Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Slideshow travel video of The Westin Maui Resort and Spa in Hawaii during an onsite visit.

    Can’t view this video? Watch it on our YouTube page.

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  • Last month I had the opportunity to attend a BlogWorld Expo keynote by Brian Solis with Mark Burnett, legendary reality show producer. The room as full of bloggers wanting to hear words of wisdom from Mark Burnett as he told stories of Survivor and the challenges of his latest production, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, set to air on TLC November 14.

    The Palin Family in Alaska (c) TLC/Gilles Mingasson

    L to R: Track, Piper, Willow, Bristol, Sarah, Trig, Trip and Todd Palin.

    If one takes away the political background of Sarah Palin and looks at this show objectively, it’s a very good travel show offering beautiful landscape views and an inside look of family adventure activities in Alaska. The show has been ridiculed on various talk shows, but it makes me wonder if any of those hosts commenting on the show even watched the previews.

    Sarah Palin Alaska on TLC (c) TLC/Gilles Mingasson

    Sarah, Todd and Piper Palin return in Todd's boat from watching the fish counting in Dillingham, Alaska.

    We don’t talk politics on TravelingMamas.com because we’re not a political blog. We like to promote travel and experiences for readers to make lasting memories. Alaska has always been a destination I’ve dreamed of visiting and after watching these clips, it makes me yearn for a visit even more. The eight week mini-series of Sarah Palin’s Alaska showcases one of the most beautiful states in the US.

    Below is a clip of a close-encounter the Palin family has with a mama bear. I don’t know if I’d get that close to a bear, but it does make for exciting reality television. If you’re interested, watch Sarah Palin’s Alaska on TLC beginning November 14. For background on the series, check out SPAlaska.com. I’m looking forward to seeing a glimpse of Alaska through one family’s adventures.

    SARAH PALIN’S ALASKA is a new documentary series that takes viewers into the country’s ‘final frontier’ through the eyes of one of its most famous citizens – Sarah Palin. In each episode, various family members join Sarah as she shares the state she knows and loves – from salmon fishing in Bristol Bay to hiking along one of our country’s most breathtaking glaciers. Along with Alaska’s great wilderness, the Palins encounter Alaska’s fascinating residents and share what it takes to thrive in the country’s largest state.

    TLC is offering eight cities an opportunity to visit SARAH PALIN’S ALASKA in special theater screenings of the series’ premiere episode, being held Wednesday, November 10 and Thursday, November 11. Tickets are available now and are offered on a first-come first-serve basis.

    Wednesday – 11/10 at 7 PM

    Atlanta,GA  tlc.com/SPAlaska-Atlanta 

    Buffalo,NY tlc.com/SPAlaska-Buffalo

    Kansas City,MO tlc.com/SPAlaska-KansasCity

    Tulsa, OK tlc.com/SPAlaska-Tulsa

    Thursday – 11/11 at 7 PM

    Columbus,OH tlc.com/SPAlaska-Columbus

    Houston,TX tlc.com/SPAlaska-Houston

    Minneapolis,MN tlc.com/SPAlaska-Minneapolis

    Phoenix, AZ tlc.com/SPAlaska-Phoenix

    Ticketing Guidelines (additional guidelines at each registration site)           

    • There is limited seating, and tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Each registration includes one (1) screening ticket and a concession stand snack.
    • TLC cannot admit guests or walk-ups on the day of the screening. If you want to attend with a friend or family member, please register each person separately.

    If you do get a chance to see a preview showing, be sure to come back here to TravelingMamas.com and let us know your honest opinion.

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  • On our recent visit to Las Vegas for a girlfriend getaway, we opted to try out a free tour of Zappos Headquarters, because we love free things to do in Vegas. Since we had arranged a special visit, our new friends with the Zappos Blog Team picked us up in the Blog Bus, which is amazingly similar to the Traveling Mamas logo. It was a match made in heaven!

    Zappos Blog Bus and TravelingMamas.com

    ThemeParkMom, MommyMusings, and I met Graham, Darren, and Pat who showed us around Zappos Headquarters. Zappos.com doesn’t just offer fabulous deals and products, but the work environment looks like absolute fun. Here’s a clip of our adventure with the Zappos Blog Team:

    Zappos Insights offers free tours and even can arrange for shuttle pickup if needed. It’s not only free, but you’ll leave this place grinning. For an entertaining look behind the scenes of Zappos.com, check out the Blog Team at blog.zappos.com. If their hilarious escapades don’t entice you buys something, then at least you’ll get a chuckle or two. Plus, they give you snacks!

    Don’t just take our word for it that this tour rocks. Even CC Chapman took a tour. You can read all about his experience at Content Rules.

    Zappos Office

    The core values of this company set a foundation for a happy workplace, which in turn makes happy customers. Have you shopped at Zappos.com or 6pm.com?

    Special thanks and big virtual hugs to everyone at Zappos.com for making us feel like part of the Zappos Family.

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  • Choosing a cruise excursion can be a tough thing to do. Many cruise passengers are watching their budgets and wanting to avoid the crowds. I’m not big on being herded around in large groups, following the leader who is carrying a sign. Cruises have been getting bad reps, when it comes to the crowd aspect of destinations, however, as noted in our Cozumel Cruise video, you can avoid the crush. Here are some of our tips on how to watch your wallet and enjoy yourself while taking a cruise stop in Cozumel.

