Category Archives: family travel

A Getaway Giveaway from Marriott’s Residence Inn

I lived for road trips when I was a kid. We grew up in a rural berg nestled in the High Desert of Southern California. Escaping Getting to go anywhere that held the promise of new faces, food mom hadn’t cooked and “modern amenities” was a big treat. Heck, my Hip Hippie parents didn’t even get us a TV until well after I’d become one of the Tooth Fairy’s favorites. Hotels were like a wonderland for my brothers and I. Our own little slice of Narnia, equipped with a talking box, “Magic Fingers” and a glittering machine that made us ice.. Whenever. We. Wanted!

My kids have it all. Yet they still get giddy when I say we’re headed to a hotel. Most of the time I’m a bit less excited. Having to hide the room service menu, explaining to the front desk that my 5 year old doesn’t get that they aren’t there to talk to her for hours on end about Justin and Selena and the search for “second breakfast” after the stale bagels and yogurt don’t get it done for them… not things I look forward to.

That all changed last summer when we booked a quick escape to a Residence Inn in Virginia Beach. All of the sudden I was loving the hotel time! This place had everything a family of 6 could want and more. Heck the breakfast alone was worth going back for.

We’ll stay up all night, swap stories and in the morning THEY are makin’ waffels!

Residence Inn realizes how busy life can be for moms and strives to make traveling seamless and as comfortable as possible with spacious suites, free hot breakfast, free Internet, swimming pools, great value and as we found out in Virginia Beach… AMAZING SERVICE!

What I loved most about  Residence Inn by Marriott, was the balance between getting away from it all and still enjoying the comforts of home. While Residence Inn is best known for their extended hotel stays, the suites at Residence Inn are PERFECT for family vacations!  Though I’m not terribly keen on having to cook while on vacay, I hate a huge eating out tab too so the fully equipped in-suite kitchens with a full sized refrigerator, stove,  and microwave make it easy to feed the brood on the cheap. The coffee makers make it safe for my family to be in the same room with me.

This month we’ll be traveling to the Residence Inn in historic downtown Savannah

Gorge, huh?! I’m looking forward to seeing all Savannah has to offer and taking advantage of the free grocery delivery service that Residence Inns provide. Hello, anytime I can NOT go to a grocery store, I’m all about that!

So now on to the fun stuff for YOU. Want to getaway this summer and check out all the AWESOME that is Residence Inns? Then you’re in the right place. One lucky reader will be going home with a $250 gift card for a stay at any Residence Inn in the country! Check out all the details below. GOOD LUCK!

Disclosure: As ALWAYS my opinions are my own. As a member of the Resident Mom Club, I received a gift card from Residence Inn in order to get out there and get you the best perspective I could. Because, well… you’re worth it! The contest prize is being supplied to the winner by Marriott.

Family Travel Conference: Inspiration in The Big Apple

Two weeks ago I was honored to be in attendance at the inaugural Family Travel Conference, hosted at the both elegant and homey, Omni Berkshire Place in NYC. This wonderful, inspiring conference was the brain child of  gifted and brilliant minds behind Traveling Moms, Family Travel Forum, Taking The Kids and Travel Media Showcase and brought together a bevy of passionate travel writers. 

The mix of writers for spanned the spectrum of journalistic outlets from traditional media, to National Geographic Intelligent Travel: Traveling Family, to book authors, bloggers and travel industry insiders. It not only made for interesting dynamic, but truly valuable insights, advice and guidance. For example, did you know that there are two schools of thought with regard to lead-ins when you are publishing a video you’ve created?

  • One camp suggests that you be sure to start every video by introducing yourself;  “Hi, DiPaola Momma of Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom here…”
  • The other asserts that you should never do that, that viewers are much more interested in the destination than the person sharing. Certainly a “nugget” I’d never thought about.

Beyond videos, the following advice was offered with regard to content:

  • Keep It Short. Not something I’m adept at, as I am sure you may have noticed.
  • SEO. It is certainly your friend, but don’t kill yourself trying to optimize it, content is always king. 
  • Use Bullets. This is for those easily distracted by shiny objects.. ME!
  • Photos. The eye tends to wander if it’s all text. Use photos to break up the text and keep the reader engaged. Like so…
              Now I have your attention again.. right?                 See, it works!

