Screensaver worthy!

I have to tell you,  the moment I saw this photo on my friend’s Facebook feed I was absolutely awestruck.

Naturally, I complimented her on this remarkable photo of what I easily recognized as Waikiki Beach at Oahu, Hawaii.

My friend told me that her 10 year old daughter, Livia, took the photo on an iPad. Pretty incredible eh?!!

I made Livia an offer and paid her for the use of her photo on my blog. I told her that I’d love to show her talent to the world. Aren’t you glad I did?

I asked Livia if she had a review of the hotel or anything to tell our readers about Waikiki Beach or Honolulu. She reported that her family really liked their hotel, the Outrigger Reef. It had a fantastic location, view of the ocean, crafts, activities and even a Starbucks! One more unique offering of the Outrigger Reef  is that twice a week, at sunrise, they do a complimentary vow renewal ceremony for couples.  (Wow!! That’s something I had never heard about before. Livia’s going  to make a brilliant travel writer AND professional photographer someday!)

Special sincere thanks to Livia & her family for sharing this brilliant photo & glimpse into their family holiday.

 

 

All inclusive, not all exhausting.

It’s hard to explore all the time. Maybe you can relate?

I can’t be the only one who is so exhausted that I just want to have an ultra-easy vacation with comforts that I know I can count on.

A big fluffy bed in a clean room, with a big shower and maybe even a tub. A hotel room where there is room to spread out so the kids aren’t tripping over each other and no one is fighting for space.  Somewhere where no one has to sleep with their brother or compromise with a cot.

I want room service. And I want a balcony.  I’m not even fussy about the view. It could overlook a garden, the pool or even give only a glimpse of the ocean…. it doesn’t matter.  As long as it doesn’t overlook my unwashed car,  my neighbour’s dog house,  or the lawn I need to mow and the bike I need to repair.

I don’t want to walk 4 km to get to the pool or the beach or get up at 6 AM to reserve a chaise by the ocean.  I don’t want to stand in line to make a reservation and I don’t want to have to walk up to the bar each time to get a drink. Is it so wrong that I just want a drink delivered to the pool deck  so I don’t have to put my book down?

And I don’t  want to negotiate either an appetizer or a dessert with the kids. I would love for them to eat as much as they want, so they are no longer hungry, without me having to calculate the cost and take away from my meal accordingly. (Teenagers eat a car payment each month at home!)

And lastly what I want from my vacation is something to do in the evening after dinner.  It does not have to be a Cirque du Soleil show or anything. It could be a movie theatre with old movies, or it could be a games room with a ping pong table. Just something where we can laugh and share an experience as a family.

Sounds like exhausted-me wants an all inclusive resort.  A small property, by the beach, family friendly and “unlimited luxury included.”

Now, if I can just find the right space on the calendar!

Why is this a bargain?

Prices and availability subject to change without notice. This screenshot was valid for booking Aug 4, 2019. The further past this publishing date the less likely the bargain is still available.

This Air Canada vacations package came up in a recent search. It is priced for two adults and two children under age 12.

To have the total cost under $4000, (or 1000 per person) is remarkable when considering your package includes flights, bus transfer, checked luggage, plus a week in five-star accommodations, including meals and beverages. Wow!

Why is it so cheap? These are quiet travel dates, halfway between US Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Dreams Resorts are part of the AMResorts chain and are known for their family focussed entertainment, accommodations, and unlimited luxury.  Unlimited luxury refers to 24 hour room service, snacks, no limits on a la  carte restaurant reservations, free kids’ club programming and much more!

To go to this resort with your family over Christmas, expect to pay about $2400 a person.

I’d love to book this, or any other Dreams Resort, for your family.  If you live in western Manitoba, please do track me down at SellOffVacations in Brandon.

What makes a travel bargain?

In my opinion, a travel bargain worth mentioning has to be the right blend of quality, reliability, and price. 

If the food is of poor quality, it’s no bargain.

If the airline regularly cancels flights or routes or has a reputation for delays, it’s no bargain.

If the discounted price still offers high quality and reliability of service, that’s a bargain. And only when it meets this criteria, do I consider posting it to the She Talks Travel Facebook forum.

