Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • I originally began to use Twitter and Twitpic as a way to take notes while on assignment so that I wouldn’t have to carry a bulky notepad. I would snap a picture with my phone and post it with basic info about the place, including websites when available. Before I knew it, I had strangers following my Twitter feed and they would comment from all over the world. It was crazy. It was also a little scary at first, but oh so fun! (Follow me @CajunMama and @TravelingMamas)

    Today it’s easy for me to connect with a hotel or other business in the hospitality industry to find out last minute deals, upcoming events, or even to get a customer service issue solved. I keep a personal list of hotel brands just in case I end up lodging at one of their properties and need information that maybe I can’t get from the hotel desk clerk.

    Here’s my list of hotel brands on Twitter that I’d like to share with you.

    Affinia Hotels
    AmericInn
    Authentic Coast
    Azul Hotels
    Candlewood Suites
    Choice Hotels
    Country Inns and Suites by Carlson
    Courtyard by Marriott
    Days Inn Southeast US
    Doubletree Hotels
    El Dorado Resorts
    Embassy Suites
    Fairmont Hotels
    Four Seasons
    Gaylord Hotels
    Hampton Hotels
    Hilton Hotels
    Hilton Grand Vacations
    Holiday Inn
    Homewood Suites
    Hyatt
    Indigo
    Kimpton
    La Quinta
    Larkspur Hotels
    Loews Hotels
    Mandarin Oriental
    Marriott International
    Marriott Vacation Club
    Montage Hotels
    Millennium Hotels
    Myers Hotels
    Omni Hotels
    Outrigger Hotels
    Passport Resorts
    ResortQuest
    Ritz-Carlton
    Sandals Resorts
    Shilo Inns
    Sleep Inn
    Starwood Hotels
    Starwood Hawaii
    TradeWinds Resorts
    Trump Collection
    Westgate Resorts
    Wynn Resorts

    Are there major hotel brands that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to update this list. Feel free to print this out or save as a pdf for personal use.

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  • Nothing can ruin a family vacation or road trip more than getting one of those unwanted speeding tickets. It could happen to anyone. You reach a long stretch of road, the car is a bit quiet because all the other passengers are asleep, you look at your spouse in the passenger seat and think, “I just want to get there.” That’s when you push a little more on the accelerator and pick up some speed. Sometimes, you get caught and if you do, you’ll never hear the end of it. Plus, that speeding ticket may end up costing you a whole lot more than you expected if you add in the potential increase of your auto insurance premiums.

    It isn’t just state troopers waiting at the bottom of a hill to catch speeders these days, but there are now those police camera cars that take a photo of you. Trust me, those work. I recently opened my mail to see a picture of RedBugg with yours truly behind the wheel. Apparently one of those cameras was hidden in someone’s yard on a little road in my town because I was awarded (like it was a prize) a ticket for doing 29mph in a 25mph zone. Also, on our spring break family road trip through Missouri, we made all the way through the entire trip without any incident – that is, until we crossed in to our home state of Louisiana. In the little town of Waterproof, there were no speed signs, yet my husband was given an Easter Sunday gift of a $135 moving violation.

    Twipic of speeding ticket

    Here are some tips on how to avoid those unwanted speeding tickets on a holiday road trip.

    1. Don’t speed.

    avoid speed cameras with gps angel2. Get your hands on a GPS Angel which detects those hidden speed cameras. It is simple to use, has frequent updates on new cameras located, and it’s LEGAL. There is no installation required and it doesn’t take up much space at around 2.5 inches. What’s also great about this gadget is the fact that you can set your own updates so that you can be reminded of places that you KNOW a police officer monitors regularly.

    3. Don’t speed.

    4. Be aware of changes in speed zones. Many small towns have a law enforcement unit laying in wait for unsuspecting travelers to speed through town unaware that the speed limit changed from 55mph to 25mph on a 5 ft stretch of road.

    5. Don’t speed.

    6. Check out the National Motorists Association who has been helping drivers fight their traffic tickets for over 25 years.

    7. Don’t speed.

    I’m sure there are other ways to avoid a speeding ticket, but the bottom line is, if you don’t speed, then you are keeping your family safe on your road trip. The National Motorists Association has put together a list of states where you are most likely to get a ticket. After crunching the numbers, the National Motorists Association found that the state most likely to hand out a traffic ticket is Florida, followed closely by Georgia and Nevada. The state where drivers are least likely to get a traffic ticket is Montana. The full list of state rankings and further information on how they were calculated can be found at Motorists.org/Ticket-Trends.

    Use this information wisely, do your best to obey all posted speed zones, and most of all drive safely on your road trip or holiday travel.

