How to Make Your Summer Vacation Not Just a Vacation, but an Adventure!

Monday, May 19, 2014
Heather

Easy

(I participated in a campaign on behalf of Go RVing, I received compensation as a thank you for participating. All opinions are my own)

When it comes to family vacations sometimes the options can be extremely overwhelming. The kids would probably choose Disneyland or another theme park 9 times out of 10, but then you have to ask yourself "is that what I want?" or "would that be the best option for the whole family?" Don't get me wrong... I absolutely loved our time we spent last summer at Universal Studios, but we have younger kids and I can honestly say that I don't feel it was completely worth it. The kids went on a few rides and from there just continued to melt down in the hot summer heat and we found ourselves scrambling to find a decent meal that didn't cost an arm and a leg. So we wanted to kick off this summer with one of our most favorite ways to travel, by RV.

I wrote a previous post about all the myths and misconceptions of traveling in an RV that you can check out here, and in that article I talked about all the real concerns most travelers have about taking an RV trip. I could go over some of those again, but instead I want to show you what our RV vacations have been like so you can get a real feel for what traveling down the road in your home is like.

We have traveled in many different types and sizes of RV's and it doesn't matter what the differences are between each one of them, but what makes them the same and that is one word... home. When you are traveling in an RV you have all the comforts of home with you all the time! In all our travels the closest we have been able to get that same experience is when we have stayed at a vacation home, but even then we have to pack up the car at some point to head to any attractions or activities. RV travel is your all inclusive pass to see the country! Everything you need at any time is right there.

Unfortunately this is how unorganized my fridge at home is as well. lol I hate that while we are traveling I am trying to come up with more healthy options for our family and I usually can't find them. When RV traveling though you can eat whatever you want whenever you want! I was able to still get my family the fruits and vegetables we want without paying a lot because I am able to stock up at the grocery store.

We even were able to bring a game system with us for when the kids got a little bored, which they absolutely loved! I personally like to "unplug" while on vacation, but sometimes kids get a little home sick and need the comforts of home as well.

On our last trip we were able to see Chicago, the Mall of America, MT Rushmore and several states we had never been to all in one vacation! If we had flown in and stayed in a hotel it would have been at least 5 different trips! If you add up the flight cost alone for that many round trip flights it would be crazy! And that's why our family will always choose RV travel if it's an option. When else can you do so much in just one vacation?

Here are some amazing little highlights of our last RV trip:

For the first time we stayed at a Jellystone park, which was so awesome! The kids loved seeing all the Yogi Bear stuff! This was in Austin Minnesota, definitely a place we wouldn't normally think of going but I am so glad that it was on our route and we got to check it out! With RV travel you will end up in some places you might never have thought to go, and these places will surprise you!

We then headed on to the Mall of America, also AWESOME! Theme park, mall, bowling alley, movie theater and more! This was definitely a huge highlight on our trip and it was an amazing place to visit, especially in an RV. If we got tired, hungry or

needed anything else all we had to do was head out to the RV! So if you are planning a vacation to a theme park you might want to look into using an RV to get there and to make your vacation more convenient.

We also saw MT. Rushmore and Crazy Horse on this trip and so much outdoor beauty!

As you can see an RV can give you a vacation you just can't experience any other way. It's definitely the absolute best way to see our amazing country and I can't wait for our next RV adventure! Visit GoRVing.com to learn more about how to make your summer vacation not just a vacation, but an adventure!

Also check out Go RVing here:

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*Must Read* 10 Must Know RV Myths and Misconceptions

Friday, October 18, 2013
Heather

Easy

I wanted to share with you some of the myths and misconceptions about using or renting an RV and what it was like to be first time RV renters traveling through Yellowstone National Park. Here are 10 myths and misconceptions about RV travel. Keep these on hand if you plan on renting or traveling in an RV!

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Myth #1 -  I will need a special license to drive this... right?