What if the price is abnormally low? Then it is important to investigate further. Why is there a deep discount?  To use one recent example, the “NOW Emerald” Resort is priced  about 20% lower than its sister (and similarly named) resorts NOW Sapphire and NOW Jade.

(This is where it’s handy to know a travel professional and can ask this question before you book. “Why is this one cheaper?)

In this case, NOW Emerald is a recently acquired property. AMResorts,  (the parent chain) has purchased this location from Oasis Resorts. So, it was an existing resort that has been purchased and is in the process of renovating and rebranding. During this time of transition, and renovation, they are offering lower introductory rates.  Knowing the high quality of standards and reputation of AMResorts, you can be assured of quality food, accommodations and service. Therefore I believe the introductory price qualifies as a bargain.

Another time a bargain comes up is when there is increased competition. So for example, when Flair started flying to Phoenix, WestJet slashed their prices on the same route.  In this case WestJet was the bargain.

There is almost always a bargain to be found when you move in the opposite direction of a crowd. For example when everyone goes back to work and school in September, if you go out to travel you’ll find a bargain.

What is NOT a bargain?   Anything that is not the right fit for you or your family.   It’s simply not a good idea to force a size 9 foot into a size 6 shoe. You will regret trying or buying that “shoe” or trip, no matter how good it looks in the ads.

 

Get in that photo!

I’m not the first person to say it. But it’s a message that should be echoed over & over until we all hear it.

“Mama, get in that photo!”

The excuses in our heads are bunk. The odds of our kids looking at a crafted photo and remembering us as “perfect” are zero anyways!

Our kids will remember us as their one & only, amazing, irreplaceable mom because we PARTICIPATED.  We made cookies at midnight, played on the swings, went on nature walks & made soup when they were sick.

Please. Please don’t say no to posing when your hair’s a mess, you’re 20 pounds more than you want to be, or your clothes are 10 years old. The kids hear that, and it will affect how they view women, motherhood & themselves into the future.

So put down the camera, pass it to your husband, a stranger or a selfie stick. Get in the photo!! You matter & your kids love you exactly the way you are.

Capture that moment!

I unabashedly share this one. Without excuses or apologies for the way I look.  I was walking the ocean floor with my kids at The Bay of Fundy. And I WAS the tallest in the photo! How cool was that!!!

Baseball in Milwaukee

If you’re going to travel to baseball stadiums and collect baseball souvenirs eventually you’ll have to go to Milwaukee.

This past Easter weekend Riley and I travelled to Milwaukee to watch the Brewers play the LA Dodgers.

We picked up tickets online at StubHub for $35 a piece. It’s early in the season so I think that’s a pretty fair price. We sat in the club section front row, which is prime area for catching a foul ball. During our game there were 4 fouls into our section, Riley narrowly missed catching one. So in this instance, we had to buy our souvenir ball from the gift shop.

Some of the perks of sitting in the club seats is that there is that waitress service to your seat, but there is also specialty food kiosks on the concourse. Things like carved meat sandwiches, and cheesecake, things that you wouldn’t get in the regular seating.

One of the other perks of sitting in club is that there are more washrooms per capita.

There are less crowded souvenir stands in addition to comfy chairs and big screen TVs on the concourse. There were even phone charging stations.

I will say that every baseball stadium I’ve been to there are good seats and there are great seats but there are truly no “bad seats.” So whenever you sit, you’ll still have a fabulous time!

There can however be bad weather, but not a big deal in Milwaukee because they have a covered stadium. So no worries about a rain delay in Milwaukee.   But if the weather is sunny and fabulous, it has a retractable roof so they can open the dome and let the sunshine in.

In terms of ballpark food, I had a bratwurst dog and local craft beer at a cost of $17.  Riley had chicken fingers, waffle fries, a bag of peanuts and a Pepsi For about $22.

Miller Field is about 10 minutes from Downtown Milwaukee and most of the hotels or restaurants have free shuttles to the ball park. That was awesome! I love a free shuttle!  Our driver, Steve, had lots of personality and it was a fun little shuttle drive. (Don’t forget to tip your shuttle drivers!)

If you’re looking for a great ballpark don’t overlook Milwaukee!  Great city, great time.