Should You Take Your Kids to an Indoor Water Park Hotel?

So, should you take your kids to an Indoor Water Park Hotel? Is it worth it?

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There is something to be said about the excitement of watching your little ones experiencing something magical for the first time.  You are young, your children give you a fresh new outlook on being playful and even a new outlook on life in general. Everything you take them to; museums, amusement parks, even just a playground is fun for not only them, but you as well. It’s like you are allowed to be a kid again, well, a big kid with responsibilities, but a kid none the less.

I remember the first time my husband and I took our little guys, maybe 3 and 4 years old, for a weekend adventure to the Poconos to visit the new craze in hotels; The Indoor Water Park, Great Wolf Lodge.  As soon as you drive into the lot the experience begins. The lodge is built to resemble the authentic lodges out west and has carvings of wolves all over the building.  You step inside the lobby and you are greeted with a huge stone fireplace, more wood carvings and an atmosphere built right out of a childhood fantasy. And the rooms! The rooms and suites match this childhood dream perfectly. Some rooms are basic, but most of them have little log cabins, tent themed areas or a wolves den built into them where the kids can sleep in their own little fort. It’s almost like getting a little bit of the Disney experience for just a few days.

Of course, what everyone comes to GWL for is the indoor water park. It, too, is themed with forests and wild animals carved into the walls, slides and pool areas. It’s perfect for families with little ones as well as older kids who like the more adventurous slides. And it even has an adult only hot tub for when mom or dad need a quiet break.

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The GWL in the Poconos (and many others) also has an interactive game throughout the hotel, so when your kids get waterlogged they can take a break, but still not agitate you with boredom in the room. Wands are bought at a little store at the hotel, your quest is chosen and off you go on an adventure around the hotel to talking trees, stars that light up in the ceiling, wall carvings that move and then finally ends in a fight with a dragon. It’s awesome….when you are young and have little ones brimming with bright eyes and smiles.

This is where this post changes…. We recently found an old gift card we had been given to  “the Lodge” ten or so years ago. One nice thing is they never expire. However, our family dynamic has changed a bit since we had visited the Great Wolf. We are now a family of 6; 3 of which are teenage boys. Our youngest is an 8 year old girl, so I was very excited to take her to this magical place.

We drove into the lot. Yep, still the same. Carved wolves and all. We entered the lobby and again, same ambiance. My daughter loved it. My sons-not so much.  They were surrounded by parents in their beginnings with loads of toddlers and elementary age kids running around with wolves ears, pointing wands with the occasional scream of laughter or tears from exhaustion. Pure chaos.

My husband checks us in and we decide to change into our suits and hit the water right away.  My husband and the boys grab my daughter and they introduce her to all the fun that is Great Wolf Lodge; the wave pool, the slides, the huge bucket that dumps. Everything! I, immediately, head to the lazy river as I’m much more of a “take it easy” type of guest.

As I’m laying there in my tube floating down the man-made waterway, I look around at all the young families. The happiness in their faces, the joy of experiencing this as a child along side their own little ones and it makes me a little sad. I’m old. My kids are old and soon instead of being grumpy while hanging out with us, they won’t be hanging out with us at all. My oldest will be going off to college in a year and a half and then the second will follow the year after. And then they will be off to their own lives getting to experience this kind of thing for the first time with their kids…. and maybe they will even drag me along so I can once more experience it through the eyes of my grandchildren and maybe even turn me back into a kid once again, at least for a few days.

So, should you take your kids to an Indoor Water Park Hotel? Is it worth it?

Well, with all the extras, it can really add up to be an expensive little weekend, but YES! You should! Become a kid again! Enjoy your little ones while they are young and you aren’t too tired from life to hop on that tube and slide down that slide. The memories you will make will last a lifetime! And memories are what makes life worth living! And who knows? Maybe it will become a tradition for generations to come!

Calming Jet Lag with Yoga


Jet lag is for amateurs, but it is a real challenge anytime you are traveling through different time zones and there’s not much time to let your body naturally adjust.  Yoga can help make the transition easier and certain poses can help you get you adjusted to your overseas sleep schedule.

