We added a new luxury travel post on the Asher Marie Collection blog. This is our first post on travel for Asher Marie. As the pieces are designed for resort wear – we thought a post outlining basic options for renting a yacht would fit well. Since we have strong personal ties in Florida we focused the post on the various port options on and off the coast of The Sunshine State. Bon voyage!
Some travelers don’t start to think about summer vacation destinations until it warms up substantially, however, most beach houses and condos are already booked for June, July and August. If you want a place on the beach in the middle of the summer, start looking now to see what remains. A benefit to booking early: It’s the off-season so many sites have not yet inflated rates.
Waiting to book your travels is risky, but summer vacations themselves have risks, like hurricanes.
Solution? Travel insurance.
Most travel insurance premiums cost approximately $100, a fair fee when you consider the hundreds or thousands of dollars you may spend on the overall trip. Not all travel insurance policies are the same though. Some premiums provide a refund in the event of a storm or illness. On our trip to California last year my in-law needed to be hospitalized. This added extra days onto our trip, additional lodging costs, amended airfare plans and fees. However, if my husband’s job gets in the way—unfortunately there’s no insurance for that.
Another solution? Travel away from hurricane-prone areas. The entire eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast are generally prime targets for summer hurricanes. Granted, even if your travels are to the Pacific Northwest—or to Napa like one of our summer travels last year—hurricanes could affect flight patterns elsewhere and your trip could still be hindered.
Aside from weather, illness, and the typical vacation-downers – how can you have a pleasant travel experience with a toddler? Check out my earlier post on traveling with toddlers on planes for a few activities and planning tips. If your toddler is into trains, Amtrak allows two children ages 2-12 to receive a 50% discount on the lowest available adult fare with each fare-paying adult. (Kids under 2 are free!)
Looking for a family-friendly place to stay, one that has laundry accommodations, privacy, and plenty of room for little ones to play? Check out our post on different ways to book travel for finding the right summer vacation rental property.
Daylight savings officially ends this Sunday, November 2nd. In the spirit of setting our clocks back one hour, we thought it would be seasonally appropriate to take a quick look back at some of our highlights this year. Her Heel Flops is still considered an infant at just under a year, but we have a lot to show for it! Here are some of our most popular posts and a sampling of our accomplishments in the last 9 months.
In just our first month of going live we were invited to guest post for REXConnects, Rex Healthcare’s blog on health, well-being and family. Our Springtime Outdoor Activities post was well received on social media and throughout the community. Our RexConnects contribution was followed by a guest post on Carolina Parent. Carolina Parent is not only a fantastic magazine for families in North Carolina, but a rich website full of family-friendly events and activities. Our post on How to Make Beach Trips With Toddlers Easy with Carolina Parent received great endorsements from coastal-bound families throughout the country, thank you! Our next contribution, Tips for Toddlers on Airplanes was featured on the Family Focus Blog. Family Focus is one of the top blogs for mothers in the country and has been featured by several large news programs. What an opportunity for Her Heel Flops!
So, what else has been popular on Her Heel Flops? Here, we have compiled the top posts on Style, Sips & Eats, and Travel. Enjoy:
Top 5 Posts on Style
- Bohemian Fashion Tips
- New York Fashion Week
- Stay at Home (Not Sloppy) Mom
- Summer Dress Trends
- Spring Makeup Trends
Top 5 Posts on Sips & Eats
- Dinner Party Ideas: Oscar Night
- Al Fresco Entertaining
- 5 St. Patrick’s Day Recipes
- Vitamins & Vodka
- Recipes Using Greek Yogurt
Top 5 Posts on Travel
- Spring Break Destinations
- Staycations for Spring Break
- Packing Tips for Traveling
- Different Ways to Book Travel
- Unplanned Sundays
What was your favorite post so far this year?
Why have posts been infrequent? In addition to managing the first stages of my new fashion line, I spent much of the summer and early fall away from home.
It all started in May with Marissa’s graduation from the University of Tampa. We spent an extended weekend in Tampa followed by three weeks in our beloved Naples. Enjoying time with family and friends was priceless and offered many great memories…boating, fishing, beach time, and swimming in the backyard pools of our vacation rental homes. Shopping and dining out on the world renowned 5th Avenue and Historic 3rd Street were some of our highlights.
We rented a golf cart to cruise around town…some called it “The Banana” as it was an extended, yellow 8-seater! We loved it! We also re-considered a more permanent move to Naples and enjoyed a few outings with our very patient broker. It was eye opening to see what our money could buy as Naples is bustling and the real estate market is very healthy…up almost 27% year over year! It’s great to see the market so healthy, but we feel we may have ‘missed the boat’ so to speak. Our perfect Naples property may need to wait just a bit longer. The time will come.
Our first trip of the summer to Florida offered a great place to get away and enjoy some fun in the sun with those closest to us.