Truth -  No you will not need any other drivers license other than the one you have right now in your wallet. This is a common misconception, probably brought on by how overwhelmed you feel when you look at how much bigger that RV is compared to your everyday car. Driving an RV doesn't require a specialist or even someone with a CDL (commercial drivers license) it just takes a little time getting used to. After about 30 minutes behind the wheel you will realize you are perfectly capable and you will feel like a pro. 

Myth #2 -  You won't have any privacy on your RV vacation.

Truth - No one likes to travel and feel like they have no privacy the whole time, and trust me the RV manufactures have thought about this. Every window has a shade and most RV's have partitions to section off different areas of the RV. Our RV from Access RV had several ways to create more privacy. The master bedroom had a sliding door that can be locked, the bunk area had a partition that could also be locked and the bed above the cab had curtains you could close. It really felt just like I was at home. If my husband needed to get some work done without being disturbed, he had many areas he could choose from to get work done in peace and quiet.

Myth #3 - (speaking of getting work done) It must be impossible to work or stay connected.

Truth - Now this one really depends on where you are at, and also what you do for a profession. If you are a doctor you probably aren't going to be able to get a whole lot of work done while out on the road. But if you have a job that you can at least do some or all of the work remotely and you stay with KOA or another site with wifi you shouldn't have any problems. Now of course most of us don't want to have to work at all while on vacation, but sometimes it just can't be avoided. Luckily as I stated above you should have plenty of space to get whatever work you have done and get back to your vacation.

Myth #4 - Even if I have a kitchen it won't matter since it will be too tiny and I won't have any space.

Truth - This is one that I was concerned about. A few days before we went to pick up our RV I started grocery shopping for our trip and it hit me!

"What if I buy all this food and I can't even prepare anything in such a small kitchen?" and then "what if all the groceries won't even fit in the fridge?" Luckily once I stepped into the RV all those fears were laid to rest.

I found that the kitchen area was a "slide out" so when we were parked I could make the area bigger with a push of a button! And the fridge and freezer were able to fit everything I purchased at the store and I still had a little bit of extra space. Cooking and preparing food really wasn't that much different than when my husband and I lived in our first apartment.

Myth #5 - I am going to hate dealing with hookups

Truth - I have seen plenty of "funny" movies where someone in an RV is taking care of the hookups and something goes wrong, before you know it... you have waste all over the place and an unhappy camper. Well... thank goodness not everything is like the movies. Taking care of hooking up the power, water and waste was super easy and mess free. If this is a concern of yours, you have nothing to worry about! Access RV even included some latex gloves to use.

Myth #6 - RV's are a huge pain to drive and you will probably run into something.

Truth - When we told family and friends that we were getting a 32 foot RV, they were shocked and immediately wondering how we were going to get in and out of gas stations and pretty much anywhere else we would need to go. Now of course when you choose to rent an RV you don't have to get a 32 foot, there are quite a few sizes that are smaller. Although if you do go with something larger, let me personally reassure you that as long as you are slow and careful it's really quite easy to get into a gas station or anywhere else for that matter. And if you want to be a little more cautious you can also have one person get out and help with guiding. We did this especially when backing out of somewhere.

Myth #7 - RVing is for old people

Truth - To be completely honest this is one myth that I never really thought about. Personally I think traveling in an RV is awesome and a wonderful experience for anyone at any age, but I have heard some say that they feel it's just for retirees. Now I won't lie... there is a huge number of retirees that travel the country by RV. But I really think RV travel is best suited for families, especially families with younger children. There is so much to do in the RV my kiddos were never bored. We would sit at the table and color or do puzzles. The kids could sit on the couch and watch a movie. Little ones can take a nap at any time (as you can see above my little boy took full advantage of this feature)

Also you can feed your family without having to even go anywhere! Unlike when you camp in a tent, kids can be hosed down at any point if they get too messy. Our RV also had a shower outside which was super convenient when we went to Yellowstone Lake and they ended up with sand and dirt all over them. An RV really is the best way to travel with kids. Families love RV travel for its outdoor appeal, flexibility, convenience, comfort, family togetherness, and affordability. What more could you need?

