Vacation Mavens - family travel podcast

Family travel experts Tamara Gruber & Kimberly Tate

Vacation Mavens is a family travel podcast offering destination ideas and travel tips for traveling with kids. Co-hosted by Kimberly Tate from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara Gruber from We3Travel, Vacation Mavens provides inspiration to jumpstart family vacation planning and tips to get you out the door.

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Kim and Tamara both managed to pull off a socially-distanced, outdoor-focused vacation this summer not too far from home. Tune in this week to hear all about Tamara's summer vacation in the Adirondacks in New York and her cabin and hotel stays in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 01:50 - Tamara’s trip to Adirondacks 04:23 - Where they stayed 14:55 - Hiking in the Adirondacks 26:55 - Coming Next Week SUMMER VACATION IN THE ADIRONDACKS Be aware that if you would like to plan a trip to New York, the state has been very strict with what states are allowed in without quarantining. They also ask that you register with the state before traveling and follow the quarantine guidelines. If you do not register you could be subject to a fine. Due to the increased interest in house/cabin rentals, it may be very hard to find a cabin or lake house rental to visit the Adirondacks unless you plan ahead. Tamara stayed at Bear Cabin on Lake Colby near Saranac Lake, which is a two-bedroom cabin on a lake with access to canoes and kayaks. She found it on Airbnb (affiliate link.) An alternative to renting a cabin or house is to stay at a family-friendly resort, such as the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid. Tamara and her family stayed in a two-room suite with a fireplace overlooking the lake. The rooms are a bit dated but the location is perfect because you are right in town but have access to the lake, including free use of kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The downside is the crowded beach without much social distancing. Some good hikes in the area for intermediate hikers include: Mt. Van Hoevenberg, Mt. Jo, and St. Regis Mountain. If you want epic views without the hike, you can take the gondola at Whiteface Mountain or pay to drive the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the summit.   FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission. Tamara loves her new Black Diamond Hiking Poles, which fold up to fit into a backpack and offer great support on challenging hikes. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Sep 8

28 min

Have you ever considered renting a houseboat? This fun type of vacation rental is a great way to socially distance! Find out what it is like to stay on an "RV on the water" and get houseboat rental vacation tips from Jessica Averett, from Bring the Kids, on this week's episode. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 05:25 - What’s happening with school 07:24 - Talking with Jessica 09:05 - Where to take a houseboat vacation 10:38 - What to expect 16:10 - What to look for in renting a houseboat 19:00 - Tips for planning your trip 21:50 - Price 23:45 - What is the water like 26:50 - What to pack 28:44 - Jessica’s Favorite Travel Gear ABOUT JESSICA AVERETT Jessica Averett is an adventure loving mom to 5 kids. She and her family have a serious case of wanderlust and are constantly exploring to find the best travel experiences for families. You can follow her writing and adventures at Bring The Kids. Follow Jessica on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. TIPS FOR RENTING A HOUSEBOAT It is really popular to have a houseboat vacation on large lakes. Most people will rent a houseboat through the local marina. Staying on a houseboat is like staying on a big RV on the water The houseboat moves at about 6 miles per hour on the water because they are so big, so don’t plan on traveling far if you have a short vacation time. A typical time on a boat is usually four days to a week. You can then spend your time stopping at a few places or just dropping anchor wherever. Surprisingly you do not need a boating license to rent a houseboat. Most places will just require you to be 21 years or older. It is fun to rent other boats or water toys to take along. This is so you can get to shore faster or just ride around off the houseboat. This could be anything in between floaties and kayaks or jet skies and a small craft. Since towing will make your houseboat go even slower, if renting a motor boat, it makes sense to have someone else drive it ahead of the houseboat when going to a different location. For smaller water toys like kayaks and floaties, the roof of the boat is flat so you can just tie them off up there for when you are moving around. If you are going with younger kids, you might really want to look into getting a houseboat that has a slide off of the roof. You will also need to think about how many people you want to sleep. A typical houseboat sleeps up to 8 or 12. Given that number if you are going with a larger group some of you can actually camp on shore in tents, while some stay on the boat for the night. One big tip for going on a houseboat vacation is to go with another family. This will make your trip more fun to hang out with friends. Plus if they have kids around the same age they can hang out together and have others to have fun with. This will also make it easier on the adults having a few more people to drive the boat. The price of renting a houseboat mostly varies on the kind and size of the boat that you are renting. For a three or four day trip you will probably be looking at around $2,000. Keep in mind that you can still get some choppy water on a lake depending on the size and the weather. Make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and aloe because someone will end up with sunburn since you are spending all of your time on the water. You should also think about bringing a line or rope with clothespins, so that you will have an easier time drying all of your swim suits and towels. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Jessica loves her pair of Columbia pants along with a pair of Chaco sandals. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST House Boating Rentals SunBum FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Aug 25

32 min

Vacation home rentals are soaring this summer and for good reason. Renting a vacation home -- whether or it is a cabin in the woods or a beach house -- is a great way to socially distance. Listen to our tips on what to look for when renting a vacation home, plus our suggestions on what to pack to supply your vacation home. ON THE PODCAST 00:35 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 02:30 - How to determine what house to rent 03:40 - Extra fees 05:15 - Guest responsibilities 10:10 - Cooking your own food 12:45 - What to pack 28:26 - Entertainment 36:18 - Traveling during Covid-19 40:18 - Up Next TIPS FOR VACATION HOME RENTALS Make sure to thoroughly read reviews for any house you are considering and look for statements about WiFi, cleanliness, location, responsiveness, etc. This will help you weed through the options you have and maybe even answer some questions that were going to ask. This is a great thing to do for hotel/motel stays and house rentals too! You will also need to keep in mind that when you are renting a house you also need to find out what the cleaning fees will be. This is not usually something that is built into the price of your stay. Right now because of Covid-19 some house rentals are also leaving a full 24 hour in between guest stays. Depending on where you are booking your house through you will also need to keep an eye out for different service fees that will get added on to your per night fee that you thought you were paying. The sticker price almost never includes these extra fees. When you rent a house you will also need to make sure that you know what is expected of you as the guest to do before you leave. You may be required to strip the beds, take out the garbage, or even make sure certain things are turned off. This might mean that you have to make sure you have time to do these things before you leave/check out. Plan for when you can check into the house that you rented. You can’t leave your bags like if you were to stay at a hotel so if you wanted to go somewhere right away do you feel comfortable leaving all of your stuff and/or food in a possibly hot car! The main upside of renting a house is so that you can cook your own food and have left over space. When looking for a house you might want to look into where the closest grocery store is. Even if it is a small one for little things you can map out a bigger one that is on the way and store before you get to the house. Keep in mind that supplies may be limited at the local grocery store and cost more than at home so ideally try to bring as much as you can from home. You really want to make sure that you are reading what is offered at your house. Kitchen utilities, bedding, pillows, soap, towels, sponge, spices; some house rentals will not supply everything that you would want. If things are not listed you can always message the owner about them or even just get a clarification of an item on the list. For example, coffee makers. What kind of coffee maker is it? Do you need to bring filters? If the house has a washer and dryer and you think that you will end up using it, you might want to bring your own detergent and dryer sheets. You also might want to think about bringing detergent pods since they pack a lot easier. Some places might have a few games and puzzles but you might want to think about bringing at least a deck of cards or other card games. If you are staying for a week the weather can change and you might get a rainy day where you are stuck inside. Outlets in houses might be tricky. You might want to look into getting a longer cord or even a small power strip can be useful when you need to charge different devices. You may want to think about bringing your own hand sanitizer. A lot of places will not provide hand sanitizer for your stay. Especially if you have younger kids you will want to try and make sure that they are getting into the habit of washing their hands every time they come inside the house. You may also want to look into getting disposable masks if you are able to buy them. They come in handy for doing outdoor activities since they tend to be a bit more breathable than reusable ones make out of different clothes. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Aug 11

41 min

Can you just picture yourself relaxing under a palm tree on a beautiful beach with a tropical drink in your hand? When you are ready to plan a vacation to the Caribbean, get ideas on the best islands and resorts from Caribbean Expert Sarah Gabbadon Greaves. Just keep in mind that some reopening plans have changed or rolled back for Americans since we recorded this episode. Please always check the latest regulations before planning a trip -- this is a good time to use a travel agent that is up to date on travel restrictions. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Tamara about her Florida trip 12:45 - Talking with Sarah 15:00 - Open Islands and regulations 21:25 - Islands to visit 27:38 - Visiting from a cruise 30:50 - Beaches for families 34:43 - Active adventures 40:58 - Getting out 44:30 - Places to stay 52:50 - Final Tips 57:32 - Sarah’s Favorite Travel Gear ABOUT SARAH GREAVES-GABBADON Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka JetSetSarah) is a travel writer, on-screen host and self-described “Carivangelist,” who goes to the beach and beyond to share the culture, lifestyle and personalities of the Caribbean with the world. Based in Miami, she creates content for outlets including Travel + Leisure; Islands.com; AARP; Essence magazine; the U.K.’s Telegraph and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspapers. Sarah is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com where her passions – travel, style and fitness – meet. Follow Sarah on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING THE CARIBBEAN ISLANDS The Caribbean has surprised the world with how well it is doing with respect to the virus. As of June there have only been 16,000 cases. The islands of Anguilla, Saint Barts and Nevis have all been declared Covid free. The islands of Saint John, Saint Croix, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua and Saint Barts are all open. They are expecting to open the islands of the Bahamas, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Puerto Rico and Turks and Caicos soon. (Although some have since been closed to Americans -- please check updates!) Each island that is open has different regulations in terms of safety. There was a time when one could just hop on a flight and explore a different island on a whim. Now you will need to plan ahead and find out exactly what is needed for each specific island. Some might need proof of a negative test that was done within three days while others say that they will test you as soon as you arrive, or even both. If you are planning a trip soon to the Caribbean make sure to budget extra money if you end up in a situation where you need to quarantine for 14 days. Though quarantining in the Caribbean may not be so bad. Certain islands have quarantine hotels where you can’t leave the hotel, but you are allowed to go from your room to the beach! You should also keep in mind that if you have to get tested at an island it will cost you roughly $100 each person. They can not afford to test for free. When it comes to choosing an island, if you are looking for the total package, Jamaica is the island for you. Great food, great people and direct flights onto the island, especially if you are coming from the East Coast of the US. The Grand Cayman may not have any all inclusive resort, but they do have some great hotels. This is a really great family island to visit. They have very pristine waters and it is actually where scuba diving was invented. They don’t expect cruise ships to start visiting the Caribbean until possibly the fall. Even when they do start the ships will be at 50-75% capacity. They will also most likely be shorter, three to four night cruises and include stops on private islands. Cruising can be a great way to see a few islands in one trip and then decide on places you want to go back and explore more fully off the cruise. Doctor’s Cave Beach in Jamaica is really beautiful and well maintained. On Turks and Caicos there is a beach called Bambarra Beach that may seem a bit tricky to get to since you have to take a ferry and drive a bit. But when you get there you will realize it was worth the travel. The water is crystal clear and stays about knee deep for about a quarter mile out! There are no places to eat on this beach so you need to pack a picnic, which may be the only downside for some. On Grand Cayman there is a beach called Smiths Cove that is about a twenty minute drive from Seven Mile Beach. It is pretty small, but very relaxing. Jamaica has some really great mountain biking trails in the Blue Mountains. Dunn’s River Falls is a must do for visiting Jamaica. You will take a hike with a group that leads you to the top of a 600 foot high waterfall. Not recommended for children under seven. Saint Lucia has great hiking on a volcano called Gros Piton. You can also tour the drive-in volcano, which collapsed long ago. Your guide will tell you all about it. Right next door there are sulphuric mud pits that are supposed to be very healing. If you are staying at an all inclusive resort don't be afraid to get out and really take in the culture. If you are not sure where to go it is always helpful to ask the front desk or your driver, but a really great person to ask is someone on the house keeping staff. They seem to have really great recommendations and they are coming from their own experiences not just off a list they may be paid to promote. Staying on a private island is not cheap but so relaxing! If you have the money to splurge on a vacation a private island stay may be for you. There are so many islands in the Caribbean, all with different languages, music, culture and more. If you have never been, look around and find one to visit! If you have been to an island, don’t think that you have been there, done that. Find a different one to explore and enjoy! December through April tends to be the busiest for travel. So if you can, try to plan your trip just outside of these months. Like the US tipping is expected and though you don’t really need to worry about exchanging money or credit cards too much it is good practice to keep some cash handy for tipping. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Sarah loves her style and fashion. Her travel uniform is a pair of G-Star jeans along with a graphic T and her Adidastrack jacket. Then she will pair that with a pair of Adidas sneakers. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Caribbean Travel Atlantis Submarines Atlantis Bahamas Baha Mar Grand Cayman Ritz Carlton  Petit St Vincent - Private island resort Fowl Cay Villas - Private island resort Compass Cay Marina - Private island resort What to pack in your carry on   FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Jul 28

63 min

If you are ready to hit the beach, head to Virginia Beach, where there is something for everyone. This week we chat with Brianna Simmons, from The Casual Travelist, about her hometown of Virginia Beach and all it has to offer families. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about the beach 06:20 - Tamara’s upcoming trip 12:20 - Talking with Brianna 14:25 - How Virginia is doing with Covid-19 15:57 - Different sections of the beach 18:06 - Hotel vs. Beach House 19:45 - Activities 22:29 - Favorite Restaurants 24:40 - When to go 25:36 - Where Brianna wants to go next 26:48 - Brianna’s Favorite Travel Gear 28:20 - Coming up Next ABOUT BRIANNA SIMMONS Brianna Simmons is a travel blogger at the Casual Travelist where she balances her love for travel with a full time career as a physical therapist. Whether you’re getting away for 2 days or 2 weeks she aims to show you how to make the most of your vacation days. Follow Brianna on Facebook and Instagram. TIPS FOR VISITING VIRGINIA BEACH Virginia Beach has a beach experience for just about everyone. The main area is a resort area, which has a three-mile long boardwalk, making it a very family-friendly place to visit. During the summer they usually have music acts and a lot of other activities going on. This is also the area where you can find most of the hotels. If you are looking for a place quiet, you can always visit the Chesapeake Bay area, which is great and has calmer waters. Sandbridge is another area that is relaxing, located at the very northern tip on the Outer Banks. Depending on how long you are staying and where, renting a beach house is a great way to vacation at Virginia Beach. Going to the beach may be the main reason why you are visiting the area but there are definitely some other activities that you can do on your trip. For instance there is a really great Aquarium that also offers dolphin wildlife cruises during the summer months. They also offer whale watching cruises during the winter months. If you want to stay outdoors there are some different state parks you can explore and even camp if you are feeling adventurous. In Chesapeake Bay there is First Landing State Park that has some great wooded or water trails and also offers some camping areas. Around Sandbridge there is False Cape State Park, but you will have to hike or bike there since you can not drive to the park. Holiday weekends are usually very busy. Make sure to check the weather when you are planning your trip, as the days get closer you want to prepare yourself if it ends up being rainy. Being that the beach is on the East Coast you want to keep in mind the chance of hurricanes. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Brianna loves to wear her comfortable clothes, which includes a pair of leggings from American Giant paired with a Marine Layer t-shirt. As another layer she loves to wear her Daisy Wrap from Eddie Bauer that goes with everything. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Where to Eat in Virginia Beach Beach Packing List - Stuffed Suitcase Hilton Garden Inn - Virginia Beach The Cavalier Hotel Virginia Aquarium  Commune Restaurant Bay Local Eatery Lolly’s Creamery Casual Foodist FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jul 14

30 min

This summer is definitely bringing back the great American road trip and one of the most beautiful is an Oregon Coast road trip. On the podcast, we talk with Jessica Baker from Boundless Bakers, about the time she spent on the Oregon Coast and she fills us in on the best places to stop, must see towns, and side trips to take along the way. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking about future road trips 07:20 - Talking with Jessica Baker 09:25 - How long to spend in Oregon 10:20 - Where to fly into and out of 11:30 - Where to stop 22:20 - Where to stay 25:40 - Day trip locations 27:25 - Driving around 29:20 - Final tips 31:00 - Jessica’s Favorite Travel Gear 32:50 - What's next for Jessica and her family 33:45 - Coming up next on Vacation Mavens ABOUT JESSICA BAKER Jessica Baker is a full-time mom, wife, and RVer. She and her husband, two young kids, and three cats have been traveling North America full-time for the last year and a half. Jessica has contributed to RV travel blogs such as CampingWorld.com and DoItYourselfRV.com. Follow Jessica on Facebook and Instagram. TIPS FOR PLANNING AN OREGON COAST ROAD TRIP You can spend anywhere between a long weekend and a full week exploring what the Oregon Coast has to offer. If you are coming from the East Coast or even just farther than a drive away from Oregon’s coast, then fly into Portland and rent a car. You can then either fly back out of Eugene, or make the return loop via the highway. The natural beauty of the Oregon coast is what draws visitors to explore. As you are making your way down the coast here is a list of cute towns and attractions to visit along the way. Cannon Beach - is a little touristy that has a great food and if you are a Goonies fan this town should definitely be on your list. Depoe Bay - this town is known for whale watching. It may be tiny but it is a lot of fun. Newport - has great seafood and harbor. If you are interested, this is a great place to do your own fishing. You need a license but it is not expensive to purchase. Florence - is also a fishing town and is north of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which covers forty miles of dunes. You can rent equipment and ride around the dunes! Hug Point is a really great location to visit, but you have to keep in mind when high and low tide are since you could potentially get stuck where you don’t want to be. It is a great spot for exploring the tide pools and water caves that are along the point. Devil's Punch Bowl is another area where you need to watch the tide times. If you are adventurous, during low tide you can hike down into the bowl and explore the inside before the tide comes back in. Cobble Beach is made up of little black volcanic rocks and when the water runs over it, it makes a really unique and beautiful sound. It is highly recommended that you make this a camping road trip and even rent an RV if you want. If not you can stay in Cannon Beach, which has a bunch of little hotels. You can also try Newport as that is a bit larger and has a number of different places to stay. There are a few places within four hours of the coast that can make a great day trip: Tillamook has a lot of dairy farms and it is a great place to visit and try some different cheeses and ice cream. Crater Lake is a gorgeous sight to see, and if you have time to explore it, you should add this into your itinerary. The Columbia River Gorge is another great area to visit whether you make it a day trip or spend a few days there. It is close to Portland and could be a good stop to make before you make your way to the coast. Driving around Oregon is not too difficult, especially if you stay on Highway 101. You will feel comfortable driving even if you are towing or driving an RV. Just don't be surprised if you lose cell service from time to time. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Jessica recommends wearing plenty of layers when visiting Oregon. She loves her Columbia windbreaker as an outer layer. She also likes to wear a pair of convertible hiking pants. That way she can unzip them into shorts if she gets too hot. She also likes to pair this with a pair of Keen shoes. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Boundless Bakers Our Top 5 Oregon Coast RV Parks ($50 off RV rentals button on this page) Northern Oregon Coast RV Rentals (coupon here too) FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jun 30

