Spring Break – Surviving Vacation With Family

Ah Spring Break …that time of the year when children, teenagers and young adults suddenly descend upon your quite space.  The time of the day generally reserved for you, your Mom time, the time when you do all the things us Mom’s do during the day.  Now, instead of finishing that novel, painting your next master piece or Tuesday yoga classes …your weekday-daytime role has changed.  Enter CEO of the household; you are an entertainer, chauffeur, activity director and the list goes on.  So what does everyone in your household, including the CEO do when school shuts down for a week?  Pack the car up!  Reserve your plan ticket!  Go on a family vacation!

A few things to remember early on:

To make sure everyone has an enjoyable trip, be sure to choose a trip for all ages.

Set a Budget. Travel with your family does not have to be expensive. Decide on a comfortable budget that works for your family and include an allowance that provides for extra items such as souvenirs and a few unexpected activities.  Involve your family to make sure they agree with your travel plans.  But, do remember do NOT limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling, spend all your money to get somewhere you can’t enjoy. Go splurge and pick one big thing to do; eat at a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, have fun and make some incredible memories!

If at all possible, book in advance.

Plan and organize.  Make a list and go over it often.  Pack needed essentials for car or plane travel: snacks, water, books, travel games, etc.  Leave plenty of time to get where you need to be.

Start rested. Try to finish all your packing and arrangements the day before your departure.  This lets all of you relax, take a deep breath and clear your mind before the trip begins.

During the trip take lots of pictures and document happy memories. 

Recognize everyone’s limits… and your own.  But most of all …Have fun!

 

So You Are Traveling By Car …Road Trip! 

Pack needed essentials and entertainment: snacks, water, books, travel games, toilet paper (just in case) wet wipes etc. especially for longer trips.

Vehicle maintenance is essential.  Have your vehicle completely checked out by your mechanic. Oil changes, brake checks, light checks are important to the vehicle’s safe operation.

Safety – Pack plenty of water, a first-aid kit, tool kit which should include a flashlight in case you break down at night. Call to make sure your road assistance plan is up-to-date and charge your phone beforehand.

Remember to take frequent breaks – Preferably every two hours if you have young kids.  Find interesting spots to take a car break, historical monuments, roadside parks or a playground nearby Everyone needs to get out of the car and stretch their legs and kids need to run around and burn off some energy.

Finally, remember to sit back and enjoy the scenery

 

So You’ve Chosen To Fly …

Tips and Tricks for a pleasant and worry free flight

Non stop. Check with a travel agent so you can fly non-stop, off-peak and avoid congested airports. Generally, off-peak times are Tuesday through Thursday, plus late at night, very early in the morning, and mid-morning. The busiest and most congested airports in the U.S. include New York’s La Guardia, Miami International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare.

Sit smart.Travelers with babies and toddlers are often advised to sit in the plane’s bulkhead because it has extra room.  Do take note; I am told by others with young children that there is no room under the seat for a carry-on bag, you may need that extra space for easy access to snacks, drinks, and gadgets during takeoff and landing.

Ear discomfort. To avoid and relieve ear pain when you take off and land, offer your family gum, hard candy or anything else that gets the mouth moving.

In case someone gets sick, bring plastic bags and have them ready. Gallon-size ones are best and can serve a dozen useful purposes.

 Pack light.  Wear or carry your coat, hat, scarves or place them in your carry on.  For shoes, wear your bulkier pair and place a pair of sandals/flip-flops/water shoes in your front pocket of your luggage. If you need formal shoes for dining out or dancing, pack them in your luggage and stuff your socks into the shoes to save space.  Very important, be sure to have travel insurance that will cover you in the event of cancelled flights, lost luggage and (hopefully not) but any health issue that may arise.

During your flight stay entertained with magazines, books, video games, and don’t forget the earbuds!

 

At the Hotel and Out and About

When traveling with young children you want to know that they are safe.  Perhaps you are staying an extended period of time in a particlular hotel, you may want to childproof first.  If  you do decide to childproof, bring along outlet covers, a bathtub-faucet cover, and plastic cabinet locks (duct tape makes a very good temporary lock). Parents’ safety starter kit, available at Amazon online, or nearby retailers, includes all the essentials.

 Clothing and comfort.  Bring at least two sets of pajamas, a warm set as well as a cool one. Sometimes it can get really hot or really cold in hotel rooms.

If you are traveling to places where it is quite warm in the day and colder at night, bring clothes that can be layered.  If you will be away from the hotel for a day/evening trip, you may not want them during the day but be glad to have the extra layer in the evening .

