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.


Is Privatizing Air Traffic Control the Right Approach for America?

President Trump addressed a memo to Congress yesterday, supporting the privatization of U.S. air traffic control. Although the June 5th action has no immediate consequence, it could be the first step in separating the existing system from the Federal Aviation Administration. The current administration views privatizing air traffic control as one necessary step for the massive overhaul of the nation’s aviation infrastructure. Here’s one TravelingMom’s view of the plan. Build better airports? Sign me up! Improving U.S. airports was a bullet point for both Democratic and Republican candidates during the presidential election. Vice President Biden stated that New York’s...

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Going to Epcot? Here’s Why You Should Take Your Preschoolers Along

Epcot’s the park for adults at Disney, right? Think again. There are a number of rides, activities and attractions designed just for toddlers, including a gentle boat ride through an amazing greenhouse and a Q&A with the coolest dude in the ocean, Crush the sea turtle. Here are the not to be missed activities for preschoolers at Epcot In Walt Disney World. Yes, Epcot has Plenty of Activities for Preschoolers I have a confession to make. For a number of years, we stopped visiting Epcot with our kids during our annual pilgrimages to Walt Disney World. My husband and...

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6 Best Places to Take a Break in the Magic Kingdom

Disney World is no fun when you’re hot, tired and hangry. Knowing where to take a break in the Magic Kingdom is priceless information for touring families. Optimism TravelingMom shares her favorite places to chill out and recharge, plus she shares an insider tip about how your preschooler can dance with a princess! 6 Best Places to Take a Break in the Magic Kingdom I made the mistake of checking the weather forecast the night before my Magic Kingdom adventure. Sure. It gets hot in Orlando. But 97 degrees? I expected to melt away by midday. My anticipated level...

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

In springtime, a young man’s fancy turns to love. In summer? A not so young woman can’t get balloons off her mind. Big, colorful, fire-powered hot air balloons. One of my major bucket list to-dos is to ride in a hot air balloon and summer is the season for flying high. A number of US cities host hot air balloon festivals during June, July and August. Here’s a roundup of some of the popular festivals and things to know before attending. Hot Air Balloons: A Love Story If you’re like me, you fell in love with the idea of...

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Kickstart Healthy Habits with a Wellness Getaway: What to Expect

Going on a wellness getaway to kickstart healthy habits? Wondering what to expect? Optimism TravelingMom takes the plunge at Spa Eastman in Quebec Canada, and provides tips so you can relax and enjoy the experience. Tip #1, for example, is to bring a hat. You’ll need it for the outdoor hot tub when the temperature’s way below zero! “Let’s start with a short run to get our hearts pumping!” My heart was pumping already. Double time. Why? It was -22 degrees and hypothermia was a real concern. Run? I was wearing long underwear, jeans, a fleece, a ski jacket,...

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Where to Stay When Exploring Harry Potter’s Edinburgh: The Balmoral Hotel

Step into the lobby of Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel and your little Muggle will squeal. This luxury hotel is the perfect home base for exploring Harry Potter sites in Edinburgh, says Optimism TravelingMom Cathy Bennett Kopf. Why? It’s located close to the city’s major tourist attractions, has well appointed rooms and special treats for the grownups, including scotch tastings. And shirtless photos of Sean Connery in the bathroom. What more could you want? Where to Stay When Exploring Harry Potter’s Edinburgh: The Balmoral Hotel Imagine stepping from a train compartment through a billow of steam onto the platform. A kilted...

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Need a Lifestyle Reset? Is a Weekend Wellness Retreat the Solution?

New Year’s resolutions not working? The key to a healthy lifestyle reset may be to set aside time to focus on yourself at a weekend wellness retreat. If you’re not sure what’s available or think a getaway like this is too expensive to consider, Optimism TravelingMom Cathy Bennett Kopf gets the facts from wellness expert Anne Dimon during a break in the action at the New York Times Travel Show. Is a Weekend Wellness Retreat Enough? In January, I resolve to go to the gym, cut sugar from my diet and sleep more. By February, I’ve gained 3 pounds...

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Hotel Review: The Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI

When traveling to one of America’s great small cities, Optimism TravelingMom Cathy Bennett Kopf prefers to book a room in an iconic hotel. She thinks it’s the perfect way to gain insight into a city’s history and character. Her lodging choice on a recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan?  The Pantlind wing of the Amway Grand Plaza. Read on to learn why. Hotel Review: The Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI What can a hotel have in common with a former President? The same birthday! The Amway Grand Plaza, currently operated as one of Hilton’s Curio Collection hotels, is...

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Helping Hand or In the Way? Questioning the Voluntourism Experience.

In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and surrounding Louisiana parishes. Over 1800 people lost their lives and countless others lost their homes. Waves of volunteers poured into the region immediately following the storm and in the years since to assist with rebuilding efforts. The question raised by a voluntourism experience is who does it benefit – the tourist or the host? A Night on Bourbon Street “Come on, Cher!” Before I could object, I was pulled by the arm into the bar and marched up onto the stage. A harness was lowered over my head. It had...

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Thank You, JetBlue: A Flight Cancellation Story with a Happy Ending

Have you had to cancel a flight unexpectedly due to a medical emergency? If you’re a budget traveler (aren’t we all?) and you book the lowest possible fare, it generally comes with a big warning that it is non-refundable. But don’t assume the worst if your plans take an unforeseen detour. When the Unexpected Happens My husband recently had a complicated gall bladder removal. He was recovering nicely, had returned to work, and was looking forward to a quick getaway to Key West before holiday season erupts. We planned to meet my sister and daughter for a fun weekend...

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