Staying in an ice hotel seems to be fascinating to a lot of people, but what’s it really like?
After several years of wondering, Hubby and I finally tried it out at the Hotel Glace just outside of Quebec City, Canada. It is the only ice hotel in North America, …> > read more
Let me begin this post by saying that the Hubby is a Disney addict. We went to DisneyWorld for our honeymoon. Now you get what I’m talking about. While Disney is large, fun and a bit of magic, the increasing prices over the years are just like a punch in the gut. When you live in the middle of the country like we do, getting there (CA or FL) just …> > read more
There are several different ideas for travel hacking Atlantis in the Bahamas. One of the most written about tricks is getting rooms at the Comfort Inn and Suites since those guests get full Atlantis privileges (not to mention free breakfast at your hotel). Another trick is to go on a cruise that offers a day excursion to Atlantis. While those are perfectly acceptable, I’m not a big fan of cruising, …> > read more
The biggest thing you need to do while preparing to eat at Atlantis during your visit is this:
Lower your expectations.
As a blogger that researches my own upcoming travels on other blogs, I was forewarned that the food was expensive and not fabulous. Therefore, we decided that casual and poolside dining would suffice for our visit.
Poolside food: Poolside food is actually one of the decent values …> > read more
The reason people stay at Atlantis if for all of the activities that are on their property, right? I had purposefully not planned any “excursions” for our trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas. For some odd reason, I felt like we had paid enough money to stay at the resort, so all of our fun could be had “on property”. I didn’t mind paying a small fee for some activities, …> > read more
Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas is a huge sprawling resort with at least 6 different hotel choices. It’s important to note that families of 5+ will are required to get 2 rooms at the hotels. Unlike hotels at Disney, they claim fire code will not allow rollaway beds in any rooms that have 2 queens. Unless you stay for a week at the Villas complete with a kitchen, but the …> > read more
While traveling over Thanksgiving we had a lot of opportunities for dining out in Oklahoma City. The downtown/midtown/bricktown area has a lot of amazing options that would surprise you. It was hard to do, but I narrowed it down to 5 places that you shouldn’t miss if you find yourself lucky enough to visit.
For Thanksgiving this year, we found ourselves with plenty of things to do in Oklahoma City. It was very difficult to narrow the list down to 5 things. All of these take place in the downtown/bricktown area. So if you can’t get a cheap car rental, you could walk or Uber the whole time. Some of the items on the list have subcategories, oh well, here goes:
While planning our Thanksgiving weekend in Oklahoma City, we found a lot of choices when deciding where to stay. We lucked into 5 free tickets to the NBA Thunder vs. Brooklyn game for Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve. Once again, letting family and friends know we’d gladly take tickets they couldn’t use, paid off. We’d been to an NFL game in Kansas City just weeks earlier by utilizing our family and …> > read more
Hubby is a HUGE Pittsburg Steelers fan. So whenever the Steelers play anywhere in the vicinity, we try to take advantage of the opportunity to attend a game. That’s how we found our entire family visiting Arrowhead Stadium last weekend.
We have lots of family and friends in Kansas City. Luckily we received 5 club level tickets to the …> > read more
If you’re following my blog on Instagram and Twitter (@trvlinginspird) you probably noticed that we went to San Antonio in August. Sounds really hot, right? Well, the resorts in the Texas Hill Country are prepared to provide a lot of fun for the whole family. Texas Hill Country is an easy drive for our family, so we’ve been to several resorts in the area. We’ve stayed at the Omni Barton …> > read more
The relatively new Walt Disney World Fast Pass+ system has a lot of mixed reviews. But it doesn’t really matter what you think about it, it’s here to stay. So I’ll explain how we maximized our use of the Fast Pass+ system. I’ve already talked about the planning process, so this post will show how it worked out in the parks.
