedicated to all those Traveling Mamas, from the past and present, that have traveled to settle North America. This post was originally published Thanksgiving 2008.

    The United States has long been a haven for those fleeing political or religious persecution. It is a well-known fact that Native Americans lived in North America long before settlers from Spain, England, France, and all those from the East came to explore, conquer, and live. But today, our country (and this Continent) is a mixture of ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. We are so fortunate to live in a place where we can be ourselves, where we can go where we want, where we can dream of the family trips we’ll someday experience.

    I sometimes travel alone to places, without a family member or a friend. It can be scary to many people, being alone in an unfamiliar place.

    When I traveled to Missouri a few weeks ago, my plane landed around midnight in Kansas City. People rushed off the plane, oblivious to those around them, anxious to get to baggage claim. I walked along, just like everyone else, until the automatic doors opened and a cold biting wind hit me. There was an older Black woman wrapped with a bed sheet around her head. She wore house slippers and held her hands out as if begging.

    People walked past her as if she wasn’t there.

    I stopped to see what she needed, but all she could do was make an unintelligible sound, tears in her tortured eyes as she looked at me. There was a lanyard hanging around her neck with a card she showed to me.

    “Hi, my name is XXXX. I am a refugee from Somalia. My destination is Kansas City, Missouri. If there is a problem, please call this number XXXXXXXX.”

    No wonder I couldn’t understand her. She was speaking in another language. I called the number listed and was told that someone should be there to pick her up. I motioned to her asking if she had luggage, but all she had was the plastic shopping bag in her hand. I settled her in the waiting area while I retrieved my own bag and thought of the bravery of this Traveling Mama, leaving her country with just the clothing on her back.

    As I grabbed my bag and turned around, I watched two young boys run to the woman and embraced her. Apparently they were her sons that she had blindly sent ahead to a different country to escape the violence and poverty of where they lived, hoping that she would one day see them again. The tears streamed down their faces as they just sat there, embracing. It touched my heart.

    The experience made me think of my life and how fortunate my family is. I am thankful to be born in a country where today my children can be raised without fear of where our next meal will come from and where violence is not part of a typical day. What are you thankful for? Be sure to check out TweetsGiving.org.

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  • The superstar boy band, One Direction, was hosted by Universal Orlando Resort on June 28, 2012 to experience the all-new attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, officially opening on July 2, one of many new attractions at Universal Orlando. During their day at the theme parks, they encountered Gru and his daughters, Margo, Edith and Agnes before being transformed into minions on the ride. The band visited Orlando as part of their headlining summer music tour, featuring hit pop star Olly Murs – who joined them for a day at Universal Orlando’s theme parks.

    From Left: Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson

    Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is Universal Orlando Resort’s newest 3-D attraction. This brand-new ride combines the outrageous humor and memorable characters of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s blockbuster film Despicable Me, with an all-new storyline, incredible new animation and the latest 3-D technology to create a wildly hysterical theme park experience.

    Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is located in Universal Studios Florida. For more information about Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.universalorlando.com.

    Planning a family holiday to Universal Orlando Resorts? Be sure to check out our review of Loews Portofino Bay Resort, our tips on visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and all about Seuss Landing.

    Image of One Direction and minions provided by Universal Orlando Resorts.

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  • In anticipation of summer, Colonial Williamsburg has a special trip giveaway offer for Traveling Mamas readers. One lucky family will have an opportunity to win one (1) complimentary 4 day/3 night package getaway to enjoy interactive history and unparalleled southern hospitality at one of the country’s most popular must-sees for families. This summer, Colonial Williamsburg will be introducing a variety of new interactive programming adding to the fun, and the Colonial Williamsburg Resort is celebrating 75 years of hospitality, so you’ll enjoy the best in customer service, as well.

