Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring has finally arrived in most parts of the country, and, after the long winter many of us had, it can be tempting to get caught up in all the outdoor chores that await! But this year, why not take some time to celebrate the arrival of spring with your family? It doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive - just simple family playtime! Strapped for ideas? Well look no further, here are three of our faves:

Pack a picnic and escape for the day! Throw some sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in the cooler, grab a blanket, frisbee, or ball, and find a cozy spot where you and your kids can enjoy one another's company. A picnic is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and play together!

Hit a new playground or park! Nothing is as fun as an adventure; and any adventure that ends in a fantastic playground or park is bound to be a hit! Do a little research ahead of time and learn about new and fun play areas near you; maybe even do a quick drive-by before you make your plan!

image courtesy of xedos4/

Indulge a little; it is a celebration, after all!   Whether it means giving in to the siren song of the ice cream truck, a quick visit to a local ice cream shop, or even just popsicles in the backyard, enjoy a little treat with your kids while they still think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread!

Wishing you a safe and happy spring!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fun in the Sun!

image courtesy of artur84/
Selecting the right sunscreen can be the difference between enjoying some fun in the sun and suffering a painful burn.  While no sunscreen protects you completely, when used properly, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more can significantly reduce your chance of burns. When selecting a product, keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the better the protection (thought the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes.) According to the American Academy of Dermatology, SPF 15 sunscreens filter out approximately 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out around 97%, and SPF 50 sunscreens filter 98%.  For a comprehensive overview of sunscreen selection and usage, check out these great pointers from WebMD!

Great tip: attach a clippable timer to your beach bag and set it to give you a reminder when you need to reapply!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Destination: Universal Orlando!

This Spring Break, my husband, daughter and I spent a long weekend at Universal Orlando and it was simply amazing!  My 10-year-old is a huge Harry Potter fan (as am I!), and we were all excited to check out the re-creations of Hogsmead Village and Diagon Alley; but we could never have anticipated how much we would enjoy all the other amazing rides and shows in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure!

We scored a great package deal through Universal Orlando's website that included: a 4-night stay on-property at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, two breakfasts (one each in the Harry Potter establishments of Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron), 3 days of dual-park passes for each of us (with Early Park Admission for all 3 days allowing us to enter the park an hour before visitors who did not stay on-property), an Express Pass each (gives you priority seating on almost every ride and can be used an unlimited number of times), City Walk passes (entitling us to entry to a variety of clubs and venues at the City Walk complex immediately outside the Universal theme parks), and a "welcome package" that featured an adorable stuffed owl that my daughter fell in love with.  

The hotel was magnificent!  Boasting a Hawaiian/Polynesian Island vibe, the resort featured extremely attentive staff, a variety of eateries, an amazing pool with entertainment (movies, pool games, free snacks for the kids, a DJ, poolside service of adult beverages and food, etc.), beautiful lush grounds, and a free ferry that delivered you directly to the gates of the Universal theme parks (though there was also a walking path for land-lubbers)!  The ferry was about 5 minutes away from the parks, and the path was about a 10 minute walk - both fantastic options for reaching the parks.

The Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks left me breathless!  Both were immaculately maintained and beautifully arranged.  In both parks, Harry Potter world is at the rear-most section of the park, so there was a good deal of walking (which gave us a chance to get through and see everything so that we could plan out what we wanted to hit once we abandoned the magical world of Harry Potter!).  All three days saw us bolting to the back of the parks to hit the Gringotts and Forbidden Journey rides early (Express Passes do not work on these rides and lines quickly build to upward of 2 hours), and then meandering around to take in the shops, shows, and rides.  Then (because we had a dual-park pass), we would hop onto the Hogwarts Express (also does not accept the Express pass, but lines move very quickly) to ride over to the other park, where we would spend the balance of the day split between the Harry Potter section and the remainder of the park.  I could write a book about the amazing rides, shows, and exhibits, but I'll just share a few highlights:

In Harry Potter sections:

  • Gringotts was the winner, hands-downs.  It's a virtual reality ride that simulates a roller coaster ride through the vaults of the Wizard bank.  As amazing as the ride portion is, the intricacy of the actual bank itself (where you line up) is staggering - there is so much to see, hear and experience before you ever even get on the ride itself!
  • The Dragon Challenge was a close second, and a pleasant surprise for all of us!  We didn't know if we were coaster people or not until we took a few trips on this twisty, turny, loopy, scream-tastic adventure, but once we rode it, we were hooked!
  • The Hogwarts Express is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and magic!  Not only is the train itself a perfect replica of the one from the movies, but while you are in transit in your own little compartment you are treated to an elaborate show both through the "window" and on the translucent door way.