35 min

If your vacation budget is being squeezed, you are not alone. This week we tackle the topic of affordable vacation destinations (that you can hopefully take this year or in the near future) with Tim Leffel, author of "The World's Cheapest Destinations." Plus, we share some of our favorite black family travel content creators and commit to bringing more diverse voices onto the podcast.   ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Recommended black family travel bloggers 05:17 - Talking with Tim Leffel 07:20 - What makes a cheap destination 09:10 - US budget destinations 14:05 - Covid cases in other countries 15:35 - Budget places in other countries 20:50 - Tips for saving money 25:30 - Thoughts of what is to come 27:50 - Where Tim wants to go first 29:53 - Tim’s Favorite Travel Gear 33:20 - What’s next for Vacation Mavens ABOUT TIM LEFFEL Tim Leffel is an award-winning travel writer, editor, and blogger. He publishes five online magazines and blogs including Perceptive Travel, the Cheapest Destinations Blog, and Hotel Scoop. He is the author of several books including Travel Writing 2.0, A Better Life for Half the Price, and The World's Cheapest Destinations, now in its fifth edition. He is a member of NATJA and SATW and is North American Conference Director of the Travel Bloggers Exhange Conference (TBEX). Follow Tim on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR TRAVELING ON A BUDGET Visiting a place where the cost of living is cheaper ends up being a bit cheaper if you are going to take a vacation there. If the cost of living is cheaper that means dinners, admission prices and even room costs tend to be lower than your home country or city. Just checking out smaller cities in the US rather than going to a big city like NYC or Chicago can help save you on the budget. There is still a lot to offer in smaller cities including museums, waterparks, aquariums, etc. Smaller cities are also usually easier to get around being that they are not as crowded. In other countries there are different regions that are budget friendly for families In Europe there are two great budget areas; one in Eastern Europe and one in the Balkans. The Southeast Asian countries are pretty close together and easy to get to, making this area a backpacker favorite. South America also has some great budget friendly areas to visit. Malaysia is one of these budget areas that doesn’t get thought about often, but it holds a lot to explore. The roads are easy to travel, the food is cheap and good and you don’t have to worry about the water, it is safe to drink. There are some destinations like Iceland or Canada that if you have had them on your bucket list some places are offering cheaper prices than normal and the exchange rate is really good. You should definitely look into these destinations if you have wanted to go there at all, this might be your opportunity to take that trip at a lower price that you could have before. (Just keep in mind that the Canadian border is closed until at least the end of July and, while Iceland is reopening on June 15th, you need to get tested either before you arrive or on arrival or be subject to a 14-day quarantine.) It may be tougher for families but the more you leave yourself open the options of making the trip trip cheaper increases. Travel dates are a big cost change if you are more flexible. Having kids in school makes this harder to do but it is definitely something to keep an eye on when your kids are younger and you are more capable to pull them out of school. You also want to think about high travel times for different destinations. Peak season for travel is going to be different in different countries and destinations. This will make your trip cheaper if you are able to go at a non-peak time. Other kinds of accommodations and travel options can make a big difference in your budget. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Tim loves to wear either ExOffico or CragHoppers clothing. He has tried out a bunch of different brands of gear and loves how well these brands have held up over the years. He will also almost always choose something that is quick dry and he can wash it in the sink if he has to. He has recently been wearing some Prana items because he likes the comfort and how they look. If he is going anywhere that he thinks might be busy, he will wear pick-pocket proof pants to keep his items safe. As for socks, he loves his Darn Tough socks that are very durable and comfortable to wear and are made in the USA. For shoes he likes a lot of different kinds but Sanuk’s are the best for compact travel. They are comfortable and they are also easily compressed and can fit nicely in your bag for travel, no matter what kind of bag you have. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Travelers to follow: Heather Greenwood Davis on Instagram Montoya from The Spring Break Family Blog Monet from The Traveling Child Blog Karen from The Mom Trotter Blog Tim’s Travel Books Stuffed Suitcase - Budget Vacation Worksheet Stuffed Suitcase - Budget Planner FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jun 15

35 min

With states across the U.S. entering some phase of reopening, Kim and Tamara tackle the  topic of summer travel. What will be open, what should you expect if you travel, and what are the best trips to think about right now? Tune in. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 01:15 - Finding travel information 02:00 - Florida 11:08 - Flying 16:00 - States that are doing well 20:08 - Rentals 24:02 - International travel 29:20 - Reopening plans 31:50 - What to do locally TIPS FOR NAVIGATING REOPENING TRAVEL The information coming to you today is current as of May 27th. Location changes and regulations for travel are changing daily. Keep in mind that some locations have 14-day quarantine requirements for visitors coming from other states. Some states are state specific for these quarantines. For instance Florida is checking license plates specifically for New York and New Jersey. If you are planning to take a trip outside of your state for the summer, you may need to do a lot more research to make the trip happen. With information changing almost daily you may want to think about keeping to your own state in regards to summer plans for this year. As states are opening up, restaurants, hotels, beaches, etc. are limiting capacity. Some hotels and restaurants will only be opening at 50% capacity. Keep in mind that if you plan on flying somewhere some airlines are blocking the middle seat and having to change their schedules around a lot more than usual. You will need to be a bit more flexible than you normally would. You can also expect new procedures and long lines at the airport as more people start traveling. Flexibility with airline cancellations is coming to a close. Some airlines that were previously offering free cancellation or changes have stopped as of May 31st. So you need to keep this in mind when you are planning to take a flight somewhere. You may not be able to get your money back if you decide against the trip or find out new information regarding the place you are going that you don’t want to risk. Listen to more information about National Parks on our previous episode 164. In this episode you will get some useful information regarding what is happening with different parks and where to find the most updated information as places are being reopened. If you plan on renting a house somewhere, make sure you bring a good amount of supplies with you. You don’t know what you will be able to find when you get there. The grocery stores might not be as replenished as you would think. You will also be buying up supplies that the locals need as well. International travel will be more difficult. Some areas may be opening for tourists but only allowing certain countries to come in. You will need to make sure to do a lot of research on where you could be allowed and what their regulations for quarantine are. A lot of things are still up in the air and are changing almost daily. If you have a specific state that you would like to go to you can try googling what that state's reopening plans are. Some states have sites dedicated to what they are doing about reopening and maybe even dates for when things are happening. Keep in mind that though some states may be reopening for their citizens that does not mean that they are allowing travelers from out of state. Take this opportunity to explore the area around your house or town. You may not have known that there was a great hiking trail a mile from your house. Or maybe even a drive in theater in the next town over. You can use this time to explore around your own area, maybe even find some new regular places to visit. Tamara also wrote a post about where to go this summer and some safe travel tips. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Jun 2

35 min

Wondering what is in store for the National Parks this summer? The Vacation Mavens chat with John Tillison, a former park ranger and publisher of the Park Ranger John website, to get his take on planning a visit to the National Parks in 2020 and what to expect. Plus we talk about virtual Junior Ranger programs that you can do at home. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsors - COMRAD Socks and Moon Travel Guides 00:56 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about summer plans 03:40 - Talking with John Tillison 04:30 - What is happening with National Parks right now 06:30 - What to expect this summer 11:55 - Junior Ranger Program 19:30 - Virtual Tours 23:05 - Parks to visit 29:55 - Where John wants to go first 30:35 - John’s Favorite Travel Gear 33:20 - Coming up next ABOUT MOON TRAVEL GUIDES This episode is sponsored by Moon Travel Guides. What’s the best way to explore the world’s greatest cities like a local? On foot! Leave the tourist traps behind and discover local favorite spots in cities like Paris, Rome, New York, and Amsterdam with the City Walks series from Moon Travel Guides, which now includes a brand-new guide to Tokyo! As the pocket-sized companion to Moon Japan, Moon Tokyo Walks is the ultimate way to experience Tokyo’s infectious energy and futuristic charm at your own pace, without missing a beat. Visit moon.com or your favorite bookseller to grab your guide. ABOUT COMRAD SOCKS This episode is also sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what’s traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that’s why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. ABOUT JOHN TILLISON John was a Law Enforcement Park Ranger for 20 years before starting Park Ranger John. The goal of Park Ranger John is to share the things I learned while working and living in parks. I want our readers to have the best experiences possible in the parks they visit. Follow John on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING NATIONAL PARKS As the National parks start to open you may see different rules and regulations for each park depending on the crowds that they are getting. Some parks may only be available for scheduled visits rather than just showing up. Crowd control has always been a top priority for National Parks and you will see that this is still a fact as the parks are slowly re-opening. Make sure that you are contacting the right people to find out what each park is offering as they start to open up again, whether it is a visitors center or the local Park Rangers. Facebook and Twitter have been a really up to date source of information for what is going on for each of the parks. The Junior Ranger Programs are a really great source of learning for a bunch of different age groups. The way the program works is that you would find a ranger at a visitors center or contact station and ask about the program. They will give you a booklet and throughout the day you will go through the visitors center and learn some of the history of the park. Then you will go out into the park and do some activities. Once you do the worksheets in the booklet you will take it into the ranger and take a pledge and receive a Junior Ranger Badge. This is not something that you can do in five minutes. You will need to make sure that you are getting the booklet as soon as you get there if this is something that you want to do for your visit. You can also earn a Junior Ranger Badge virtually. Different parks are offering some other virtual learning tools right now that kids can take advantage of. Just visit John’s site for information on the Junior Ranger Programs so that you can learn at home. You can look up National Park webcams and just look around at different parks at home. The average National Park visits is about 3 - 4 hours, usually between the hours of 9am and 4pm. So if you want to visit at a less busy time you should keep that in mind when planning your visit. The first couple weeks of June or the very end of August also tend to be less crowded due to school openings and closings. Unfortunately that won't necessarily be the case for this year! FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR John loves his Zamberlan boots because if his feet aren't happy he is not happy! He also likes to wear layers because it is easy to dress up or down, and clothes that dry quickly. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Junior Ranger Programs “Virtual” Parks National Park webcams 2019 Least Visited National Parks FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

May 19

34 min

We have reached the point in staying at home when we are really missing travel. To get the experience of traveling at home and fighting back boredom, this week Kim and Tamara interview two tour operators and a winery owner about the virtual experiences they offer. Angelo from LivItaly shares the innovative and engaging ways his tour guides are sharing their subject matter expertise (and humor!), while Rachel from Devour Tours talks about her company's free and paid cooking demonstrations and classes. And we chat wine and virtual wine tasting with Chris from Benziger Family Winery. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Comrad Socks 00:50 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 08:20 - Talking with Angelo from LivItaly 11:35 - LivTalks 20:50 - Where Angelo is heading first 23:30 - Talking with Rachel from Devour Tours 30:50 - What’s going on in Spain 32:15 - Where Rachel is heading first 33:33 - Talking with Chris from Benziger Family Winery 37:47 - Wine Wednesday 40:10 - Private Happy Hour 43:50 - Where Chris is heading first 45:17 - Up next for Vacation Mavens ABOUT OUR SPONSOR This episode is sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what’s traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that’s why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. ABOUT ANGELO CAROTENUTO FROM LIVTOURS Angelo Carotenuto is born in Italy from an American mother and a Neapolitan father. After attending public Italian school up until the age of 18, he moved to the United States of America to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles. He pursued his BA in acting and also studied at the London Dramatic Arts perfectioning his art. He often loved to take his friends and family members around, proud of his cultural heritage and at ease in front of crowds. Angelo worked for companies of all sorts of shape and form, creating an outstanding CV and receiving thousands of 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor and other social channels. He then realized that there was a niche of tourism that needed more attention. A segment of people that were actually looking for authentic emotions and that valued their dream of coming to Italy as extraordinary and needed to pursue every aspect they had ever dreamt of: food, wine, art, culture, soccer, fashion, ferrari, etc. He then founded LivItaly Tours with the intent of creating services that matched people’s dreams of Italy and that allowed them to authentically experience all of them, however and whenever they wanted, a la carte, throughout their vacation. Along with this, knowing that nobody dreamt about following a flag, in large groups, and having dirty headsets in their ears, he decided that even the most traditional of tours, needed to be an experience and opted to cap small group tours at max 6 people and offer private tours, all at competitive pricing. The mixture of the two ingredients: the quality of the tours and the variety of the offer, made LivItaly a leader in the Italian industry. With the help of Kristin, his wife, they brought LivItaly to be recognized internationally and partner and collaborate with the most infallible businesses of the world. LivItaly’s wide range of offers also include truly fantastic family tours and activities in almost every corner of the peninsula. Activities dedicated to provide entertainment to all family members, give the parents the ability to trust and relax while touring and making sure children go back with fond memories of their time in Italy. After years of providing excellent service to clients in Italy, LivItaly recently expanded to Paris, London, and Spain under the LivTours umbrella. Follow Angelo on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. LIVTALKS The LivTours team has recently revealed LivTalks, a series of online events that bring the world to "visitors", even when we can't travel. Each session lasts approximately 45 minus and starts with an interactive and entertaining discussion between Angelo and a local guide, followed by questions and answered. Upcoming topics include: Best moments in Italian soccer Ostia, the cradle of an empire World War II: Facism, Jewish Persecution, and how Italians saved them Climbing the Dome of St. Peters from home Michelangelo and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ABOUT RACHEL SCHNEIDMILL FROM DEVOUR TOURS Originally from New York, Rachel also called Washington DC her home for eight years where she worked in marketing roles across a variety of industries before moving to Spain two years ago. She has a serious (but fun!) interest in wine and is currently enrolled in the Spanish Wine Scholar program. Rachel has been working at Devour Tours for the last eight months and loves everything about her company; from its mission to help connect local culture to tourists, to the amazing group of people who work there. Devour Tours is based in Madrid and operates across eight cities in Europe, offering food and wine tours that represent each city. Follow Rachel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. DEVOUR TOURS Devour Tours offers a number of different free and paid Online Experiences from Facebook Live cooking sessions to virtual cooking classes. Devour Tours has also put together a virtual Cookbook from their favorite guides. Upcoming online experiences include: Pair wine and cheese like a Parisian Cook pasta like a Roman Discover England's history through 10 dishes Cook a Medieval recipe Discover Portugal's history through 10 dishes ABOUT CHRIS BENZIGER FROM BENZIGER FAMILY WINERY Still in high school when the Benziger family moved from White Plains, Chris finished his senior year in wine country. He went on to earn a degree in marketing from the University of San Francisco while spending summers, weekends and every spare moment working at the winery. He officially joined the Benziger Family Winery in 1993 as a Brand Manager. In addition to sales responsibilities, Chris also oversees the home ranch and its many farm related duties, i.e. shepherding the Benziger flock of sheep and cows, tending to the estate vegetable and fruit trees, and producing the Biodynamic preparations for all our vineyards. Chris feels that the only way to communicate the quality of the wines he promotes is by having the soil from the vineyard in which he’s endorsing under his nails. The best impression a winemaker can leave on his wines are his footprints in the vineyards. Follow Chris on Facebook and Instagram. BENZIGER WINERY Since visitors can come to the winery right now, Benziger and their sister winery, Imagery Winery, have introduced Wine Wednesdays every Wednesday on Instagram Live at 4pm PDT. Join in to learn or taste along by getting your wine for Wine Wednesdays from Benziger. Upcoming Wine Tastings include the following: FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

May 5

47 min

If you are starting to feel a little stir crazy at home and missing travel, plan a travel theme night. This week on the podcast we chat with Katja Gaskell from Globetotting about how her family is spending their Friday nights dressing up and cooking recipes from different countries. Kim and Tamara also share some fun ideas for family movie nights. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Comrad Socks 01:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about their quarantine 08:47 - Talking with Katja Gaskell 10:40 - Themed dinners 24:03 - Keeping kids entertained 30:08 - Katja’s favorite travel gear 34:05 - Future trips for Katja and her family ABOUT OUR SPONSOR This episode is sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what’s traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that’s why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. ABOUT KATJA GASKELL Katja Gaskell is the Founder of globetotting.com, a website for adventurous family travel. She is a firm believer that you can – and should! – take your children everywhere and anywhere no matter what age they are. She currently lives in London with her husband and three children, after nearly 12 years living abroad in Australia, India and Mexico. Katja has also written across a range of titles for Lonely Planet guidebooks and tried and tested luxury hotels for the British boutique hotel guide Mr & Mrs Smith. Follow Katja on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR KEEPING TRAVEL IN YOUR QUARANTINED LIFE To keep the travel vibe alive even when staying home, consider planning a theme night. Choose a country and then cook or bring in food from that cuisine. You may consider dressing up or adding a family movie about or from that area to make it even more fun. Themes Katja and her family have done for their themed Friday dinners: Mexican theme with fish tacos for the meal. Her daughter dressed up in a skeleton decorated dress to be La Catrina. Who is one of the most recognizable symbols of The Day of the Dead celebrations, she is a tall female skeleton that wears a fancy hat with feathers. Her son dressed up as a lucha libre, which is a term used in Mexico for professional wrestling. If you don’t already know they wear unique masks with different colors. Katja dressed up as Frida Kahlo, who is a Mexican painter known for her portraits, with a headdress from a previous costume and a Mexican scarf. Her husband dressed up as a mariachi band member. Then their youngest dressed up as a princess, which may not be Mexican but was still fun. India theme with fish curry, samosas and aloo gobi, which is a dish made of potato and cauliflower. Dressing up was harder, since they didn’t already have items that went with the theme, but they decided to find some Bollywood movie posters and recreated them. Any theme you come up with can work. It could be based on places that you’ve been, on seasons, places you want to go, color, movies, etc. Make it something that your family will enjoy. If you have a family that is not into dressing up so much, you can just focus your theme around the food you have for your meal. If you have kids that are a bit older, you can make it so everyone has to make a dish for the meal. Take turns with control of the TV if you can. If it’s not your night and you don’t want to watch what someone else is you can go do something else that night. Depending on how you like to work, you can create a bit of structure for your kids by making a list or a schedule of different activities to do during the day. Quarantine tip for Katja: wear a pair of jeans at least once a week! FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Katja loves to be comfortable and wear jeans along with her Stan Smith Sneakers, and a long cardigan. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Frozen Dinner Theme - Stuffed  Suitcase Big Hero 6 Theme - Stuffed Suitcase Beauty and the Beast Theme - Stuffed Suitcase Vacation Planning for Kids - We3Travel FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 21

38 min

Remember travel agents? They are no longer just those storefronts advertising cruises and packaged trips you used to see in shopping malls. Today's travel agents are advisors that can help you design a custom vacation. And in these uncertain times, using one is more important than ever. This week Kim and Tamara talk with Christina from Showcase the World about why to use a travel agent and if there are any drawbacks. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Comrad Socks 01:40 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about staying at home 06:03 - Thoughts of travel in the future 10:45 - Talking with Christina 13:50 - Agent fees 17:24 - On your own vs. with an agent 29:50 - Services agent provide for Disney 33:12 - Itinerary planning 36:30 - Finding the right agent 46:46 - Christina’s Favorite Travel Gear 48:25 - Coming up ABOUT OUR SPONSOR This episode is sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what’s traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that’s why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. ABOUT CHRISTINA VIEIRA Christina Vieira is the owner of Showcase the World, a travel agency specializing in family travel destinations such as Walt Disney World, Europe and the Caribbean. She has been in the travel industry for 5 years and loves helping other busy moms plan the perfect vacation so they can spend less time worrying about all the little details and more time enjoying time together with their family. She loves spending time with her family which includes her 15 month old daughter, Annabelle at her home just North of Boston. Follow Christina on Facebook and Instagram. PROS AND CONS OF USING A TRAVEL AGENT If a travel agent works off of commission that means that there is usually no extra cost for you to pay. This is built into the price either for the tour operator or the hotel to keep as a profit or for them to pay the travel agent with it. Airlines however do not pay agents, so you may get charged a planning/booking fee for flights. Due to the time involved in planning detailed trips, some agencies do charge an additional planning fee. Keep in that agent fees are not put in place to gouge you with cost. They are there to compensate the agent for the time spent on their end. Using a travel agent does not mean that you are giving up control of your trip. You can find an agent that will work with you and have as little or as much say as you want. Some trips you might want to use an agent for: Disney World may be an option for using an agent. Even if you have been multiple times you see that most families do the same thing over and over just because they do not know what else is out there to do. Having an agent for this can help spread out your days giving you more options of things you never thought you could do. If you are new to Disney, having an agent will help you maximize your time and get things organized with dining reservations and such so you can just focus on enjoying your vacation.  Multi generational trips can also be easier with an agent. They will be able to help you balance different ages and activity choices for all or just some of the group. If you are planning a large/long trip, having an agent to help you get everything set and decided on can help make the trip more relaxing and less stressful. Should anything go wrong, you know that you have someone on your side to help you get things fixed. If you like to earn loyalty points and miles, planning through an agent will not affect this. You will still be able to earn points/rewards. However, if you are planning to use points, most agents won't be able to help you as they wouldn't get a commission on those bookings. If you have a really busy life, using an agent can really save you time on your research and booking, even just having to call around and find out more information about amenities or dates. Using a travel agent is especially important if you unfortunately have to cancel your trip. Your agent is the one that will be making phone calls and getting updates for you. Make sure that you talk to your agent to find out exactly what services they offer. In terms of Disney, some agents will just give you recommendations for restaurants and FastPass  plans but not book them for you, while others will give you the options and then book them all for you. Discuss the type of itinerary you enjoy. Do you like to be always on the go or have more flexibility and downtime? Do you want structured/booked activities or just recommendations on things to do? If you think you would like to use an agent for your next trip, make sure that you find the right one for you. This is important in helping your planning experience go smoothly. Picking an agent that has a different planning style than you like may cause you some frustration. If you think that you would like to travel with them you will most likely like to plan a trip with that person. You want an agent that asks about you and what your interests are, rather than just the dates you want to go and your budget. Be very upfront about your budget to minimize frustration during the planning process. Also think about what you prioritize more (activities versus hotel, location versus amenities, etc.) FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Christina loves her Skechers GOwalks but also likes her Yosi Samra flats for when she wants something a little bit dressier. She loves to fly in her Athleta trousers that are really comfortable and are a little more stylish than a pair of leggings, plus they have pockets! MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST 7 Reasons Why You Should Use a Travel Agent FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 7