Here are some of our highlights and ‘must sees’ if you plan a trip to Naples soon…
Campiello on 3rd Street – Great food and awesome staff. They treated us like family and we must have shared a handful of dinners and lunches with them while we were in town.
Sea Salt on 3rd Street – One of Jake’s favorites for amazingly fresh seafood and great indoor/outdoor ambiance.
Tommy Bahamas on 3rd Street – Great cocktails and live music weekly.
Jane’s on Third – Amazing breakfasts – every omelet you can think of.
Cafe Lurecat on 5th Avenue – Great al fresco dining (Please recall, I have a thing for eating outside…check out some outdoor dining in Raleigh.)
Bice on 5th Avenue – Great al fresco dining and people watching right on the western most corner of the main shopping district.
The Cafe (on 5th Ave) – Great stop for breakfast and fresh juiced drinks…our favorite stop to bring “The Banana” with our friends and family.
In July, Jake took a trip to The Maldives to surf and enjoy some time with the guys. (More to follow on that as it’s definitely worth chronicling with some images…amazing trip for him!) I certainly didn’t want to be left behind with a toddler, so I decided to go back to Naples to spend The 4th, my birthday and some more time with extended family…almost another 3 weeks!
Jake’s plan was to meet us just after he returned to the states to enjoy some more fun in the sun. The trip started out great, with an amazing 4th of July with family, dinner and cocktails out and fireworks on the beach. However, the trip didn’t continue so seamlessly. I woke up on my birthday feeling ill. A not-happy birthday surprise. Perhaps with all of those good meals out with friends I ate something not so friendly.
By the time Jake arrived, I had recovered mostly and we were able to enjoy some more salty air with our son. This time we rented a house further north of our normal stomping ground in an area called The Moorings. It’s a bit more residential and quiet, but offered a great place to retire at the end of the day.
While the neighbors were very gracious and the beaches beautiful, we decided we must be located in Olde Naples when we decide to eventually build our home. Closer to shopping, walkable to dining and everything in between. Olde Naples stole our heart years ago. In fact, it’s where I attended Elementary school in the 80’s. 😉 St. Ann’s Catholic School. We used to walk to the beach with our Girl Scouts troop to pick up trash as our community service project. A really “tough” place to grow up! I certainly don’t take it for granted!
After returning home for a couple of weeks, Florida was back on the agenda. We went to Key West to celebrate our good friend’s surprise birthday the first weekend in August. This was a five-day “parents only” trip! It was hot and muggy, but we couldn’t have had a better time with such a great group of people and dear friends. We stayed in an amazing VRBO rental called Cloud 9. It was perfectly located just steps from Duval Street and all the hustle, but it felt like we were in a different world—a secret garden behind a wall and iron gates. Absolutely stunning and a real vacation FIND.
We spent two days fishing and snorkeling. Some of the guys went diving, including Jake! We had some great dinners out and enjoyed a night of dancing. Great fun and just a well-deserved and long overdue “parents only” trip. While hard to leave my little one behind, he was well taken care of by Nana and Papa and enjoyed quite the social calendar while we were away.
Family Focus Blog is an award-winning blog featuring informative posts for parents on everything from recipes and decorating, to activities families can do together. Scarlet Paolicchi, the force behind Family Focus, was named the #3 Top Mom Blogger in the US earlier this year. We are fortunate and happy to be able to contribute to Scarlet’s blog with a post chronicling tips I have collected after flying with my toddler.
I’m including the beginning, then click the link to read the full post:
4 Tips for Toddlers on Airplanes
Traveling on planes can be cramped, you may miss a meal and be hungry, and without the right provisions a flight can be boring. Flights with your toddler in tow compound travel woes on another level. How can you keep your child comfortable too? With a few tips for toddlers on airplanes and innovative new product designs you and your little one will be flying high and happy.
1. Let early birds fly ahead.
Families with small children have the privilege of being part of the first-to-board party. Pass this privilege on to other travelers. Instead, wait until the very last minute to board the plane. Ask a partner or flight attendant to install your car seat before you board. If you have an active toddler like my son, it works wonders for in-flight behavior. There is no fidgeting or settling in…
Read the rest of “Toddlers Take Flight: Tips for Toddlers on Airplanes.”
If you are a mom or dad in North Carolina you have likely heard of or referenced Carolina Parent at some point. In addition to their beautiful glossy magazine, they run a fantastic parenting blog on every topic under the sun. I recently contributed to Carolina Parent‘s blog with a post on ways to simplify beach days with toddlers. After a busy summer at Florida beaches in Naples and Key West, we are back in Raleigh and happy to share insight from our experiences in the surf.
I’m including the beginning, then click the link to read the full post:
Family trips to the beach should be memorable for all the right reasons. The work to calm a cranky toddler who misses nap time is magnified at the beach. Sunscreen stings eyes, direct sun exposure exhausts little ones faster than adults, and picky eaters may not find something they like from concessions at the beach—if there even are any. North Carolina beaches are diverse. Some offer a variety of food services and modern conveniences, while others let you truly get away and you need to be self-sustained. With the right planning you can make a trip with a toddler to any beach more enjoyable.