Even as great as the great tips and guidance were, they did not stand alone as what made this an amazing conference for me. The Family Travel Conference was truly about family. I was encouraged to bring along one of the Lil Nuggets, I choose our tween daughter. She would go on to interview the Executive Chef of Virgils BBQ (of both NYC and Atlantis Resorts) and the Omni Berkshire’s Director of Dirt (Director of Housekeeping). The minute she stepped in front of the camera, she came out of her shell. The introverted 12 year old who was mortified when I took the mic -which promptly screeched with feedback- to introduce myself, became this whole new person. Since then, we’ve been working together (I know, OMG huh?!) on editing her video, which I’ll post here soon.

The conference also reaffirmed something for me. Having such a big family -who has yet to hit the lotto- you’d think that travel would be a luxury for us.

It. Is. Not. Nor should it be for any of you.

Travel is part of the fabric that weaves my family together. Traveling allows us to connect in ways that sitting in front of a movie screen or playing the latest video game never could. In an economy, where many families are struggling, there is still a place for travel. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Tuscany or 5 Star Cruise, it can be as simple as being a tourist in your home town. Take yourself out of the everyday. Step away from routines, do something new, explore together, and what you’ll find is that you’ve come full circle back to the reasons that being a part of a family is a true gift.

Thank you Family Travel Conference founders, sponsors and attendees!

Horse POWER!

So by now you know I’m a full-fledged Baltimore Chevy Girl. It’s been a blast so far. I can now give you more that 10 reasons why it’s good to be a Chevy Girl. Among them is a love story and a “space” odyssey. The epic tale of my Traverse tryst to a turn in the backfield two weeks ago when my love of horsepower crossed paths with my love of horses.

Did you know that I used to ride rodeo? Yup I actually own belt buckles upon which one could serve a four course meal. My first horse, Pepsi (don’t judge I was 9), was my first love. I’d go on to barrel race, team pen and eventually find my way to the paddock. I never raced thoroughbreds but I thoroughly loved them. In fact my study is decorated with photos I’ve taken at various race tracks.

My local Baltimore Area Chevy Dealers made a dream come true for me when they sent yours truly and fellow Chevy girl, the LOVELY Miss. Madeline Homes of Peace, Love, Lipgloss, to the 2011 running of the Preakness Stakes!

Of course there was room enough in the Traverse for THE Hat

Speaking of the hat, it was a beautiful -if as big as a boat- commissioned design handmade by Maven of Millinery Sallye May of Sallye May Creates. Sallye took my inspiration, the Maryland State flag, and whipped it into a work of art! It was the hit of the Corporate Village where it was featured on WBAL TV.

The WBAL TV Team, Madeline, Me and THE Hat

And found itself among flowers…


Why is that the oldest trophy in racing just feet behind me… yes, yes it is!

So the photo might not be that great but the time I had was (The DH even won!). I can’t thank my Baltimore Area Chevy Dealers enough for a day that was a dream come true! 

A Thing of Beauty!

Frank Lloyd Wright once said that “Space is the breath of art”. Of course he was talking about the American Arts and Crafts movement and works of breath taking beauty. Then again don’t they say that; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ? Well get ready to BEHOLD beauty that every parent can appreciate.  I give you a work of art courtesy of the Traverse. 













My “Canvas” and Raw Materials: One teen, one exhibition in angst that is a tween age girl, two 6 and under rugrats, my muses – Scout by Bungalow shopping bags (you can fit the 4 year old in the big one it’s that big!), one fully stocked cooler (hello hummus!), one folding chair, two very well “loved” stuffies and because life is art and art is music one Raven amplifier and one electric guitar (jam session anyone?)

And now the beauty of amazing cargo space…..






THIS my Nuggetiers is a THING OF BEAUTY!

The Chevy Girls on the Go campaign is being sponsored by the Baltimore Area Chevy dealers. They are letting me test drive the Traverse for one month and providing me with gift cards for Girls on the Go missions as well as a camera to video tape my adventures. All opinions expressed are my own.