50 min

All of this family time has been great, but when this is all over, I think us moms are going to need a girlfriend getaway. This week, Kim and Tamara chime in with their picks for girlfriend getaway destinations and tips for planning a drama-free trip. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Comrad Socks 01:30 - What we are doing to keep active 03:25 - East coast destinations 09:02 - West coast destinations 12:05 - Different kinds of girlfriend getaways 19:17 - Ski resorts in the summer 23:12 - Trips overseas 24:25 - Planning your trip ABOUT OUR SPONSOR This episode is sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what’s traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that’s why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. GIRLFRIEND GETAWAY DESTINATIONS AND TIPS Some of our favorite east coast girlfriend getaway destinations: Saint Augustine, Florida; can be compared to Charleston, SC or Savannah, GA in its history. It has great food, warm weather and some great sites and shops. Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama; beautiful sunrises and beach walks, great food, fun beach bars, and plenty of things to do. Some of our favorite west coast destinations to have a girls trip. Wine Country; would probably make the top of the list for most girls trips. Napa, Sonoma, Santa Rosa to name a few. Going to these destinations does not mean that all you are doing is going to wine tastings. There are a lot of other opportunities there like zip lining, hiking and more. San Diego, CA; has some amazing food and some really great resort hotels. Hawaii is also a popular getaway since it is much easier to get to from the west coast, even for just a weekend getaway. Getting away to Arizona can give you a surprising mix of activities. You can go on some outdoor adventures then come back and have a relaxing spa visit. El Paso, Texas is another surprising girlfriend getaway destination. With its variety of different activities to relax and wind down or get out and try something new and adventurous. Ski resorts are not just for the winter. They try to have a lot of activities during the summer as well. Depending on the resort you go to they can offer a wide variety of outdoor activities. Including; ziplining, water parks, hiking trails, slides, adventure courses and much more. Depending on where you live in the USA, planning a trip to a different country can be faster and easier to get to than the other side of the US. Ireland, Portugal, and Iceland have all made great girls' trips. Planning a trip with multiple people can be hard but you have to make sure that one person is more of the lead on the trip. This person may have to push and make the hard decisions. Be honest with yourself and the people you are going with, especially when it comes to money. You don’t want to be the one that ends up spending more money because you lent it to someone to cover their part. You also don’t want to be the one that has to back out last minute because you actually can’t afford to go. This might leave everyone else having to pay more if you are splitting costs during the trip. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Mar 31

38 min

These are tough times but we are here for you! Find out what happened when Tamara cancelled her trip to Europe and what we are doing at home while social distancing. Just remember, we will get through this and someday we will be traveling again. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking about Tamara’s cancelled trip 14:38 - Should we stay or should we go? 17:22 - Kim’s spring break small trip cancellation 19:39 - Situation at home 29:58 - Fast response needed 31:43 - Staying safe/keeping busy WHAT WE ARE DOING FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING If you have older kids, making a daily chore chart for them can help give a bit of structure to their days while you are staying inside. Even if they are just simply things like making their bed and doing something creative or academic. If you are going to do this you should also think about adding in a restriction if they do not do these things. Don’t be scared to go outside for walks of small outdoor adventures. While still keeping your distances from others you can get out for a little bit in the fresh air. You may not want to but you may want to think about giving your house a good cleaning while you are home. If you do go to the store, you may want to think about wearing gloves or even just wiping down what you buy. Be sure to wash your hands when you get home! Kim put together some activities to keep you busy at home including: Boredom busting bingo 25 Virtual day trips that you can take from home Tamara also found a way to keep kids busy and get them to help plan your next family vacation: Vacation planners for kids - with downloadable worksheets FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Mar 24

43 min

Ugh. As much as we don't want to have to tackle this topic, it is at the top of everyone's minds. This week Kim and Tamara share their decisions regarding spring break plans because of the coronavirus. Find out where to find important information regarding COVID-19 and travel warnings, as well as tips for staying healthy during this challenging time. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 03:08 - Kim’s trip changes 13:03 - Tamara’s spring break plans 23:55 - Tips for protecting yourself 29:55 - Final tips ABOUT OUR SPONSOR Comrad Socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments. These compression socks make a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Our aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what's traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that's what our travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. To receive 20% off your purchase, visit https://comradsocks.com/VACATIONMAVENS and enter promo code VACATIONMAVENS at checkout. CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL DECISIONS Cancelling a trip can be a tough decision to make. You put so much time and money into your plans for a dream trip. But if you ever feel like you will need to cancel, look into all of the cancelation policies for airfare and hotels. Having all of the facts may help you make your decision. You may also find that because of something like the Coronavirus, airlines and cruise companies may be more lenient with cancelation fees due to this issue. Make sure that you are checking cancellation policies when you are booking so that you have an idea what will happen in case you ever need to cancel a trip. Most standard travel insurance does not cover cancelling over fear of something (Coronavirus, terrorism, etc.) or pandemics. For that you would need to purchase Cancel for Any Reason insurance (CFAR). You need to purchase this insurance within a certain number of days of the first deposit for your trip, typically 7-21 days. Also note that CFAR does not reimburse 100 percent. If you are traveling with kids that go to school, make sure to contact someone to see if you will be required to self quarantine when you come back. Get yourself prepared if this will be the case. In case travel warnings change while you are away, make sure that you stock up on food and other necessities before you leave. It also makes sense to make sure you pet or house sitter is available for an extended period of time, should you be quarantined or delayed getting home. Whether you are traveling or not, make sure that you are washing your hands often and wash them for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you are not touching your face and use sanitizer in between or when you can wash your hands right away. Wearing a mask may stop you from touching your face but it will not protect you from germs that you are touching and transferring around. You need to make sure that you are washing your hands regularly. Wipe down your area on a plane, train, or bus with sanitizing wipes, including the armrests, window shades, tray table, seat belt buckles, etc. Now is a good time to walk as much as possible, to avoid being in taxis or Ubers where others may have left germs. If you do take transportation or ride the subway, you should be sure to sanitize your hands right away after leaving. If you are planning or thinking of planning a trip somewhere, look into the areas and what is happening there as well as what they are doing in regards of quarantine. This can help you decide on where you want to go or even just where you know you don’t want to go, at least while this virus is going around. One resource is the CDC's COVID-19 page and the CDC Travel Health Notices page. If traveling internationally, you should also register with the U.S. State Department (for U.S. citizens) and the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST What it Cost Me to Cancel My Japan Trip - Stuffed Suitcase travel.state.gov FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Mar 10

35 min

Often getting through an airport is the worst part of a trip. The hassle, the rush, the stress -- the people! This week on the podcast, Kim and Tamara share their tips for making the airport experience as low-stress as possible, even when traveling with kids. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Comrad Socks 02:08 - Getting to the airport 14:13 - Getting through TSA security 17:45 - TSA Precheck/Clear 23:38 - Global Entry/Nexus 27:18 - In the Airport 38:10 - International Airport This episode is sponsored by Comrad Socks. Comrad compression socks are an essential no serious traveler should board a flight without — at least on LA-NY or transoceanic segments — and makes a major difference in how your legs and feet feel during the flight, upon arrival, and the next day. Their aim is to make the best, most stylish, comfortable version of what's traditionally been a boring but useful product—and that's why travel customers that already know and wear compression are getting excited about. Receive 20% off your first using discount code VACATIONMAVENS. TIPS FOR TRAVELING THROUGH AN AIRPORT When you are taking a trip by plane, be mindful of your boarding times. When you are planning when you need to leave for the airport make sure to not just look at your departure time. You want to make sure to go by your boarding time. Depending on the flight and airport this could be anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes before your departure time. Checking in in advance helps reduce your time at the airport waiting in lines, particularly if you aren't checking bags. Even if you are checking luggage you can pay in advance and just need to print your luggage tag when you arrive. Make sure you have all of your essential items easily accessible, like your boarding pass, ID, credit cards/cash, luggage tags filled out on all your bags. This will help when it is time to pull something out as you won’t have to fumble around to find what you are looking for. If you are traveling during a peak time make sure to look into your parking situation. Find out if you have the option to prepay for parking or if you need to park in an off site lot which will then require you to have to take a shuttle to the airport. If that is the case make sure that you give yourself a little extra time to unload your car onto a shuttle and for the shuttle to get you to the airport. Even just finding a parking spot in a lot or garage may take you some time. You will find that some airports may have Skycap available outside of the terminal. They can take your checked baggage and print out boarding passes for you right there, which can help you skip the indoor lines. Having one spot for all your documents really comes in handy for going through TSA Security. For some this might be an exterior pocket on their backpack/carry on. If you plan on keeping these items in a pocket on your person you may want to rethink for when you have to go through security. Since you have to empty all of your pockets to go through this can cause you to misplace or lose items if you have to shove them into a pocket or in a basket for them to go through the scanners.  If you don’t have TSA Precheck, you should really think about what you are going to wear to the airport. Especially when it comes to your shoes. Wearing a kind of slip on shoe would be your best option verses a shoe that you have to tie and untie to get them on and off. You will usually have an okay amount of time while you are putting items on the security belt but afterwards you will need to grab and move your stuff to get out of the way pretty quickly once they come through the otherside. You should also make sure to not wear any clothing that a lot of metal as these show up on the scanners and you may have to get pulled aside to get patted down.  Having TSA Pre check is a separate line from regular security check, where you don’t have to take out your toiletries or laptop/tablet as well as you will not have to take off your shoes. There is also a program called Clear that is a paid program which breaks down to $15/month. With or without precheck this program gets you to the front of either of the lines. Unfortunately not every airport offers this program. If you would like to sign up for TSA Precheck, you will need to go on to the government site to fill out an application. The next step will be to make an appointment for an interview. This is not something that you can do right before you book your flight.  Global Entry has a similar process. This is a different program but if you receive Global Entry you will also get TSA Precheck. For those of you that don’t know Global Entry is a program that gets you through customs quicker. The price difference is $100 for Global Entry and $85 for TSA Precheck. Nexus is another similar program that offers Pre check for some flights going into Canada. This program also has a faster line for when you are driving across the Canadian border.  Once you are through security, find your way to your gate and look for some seats if you have time to wait. If you need to see if you can find seats that have a plug by them. You might not want to use the USB plugs that they offer, there have been reports of viruses and data being stolen from these plugs. If you brought a refillable water bottle you may want to use the time to fill up your bottles and use the bathroom. When you are walking to your gate try and look around to where the bathroom, water fountain/water bottle station or even a place to grab food. This might save you some time trying to find these things after you get to the gate if you already know where it is. If you are nervous about getting through international airports you might want to look into a meet and greet service that airports offer. This is a paid VIP service where someone will meet you when you get off of your flight, they will then walk you to where you need to be. They will usually take you through a quicker security line and you may also be able to board your next flight before your boarding group. If you are an American Express Platinum member, you also receive access to Escape Lounges, Centurion Lounges, and other lounges through a complimentary Priority Pass membership. This can be a much more pleasant way to wait for your flight or to manage layovers. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Mar 3

43 min

We have talked about the Big Apple before from a local's perspective and the borough of Brooklyn, but what do you do on your very first visit to NYC? Tamara and Kim talk with Claudia from The Travelling Mom to get her advice (and share their own) about what to do, where to stay, what tours to take, and where to eat for NYC first-time visitors. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about NYC 03:14 - Talking with Claudia Laroye 06:15 - Planning your stay 10:30 - Traveling into and around the city 14:44 - Favorite hotels 19:12 - Must see attractions 24:40 - Tours 27:48 - Food locations 32:30 - Broadway tickets 37:12 - Final tips 37:45 - Claudia’s favorite travel gear 38:50 - Coming up next for Claudia ABOUT CLAUDIA LAROYE Claudia Laroye is a travel writer and editor living in Vancouver Canada. She is the founder of The Travelling Mom, editor of Twist Travel Magazine and writes freelance articles for print publications around the world. Follow Claudia Laroye on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING NYC When you are planning to visit New York City you must think about how long you want to spend there. There is so much to see, even locals probably haven’t seen it all! Whatever you plan on doing, try not to over book yourself. Give yourself time to just walk around not rush from one location to the next so that you can fit it all in. Try to only choose five to ten activities if you plan on spending a long weekend. This is more than enough to fill your time. You should also plan on using the subway system, it can really help you get places without traffic or tiring yourself out walking to the other side of the city. Make sure to wear good comfortable shoes. You will be logging a lot of steps on your days in the city. Depending on what you plan on visiting in the city you should really look into getting a CityPASS. This might just save you some money on your visit. It can also save you some time too as the CityPASS allows you to skip the line at some attractions like the Statue of Liberty. Depending on which airport you are flying into, you can catch a train into Penn Station. You should keep in mind though that depending on the time of your flight and when you will be getting on a train, these are commuter trains so during rush hour they will be very packed and may have standing room only. Depending on the time of year you plan on visiting, hotel stays can get pretty pricey. January is usually pretty cost effective in terms of hotel prices. You should also keep in mind that rooms in NYC are usually compact. With that in mind you can figure out the best options for you and your family. The Best Western Plus Hospitality House is a really great place for families to stay. The location is great, plus they have some areas inside that offer great space to hang with the family. The rooms offer ensuite kitchens that you can stock up on food and snacks, that is great for late night and early morning hunger. These are must see locations for first time visitors to the Big Apple. Empire State Building - this is a very iconic place to visit and the views from there are just stunning. Time Square - it is free and a great place to walk around both during the day and night. Walking The High Line Walking through Central Park See a Broadway show Visiting some museums The MoMA The Natural History Museum The Guggenheim The Metropolitan Museum Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum For those that really love art there are some other smaller museums around the city. 9/11 Memorial Statue of Liberty Rockefeller Center - with the skating rink in the winter months If you want a great introduction of the neighborhoods in NYC, the hop-on and hop-off tours are great for first time visitors. But other than that, depending on what your interests are there are tours for almost everything. If you really want to see a Broadway show when you are visiting you should look into booking through the theaters ahead of time. If you are not sure if you want to go or can afford it, try the TodayTix app/website. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Claudia made sure to wear really great walking shoes/boots to NYC and likes pairing them with her black Athletaleggings and her Lululemon wraps and sweaters. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Dial 7 Car Service The Benjamin Hotel WestHouse Hotel Marriott Moxy Hotels Episode 150 - Things to do in Brooklyn Tips for Visiting NYC for First Timers - The Travelling Mom Fable & Lark Tour Shake Shack The Smith Restaurant Ellens Stardust Diner BareBurger - offers vegan options Chelsea Market Turnstyle Underground market Eataly Wagamama Headout NYC FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Feb 18

41 min

What do you do when you get that dreaded alert on your phone or when your listing on the board of departing flights turns red? This week Kim and Tamara give their past tips as road warriors for what to do when your flight is delayed or cancelled, including how to be prepared for the inevitable. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 01:10 - Planning ahead 08:05 - Flight apps 12:10 - Tips for a delayed flights 21:52 - Connection issues 28:50 - Airport hotels 32:35 - Rental car 33:58 - Cancellation issues 40:03 - Coming up next/safe travel wishes TIPS FOR FLIGHT DELAYS AND CANCELATIONS When picking your flights when you are going on a cruise or even a train ride that have set boarding times, you should really think about giving yourself a good buffer in case you have any issues getting there. For example, if you book a flight that has an arrival time of 12pm and you have a boarding time for your cruise at 3pm, that only really gives you under three hours to get all of your luggage, get a taxi or car to the port than unload all of your luggage and board the ship. If you have even just one hour delay on your flight that can cause a lot of issues and unnecessary stress before you take a vacation. Imagine how you would feel if your flight ended up getting canceled! It is recommended that you book an overnight stay in the place that you are shipping out from so that you will just need to worry about getting to the port for boarding. Looking into flights that are nonstop can also help out with delay issues since you don’t have to worry about catching connector flights. When you are going on a flight make sure that you download the airline app and are logged in before you even get to the airport. If you haven’t logged in in a long time you might not remember your password and you have to reset. Doing this at the last minute might cause you some aggravation if you can’t just get right on when you need it at the airport. You should also look for the text notification options and sign up for that so that you will get notified of any delays right to your phone. If your flight gets delayed you should think about heading to a lounge. Lounges are more accessible then they used to be. If you have certain credit cards they can give you access to certain lounges. You can also sometimes pay for a day pass. If that is your plan for if you have a long delay, as soon as you find out if your flight is delayed you should head right there to beat the possible crowd that will try to get in. There is always the chance that your flight will get rerouted due to weather or other issues. In a situation like that, you really need to stay calm and think about what your next step is. Make sure to check your gates when you have connecting flights. Even if you checked before you boarded your first flight they do tend to change. This will help for when you get off of the plane, you will already know where you will need to go. You should also look to see a map of the airline that you are flying into so that you know which way you are turning as soon as you walk out. Depending on the airport there is usually a map in the back of the flight magazine! Otherwise you may be able to find a map on the app or airline site if you are able to get on it before they open the doors. If you need to book an airport hotel due to cancelations, you might want to look for places that offer airport shuttles so that you can avoid having to pay for and wait for a taxi as well as a place that offers free breakfast. Especially if you have a morning flight, you might want to be able to grab something quickly. You should also make sure that the shuttle is 24 hours so that if you have a really early flight or a late arrival you will still be able to get the shuttle and not have to pay for a ride to and from. You may also want to call the hotel that you booked and let them know when you would be getting there. You don’t want to be arriving really late and have them mark you as a no show and give away your room. Make sure you have easy access to all your travel information including the name of the hotel you booked, the times for your arrival and departure, your gate numbers, and your flight number. Check with your rental car company if you are arriving late to let them know that your flight was delayed and when you would be possibly arriving. You should also find out how late the desk is open. You don’t want to assume the desk is open 24 hours and have your flight arrive really late and no one is there to give you your car. If you have certain membership plans with the car rental company you may not even need to let them know that you will be late because they will hold it for you for so many hours after your booked pick up time. You should also make sure that you get the name of the person you talked to and note the time that you called in case there is any issue when you get there. This way you can tell them who you spoke to and what they said. If your flight gets canceled, depending on the type of ticket that you booked you could be pushed to the bottom of the list and end up waiting days to get booked on a new flight. You should try to call or go to a desk to rebook your flight as soon as you can, to see what they can do, even to see if they can get you on a flight to a different location that may be in the same direction but a  different airport, so that you are at least getting somewhere quicker. While waiting in line at the customer service desk, jump on the app or the phone to see if you can get service faster that way. Also tweeting the customer service of airline may help. Having travel insurance can really come in handy in these situations, they may not be able to cover everything but it is possible that you can get some coverage for the extra money that you have spent. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Allianz TravelSmart FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Feb 11