Don’t forget to pack your charges and Bring your gadgets.  You can even use a cable wrap and neatly store everyone’s cables and plugs in one central area. Don’t forget an adapter if you are traveling to countries that use different outlets. Pack your camera in a travel bag, you can use this as a personal item and take it with you onto the plane with your carry-on. If you use film, bring extra, some countries don’t have it readily available and it can get really pricey.

Plan Your Itinerary.  It is always fun to have some spur of the moment adventures …however, to avoid stress, long lines and shortened family fun time, it is best to make a schedule before attending certain events.  You may need to do a little research first and find out all your needed information a head of time.  A good example would be a music venue like SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.  You will need a schedule of timed events, locations and directions for parking etc.  You don’t want to spend all your time driving around looking for parking or walking around trying to find your event, only to arrive and find you missed it!

Well there you have it!  You are now equipped to not only survive …but to have fun on your Spring Break family vacation.

Until next time …

Happy Travels!

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Favorite Places to Eat in Austin

One of my favorite things to do while living in Austin was to eat out.  And of course, Austin is all about good food and live music!  You can find some of the best restaurants anywhere, right here.  Some of them world-famous!  Austin has the popular spots, you know the ones …everybody knows this place and goes here type places.  And then you have the unique, little hole in the wall, out-of-the-way, type places that you may not know about.  Whatever you are looking for Austin has it.  Here is my pick of some of the best places to eat in Austin, most are budget friendly!! Bon Appetit!
Madame Mam's Guadalupe 037
2514 Guadalupe Street
Madam Mam's Noodles & More
2700 W Anderson Ln #419
Both locations are good.
Love the Chicken Pad Thai!!
Southwestern Grill  Arboretum, Great Hills 9400 Arboretum Blvd
Love this place!  If the weather is nice set outside on the patio.  The view is awesome!
ztejas
5300 S Mopac Expressway or any of the locations
My pick for the best sandwiches in Austin!!
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Anderson Mill/Jollyville 13435 Us-183 Ste 415 or any of the locations
Breakfast is Great!  Try the Baked Potato Omelet
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Downtown and Arboretum location
Healthy Food –  I recommend the Strawberry Banana or Mango Smoothies, so good!
whole foods
Italian food, Sandwiches/Subs, Bakery  – 4700 W Guadalupe St
Love this place!  Great food and atmosphere and shopping near by!
You have to have the Italian Cream Cake or anything in the Bakery!
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Anderson Mill/Jollyville – American, Southwestern 12832 N Hwy 183
Good, country-style diner food.  Breakfast is good.  The Burger’s are great for the price!  You can get a Burger and Fries for under $10
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Hyde Park Area, 4001 N Lamar Blvd
Love, love this place!  A Gourmet grocery store, cafe and live music all in one place.  It is Kid friendly, nice outside patio and adjoing play area for kids.
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Fresh Baked Goodies 1120 W 6th St.
They have wonderfully delicious desserts. The Chocolate Cake is very rich and moist. Located on Old Pecan Street (W 6th) surrounded by plenty of little shops.
sweetish hill

P-Terry’s

Burger Joint – 3303 N Lamar Blvd
Good food at good prices.  Best Chocolate Shakes!!
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8103 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757
I liked the Burnet location for lunch since I worked nearby.  The BBQ may not be the best in Austin   …but it is good!  You can’t go wrong with the food, friendly service, the cheap prices, and the very casual atmosphere.  They also have a good breakfast and love the tea and desserts.
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San Marcos Road Trip & Cinnamon Banana Muffins

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a marvelous week!  Do you have big plans for your weekend?  I hope it will be a good one!  A couple of weeks ago we made a road trip to San Marcus, Texas and of course, what would a road trip be without some awesome snacks to take along.  How about some yummy cinnamon banana muffins …

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Recipe is coming …I promise.  🙂

My youngest son played in the State Championship Soccer Tournament in San Marcos.  His team won 3rd place and we all had a great time.  🙂

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San Marcos is a quaint but lively college town, nestled in the Hill Country about 30 miles from Austin, TX.  Home to Texas State University …

Outlet malls, for some great shopping with some great deals and …of course, the San Marcos river.

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Tubing time!

San Marcus River

I just wanted to walk around San Marcus and surrounding area and just take pictures of all the beauty I found there.  Even though San Marcus is home to Texas State University, it has not lost that quaint, small town feel.  The downtown area; lined with historical old buildings, great for shopping and eating.  The soccer fields; right next to a beautiful river with a flowing waterfall …so much to see …a photographers dream.  But …I got known of this, as we were in a time crunch and the weekend was pretty much all about soccer.  But even though I did not get many pictures …we had a great time and enjoyed our trip.