Myth #8 - There aren't that many places to stay with an RV

Truth - There are over 14,000 RV parks that cater to RV travelers. Plus the great thing about RV travel is you can park it almost anywhere. You can even have it out in remote areas that may not even have hotels.

Myth #9  - RV travel will leave me broke

Truth - You might be surprised to find out that RV travel is much more cost effective than other travel methods. When you start to add up airfare, hotel, car rental and food it can start to break the bank. Plus staying in a hotel and renting a car isn't nearly as homey or reliable as having your own kitchen, bathroom, and beds. Nothing beats traveling around all day and still having everything you could possibly need at your fingertips. When we started looking into hotel cost in Yellowstone our jaws dropped to the floor! It's crazy how much you will end up spending just on the hotel, that doesn't even take into account all the meals you will be wasting money on. I loved that we could make meals in the RV while we were out. We stopped at Yellowstone Lake and I made us all sandwiches. If we had to eat at one of the restaurants it would have cost close to $30 for all of us to eat. Preparing home cooked meals in your RV will save you a ton! You can head over here to 5 Star RV Rentals to get a comparison of RV travel vs other travel methods.

Myth #10  - You can't bring everything you will need on your vacation

Truth - I can attest to the fact that we brought everything we needed and then some! My husband kept telling me before we that certain items just weren't going to fit; luckily for me he was wrong. Our Sunseeker had plenty of space! I was amazed at how much cargo room it had. We also brought along 3 bikes with us. You can easily tote along bikes and other big toys, it really is your home away from home!

Be sure to check out more tips and info from the best and highly rated RV rental experts at Access RV.

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*Mamas Spot's Travel Week* Camping With KOA: Not What You Would Expect!

Monday, October 14, 2013
Heather

Easy

We realized at the end of August that we wanted to end the summer on a bang! We decided to head to Yellowstone and we stayed with KOA.

We went in September which was great to miss all the crowds that would normally be there mid summer, but it also meant we missed some of the events that the KOA has before Labor Day. I would highly recommend getting there around late August, so you don't miss out on their pancake breakfast every morning and their BBQ dinner every night! You can't beat being fed 2 meals a day! They also have a Coffee Cabin so you can get your morning fix!

My husband thought KOA was just a well managed campground, so he was surprised to see that they are so much more!

We found ourselves building a fire most nights, and our clothes would reek of smoke. Here is where KOA swoops in and saves the day. I would take all our clothes and wash them with the washer and dryers they have on-site! No more smelling like campfire smoke or going through a ton of clothes. You can pack much lighter when you camp with KOA because you can wash all you clothes just like you would if you were at home.

Kiddos make a mess on their clothes? No problem just toss them in the wash! We had a couple of "s'mores drippings" all over shirts that would have ruined clothes if I hadn't been able to wash them right away. Just for that alone I will always choose KOA! If you are not a mom with kiddos, and aren't obsessed with needing to wash clothes, don't worry KOA West Yellowstone has so much more to offer!

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A Glimpse At My Day: Looking Back At 8/21 Planes, Universal Studios, Getting Sick and More! Plus a surprise for you!

Monday, August 26, 2013
Heather

Easy

As most of you probably know we took a little (ok maybe not so little Laughing) trip to Orlando last week. I decided that this was going to be a "no work" trip.

This is both hard and easy for me, I want to stay online and keep up to date with guys, but at the same time I just want to "un-plug" and give my family 100% of my attention, so that is what I did!

So now I will be going back and showing you what we did each day! Here is our first day:

(we took a lot of pictures with our phone, so I apologize for the bad quality photos Tongue out)

We flew this time (thanks to Southwest Airlines) and it was so nice to get to Florida on the same day instead of driving 2300 miles one way and having it take 2 days.

It was the first plane ride for my kiddos. Unfortunately I am not good with flying and I get really nervous.

