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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  • A Summer to Remember 2010
    by Tracey Dillard

    For my family, the summer of 2010 has not been like any other. Traveling is truly one of my passions, but as a full time student and stay at home mom, I don’t get to do it near as often as I’d like, at least not yet. I was anticipating two major trips this summer, one of those being a trip to Washington, D.C. with my mom for an entire week. My mom is lucky enough to have one of those great careers where she has the opportunity to travel to some pretty amazing destinations. Even more amazing was that she was going to take me along! This was going to be a real treat, as neither of us have ever been to D.C. Well, what happened next was something that none of us would have ever imagined.

    We found out in early May that my husband had testicular cancer. He underwent an operation to remove the tumor and soon after we began to prepare ourselves for the two rounds of Chemotherapy he would undergo over the next couple of months. It all happened so fast; we barely had time to process everything. We knew we had to cancel the trip. Disappointing indeed, but there is nothing more important than family.

    The second trip I was looking forward to was a relaxing beach vacation with my entire family. This would be the first time my daughter got to see the beach and I couldn’t wait to share this experience with her! We were planning to take a trip to Orange Beach but because of the oil spill and all the uncertainty with that, combined with the uncertainty of the remaining Chemo treatments, we cancelled this, too.

    Tracey Dillard and Husband at Vibe RestaurantJust a few weeks ago, on a spur of the moment decision, my husband and I decided to take a little three night getaway to Biloxi, MS, just the two of us. I had been eyeing the Hard Rock Hotel and noticed the rates for that particular week significantly drop. This was just what the two of us needed. We booked immediately. Being the Type A personality that I am, I scoped out all the places I wanted to eat at, made the reservations, and booked our spa appointment. This was going to be amazing. We drove the three hours from Jackson to Biloxi and as soon as we pulled into the hotel, my whole state of mind changed to relaxation mode. No kids, no stress, no worries… just me and my hubby.

    Pool view from room at Hard Rock Hotel Biloxi by Tracey DillardWe spent the days poolside of course, just soaking up the beautiful sunshine. The second night we ate at the Hard Rock Café where we were pleasantly surprised with live entertainment via a local rock band that was great! Good food, good music, great times. The third and final night we enjoyed a fabulous meal at Vibe restaurant. I highly recommend this place! It was superb. My dessert recommendation? A decadent little brownie covered in vanilla ice-cream, surrounded with fresh fruit, and covered in -get this- chocolate pop rocks! What’s better than that? On our stay at the Hard Rock, we also enjoyed an hour long couple’s massage at the Hard Rock Spa, which was AH-mazing. Also on our last night, we ventured up to The Ledge to enjoy music and dancing. Let me tell you, we cut loose like we were teenagers again! Overall, we had a wonderful time at the Hard Rock Hotel in Biloxi. The service was excellent and the staff was friendly. Although it was only a few days, we will surely remember it for a lifetime.

    Author Bio: I’m married and we have a smart, beautiful two year old daughter and she is fabulous! I’m a currently a stay at home mom and a full time student at Mississippi College. I feel so blessed to be able to spend this time at home with my daughter and am so thankful to my husband who works so hard to allow me to do so. We live right outside Jackson, MS in a small town.

    This post was submitted as part of the TravelingMamas.com Tripapalooza Trip Giveaway to the Gulf Coast.

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  • Deep in the heart of Utah lays a destination of adventure, culture, and history. Romantics looking for active vacations can also find epicurean delights for the discerning palate.

    Moab, located in Grand County, is a gold mine in the west that has been discovered by many for its adventure, but has a hidden quality that few visitors are just beginning to enjoy.

    It is not just a summer destination, but a year round place that can be enjoyed by all pleasure seekers. Winter and early spring are the best times to find solitude in the area parks and quiet contentment at local ranches.

    Colin Fryer, owner of Red Cliffs Lodge and Castle Creek Winery, has made the decision to run his lodge year round. Located on the Colorado River, Red Cliffs Lodge provides the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. King rooms overlook the river where occupants can enjoy a bottle of the winery’s award winning libations.

    Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah“This is not just a job, this is my dream,” commented Mr. Fryer during an interview. He is has expanded that dream with newly constructed cabins on the river, complete with kitchenette, fireplace, and soaking tub for two. What a romantic dream.