Non-Harry Potter sections:

  • Despicable Me and Men In Black are tied for first.  The Minions ride is a simul-coaster with an awesome storyline, thrilling action, and hilarious exploits!  Men in Black is a seated whirly ride where you have to shoot the aliens.  Both were so much fun we went back more than once!
  • A close second, the Jurassic Park River Ride (read flume!) offers a terrific adventure through the prehistoric world of dinosaurs with a dramatic ending that will leave you soaked and smiling!

Tips and Recommendations:
  • We spent a few minutes upon arrival on our first day putting together a plan that allowed us to hit the few rides that the Express Pass did NOT work for so we could minimize our wait time and maximize the number of rides and shows we could cover in a day.  It's definitely worth putting together a plan, though being able to be flexible gave us a few memorable experiences as well!
  • The parks both features lockers so that you can stow your belongings while you go on the rides; some are free for 25 minutes, some have a nominal fee - it was easily some of the best money we spent as it enabled us all to ride together without worrying about who would hold our stuff.
  • In Harry Potter world, Olivander's (where a wand chooses a Wizard or Witch), only one child (usually the first in the line) gets to have a wand choose them.  It's a cute show and they do a good job in both parks (there's an Olivander's in Hogsmead and Diagon Alley), but I wish we had known that only one child got to do it (we were second in line, so we kinda found out the hard way!).
  • Also in the Harry Potter section, there are interactive places where your child can use his or her wand to cast a spell.  Be forewarned, it's not as easy as it looks... if you can't get it to work, see if a wandering Witch or Wizard can give you some pointers (otherwise it can get frustrating, especially for the little ones).
  • Take breaks!  Our days started at the park, then we came back to the hotel late in the afternoon, hit the pool and relaxed a bit, showered, changed and headed back to the parks/City Walk for dinner and more fun!  It was the perfect way to break up the day!
  • Try a Butterbeer!  Warm was our favorite!
Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Space Saving Packing Hacks!

image courtesy of phasinphoto/
Two great tactics for leaving room in your luggage for souvenirs and other purchases:
  1. Pack older, disposable clothes that you can discard after wearing to free up room for purchases on the way home!
  2. Instead of packing all the guide books you have for your destination, copy or rip out the pages and take only those for the cities that you will be visiting!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rejoice And Be Glad!

image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/
For Christians, today is Good Friday and this Sunday will be Easter - a time of rejoicing, spending time with family, and having fun!  Whether it's dyeing Easter eggs, or hiding and hunting for those beautiful little gems, there are a few safety tips you'll want to keep in mind to prevent possible contamination.  After all, no one wants to spend their holiday with food poisoning.  Stay safe with this helpful tips:
  • Be sure to use fresh eggs.
  • Keep eggs refrigerated until you cook them.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly before handling eggs; egg shells are porous and bacteria can penetrate them, especially once they are cooked.
  • Boil eggs until the yolk and white are completely firm.
  • Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs in cartons until ready to dye. 
  • Never ingest, color, or hide eggs with cracked shells.
  • Use only food coloring or FDA-approved food-grade egg dyes to color eggs. 
  • Refrigerate eggs in cartons immediately after dyeing.
  • Never hide eggs where they could come in contact with dirt, pets, insects, wild animals, birds, reptiles, cleaning chemicals, pets, or lawn chemicals.
  • Total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed 2 hours. 
  • Never eat hard-cooked eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
  • Eggs should be refrigerated immediately once they are found.
Wishing you and your families a safe and blessed holiday season and a happy spring!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The 411 for a 911!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Until you have a toddler, it is hard to understand how many facets there are to keeping your littlest family members safe; car seats, childproofing (at home and on the go!), infant/child CPR classes, baby monitors, identification tags, cribs, toys, strollers - and the list goes on and on!

