Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • I’ve had the Nokia Lumia 900 in hand for almost a month. The first two days of use, I had so much fun snapping photos and learning my way around this Windows Phone. I had an iPhone until it fell in my back pond, but I had already been wishing for the Lumia 900 since I first saw it at CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

    White Lumia 900 Windows Phone by NokiaTraveling and working via smartphone can be a daunting task and I was able to manage things somewhat with the iPhone. However, I also had to bring along a larger camera and a higher quality digital video camera to help gather all the images and footage of the destinations I was visiting for research. Now with the Windows Phone operating system and the Carl Zeiss Camera housed inside the well-made Lumia 900, it’s my opinion that Nokia has gifted the world with the trifecta for travel writers and bloggers. Why? I not only have my social media channels handy, but I have an 8MP camera with the ability to change the settings, I have a high quality digital video camera, and I even have word processing with Microsoft Office and cloud storage via Skydrive. Add to all this the 4G LTE network for faster data transmission and I am in Traveling Mama heaven.

    As a former iPhone user (and being 38 years old), I will admit that I am digging the larger screen on the Lumia 900. I can read documents, emails, and online articles so much easier. Now when I look at something on the iPhone, I have to squint or enlarge the copy on the screen where I can only read a few words at a time. Apple fans pooh-pooh the Windows Phone OS and the so-called lack of apps available. While there may be more apps available for iPhone, quantity doesn’t beat out quality and the Windows Marketplace offers apps that actually work and don’t take up memory on your smartphone.

    Nokia Lumia 900 with pink skin

    I took the Lumia 900 for its first real travel assignment – Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration in Orlando, Florida. Yes, I was the odd blogger who was not working with iPhone in hand and I did get a few curious looks when using my white Lumia 900 with the pink skin. It was also a learning process for me as I experimented with the camera and some of the apps I discovered in Windows Marketplace.

    Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom taken with Nokia Lumia 900

    Travel Documents – I was able to access my itinerary and booking numbers with ease with OneNote, which was also saved in my SkyDrive account, should my phone somehow get misplaced.

    Music – I use the time in an airplane to either read a good book or listen to my favorite music. A concern I had at first when switching from iPhone to Lumia 900 was the potential loss of my iTunes music. With Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac it was a painless process to download my iTunes library into the Lumia 900.

    Battery Life – Unless using an app like Skype which calls on the video, data, and voice capabilities all at the same time, the battery on the Lumia 900 lasts twice as long in the field as the iPhone. I did not have to search for a power outlet while in the theme parks during the day. In the past I would desperately look for any available outlet near noon just to get some extra juice in the iPhone.

    Video – I easily recorded a Mariachi band at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot and uploaded it quickly to my FaceBook page. The last few times I tried to upload video to FaceBook via my iPhone on the 3G network my battery would drain and the video would hangup during the upload. The Lumia 900 was so much easier and faster to upload successfully.

    Photos – I captured a variety of images with the Nokia Lumia 900 and here they are unedited. I am not a professional photographer, just a consumer with a new smartphone.

    NOKIA Lumia 900 using Macro setting image by Shannon Hurst Lane

    NOKIA Lumia 900 self portrait in low light

    Nokia Lumia 900 cocktail image

    Disneys Art of Animation Resort splash pad

    I’m not a tech writer and honestly don’t care about terms like dual core processor or AMOLED touchscreen. What I’m more interested in is the user-friendliness of a device and practical use. While the Nokia Lumia 900 may not be completely perfect (I mourn the lack of Instagram), I can confidently back this smartphone device for the next adventure.

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  • Women can’t do anything from water.org on Vimeo.
    When we travel with our families, we don’t give a second thought about handing a drink of water to our children when they are thirsty. Airports provide drinking fountains for those of us who don’t want to purchase water and most airlines provide water free of charge. Did you ever think what your life would be like if we didn’t have clean drinking water? Only 100 years ago New York and other major cities in the US experienced Cholera epidemics and disease due to unsafe drinking water. It isn’t really that long ago if you think about it. The most recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti has killed more than 600 people. Can you even begin to imagine having no clean water for your family to drink?

    Mothers in Guatemala at rural school (c) Shannon Hurst Lane TravelingMamas.com

    When I traveled on the Tweetup4Good Cruise with my friend Nancy Schretter, we visited rural communities and orphanages in Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. In Guatemala, one of the schools we visited had dirt floors, holes in the walls, and no running water that I could see.