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  • We love interacting with readers on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes we even get questions asking for a bit of assistance. Recently a twitter follower asked a great question about good road trip food.

    road trip food twitter question

    Thanks for following us, @StaffordK and engaging with TravelingMamas.com on Twitter. This is a great question that many of our readers would be interested in. We have covered some healthy road trip snacks in the past, but not regarding microwaves in the hotel room. Bringing a few snacks for your overnight stay or final destination can help alleviate some of the costs associated with a road trip. Here are some things to consider when planning what to pack snack-wise:

    What do your children like to eat at home? One of the stressors of road trips with kids is getting out of the normal routine. It may help keep the kids on track (and happy) if you include some comfort food. When my family travels and we know that we’ll overnight in a hotel with a microwave, we sometimes bring along a few packs of Kraft Easy Mac and Campbell’s Heat and Serve Chicken Noodle Soup. They’re easy-peasy to prepare and also convenient for when the kids come in from the hotel pool with an appetite. We also bring along a few packs of microwave popcorn to enjoy as a healthy snack (we get the air popped kind).

    If your hotel room has a microwave, chances are there’s also a mini-fridge. Another snack option is the ready to serve cereal packs. You can always stop at a convenience store and purchase a small container of milk for the cereal. Many hotels amenities these days include a continental breakfast, some with a few hot foods, for no extra charge. Choosing to stay overnight at these types of lodging properties are not only convenient, but great for the family road trip budget. Be sure to grab a banana or apple from the buffet as a fresh, healthy mid-morning snack while on the road.

    bean appetit coverBrowse through one of your cookbooks. I personally enjoy delicious cuisine, but I’m not very adept at preparing gourmet food. For those that enjoy food preparation, be sure to grab one of your favorite cookbooks and search for easy to snack on items that you can prepare before your trip. This way, you know just what ingredients are in your snacks. A cookbook that I can live with is Bean Appetit: Healthy Food, Happy Tummies. It includes SUPER SIMPLE recipes that even the kids can prepare (I like that a lot) and plus they’re good for everyone.

    We also have a list of healthy road trip snacks and an article about the health benefits of cherries that you can print out (or save as a pdf) and use for packing. While you’re packing, be sure to include utinsels and napkins to enjoy your handy snacks and mini meals while on your road trip. We hope you and your family have a safe vacation and we appreciate your follow on Twitter.

    TravelingMamas.com

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    Do you have tips for @StaffordK or have you written an article on good road trip food? Please be sure to leave a link in the comments. From time to time we select questions from Twitter and Facebook that readers ask. Be sure to follow TravelingMamas on Twitter and like TravelingMamas on Facebook. We just may answer your question online!

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  • Cherries hold a special place in my heart. My summers as a kid included afternoons of relaxing around my grandmother’s home in Alabama and snacking on fresh cherries with my aunt who’s only a few years older than me. I can’t forget about all those desserts that are topped with cherries. As I grew older, cherries could be found in my cocktails. However, I never considered the healthy aspects of snacking on cherries and quite frankly have taken them for granted. Now that I have my own children, health when snacking is something I take seriously, especially on all those family road trips we like to take.

    dried cherriesI recently received a number of dried cherry packets to sample with my family. I’ve not only shared them with friends and family, but we’ve all been sneaking a cherry here and there because they taste like candy. We decided to make a trail mix as a healthy road trip snack with cherries and even gave the recipe and some cherries to our neighbor who is soon taking a two week road trip to Yellowstone.

    The cherries weren’t the only items to arrive in the promotional package. I was also sent a beautiful Kashmere travel set, a Tory Burch small cosmetic case, and a reusable tote from the Cherry Marketing Institute printed with the website www.ChooseCherries.com. All the items are a beautiful cherry red (that even match my car). I checked out the sponsor website and didn’t realize all the benefits of consuming these delicious cherries. Here are some facts that surprised me:

    Jet Lag Relief – I fly frequently, so finding out that cherries are rich in melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the natural sleep cycle so that weary travelers can be restored to normal sleeping patterns, which eases jet lag.

    Pain Relief – Cherries are particularly rich in anthocyanins – compounds that researchers have linked to reduced inflammation in the body. This means that arthritis and other inflammatory diseases can possibly be managed with cherry juice or the actual cherry itself. They’ve also been known to help runners recover more quickly post-race.

    Good for your Heart – Cherries are considered a “Super Fruit” and some studies have shown that consuming cherries helps reduce infection and inflammation due to heart disease.