42 min

Do you think cruising is all about the big ships? Think again. There are many types of cruising including river cruising, sailing cruises, barge cruising, small ship ocean cruises and more. Join us as we chat with Dana from Dana Freeman Travels about all sorts of cruising from the big ships to the smallest windjammers. Don't worry, we also chat about a few of the newer big ships too so you can decide what is right for your next cruise. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about cruises 03:35 - Talking with Dana 06:45 - River cruise 10:15 - Ocean cruise 15:18 - Barge ships 21:40 - Comparing large cruises with small ships 27:18 - Dana’s favorite way to cruise 28:30 - Tips for picking your cruise 33:28 - Dana’s favorite travel gear 34:20 - Coming up for Dana 36:00 - Shout out! ABOUT DANA FREEMAN Dana is originally from New York City but has been calling Vermont home for the last 20 years. She a freelance journalist and the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. Dana is a luxury travel writer specializing in small ship cruises and places found on the road less traveled. Her work has been featured in CNN Travel, Porthole Magazine, Thrillist, Yankee Magazine, the Forbes Travel Guide and several other print and digital publications. Follow Dana on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR TRAVELING ON A SMALL CRUISE There is more to cruising that your typical large cruise ships. There are river, barge, windjammer, small ocean cruises and more. Both barge and river cruises will take you to different spots inside the country rather than ocean cruise that can only take you to areas on the coast. River cruises average under a hundred passengers. They will normally pull up to the center of a city rather than having to get a shuttle from the port that an ocean cruise will stop at. You will find that most river cruises have balconies so that you can see the sights go by. You will also sometimes find mini golf and a track on the boat. Unlike an ocean cruise, you will be spending most of your time during the day off of the boat. Small ship ocean cruises that will carry around three hundred passengers seem to have a choice of some vastly different ports to stop in rather that your large cruises that have two thousand or more passengers. You will also find that you will blend in more in a small cruise port rather than a large cruise port. Barge ships are more personal. You can book the whole barge with family or friends. But you can also book with a company and you will be paired with another couple or another family. Depending on the type of traveler you are this option can turn out to be the best way to meet and make friends with others while you travel. Barge cruising travels at a more leisurely pass in the early mornings rather than a river cruise, which will travel at night. The barge will only move about 4 miles per hour. Because of this you will actually have some opportunities to walk or bike alongside the ship. Then after lunch you will have a tour guide come and take you around the area. Large cruise ships will have a lot more options when it comes to food. Large cruises also have more entertainment options like shows, laser tag, pools and more. When booking a cruise, you should think about the age of your group and what the stops will offer. You should also look at what ships offers for amenities rather than picking your cruise by the boat. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Dana loves her Lululemon cropped leggings. They are comfortable, have pockets and can be dressed up or down. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Barge Ladies Barge Cruise 101 Dana Freeman Cruise Experiences FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Feb 4

37 min

Who knew the small city of Madison, Wisconsin could offer so much to do -- especially in the winter? This week Tamara fills us in on her recent trip to the Wisconsin state capital, and home to the University of Wisconsin - Madison and shares why this college town makes a cool winter weekend getaway. Warning: you may end up craving cheese curds if you listen to this episode! This episode is part of a paid partnership with Destination Madison, allowing Tamara to experience what Madison has to offer and share her honest opinion with our listeners. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 00:55 - Tamara’s time in Madison, Wisconsin 06:48 - Where to stay in Madison 12:55 - Things to do in Madison 20:30 - Madison Eats Food Tour 29:55 - Favorite cold weather travel gear TIPS FOR VISITING MADISON, WISCONSIN Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin and home to the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This vibrant city is also the HQ for many tech and healthcare start ups and over 50% of the people that live in Madison are under 30. If you are visiting the University, or want to stay downtown, the Graduate Hotel is a great choice that offers an academic and local vibe. This hotel has a rooftop bar and restaurant called the Camp Trippalindee which is named after an 80s movie Back to School. On the lake, also walking distance to the Capitol and downtown, you will find the The Edgewater Hotel. Newly renovated and slightly more upscale, here you will have a great view of the lake and during the winter they also have a small ice skating rink right next to the lake. You can catch a free tour of the capitol building which runs every hour. If you don’t want to take a tour, you are free to roam around on your own if that is what you prefer. If you take a walk down State Street from the capitol building you will find a bunch of boutiques, bars and restaurants. As you walk you will see the transition from downtown life to more of the college town scene. If you like food and want to explore some of Madison's neighborhoods, you should really check out taking a food tour through Madison Eats. Tamara took the Atwood "Brew and Chew" tour, which included six food stops and three drinks. There are a lot of different locations in Madison that offer a class or some type of hands on activity. When planning your trip you should really make sure to look into some of these Essential Madison Experiences. You can find more information about them on the Destination Madison website. If you like mustard at all you should check out the National Mustard Museum. The bottom floor is a kitschy museum with old packaging, signs, and videos. But the top floor has a shop along with a mustard tasting bar where you can taste test 200+ types of mustard! Madison also offers many museums and attractions, like the zoo, which are free to visit, making this city an affordable weekend getaway. On Saturday mornings in the winter, the Dane County Farmer's Market is held at the Garver Feed Mill, also home to the Kosa Ayurvedic Spa. There are many entertainment options in Madison, including the new Madison Circus Space. Madison is home to many restaurants and some that really stood out include Everly, Graze, and Short Stack Eatery. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jan 28

33 min

Nothing like starting off the new year with a bucket list destination! This week we chat with Keri Hedrick, from Family Travel in the Middle East, about visiting Egypt with kids. We dig into what you need to know -- is it safe? how should you book? when should you go? and more. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 04:11 - Talking with Keri Hedrick 06:25 - How long to spend in Egypt 09:05 - Getting around Egypt 15:50 - Visas/Money/Safety 21:50 - Tour companies 23:15 - Highlights of Keri’s last trip 27:10 - How to dress 28:35 - Keri’s favorite travel gear 29:10 - Keri’s upcoming trips 31:30 - Shoutout! ABOUT KERI HEDRICK Keri is a British-Australian mum of three who has been based in the United Arab Emirates for the past seven years.  She founded the website Family Travel in the Middle East to remove misconceptions about the region and encourage family explorers with inspiring stories and practical information. She also runs a personal family travel blog Our Globetrotters and is the co-host of the City Travel with Kids Podcast. Follow Keri on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING EGYPT The best time to visit the Middle East would be between October and April, though Christmas to New Years tends to be the busiest. Going just two weeks before the holidays, you will have a lot less tourists to deal with. Depending on the locations you would like to visit, you could need anywhere between 3 -14 days to visit Egypt. You can easily visit Luxor and Cairo in three to four days. If you plan on traveling along the Nile you could spend about a week seeing all of the highlights. Then if you plan on really exploring the country you will need 12 - 14 days. Traveling around Egypt by air is often easiest and the main airline is EgyptAir. Be prepared for a lot of security in the airports. You will need to take everything out of your bags and you will be thoroughly checked before being permitted on a flight. Another travel option is to catch an overnight train or even a short cruise along the Nile and visit different temples and other landmarks. Keep in mind that when you are negotiating any kind of price, whether it is for a tour or just buying a souvenir, that you want to be very clear on if you are talking about US Dollar or Egyptian Pound. There is a big difference and you don’t want to be stuck paying more than you thought going in because of a misunderstanding. Be very mindful of your tipping. Anyone that helps you at all expects a tip. There are a lot of different kinds of security all around Egypt. Everywhere you go you will have to walk through metal detectors or you will see bomb sniffing dogs. Don’t drink the water! You will see warning signs everywhere. You will find that tour companies can be very restrictive with their dates and if you have younger kids you will find it hard to book boat trips and things like that, so you may be better off finding an experienced travel agent or working with a local company to plan a custom trip. When visiting a temple, it is really great to take a tour with an Egyptologist that can explain what the hieroglyphics mean. Make sure dress a little more conservatively. Women and girls should have knees and shoulders covered. It is also a great idea to bring a shaw or light jacket with you in case you go anywhere that you need a bit more coverage. You should also make sure that you are wearing closed toed shoes when walking around. This is more for the dust and grime that your feet will end up covered in with sandals rather than being conservitive. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Keri loves to wear looser cargo pants that offer some air flow if the heat of the Middle East along with her casual Skechers. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST 7 Day Egypt Itinerary Is Egypt Safe for Travel Egypt Nile Cruise Best Time to Visit Egypt Egypt Packing List Bakseesh Tipping Culture in Egypt FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jan 21

33 min

Have you ever traveled to a new city and been overwhelmed by all the hotel choices? Wonder how you go about choosing a hotel or finding the best deals? Wonder why you are stuck in a noisy room by the elevator? Find out our tips for booking a hotel and requesting a hotel room that is best for your family. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking about Tamara’s recent trip to Naples and Marco Island, FL 12:36 - Kim’s trip planning for Tokyo 20:24 - Evaluating hotels 21:50 - Comparing ratings 27:10 - Using points 31:30 - Resort fees 36:15 - Booking room 40:50 - Final tips 45:11 - Upcoming trips for Kim and Tamara TIPS FOR BOOKING HOTELS If you are planning a trip to a country or location you have never been too. It is a great idea to look up the location and read what other people have to say about where they stayed. After reading a few blogs/posts about the area you will notice areas that are mentioned throughout. Blogs and Pinterest are great places to find travel information. Be sure to read the room descriptions, occupancy and bed carefully when you are booking in a different country. Terms you are used to hearing in the US are not going to be the same in some countries. Like a double room in the US is usually two double or queen beds, but somewhere else it may mean two twin beds. You may want to think about creating a spreadsheet of all of the hotels that you want to stay in for your trip. Add in the distances to each of the major places that you want to visit to help you decide on which one(s) will work best. You can also star these locations on a Google Map to get a visual picture of the places you want to visit and therefore the best neighborhoods to stay. In your spreadsheet or notes, you should also add in the size of the rooms to help narrow down your decision. When you are traveling as a family, having some more square feet to the room might just outweigh having to walk/ride a little farther to a destination. Be aware of hotel ratings. Make sure you are not just looking at the hotel sites rating but TripAdvisor or another booking site ratings. You should also read some of the more recent reviews as well. Give yourself a little more information about the rating rather than just the stars. If you are considering using your points for booking hotel stays, you really want to weigh the value of the points versus the price. Also consider if your points/credit have an expiration date and compare the value of using hotel program points versus credit card points. Does one include any perks such as free breakfast, upgrades, or resort credits. . Be aware of different resort fees that you could be charged for your stay. All of these little extra charges can add up quickly. Also account for state, city, and tourism taxes. When you are booking your room there is usually a place that you can add in notes for your booking. If you are a member of a loyalty program, you can also add these to your profile. You can also add in a preference to be close to an elevator, request a higher floor, or an allergy-free room. You should sign up for loyalty programs when they are offered. They don’t usually take more than an email and you can always unsubscribe later. By signing you you could get a better rate or get free wifi for your stay. Be careful when you are booking through a third party as you may not earn any rewards points with your booking. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort Residence Inn Naples FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jan 14

48 min

Most visitors to New York City only explore Manhattan. But what do you do when you want to explore the other boroughs? Local mom Ranjana Armstrong shares what she recommends to do with kids in Brooklyn -- beyond just walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 04:25 - Talking with Ranjana about Nugget 11:05 - Neighborhoods in Brooklyn 18:58 - What to do in Brooklyn 28:00 - Coney Island/Aquarium 29:20 - When to go 31:20 - Where to stay/getting round 34:40 - Eating out 38:55 - Favorite Travel Gear 40:00 - Coming up next for Ranjana 42:20 - Next Week’s Episode ABOUT RANJANA ARMSTRONG Ranjana Armstrong is the founder of Nugget, a global community for millennial parents to share and discover travel itineraries and ideas for unique family vacations. She's also the co-host and co-producer of two travel podcasts for families: Go With Nugget for Kids and Go With Nugget for Parents. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and 3 boys. Follow Ranjana on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING BROOKLYN, NEW YORK WITH KIDS Depending on how much time you have, you might want to stay in Manhattan and the go into Brooklyn for part of your trip. If you decide to stay in Brooklyn, most people stay in DUMBO. Brooklyn neighborhood breakdown: Dumbo is a neighborhood that is on the waterfront and is located right next to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. There are great cafes and creative places. Brooklyn Heights is another neighborhood that on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a more residential area, but has some cute boutiques for shopping and a nice promenade to walk along the water. Williamsburg is a little further north and used to be more of the hipster area. It still has some art scenes, funky shops and people with tattoos. There is also the Domino park that is great for kids. Things to do with kids in Brooklyn: New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn that is a great place to take kids or even just go as adults if you are interested. It is a smaller Museum but still has a lot to offer. The museum is located in an old subway stop! Brooklyn Bridge Park is a great place to hang out. It is located just on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. So if you are staying in Manhattan and want to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge you will come off right at the park. Also there is the largest outdoor bouldering area in north America. If you have any interest at all in rock climbing you should definitely check out  The Cliffs. Domino Park is another great area to spend the day with your kids. There is an area with great slides and a good Mexican taqueria right next to it that would be a great place to get lunch. Whether you like museums or not, you should really think about checking out The Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It is really well done and has a lot of interactive things to do with your kids. You are really into the old school amusement park rides you should check out Coney Island. Just keep in mind that it is quite a trek to get there, so depending on where you are staying, make sure it is something that you really want to do. You can also check out the New York Aquarium which is right next door to the amusement park. Depending on the time of year you plan on visiting you may want to look up what is going on in other areas including: Dyker Heights has a lot of Christmas lights that you can see all the different kinds of decorations during the holidays. In Park Slope there is a large Halloween parade where your kids can trick or treat and join the parade. There are also some parks that offer movies in the park and festivals. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Ranjana loves to wear her Patagonia Nano Vest anywhere she goes. It’s lightwieght and can fold up really small. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST What to do in NYC with kids Local Guide Things to do in NYC kids ultimate vacation guide Podcast The Pilot Restaurant Tacocina Smorgasburg Berg’n Habana Outpost Shake Shack Sweetgreen FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jan 7

44 min

It is time to head to Miami and explore the street art of Wynwood Walls, the beaches of South Beach, the food of Little Havana, and the wilds of the Everglades. This week we are chatting with Guiomar Ochoa to get her insights on what to do in Miami with kids. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about the holidays 08:06 - Talking with Guiomar 09:40 - How long to spend in Miami 10:20 - What to do in Miami with kids 21:00 - When to go 22:17 - Favorite restaurants 26:50 - Day trips 29:18 - Final tips 31:20 - Guiomar’s favorite travel gear ABOUT GUIOMAR OCHOA Guiomar Ochoa is an arts aficionado, foodie and passionate traveler, who has called both Rome and Paris home. She now settled back in her hometown of Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young children, Anna-Cecilia and Luca. Guiomar is adamant about passing down her love of languages and cultures to her kids. You can find Guiomar online at www.cosmomommy.com. Follow Guiomar on Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING MIAMI, FLORIDA Four or five days in Miami is a good amount of time to spend. Make sure you take advantage of the beaches and relaxing.  The Everglades is a must see location when visiting Miami. Also located not to far from there is the Miccosukee Indian Village. They have great arts and culture and a world famous alligator demonstration. When you visit Miami you may want to think about renting a car. Miami is large and a lot of what you will want to visit, including the Everglades, is going to be about a half hour away from the city. The street art and murals of the Wynwood Walls is a great place to take photos and explore. They are vibrantly colored murals that are done by different artists in the area. The neighborhood is very walkable and has some great restaurants to stop for food. The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is a great public pool that only cost about 5 dollars to get in. Going to Miami in the summer is actually the low season so you will find the cheapest rates.  If you end up exploring Doral, you should have a meal at the Biscayne Bay Brewing Company. You may not think a brewery is that best place to take your kids for a meal but every Saturday this place offers free meals to kids under 12. Depending on how much time you have in Miami, Florida. Taking a day or two and traveling to the Keys is a fun experience. It is such a pretty drive to get to the keys. Plus the vibe of the area is different than the city. Keep in mind that visiting Miami can get pretty expensive. A lot of the beaches are public and free. Packing your lunches can save you some money. If you are driving there make sure that you are bringing beach chairs if you want them so that you can really spend some time on the beach.  FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Guiomar loves to wear a comfortable pair of Vans shoes, with their style pared with a comfy pair of black pants. She also loves to wear some Grace Gonzalez jewelry to dress it up! MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Acqualina Resort and Spa Fontainebleau The Diplomat Resort Bulla Gastrobar Glass & Vine Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour The Bazaar by Jose Andres Episode 136 - Florida Keys Girls Trip FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Dec 2019

35 min

At the end of every year we like to look back at some of our favorite travel experiences, destinations, hotels, and products and share those with our listeners. So settle in and listen up as we share our favorites for 2019! At the end of every year we like to look back at some of our favorite travel experiences, destinations, hotels, and products and share those with our listeners. So settle in and listen up as we share our favorites for 2019! ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor 01:09 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 04:13 - Favorite hotels 18:50 - Favorite Experiences 32:58 - Surprise Destinations 38:36 - Favorite Travel Gear 51:28 - Favorite trip of the year Favorite Things of 2019 Favorite hotels Tamara enjoyed her stay at L’ma Lodge in Morocco. The property was spacious and had a bunch of little hangout places under palm trees. Plus there was a really great view from the roof and the stay was not too expensive. She also had fun at the Margaritaville Resort in Orlando, Florida, which has a beach feel and a really great pool. In the surrounding area there is a waterpark along with shops and other activities. Her stay at Les Carrasses in France, was very elegant and affordable. The Mount Juliet Estate she stayed at in Ireland has a lot of character which made for a great stay. Tamara’s last favorite hotel was the Riad Fes in Morocco. This Riad had a really unique atmosphere with its large doors and tile work that made you feel like you were in a palace. Kim loved her stay at the Moon Palace in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This was an all-inclusive resort that made for a very relaxing stay where she didn’t have to worry about the price tag of food and activities. She loves the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland, where you can get a theme park view room. It is farthest from the entrances so that may be a downside for some. She also likes the Disneyland Hotel,which has light-up headboards and though you still have to walk to the entrances, you walk through downtown Disney which makes it a more fun walk. The Grand Californian Hotel in Disneyland is definitely the closest to the park and will be more luxurious than the others. The Presidio Lodge in San Francisco is close to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Lodge is on an old army barracks type property that has two hotels, a restaurant and the Walt Disney Family Museum. If you are a big Disney fan you might want to check it out. The Lodge is very beautifully done and spacious. They also serve a cocktail hour with wine for adults and lemonade for kids. Favorite experiences/excursions One of Tamara’s favorite experiences was when she was able to camp in the desert in Morocco with her family. They rode camels in and were able to try sand boarding the next day. Her experience with Souk Cuisine and their cooking class in Marrakech. They took you to the market and helped you pick out what you need for the meal you were going to make than you were welcomed in to someone's home, where they helped you cook the meal. The Via Ferrata in Banff was such a great experience to have with her daughter. Jasper Food Tours gave a very unique with their Peak-Nik. You would hike up a mountain with all of your supplies and then learn how to cook a bunch of different items and enjoy the view while you eat. Tamara’s wine tasting experience on Canal du Midi barge. Lastly was the great experience of seeing the Northern Lights and feeding an arctic fox in Iceland! Kim loved her experience skiing in Keystone. Since she first learned how to ski there it was great to be able to bring her kids there. The food tour in Key West was a great experience to have with a friend. Gulf Hagas hike in Maine may have been a hard hike, you had a great feeling of accomplishment when you reach the end. California Road Trip was a really neat experience, being able to spend a day or two a bunch of different places. The Rocky Mountaineer train ride was a bucket list experience with its scenery and relaxation. Northern Ireland Causeway Coast (Carrick a Rede Bridge) was a really wonderful experience and makes you want to stay explore in every direction. Being able to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge was a really fun experience. Royal BC Museum in Victoria was a really impressive experience. Being able to see the Hubbard Glacier from a cruise ship had some really great views to see nature at work. Destination that surprised you Tamara felt that Belfast had a really great food and views. This surprised her because of everything she kept hearing about the location from others in the past, built up this image that was a lot different than the amazing experience that she had. Kim’s first experience with Jamaica ended up being really overwhelming with all of the people at each cruise port bombarding you with things to buy. Her recent trip there at an all inclusive resort made for a much better experience and left you to relax and enjoy your time rather than worry about little things. Favorite new gear Tamara has found some new gear this past year like Taos shoes that have some great style options but have really great arch support. Delsey Paris Chatelet Air tote bag is a great addition to her luggage with a nicer look to it than caring around a backpack. Plus it also has a strap that you can put over you rolling so that you don’t have to carry it on your shoulder all of the time. She also found this new brand of jeans called Fatface, which is a UK brand and they are very comfortable and stretchy. Kim found Forsake Boots for her trip to Ireland that are really great hiking boots. She has also found that she loves wearing wireless headphones especially when she is on a plane. Compression socks that are a little looser than medical ones are less claustrophobic for Kim when she is wearing them. Columbia has an Anytime Bootcut pants that are extremely comfortable and look a little more professional. Favorite trip of the year Tamara loved her time in the Canadian Rockies that she took with her daughter. There was a lot of great views and places to see. Kim loved her time in Ireland she was just blown away at the beauty and the ease of getting around. FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Dec 2019