Here is a sequence you can use when you need to sleep, but your mind and body want to stay awake.IMG_8441.JPG
IMG_8440.JPGBegin in hero pose for 5 breaths.  Let yourself feel grounded to the space you are currently occupying.  You can move into tip toe hero pose for a few breaths and then reclining hero if you feel comfortable in those positions.  If not extend your basic hero pose for 3 more breaths.IMG_8443.JPG

Move to table top and then begin a series of cat cow breaths, inhaling in cow and exhaling in cat.  Stay wiIMG_8444 (2).JPGth the breath here for 5 cycles.

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Slide your body back into child’s pose and let gravity pull your body into relaxation and grounding.  Notice where you are holding any tension and breath into those spaces.  Stay in this space for 8 breaths.  Remember to pause at the top and bottom of each breath.

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Lie down on your back and put your legs up against the wall.  Bring your right ankle to your left knee for figure 4 against the wall pose.  Stay here for five breaths and then switch legs to balance the body.

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Put both legs back against the wall  for legs up the wall pose and let gravity pull your lower back down to flatten and release any tension.  Stay in this position for 10 breaths.

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Lie flat on your mat, legs outstretched.  Pull your knees up and feet on the ground hips width apart.  Allow your legs to drift gently to the right side to bIMG_8452.JPGegin your supine spinal twist.  Put your arms out to your sides and turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees.  Breath into the spine for 5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.  If you want a deeper stretch, use your ankle on your knee to lengthen the muscle.

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Return to your back, pull your knees towards your chest, and grab your big toes.  Flatten your lower back and rock side to side in happy baby pose.  Stay here for 8-10 breaths.

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Using bolsters, blocks or pillows for your knees, move into reclining goddess pose.  Be gentle with yourself and don’t push.  Let gravity do the work and use those props to help you release your tendency to tighten the inner thighs.

End in corpse pose, palms turned to the floor for grounding.  Lie here and let your breathing be natural.  Stay in this position as long as it feels good.  You can use a block or pillow under your head and another under your knees for more comfort.

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This sequence will help you ground to your current time zone and help you prepare the body and mind to sleep.
Always remember, no matter where you travel to, never forget to pack YOGA!

Roadtripping At It’s Finest

When I plan a road trip, I like to make it as silly as possible to keep it entertaining for the other passengers in the vehicle. I’ll plan stops at supposed vampire or witch grave sites, silly vintage statues or art works, or landmarks that you’ve always heard about, but have never seen.  To me, these are what make a road trip worth taking and makes lasting memories to talk and laugh about for decades.

 A few years ago, while my mother was battling lung cancer, my sisters and I decided we needed a Mother/ Daughter Road Trip to make some lasting memories. We hadn’t done anything like this for decades, since we all are married, have children and moved all over the country.  Of course, I took on the task of planning the trip! I used two great websites and apps called https://roadtrippers.com/ as well as http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ . Our plan was to go to Cape Cod to take my mother on a real clambake, but we decided to see a lot more while on the road.


On Sept.2, 2013, we began our trip to New England by trying for a photo op at The Sloppy Giant with Ill Clad Clothing in Phoenxiville, Pa. We couldn’t find it. However, we did find Jode Rd and a random globe for the first pictures of the week.






Our second roadside photo op was at the Giant Steel Hockey Player in Newark, NJ. Mom and Jami were too afraid of the “ghetto” to get out of the car, but that wasn’t going to stop Jen and I. I mean we had driven all this way just to take a picture with it….  http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/23432

After a few attempts at seeing Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse, otherwise known as The Little Red Lighthouse, http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fortwashingtonpark/monuments/810

taking a bathroom break for Jami(again in the ghetto) we decided to leave NYC and find something to eat.


We chose the old road trip standard, Cracker Barrel, where we were joined by the Mileys and the Short Bus Mileys. (Note- this was right after her tongue exposed VMA award performance)

Midnight Mary in New Haven, Ct, was our next stop. Mary Hart was a woman who was buried alive and thought to haunt the cemetery at midnight. We left her a penny, took some pictures and went on our way. http://www.damnedct.com/midnight-mary/









While in New Haven, Ct, we decided to crash a wedding at Lighthouse Park. We took some silly photos and searched for seashells. (photo to the right- Get it? I’m the little mermaid?!)