The last week in July we found ourselves spending 4 days at Disney World. Over the years, we’ve stayed at a lot of hotels “on property” at Disney World. The early entrance benefits and proximity to the parks have always been a major influence in this decision. I think it is well worth it. With the new fast pass+ reservation system, the ability to reserve those passes before “off property” …> > read more
I’m always eager to learn how to save time and money at Universal Orlando. It’s a delicate balance. If you live anywhere but Florida, you’ve probably already paid a pretty penny to get there in the first place. Although, I hate to spend all that money and not be able to experience the parks like we wanted to. We visited Universal Orlando the last week in July this year. So …> > read more
We didn’t spend our entire summer on South Padre Island. But with such a laid back vibe, maybe we should have. I’ve done posts about spending a short weekend with the Hubby or a group of girlfriends on South Padre Island. But this summer, we took two boys and another couple to the island for the week surrounding 4th of July. Here are my top tips …> > read more
Dining out in Chicago with our teenager was definitely an adventure. I think he actually picked Chicago for his middle school graduation trip (solo with mom and dad) because of the food choices. The idea that he could experience Chicago pizza, popcorn, steak, and desserts if he chose Chicago might have been what tipped the scales for him.
My blog has been lucky enough to be featured on Million Mile Secrets! It’s part of their interview series on Big Travel with Small Money. So I might have some new readers checking out the blog today! Woo Hoo!
So if you are new to the blog start here. I typically post 3 times a week. If you like what you …> > read more
Okay, now that you are all caught up, we can forge ahead. We started the day …> > read more
We spent our second day in Chicago with our oldest teenager, Junior, in what is locally known as museum campus. This acreage along the lake is home to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. Our segway tour yesterday provided an overview of what was available on the museum campus. We decided to spend the first half of the day at the Shedd and …> > read more
One of our traveling traditions meant that we found ourselves in Chicago for 3 days with our oldest teenager last week. If it was good enough for Ferris Bueller, it’s good enough for Junior!
Our first planned activity was a lake side segway tour. Last summer, I took a segway tour in Washington DC, and it …> > read more
Our family has developed a few traveling traditions over the years. Earlier this week, Hubby and I visited Chicago with Junior. We left his brothers at home with family and friends. He finished 8th grade and is headed to high school next year. So we let him pick anywhere in the US to visit with just us for a long weekend. We throw out some destinations and their highlights and …> > read more
Our family is headed to Disney World later this summer. In the old days, we’d book flights, hotel and theme park tickets and be ready to rock. Our tickets would be waiting at our hotel when we arrived and we’d hit the parks with military like precision. The old fast pass kiosk system meant that mom and dad kept all the tickets and zig zagged the park to obtain fast …> > read more
Long time readers of this blog may know that I like to refer to where I live as the heartland. We’ve been getting more attention lately being known as tornado alley. Although tornado alley is primarily a media driven term, it encompasses the peak in tornado activity in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. It has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think?
I’ve already visited South Padre Island twice this year, and have at least one more trip planned this summer. My frequent visits have allowed me to explore most of the restaurants on the Island. So here are my top five places to eat on South Padre Island:
5) Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill – This restaurant didn’t make the list …> > read more
Last weekend I found myself making a late spring visit to South Padre Island. After a particularly rough April at home, a long weekend on the Island with a friend seemed like the best medicine.
We lucked out on accommodations by staying at the vacation home of a friend of ours at no cost. It …> > read more
Happy Mother’s Day fellow travelers…
You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting for the last few weeks. I haven’t been traveling. Or really even been thinking about traveling. I’ve been handling more important things here at home.
My mother passed away just a few weeks ago at the age of 70. As an only child, I had a lot on my plate. That’s the short version of the story.
The …> > read more
Our family ski trips are usually spent in a condo preparing the majority of our meals in the provided kitchen. However, spring break of 2015 we found ourselves at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Our hotel stay meant that we ate out every night, so thank goodness the village has so many options.
Our biggest splurge …> > read more
I have to say I’m not usually into travel souvenirs. Most trinkets are made in China anyway, right? However, in the early years of our marriage, Hubby and I would collect Christmas Ornaments from places we visited. They were small, easy to bring home, and are packed away neatly most of the year. It made decorating the tree each year like a walk down our traveling memory lane. But on …> > read more
I saved a lot of money on hotels by staying with a friend in Bangkok on my recent trip to Thailand. However, we traveled as a group of four people up north to the city of Chiang Mai. Here is my Le Meridien Chiang Mai review.