57 min

This week we are chatting with Lee Huffman from the We Travel There podcast about his recent father-son trip to Amsterdam and Billund, Denmark. Learn about everything LEGO including LEGOLAND Denmark, LEGO House, and the LEGO Hotel. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Allianz Travel 02:19 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 06:58 - Talking with Lee Huffman 10:10 - Break down of trip 14:45 - LEGO 26:27 - Final tips 32:09 - Lee’s favorite travel gear ABOUT ALLIANZ TRAVEL We all travel for different reasons. Some to get closer as a family and some to get away from it all. Some to discover new sounds, new tastes, and others to discover themselves. No matter your reason, Allianz Travel Insurance is the ultimate wingman—having your back while helping you make the most of every moment. True experts providing protection for all the reasons you travel.  Visit allianztravelinsurance.com, and see what award-winning travel insurance can do for your next trip. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Plan(s) underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Company or BCS Insurance Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans. ABOUT LEE HUFFMAN Lee Huffman spent 18 years in banking and investments and now uses that insider knowledge to write about credit cards, travel, and other personal finance topics. Lee enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better through the power of travel rewards. You can connect with him at BaldThoughts.com. Follow Lee Huffman on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also listen to him at We Travel There. TIPS TO AMSTERDAM AND LEGOLAND DENMARK Don’t be scared to take a solo trip with your kid, even if you are trying to squeak it into a week break that they have in school. Taking those solo trips with your kids and centering it around something they really enjoy or have wanted to do will create some great bonding opportunities. If you visit Amsterdam, you should think about getting the Amsterdam Pass. With the pass you can get free entry into over 50 attractions plus free bus and boat tours. Getting the pass will save you a good amount of money if you are planning to do a lot of sightseeing while you are there. If you plan on visiting the Anne Frank House, you will need to make sure that you book your tickets in advance, because they do sell out pretty quickly. You should also know that when you are booking your tickets you can only book them 60 days in advance! LEGO House is a really fun and interactive place to visit. Just ordering your food, you will get a pack of LEGOs, which is how you pick what you want to order according to the color and shape. You will stack what you want together and then put them into a machine that has a screen. The screen with then play a little video that makes it looks like little robots are making your food. They when your food is ready there are animatronic robots that are there to ‘serve’ you the food. You should reach out to the hotel you are staying in. They may be able to give a LEGO card which can get you some discounts or even something free at some of the local businesses. If you do go to LEGO House you should make sure that you go up the outside of the building to these little terraces that each have an activity center with different themes. Your kids will love to explore these before you leave. There are three properties that are part of the LEGOland property. The LEGOland Castle Hotel is a happy medium. You will get good accommodations without paying too much. The Wilderness Barrels and Cabins is comparable to camping, including having to walk to the bathroom. Than there is the Hotel LEGOland that is attached to the park and also the most expensive. A good thing to keep in mind when you are traveling with younger kids is that uou should run through what to expect with your kids before hand, that way they can be a little more understanding of what is going on each day. This may also get the kids excited and looking forward to the trip. If they are a little older, make sure that you are giving them a chance to pick out some activities or sights that they want to do/see. Try to involve them in the planning process a bit. If you are taking a solo trip with you kid, you should think about scheduling times in each day when you can call or Skype with mom/dad maybe even siblings. Always have your kids use the restroom before boarding!! FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Lee loves to wear a hoodie when he travels, especially on a plane so that he has a pillow/eye mask/blanket! MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Annual Travel Insurance Plan - We3Travel Upstairs Pancake House Lalandia LEGO Inside Tour - Travel Babbo Postgram Episode 93: Visiting Amsterdam with kids FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email at podcast@vacationmavens.com. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Dec 2019

36 min

The Vacation Mavens love a fun girls' trip and what could be better than pairing up some wine tasting and adventure? This time, we head to Santa Rosa in the heart of Sonoma's wine country to learn all the things to do with friends, or with family. From zip lining to hiking to glamping within view of giraffes, listen to all we experienced during our four days in Santa Rosa, California. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor - Allianz Travel 01:16 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about California 05:20 - Santa Rosa Itinerary 07:54 - Safari West 14:57 - Charles Shultz Museum 23:05 - Wine tasting 28:40 - Shout Out!! 19:05 - Redwoods 32:30 - Downtown Santa Rosa 37:45 - Grand Tasting 43:40 - Coming up ABOUT ALLIANZ TRAVEL We all travel for different reasons. Some to get closer as a family and some to get away from it all. Some to discover new sounds, new tastes, and others to discover themselves. No matter your reason, Allianz Travel Insurance is the ultimate wingman—having your back while helping you make the most of every moment. True experts providing protection for all the reasons you travel.  Visit allianztravelinsurance.com, and see what award-winning travel insurance can do for your next trip. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Plan(s) underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Company or BCS Insurance Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans. TIPS FOR VISITING SANTA ROSA CALIFORNIA Santa Rosa has luxury hotels and inns for couples and girls trips, but they also have options for budget stays and families. Safari West may be surprising to find African mammals in Northern California, but it is a fun option for tours or overnight stays. At Safari West you can glamp overnight in an African bush tent, or just visit for the day and book a guided-safari tour. On the three-hour tour you will learn a lot about the animals and how they run the preserve. Safari West is AZA accredited and works on animal conservation. The Charles Shultz Museum is great for kids and Peanuts' fans. There are other museums and activities in the area as well so that you can make a full day in downtown Santa Rosa if you would like. If you are a dog owner you should make the Mutt Lynch Winery a must-visit winery. The tasting room is located in Windsor, CA and is filled with gift shop items that you will want to buy for your furry friend! It had a really down-home feel and they offer a wine club that for every wine order you make, you will also receive a dog toy with your shipment! You are more than welcome to bring your dog and they will also do a treat tasting for the dogs while you are tasting their wine. To top it all off the wine was really good! The Armstrong Redwood Reserve is a great little gem and is a great alternative if you can’t make it up to the Redwoods in San Francisco. There are a few easy loop hikes to take among the Redwoods. If you are in the area for the grand tasting at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, you should definitely check it out. They hold it every year in October and they have probably over a hundred different wineries there, along with craft beer and ciders. See more things to do in Sonoma with kids and Santa Rosa kid-friendly wineries. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Kendall Jackson Wine Estate Safari West River Vine Cafe Charles Shultz Museum Francis Ford Coppola Winery The Sandman Hotel Mutt Lynch Winery Korbel Champagne Armstrong Redwood Reserve Perch + Plow Sonoma Canopy Tours Hopmunk Tavern Bistro 29 Visit Santa Rosa FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Nov 2019

45 min

Do you show up to the rental car counter and get overwhelmed with all the choices? Do you want to prepay for the gas? Do you want additional insurance? Do you know what your existing insurance covers? Ack! It is all so confusing, so this week we chat with road warrior Ed Pizzarello and get his car rental tips. Listen to Ed's tips for renting a car so you are armed with the info you need to make good choices when planning your next trip. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor 01:12 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about car rental 03:25 - Talking with Ed 05:40 - Favorite car rental company 08:00 - Loyalty programs 10:55 - Bad experiences 14:40 - What to look for in your rental car 19:20 - Finding budget rentals 24:45 - Booking 26:20 - Insurance 30:29 - Gas 34:50 - Issues with rental cars 40:20 - Renting Internationally 43:18 - Ed’s Favorite Travel Gear 44:50 - What’s next for Edward 46:45 - Up next for Vacation Mavens ABOUT EDWARD PIZZARELLO Edward Pizzarello travels for over 100,000 miles a year for business and loves to travel with his wife and two children whenever he's not on the road for work. You can find him blogging at Pizza in Motion and hosting the Miles to Go podcast. Tune in to Edwards podcast Miles to Go using Google and Apple or on Now Boarding Podcasts. Follow Edward on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR ON VACATION Hertz may not always be the cheapest option, but they offer the best customer service. Ed has found that Hertz has always taken care of him, while other companies have left him with unresolved issues or not willing to honor a rental rate. Being a part of a loyalty program with a car rental company can pay off when it comes to picking up your rental car. If you are part of the company's loyalty program you can skip having to wait in a very long line. Since most of you will be traveling with children, this will save you from having to wait possibly over an hour! Mini vans tend to be more expensive to rent, due to the fact that everyone wants them because of the space for luggage and passengers. They also may have the most miles because they are always been taken out. Try looking for a station wagon or SUV instead. When looking for what kind of car to rent for your vacation, you really want to think about how much space you really need and look closely at what luggage guidelines are listed. When looking for car rental deals you may want to look at what your credit card companies have to offer. For instance Chase bank has a portal where you can get cash back for just for using your card to pay for certain items. Look to see if they have a rental company that you can add on to get money back. Costco is also a great option, since they partner with different companies you can get some really great deals. Costco also will not charge you for adding a second driver while other companies will. Auto Slash is a great site to look for the best prices in rental cars. They will ask you for a lot of information and then send you all of the deals you are eligible for at different companies. Also, if you plug in the information of your car rental after you book, the site will keep checking to see if your car rental price changes up until the moment you pick up your car. When it comes to insurance when you are booking your car rental, you should first check your credit cards to see what they will cover in case of any issues. Chase seems to be one of the best when it comes to car rental coverage. But you should check your cards to see exactly what they will cover. Be aware of the gas prices when you need to fill up your tank before you drop off the rental car. A lot of time the closer you get to airports, the more you will have to pay per gallon! If you plan to rent a car internationally be aware that automatic transmission will usually cost more and companies may run out of them if you don't book months in advance. If you are comfortable driving a manual, you should definitely think about renting one when going overseas. Having a larger car in Europe is not easy. You will find it hard to find parking and with the narrow road you may have issue getting around. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Edward likes to wear his Merrell shoes along with a pair of jeans or his Prana shorts that have zip pockets for the summer time. In the colder weather he will wear his ScotteVest so that he can utilize all of the pockets. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Article on how to use Chase Portal Auto Slash American Express Premium Car Rental Protection FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Nov 2019

48 min

Slip on your wellies, don your kilt, and grab a Scotch because this week we are chatting with Moon Travel Guides author Sally Coffey about Scotland. Sally fills us in on things to do with kids in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Isle of Skye. About our Sponsor Moon Travel Guides If you’ve traveled the Americas, then you already know Moon Travel Guides are the go-to guidebooks for truly immersive experiences. Now with expanded coverage of Europe, your family can enjoy everything you love about Moon—honest local insight, strategic planning advice, and the opportunity to support unique and vibrant communities just by having fun—in extraordinary European regions from Prague's fairy-tale architecture to the ruggedly picturesque Isle of Skye. Wherever your wanderlust may lead, there’s a Moon guide for you. Visit moon.com or your favorite bookseller to grab your guide.   ON THE PODCAST 00:31 - About this week's sponsor 01:10 - Using Moon Travel Guides to plan your travel 03:51 - Talking with Sally Coffey 05:43 - Must see places in Scotland 07:44 - When to go and how long to spend 14:50 - Areas to stay in Edinburgh 15:40 - Getting around 16:36 - Glasgow 20:02 - Transportation 22:23 - Isle of Skye 30:16 - What to know before visiting Scotland 32:57 - Sally’s favorite travel gear 35:13 - What’s coming up ABOUT SALLY COFFEY Sally Coffey is a freelance journalist specializing in Scottish and British travel. Her first travel guidebook Moon Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Isle of Skye is out now and she is currently editor of Scotland Magazine. Follow Sally Coffey on Instagram and Twitter or see what she's up to on her website sallycoffeywrites.com. TIPS FOR VISITING SCOTLAND Edinburgh is a must see when visiting Scotland. The West Coast of Scotland is another great area to visit, with the Isle of Skye being the most dramatic. Scotland can get quite crowded in the summer months, but the weather is also the nicest. Places like the Isle of Skye is best to visit in the summer, whereas Edinburgh you can enjoy year round. If you are visiting Edinburgh in August, keep in mind that you will be competing for hotel rooms and in lines for attractions with those attending the Fringe Festival.  Keep that in mind when you are planning your trip. Edinburgh is the ideal spot to start your trip. The city has lot to offer, with a medieval feel and cobblestone roads of Old Town, as well the gardens and buildings of New Town. Plan on spending at least three days in Edinburgh. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the ideal time to visit to avoid the crowds. New Town in Edinburgh has a lot of museums and galleries that you can explore. If you like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, there are quite a few locations in Old Town that seem to have inspired characters/locations of the books. Including the Greyfriars Kirkyard which is a graveyard where some of the characters may have been inspired from. Edinburgh is very walkable and pretty. There are taxis and other transportation, but that can get pretty expensive. Glasgow offers loads of great museums and a lot of outdoor areas, which comes in handy if you have younger kids that like to run around outside. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is really great and right outside there is a nice green area to have a picnic after exploring the museum. Traveling by train is a great way to get around Scotland and it is not too expensive. The Jacobite steam train is the train that the train in the Harry Potter films was based off of along with the track it takes. If you can get a ride on that train you will see some really fantastic views. The Isle of Skye has really fantastic views and natural beauty. You can take a train there but then you will need to rent a car to explore. The island has some great hikes where you can walk for a long time without seeing anyone. If you would like, you can catch a short boat trip to see dolphins or even to the other smaller islands nearby. You should really spend at least 3 days on the Isle of Skye or you might miss things if you are rushing around trying to see everything. If you can, you should try to stay a week to really get to explore the whole island. There are some areas that you will need exact change when you are buying anything so do exchange some dollars for British pounds. Don’t be afraid to talk to locals. They can have some really great insight into spots to visit. Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to take a look at some suggestions. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Sally loves to wear jeans along with her hiking boots. She also likes to keep a waterproof jacket handy for when she is walking around outside in Scotland! MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Moon Travel Guides Camera Obscura & World of Illusions The National Museum of Scotland Gallery of Modern Art Greyfriars Kirkyard - Harry Potter Balmoral Hotel Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum The Raeburn Stein Inn Alison Guesthouse Alamo Guesthouse FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Nov 2019

36 min

The Channel Islands is one of the most unique, but also one of the least visit, National Parks in the United States. This week we chat with Travis Timmons of the So How Was Your Trip? podcast about his family's recent trip to Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Sponsor 01:14 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 03:28 - Talking with Travis 07:30 - How long to spend 10:10 - Taking a boat to Channel Islands 12:20 - What to do on the Islands 17:50 - Animals on the island 22:10 - Other things to do in the area 32:05 - When to go 34:40 - Travis’ favorite travel gear 35:50 - Coming up for Travis ABOUT TRAVIS TIMMONS Travis and his family tell stories about places that people go. That varies from full time travel all the way down to a weekend road trip. He is the host of the So How Was Your Trip? podcast. Follow Travis on the So How Was your Trip Podcast and Instagram. TIPS FOR VISITING THE CHANNEL ISLANDS & SANTA BARBARA You should make sure that you give yourself at least three to four days to visit and explore the Channel Islands National Park, Ventura, and Santa Barbara.  If you are traveling with kids that are a bit older and like the outdoors, you should really think about camping overnight on the Channel Islands.  After the last boat leaves, which could be around 6pm depending on the season, you will have the island almost to yourselves. You just have to pay a small fee in order to stay on the island and there are limited services and facilities so you need to pack in and pack out. In order to get out onto the Channel Islands you will need to book a boat ride through Island Packers. The prices will change depending on the season, so make sure to check on that if you are trying to budget and plan in advance. The boat will make stops at the four different islands and you will get off the boat when you get to the island that you want to visit. There are great kayak tours on the islands, as well as some great opportunities for snorkeling. For information and booking you will need to go to Channel Island Adventure Company. You can also find some great hiking trails. You will also need to keep in mind that if you plan on visiting the Channel Islands, whether it is for the day or overnight, you will need to pack food and supplies. There are no cafes on the islands.  Reagan Presidential Library is only about 30 minute away from Ventura. So if you like history at all and need a break from being outside, this is a really nice place to visit. You can also have some fun with a day on the beach or even just a relaxing afternoon. Black Sheep restaurant in Santa Barbara offers a chef's tasting menu that is great for a date night. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Travis loves to wear his Old Navy Sweatpants when he travels. Especially loves that they have zippers on the pockets to keep his wallet and phone in place. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Channel Island National Park Island Packers Channel Island Adventure Company Reagan Presidential Library Shoreline Beach Cafe Black Sheep Restaurant Handlebar Coffee Roasters The Funk Zone FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Oct 2019

39 min

Now that it is fall, we are turning our attention toward winter getaways. If you have ever dreamed of visiting Santa Claus, taking a reindeer safari, and sleeping under the Northern Lights, tune in to hear about Finnish Lapland. Kevin Wagar from the Wandering Wagars shares his family's experience in Finland during the winter and all the things there are to do in Santa's wonderland. ON THE PODCAST 00:35 - Sponsor - Allianz Travel 01:13 - Talking with Kevin Wagar 04:16 - When to go to Finland 09:30 - How long to spend in Helsinki 14:30 - Where to go in Finland 18:53 - How to split up your days 22:20 - Driving around 24:10 - Santa Park/Village 27:30 - Where to stay 29:35 - Prices in Finland 30:40 - Kevin’s favorite travel gear 32:00 - Coming up for Kevin and his family 33:10 - What’s coming for Vacation Mavens ABOUT ALLIANZ TRAVEL We all travel for different reasons. Some to get closer as a family and some to get away from it all. Some to discover new sounds, new tastes, and others to discover themselves. No matter your reason, Allianz Travel Insurance is the ultimate wingman—having your back while helping you make the most of every moment. True experts providing protection for all the reasons you travel.  Visit allianztravelinsurance.com, and see what award-winning travel insurance can do for your next trip. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Plan(s) underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Company or BCS Insurance Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans. ABOUT KEVIN WAGAR Kevin Wagar is a professional photographer and adventure and family travel writer who makes his home near Toronto, Ontario. When he isn’t traveling the world with his wife and two boys, Kevin in sharing stories and inspiring parents to look beyond the standard family vacation. He focuses on exploring the world in a way that makes travel fun, adventurous, and educational for the whole family. When Kevin isn’t writing for publishers such as Explore Magazine, and Intrepid Travel, he is creating content for his website Wandering Wagars – Adventure Family Travel. There he shares guides and inspirational stories of family adventure travel. Follow Kevin on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING FINLAND You may think that Finland is going to be extra cold compared to the United States or Canada, but you will find that the coldest temperatures will be between 9 to 17 ºF (-8 to -12 ºC). Keep in mind that if you are going to Finland around Christmas time, you will only have 2 - 4 hours of daylight. But this also means that the Christmas lights will come on sooner making everything pretty and magical. Most visitors will probably choose to fly into Helsinki Airport, and if you do you should definitely spend a day or two there and explore. Saariselkä and Levi are resort towns and ideal if you are planning to do a lot of skiing and outdoor activities. The Pilke Museum it is fantastic for kids --basically and giant indoor play area. If you are a nervous driver, you may want to think about taking a hired car, public transport or bus tours. Otherwise the roads are good and decent to navigate. The cost to go and visit Finland is actually better than other Scandinavian countries. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Kevin loves his Merrel shoes and pairing them with his Columbia tear away pants. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Christmas Lapland Finland Things to do in Rovaniemi Finland Winter Santa Park Finland Things to do Inari Finland Santa Claus Village Finland Things to do in Helsinki Pilke Museum Santa Park Santa Claus Village Glass Igloos FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Oct 2019