I decided to grab some Dramamine for myself figuring since my kiddos love to ride rides that they would probably be ok.

Once we were on the plane my little girl was so happy and she just loved it! She kept starring out the window and asking about everything she could see.

The vibration of the plane put my little boy to sleep and I was happy that all was going well.

I felt like my head was spinning the whole time, but I was trying to suck it up and just get through it. I just kept telling myself "only 3 more hours" and I kept counting down until we got there.

We had a connection in Denver and had to get off our first plane and switch to a new plane, so I woke my little boy up and he got out of his seat and stood there while we grabbed our bags,

At about that time I heard a passenger loudly say "OH DEAR" as I turned around I saw my little boy throwing up all his food that he ate that morning.

Needless to say I was freaking out trying to figure out what to do, we were being told that we needed to get off the plane so I apologized to pretty much every passenger that was staying on the plane and all of the flight attendants as well. Embarassed I was so embarrassed and felt really bad for the passengers that had to witness it.

Luckily Southwest is very understanding and I doubt he was the first kid to lose it on a plane.

A quick run through the Denver terminal to the restroom, a new set of clothes, and a $10 (that's right $10!!) package of kids Dramamine later, we were ready to continue onto Orlando!

(Not sure what she was looking at in this pic. my hubby took it, but I absolutely love how beautiful the hotel was!)

We arrived to the Loews Pacific Hotel (which I will tell you about in another post) in our KIA Rio (which I will also tell you about later Smile)

It was so nice to be there and have so much of the day still left to do all sorts of fun activities!!

The whole reason we were in Florida was for the Family Forward Conference, so we headed over to register and to see what fun things were in store for us!

I will touch on this a little more in tomorrow's post, but I just want to say that I was absolutely blown away by this conference!

If you have thought abo0ut going to a conference I would really suggest Family Forward, it is amazing!

It was cute because all the little girls realized that they were all 4 years old! They were so excited to make new friends that were the same age.

We headed out to Universal's City Walk, can you guess where we ate? The first person to comment with the right answer I will give $10 Paypal cash too!

(Once again I apologize for the crappy photo quality)

To top off the night Universal pulled out all the stops for us and we had the Wizarding World of Harry Potter all to ourselves for a VIP dessert party!

How AWESOME is that!! After we ate our YUMMY custard tarts and other desserts we headed off to ride the rides without any lines!! (are you jealous yet?Laughing)

It was so amazing to have the park to ourselves for the conference.

You can probably guess what we did after that... that's right we crashed! What an awesome and exhausting day!

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A Second Honeymoon - Hotel Icon Houston

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Joseph

Easy

Hotel Lobby

Recently I did a press trip to Houston sponsored through the GoHouston! Travel Campaign hosted by New Creative Writing and Social Media Marketing. As always all opinions are my own.

Here is a rare one! A post written by my hubby! Check it out!

As many of you know my wife and I have been married for over 11 years now and we have 2 amazing kids. Our marriage has its usual ups and downs. And as we both work at home you can imagine some friction and tension exists now and then. Ever since we've been married we've had the good fortune to spend so much time together because I've always worked from home. Once we had kids this was both a challenge and a blessing. Some days I love that I don't miss out on anything and some days I wish I could escape. But this is life after 11+ years.

Our first honeymoon, if you could call it that, was 1 night at a B&B close to home. We came home as newlyweds to our first apartment which wasn't ready yet and from that point on we've been on a constant bearing headed toward the future. We always thought about travelling more and taking that "real" honeymoon we never had. Life always gets in the way, the car breaks down, rent is due, medical bills and then comes kids. All couples have been there.

When I got the "memo" that we were headed to Houston and we weren't taking the kids, the first thing I thought was, "this is what we had been waiting for..." It was finally time to have that second honeymoon, after over 11 years it's not the same as when you are young, it's more important. It's a time to recharge, to become closer, become a better husband, wife, and parent.