    Colonial Willamsburg Family Travel Destination image by Colonial Williamsburg

    Colonial Williamsburg Family BlacksmithProgram highlights this summer include RevQuest: The Lion and the Unicorn, the second chapter in a popular text message-based adventure through the Historic Area. To save the Revolution, players text in for clues that help them decipher codes and find symbols in Historic Area locations they might not otherwise explore. Find your allies among Historic Area interpreters and see if you have what it takes to save the Revolution! Additionally, Colonial Williamsburg’s newest exhibition building, the Public Armoury is open, showcasing historic tradespeople at work.

    Kids are invited to play games, learn to dance and practice 18th century manners at the Benjamin Powell House, help tend the plants at the colonial nursery, pick tobacco at Great Hopes Plantation, or take their shoes off and stomp in the mud helping the brickmakers at the brickyard. For a fun, family meal, the new Huzzah! BBQ Grille features great BBQ favorites with international flair.

    At the Williamsburg Woodlands, families can take advantage of the Fun Zone, including an outdoor pool, putt putt, shuffle board, ping pong, magic shows, cookie decorating, making your own sundaes and more, all right on-site at the hotel.

    With this offer, families can also take advantage of nearby Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Bounce giveaway package includes:

    • 4 days/3 nights at the Williamsburg Woodlands, an official Colonial Williamsburg Hotel
    • Daily breakfast
    • Admission to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and Art Museums
    • Admission to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA
    • Access to the Fun Zone (outdoor pool, putt putt, ping pong, shuffle board, cookie decorating, magic shows and more)

    The package has a value of more than $800. Can’t make it this summer? This offer can be used anytime within the next 12 months, depending on your schedule.  Some blackout dates apply. The Summer Bounce Package is good until August 30, 2012. Aug 31-Nov 20, the package would include accommodations, breakfast, Colonial Williamsburg admission, and components of the Fun Zone (putt putt, ping pong, shuffle board).
    Colonial Williamsburg Family mini golf activity image by Colonial Williamsburg

    How to Enter:

    Leave a comment letting us know if you’ve ever visited Colonial Williamsburg and/or what activities your family likes to participate in during your summer family vacation. That’s it! Comments close on May 14, 2012 at 11:59PM EST. One comment will be chosen randomly via Random.org and the winner has 48 hours to respond once notified by email from TravelingMamas.com. Must be at least 21 years old. Transportation is not included and we’re opening this contest to citizens worldwide who are planning a visit to the US in the next 12 months. One entry per email address per day. Valid comments will be recovered from Spam.

    Thanks to Colonial Williamsburg for providing this fun family giveaway to TravelingMamas.com readers.

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  • Picture yourself at Walt Disney World, pushing a stroller around, possibly on a multi-generational family trip, and you find nap time is quickly approaching – for everyone. You just want a little Me Time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Parents need to stay sane and take advantage of down time, or even treat themselves to a visit to the parks WITHOUT the kids. Family travel can get crazy, so why not
    ask a family member to watch the kids, giving you and your spouse a few moments of adult time.

    Did you know there are nearly 400 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort? And that’s not counting the portable food carts. In all, more than 6,000 different food items are available. And chances are, if the restaurants aren’t in the Magic Kingdom, they just might have an adult beverages on the menu for you to enjoy. If wine is your poison of choice, then you’ll want to know that more than 600 sommeliers have been awarded the Court of Master Sommelier Introductory Certificate at Walt Disney World Resort, with more than 300 sommeliers currently in restaurants.

    With so many restaurants and dining choices, where should you go for that “special” drink? Here are just of few of our top choices for a cocktail, beer, or wine while at Walt Disney World.

    Epcot’s World Showcase 

    United Kingdom – The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining room brings visitors into Victorian England with its etched glass panels, dark mahogany bar and authentic dart board. If you are looking for hearty ale, this place offers specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, should that be your preference.

    Mexico – The pavilion features a festive and colorful celebration of the beauty and culture of Mexico that is fun for guests of all ages. “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros” is an excursion by tour boat through the vibrant, eye-filling sights and lively music of Mexico. If you’re interested in margaritas, you should check out ThemeParkMom’s review of inventive margaritas at La Hacienda de San Angel, a new restaurant in EPCOT.

    Japan – In the Matsu-no-ma Lounge, visitors see a majestic view of Future World across the lagoon while sampling sushi, Japanese pickled vegetables, tempura and exotic specialty drinks.

    Germany – Biergarten, an indoor German “courtyard” featuring a German Oktoberfest buffet. At lunch and dinner time, yodelers, dancers and other lederhosen-clad musicians perform an Oktoberfest dinner show. Guests are invited onstage to join in the musical fun. The wine shop nearby offers samples of Ice Wine for a few bucks. Definitely worth a try.

    French Champagne and Wine cart at EPCOT World ShowcaseFrance – Want a glass of vino but don’t want to wait in the long line inside the wine shop? Across from the front of France there is a wine cart serving Champagne, wines, and frozen blends.

    Want more? Check out our extensive list of wine, beer, and cocktails at Epcot’s World Showcase.

    Other Venues at Disney with Alcohol

    Victoria Falls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Down a flight of stairs from the lobby, this mezzanine lounge serves wine and spirits imported from Africa, including Windhoek beer from Namibia and Imoya Brandy from South Africa. The specialty drink is a Victoria Falls Mist, with tangerine, melon and banana liqueurs. Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest offering of South African wines anywhere in the US. Be sure to check out Jiko, The Cooking Place, too!

    The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Trendy cocktails are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with a Pomegranate Splash (vodka, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice and soda water) or the Ultimate Bloody Mary (organic vodka, Bloody Mary mix and a dash of red chili sauce). The Pure-tini mixes organic vodka with organic mango and passion fruit liqueur. The Antioxidant Cocktail features wild berry vodka, black raspberry liqueur, açai juice with agave, lychee, aloe juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, next door to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, looks like a family den from the ’50s, with black-and-white TVs and campy retro furniture. You can choose kitschy drinks from “Dad’s Liquor Cabinet” such as Uncle Tim’s Melon Margarita, Scooter’s Long Island Iced Tea or an Electric Lemonade. Beer and wine is offered, too. My personal favorite is a Magical Star. Check out this video of inside Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as part of our Cocktail Series.

    Dawa Bar adjacent to Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Sit in the shade and sip a hard-to-find Tusker Beer from Africa or Safari Amber, brewed just for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. South African wines are on the drink menu, too, along with cocktails like Lost on Safari with rum and fruit juices.

    Dawa Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Mizner’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – A live orchestra plays nostalgic Big Band sounds just outside the doors of this lounge tucked away on the second floor of the hotel. The lounge’s namesake is architect Addison Mizner, whose designs launched a “Florida Renaissance” in the 1920s, so the sophisticated drinks are apropos: champagnes, caipirinhas, mint juleps and cosmopolitans, along with nine vodkas, seven different single malt scotch whiskeys and after-dinner cognacs and ports.

    There are more than 50 lounges in Walt Disney World hotels and three theme parks (no alcohol in Magic Kingdom. Again I stress. No alcohol in Magic Kingdom), making this list just a sampling of the many great place for big kids like parents to have their own magic time at Walt Disney World. If there’s a place you’d like us to know about, be sure to leave a comment, helping our readers discover new places to sample adult beverages.

    If you find yourself wandering around looking for a place to buy alcohol at Disney, all you have to do is ask one of the friendly cast members, who can point you in the right direction.  Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re in the parks also, as alcohol is dehydrating. Designate a driver or take advantage of Disney’s resort transportation. Cheers!

    All Disney venues selling alcohol have a limit of two beverages per sale per person to limit overindulgence on property. Remember, cocktails can be fun, but this is a family friendly destination and not a place to act inappropriate.

     

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