Portland Maine - A Truly Enchanting City

Friday, November 7, 2014
Heather

There are so many beautiful places and states to visit while in New England, but there are a few you really don’t want to miss for example: Portland, Maine. A beautiful city right on the water, bustling with locals and travelers. Part city, part seaside town. A great mixture of everything you would want on a trip to New England.

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The Best Summer Vacation Option For Your Money!

Monday, June 2, 2014
Jewels

Easy

When thinking about theme parks to visit this summer there is only one that I am thinking about, but it's probably not what you would think! The place I am dreaming about has a huge theme park with some amazing rides, an aquarium, a theater, bowling alley, Barbies Dream House, mini golf, rope course, tons of amazing food options and more! Can you guess what it is? If you guessed the Mall of America you would be right! Nope it's not Disneyland and that's ok because it's better! If you haven't checked out what the Mall of America has hurry over here to check them out and then come back here to read about my experience! Smile

Cost is of course a huge factor in my summer vacation planning, but that's definitely not the only factor. I need something that will please every family member and we can all walk away from it knowing the money we spent was well worth it for everyone. The only option that fits that for our family is Mall of America. There really is something for everyone! The last time we visited my five year old couldn't wait to see the Barbie Dream House, my 3 year old wanted to see the amazing LEGO store, my husband wanted to see Spiderman 2 in 3D/D-box Motion seats and in all honesty I just wanted to see everything! For those that haven't been there before this is not your typical mall (as you can see) you can't just stop by for a little visit (this isn't your Grandma's mall!) you need to plan DAYS to see and do it all! It truly will be an amazing vacation.

We first decided to check out the theme park and all the rides. Right away I could see we wouldn't be able to get to everything and we had only planned one day. I knew we could spend the whole day on rides alone! I was really nervous about how long the lines would be, but the longest wait was 5 minutes tops and most of the rides we immediately got right on. That fact alone makes me want to go back! I can't stand waiting in a line for 40 minutes just to be on a ride for 2 minutes. They have a great range of rides as well for any age level. My 3 year old hates rides most of the time and will only ride calm rides, but my 5 year old loves roller coasters and they were both super happy with the rides available. The whole park has a Nickelodeon theme and is so cute and the kids loved it! You can find rides with all your favorite characters and even a crazy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ride!

When visiting other theme parks it's always a huge challenge to find affordable food options, luckily MOA has you covered with low cost options in their food court and they also have nicer restaurants for those looking for something more. The only negative? There was so many options I had a hard time choosing what I wanted to eat for lunch! We decided to use the awesome MOA coupon book and grab a really cheap lunch and then we had a nicer dinner.

Most theme parks are outdoors which is nice for about an hour and then you start to feel the heat beating down on you and you are desperately searching for a tree or the nearest sliver of shade! MOA was built with Minnesota winters in mind, the theme park is located below a huge atrium that lets the sun in but you still stay nice and cool and if you decide to visit in the winter it's one of the best places to get some vitamin D without freezing out in the snow! Sunlight without any harsh weather!

After the amazing rides my little girl couldn't wait any longer to see the Barbie Dream House so we headed off to that. Here are just a few things that this amazing attraction offers:

:: A dream kitchen including colorful appliances, interactive cupcake stations and more

:: The Dreamhouse™ living room includes a library, fireplace and even more interactive stations
:: An endless closet and shoe room where guests can virtually try on Barbie doll’s® outfits
:: Virtual elevators that transport guests from room to room
:: A make-up studio where guests are prepped for their own Barbie™ experience
:: A 6,500 square foot entertainment area where guests are the stars of the show. This area features costumes, The Pop Star Stage, The Fashion Runway and more!

And a whole lot of PINK! My daughter was in heaven! She really loved the cupcake making station in the kitchen and the virtual closet that lets you dress up in all of Barbies favorite outfits!

We didn't have quite enough time to check out the Aquarium, but our friends went through it and said it was pretty amazing. It was named "The World's Best Shark Encounter" by Discovery's travelchannel.com and "the best shark exhibit on the planet" by Animal Planet. Pretty AWESOME!

Which about sums MOA up! PRETTY AWESOME! You have everything you could possibly need for endless family fun all located in one spot! So when you start to plan your family vacation be sure to check out the option that gives you a ton more for a lot less, the Mall of America!

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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!

If you like this post make sure to hit the Pin-it button on the top of this post and share it with friends too!

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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*Travel Week* Apps to Save Time and Money on Holiday Travel!

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Heather

Easy

Holiday travel can put a dent in your wallet – especially for families. Value-conscious travelers looking for more value for their money this holiday season can save time and money by downloading these free intelligent travel apps.

This is your guide to save big on time, airfare, rental cars, attraction tickets, local activities, hotel reservations, and more.

Wi-Fi Finder

Hotels are charging $15-$20 per day for Internet access. In many cases, this is an optional service, but it can sometimes be built into your daily rate as a “resort fee.” Isn’t Internet access a necessity? U.S. Consumers seem to think it is, so why pay more?

As an alternative, try Wi-Fi Finder. This is a free app available to iPhone and Android users. It determines your location using your phone’s GPS and feeds back a list of places for paid and public Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Finder permits you to browse for hotspots both online and off, and its search results are visible by list or map view. Your search returns detailed information about the location, including a brief descriptive overview, contact information and directions.

CarRentals.com

For your car rental needs, download CarRentals.com. It gives you instant access to 15,000 rental car locations worldwide and the ability to reserve a car from the palm of your hand. Unfortunately, it’s currently only available to iPhone users.

Simply enter your city, zip, or airport code and the rate you wish to pay, and the app’s price comparison tool feeds back a list of rental car companies based on that criteria. You can select and reserve a rental car from the palm of your hand.

iFindHotels 

The iFindHotels app by HotelsCombined.com finds bargain rates at hotels worldwide. It connects to the HotelsCombined.com directory giving you instant access to price comparison tools, hotel images, descriptions, guest ratings, reviews and maps. You can browse, research and book your hotel stay directly from your smart device.

Tripit

Now that you’re online, and have your rental car and hotel reservations, try Tripit. The Tripit app saves you valuable time by managing all of your itineraries and reservations. Simply forward existing email confirmations to Tripit and have your entire trip organized into a single master itinerary.

Keep the details of your trips current by taking advantage of Auto Import. Auto Import performs a daily scan of your inbox and automatically updates your master itinerary.

This app can be synchronized with Outlook, Google, Lotus, Blackberry and iPhone and iCal calendars and shared with your social networks. It displays local maps, directions and weather forecasts, enables flight check-in, and aids in booking dinner reservations to purchasing movie tickets. It’s like having a virtual travel agent.

Get added features with Tripit Pro, from storing frequent flyer accounts to trip rerouting options, and a complementary 1-year Regus Gold (access to 1,200 worldwide business lounges) and rental car partner membership.

Tripit is available on most smart devices, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Samsung’s Tablet, Android, Blackberry and Windows 7 phones.

Foursquare

If you really want to save big, try Foursquare to find great deals on local shopping, dinning, activities — just about anything. A unique money-saving feature of this app is the ability to “check-in” from merchant locations. Check-ins accumulate points and badges and can be redeemed for instant discounts or free merchandise.

Foursquare is interactive and fun. You can save places you’ve visited, write reviews, track merchant specials and have recommendations sent to your smart device. There are currently over 750,000 merchants offering Foursquare specials.

Groupon and Living Social

Finally, be sure to also check out other amazing deals and offers on travel, hotels, entertainment and local promotions by downloading the Groupon and Living Social apps.

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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!