In the middle of the winter it seems like everyone focuses on the ski towns west of Denver. After visiting charming Colorado Springs and the surrounding area almost every summer, I can tell you it is well worth the trip.
The town is sprawling, with great suburbs you don’t want to miss. So renting a car is a …> > read more
Since we chose to stay in a hotel instead of a condo this trip, we did our fair share of dining out in Beaver Creek, Colorado. I have to say I’m not used to staying in a hotel room without a kitchen. But since I was going for a long weekend with only one kid and a friend, it was more manageable than if I was traveling with the whole …> > read more
Skiing with kids in Beaver Creek was something I had never done until a few weeks ago. For years, I had only taken on the higher end ski resorts with other adults, with Hubby or on a girls trip. I decided to take Junior (age 14) on a long weekend ski trip just before Christmas. It was a chance to have some alone time with my teenager. Junior hadn’t been …> > read more
Figuring out where to stay and how to get around New York City with a family of any size can be difficult. But with a family of 5, it takes the game to a whole new level.
Where to stay:
A larger family can’t all cram into one hotel room, especially with the tiny hotel rooms in New York City. When …> > read more
My latest restaurant visits in New York City varied a lot in level of service and even location this time. Here are the stops we made, and what I thought.
No visit can be complete without some New York Style Pizza. Thin crust is my favorite kind, so I was in heaven. Since we had our kids with us, we tried two different places. …> > read more
A family visit to the Statue of Liberty can be done many different ways. Your type of visit depends on how much time you have, how far in advance you are willing to plan, as well as what your level of interest is. We have visited Lady Liberty in the summer and winter, as a family (with 1 or 3 kids), and as a couple.
Here are my top tips for …> > read more
During the Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I made our first visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
I had visited the outside memorial on a previous visit to New York City before the museum was open. The website suggests that the museum might be too much for children under the age of 10. My boys range in age …> > read more
While spending Thanksgiving in New York City, we decided to take on the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, so here is my review.
In all my previous visits to New York City, I had never seen the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Even with my three boys on this trip, I thought the Christmas Spectacular show would be the best show to see them. The boys didn’t even know what …> > read more
Ice skating in New York City with kids during the winter is a great thing to do because there are so many options.The most notable places to ice skate in New York City are Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, and Central Park.
Here’s the cost breakdown for peak season prices:
Rockelfeller Center – Skate Rental ($12) Admission (Adults $30/Kids $15). VIP Skate and meal packages available. This iconic rink is definitely the …> > read more
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with tween/teen boys…is a little different.
Let me preface this by saying that my boys have never really watched much of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. In 2013, I sat in front of the TV watching the parade and the boys would filter in and out occasionally when I mentioned a cool float or balloon. I was anticipating this trip a year ahead of …> > read more
Deciding to start our young family skiing in Red River, New Mexico was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. In a previous post I wrote about skiing with kids and starting out at a smaller ski area was high on the list.
While Red River is a great place to start, there are lots of mid-small level ski areas that are …> > read more
There are plenty of things to do in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to make a visit worth your while.
They do everything bigger in Texas, and this urban area is no different. The two major airports that service this area are DFW and DAL. DAL is the old Love Field that is located within Dallas and is currently being upgraded. Southwest and Virgin America both use DAL and it is starting …> > read more
A lot of people go to these national parks just to see the wildlife. Although there is a lot more to these parks than wildlife, you will probably see your fair share. I definitely felt like we did.
My public service announcement is this: Don’t feed the animals and don’t get too close. Feeding the animals leads to them being dependent on us and causing trouble in populated areas. Those things …> > read more
Deciding to add the Grand Tetons to a trip to Yellowstone with the family is a no brainer. They are so close to each other, and you’ve already traveled a fair amount to get to this region of America. I’ve already shared the planning and highlights of our Yellowstone trip. We decided on a group trip, but you …> > read more
I’ve already shared my reasons for signing up for a Yellowstone/Grand Tetons Deluxe Camping trip with Backroads.
