#HelloNeighbor Give Away for Columbus, Ohio Families!


Staff members from VisitPITTSBURGH, the official tourism promotion agency in Pittsburgh, are in Columbus this week making appearances at family-friendly events, giving away cool prizes and doing good deeds as part of the tourism organization’s new “Hello, Neighbor!” marketing initiative. It’s a cool way to attract Columbus families to Pittsburgh for all the great family fun attractions available.gateway clipper summer 2012


Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Follow the fun on Twitter with #HelloNeighbor.

Pittsburgh staff will be at these locations:

Friday, June 24 – Commons for Kids, S. High Street, (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

Saturday, June 25 – Easton Art Affair (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

Columbus Clippers game that evening, where the first 1,500 youths to enter will receive a free “Pittsburgh is Kidsburgh” t-shirt.

Here’s how my Columbus friends can get involved!

On Friday, the first two people that stop by Commons for Kids, find the VisitPITTSBURGH staff members in red t-shirts and say ““Pittsburgh is Grr-ific, I saw your contest on Michele’s blog.” You’ll win a great prize Pittsburgh prize package of family fun attraction tickets!

#HelloNeighborOn Saturday, the first two people that stop by the Easton Art Affair, find the VisitPITTSBURGH staff members in red t-shirts and say “Hello Neighbor, I saw your contest on Michele’s blog.” You’ll win a great prize Pittsburgh prize package of family fun attraction tickets and an overnight hotel stay!

Good luck!

Your Neighbor & Family Travel Mom, Michele Z


Posted in Family Travel on the Cheap, Kid-Friendly Lodging and Dining, Road Trips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five summer travel tips from a hospitality expert

Athens, OH (May 24, 2016) – With temperatures climbing, it is time to start enjoying summer vacations. Hospitality expert Sandy Chen, an associate professor in the Restaurant, Hotel, and Tourism Program at Ohio University’s Patton College of Education, offers five tips on saving money while staying comfortable during summer travels.

1. Book accommodation with economy hotel chains. “By doing so, you not only get more value out of the money you pay for the room since these hotels normally offer free breakfast, WIFI, swimming pools and gym facilities, but you also accumulate loyalty points with these hotel chains, which you can use in the future for free or discounted rooms,” said Chen. “If you use a credit card that rewards ‘cash back upon purchases,’ you could save more for future use.”room with double beds and sofa bed suite

2. Book accommodation one or two days before you check into a hotel. Chen explained, “Unlike the airline industry where you can receive low airfare if you book way ahead of time, the hotel industry plays the other way around. Studies on revenue management show that customers normally can get good deals with hotel room rates if they wait until the last minute. But make sure you do reserve a hotel room via phone or website before checking into the hotel. Normally the walk-in rates (without reservation) are the highest rates you could get. However, in the peak season, this might be somewhat risky since sometimes all your favorite hotel rooms could be sold out due to special events. This might mean you would not get the right hotel room in the right location.”

3. Check three major reservation outlets to compare rates and special offers. “Sometimes, travel reservations sites, including the hotel’s website, the hotel’s reservation staff at its physical location, and an online booking website like Expedia.com, offer different rates. When they do offer same rates, they might have different bonus offers, such as government rates, veteran discounts, and loyalty rewards,” advised Chen.

4. Book accommodation in suburban areas instead of urban areas. “Booking hotel accommodations in the suburbs, instead of urban areas, could mean saving several hundred dollars on one trip,” said Chen. “For instance, a hotel room in downtown Washington D. C. is much more expensive than one in the suburb Rockville, Maryland, which is only 35 minutes away by car to the capital city and may offer free shuttle service to and from the city and nearby areas.”

5. Consult customer reviews on hotels if you are interested in booking. “Websites, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia, have customer ratings of hotel facilities and service quality. Many of them give detailed descriptions of hotel experiences, which can help you decide the right hotel in which to stay,” said Chen.

About the expert: Sandy Chen, an associate professor in the Restaurant, Hotel, and Tourism Program at Ohio University’s Patton College of Education, gained hospitality experience at a five star hotel in Beijing, China and at Walt Disney World in Orlando before deciding to continue her education. See her full biography here: https://www.ohio.edu/ucm/media/experts/ohioexpert.cfm?formid=1822088&pageid=2802315

Posted in Family Travel on the Cheap, Road Trips, Travel Tips | Leave a comment

Product Review: Farmer’s Pantry Snacks

Farmer’s Pantry is debuting a new line of foods that take “farm to table” to a whole new level! Imagine a crispy, soulful snack that tastes like the top of a freshly baked corn muffin! Yes, the flavor is that unique, my testers claimed, “unlike any other snack chip out there”. And, fresh and crispy – my fav things to look for in a snack food.

farmers pantry crisps

New York, New York (April, 2016) Farmer’s Pantry, the proudly American new snack brand, debuts the first in its line of exciting new snacks: Farmer’s Pantry Cornbread Crisps. Farmer’s Pantry snacks are always made in America with ingredients you would only find in a farmer’s pantry and always grown on U.S. family farms. These delicious snacks are perfect anytime during the day, for travel, hikes or to pack in your gym bag or purse.