New Haven was also the home of the rather scary, gross Econo Lodge Motel where we spent our first night, I would not recommend it. The next morning, we got up early and headed out to visit Gillette Castle http://www.friendsofgillettecastle.org/which is gorgeous. The castle was the home of the original Sherlock Holmes and was quite eccentric which makes the tour very entertaining. We arrived too early, so stopped for some chai and coffee at Two Wrasslin Cats https://www.facebook.com/TwoWrasslinCats and toured Jami’s new favorite town, East Haddam, Ct

Once we arrived at Gillette Castle, Jami was a gracious host at her estate, inviting us in, doing some gardening and taking photos of forbidden closets.






After a brief stop at a Life Size T- Rex in Oakdale, Ct, we stopped at the Mohegan Sun Casino to spend some money.







Mystic, Ct was the next stop on our trip. We, first, stopped by Ford’s Lobsters, a Mystic Pizza Filming location, for some lobster rolls and a lobster stuffed avocado in the pouring rain.


After a drive by photo of the Stonington Lighthouse in Stonington, RI, we stopped by a Vampires Gravesite. Mercy Brown was thought to be a vampire, so was exhumed and her heart was made into a drink for her brother to drink to keep him from dying of the TB plague that was happening in Exeter, Ri in 1888. http://strangene.com/cemeteries/vampire.htm


The Fighting Seabee Statue in North Kingston was next on the photo agenda, as was the Warwick Neck Lighthouse and an attempt at seeing the Conimicut Lighthouse.


The Comfort Inn in Warwick, RI, was the best hotel on the trip. It was clean and had a bar downstairs, where Jami and Jen, in their infinite wisdom kept the drinks coming. Not only did mother not appreciate it, apparently neither did Jodi’s histamines.
The next morning we drove by TAPS(ghosthunters) for a photo.





The next morning, we intended to take a tour of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, but only did a quick drive by of the front. We, then, headed to Battleship
Cove to look at the water “and wait for our long lost loves to come home”







Finally to the “tip of the Cape”!
We found some stones lying on the beach and enjoyed a meal before going to bed for the evening in rooms that smelled of cat pee and had splattered blood on the curtains. Ahhh the memories! Just a tip- You get what you pay for!


 The next day was a rather gloomy day in February, but we were heading to Plimoth Plantation anyway! http://www.plimoth.org/  Luckily, we had the whole place to ourselves, so we could act as goofy and obnoxious as we wanted. We had some great conversations with some natives and also got to meet our  11th great grandfathers. Ok, well, actors who portrayed them! As a huge genealogy buff, I’ve traced us to 7 of the original settlers in Plimoth. We had a fun time talking family with the actors who never broke character, even when we brought up things that would happen to them in the future.




 Next we went to see  Plimoth Rock which at one time had been quite larger, but people kept chipping parts away for souvenirs, so now it is enclosed as well as take a picture of Governor Bradford’s statue, which has a crazy resemblance to our father.




Last on the agenda, was touring the Mayflower, where again as the only people on, we were able to take some funny pictures and annoy the actor.



Finally to our Clambake, the reason we chose New England! It was a rather cool, gloomy evening and mom was not feeling too well, but it still was an awesome experience.  And if you ever decide to go, I would not recommend trying to save money by choosing the vegetarian option.! http://bostonsbestcruises.com/clambake-at-sunset












We visited a few more places before heading back to Pennsylvania; The Salem Witch Museum  http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/   and the House of the Seven Gables http://www.7gables.org/. Both were interesting tours.







Overall, our trip to Cape Cod, Boston and Salem was an awesome Mother/Daughter Road Trip with lots of laughter until tears streamed down our faces and we were doubled over in pain.  We will always have lots of memories of our awful hotels, sneaky facebook pictures of each other and of trying to push the darn wheelchair.


Remember your road trip is only as fun as you make it!

Until the next one….

Only Rich People Take Vacations


So, it’s been a while since you’ve take a vacation or you’ve never traveled very far from home before and you have NO IDEA where to start? Listen, we have been there. 