We had a fantastic time and I wanted to share our favorite active things and camp sites. While you and your kids could probably duplicate the hiking and kayaking on your own, some of the bike rides would be …> > read more
It might seem a little odd to be talking about planning a summer trip to Yellowstone in October. But once you start looking at the logistics, you’ll understand why.
Flying into the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area is interesting on its own. …> > read more
No vacation rerun to LA is complete without spending one day at Disneyland and California Adventure.
While visiting friends in LA this summer, we left a day open for Disney. The bad news is that there are not a lot of deals on one day Disneyland Park Hopper tickets. Park Hopper means you can go to both Dineyland and California Adventure in the same day. The …> > read more
Understanding how we ended up on Catalina Island takes a little bit of background.
Our family has vacation reruns in Los Angeles a lot. Vacation reruns are defined as trips/vacations that are taken to a place you have already visited, due to business, social, or family obligations. Hubby …> > read more
Dirty laundry takes over every aspect of a trip.
You also have to make sure none of the clothes you want to take on your upcoming trip are in the dirty laundry.
And there is always a ton of dirty laundry to attend to when you get home. Especially when you have 3 boys, not including your husband.
But dirty laundry needs a place to pile …> > read more
After much debate, we proceeded with the task of getting Global Entry for our family of five.
If you don’t know, Global Entry gives a person expedited entrance into the United States. So after traveling home from some fabulous place, you don’t have to race to stand in the long line at customs. There is a separate …> > read more
When I say letting your kid fly on their own, it’s not a metaphor. I’m talking about letting your kid fly on a commercial airline without paying the unaccompanied minor fee, without major assistance from the ticket or gate agent, and letting them fly. My 13 year old did it for the first time this year, but I’ll tell you more about that later.
Apparently between Telluride and Mountain Village, the area boasts over 60 restaurants. Wow! Eating out in Telluride means a lot of options.
For the most part, our family enjoys eating in during ski trips. After a long day on the slopes, we hesitate to shower and get changed into something decent to head out to eat dinner. When the boys were little we ran the risk of …> > read more
When we planned a trip to go skiing in Telluride, CO for Spring Break last year, I knew we were stepping up to the big leagues as far as mountain resorts go. You can read my tips on getting kids started skiing here.
We stayed in the house of a friend within the town of Telluride. …> > read more
Telluride is a tale of two cities: Telluride (the town) and Mountain Village.
One is an old cowboy town started in 1875. The other, is a mountain village built by developers around 1978. But the great thing is that they are connected by a free gondola, and you can ski down to the bottom of both places. I’ll do another post about their great skiing, and another …> > read more
After 3 full days in San Francisco with our 10 yr old, Bo, I feel like I should recap some of the eating, sleeping, and getting there parts.
Getting to San Francisco from the middle of the country always means flying in. I tried to have as little cash layout for this trip as I could. Domestically, that means Southwest for us. This time, the best points …> > read more
Part of the reason that Bo wanted to visit San Francisco was because of Chinatown. His older brother, Duke, had been to the chinatown area of New York City, and would not shut up about it. I think the sights, sounds, and smells are so different from home, that he was mesmerized. Lucky us!
After much research, we picked a morning tour …> > read more
The second day of our trip to San Francisco with Bo was all about active adventures!
Our morning activity was designed to get out on the Bay in a boat. There are endless options. The street corners are filled with people that want to sell you some trip on a boat in the bay. But sitting on some giant motorized boat while a tour guide announced all …> > read more
Given the choice of any city to visit in the continental United states to visit with Mom and Dad, our 10 year old son, Bo, chose San Francisco. For 3 days, we tried to show him the aspects of San Francisco that make it a unique city to visit.
Our home base for this trip was the…> > read more
Adults: Depending on the reason for travel, most adults are pretty good at packing their own stuff. Unless you are traveling for a formal event, or a long period of time without washer/dryers, each adult should be able to pack in the typical carry on roller (for a week long trip I definitely use the zipper extender part and check it). My theory when traveling with kids is …> > read more
Our entire reason for going to Alaska was so that our boys could spend time with their grandfather, and see where he went every summer. But I knew they wouldn’t last 2 weeks out in the bush in Alaska fishing, or maybe mom couldn’t either. So the Adventures by Disney land trip through Alaska was a busy action packed way to sightsee so we could tack the Alaskan …> > read more
Our last day in regular Alaska, we decided to bite the bullet (and our wallet) and go dog mushing on a glacier. I’m not gonna lie, it was expensive. We really thought about the chances we’d be in Alaska again, weighed that against the cost, etc. In the end, we decided it was worth it. It can be arranged through …> > read more
One of the great things about Alaska is the feeling that you are visiting one of the last frontiers in America. This is never more evident than when you attempt to visit Spencer Glacier.