However, one of the most basic things you can do to keep your children safe is to create a comprehensive listing of all medical and emergency contact  information.  Print multiple copies so that you can post one on your refrigerator at home, pack one in your wallet for whenever you go out, and provide a copy to each of your children's caregivers (i.e. pre-school, after care, relatives, etc.).  Be sure to include:

Emergency Numbers:
  • Parent's cell phone numbers;
  • Parent's work phone numbers;
  • 911;
  • Non-emergency Police Department phone number;
  • Poison control phone number;
  • Fire department phone number;
  • Child's doctor's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Off-hours doctor's phone number;
  • Child's chart number;
  • Child's dentist's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Address, phone number, and directions to preferred hospital;
  • Emergency contact information for two people other than parents, including:
    • Name;
    • Phone number(s);
    • Relation.

Emergency Information:
  • Home address;
  • Mom's full name;
  • Dad's full name;
  • Child's full name;
  • Child's date of birth;
  • Any allergies, medications, or special conditions;
  • Insurance provider;
  • Insurance provider phone;
  • Insured name and ID;
  • Group ID;
  • Policy ID.

Travel-Tot is pleased to provide an easy-to-use Emergency Information Form here for our readers!  Having such information available all in one place in an easy-to-distribute format could be the difference between life and death, particularly when your child is under the care of someone who may not have all that information committed to memory!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, March 27, 2015

Family Friendly Spa Getaways!

Health and Fitness Travel Introduce…
Family Friendly Spa Holidays for Stressed Parents

While fitness and healthy nutrition has become an established expectation for most spa hotels, it is only recently that wellness retreats have begun to cater deliberately for stressed and tired parents. No longer a no-go zone with the children in tow, Health and Fitness Travel, the leading specialists in wellness holidays worldwide, round up their top 10 family friendly spa holidays across the globe, so stressed out parents don’t have to choose between family time and relaxation.

Combining spa retreats with kids’ club activities and childcare services, these welcoming family friendly spa holidays allow strung-out parents some much needed time out to recharge and rejuvenate. With specially designed mini treatments for children, there is no need for the kids to feel left out, and with a host of activities and sports there are countless ways to invest in some quality family time whilst enhancing everyone’s health and fitness.

Escaping on a family friendly spa holiday is a breeze with the phenomenal kids programme at Adler Thermae in Italy. Set in the heart of Tuscany’s natural park, Val d’Orcia, the AKI Kids Club offers a great mix of sports and activities, including their own spa experience, horse riding and even yoga. Whilst the kids are entertained, take advantage of unlimited access to the luxury spa and complimentary attendance to group fitness classes, including yoga, Pilates, mountain biking and hiking tours.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Mauritius: Shanti Maurice

Set amongst 35 acres of tropical gardens, this family-friendly spa retreat is within walking distance of the pristine white sands of the Indian Ocean. While the kids are at play, rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit, as spa therapists work in collaboration with nutritionists, personal trainers, Ayurvedic physicians and yoga masters, to restore your well-being. Les Petits Dodos Kids Club (3-12 years) boasts a broad activity programme for inquisitive minds including face painting, crab hunting and cooking lessons, as well as field trips to the nearby Crocodile Park and Casela bird sanctuary.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Vietnam: Fusion Maia

Situated on Vietnam’s stunning East Coast, Fusion Maia offers creature comforts for all ages. Set within tropical gardens, parents can indulge with a minimum of 2 holistic treatments each day, while little ones join in with their own mini treatments. The Mini Maia programme has a host of creative activities to stimulate their minds every day from 2pm-4pm, including cookie decorating and singing. Enjoy a range of group classes, including meditation and Tai Chi, or explore on a family snorkelling excursion through the pristine waters to nearby Cu Lao Cham Island.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Greece: Porto Elounda