I went on my first vacation the last week of summer before sixth grade. We borrowed our neighbors small pickup truck, put a carpet in the back, put the cap on and along with my parents and two sisters, drove to Niagara Falls and through the New England States, very quickly, might I add.  Two of us would drive hours on end laying down to fit in the bed of the truck (This was in the eighties when driving in the back of a pickup truck was perfectly acceptable) while the lucky one for the day would get to ride between my parents in the front.  We had no reservations. We stopped at any $30 or so a night motel that had vacancy. Sometimes we would all sleep in the King Size Bed, my mother would end up in the bathtub sleeping on those nights, but other nights we would share two queens.  Listen, it wasn’t glamorous, but riding Maid of the Mist under the Falls and touring Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower made it all worth the fighting and bickering for space in our cramped quarters. 









We didn’t take another vacation until seven years later when my sister graduated from bootcamp.  That’s because only rich people could take vacations, or so I thought.  

Maybe it was difficult to take the trip of your dreams ten or fifteen years ago without bundles of cash, but today with all of the internet planning tools and deals, you can travel for the cost of a couple of outfits at the mall. It would be more like 10 or more outfits for myself because I’m a cheap skate and a consignment shopper at my very core, but for normal people, a couple of outfits from the mall.

The first thing you need to do is decide where you want to go. Or don’t, that’s even better. If you are willing to go anywhere if the deal is right, you have a better chance of finding something exciting and within your budget. 

Then you need to start scouring the internet. There are so many travel blogs, sites and apps devoted to travel deals and you need to find as many as you can and sign up for notifications. Liking the facebook pages of each is extremely helpful as they often post a new travel deal everyday.


For me, the next step is to figure out when the deals I find fit into my schedule and financial planning. Hey, I dont have a huge lump sum at one time to pay for a vacation, so I piecemeal it together so by the time the trip comes along, it’s paid off and I’m free to enjoy the sites.  If you find a great flight price, book that first, if its a great hotel or rental price, book that. The rest will fall into place. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to raise the funds and find the next part you need.

Here are some of the travel sites you should check out-

http://thepointsguy.com/
http://www.travelandleisure.com/
https://besttraveldeals.net/

And don’t forget cruiselines- 
https://www.royalcaribbean.com/
https://www.ncl.com/
https://www.carnival.com/

And my favorite inexpensive airlines-
https://www.norwegian.com
https://wowair.us/
http://www.jetblue.com/

AND don’t forget Google Flights, one of the best new travel tools available!
https://www.google.com/flights/

            

What is a Common Ass Traveler?


What is a Common Ass Traveler? Well, it’s anyone of course, but in this case, it’s two women in their 40’s  who met up after 20 plus years apart, found out that they were both going through their own midlife crisis’ in different parts of the country and decided traveling would be the surefire cure to the doldrums of life. Did it matter that neither of them had ever left the country before? Heck, no! They jumped right in and took a 21 day self guided tour of India by themselves and lived to tell the tales.




And where did the horribly uncouth name “Common Ass Traveler” come from?  Well, one of these women is terribly hard of hearing and when driving in the car heard an NPR journalist say it. Well, it happened that she actually said Conde’ Naste Traveler, but the phrase just stuck. Besides, its clever, if I do say so myself! (I’m that said woman)



They must have great supportive spouses and lots of money. Well, yes and no. Our spouses are incredibly supportive, but seriously, come on, we also are great at bribery to get them to agree to our hair brained ideas. And I’ll tell you- I’m not ashamed! We have an honest trade and barter system…..

Lots of money? HAHAHAHAHAHA Now, that is funny! No not at all, but two women who grew up relatively poor and worked for everything they have, know how to get things done cheaply, find deals, make do, beg, barter and trade!



So why should anyone read this blog or listen to the podcast?  Because with every go with the flow trip there are bound to be hilarious and unbelievable stories that make your day or drive go by faster. There will also be tons of ideas and itineraries that you can use for your next trip and travel tips to help you save money and have a better experience overall!

So what’s holding you back? Join us and become a Common Ass Traveler!