No roads lead to Spencer Glacier. Fortunately, the Alaska Railroad does. You can combine a scenic rail trip with a gentle float tour led by …> > read more
We began our day at the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center. It’s only 15 minute drive from the Hotel Alyeska, but about an hour from Anchorage if you are staying there. If you didn’t get enough wildlife viewing, here’s you chance. It’s like a giant outdoor zoo. It is a lot …> > read more
Our new home base hotel for this portion of our trip was Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood, Alaska. It is in-between Anchorage and Seward, amidst beautiful surroundings. It is a resort style hotel property with lots to see and do at the resort, and serves as a jumping off point for a lot of activities. …> > read more
Most United States National Parks have great resources and staff, and Denali is no exception. Our group had an arrangement through the park to be given lunch, a lecture about the wolves in Denali National Park, and taken on a small hike. This was all done just outside of the …> > read more
Our adventures around Denali National Park was based from our hotel, the Grande Denali Lodge. It sits high up on a hill overlooking the main drag. We liked it because it was a short hike (10 min) to the main drag and the views were gorgeous and you didn’t feel like you …> > read more
This Alaska series will cover traveling with Adventures by Disney as well as extending our trip and spending 4 days in the Alaskan Bush on our own. Since our trip, ABD has changed the itinerary for this trip, so read the fine print. This is NOT a sponsored post, what you read, …> > read more
With the entire west coast of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean there are many places to stay and play. Most people stay in the central region of the pacific coast. The big hotels like the Four Seasons, etc. are in the Guanacaste area. You’ll see a lot of Americans and Europeans, which is not why I really went to Costa Rica. I have friends that stay across …> > read more
Manuel Antonio National Park….
Although this national park is the smallest in Costa Rica, and has only been in existence since 1972, it packs a powerful punch. The corridor getting to the park is where most of the capitalism in Costa Rica has landed. The small highway is lined with hotels (some really nice), bars, condos, etc. None of them are high rises, which is nice, but …> > read more
A lot of people will go to Costa Rica and sit on the beach. And while you will have a great time, I think you would miss a lot of the interesting things about the culture and eco-environment that makes Costa Rica a one of a kind destination. I think that is what I liked about using …> > read more
There are so many things to do in Costa Rica, it is hard to pick. The group tour we were on had free time built in so that we could choose a few of our own activities. We were trying to pick between Caves and Zip line. You can kayak through underground caves and swim around to see wildlife. It sounded pretty awesome, but since …> > read more
Fortuna is the town and surrounding area next to the volcano. You’d call it that too, if you weren’t hit when the volcano erupted in the 1960’s. It is a short charter flight to the area from San Jose, or a shuttle can be arranged as well. Just remember, there are not that many main roads and traffic can be an issue. Our group tour met in San …> > read more
As always, before I went to Costa Rica, I read other blogs and got myself a lonely planet book on the country. We had many people recommend this country to us, but never gave us specifics about why. I’ll give you mine here, and what you need to know before you go.
Since we went at Christmas time, I was not as …> > read more
It’s never too early to start searching for or enrolling your kids in summer camp. Popular places fill up fast, and there are often discounts for early applications.
Let me start by saying that my husband and I both went to sleep away summer camp. Not the same one. When we were old enough we stayed for a month. Yes, Internet, I said that right. A …> > read more
I hesitate to offer packing and luggage advice because I think it is a really personal thing. What works for some, might not work for others. But I’ve gotten some great ideas from friends over the years, so I’m hoping you find something useful.
Adults: Depending on the reason for travel, most adults are pretty good …> > read more
So, we’ve already been to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. What’s left?