Sun protection at the beach makes for a more comfortable experience, prevents your toddler from days or weeks of painful sunburn recovery, and avoids the permanent long-term damage a sunburn causes. Some toddlers do not care for sun block…
Read the rest of “How to Make Beach Trips With Toddlers Easy.”
Traditional hotels may cause headaches after trying to find the right place to stay when traveling with a toddler and extended family. Depending on how many are traveling, you might have to rent multiple rooms–or worse–cram into one room without enough personal space and quiet time for a toddler’s naps.
There are a few alternatives to staying at a hotel. You could try and book a room at a bed & breakfast, but they’re usually reserved for adults only, and it can be difficult to find a place that welcomes children. Also in many cases, B&Bs have been converted from residential homes, which means inconveniences like shared bathrooms and thin walls.
There’s a much better option that my family and I have taken advantage of during our travels. The next time you’re scheduling an upcoming family vacation: Rent a house. It will make your planning easier and your experience much more enjoyable! Here’s why:
Privacy is one of the biggest benefits of renting a home. The kids can share rooms, and parents and adults can have quiet retreats for themselves. You won’t have to worry about going to bed at different times and waking up your roommates, or losing sleep over your neighbor’s snoring.
More importantly, your kids can be kids. If you have a toddler, you know that their footsteps can sound heavier than your husband’s at times. When you rent a house, your kids can play and run around without the risk of disturbing the neighbors.
With your own house, you also gain access to private amenities. When you have your own pool, you can feel confident that your kids can enjoy it safely without being splashed by a group of teenagers on summer vacation. Many houses are also equipped with BBQs, hammocks, and ample parking – perks you wouldn’t get from a cramped hotel room. It’s much easier to roll luggage and strollers in and out of a private home than through a hotel’s elevators and maze of hallways! Plus, when a curious toddler spills something on their clothes—or your clothes!—a washing machine and dryer are ready and waiting. No need to coordinate with hotel staff or navigate to a Laundromat in a foreign place.
What about price? Some people think that renting a house is more expensive than a hotel, but that’s not usually the case. We used Vacation Rentals By Owner to find our home-away-from-home for trips to Naples, Florida, and even out of the country in Punta Mita, Mexico and Costa Rica. We’ll be using it again domestically for our trip to Northern California later this year.
Not only do we get great deals, but our access to a full kitchen allows us to enjoy family dinners together privately and save money instead of eating out for every meal. It’s easier to eat healthy this way – and try out some new ways to create nutritious cocktails.
If you’re in charge of planning your family’s next vacation, renting a house will ensures you get to relax and have just as much fun as your fellow travelers. Kick off your heel flops and enjoy!
We covered a few spring break travel plans, but aside from destinations, how should you pack? With Easter just around the corner, many families are ready to travel. Packing for comfort, for souvenirs, for special occasions—you can juggle everything with a few changes to your packing routine.
You might be the kind of tourist who prepares an itinerary before embarking and keeps a spreadsheet labeling where all of your items are in your checked and carry-on luggage. Alternatively, you might be a free spirit and use a single bag for your travels no matter how far away and how long you will be exploring. Regardless of your travel style, we have a few luggage options and packing tips below that will help you. This can mean added comfort in your travels when balancing your luggage during transports, finding lost luggage, or extra space to bring home gifts for yourself and loved ones:
Modern luggage designs. How many times have you grabbed someone else’s suitcase and thought it was your own? Traditional suitcase designs look too similar. You may have tried adding a bandana or ribbon to the handle to help you spot it in the luggage claim area, but today there are so many sleek designs you can customize to your liking. Nieman Marcus offers the latest luggage designs with bright colors and some monogramming options. Most contemporary suitcases offer the four-way wheels, smaller ones convert into a backpack, and this folding suitcase was designed with an accordion style—which also “irons” your clothes as you travel. Depart on the flat setting, and let it expand with souvenirs as you travel!
Luggage tracking systems. Yes, there are luggage GPS products! If the airline loses your luggage, you will be able to tell them exactly where it is. Several services have entered the market, like pocketfinder and Trakdot.
Packing tips. You may have to iron a little when you arrive, but roll each of your clothing items instead of folding. When you tightly roll up a shirt or jeans, it will use up less space than if you folded them. Hate digging your stuff out of the carry-on when you get on the plane? This is especially tough if you have little ones. Fold an empty canvas tote on the outside pocket of your carry-on luggage. Once you are through security, take out the items you need at arm’s length during the flight. Once you’re on board you can just take off and enjoy the flight instead of wrestling with the overhead bin. Plus, the tote can be great to carry around while shopping once you arrive!