If you ever are in San Marcus you have to eat at Grins Restaurant.  It is a local hot spot for college kids, tourist and locals alike.  They have absolutely the best Hamburgers I have ever had!  Hands down the best!

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Picture compliments of toursanmarcus.com.

The place is really neat as it is built somewhat like a tree house, with part of the dining area being split level and has the perfect tree-shaded deck for outdoor dining.

 

And now …back to these delicious muffins 🙂

Cinnamon Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

By:  Arl’s World

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Ingredients

Muffins

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 eggs

2/3 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium size)

1 tsp vanilla

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Topping

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

1 Heat oven to 375°F. Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with shortening or spray, or line with paper baking cups.

2 In medium bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar, the oil and eggs with wire whisk. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in remaining muffin ingredients just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

3 Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. sprinkle on top of batter.

4 Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan to cooling rack.

 

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Destination – Galveston Seashore

One of our favorite places to go is to the beach.  Every summer we spend lots of family time at the seashore of Galveston Island.  Starting with Spring Break madness and continuing through the summer months, Galveston offers a great getaway, perfect for families, couples and all you spring breakers.

If Spring Break is not your ideal getaway time, than August might be.  If you can stand the summer heat, as it gets really hot this time of the year, August is a good time to take a vacation.  As summer comes to an end and families prepare to send their children back to school, hotels lower their rates and sometimes offer end of season specials.  This was true of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Beach Resort where we chose to stay this particular trip.

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There are quite a few good places to stay in Galveston, but what sets this place apart from the others is location, location, location! It is right on the beach!  We also like that it is about 5 miles out-of-town so you get less of the crowds.

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Our suite was really nice with a full kitchen, living room and spacious bedrooms and bath.  You have a shared laundry room with one other unit/suite.  We loved the balcony that went from the living area around to the main bedroom.  The view was absolutely gorgeous!  It was so peaceful to set out on the balcony in the morning or evening, looking out at the beautiful blue ocean …and all the colorful beach houses.

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The infinity pool has a large wrap around deck that leads you out to the beach.  On either side of the deck you have areas for grilling with picnic tables, basketball court and volleyball court on the beach.  For some reason I just could not seem to get a good shot of any of those … but hey, trust me when I say that I think you would approve.  🙂

Walking the beach and hunting for seashells is always one of our favorite pastimes.  I think my son find some interesting ones on his walk.  1965a

It was a great time down by the seashore in Galveston Island.  Family and friends + good times = memories made.  🙂

Glad you could come along!  See you next time!

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Virgin Islands Vacation

 I am dreaming of days back in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  What a wonderful vacation!!  There are a million things to do.  You can bask in the sun, on one of the beautiful secluded beaches.  Splash around in the crystal blue ocean or sip a tropical drink as you lounge and take in the amazing scenery. Spring Break 2013 (75)a And that is just for starters!  For the more adventurous side of you, take a Sky ride 700 feet above the city.  You can go snorkeling, scuba diving, shopping, sight-seeing and dining.  And don’t forget to check out the night life. My son, a couple of friends and I, made the trip in March 2013 during Spring Break.

We stayed at the Sugar Bay Resort and Spa. Spring Break 2013 (138)xx sugar bay resort1

Sugar Bay Resort and Spa. Beautiful St. Thomas.  The view outside our room..Spring Break 2013 (82)xx View outside hotel

We did the all-inclusive plan, which worked out really good for us because we spent a lot of time by the beach and pool.   In the morning around 10 am they feed the Iguana’s …the kids love this!

This little guy wanted to hang out while we were on the Putt Putt Golf Course.  I think he wanted to play a few rounds.  😉st thomas iguana

The resort also has a wonderful spa, tennis courts, two pools, one with a swim up bar and waterfall that is beautiful at night.  Restaurants at the hotel, casino …restaurants and bar at the pool.  They have all the amenities you need to never leave the resort! Spring Break 2013 (64)xx Spring Break 2013 (65)x Spring Break 2013 (66)xx

Our beautiful private beach at Sugar Bay Resort and SpaSpring Break 2013 (20)x Spring Break 2013 (74)aa

Of course, we did venture out.  You want to take at least one day to go shopping and dining in Charlotte Amalie, which is the largest city in the Virgin Islands.  Great little historic shops and buildings, as well as shopping tents in town center where you can find anything for a bargain. In between shopping we stopped at a place for lunch called Cafe Amici.  They serve Italian food …Pizza, sandwiches, pastas, wraps, salads etc. Shopping and lunch at Cafe Amici in downtown Charlotte Amalie

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While we had fun in Charlotte Amalie, the island’s east end has a little town, close to the resort, called Red Hook.  My friends took some daily dives here at Red Hook Dive Center.  This little place has a port, restaurants and quaint little shops.