Our last day we decided to visit the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits as well as Griffith Park. The Tar Pits always interested me, but I wasn’t so sure about the boys. So we watched the movie Volcano (1997) with Tommy Lee Jones before we left home. Pathetic ploy, or genius …> > read more
Hooray for Hollywood!!
There were two recurring themes when I told people we were going to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is really touristy, and not the safest area.
I would not to be deterred. We went anyway.
My plan was to get to Hollywood Boulevard around 10am when everything starts to open, and leave before dark. Then we gave the same speech we …> > read more
After a harsh winter it is nice to head to warmer climates in California. So, we took a 7 day trip to Los Angeles for Spring Break last year. I’m not gonna lie, we visited Disneyland first. But all things Disney require a post of their own, so if that’s what you are looking for, you’re outta luck here.
The nice thing about the hotels close to …> > read more
So, like most of the country, we are covered in snow. The boys have had two snow days this week, and it looks like there will be a few more next week. Isn’t it funny that we pay good money to spend all day and ski in this stuff in the mountains, but when it hits at home, we are stuck inside and complaining?> > read more
Yes, internet. You read that correctly. Most people don’t consider New Orleans a top pick for kids. I am one of them. The last time I was there for business, I saw an ice cream truck parked on Bourbon Street mid-morning next to an establishment with a lingerie clad lady trying to entice customers inside. Calling her a lady is generous.
But when you live in the …> > read more
Let me preface this post by saying that Hubby is a sports fanatic. Sure, I like sports, some more than others, but maybe just not so many of them. Even before we got married we used spectator sports as a negotiation opportunity.
Hubby: I want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play this year.
Me: What city are they playing in that we can travel …> > read more
So you’ve booked your hotel and air travel for a trip to the Historic Triangle area in Virginia. Now, how do you save money on meals and activities once you get there? Here are some money saving tips:
Staying at a Williamsburg property – If you get a package with tickets and breakfast included, you are way ahead of the game. Because breakfast can be expensive and …> > read more
Our visit to Monticello was the last stop after a 7 day trip to the Historic Triangle. I was a little nervous that I had used up all of my boys curiosity about history in the preceding 6 days. Luckily, while at Williamsburg, I had made a point for us to listen to an actor’s speech as …> > read more
Our Christmas time visit to the Historic Triangle was full of history and education. Although this education was really fun at all the living museums, after a few days, my brain began to hurt. I was on information overload for sure.
Luckily, Busch Gardens opens to reveal ChristmasTown during the holidays. The park is open from 3pm until 10pm and decorated with over six …> > read more
Just like Jamestown, a visit to Yorktown is comprised of two parts:
Yorktown Victory Center: A center dedicated to recreating the revolutionary community during the period of colonial unrest through the formation of a new nation.
Yorktown Battlefield: The site of the last major …> > read more
Historic Jamestowne is the ACTUAL site of the first English settlement in America in 1607. How could you not take your kids to see that if you’re anywhere close?
We started our adventure right after lunch. Historic Jamestowne is a part of the National Park Service. It is an actual island connected …> > read more
One of the most important things to glean from this post is that there are two places to soak in the history of Jamestown.
Jamestown Settlement: A recreation of the first permanent American settlement in 1607. Yes, even before the pilgrims, people.
Historic Jamestowne: The ACTUAL site of the first permanent American settlement. If you can believe it, no one thought to start digging around here …> > read more
The good news about eating in Colonial Williamsburg is there are tons of choices within walking distance. Basically you can eat in a pub or bakery on the main strip of the Colonial Town, or you can eat in the adjacent modern shopping area where restaurants abound.
No matter where you …> > read more
As part of my series on the historic triangle, I wanted to go over some of the things we did in Colonial Williamsburg. My boys are ages 10-13 and I felt like it was the perfect age. First order of business for kids is to buy a hat or rent a costume! The price …> > read more
We got a great recommendation from some locals that Christmas is the best time to visit Colonial Williamsburg with kids. After spending 2 1/2 days there after Christmas in 2013, I can tell you their recommendation was spot on. They have almost all of the same programs as they do during the crowded, hot, smelly summer season (those old costumes are hot, y’all), …> > read more