    I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, but I do know one thing – cherries taste really good! I’ll be making a conscious effort to make cherries part of our daily culinary routine and make sure that we pack them along on our future travels. In fact, I just may take a visit to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI being held in a few weeks. I’ll be sure to bring along a pack of cherries to snack on during my travels. Be sure to check out www.ChooseCherries.com for more information on the health benefits of cherries or to find a few tasty recipes for travel and home.

    Want to try some delicious cherries and get your hands on the designer items mentioned in this post? Check out ChooseCherries.com and leave a comment stating which recipe on the site is your favorite. One winner will be randomly chosen through Random.org. Contest closes Monday, June 28 at 11:59 pm CST with winner being announced sometime the next day. Open to US residents 18 years of age or older. Prize is (1) Tory Burch small cosmetic bag in red, (1) Kashmere travel set with scarf, socks, eye mask, and pillow case in red, (1) ChooseCherries.com logo reusable tote, and a few samples of cherries. MSRP valued at over $345.00 US.

    Review items and prizes sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute but in no way influenced opinion in this article. The cherries really were delicious!

    Winner Update: Congrats to Leanne, lucky number 13!

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  • When the kids are happy, it makes a mama happy. Marriott International is banking on this statement to make entire families happy with the launch of their family travel promotion “Nickelodeon Your Stay”. This special promotion starts July 1 through December 26, 2010 and will be available at nearly 2,000 participating hotels across seven Marriott brands.

    Make Your Own SpongeBob 3-D Craft Marriott International Nickelodeon Your Stay Promotion by Shannon Hurst LaneI was able to get my hands on the actual items used during this promotion and have to admit that Marriott International has hit a home run with the “Nickelodeon Your Stay” family travel experience. Our entire neighborhood got in on the package opening action because the box sent to me included a picture of Dora the Explorer on the front. My kids are getting a bit older, but my 14 year old tore open the SpongeBob Squarepants 3-D craft and went to town putting it together. My daughter (age 12) pulled out her box of crayons and proceeded to color and play the games on the activity packet. My neighbor stopped by with her little ones ages three and five and I asked, “Who likes SpongeBob?”

    The three year old froze in his tracks, took a deep breath and started screaming, “I do!” over and over. I thought the poor thing was going to hyperventilate. He was so happy as he walked back down the sidewalk holding his mom’s hand and carrying the SpongeBob pillowcase over his shoulder. His sister told me she was a big girl and needed the book so she could read to her little brother and she also claimed the Nickelodeon logo sunglasses.

    Imagine how excited all the different age groups of kids will be when they experience some of these items while on vacation. Below are the details provided by Marriott International on what’s included with this promotion. Also, just so you know, this promotion is not available within a 150 mile radius of the Orlando, Florida area or in Quebec province. Be sure to check with your hotel and book your stay online through www.NickelodeonYourStay.com or call 877-NICK-STAY

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    The Nickelodeon Your Stay offer will be available at Marriott brands, including JW Marriott, Marriott, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites and TownePlace Suites. During the promotional period, kids staying at any of the almost 2,000 participating Marriott locations offering this program will receive a free bracelet with an online code (url) to an exclusive SpongeBob SquarePants branded game on Nick.com; a book full of activities such as mazes and brain teasers; and Nickelodeon activity placemats during meal times.

    Additionally, parents can upgrade their experience by booking a Nickelodeon Your Stay package. At Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites hotels, the items ($10 if purchased at the front desk) will include a SpongeBob SquarePants activity bag, a brightly colored splash ball, Nickelodeon sun glasses and a 3-D “build-your-own SpongeBob” craft.

    At Marriott and JW Marriott hotels, the Nickelodeon Your Stay promotion costs $20 if purchased at the

    front desk, and also includes a SpongeBob pillowcase and a travel-themed SpongeBob storybook at turndown.

    “This is a very exciting family travel promotion and by working with Nickelodeon we hope to provide a memorable and delightful stay experience for kids,” said Peggy Fang Roe, Marriott’s vice president of brand management. “After extensive research with families, we have designed this promotion with simple touches to make travel a little easier for parents and more fun for kids.”

    She added, “the Nickelodeon Your Stay at Marriott promotion was created to help alleviate the five areas that parents said were most stressful when traveling with kids, specifically planning, arrival, down time, meal time and bedtime. Most importantly, parents said their happiness on trips was a direct result of how happy their kids were on the trip.”

    “The Nickelodeon Your Stay promotion allows kids to experience the Nick brand through entertaining and practical premiums,” said Stuart Rosenstein, Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Recreation. “Marriott brands are great vacation destinations for families and this new promotion will help kids extend their experience with Nick-themed items they can take home.”

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    What do you think of this family travel promotion? Love it? Hate it? Does this offer give you an incentive to book a Marriott International property over another hotel? We want to know.

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