37 min

Where is the largest amusement park in the Pacific Northwest? Silverwood, just outside of Coeur d'Alene Idaho. Find out more about this lakeside gem and tips for visiting Silverwood as Kim shares her family's experience this summer.  ON THE PODCAST 00:34 - Sponsor 01:40 - Kim’s trip to Idaho 10:08 - Tips for Silverwood Theme Park 15:36 - Where to stay 23:06 - Bike trail 25:38 - Winter activities 28:15 - Coming up TIPS FOR VISITING COEUR D’ALENE Silverwood amusement park could be considered  a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest. It is also only about 30 minutes north of Coeur d’Alene. If you are visiting Silverwood and want to maximize your time, you can arrive early to the theme park before opening time and wait just inside for the park to open. This means that you can go right to a ride rather than waiting in line to get through the turnstile. Silverwood sells reusable water bottles and you get free refills all day long. The waterpark has lockers that you can rent for the day for 10 dollars and you can go in and out throughout the day. You should also think about bringing a pair of cheap flip flops to leave at the bottom of the slides. Make sure that these are extras not ones that you wore to the park in case the get lost or stolen. The park also offers towels that you can rent but it may just be easier if you bring your own to the park. La Quinta Inn & Suites is a really affordable option to stay. They have spacious rooms, an indoor pool and free breakfast. When you are planning when to go to Coeur d’Alene, make sure to check out when the Iron Man Marathon is going on because getting a room can get pretty expensive during that time. They can also sell out quickly. Outside of the theme park, the lake is a great way to spend an afternoon. You can go kayaking, rent jet skis, go on a float plane trip and more. If you are into biking at all; there is a gorgeous paved bike trail in Coeur d’Alene that will take you along part of the lake. Schweitzer Mountain offers a lot of different outdoor snow activities. Silver Mountain is more of a challenging mountain that doesn't have too many beginner runs, but they do offer activities like snowshoeing through the woods. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Allianz Travel Insurance Silverwood Theme Park La Quinta Inn & Suites The Blackwell Bed and Breakfast The Coeur d’Alene Resort FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Oct 2019

30 min

Have you been to Iceland and want to go back to see something new? Or maybe you would love to see Iceland's natural beauty without the crowds you find in the Golden Circle or the South Coast? Tamara shares how to get off-the-beaten path with Hidden Iceland. Tune in to hear about her girls' trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the West Fjords. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Tamara about Iceland 02:15 - Getting around Iceland 04:00 - Tamara’s Itinerary 10:20 - Warning signs 12:55 - Driving tour 36:48 - Group trip next year 37:30 - Coming up for Kim and Tamara TIPS FOR VISITING ICELAND Getting from the airport to the capital city of Reykjavik will cost you about 150 to 175 dollars taking a taxi. A cheaper option is to take the FlyBus, which will cost you around 30 dollars to get to Reykjavik. Of course you can also rent a car if you will be driving around the country. If you see a warning sign in Iceland you really need to take heed. They don’t put up signs without reason. The warning signs can mean that someone has died there. You should really think about booking hotels in advance if you plan on visiting Iceland. They book up quickly since they don’t have as many hotels outside of Reykjavik. If you want to spend more than 3 days in Iceland, you should plan on renting a car and moving from place to place to minimize driving and see more. If you are visiting in the winter, you are better off taking group or private tours with a driver versus driving on your own. Hidden Iceland offers group and private tours to the Golden Circle, South Coast, Snaefellsnes, and the Westfjords. All of their guides are experts in their fields including volcanologists, glacier guides, and folklore specialists. Although getting from place to place takes a while, you will have a more of an experience visiting Iceland if you travel around to different areas rather than just staying in Reykjavik for your whole stay. The Westfjords can only be accessed in the summer, from May or June through August or September. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Iceland Family Travel Tips - Episode 013 Hidden Iceland Tours Hotel Budir Eiriksstadir - Viking Longhouse Heydalur Hotel West Icelandic Taxi and Tours FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Sep 2019

39 min

Kim recently took a weekend getaway to Victoria, British Columbia on the Victoria Clipper ferry from Seattle. Find out where they stayed, what they did, and tips for taking the ferry. Wait until you hear about the orcas on the whale watch they went on! ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim about Victoria 04:15 - Traveling on the Victoria Clipper 07:43 - Where to stay in Victoria 10:45 - Things to do in Victoria 28:10 - Where to eat in Victoria 33:10 - Final tips 35:16 - Shoutout! TIPS FOR VISITING VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA You can travel by ferry from Seattle to British Columbia on the Victoria Clipper. There are various levels of service. If you are in the higher class, you will actually exit last because they will let the travelers out from the bottom floor up. This also means that you will be the last to get in line for customs in you are in the higher classes. The upper levels of the Victoria Clipper feature front facing seats for everyone. So if you get motion sick that could be a definite plus. There is no Uber in Victoria, only taxi services. So keep that in mind if you are planning a budget for you trip to British Columbia. You should also keep in mind that the famous Butchart Gardens are not by the downtown area. So you will have to pay a lot for a taxi. There is also an option to book a tour charter that will take you to the gardens and they will let you know when you need to be back on the bus to go back. If you or your kids are adventurous at all you should look into going to Wild Play,which is an outdoor obstacle course with ziplines, log ladders, nets, rope swings, wobbly bridges and more. The higher you go the more challenging it gets! Going whale watching can be a fantastic experience, especially on a jet boat. Just be prepared to experience the full circle of life if you encounter any orcas (or killer whales.) There is a great museum right next to the Parliament building called the Royal BC Museum. They offer a very interactive experience, which is great with kids.  Don’t forget that you should dress in layers because this is a coastal area and it can get cold at night. You should also think about packing a waterproof jacket because even if it doesn’t call for rain, it could rain during the day and burn off later. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Inn at Laurel Point Wild Play Royal BC Museum Finn’s Seafood Chop Cocktails Earls Pagliaccis Floyd’s Diner FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Sep 2019

37 min

Dreaming about a trip to the Canadian Rockies? Listen in as Tamara shares the highlights from her mother-daughter trip to Kananaskis, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Plus Kim chimes in on what she did in Banff before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer train earlier this year. ON THE PODCAST 01:53 - Talking about Tamara’s Mother Daughter Trip 05:45 - Kananaskis 09:52 - Via Ferrata in Banff 12:50 - Driving the Icefields Parkway 13:43 - Peak Nic with Jasper Food Tours 15:45 - Horseback riding in Banff 17:00 - Post Inn in Lake Louise 23:20 - Two Jack Lake in Banff 27:30 - Exploring the Athabasca Glacier TIPS FOR VISITING THE CANADIAN ROCKIES Banff is very crowded in the summer so you may want to stay in nearby Canmore. If you want to get away from crowds, you can also visit the other nearly Provincial Parks or National Parks like Yoho or Waterton. Kananaskis is about an hour away from Banff, and not nearly as crowded. There are amazing views, great hikes and lakes, and plenty of wildlife. Bears are all over in the Canadian Rockies and bear spray is highly recommended. In Kananaskis you see warnings about bear encounters everywhere. The Via Ferrata at Mt Norquay in Banff is a thrilling adventure for adults and teens. Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing experience that uses climbing ladders and cross suspension bridges to help you climb a mountain without having to actually mountain climb. You do need to be in good shape as it is a workout and it isn't good if you are scared of heights. Jasper Food Tours offers a unique backcountry cooking lesson and picnic called "Peak Nic." You hike up to the peak of a mountain, carrying everything you need, then you learn how to make your food and enjoy a spectacular mountain view while you relax and eat what you have cooked. Two Jake Lake, which is just outside of Banff, is a great spot for scenic photos and a walk along the lake (look for the famous red chairs!) You should never walk on glaciers without a guide. You also want to always follow all signs that are posted. These signs will tell you where to stay away from and what not to do. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Kananaskis Mountain Lodge Chester Lake Trail Jasper Food Tours Post Inn Jasper House Bungalows FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Sep 2019

34 min

Have you ever thought of planning a girl's trip to Maine? In August, Kim and Tamara headed up to the Northwoods of Maine for a girls' trip filled with hiking and laughs, with a stops in Portland and Freeport along the way. Find out more about their trip and some things you can do with the family too! ON THE PODCAST 02:20 - Where to go in Maine 05:37 - Moosehead Lake Area 10:13 - Moose safari adventure 16:45 - Hiking 23:50 - Appalachian Mountain Club 32:50 - River Rim trail 38:15 - Going home 38:40 - Coming up TIPS FOR PLANNING A GIRL'S TRIP TO MAINE Note: Our trip was hosted by Visit Maine. All opinions are our own. Where to stay in Moosehead Lake: rent a cabin from Moosehead Hills Cabins for privacy and lakefront views, just double check the location as not all cabins are on Moosehead Lake. What to do in Moosehead Lake: Though you have to get up super early, going on a Moose Safari is a really fun experience. You will drive to different places where moose are often spotted, and with Northwoods Outfitters, you then head out in a canoe to see if you will see any by the water. Appalachian Mountain Club's Gorman Chairback Lodge: if you are looking for a more remote and rustic destination in Maine's 100 acre wilderness, try a stay at one of the Appalachian Mountain Club's Lodges. We met many families staying in two bedroom cabins (with a bathroom) while we were there. The meals are included and served family-style and there is plenty of hiking, kayaking, and canoeing in the area. The Appalachian Mountain Lodges are approximately 40 minutes to town in a very unplugged area. This is the place for you to connect with your family without cell phones or video games getting in the way. The Gulf Hagas hike was a great hike in the 100 acre wilderness that takes you along the rim of a river, but make sure to bring water shoes if you have them because there is an area that you have to cross the river. There are also places by waterfalls were you can swim if you don't mind the cold water. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Duckfat L.L.Bean Flagship store The Holy Donut Moosehead Hills Cabins Northwoods Outfitters Kineo Mountain Hiking Black Diamond Trekking Poles (affiliate link) Appalachian Mountain Club 100 Mile Wilderness Conservation Area Gorman Chairback Lodge   FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Sep 2019

40 min

The Florida Keys is a perfect road trip destination for families, or friends. This week Kim and Tamara talk all about their recent trip to the Florida Keys and Key West, with stops in Key Largo and Key West. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about their time in the Florida Keys 02:31 - Getting to and around the Keys 10:45 - Key Largo - Baker’s Cay Resort 17:35 - Playa Largo Resort 23:00 - Islamorada 30:45 - Driving to Key West 38:20 - Stock Island 42:44 - Places to eat 50:58 - Food Tour and Boat Tour 58:15 - Sunset Celebration 1:02:00 - Island Adventure Tour 1:09:30 - Coming up next TIPS FOR VISITING THE FLORIDA KEYS Keep in mind when you are planning your trip to the Keys that you are going to be driving down through different Keys, you will run into quite a bit of traffic since you will mostly be driving through one lane roads and small beach towns with lights and little shops. The Baker’s Cay Resortin Key Largo is a great resort for families or friends. They have great views and while the beach and pool are not close to each other to enable you to easily go back and forth, they are both very nice. This resort offers a complimentary glass of champagne at sunset every night, nicely decorated public spaces, and offers water sport adventures that you can easily access on their dock. Playa Largo Resortbeach seems to be a bit narrower and part of this you can only access they water by a set of stairs. They also offer a special treat of marshmallows you can roast on bonfires at sunset. The resort pool is nicer than Baker's Cay and right on the beach. If you are at all interested in feeding fish, a great area to visit is Robbies on Islamorada. They have a restaurant is called Hunger Tarpon and you can pay a fee to go out on the docks and buy a bucket of fish to feed the tarpon. Just go early because the parking lot gets very full. Robbies also offers a bunch of different water sports. Driving from Key Largo to Key West will probably take you about five hours with a few stops, including lunch. The Perry Hotel on Stock Island is a bit outside of downtown Key West, but offers free parking and a shuttle downtown. You can also rent scooters and you will find that you will be able to find decent parking with them. Parking in Key West is challenging. For a car, you will find that there are a lot of residential only parking spot that you could get ticketed if you there. The lot parking can also get a bit expensive as well. Key West Food Toursprovided a fabulous tour around the area. The tour guide Rose was fantastic! Mallory Square offers a sunset celebration that starts about an hour before sunset and they have performers to watch as well as bars you can go and have a drink that are all right around the square. You should keep in mind that people will stake out spots to see the sunset early on, so you may want to get there early and do the same otherwise you will be behind a crowd and you will need to hold your camera up over others to get good shots. The Fury Island Adventure Touroffers a fantastic experience where you can snorkel, walk around a sandbar, kayaking, and even paddle board. This tour offers a great variation of activities all in one great boat trip. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Planning a Trip to the Florida Keys with Kids - Episode 122 Baker’s Cay Resort by Hilton Calusa Restaurant at Baker’s Cay Playa Largo Resort La Marea at Playa Largo Hunger Tarpon Bahia Honda State Park Reef Friendly Sunscreens No Name Pub Perry Hotel Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen First Flight Island Restaurant and Brewery Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe Blue Heaven Bagatelle Key West Food Tours Sebago Watersports Mallory Square Hogs Breath Saloon Island Adventure Tour FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jul 2019

73 min

Happy summer!! While we have been on a short break, Kim and Tamara have kicked off their summer with some fun travel -- of course! In this episode we tell you all about Tamara's trip to Orlando with teens, Kim's last-minute Alaskan cruise romantic getaway, and Tamara's wine-tasting trip to France with her hubby.  ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Tamara about her time in Orlando 04:25 - Dinner and a movie at Studio Movie Grill 05:08 - Rental car vs. Uber in Orlando 06:55 - Kayaking on Shingle Creek 08:55 - Andretti Indoor go karting and games 10:30 - ICON park 14:03 - The Void Disney Springs 16:45 - Animal Kingdom After Hours 22:52 - Waterpark at Margaritaville Resort 25:20 - Talking with Kim about her time on an Alaska Cruise 28:01 - Chef Daren 34:15 - Cruising relaxation 43:02 - Alaska Airlines Magazine mention 47:47 - Tamara’s time in France 55:30 - Where to stay 1:01:45 - Coming up next episode   MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Margaritaville Orlando Studio Movie Grill Shingle Creek Kayaking Andretti Karting and Games ICON Park The Escape Game Orlando The Void - Disney Springs After Hours at Animal Kingdom The Final Table - Netflix Show The Filharmonic The Hanger on the Wharf Alaska Airlines Magazine - Vacation Mavens is mentioned on page 53 of July issue Join Us in France Podcast Camellas-lloret Maison d'hôtes Château Les Carrasses FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Jul 2019

64 min

Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States? Find out what to do in the park and the surrounding area, including Pigeon Forge, on this week's podcast. We are chatting with Tennessee native Sarah Wilson from The Wandering Rumpus to get her take on visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with kids. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about summer travels 11:20 - Talking with Sarah Wilson 13:12 - Where is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 15:15 - How long to spend 20:04 - Time of year to go 23:54 - Staying in the park 26:19 - Must dos for families 32:52 - Favorite place to take a family photo 33:55 - Sarah’s favorite travel gear 37:20 - Coming up for Vacation Mavens ABOUT SARAH WILSON Sarah is a Nashville-based freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. Sarah writes about kid-friendly Nashville and expanding her family's worldview through travel, food, books, and engaging in our local and international communities at The Wandering Rumpus. Sarah, her husband Brad and their three girls have traveled extensively - both locally and internationally - and are making big plans to do much more wandering with their little brood - around the world and in their backyard -  while sharing tips, encouragement, and laughter around travel and experiences with kids. Follow Sarah on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterestand Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in East Tennessee but also spans into North Carolina. If you are just planning to visit the national park you could spend a long weekend and have a great time. Spending a full week you will be able to explore the park as well as some of the surrounding area. Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge started by Dolly Parton. You can actually learn quite a bit about the areas history when visiting the theme park. It is very well made and a great way to spend a day while you are in Tennessee. Summer is always fun but tends to be busier like a lot of places. During the fall you could see the changing of the leaves which is always beautiful along with festivals. There are two weeks in the spring/early summer when you can see the mating of fireflies in  open fields. They actually get so busy that they open a lottery for parking in April. You can also see the migration of monarch butterflies that happens in late September early October. During the winter time they will close certain areas or trails of the park. But this usually just depends on the weather. Most of the National Park is meant for camping in a tent, but there are also places to rent cabins. You will want to make sure you are booking spots several months in advance to make sure you get a reservation. Laurel Falls Trailis a great hike for families. It is only about 2.6 miles to and from the waterfall. Most of the trail is paved so you could potentially bring a stroller. Clingmans Dome Trailis also another great hike for families. It will take you to a lookout point which is the highest point in Tennessee and has really beautiful views. If you and your family like to take bike rides, there is an eleven mile loop called Cades Cove Loopthat is closed to all cars until 10am on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting in mid-May thru to mid-September. If it interests you, there are some great guided tours you can take on horseback along different trails in the Smoky Mountains. In the summer months there is an active black bear population, so be sure to practice bear safety if you are planning to go hiking. BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO Sarah suggest getting a photo in front of a wooden Smoky Mountain sign that you will find at the main entrances. Besides that you can get some great photos at any of the lookouts you visit or even just standing with a trail sign. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Sarah recently has been wearing Pranapants that she has loved wearing whether she is at home or traveling. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST 10 Best Things To Do In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park With Kids 5 Things I Love About DollyWood Cobbly Nob Cabin Rentals Laurel Falls Trail Clingmans Dome Trail Cades Cove Loop Cades Cove Bike Rentals Smoky Mountain Riding Stables Surrounding areas: Knoxville, TN Chattanooga, TN Asheville, NC European Christmas Market Episode 106 FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