    I’ve stopped in Cozumel on two of my last cruises and found that there are a variety of affordable options when stopping at this port. First, if you are taking your first cruise, then you may want to take advantage of the cruise excursions offered by your cruise ship. Once you’ve been to the same destination a few times, you may feel more comfortable venturing out on your own.

    Shops in Cozumel, MexicoThe language in Cozumel is Spanish, but English is widely spoken. Also, because this is a cruise port, the American dollar is accepted at most places, so there’s no need to do a currency exchange for Pesos. There are three pier locations in Cozumel. Both times we’ve docked at Punta Langosta, which has a long pier and all ship passengers depart the dock through a shopping mall. There will be an area for tour groups to meet. Tip: The drugstore at the end of the pier sells icy cold glass bottle Coca-Cola for $.50US.

    Getting Around: Taxis are easily available near the port area, but if you walk past the taxi stand and down the street a block or so, you can hail a taxi without standing in the long taxi line. Make sure to get a set price before getting into the taxi. You can also walk around the downtown area if you’d rather travel by foot. Be aware that every store owner will call your attention and try and get you into their store. Tip: Walk on the seawall area across the street from the shops. The view is better too!

    Walk along the seawall in Cozumel for some quiet

    Local Cuisine: There are many restaurants and cantinas around the downtown area, with many well-known places such as Hard Rock Cafe or Carlos n Charlies. My husband and I found a rooftop cantina called Toro’s Place that offered $1 cervesas (beer). We opted for 2 Dos Equis and fresh guacamole and salsa for around $7. There was even a clown! Tip: The view from Toro’s is better than the other restaurants and is more affordable than the more popular places.

    Cozumel Cruise tip: Great view at Toro's Place and Affordable drinks

    Beach Break: Many cruise passengers are looking for some beach time and a popular excursion is the $49 full access beach break at local resorts. Both times I’ve visited Cozumel, we opted for no planned excursions and ended each visit at Paradise Beach (taxi from port $15-$20), which offers a free beach chair with a $10 purchase of food and drink. Each visit was completely different. During our November cruise, the beach was virtually deserted. In January, the beach had an entirely different vibe, with every beach chair full, but still so much fun. Tip: Bring a backpack of school supplies and leave it with Paradise Tom at Paradise Beach and he’ll waive the minimum purchase. Check out TogetherforGood.org for more voluntourism opportunities in Cozumel.

    Pool with Swimup bar at Paradise Beach

    No matter what excursion you choose to take, or even if you just hop off the ship for some shopping, be sure to have a happy attitude and enjoy yourself. Remember, cruise vacations help you live longer!

     

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  • What’s Included in Your Cruise (video)

    Travel and cruise questions are some of the items that come into the TravelingMamas.com inbox. Recently, I answered this question on air with WAFB, a Baton Rouge area news station. One thing I realized during the interview is that the time was way too short to get all the juicy details mentioned. If you have travel questions you’d like answered on air, be sure to send me an email to Travel at WAFB dot com. If you’re planning your first cruise, these tips may help save you a few dollars.

    Q: When travelers book a cruise, what exactly are they paying for?

    Every cruise line is different, but most include the same basics – your cabin, meals (at certain restaurants and some cruise lines include room service), taxes, tea and water, some entertainment and limited child care. You can opt to book your shore excursions in advance and pay for gratuities ahead of time. This eliminates the bulk of your cruise costs so your can relax and not have to worry about major expenses.

    Q: What are some common mistakes people make when cruising?

    Sitting by the pool and ordering drinks can really add up. So can the professional photo ops located around the cruise ship.

    Q: Some families bring their kids on a cruise. What about childcare and kid’s activities?

    First, be aware that all cruise lines (except Disney) do not change diapers, so if you’re little one isn’t potty trained, you cannot use the childcare onboard. Also, be sure to check with the cruise line before booking, but most do not allow children under 6 months of age to cruise. Kids clubs vary by cruise line, but those most conducive to families are Carnival Cruise Line (Camp Carnival), Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean. On sea days, kids activities are included in your cruise rate, but during the evening hours and port days there will be extra charges for the under 12 age group. Read what my teen and tween had to say about kids cruising on the Carnival Fantasy.

    Q: Do you have any advice to help travelers save money or any tips when cruising?

    Again, watch the alcohol intake. Check individual cruise line rules, but you ARE allowed to bring aboard a certain amount of soft drinks, bottled water, and limited bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin. Set charging limits for your children (or even yourself if you’re worried about overdoing it). For couples wanting to AVOID kids, choose a cruise line such as Princess (the Love Boat cruise line) for a romantic cruise or cruise when school is in session. A secret term in the industry is Dead Week – the week after Thanksgiving and the week after New Year’s. These are some of the best times to cruise as there are free upgrades, onboard credit specials, and all around deals. Be sure to check out ThemeParkMom’s tips for saving money on a cruise.

    Q: What are some other resources for cruise tips?

    Besides TravelingMamas.com, my two favorite cruise sites are CruiseDiva.com and CruiseCritic.com. If you’re searching for a way to give back while on your cruise, be sure to check out TogetherforGood.org and Cruise4Haiti.

    Be sure to send your travel questions to WAFB.

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