Category Archives: Close to Home

The Perfect Mother's Day Getaway on Disney Cruise Line

An Ultimate Mother’s Day Getaway Weekend on Disney Cruise Line

Looking for a great Mother’s Day Weekend Getaway? This month’s Blogorail Peach Loop is full of ideas for Mother’s Day Weekend Getaways sure to please the moms in your life.

What does a perfect Mother’s Day Weekend getaway look like? Breakfast in bed? A spa package? Fun times with the kids? Free babysitting and a romantic evening with dad? How about just no cooking and cleaning for a couple of days? Perfect, right? That’s what I’m expecting for my Mother’s Day Weekend on Disney Cruise Line. Continue reading

Glamping – When You’re Not Quite Ready to Make the Rustic Leap

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing some ways for your family to participate in the Great American Campout.

Glamping - When Youre Not Quite Ready to Make the Rustic LeapIn honor of the Great American Campout on June 25, I had to write something about camping. I used to love to go camping in my early adult years. I was even a counselor at a camp one summer. For personal trips, we camped in a tent with our sleeping bags on a tarp, no cots or air mattresses. We cooked over an open fire. That made the food taste so good, and heated our water for washing dishes over the same fire. It was so great to be able to connect with nature. Plus, back then, it was about the only way I could afford to travel!

Now that I’m older, sleeping on the ground or even a cot or air mattress no longer holds much appeal, but I do still love being in nature and the taste of food cooked over a campfire. That’s where glamping comes in! Continue reading

Why My Staycation May Have Been Better Than a Vacation

Doesn't this photo just scream vacation? A staycation can come with all the amenities of a vacation.

Doesn’t this photo just scream vacation? A staycation can come with all the amenities of a vacation.

For this past long holiday weekend, my husband and I had a trip all planned and booked. We were going to spend a child-free weekend in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, about two weeks earlier, my husband’s company, which had always observed the 4th of July in the past the day before or after if it fell on a weekend, decided that they were going to be open instead and he was going to have to work. Reluctantly, I canceled everything in Las Vegas and booked a room for us at the Arizona Biltmore, located only about 30 minutes from our house, instead. While I do love Las Vegas, this staycation was absolutely wonderful and I’m so glad we did it. In fact, it made me realize that there are many ways a staycation is even better than a vacation.

Little to No Travel – We only drove 30 minutes to our hotel. We didn’t have to pay for gas, buy plane tickets, eat meals on the road, or sit anywhere for hours on end waiting to get there. This also meant that we could enjoy a late checkout at the end of the trip and still got home at a decent time.

The Arizona Biltmore offered a lot of amenities for our staycation including lawns for croquet, cornhole, and outdoor chess.

The Arizona Biltmore offered a lot of amenities for our staycation including lawns for croquet, cornhole, and outdoor chess.

Time to Enjoy the Resort Amenities – When on a vacation, we often spend very little time in our room or our resort, which means we don’t get to enjoy the amenities that they offer. Because we were close to home, we’d already seen most of the tourist locations so we were able to enjoy what the resort had to offer. At the Arizona Biltmore, there were numerous things like the spa, the pools, water slide, outdoor games, fitness classes, cooking classes, high tea, movies at the pool, golf, wine tastings, etc. It was easy to keep busy if we wanted to. There was also a great kids’ program so that while parents could spend time with their kids doing all the fun things the resort offered, the parents could also enjoy some adults-only time.

Time to Relax – We didn’t have to take in all the things offered, though. Because there was no sightseeing to do as well as no cooking, no dishes to wash, no laundry, etc., we could just sit and do whatever we wanted. I enjoyed time reading, watching movies, sitting by the pool, taking a long bath, and even taking a nap. These are luxuries I wouldn’t have had if we had stayed home where it always seems some chore or another is calling my name. As I mentioned, this was a child-free weekend, but even if we had our son along, I could have relaxed simply by putting him in the kids’ program. Moms, imagine a massage or a long, uninterrupted bath while your children are having fun doing crafts and playing under great supervision. Yep, the staycation is probably worth it just for that.

