Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Need a vacation tip? HipTravelMama says: "Travel in luxury style!"

Summer is seriously just around the corner. (26 days away to be exact but who’s counting?) So, to get a jump on my plans, early in April I sat down with travel expert Anne Taylor Hartzel. She is a friend, mother and mogul as founder of the very chic HipTravelMama. Here she shares tips and advice for traveling families based on over 15 years of combined executive (she helped launch Microsoft's uber-successful search engine & personal experience. Her blog on luxury travel gives wisdom & inspires thousands of families to venture out on luxury vacation destinations all over the world.

In addition to her role as Hip Travel Mama, Anne is a mama of two, and runs the very successful Anne Taylor Communications, a PR Firm specializing in Travel & Technology. She is also a partner in the BestFamilyTravelAdvice network where tried and true travel tips are shared from leading experts in the industry. All this means is that Anne is the go to when it comes to traveling and HipTravelMama has become my traveling bible. You will find all kinds of posts and
videos featuring topics such as packing for children to planning for your luxury Summer vacations. HipTravelMama was recently featured on King5 News sharing her tips and online booking advice for her fans and followers.

I was very privileged to sit down for coffee with Anne and I say privileged because this phenomenal woman is busy busy. In addition to her many luxury travels, she is gearing up for a family trip to Australia’s Outback this summer. Did I mention she was also bold & courageous?

We brought our combined 3 children, an iPad, 2 iPods, a total of 4 cups of coffee, 2 cookies, 1 meltdown, and lots of love to our morning meeting where we had a wonderful and candid conversation about all things Hip, Traveling, and being Mamas.

Me: Where are some of your most notable recent travels?

Anne: We recently visited Hawaii and stayed at the amazing Honua
Kai Resort & Spa in Maui. Boasting one of the largest lanai’s in Hawaii, this luxury resort features an organic grocery store and an on-site kids club. These are luxury perks you won’t find at most hotels anywhere. We will definitely be venturing back.

I'd also say anything Disney. They are magical. We took the children
on the Disney Dream Cruise this past winter. We were just a few of the lucky people to be a part of the Cruises Christening voyage in January. The whole experience was amazing and I’d recommend that to anyone with children. There luxurious staterooms and Date Nights for parents were among the amenities and we indulged in it all. This was truly a dream experience that only Disney could create.

Me: Today it’s difficult for many families to afford luxury vacations. How do you factor your own travels into your budget?

Anne: Families are struggling today but we set a yearly budget for travel. It is major priority for my family and business. It is definitely where most of our money goes but to share the gift of travel with our family is one of the best gifts money cannot buy.

We also implement the envelope system while on vacation to keep track of our budget halfway through the trip. Food, gifts, and transportation are examples of our categories. This way we know how much we have left to spend or accept the realization that we are going to blow the budget this time around. Which we have done before. These are once in a lifetime family trips and it’s okay to splurge every once in a while. It keeps us working hard for the next trip!

Me: I love to shop for mementos on our family vacations and sometimes these are very large pieces for our home. Airline costs for baggage is ridiculous & stricter regulations for carry-on items make it more difficult to bring treasures home. While shopping at luxury destinations, how do you get your larger items back home?

Anne: We usually ship any items that we buy. These days they charge per bag when traveling and with a kids in tow this is an expense we have to factor into the budget. Shipping it back is cheaper than traveling with it especially for larger items.

Tip: I also pack shopping bags within our suitcases to use as carry-ons on our return flight. *They allow 2 per passenger and this works out well while traveling with the family. We are also able to keep an eye on our the
things that we have purchased especially those more delicate items.

Me: You will be venturing on your biggest adventure yet this Summer-Australia! The flight is going to be quite arduous. What will be in your kid travel arsenal this time around?

Anne: This past year we purchased an IPad and this amazing device will come in handy when traveling with children to Australia. There are learning apps and we have put some of our favorite movies on it to keep the kiddos occupied. It is really a device for the entire family. They have a 10 hour battery and are very easy for the little ones to navigate. I will also take along healthy snacks and books-both easy essentials for traveling with children.

Me: Last question, I promise. How do you attempt to find balance in your very busy life as Mama, wife, & entrepreneur?

Anne: Finding the balance to be a working mother, blogger, and wife is tough. My husband and I ran a marathon together last year and it was bonding and life changing for us. These types of things are my true priorities. I need my sleep so going to bed early helps me to get an early start in the morning. Sleep is essential for all of us to be productive in all aspects of life. Coffee helps a lot too!

My job is also made easier by the fact that I am passionate about everything I do these days and travel is just so natural for me to be passionate about. What comes naturally to us is usually where our success will lie.

Very well said.

Follow @hiptravelmama on Twitter or find her at on Facebook

HipTravelMama has become my go to guide for all things travel with children. Her blog also features Seattle hot spots and luxury venues in the Pacific Northwest so if you are ever in the area, her reviews will be very helpful in choosing places to visit. (She is a native so her word is bone here.) Make your travel plans easier by following the advice and tips of an expert. Anne Taylor Hartzel of HipTravelMama is quickly becoming the new name of travel for families so take her advice and get to planning this Summer’s luxury vacation!

What are your summer plans? What do you like to shop for while on vacation? Will you be taking the children along?

Email us your Summer vacation plans for a chance to be featured on

From Saks to Salvation.

*Please check with your current airline for specific baggage regulations as they many vary.