    The on-site Castle Creek Winery offers various blends, making the ranch a must-stop for any wine lover. The Lily Rose White is a blend of their Chardonnay, a fruity dry white, and the Chenin Blanc, a semi sweet white. This was my personal favorite.

    Near Red Cliffs Lodge, located on the Colorado River Scenic Byway, is Sorrel River Ranch. Sorrel River Ranch offers lodgers elegant rustication on the river. Each room offers views of the Colorado River and seating for two to enjoy the evenings in a relaxing atmosphere.

    Sorrel River Ranch has fine dining on-site as well as a spa that offers couples treatments. Couples looking for relaxing getaways can’t go wrong with either property.

    Colorado River near Moab, UtahFor couples seeking a bit more activity, Moab offers 4X4 Hummer rides with High Point Hummer Tours, day trips and other adventures with Tagalong Expeditions, or just enjoying a day of discovery visiting wineries, shopping, and searching the areas for Native American rock art.

    If choosing to explore on your own, at the junction of Main Street and the Colorado River Scenic Byway, romantics can partake of a local tradition, drinking from Matrimonial Spring. Legend has it, that any visitor who drinks this water is sure to return to Moab. If something stronger is a bit more your style, check out Spanish Valley Wineries for a boutique blend.

    The Moab Official Website offers a calendar of events, a complete listing of lodging, dining, and activities. If you want to escape the summer crowds, winter and spring are a good time to make a visit.

    How to Get There
    You could drive, but I flew Salmon Air, which runs daily flights from Salt Lake City during the summer and has other scheduled flights the rest of the year. The small planes are intimate and offer ample opportunity for taking aerial photographs of the beautiful landscapes. www.salmonair.com

    Where to Stay:
    Best Western Moab www.bestwesternmoab.com
    Red Cliffs Lodge www.redcliffslodge.com
    Sorrel River Ranch www.sorrelriver.com

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  • The Reach Resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, is a luxury beachfront resort in Key West, Florida. This property is located one block from Duvall Street and sits on the only natural beach in the area. I checked out this property and found it to be an intimate hideaway for couples and adults making it perfect for a romantic escape.

    The Rooms: My room was a suite overlooking the beach and pool area. The living area was spacious but I spent most of my time at the pool or exploring Key West. The bedroom was a bit small, but with the living area and balcony it didn’t seem cramped. Bathroom had shower large enough for two and enough counter space for a couple.

    The Property: There was construction going on across the street, but that attests to how well the area is doing. Lobby décor was contemporary. This property is large and there was only one elevator area. The pool area was nice and big with drinks available from the bar in the restaurant. It was pretty quiet during the time I was visiting and my traveling companions and I had the pool to ourselves. The beach is fabulous being a private area on Key West’s only natural beach.

    My Mama Moment: Sitting in the pool after a long day of touring Key West, tropical drink in hand.

    Pros: The beach, pool, balcony and location. The property was very clean, even in nooks and crannies.

    Cons: Service. I had to lug my bags up the front steps to the lobby and then make the trek from the elevator to my room, which was located on the far end of the floor. I had to stop twice to rest and didn’t think I’d ever get there.

    Who Should Go: Couples and friends. I personally wouldn’t consider this a family resort, but more of an adult property. This isn’t to say that families wouldn’t be taken care of, just that the kids may find things lacking in the amenities area. My particular room had a shower, no tub, so those with itty bitty kids may have a time bathing them without getting drenched.

    Price: This property is part of The Waldorf Astoria Collection, which means it’s a bit higher on the room rate and should meet certain standards. I will admit that I expected a bit more from a property that has this title attached to it.

    Website: The Reach Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection

    Special thanks to The Reach Resort who hosted part of my visit in The Florida Keys.

    Hotel Review on raveable

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  • I’ve always been reluctant to cruise, but when Princess Cruises invited me to experience a cruise with a guest of my choosing for a Twitter press trip, it turned into the perfect opportunity to enjoy a romantic week with my husband. After all, Princess Cruises IS The Love Boat!

    Princess Cruises Crown Princess

    This was the first cruise for both of us and also our first romantic getaway in years. We were giddy with excitement as we chose our excursions and packed accordingly. We not only had to pack for ourselves, but we had to make sure the kids were prepared for a week with their grandparents. We took off on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale and our escape plan aboard the Crown Princess was implemented.

