Cathy Bennett Kopf, Optimism TravelingMom

Cathy Bennett Kopf, Optimism TravelingMom

Cathy Bennett Kopf pays her bills working as a municipal finance officer and feeds her soul with travel, documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly on her blog, The Open Suitcase. When things go wrong on the road, she retains her sunny disposition knowing that the best travel memories come from unexpected detours. She has nudged her 3 children out of the nest but travels with them regularly, despite the complex logistical maneuvers required to coordinate their schedules. Cathy is a lifelong resident and passionate promoter of New York’s scenic Hudson River Valley, a region hailed by National Geographic as one of its Top 20 Destinations in the World. In addition to her blog, Cathy’s work appears on Yahoo, Budget Travel, and Mode.


View from Above: U.S. Hot Air Balloon Festivals and Things to Know Before You Go

Want to take a ride in a hot air balloon? If this is an adventure on your bucket list, make 2018 the year you fly sky high. Here’s a roundup of some of the best U.S. hot air balloon festivals. Plus essential tips for attending to make the most of your flight through the clouds. Hot Air Balloons: A Love Story If you’re like me, you fell in love with the idea of taking a hot air balloon ride after watching The Wizard of Oz. I spent many childhood hours dreaming about ascending into the sky, passing through some...

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St. Barths After Irma – What You Can Expect

Should you book a Caribbean vacation after a hurricane? In the case of St. Barths, the answer is a resounding “Oui!” The residents and businesses are ready to welcome tourists, so here’s what you can expect if you travel to St. Barths after Irma plus essential info to consider if you’re booking a vacation on any storm-damaged island. Traveling Mom uses affiliate links that may pay us if you purchase through them. Thank you for your support. If you’re thinking of booking a vacation on a Caribbean island damaged by a hurricane, I encourage you to go. Tourism is...

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A Wicked Good Ghost Town: 9 Things to Do in Jerome AZ

  The buildings perched on Cleopatra Hill in Jerome, Arizona, look like Christmas ornaments dangling from an evergreen. Driving into town via a winding highway, you’ll wonder why anyone ever settled here. The answer’s easy – copper. Gold and silver too. Jerome was a mining boom town. When the mines closed, Jerome was on its way to becoming a deserted ghost town. Here’s why it’s worth a visit if you’re touring Northern Arizona’s Verde Valley. The night sky in the Sedona/Verde Valley region is stunning. Because of limited light pollution, you can see thousands of stars on a clear...

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Take Me Out to the Baltimore Orioles Game (Kids Are Free!)

The Baltimore Orioles hit a home run for baseball-loving families when they introduced the Kids Cheer Free promotion for the 2018 season. Kids 9 and under accompanied by a paying adult get an upper deck ticket for FREE! Outings to Major League Baseball stadiums are crazy expensive. A promotion like this helps families stretch their vacation budgets. Raising Baseball-Crazy Kids My kids played ball – baseball and softball. And when their seasons were over, we visited Major League Baseball stadiums across the country. My favorite was Safeco Field in Seattle. The stadium offered highly unusual and wonderfully appealing food...

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What to Do at Dude Ranch in Wyoming When You’re Not Horseback Riding

Exploring Big Sky Country at a dude ranch in Wyoming is a fantasy family vacation. But what if someone in your group doesn’t ride horses? Not to worry. Dude ranches offer a wide range of activities so non-riders will have plenty to do while the rest of the gang is clip-clopping along gorgeous mountain and meadow trails. Visiting a Dude Ranch in Wyoming One of my bucket list travel plans is to round up the family and head to a dude ranch in Wyoming. Why? Like other epic family vacations we’ve taken – a trip to Paris and an...

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7 Free Things to Do in Sedona, the Heart of Arizona Red Rock Country

Sedona is a luxury destination, known for fine dining, 5-star resorts, indulgent spas and spectacular scenery. But Sedona is also perfect for those on a budget. Why? Many of the best things to do are totally free, like taking photographs of the sunset at the Airport Mesa vortex, driving the Red Rocks Scenic Byway and hiking trails with drop-dead gorgeous views. 7 Free Things to do in Sedona Photograph Red Rock Country Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross Reflect at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park Window Shop at Tlaquepaque Arts and...

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How to Spend 2 Days in Temecula CA: Wine, Hike, Wine, Dance!

Temecula, CA is a popular weekend getaway from San Diego. Why? It’s got wine, hot air balloon rides, hiking, golf…and a mechanical bull. With so many fun things to do, Temecula is an excellent destination for a large group. Our 2-day itinerary includes 7 great things to do in Temecula CA, including flexible options for you to go off on your own and then come together as a family. When your children leave the nest, coordinating family vacations becomes a challenge. First, you need to assemble everyone’s school and work schedules. Then you must pick an appealing destination for...

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5 Best Educational Spring Break Ideas for Families

If you can’t head off to a warm beach destination for spring break, it’s okay. Actually, it’s terrific! Why? Because there are plenty of other destinations to consider. For example, if you’d like your kids to go back to school smarter than they were before the vacation, consider some of our favorite educational spring break ideas. Tans fade. Brains are forever. When you’re married to a CPA, you don’t get to go to Disney or Turks and Caicos for spring break. No matter how hard you whine or the kids beg, the timing of tax season makes it virtually...

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9 Reasons Why a Ski Trip is the Perfect Winter Girlfriend Getaway

It’s winter. It’s cold. And dark. Tempted to crawl under a blanket, watch episodes of “This is Us” and text your friends? Why not make a date with your besties instead and take a girls ski trip. You can do all the girlfriend getaway things you love – shop, spa, cocktails – and add in the thrill of whooshing down a spectacular, snow covered mountain. Spending time outdoors in winter is a proven mood booster. Doing it with your friends? It’ll make your January feel like May. It’s easy to book a girls trip when the weather is warm...

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Winter Vacation Fun: 7 Tips for Taking the Kids Snow Tubing

Snow tubing is a great activity for winter family vacation fun, especially if you’re taking toddlers and teens. If you’ve never gone, there’s info you need to know. For example, tubing is generally sold as a timed session. If you show up without a reservation, you might find that the morning is entirely sold out. Read on for more essential tips for snow tubing with kids. I learned to ski when I was old. Forty, to be exact. So my kids ski and snowboard with significantly more skill than I will ever have. This means we don’t spend too...

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