Jun 2019

39 min

Find out why Johnston County, North Carolina makes a great weekend getaway from Raleigh or a perfect place to stop on a road trip down I-95. This week Karen Dawkins from Family Travels on a Budget joins us to share her knowledge and love for this special part of North Carolina tucked between 95 and 40 just outside of Raleigh. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Visit JoCo Sponsor introduction 01:14 - Road trips on Interstate 95 03:22 - Johnston County, North Carolina 04:30 - Talking with Karen Dawkins from Family Travels on a Budget 10:07 - How long to stay in Johnston County 11:57 - Finding out about festivals and events in Johnston County 15:55 - Favorite places to stop and eat 22:54 - Must dos in Johnston County 27:52 - Where to stay 31:20 - Off the beaten path 35:34 - Final tip 36:44 - Best place to take a family photo 37:24 - Karen’s favorite travel gear 39:40 - Thanks! ABOUT KAREN DAWKINS Karen Dawkins writes at Family Travels on a Budget, and has been sharing travel stories, itineraries and tips since 2012 to encourage families to get out and explore the world -- or their own neighborhood. She moved to Johnston County, North Carolina in 2001 and has enjoyed living in this close knit community just outside of Raleigh. A long-time homeschool mom, she and her kids took many field trips to explore all JoCo, as the locals call it, has to offer. Follow Karen on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. ABOUT JOHNSTON COUNTY, NC Today’s podcast is sponsored by Johnston County, North Carolina. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or a place to stop on an East Coast road trip, Johnston County, affectionately known as JoCo, is a perfect destination for families. Located at the intersection of Interstate 95 and 40, just outside of Raleigh, JoCo offers a small-town vibe in a convenient location. Families will enjoy visiting farms, shops, museums, and cafes, as well as attending outdoor movie nights and one of the county’s many outdoor festivals. And don’t miss the BBQ! Visitjohnstoncountync.organd get to know JoCo! It is easy to remember, just take exit 95 off I-95. Don’t pass it by! TIPS FOR VISITING JOHNSTON COUNTY, NC Johnston County is a great place to visit even if it's just for a weekend or a stop on your road trip down to Florida. You can hang out and explore some festivals or go berry picking in the spring and visit pumpkin patches in the fall. Though you won't find any festivals in the winter and summer because they tend to be either too hot of too cold, there are plenty of other things to explore. If you visit the johnstoncountync.orgwebsite you can find out everything that is going on. There is a calendar of events for the entire county and a very active blog that keeps current information posted. Even though there are not any festivals during the summer and winter, there are still a ton of places to stop along the route of Interstate 95 through Johnston County. One highlight is the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, which is right at the beginning edge of the county when you are driving down from New York or New Jersey. This museum is open all year long with live demonstrations and hands on experiences your kids will love; especially after sitting in a car for hours. If you are interested in shopping and antiquing, then you should think about stopping in Selma and grabbing an orangeade to quench your thirst during your shopping spree. Going further south into Benson, NC there is a great gluten-free bakery to grab a snack. If you are bringing a dog with you on your road trip, Benson is also a great place to stop since they have an off-leash dog park! If you can’t stop for a day or two, you should think about at least stopping for a meal and get away from the fast food you find on the highway. Just by driving a little way off the highway you can grab a great meal that will only cost a little bit more than that fast food you were going to get and is so much better! Just a five minute drive off the highway you can hit Smithfield and grab some food at Simple Twist, which is a farm-to-table restaurant that is laid back and serves some great light dishes. SoDoSoPais another restaurant to try which serves a twist on southern cuisine. Beer Wine Shine Trailis really fun experience and a great way to try some local brews, wines and moonshine made in a local distillery. Of course this is more for the adults on your trip! If you like exploring the outdoors with your kids, you can check out some great hiking trails that even some of the locals don’t know about! You can learn more about the hiking trails and other outdoor adventures at Mountains to Sea Trail. If you are traveling with pets make sure to check out the Hampton Innin Benson which is new, pet-friendly, and located right across the way from the dog park. If you are looking to stay somewhere more untraditional, you should stay at the Morning Glory Innin Clayton. With its location you can walk almost anywhere in Clayton and spend your nights in a beautifully restored historic home. If you plan on spending a little more time in Johnston County you should think about visiting the Bentonville Battlefield. This area is also known for playing a big role in the Civil War . The battlefield is out in the middle of nowhere but not too hard to find and is a great learning experience. If you go in March that is when they do their reenactment of the battle. If you have any interest at all in early Hollywood or even the Royals you should check out the Ava Gardner Museum. The facts you learn about Ava Gardner will blow you away. If you are going to spend any time in Clayton you should make sure to check out the Sculpture trail which is amazing to go and see plus every year they feature a different artist so you can keep going back and see something new. BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO When visiting Johnston County there are a lot of places to take a family photo. If walk the Sculpture trail there is usually some sort of sculpture that forms an arch which makes a great frame for you family photo. The I Love Benson Mural is another great photo opportunity! If you are outdoors exploring, anywhere along Neuse river have beautiful places to take a family photo. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Karen loves to where her Keensandals which are closed-toed and are very comfortable, she has been wearing them for many years. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST JoCo Hilton Head South Carolina - episode 006 Tobacco Farm Life Museum Simple Twist SoDoSoPa Redneck BBQ Lab Beer Wine Shine Trail Mountains to Sea Trail Hampton Inn Morning Glory Inn Bentonville Battlefield Ava Gardner Museum Hills of Snow Pelican’s Snoballs Snoopy’s Hot Dogs Jones Cafe Glendas Sweet Shop Sculpture trail FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jun 2019

42 min

Sure we love to travel with our kids, but sometimes parents need to get away too! This week we share our suggestions and tips for planning a couples romantic getaway, and some of our favorite trips with our respective partners. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Kim and Tamara talking about couples vacations 03:33 - Kim’s upcoming trip 05:16 - Tamara’s upcoming trip 08:40 - Thoughts behind their trips 13:47 - Kim’s past getaways 16:40 - Wine tasting with or without kids 17:45 - Time away versus at home time 20:28 - Tamara’s past getaways 23:48 - Tips for planning a romantic getaway TIPS FOR PLANNING A ROMANTIC GETAWAY The first thing you want to ask yourselves when planning your couples getaway is… Do you want to have a more relaxing trip or fill your itinerary with things to do? Make sure to have your partner plan part of your trip. This can help take the pressure off of you for planning the entire trip give you both responsibility if things don't go perfectly. Look for places that cater to adults. When you are doing your research, make note of the places that say have kids club programs and events for kids. This may have been a great place to stay if you were going as a family but you may want to get away from that on your couples trip. Consider where your kids are while you are on your trip. You may want to do a little research on what it would take to get home if there ever happened to be an emergency while you are on your couples getaway. Choose something different than what you would normally do for a family trip. That may mean not going to museums on your trip or having a nonstop itinerary. Also consider splurging a little on some excursions. It will be cheaper for just the two of you rather that your whole family. You may want to think about making sure you have a plan set in case anything were to happen to you and your partner. Make sure whoever is watching your kids know their doctors, allergies, insurance, etc., or even a way for them to get money to cover an expense for your child. Budget your trip well so that you can fully relax on your trip without having to worry too much about what you can and can’t afford on your getaway. Planning your budget ahead can help when it comes to the little things that add up throughout your trip. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Google Flight Alerts Dollar Flight Club FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening! Pin this

Jun 2019

43 min

This week we cover everything from luxury train rides to flying budget airlines. Join us as we chat with Hilarye Fuller from Dotting the Map as she and Tamara dig into the pros and cons of budget airlines. Kim also shares her experience aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim about her time on the Rocky Mountaineer train 17:20 - Talking with Hilarye Fuller 20:40 - Hilarye’s book 22:23 - Airlines traveled with kids 25:20 - Tips for budget airlines 31:00 - Comparing airlines 48:38 - Keeping kids entertained 56:36 - Hilarye’s favorite travel gear 58:48 - What’s next for Hilarye 1:02:26 - Coming in next episode ABOUT HILARYE FULLER Hilarye Fuller is a family travel blogger and author. She has been writing about family travel for over ten years and specializes in helping people get out of their vacation rut. Her family currently travels full-time in an RV touring the USA. You can check out her blog at Dotting the Map. Follow Hilarye on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterestand Twitter. TIPS FOR FLYING ON A BUDGET Southwest Airlines is a good airline for families, but not quite in the budget category. They do offer family boarding and two free checked bags, although not everyone likes their "open seating" concept. Allegiant is a budget airline that is good for families, as long as you pay attention to added fees. The first price you see will make you think it is a great deal, but there are usually fees including seat assignments, checked bags, carry on bags, and boarding passes. This means you will probably still end up with a good deal, but it may be significantly more than that first price you saw that enticed you to start booking. It seems the new hidden fee for budget airlines is charging to print your boarding passes at the airport. Airline apps can come in handy for this, especially for your return flight when you don’t have as easy of access to a printer. A lot of times budget airlines do not offer snacks and drinks, and if they do they tend to be on the expensive side. If you are traveling with kids this can be particularly worrisome. If you are traveling with toddlers be sure to check out these TSA approved snacks. These could also work for older kids or even yourselves in a pinch. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle, because plenty of airlines don’t give free water anymore. Keep an eye on what airport you are flying into though, particularly the airport codes. The ticket may say you are flying into a city, but actually you are really flying into an airport that is close to that city, but not that specific airport. This could cause problems if you had already booked a hotel in the city you thought you were flying into. Spirit Airlines has newer planes, but keep in mind that your checked bag can only be 40 pounds instead of the usual 50 pounds. And the overage fee is quite high. Make sure you check the amounts when you are purchasing your checked bags for you flight. Frontier Airlines has a program where kids fly freeand they offer some other deals. They are definitely a family-focused airline. If you have really young kids, they tend to be content just playing with cups and the magazines in the seat pocket rather than toys you would bring. As they get older you should think about bringing window clings so that they can sit by the window and play with those on the window and you don’t have to worry about them making a mess. Keeping a routine with your kids on the flight can help keep things calmer and more peaceful. This can be as simple as making sure they understand what to expect before you even board the plane. See Tamara's tips on the best budget airlines for families FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Hilarye’s favorite thing to travel in are a pair of really cute and comfortable yoga pantsthat can almost pass off as slacks. She loves to pair them with a basic Teefrom Target and a pair of Old Navy flip flops. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Using Essential Oils to Stay Healthy When Traveling Monsters Don’t Ride on Airplanes TSA approved snacks How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane Dos and Dont's of Air Travel with Young Children FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Jun 2019

64 min

If has been a while since Tamara and Kim traveled with toddlers, so this week we check in with Lydia Blanchard of My Adventure Gang to learn her best tips for traveling with toddlers. Also hear all about Tamara's recent trip on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas and her visit to the brand new "Perfect Day at CocoCay." ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking Tamara’s trip on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas 18:49 - Talking with Lydia 20:58 - Travel with toddlers 23:21 - Trying to be prepared 25:38 - Finding destinations 30:01 - Car trips with toddlers 33:25 - Flying with toddlers 43:05 - What to look for in a hotel 48:47 - Travel gear 52:33 - Final tips 54:24 - Lydia’s favorite travel gear 55:56 - What’s next for Lydia and her family 57:20 - Next week's episode ABOUT LYDIA BLANCHARD Lydia Blanchard is the adventurer in chief behind My Adventure Gang. She strives to treat every day like an adventure, whether it is in your back yard to traveling around the globe. Follow Lydia Blanchard on Facebook, and Instagram. TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH TODDLERS You should definitely keep in mind that your toddler will act the same way no matter where you are. Whether you are staying home, taking them to the store, or going on an out of country adventure. You can’t really be prepared for everything. But you will have moments when things are working out great, even if they only last that moment. When you are looking for where to visit with your toddler, you can try and plan trip to places you know your child will have interests in. Places in Europe seem to have more support to families with young children; more accommodations when it comes to public transportation, the offer of warming up a bottle when you are out. You may think driving overnight to a location with a young child will work out great, and it just might depending on your child. Though traveling during the day can also work, depending on your child's sleep schedule. They can watch the cars going by and having some toys to play with. Though you should make sure to stop places where you child can get out of the car and run around a bit. Number one tip for traveling with young children, no matter if you are flying or just going on a short trip is to bring plenty of snacks. Airlines specifically may not offer anything you child will like or depending on the length of the flight they might not offer anything. If you have the Netflix app on your phone or tablet you should look into downloading kids show/movies onto the app so that you can play them in offline mode. But make sure you do this before you even leave for the airport so that you don’t have to worry about being able to get the videos to download in time for your flight. If you child likes to color you should think pack some paper, washable markers/crayons, a small pack of stickers. If you don’t already have these you could even find activity packs that have magic markers that only show up on the pages that come with it. When looking for a place to stay you should look to see what kind of amenities the place has specifically for children. For example if the place has a pack and play that you can use, that means one less thing you need to pack. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Lydia loves her Cosco Scenera next car seatfor traveling. This car seat is 8 pounds and very versatile and it is FAA approved so you can bring it right on the plane. Lydia also loves their GB pockit strollerbecause it folds down easy and can fit under the seat and likes to bring a soft child carrier like the Boba child carrier,even if she thinks they will walk most of the time having that carrier comes in handy. Personally Lydia loves to pants with pockets so that she can hold her plane ticket, phone, ID and that extra crayon or stickers her child hands her to hold. She also likes to wear layers so that if that juice spills or another mess happens she can take off that dirty layer. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Monsters Don’t Ride on Airplanes Cosco scenera next car seat GB pockit stroller Boba child carrier FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

May 2019

59 min

If you are planning a trip to Paris with kids, why not get tips from someone who has gone half a dozen times in the last few years! This week we are chatting with Michelle Millett, a Francophile and experienced family travelers about visiting Paris with (and without) kids. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara 05:40 - Talking with Michelle 10:38 - How long to spend 12:03 - Where to stay 21:35 - Top sites to see 31:33 - Structuring your days in Paris 37:09 - Day trips 39:15 - Transportation 40:46 - Restaurants 45:16 - General tips 59:55 - Best Place for a Family Photo 52:02 - Michelle’s Favorite Travel Gear 54:14 - Michelle’s Top Tips for Traveling 58:50 - Where Michelle is going next 59:22 - Kim and Tamara’s upcoming travels ABOUT MICHELLE MILLETT Michelle Millett is a wife and mom of 2 boys aged 11 and 15.  A devoted Francophile, who although a late bloomer to international travel, has been making up for loss time in the last 4 years.  Lover of high jinx and shenanigans whether near or far.  TIPS FOR VISITING PARIS If you only have a few days to spend in Paris you can definitely cover the highlights. If you don’t want to spend your whole week of vacation in Paris you can pair your trip with other area in Europe. There are 18 neighborhoods of paris. So depending on what you want to get out of your stay is how you can determine which to stay in. Keep in mind that nothing is really far away so you can stay in a neighborhood on the outer edge and still go into the city and visit the Eiffel Tower, museums, est. If you are taking a train into the city you may think about staying in the area of your train station, just so that it will be easier to get to and from your hotel. If you want to be able to travel around by just walking, you should think about stay closer to the center of the city. A good fact to know is that if a hotel has a three star or higher rating, it has to have air conditioning. Just so you know Airbnb is getting harder to find in Paris due to restrictions. If you really want to visit the Louvre and you are traveling with kids there is a program called THATLouthat has a scavenger hunt for families to even compete with other families if you wanted. The Louvre also has a late night on Wednesdays that can be less crowded that during the daytime. Right by the Eiffel Tower there is a place you can get a boat ride along the Seine River. If you plan your day out right you can go up and see the Eiffel Tower and than when you are done get a boat ride on the river. Make sure to get your tickets in advance if you want to go up into the Eiffel Tower. Getting them in advance will save you from waiting in the long lines that there will be. They usually start selling ticket 90 days in advance. This doesn’t mean you have to get them that early but depending on the time of year that you are visiting the quicker these tickets will sell out. Tuileries Garden is very beautiful area, there is this path that leads you to the garden that has trees on either side and shops all along the way. Angelina Parisis known for its rich and creamy hot chocolate. They also have pastries, tea, coffee and other treats. If you like hot chocolate this is a must do stop for you and your family. If you have more time in Paris and want to take a day trip or two here are some close areas that are great to visit such as Versailles or Reims. Reims is the region of champagne so you can see more of a country area of France and do some champagne tasting. Fontainebleau is similar to Versailles, but is lesser known and is not nearly as busy as Versailles. If you are traveling with kids and have a stroller. You need to keep in mind that there are a lot steps and if you had planned on taking the subway/metro there are no escalators or elevators if you bring the smallest stroller you have, that will help you navigate easier. Paris has really great food and a really good variety. Theres is really no bad food places in Paris. You find that while there are a lot of options for sit down dinners there are also a lot of places where you can just grab some quick food and keep exploring the city. Make sure you say Bonjour! when you are going in anywhere and Au revoir! when you are leaving places.  BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO Any photo with the Eiffel Tower in the background is a great shoot! FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Old Navyleggings in black are Michelle’s favorite because you can dress them up or down, and she pairs them with her Converseslip on sneakers or a pair of boot. She also likes layer to keep warm but still cool by shedding layers. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Paris Perfect THATLou Tuileries Garden Angelina Paris David Toutain Paris by Word of Mouth FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!  

May 2019

63 min

Kim and Tamara are back from 10 days in Ireland and giving listeners the 411 on their trip. Tune in to hear about their adventures in Dublin, County Wicklow, Waterford, Kilkenny, Belfast, Derry, and the Coastal Causeway. Plus, Game of Thrones fans will love to hear about some of the filming destinations and experiences in Northern Ireland. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim and Tamara about adjusting from jet lag 03:07 - Driving in Ireland 07:10 - Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin 11:36 - Dublin attractions 19:38 - County Wicklown in Ireland's Ancient East 25:50 - Wexford 28:04 - Waterford 34:50 - Kilkenny 40:40 - Waterford Greenway 47:00 - Game Of Thrones boat trip 58:20 - Belfast 1:10:10 - Causeway Coast 1:16:28 - Giants Causeway 1:19:50 - Derry 1:27:30 - Final Tips TIPS FOR VISITING IRELAND Ideally when visiting Ireland you would self-drive or hire a driver so that you can stop where you want and take your time exploring areas. The roads can be a little challenging and narrow, especially if you aren't used to driving on the left. You could definitely rent a car and drive around to explore more than the area you fly into. But when renting a car for your family you must keep in mind that the bigger the car the harder it will be in some areas to get around. Touring the Guinness Storehouse is a lot more than just seeing the beer being made. There are four restaurants and two bars. They will teach you the correct way to pour a Guinness and there is also a spot where you can get a picture of you on the head of your beer. Dublin is a young city in terms of population and a very walkable city to explore. The Ancient East area of Ireland is not far from Dublin and there is a lot of history in the area. Glendalough is an area with monastic ruins and two lakes that is very popular with visitors. There is a famine ship in Wexford and in Dublin. You really learn a lot by visiting just one of these ships but if you have a chance to tour both, you can see the differences and compare the stories and conditions. Waterford is Ireland's oldest city dating back to the vikings. There is much more to Waterford than the crystal. Though if you visit the Waterford Crystal there is a style that is only made for Ireland, so if you are going to buy a piece of crystal you should get that as it will be unique. Jerpoint park in Kilkenny has some great places to explore. There is an apple orchard that makes different products out of their apples. There is also a glass blowing studio that you can visit. Waterford Greenway is a really pretty biking trail, and if you continue you can explore Mount Congreve Gardens which is a very beautiful garden that has a lot of different walking paths. North of Dublin in the Boyne Valley, you can take a Game of Thrones boat tour with Boyne Boats. Game of Thrones fans should also visit Castle Ward for the Winterfell Experiences. You get to visit the area that is the backdrop for Winterfell in the beginning seasons of the show. You can dress up in the costumes and try out archery and axe throwing and maybe even meet a dire wolf. Downtown Belfast is very safe and walkable, with restaurants and bars. You wouldn't know about the Troubles that tore the city apart unless you visit the Peace Wall or the Catholic or Protestant neighborhoods. In the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, you can visit the Titanic Museum and the Titanic Hotel. Until September 2019, there is also a Game of Thrones touring exhibition in Belfast where you can see costumes and props used in the show. The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is in a gorgeous area. Keep in mind that they will close the bridge depending on the weather. You also need to stop at the first little booth to get you ticket for the bridge. They will not sell them at the entrance to the bridge. Giant’s Causeway is another beautiful site. Give yourself plenty of time to walk along the coast and there is even a path to walk up towards the cliffs and see another view of the coast. Derry is a walled city that has two sides that has a bridge that crosses to both sides called the Peace Bridge. There is some really great food all throughout the city. Make sure you leave extra time for the security in the airport when traveling through Dublin. There will be two seperate security areas that you will have to go through to get back to the US. Make sure to pack and wear layers throughout your trip. With the temperatures changing through the day you will want to shed or put layers back on. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Episode 19 - Ireland Family Travel Tips Guinness Tour in Dublin The Davenport Hotel The Morgan Hotel EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum Killruddery House Glendalough Brooklodge Dunbrody Famine Ship Granville Hotel Jerpoint Glass Pembroke Hotel Mount Congreve Gardens Mount Juliet Estate Grand Central Hotel - Belfast Titanic Museum Belfast Ulster Museum Belfast Titanic Hotel Bushmills Inn Trim Castle FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