    On the other side of the world, mothers are traveling mamas, not for pleasure trips like us, but for long journeys to collect drinking water for their families and children to survive the day. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use. This lost productivity is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at Wal*Mart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger, according to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org.

    Water.org water bottlesHow can we help? Give the gift of Hope in a Bottle or donate to Water.org as a gift that helps others.

    When you treat your family and friends to a Water.org, CamelBak bottle, you’ll also be giving a life-changing gift to someone in need.

    • The bottles are a limited edition design, environmentally friendly and great holiday gifts.
    • And 100% of the profits go directly to support nearly a billion people in the world who lack clean water.

    Give just one bottle and you help a child get clean, safe water. Give more and you change even more lives – forever. The need has never been greater and you can make a real difference simply by shopping now.

    Matt Damon co-found of Water.orgWater.org has provided TravelingMamas.com with one water bottle to give away to one reader. The winner will also be sent a thank you note signed personally by Matt Damon. Because we believe in projects like Water.org, TravelingMamas.com has made a “One Life” donation, which will provide water for life for one person through the Water.org initiative. We’d like to encourage you to add a limited edition water bottle or donation to Water.org to your holiday wish list. To find out more information and to place an order, visit Water.org.

    How to enter: This is a social media contest, meaning only readers with Facebook or Twitter accounts are eligible to enter. You can enter two ways –

    On Facebook: LIKE Water.org on Facebook and share this post with your friends. Be sure to leave a comment here for this entry to count.

    On Twitter: Follow @Water and tweet this post. Be sure to leave your tweet as a comment for the entry to count.

    Contest is open to US residents 18 years of age and older. Entries close at 11:59PM CST on December 8, 2010. One entry per day per email address via each route. Comments will be rescued from SPAM. Current and former contributors of TravelingMamas.com not eligible to enter. Prize and product information provided by Water.org.

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  • The holiday season will find many travelers on the road, driving to visit relatives for that annual visit. Some travelers may opt to stay with their relatives while many others choose to stay in a hotel or vacation rental near the family gathering place. I know when my family travels, we not only try to pack healthy road trip snacks, but also to save money by not stopping at a drive through for every meal.

    My friends from The Pampered Chef sent me a holiday gift of new and classic items for making meal time easier for me and the family during this crazy holiday time. I’ve been using The Pampered Chef products and recipes for over a decade, as have many of my friends. A few of them even sell TPC products and the home parties are a fun way for friends to gather together, enjoy some new dishes, and learn about ways to make dinner prep time easy and fun.

    Here are some tips and The Pampered Chef items I personally use when taking a road trip.

    The Pampered Chef Twixit Combo PackTwixit! Combo Pack – These little clips are compact and handy for keeping snack bags and chip bags closed when on the road or at home. If you have a number of kids in your family, a fun way to personalize snacks is to use a paint pen to personalize a Twixit! for each family member. This not only makes them personally responsible for keeping their snacks from spilling all over the car, but will help identify snack bag owners so there aren’t as many disagreements. Twixit Combo Pack $5.50

    The Pampered Chef Scoop ClipScoop Clip – Everyone already knows I like to travel with my own coffee. The Scoop Clip not only keeps my coffee fresh and sealed, but it also is handy for measuring the amount of coffee needed for making a fresh pot. This is an ideal product not just for travel, but also at the office. Scoop Clip $5.50

    The Pampered Chef Cut N SealCut-N-Seal – When my kids were just a little bit younger, they insisted on the crust being cut off their sandwiches. The Cut-N-Seal makes sandwich construction easy and fun. I love how it seals the bread around the edges. For the road trip home, make some chicken salad sandwiches, but substitute the chicken with leftover turkey. Cut-N-Seal $9.50

    To celebrate the holidays, we’re giving away the three items listed in the above tips. One randomly chosen winner will win all three items. Just leave a comment with your tips or ideas for holiday road trip snacks or a way you use leftover turkey after the holiday meal. If you need a little inspiration on leftover ideas, be sure to watch the live cooking demonstation on The Pampered Chef Facebook Page on November 11, 2010 at 10:30AM CST or check out all the recipes and products available at The Pampered Chef official website.