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We stopped at this place called Molly Molone’s Pub for a drink one afternoon after a scuba trip.

Molly Molone’s Pub in Red Hook

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 The trip came to an end all to soon, as they always do!  I had a wonderful time in St. Thomas VI and hope to go back one day!  I love St.Thomas …Caribbean paradise!!

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The Historic Hotel Galvez

Hotel Galvez in Sepia

The Hotel Galvez is located in Galveston, TX.  A very majestic, seaside hotel that is rich in history and beautiful architecture, it first opened its doors in 1911.  Some of the hotels guests include celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart.  American Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed here, as well as General Douglas MacArthur.

There is a certain mystic about the hotel and it is said, by some, to be haunted.  Most of the ghost sightings and occurrences reported happen on the 5th floor, where one of the guest checked in …but never checked out!  The lovelorn lady of the fifth floor.  The story goes that many years ago she checked into room #500.  She would go upstairs to the turrets, and gaze out at the ocean.  Her fiance’ was at sea, and she was deeply concerned for his safety, fearing he may not return to port. One day her greatest fears were realized when she received word that his ship was lost at sea.  The lady refused to believe her fiance’ was really gone.  After a month of denial, in utter despondence, she returned to one of the turrets and hung herself.  In a sad, sad twist of fate, a month later her fiance’ returned, looking for his love – he had survived after all!  Now her spirit is “forever more” to roam here, at the Galvez Hotel.

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Although my son and I saw no ghosts while we were here, we did enjoy touring the hotel.  My youngest son and I stayed here one July for a weekend getaway.  It is only about an hour drive from where we live.  We often enjoy taking a day or weekend trip to Galveston for shopping, eating out and being at the seashore.  My son chose the Galvez for this particular stay in Galveston because of the wonderful resort style pool area.  It is almost like you are in Mexico when you are poolside at the Galvez.

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It rained this particular stay at the Galvez, the entire weekend!  We did not get to spend much time at the pool. 😦

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The resort style pool is not the only amenity that is pleasing for kids. My son also enjoyed the mini museum they have set up.  You can tour and learn about the interesting history of the hotel and island.  If possible, include a Sunday in your stay.   Not only are the rates cheaper, but the Sunday brunch is one of the best on the Island.  The fitness center and spa were very nice and seemed to have a lot to choose from compared to other hotels.   They have a very nice lobby, piano bar and lounge area as well.

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My son enjoying the mini museum at the hotel. 🙂

Our room at the hotel Galvez.  We were on the 3rd floor with a partial seaside view.  No 5th floor for us!

The rain did not stop us from enjoying a walk around the beautiful grounds of the hotel.

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Our view from the beach – front of the Hotel Galvez.
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Overall, I would recommend a stay at Hotel Galvez.  Having stayed here on several occasions, and everyone being extremely pleasant; from the valet to the check in, to the room service!  The only thing I might mention is that some of the rooms are a little smaller than other hotels and it smells a little musty in damp weather.  But hey, it is a 100-year-old hotel.

Part of the A-Z Challenge 2014.

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Zilker Botanical Garden – Austin

Zilker Botanical Garden – Austin, TX

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There are so many things to see and do in Austin, one of the places I really enjoy is Zilker Botanical Garden.  My son and I spent the day there one spring for a class field trip, what fun!  The Gardens are simply beautiful especially in the spring, on 30 acres, they have often been called “The Jewel in the Heart of Austin.” There are various types of theme gardens to leisurely stroll through; such as rose, herb and Japanese gardens.  These gardens are connected by winding walkways where you have waterfalls, streams and Koi-filled ponds, all very scenic and tranquil.

 I think the children really enjoyed the Prehistoric Garden.

It is here, in the Prehistoric Garden area that I found this interesting gate.   It caught my attention right away, I stepped back and lingered for a few minutes as the crowd moved on just to get a picture of it.  I just fell in love with it.  I did not get the best shot or lighting as I had only a moment and my little Canon Power Shot SD1200 digital.  Isn’t it a beautiful work of art with all its intricate carvings; the pretty birds, roses, vines, the little cactus at the bottom.  If you look closely at the gate you can even see a spider web carved in it.  I wish the view behind would have something better than a freeway and a guy on a lawn mower.  Ha!

Zilker Park Gate

The Zilker Botanical Gardens are located at 2220 Barton Springs Road, near downtown Austin.  It is a beautiful place for nature lovers and garden enthusiast alike.  It also has something for the history buff.

Next time you are in Austin, check it out!

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