Farmer’s Pantry Cornbread Crisps, available in Original and Jalapeno flavors, are a crispy, savory snack that tastes as mouth-wateringly delicious as the first bite of a slice of corn bread or corn muffin. Made from fresh corn and other whole grains grown on American farms.

Josh Chaitovsky, co-founder and CEO of Farmer’s Pantry. “We believe it’s high-time for snacks to resolve the trade-off between being wholesome, made from natural ingredients and delicious. But to be truly sustainable, we also pledge to give back to our American farmers, and to hungry Americans in need, by supporting important charities such as Veterans Farm, Farm Aid, and The Family Farm charities.”

Farmer’s Pantry Cornbread Crisps are available in Original and Jalapeno flavors, in two sizes: 6-ounce bags of regular size Cornbread Crisps and 2-ounce bags of bite-sized Cornbread Crisps and retail in the $3.99 range for 6oz bags, and under $2.00 for 2oz bags.

Farmer’s Pantry creates hearty, tasty American snacks from freshly grown vegetables sourced on local American farms. Cornbread Crisps are the first of their incredible line of innovative, healthy snacks that are sure to “feed your hunger.” Visit Farmer’s Pantry online at www.farmerspantry.farm. TRY SOME!

Posted in Travel Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Travel Accessories (& quick travel tips for road trips with young kids)

A recent spot I did that highlights some quick travel tips with young kids… http://fb.me/2GFLaKPsK

With warm weather upon us, it is time to start prepping for annual family road trips and weekend getaways!
The safety of young kids when traveling is always at the top of the planning list as road trips can quickly go from spontaneous to stressful. To keep kids safe and parents sane this year, it’s helpful to have the right car seats and travel accessories and for mom and dad to be organized.


Here are some products I tried on a recent trip:
Diono Radian RXT car seat: Convertible booster, fits 3 across in most mid-size vehicles, reinforced adjustable head support provides additional side impact protection, folds flat for travel and is FAA certified. (Amazon, SRP 359.99)

Diono Stow n Go: Keeps everything organized, seatback organizer has seven full sized pockets and two drink holders in a very sturdy, washable, waterproof fabric. (Amazon, SRP $10.99)

Diono Travel Pal: Deep cargo bin for toys, books and lots of pockets for smaller items, insulated drink holders and entire cargo area is waterproof. (Amazon, SRP $15.99)

Posted in Educational Travel & Games, Road Trips, Travel Product Reviews, Travel Tips | Leave a comment

Travel Product Review: Snyder of Berlin Snacks

Hello cheesy snack lovers! Snyder of Berlin has a new line. These fun snacks are bursting with the cheesiest flavor ever.

snyder products

The “Fun for You” refreshed Cheese Snack line is made from a new cheese formula, and is the cheesiest ever, with 2 kinds of real cheese: Hearty cheddar and Tangy blue specially blended for intense deliciousness.

Snyder of Berlin Cheese Curls & Corn are baked with real cheese, which is a secret blend of two kinds of cheese for an extra-intense flavor; additionally they are Gluten free, with NO preservatives and 0 grams of Trans fat.

Snyder of Berlin Puff-n-Corn with a melt-in-your mouth quality due to the unique “hulless” quality, this snack is available in Original, Cheese and White Cheddar flavors. (note: this is a nice snack for little ones as they have no hulls young kids can choke on)

My favorite part was how fresh the snacks were. They have a saying, “from (factory) floor to store in one week” and you can tell – no stale texture. My second compliment, the flavoring is spot on…cheesy enough to be “cheesy fingers good” but not too powdery.

Kids will love having these for snack time or traveling on road trips.



Posted in Travel Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

National Geographic Kids Books Highlight US National Parks

Timed to the 100th anniversary of the National Parks in 2016, National Geographic celebrates “The Year of the Parks” with new children’s books designed to introduce young readers to the wonder and beauty of our nation’s parks.

NPS spread 2NPS spread 1National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: takes kids on a journey to National Parks across the United States. Each region is broken down with maps , lists of must-do activities, fun facts, and more.