    Contest ends November 15, 2010 at 11:59PM CST. US residents ages 21 and older. Current and former contributors of TravelingMamas.com not eligible to enter. Prize provided by The Pampered Chef.

    Disclosure: TPC provided a promotional gift package of new products. This in no way influenced my opinion as I have been a customer of TPC for many years.

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  • Is your family looking for a place to get away from it all and still enjoy family time with their children? Do you want vacation where you can enjoy the beach, stay active and enjoy local attractions?

    Ocean Isle Inn on Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina has been named one of the Top Atlantic Coastal Destinations.  Children love it.  Families love it.  The location is great and the property keeps calling guests back again and again. 

    “Ocean Isle is the way beaches use to be. Uncrowded, Unhurried, and Unforgettable. All this and more await you at the Ocean Isle Inn. Ideally situated a short distance from the historic riverfront town of Wilmington, North Carolina, Southport NC, Holden Beach NC, Sunset Beach NC, and North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach South Carolina, the Ocean Isle Inn provides the perfect accommodations for a vacationer, business traveler, family reunion or wedding.”

    Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina

    Ocean Isle Inn is a beautiful ocean front property on the quiet Southern beaches of North Carolina.  Enjoy the quiet of the beaches where you can get away from it all.  Yet,  you can drive an hour to the trendy and popular Myrtle Beaches of South Carolina where wonderful restaurants, shopping and local activities abound.

    Enjoy the local attractions:

    1)  Ocean front beaches for families;

    2)  Ten minutes from the wonders of South Carolina like  Myrtle Beach and famous Callabash Seafood;

    3) Ingram Planetarium – where the Stars Always Shine!

    4) Museum of Coastal Carolina

    Enjoy this view each morning – after a complimentary breakfast and gourmet coffee, step out poolside and enjoy the ocean views.  When it’s breezy or it rains, take in the indoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi!  Life is good in North Carolina.

    Are you ready to get away from it all?  Take your children on a vacation they will always remember! Book your trip to Ocean Isle Inn today!  Ocean Isle Inn is offering Traveling Mamas Readers a 15% Discount if you Book with the Discount Code: CarolinaMama. Book your trip and enjoy the anticipation until you experience the pure delight of the ocean at Ocean Isle Inn.

    *CarolinaMama is an Ocean Isle Inn Ambassador.

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  • Gena wrote us here at Traveling Mamas, asking for advice on finding the cheapest airline tickets. As someone who flys frequently, I get asked that question a lot.

    I’m sorry to have to tell you all this, but my big secret is that there is no one secret to finding cheap airfare.

    My “secret” really just comes down to doing my homework. Every flying situation is different – there are times when you have to be somewhere on certain dates, and there are times when you can be flexible.

    Here are the steps I take to get the cheapest airfare:

    1. The first thing I do when I need to buy a plane ticket is search the ITA matrix. Everyone who travels frequently has their own “favorite” place to do an initial search for flights – some common ones are Kayak, Bing and Orbitz. But ITA is the data clearinghouse that supplies all the other search engines. So, I prefer to go to the source.

    Searching at ITAsoftware will give you a pretty comprehensive look at what’s available, and the fare ranges can be huge. Look at this search I just did for JFK to Bermuda. The fares range from $292 to $880 for the same route.

    2. If I find an airfare I like, or at least one I can live with, I check the Price Predictor at Bing to see if now is the right time to buy. Farecaster is a tool that looks at the history of airfares and figures the probability of the fare going up or down.

    It tells you whether to buy now or wait, and even gives you a level of confidence in its prediction. On this one, I would definitely wait:

    3. If it’s time to buy, I typically go to the airline’s Web site to see if the same fare is available there. If it is, I buy directly through the airline rather than through a search engine. This just streamlines the process for me and helps avoid any additional booking fees that might be tacked on.

    If Farecaster strongly advises me to wait, I rinse and repeat in a few days.

    I should note here that I don’t always find the best deal. No one does. There are circumstances where we must go on certain days, or arrive at certain times, and there’s just not a good deal to be had.

    But for me, those are the exceptions, not the rule. I have found that if I’m willing to work to find the cheapest airline tickets, I do pretty well. Check out my post with 5 more tips on finding the cheapest airline tickets.

    Just like the old saying that it takes money to make money, what I’ve found is that it takes time to save it.

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