Our staycation at the Arizona Biltmore came with a great view. This was the balcony for our room.

Our staycation at the Arizona Biltmore came with a great view. This was the balcony for our room.

Felt Like Vacation without Using Vacation Time – We were only 30-minutes from home, but it still had a vacation feel to it. We were in a hotel room, at a resort, living out of our suitcases. We were dining in restaurants that we don’t normally go to. There was a major change in scenery, at least for us. At home, we can see mountains, but not much grass. At the Arizona Biltmore, our room overlooked the golf course.  A hotel will offer a different view even if it’s just of a garden or pool. Regardless, there’s just something inherently refreshing about being away from home even if we didn’t go far. It was a much-needed break without taking any time off work!

Still Hung Out with Good Friends – Because we were so close to home, we still got together with friends who don’t ordinarily travel with us. My husband went with a friend golfing while the “wives” had high tea in the hotel lobby, which I highly recommend if you ever have a chance to visit the Arizona Biltmore. We played cards. We enjoyed the 4th of July fireworks together. It was like having them along on vacation without the expense.

Before booking a staycation for your family, consider these tips.

  • Make sure the resort has the amenities you’re looking for and that they will be open. Most hotels have lists of their available classes (like the cooking ones), pools, golf, etc. on their website, but it may not be inclusive. Call the hotel and ask about them. Also ask if they are undergoing renovations. It doesn’t do you any good if they have a pool, but it has no water in it.
  • Shop around for the best deal. While sites like and have great rates, they may not always have the best rates. Also, check Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local, which always have getaways and local deals listed. Be sure to check with the resort directly. We actually found the best deal at the Arizona Bilmore through them. Plus, by booking directly, we were able to get a package that for $90 more per night, the $28/night resort fee was waived, we had free Wi-Fi, we got 20% off spa services, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two each day was included. We calculated that we were basically eating all three meals for about $30/day per person. I’m not sure we could even do that at McDonald’s.
  • Have a Plan B. If you’re looking forward to hanging at the pool all weekend and it ends up storming all weekend, it’s not going to be much fun just hanging in the room. See what other amenities the resort has that are indoors. Make sure you know what’s nearby that your family enjoys. Worst case scenario? Know the resort’s cancellation policy and if you can do it on short enough notice (some allow cancellation up to the afternoon of the day of check in), reschedule.

If you’re lamenting that you don’t have the time or the money or both to enjoy a vacation this summer, consider a staycation. Even if you are going on vacation, why not add a staycation and double dip?  You will love it and your kids will, too! We are already planning a weekend back to the Arizona Biltmore!

Try a Local Hotel’s Romance Package this Valentine’s Day

Still looking for something romantic for this weekend? Consider sending the kids to their grandparents, a friends, or hiring a sitter and heading to a local hotel for a spa or romance package.

I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do for Valentine’s Day this year and my husband was OK with whatever. We usually go out for a nice dinner, which is great, but for some reason, I wanted more this year. I was looking around online for ideas and found that a hotel very near to us (within 15 minutes) was doing Valentine’s Day specials. Continue reading

Want to Learn to Fly? Indoor Skydiving is a Must!

Ifly1If you’re looking for a fun family adventure, then I highly recommend iFly Indoor Skydiving. On a recent trip to Orlando, I was looking for something different to do and a friend suggested that she and I go do that.

Before booking, we checked out any restrictions and there are a few, but they can accommodate most people. They can take children as young and three and the only restrictions I saw for adults were a weight limit of 230 pounds for those under 6 feet tall and 250 pounds for those over 6 feet. There was also an issue if a flyer ever had a dislocated shoulder, back or neck problems, heart problems, or is pregnant. Since none of those applied, we booked our flight. Continue reading