(View from our hotel window)

Where you stay has a profound effect on how you feel, enter Hotel Icon Houston. It's a fantastic contemporary luxury hotel right in downtown Houston. As soon as I drove up, I knew this would be an integral part of our whole trip. The valet service is fantastic. They are very friendly, prompt and take excellent care of your vehicle. I'm a bit of a control freak and perfectionist, as my wife will tell you, so it's hard for me to hand over any of that to someone I don't know, but these guys are the best. They even have a shuttle service to anywhere in the downtown area within a certain radius for free! You just tell them where you want to go and you'll be there. My wife even left our camera in the shuttle and the excellent staff made sure we got it back. This is how you recharge.

The hotel itself was once a bank, and I loved the architecture. Great 1911 influences you can really feel they tried to maintain as much of that look and feel as possible. The lobby was a massive spacious area with sitting area, bar and the Line & Lariat restaurant. Heather dealt with the great check-in staff while I just sat in an amazingly comfortable chair and soaked it all in. All the while in my head, "Finally, it took all these years, but we are here. And this is an awesome place to be." They had fresh iced tea right there waiting for you at the front desk, and in the heat of that day it was the perfect drink.

Her experience at check-in was what you always want. Friendly engaging staff. We have a difficult last name and they kept practicing it until they could pronounce it correctly. And every time we passed through the lobby they greeted us with it. Other staff was friendly and upbeat, they really loved their job. In the evening before we went out, I sat in the lobby waiting for Heather and watched the bartender. He was great, there were people around the bar, couples, business men and women all enjoying each other's company and he was the glue making it all happen. This is the kind of atmosphere you just can't describe, but you know it when you are there.

The rooms themselves are a rich and inviting combination of classical early 20th century architecture and modern touches. WiFi, mini fridge, large flat screen TV, and coffee maker are just a few of the modern conveniences that greeted us combined with the colors and spectacular views of a building that is in a prime location. Their bedding was plush and the mattress was comfortable. Large separate shower, large tub, long bathroom counter (very important for couples as we all know since women always unpack everything onto it) made this room perfect.

 

At night you want to be in downtown, nuff said. There are so many clubs and hotspots in downtown Houston, the Hotel Icon is in the perfect place to take advantage of all of it. Right on Main Street, you can hop on the rail or just do what we did and walk down the street holding hand soaking it all in.

I'm an avid cyclist, I usually ride 20+ miles a day if I can, so even on vacation for me riding is important. Their exercise facilities were excellent. State of the art machines, nicely air conditioned, and locker rooms with showers. For those like my wife, a spa, by appointment. Relaxation and recreation is something they definitely have.

As our time was nearing an end, we reflected on everything, our lives, our future, the kids, family and friends. We also thought about our wedding, the reception was in a nice venue, but the staff was terrible. If we had our wedding here, it would have taken so much of the time and hassle out of the experience. From my experience the staff would make sure of it. It would have been elegant, maybe one day, for my daughter.

Our last farewell present was the breakfast at the Line & Lariat. Once again, unbelievably friendly and helpful staff. Great food, and an ambiance you don't get anywhere else. They have daily specials for dinner and the bar so always be sure to check those out even if you don't stay at the hotel it's a great place to come to eat. Best breakfast I've ever had before setting out on a 24 hour road trip back home.

As we left Hotel Icon Houston and the city itself both of us felt we got just what we needed from this trip. We had become closer, remembered what it was like to be young, carefree, and more importantly in love.

For all those out there who were like us, remember, this is a great place with great people to start your own journey together.

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About Mamas Spot

We are a family of four that left it all behind to go travel the world. No, literally we left it all. We sold all of our possessions, packed what we could into four suitcases and said goodbye to suburban life. All we own is now pulled behind us as we travel to new and exciting destinations. Showing our kids the world and teaching them about new cultures, food, and ways of life is now our 9-5.

We love watching our kids learn, and learning along side them. Together we have now explored many new countries, visited family on the other side of the world, and made memories that will last a lifetime.

Welcome to our journey!