Overlooking Mirabello Bay, sport and spa enthusiasts will love this coastal getaway off Crete’s North-East coastline. Find a true sense of relaxation at the Six Senses Spa with a tempting menu of luxury treatments, before taking a restorative visit to the spa’s authentic Turkish Hammam. With the Arsenal Football Academy camp and waterpark keeping their smiles coming all day long, boost your fitness with a selection of group classes, before enjoying some family time with a game of tennis or sailing lessons.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Thailand: Soneva Kiri

Indulge in a slower pace of family life at this little corner of paradise in Koh Kood, where the Six Senses Spa includes treatments created especially for teens. The kids will discover a magical experience at The Den (5-12 years), a multi-tiered treehouse shaped like a giant mantra-ray, together with activities from learning to play Thai instruments to rainforest walks and delectable chocolate making. Enjoy a group fitness class and dinner on the beach, before experiencing a magical family movie night beneath the stars at the open-air cinema.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

France: Terre Blanche

Boasting the charm of Provence with a modern twist, this luxurious spa holiday is a treat for the whole family. Retreat to a haven of well-being at the spa, with 100% organic treatments even the kids can join in with, before boosting your well-being at a complimentary fitness class. The Kids Club (2-12 years) will keep them active, creative and playful with Mini Olympics and outside painting, while outings based on bee-keeping, botany and the animal park will see them discover the beauty of their natural surroundings.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Portugal: Penha Longa

Just half an hour from Lisbon, this family-friendly spa retreat can be found within a stunning national nature reserve. Amongst scenic gardens and a spectacular 3m waterfall, treat the kids with their own tailored spa treatments, including manicures, pedicures or a visit to the salon for a special occasion up-do. With the Rookie’s Kids Club Room offering an exciting diversion of picnics, cooking lessons and fashion nights; shape-up with a yoga or Pilates class whilst the kids try their hands at tennis, golf, or even horse riding lessons.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Antigua: Carlisle Bay

Escape to the tropical waters of Carlisle Bay on a beach spa holiday that promises a welcome escape for parents at the award winning Blue Spa. Welcoming children of all ages, this family spa holiday hosts 3 kids clubs catering to ages from 6 months to 19 years. While the little ones hunt for buried treasure, juniors will love raft building, as seniors try out a range of exhilarating water sports. Make the most of family time family time zip-lining through the rainforest or playing a game of tennis round robins.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Escape to this family-friendly spa retreat nestled on the Croatian coastline, for a seafront holiday that promises relaxation combined with a variety of exciting water sports. While the kids are entertained with Banana Olympic relay games and face painting at the dedicated kids club, choose from a menu of 30 indulgent spa treatments and therapies, incorporating all-natural ingredients. Release the kid’s full energy and challenge them to a family game of beach volleyball or try to keep up with them whilst wall climbing, before taking a dip in the lagoon pool.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

Keep the kids entertained with more activities than you can shake a stick at and a daily dose of relaxation for mum and dad on this family-friendly spa break in Turkey. Indulge in unlimited use of the spa facilities and daily Asian inspired holistic activities for total rejuvenation. With activities such as cookie making, beach games, face painting and table tennis, the Kempinski Kids Club ensures that the kids have fun, keep active and get creative. Make a splash with water sports or feed their minds with a cultural tour family outing to ancient bodrum.

Contact Health and Fitness Travel for pricing information (0203 397 8891

For advice, guidance and booking visit or call 0203 397 8891 

About Health and Fitness Travel

Health and Fitness Travel is a global luxury wellness travel company that originated in the UK in 2010 and is committed to providing healthy holidays that enhance and change lives. Created by Paul Joseph and Adam Heathcote as a result of their passion for health and fitness travel and offering bespoke holidays to improve people’s well-being to lead happier and healthier lives.

Health and Fitness Travel offers clients a tailor-made seamless service with the very best health and fitness holidays, handpicked by its expert team, together with exclusive and added value packages with the best deals. As leading specialists, Health and Fitness Travel has also created their own collection of trademark healthy holidays in various destinations which include Fusion Fitness™ BodyBreaks™ and Discover Recover, offering clients the best value and holiday experience. For more information visit:

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter (@hf_travel) 
Follow us on Instagram
Join  us on Google+
Follow us on Pinterest