May 2019

94 min

Let us whisk you away to the land of chocolate, cheese, and gorgeous mountain trails! This week we chat with Claudia Laroye, from The Travelling Mom, who has visited Switzerland over two dozen times. She shares her love of all things Swiss and best tips for planning a trip to Switzerland. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - What Tamara Learned from the Switzerland Tourism Board 13:26 - Talking with Claudia 17:30 - Number one area to visit in Switzerland 19:44 - When to visit 25:30 - How to plan your itinerary 36:30 - Planning early 38:47 - Getting around 47:18 - Swiss foods 54:30 - Final tips 55:35 - Favorite place to take a family photo 57:30 - Claudia’s favorite travel gear 1:00:45 - What’s next for Claudia 1:02:28 - Coming next for Kim and Tamara ABOUT CLAUDIA LAROYE Claudia Laroye is a freelance travel writer, blogger and editor. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. In addition to The Travelling Momfamily travel site, Claudia is the Contributing Editor forTwist Travel Magazine, the Curious Travel Mama on TravelMamas.com, and contributes to a wide variety of print and online publications around the world. She writes about adventure, family, luxury and sustainable travel. Follow Claudia Laroye on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. TIPS FOR VISITING SWITZERLAND If you are only able to visit Switzerland for a few days you should definitely stay in Zermatt. This is an iconic area of Switzerland and has all of the elements that you would think of when imagining Switzerland. This is a little village that is very easy to access by train. Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen are also great areas to visit that have the iconic mountains. These alpine destinations can all be considered sweet spots of Switzerland. Even if you do not ski, the winter time is still a great time to visit with plenty of other snow sports or even just watching ski races and walking around the villages. If you venture into the cities you will find some great museums. Keep in mind that Switzerland is an expensive destination and both winter and summer are their high seasons. Switzerland has a high quality environment and you will find that because of this everything is going to run a bit more expensive. Summer time may be the right time to visit for your family due to the wide variety of outdoor activities that you can find and explore. There is hiking, boat rides, ziplining, cycling, and much more. You could plan your itinerary in a sort of loop if you are coming and going from the same airport. You could also plan your itinerary more of a one way trip if you decide to fly in and leave from different locations. For families that are keen on spending 10-14 days in Switzerland, you can plan your itinerary to  look something like this: Spend your first day or two in Zurich visiting the old town, Swiss National Museum, FIFA World Football Museum, and the Uhrenmuseum Beyer Zürichwhich is a watchmaking museum and is one of Switzerland’s most important industries. You could that take a day trip to Lucerne and visit the Museum of Transportwhich is an outstanding museum to learn everything about all modes of transportation. Then you could spend a day or two in Bern visiting the Gurten, Bear Park, swimming at Marzilibad, visiting the Einstein Houseand Alpine Museums. You can also walk through the limestone arcades in Bern’s Old Townand visit the Westside Mall for BernAqua water park. Take a day trip to Ballenberg which is the Swiss Open-Air Museumthat displays over 100 original Swiss buildings and architecture. If you love Gruyere cheese, medieval towns, you could make a day trip to Gruyere. Next you could visit Interlaken, Thun and take a boat tour on the Lake of Thun, view the famous Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau mountains. Head to the Bernese Oberland Alps and spend three or four days in Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen or Adelboden. In this area you can explore the outdoors by going hiking, cycling, zip lining, ride gondolas and cog-railways up mountains. You could also take a ride on the Jungfraujochwhich is the highest railway in Europe to glacier area between Jungfrau and Monch peaks. Plus you could do day trips to neighbouring villages. You could than spend some time in Lausanne and visit the Olympic Museumin this French-speaking town on Lac Leman. Next you could spend one to three days in and around Zermatt. Take Gornergrat cog-railway up to 3,125 m and see some amazing views of Matterhorn and several glaciers. Then if you want to spend some more time outdoors you can hike down or around the area. If your schedule and interests allow to visit the Italian-speak part of the country, you could spend time in Bellinzona and Lugano in Ticino. Bellinzona has three UNESCO castles, a wine-making regions, and Lugano is beautifully situated on the Lake of Lugano. Than make your way back to Zurich for your flight. Once you know that you can go to Switzerland you should start your booking as soon as you can. Try to book at least six months in advance if not more. That way you will will have more options and won’t have to worry as much about that hotel you wanted to stay in being booked. Renting a car may not be the best option due to to parking. If you planning to visit from North America you should think about purchasing a Swiss Travel Passbefore you go. Getting around Switzerland by train is very easy. Plus if you have a child that is under the age of 16 and are with an adult with a travel pass they travel for free! There are a few different option when it comes to the Swiss Travel Pass. Then along with transportation, you can also get into hundreds of museums for free. Outside of Toblerone there is plenty of other chocolate in the area. There are also some amazing cheeses that you will find. Though keep in mind that meat in Switzerland is not cheap. Fondue is very popular in both the winter and summer. Though it is recommended that you not drink cold drinks when you are enjoying fondue because it could upset your stomach with the hot cheeses. Swiss honey is also amazing but can be quite expensive. So if you have an opportunity to try some at a breakfast buffet you should definitely try some. Here are some other food items you should think about trying while in Switzerland: Rosti - shredded potatoes, fried and covered with eggs, ham or cheese. Raclette - toasted cheese served with potatoes, meats and pickled onions and cornichons. Sussmost - a bubbly apple juice, non-alcoholic. Rivella - a soda made from milk whey, this may be an acquired taste for many. Fruit pies - the Swiss love their pastries and fresh fruit pies. Dried meat - Bundnerfleisch is a type of air-dried beef, delicious with raclette cheese. Basler Lackerli - a traditional hard spice biscuit, made from honey, hazelnuts, almonds, candied peel, and Kirsch. Invented in the 15th century. Thomy mustard - a famous mustard brand in Switzerland. BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO Getting a photo with the Matterhorn in the background is a great place to snap a photo, as well as in the historical town of Bern. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Claudia loves to wear her Scarpahiking shoes or BirkenstockGizeh sandals or Allbirdsshoes to walking around town. She pairs those with her Athletapants and Kit and Aceor Lululemontops and pashminas, and an Arcteryxlayer. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Reasons to Visit Canada in 2017 - Episode 39 Swiss National Museum FIFA World Football Museum Uhrenmuseum Beyer Zürich Museum of Transport Bear Park Einstein House Alpine Museums Bern’s Old Town BernAqua water park Swiss Open-Air Museum H.R. Giger Museum Jungfraujoch Olympic Museum Swiss Travel Pass Family Trips App FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 2019

64 min

Happy Easter, Passover, and Spring to all our listeners! This week Kim is giving us the low down on her massive road trip from Seattle to Disneyland, including stops along the California Coast. If you have ever thought of taking an epic California coast road trip, don't miss this episode! ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Thank you Listeners!! 01:18 - Talking with Kim about her road trip 01:50 - Itinerary 07:15 - Redwoods 08:45 - Fort Bragg 14:52 - San Francisco 22:37 - Unplanned stops 26:30 - Cambria 33:06 - Ventura 37:37 - Disney 40:19 - LA 41:58 - Going home 43:05 - Final tips 50:15 - Where to take a family photo 52:30 - Kim’s Favorite Travel Gear 56:28 - Coming next week TIPS FOR PLANNING A CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP If you rent a car and drive one direction and fly back, you can drive from Seattle to Southern California in a week. Even if you are not a Seattle or California resident you could still have a great road trip if you plan to make your road trip one way and take flights. It is highly recommended that you take your California road trip from north to south. Since you will be on the right side of the road, it makes it easier to get off and back onto the highway at scenic overlooks. Though you should know that if you are not a fan of heights, driving on the Pacific Coast Highway from north to south can have quite a few spots where there will be a drop off on that side of the road that may make you nervous. If you plan on visiting the Redwoods on your road trip. You may be tempted to stop as soon as you start seeing them, to start you exploring but you should really wait until you get to Crescent City, then get on the 101. Fort Bragg (not a military base) in California makes a great overnight stop. This is where you will also find a glass beach. The glass there is actually from a dump that years ago pushed the glass to the shore where it got washed up after storms. Keep in mind that this cove that will have the glass is somewhat hard to get to, go make sure you have good shoes if you are adventurous enough to find and explore the beach. And remember to leave the glass on the beach and leave no trace! If you are planning on visiting San Francisco on your trip you should definitely think about renting bikes and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also walk the bridge but that will take quite a while. There is a lookout on the other side of the bridge that has a great view of the bridge and city. Don’t be afraid of making any unplanned stops. They could out to be a highlight of your trip! You may want to think about staying in Monterey, California. There is so much to do in Monterey and nearby Carmel, plus starting from this area instead of San Francisco will give you more time to stop along the coast. Make sure to fill up on gas, bring snacks, and use the bathroom before you leave the Monterey/Carmel area, as there are not many places to stop until you get to Big Sur. Piedras Blancas is a great place to stop and see the Elephant Seals. If you or your child have any interest in animals you may want to think about making this one of your planned stops. Springtime is a great time to see them otherwise they may not be there. Universal Studios LA is very different than Orlando. There are less rides and it is more about the movie sets. If you do plan on going, it is highly recommended that you do the studio backlot tour. This is an absolute must if you plan on going to Universal on this or any trip you make to California. Make sure to ask to ask to be in the third car of the tram! Make sure to have a mapped plan of the route you want to take. If you just rely on GPS to get to each point on your trip. The GPS may want to keep taking you on the shortest or quickest route rather that the one you want to take. If it does you could miss out on some coastal views or additional stops you want to make. Plan accordingly for gas prices they tend to be pretty high in California. Also make sure to be aware of rush hours when you are driving to or from cities on your route. This could get you caught in some slow traffic if you don’t try to plan around them. If you are renting a car and you have any issues with the car try to get the car to the nearest rental company, depending on which you used, and they may be able to help you quicker that waiting on hold if you call them to find out what to do. BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO If you are going to San Francisco you should definitely get a shot on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge where you can have the bridge on one side and the city on the other. FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Kim loved wearing her leggings for driving around since they are so comfortable and perfect for the long times in the car. One huge time saver would be to make sure everyone has slip on shoes, which will make taking stops that much quicker when getting out of the car. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Things to do in Fort Bragg North Coast Brewing Co. The Beachcomber Motel Best Place to see the Redwoods on the California Coast The Lodge at the Presidio Tips for Driving the California Coast Oceanpoint Ranch Pelican Inn & Suites in Cambria Robin’s Restaurant Linn’s Restaurant Crowne Plaza Hotel Alamo Car Rental Visiting Los Angeles with Kids FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 2019

58 min

We are back from our spring breaks and this week, Tamara is telling us all about her family trip to Morocco. Tune in for tips on visiting Morocco with kids and what you need to plan your own trip. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - Talking with Kim about her ski trip 13:55 - Talking about Tamara’s trip to Morocco 14:30 - Weather in Morocco 16:36 - How long to spend 18:28 - Travel to and from Morocco 19:40 - Itinerary 24:40 - Riads 29:39 - Food tour 34:20 - Shops 37:28 - Camping in the Desert 45:30 - Marrakech 51:15 - Cooking class 54:14 - Language 55:04 - Money 59:29 - Final Tips 1:01:55 - Favorite Place for a Family Photo 1:02:45 - What to wear 1:04:47 - Listener’s tip TIPS FOR VISITING MOROCCO The weather during the spring is very nice, though you have to keep in mind that it changes depending on the area of country you are staying in. So the further north you are, the colder it will be, then it will warm up the further south you go. When planning your trip to Morocco the best time to go will be in the springtime. The temperatures ranged from 50 to 80 during the day and about 40 to 60 at night. This will also depend on the area of the country you are staying in. November to January is not the best time to go because it tends to get quite rainy. Then in the summertime, the temperatures get very hot, so keep that in mind when planning when to go to Morocco. You will need at least a week to explore what the country has to offer. Ideally two weeks in Morocco would be best, so that you can really explore. Make sure that you travel around to different areas rather than just picking on area and staying there the whole time. Get out of the touristy areas of the country a get a taste of the true Morocco. Keep in mind that depending on how many places you want to visit there is a lot of driving involved. For instance if you want to spend a night in the Sahara desert it could take you an 8 hour drive to and from the desert. So you will need to plan accordingly. Be aware that if you ask around on how long it will take to get somewhere, you will most likely be told that it will take less time that it actually will take. If you are a squeamish person you may want to really do some research before planning your trip. You will definitely see some eye opening sights, like animal parts just hanging or laid out in the open. This is not a location for a germaphobe and you need to be careful where you eat. You may want to look into hiring a driver for your trip to Morocco. This will save you some headaches and if you are not comfortable driving in foreign places. This may not be in the budget, but it is definitely worth looking into. Make sure to keep an eye out for different stands that sell souvenirs and authentic merchandise. You will find that there are a lot of places that sell imported knockoffs. Something that may be on your bucket list is camping in the desert. If so you should look into the experience when visiting Morocco. This is a big commitment considering the drive it takes to get to and from the area. If you like food you should definitely look into taking a cooking class when you are in Marrakech. It could turn into the highlight of your trip. In major areas you will find that most speak English, but in smaller areas that are less touristy you will hear a lot of French and Moroccan Arabic. The money in Morocco is the Moroccan dirham, and you can’t get this out of the country. You can exchange at the airport or you can go to an ATM. But keep in mind that for the ATM you can only take out 2,000 dirham at a time which is about 200 dollars, and you can only take out a max of 4,000 dirham a day. You also find that very few places take credit cards. Having a driver can really make a big difference on how your trip will go. A thing to keep in mind is that there are police everywhere, so if you are planning to drive around yourself you need to keep an eye out because they do pull people over quite a bit. The roads are mostly narrow and winding. You may also come across some areas that are in the mountains and you will be on a narrow with a drop off one side and mountain on the other. So, if you are a nervous driver in areas like this you should definitely look into hiring a driver. Keep in mind that you are in a conservative country and will need to wear clothing that is appropriate. Pants or skirts need to be below the knee, keep your shoulders and cleavage covered. Loose and flowing is a good option because you will be able to cover the areas that need to be covered and not get overly hot in the weather. BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO If you plan on experiencing the desert, this is a great place to get a family photo while you are there! MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Keystone Colorado Lina Ryad & Spa Epic Morocco Riad Fes Riad Madu L’ma Lodge Four Seasons Marrakech Riad Kaiss Marrakech Chefchaouen Morocco: 5 Important Facts to Know Before You Go 50 Essential Morocco Travel Tips for First-Time Tourists How Much Does a Morocco Trip Cost? Plan a Perfect 7-day, 10-day, or Two-week Morocco Itinerary FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 2019

68 min

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and we wanted to share some tips and strategies for traveling with kids on the Autism spectrum. Nicole Thibault shares her personal story and learnings to encourage families that feel that travel isn't possible or is just too hard. Learn about some of the resorts, theme parks, and brands that have been certified to support guests on the Autism spectrum. ON THE PODCAST 00:32 - Talking with Tamara traveling with special needs 05:10 - Talking with Nicole 09:25 - Advice on whether or not to travel 13:40 - Certified destinations around the world 14:30 - What age to go 15:58 - Flying with kids on the Autism spectrum 18:30 - Tips for visiting uncertified locations 20:34 - My Villa Key 22:30 - Theme parks 28:16 - Cruising 32:40 - Preparing your child 35:11 - Final tips 36:25 - Favorite Travel Gear ABOUT NICOLE THIBAULT When Nicole Thibault opened her travel agency, Magical Storybook Travels, in 2015, she knew she wanted to create a travel business that catered to ALL families, including those with Autism and other Special Needs. She takes great pride in assisting families with their vacations, especially those who thought that they might not be able to travel with their child with Autism. In addition to Magical Storybook Travels, Nicole also owns Spectrum Travel Social Story Videos, a production company that creates destination-specific travel videos that help children with Autism and anxiety get acclimated to a destination prior to travel. These videos greatly reduce the anxiety and fear for a child with Autism about traveling to an unknown destination. Follow Nicole on Instagram. TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH AUTISM If you are thinking about taking a vacation but have concerns regarding traveling with a child or adult with Autism, here are some sites that may answer some of your questions; IBCCESwhich is a company that partners with destination to provide training to employees to create accommodation for families that are on the spectrum, and Autism Travelis a site that will list all of the destinations that have been through the training. The best part of these two sites is that the company really looks at these destinations through the eyes of someone with autism. They make sure that 85% of the staff at each location has been through the training. They will also supply some planning tools on their site to help families. The best place to start is to take small trips at first. Then progressing to longer times away from home. Depending on progress and comfort, you could try plane trips to take vacations further away. Autism Travelis a site you can count on to know that each destination listed has employees that have been through training and that they will be ready for you family. Most kids are diagnosed around the age of two or three. With that being said you should wait a couple years for your first vacation. In those couple years your child will have some therapy under their belt and may better be able to handle the situation. Flights may be difficult, especially for the first time. TSA Careshas a hot line that if you call them and give them a heads up on flights at least 72 hours before, they will have someone meet you outside security that will walk you through security so you won’t need to wait through the regular 20-30 minute line they will take you through a seperate area to go through security. If you need to travel to a location that is not a certified destination. You may want to think about going on the hotel’s website where you will be staying, and show your child pictures of the lobby, room, even the outside of the hotel. With those pictures you can create a social story about how this is where you will be staying. Maybe even talking about how long you will be there. This can give your child a sense of calm and ease about the trip. My Villa Keyis a certified Orlando Vacation site with IBCCESwhere you can stay in a villa of your own. They make sure to use cleaning supplies that are not to strong smelling. The walls are painted in muted tones so there is nothing too bright that could cause sensory overload. The doors are equipped with an alarm system so that if you child is a runner you will know when they open the door. There is also a lock on the gate at the pool so that you know they will not be able to get in there without your supervision or even out before you are with them to leave. Prepare your family if you are planning on going to a large Theme Park like Disney. Have a talk with everyone explaining where you are going what you will see. Maybe showing pictures of the park and the rides that are there. Do some research on accommodations the park may offer for children or adults with disabilities. You may also want to put together a bag with items that will help your child with any sensory issues. You could have noise canceling headphones, little toys, hand sanitizer, scented lip balm. Anything that will help your child get through any unexpected issues. Royal Caribbean was great with helping out anyway they could to make Nicole and her family's cruising experience the best. Teaching your kids to be friendly to all kids no matter if they are in a wheelchair, have Autism or even just shy can make a big difference in social situations. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on traveling! FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR Nicole loves to be comfortable; wearing shorts, t-shirts, sandals. She also like to wear her Lands’ End fleece for when she gets cold. Eagle Creek makes a backpack that you can roll up that Nicole loves to use on her travels. MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST Morgan’s Wonderland R Family Vacations IBCCES Autism Travel TSA Procedures   TSA Press Release - has all the information you will need and links to find out more My Villa Key Fact on the DAS pass for Disney Sesame Place Autism Social Story Videos Spectrum Travel Social Story Videos YouTube channel FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Apr 2019

41 min

Happy anniversary to us!! Thank you to all of our listeners who have been with us all along our three year journey and those who have joined in along the way. This week we are celebrating our third anniversary by recapping our top 10 most popular episodes of all time. ON THE PODCAST 00:30 - 3 years, top ten episodes 01:57 - New York City 05:36 - Summer Travel 08:36 - Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship 10:18 - Our Top 100 Travel Products and Experiences 14:07 - More Summer Travels 15:44 - Travel Apps 20:24 - Black Hills of South Dakota 21:58 - First Trip to Italy 23:10 - Mexico All-Inclusive Resorts 27:02 - Saving Money for Vacation 32:40 - Next Episode MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST #1 New York City with Kids - episode 54 #2 Summer Travel - Yellowstone, Montana and a Midwest Road Trip - Episode 103 #3 Our Experience on the Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship - Episode 104 #4 Our Top 100 Travel Products and Experiences - Episode 100 #5 Summer Travels - Arizona, New Mexico, Toystory Land, Italy and Montana - Episode 102 #6 Best Travel Apps - Episode 90 #7 Visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota - Episode 105 #8 Planning a First Trip to Italy - Episode 84 #9 Guide to Mexican All-Inclusive Resorts - Episode 109 #10 Tips for Saving Money for Vacation - Episode 87 Disney Cruise Guide for First Timers - Episode 91 Columbia Momondo App Autoslash Secret Flying FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD! If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, orGoogle Playand leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcaseand We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebookor Twitter. Thanks for listening!

Mar 2019

34 min

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