I liked how a few pages in each chapter are devoted to special interest, such as “spooky” sites like an island prison or a UFO hot spot (example: pg 80-81). Another few pages (50-51) itemize a suitcase checklist with pictures of must-haves to pack.512zXCreQaL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_PastedGraphic-1

And when you go to a National Park what options do you have? Ride the Rails? Follow the Falls? Bike it? and my favorite, Rock Stars…like Ice Box Cave. Helpful color photographs, checklists, and suggested bicycling and spelunking excursions round out this comprehensive guide. $14.95. Ages 8-12.

Great add-ons for the car ride include: Junior Ranger Activity Book with games, trivia, and jokes inspired by the Junior Ranger program ($14.99) and the Funny Fill-in with goofy fill-in-the-blank, colorful artwork, and wacky bonus facts ($4.99).

National Geographic Kids Books

Posted in Nature Travel, Travel Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Spring Break Travel Tips

Click on Spring Break Travel for some quick tips with young kids…

Posted in Day Trips, Educational Travel & Games, Family Travel on the Cheap, Places along Interstates, Road Trips, Travel Tips | Leave a comment

Stocking Stuffer Idea for Travel Moms

The wallet that will change your life!

Juggling work, school and family can be challenging so anything that makes life easier is much-needed! Introducing the CardNinja!

The CardNinja is a spandex pocket with 3M adhesive that attaches to the back of any smartphone or case and keeps your ID, cash and up to 8 cards secure. Pick from six great colors (Black, Gray, Gold, Eggplant, Magenta and Blue) and new patterns (Hawaiian, Paisley, Cheetah, Zebra, Gold Polka Dot) to match your phone and your style.

card ninja

It’s the perfect lightweight solution when you’re on the go and don’t need to carry a bulky wallet or heavy purse around. Maybe a crowded club, workout, or a large event where security is tight and purses aren’t allowed (ex. concerts or sporting events).

card ninja at event

U.S. on high security and purses banned? No problem. Everything we need to enjoy the game is all here!

CardNinja retails at $9.95 and is available online and in over 7,000 locations nationwide including Amazon Prime, CVS, select Verizon stores and all Microcenter locations. CardNinja is the perfect present for anyone and everyone, even YOU!

 For more information or a sample, please visit www.cubi.co

Posted in Travel Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

TRAVEL PRODUCT REVIEW: Superfood Treats to Replace Roadtrip Sweets

The holidays are almost here and keeping kids fueled through long and hectic travels to grandma and grandpa’s house can be a chore.

Feeling guilty about them eating Grandma’s famous cookies or those tempting candy canes? Don’t…

Because on the way to Grandma’s house (and in between holiday treats) you can offer them a healthier, but fun, option.

Introducing Slammers Snacks, tasty, superfood greek yogurt snacks designed to fuel kids with organic fruits and vegetables.

slammers snack slammers box slammers in lunchbag

Each flavor introduces kids to fruits such as mangos, acai, yumberries, kiwis, and pomegranates, and serves as a great source of essential vitamins. Two flavors introduced this year also come packed with seven grans of protein – perfect for active kids (note: the protein enhanced smoothies have a slight whey protein taste so are best for active kids who are used to protein shakes).

Most importantly, kids love the flavor! My kid-testers gobbled these up!

Slammers and kidsAvailable at Target and Meijer stores. http://slammerssnacks.com/


Posted in Travel Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Art + Community + City = #NewCMA

This fresh museum is where creativity and daily life in the city of Columbus come together.
Why expand? In 1931 CMA owned 500 pieces of art and had 10 gallery spaces. Today, the collection has grown to more than 10,000, yet the same 10 galleries remain, and the endowment has more than doubled in size. The expansion will allow the museum to highlight the collection, welcome exciting special exhibitions and nurture the culture of creativity in Columbus. 
new cma new cma 2 new cma outside
A few notes about the Museum:
  • In 2013, the Columbus Museum of Art received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service for its dedication to making the museum a hub for lifelong learning.
  •  Sundays are FREE
  •  the Center for Creativity is a family-friendly experience, complete with hands-on activities, such as sculpture making, a Creativity Challenge, and an interactive Wonder Room, where visitors interact with art as well as create art. (this space was super engaging)wonder_room
  • Embark on a scavenger hunt, imagine yourselves inside a painting, or discover a work of art that tells a family story during Family Adventure Tours.
  • Browse for art kits, illustrated books, coloring books and artsy toys that cultivate creativity in the Museum Store.
  • Savor a quick treat or snack in Schokko Art Cafe with a special $5.00 Kids Menu.

CMA and the Museum Store are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m., and until 9:00 p.m. every Thursday. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $8 for seniors and students 17 and older with valid ID; $5 for students 6-17; and free for members and children 5 and younger. Admission is free for all on Sundays.

Posted in Art + Kids | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment