Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • If you aren’t staying at a beach resort in Cozumel, you can still get the beach time you might be looking for. Cozumel has a number of beach clubs available for day use, with facilities, bars and other amenities. One of the most popular beach clubs is Paradise Beach, which recently added a new pool, boasting one of the biggest pools in Cozumel.

    Located in the south end, about five miles from the port terminal, you can expect to spend about $20 each way for a taxi ride. I’ve been there twice, once while it was super busy, and another time when it was virtually deserted.

    When Paradise Beach was busy, our small group grabbed some beach chairs under a few palm trees, a bit aways from the water. This was okay with me, because there were lots of kids there that day and I appreciated the quiet corner where we were. I immediately ordered a bucket of beer for our party and an order of guacamole. The total was around $25US.

    Bucket of beer and guacamole at Paradise Beach club in Cozumel

    I stepped down to the water, and found the beach a bit rocky, but where I stood it was fine. Nearby was an inflatable water playground for kids. The price for unlimited play was $12US per person. There is also a $2 per person chair fee.

    I spent the afternoon relaxing in a beach chair before it was time to head back to the cruise terminal. I still had time to make a few purchases, and enjoy one of those cold little bottle Coca-Colas before stepping back onto the ship.

    Shannon Hurst Lane in Cozumel enjoying a Coca Cola at the cruise terminal

    How to Get There: Take a taxi and ask for rate to get to Paradise Beach.

    Website: Paradise Beach

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  • Road trips can be a fun time to reconnect with the family, play cheesy road games, or even make random stops along the way. When I hit the road in RedBugg, I always like to seek out the bizarre and kooky roadside attractions that can still be found along America’s highways and byways.

    One site I use to help me find those crazy places is Roadside America, a guide to uniquely odd tourist attractions. Travelers can find sights by state or city and can then read updates by recent visitors. Here are a few of my favorite roadside attractions.

    Rock City -This is a classic stop in Chattanooga, TN that has also been a favorite of my family for generations.

    The Cadillac Ranch – Who knew that colorful Cadillacs could be found sticking out the ground in the middle of a field near Amarillo, TX.

    Mammy's Cupboard copyright 2008 Shannon Hurst LaneMammy’s Cupboard This place is sooo not politically correct, but this Natchez, MS stop has been featured on the Travel Channel and also dishes up lunch Monday through Friday.

    Museum of Appalachia – Yup. We spent hours at this Clinton, TN stop and couldn’t seem to stop looking at things such as a Ukeweewee (Banjo made out of a bed pan) or the morbid collection of death items.

    The International UFO Museum and Research Center – We made a stop in Roswell on a road trip and ate at the space ship shaped McDonalds. The street lights have alien heads on top that lead to the museum. This place is for hard-core UFO researchers and doesn’t offer too much for kids, except a really big gift shop with a lot of alien paraphernalia.

    Old Sparky – The Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) has a museum just outside the prison gates where visitors can see “Old Sparky”, which is a decommissioned electric chair. The museum is free and also showcases homemade prison weapons confiscated over the years. If you want to scare the you-know-what out of your kids to keep them in line, this wouldn’t be a bad stop to consider. I wouldn’t bring little kids, though, as there are some pretty gruesome photos inside.

    Hole N’ The Rock – This Moab, UT cliff dwelling took 12 years to complete. A couple operated a diner out this 5,000 square foot home. It is now a gift shop and museum. Don’t forget to check out the two story outhouse while you’re there.

    This list could go on and on, but shows what crazy things one can discover in the USA on a road trip. So, what are some of the kooky places you’ve seen along your travels?

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  • If you are looking for a tropical getaway with the family, the Mayan Riviera is a wonderful option. It is located on the east coast of Mexico and spans an area moving south from Cancun. The resorts are generally quite large with multiple dining options, entertainment, miles of white sandy beaches, a number of pools and many activities to keep your family occupied.

    Azul_Beach_ResortMany families opt to book a vacation with a resort that is geared towards families, like Beaches Resorts, Breezes and Club Med. These are great options and include lots of activities for kids, babysitting services and day care. We stayed at Azul Beach Hotel on our last trip and were thoroughly impressed with what they had to offer, including 24-hour room service, beach butlers and gourmet cuisine.

    It is worth it when you stay on the Mayan Riviera to experience some of the amazing Mayan ruins. Depending on where you are there are many locations that accept visitors. Remember to consider the weather (heat) and amount of walking involved when you visit the ruins. Bring a baby carrier for infants and note that most places are not stroller accessible. Make sure to pack lots of water and snacks and leave early in the morning.

    A wonderful park to explore with the kids on the Mayan cost is Xcaret Park. It is an ecological park where you can not only see the ruins, but they have shows, demonstrations, a lazy river, hammocks, snorkelling, and swimming with the dolphins. It’s a great park for families and helps you get away from the resort for a change.

    Playa del Carmen is a beach city with lots of shopping. If you are in the need to get away from the resort, this is a nice place to visit. Over the years the shopping has become rather expensive there, but the food and beach is still exquisite. There are also many shopping options in Cancun. You can have the hotel concierge arrange a taxi to take you into town to some of the many outlet shopping malls. Adults can enjoy the night life there as well.

    When planning a trip to a tropical location with the family, it is important to ensure you keep your child’s schedule similar to what it is at home. Plan your day according to when your child normally takes naps. Head to the pool or beach for the morning and then take a mid-day break after lunch. This will ensure that dinner time goes smoothly.

    Here are some of my parent tips for surviving a resort vacation with kids.

    Parent Tips:

    • If you have a picky eater, try asking for substitutions on the menu at restaurants. Most places will accommodate kids.
    • Ask what the resort offers for children like strollers, cribs, foot stools, etc.
    • Find out ahead of time what activities or sports the resort has for children.
    • Use gate check-in for your stroller at the airport and ask about bulk seats on the plane so you can have more room with the kids.
    • Take along pool and beach toys.
    • Consider bringing a portable DVD player with your kids’ favourite movies for a family movie night at the resort.

    Rachna ClaveroRemember to always be safe and enjoy your vacation!

    Rachna Clavero lives in Canada and is a busy mom of three boys. She writes about fun family ideas including vacations, local attractions, toys, games, crafts and more on her blog The Fun Family Site.

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  • 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.

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  • If you find yourself in a hotel room over Christmas this year, here are some tips on making your hotel room feel a little more like Christmas. My nephew also joins me to talk about his special Christmas “job.”

    Want to submit your own holiday travel tip? Send us a link to your video and we’ll post it here on

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