    Piazza of Crown Princess by Shannon Hurst LaneWe boarded the Crown Princess and were shown directly to our stateroom, a mini-balcony suite. We met our cabin steward, Ed, who promptly delivered a glass of Champagne to each of us. Hubby and I enjoyed the fresh air on our balcony and toasted the start of our romantic getaway and discussed our first impression of stepping aboard the ship.

    Passengers aboard the Crown Princess are welcomed in the Crown Plaza, a spacious Italian piazza style atrium that is the center of onboard activity throughout the cruise. The ship can accommodate over 3,000 passengers with 900 staterooms offering private balconies.

    Mini Balcony Suite on Crown Princess by Shannon Hurst LaneStateroom: We enjoyed a mini balcony suite which included a separate sitting area with sleeper sofa, two televisions, a very comfortable queen-size bed, bathroom with tub/shower and a spacious balcony with seating for four. These mini-suites are approximately 323 square feet (including the balcony) and offer extra amenities such as in-room refridgerator and welcome Champagne. Suite occupants are also allowed exclusive use of Sabatini’s Restaurant for breakfast. A fresh flower arrangement decorated our room as a welcome and each afternoon we were treated to canapes and Twitter-themed treats. Tip: Be sure to take advantage of a romantic evening meal on your balcony ($50 per person).

    Dessert on Crown PrincessDining: There are a variety of dining options, including Traditional dining at Boticelli’s, Anytime dining at Michaelangelo and Da Vinci, Specialty dining (cover charge) at Sabatini’s, Crown Grill (steak and seafood) and balcony dining , as well as casual dining at many of the other places located around the ship. On one evening, we experience dining at the Chef’s Table, which includes a tour of the galley complete with appetizers and Champagne followed by a multi-course outstanding culinary experience ($75 per person). Tip: If you like soft drinks, purchase a soft drink card at the start of the cruise and get unlimited colas for around $4 per day.

    Activities: We explored the ship and hubby was excited to discover a nine-hole putting course and virtual golf simulator. During our time at sea, he entered a golf tournament, ping-pong tournament, and bingo tournament. Each evening at turndown, Ed placed a copy of the Princess Patter which listed the following day’s activities. Tip: Bring a highlighter to mark activities of interest.

    Crown Princess Pool Area

    Entertainment: The Princess Theater offers Las Vegas style performances with lots of music and dancing. There are also many other entertainment venues and bars located throughout the ship. We preferred an evening of Movies Under the Stars (MUTS) where we lounged in poolside chairs snuggled up together under blankets provided by the ship. Movie candy and popcorn is served, along with a variety of movies throughout the cruise. Tip: Smokers can light up in Speakeasy Cigar Bar.

    For the Kids: I did a walkabout of the children’s activity areas just in case I wanted to cruise aboard the Crown Princess at a future date with kids in tow. Activities are age appropriate with three age groups: Princess Pelicans (3-7), Shockwaves (8-12) and Remix (13-17). The youth and teen center has its own game room and movie room along with their own pool. I was more interested in the tween and teen areas which looked like pretty cool hangouts. Tip: Parents can take advantage of kid activity time to catch a spa treatment or other activity.

    Champagne and Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    My Favorite Things: I loved the aspect of visiting different places and still sleeping in the same bed at night. I enjoyed eating at a restaurant and not having to pay a bill or drive home. I LOVED the couple’s massage at the Lotus Spa and laughed with the masseuse girls when my husband started snoring during his treatment. Most of all, I really enjoyed those morning cups of coffee with my husband as we gazed out at the ocean and realized we had escaped completely on our romantic cruise aboard the Crown Princess.

    Coffee for Two

    Our trip was hosted by Princess Cruises and would cost a consumer approximately $3900 in total to experience the same amenities, excursions, and all the extras that we enjoyed on the this trip, including airfare to Ft. Lauderdale. This is equivalent to to a week at a high-end all inclusive resort except you have the added benefit of visiting four destinations instead of one. I would recommend this experience for a honeymoon, milestone anniversary, or any special time for a couple to reconnect. Check out Princess Cruises Department of Romance for more ideas on how to enjoy a romantic escape.

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