I travel for work. Sometimes to very faraway places and for periods of time that may exceed a week. Although it’s necessary I can’t say it isn’t delightful. A hotel room all to myself, long flights with nothing to do but read or watch a movie. As a busy Mom these trips are more than just productive on a work level. They allow me to disconnect from my family for a short time and feel like…just me.
Despite that, I also adore to travel with my family, taking my two kids to places that will create family memories that we will have to reflect on forever. My children have passports, love airports and hotels (like Mom) and can’t wait until our next adventure. I consider that one good thing I’ve done as a parent, instilled a love of travel and a sense of anticipation for the unknown in them.
And to be totally honest, I really love to travel with my husband, just him and I, to anywhere we can sneak away. However, it has taken me almost ten years (the age of my oldest child) to perfect the art of traveling alone with my husband and enjoy it (without a smidgen of guilt). Here is how:

Let Go of Control
If you’re like me, you’re going to leave a list, a schedule, a detailed map of the area and six emergency contacts – all laminated and highlighted. Now let’s assume you haven’t left your kids with Jack the Ripper but with someone competent and trustworthy. So now it’s time to Let It Go. Because here’s the thing…something is going to go wrong. Someone will show up to the wrong field for practice. Someone will forget the right cleats for the game. Someone will get lost on the way to piano lessons. Someone will forget to bring their religion book to class. Someone will let your kid go to school in Crocs on gym day. And…the world keeps turning and you don’t need to know about. So Let It Go.

Do Not Call Home
Recently we celebrated our anniversary at an amazing resort in Antigua called Hermitage Bay. We immediately fell into a luxurious routine of sleeping, lounging, drinking and eating and well, you get the drift. So after three totally relaxed days we made (ok, me. It was me.) the giant mistake of calling home. Of course something was wrong, my daughter got teary, she had behaved badly, it was not a fun call. Worse, it took me hours to resume previous vacation mojo. Whatever it is, someone is dealing with it and it isn’t you. Have another drink and do not pick up the phone.

Stick to Adults Only Resorts
Do you really want to see kids in the pool when you have no kids? Do you want to sit next to children in a restaurant and even feel the residual stress that goes with feeding children? How about kids in the hallways or above your room? Nope. If you’re like me it takes all your patience to deal with the children you love…nobody likes dealing with someone else’s kids when they’re trying to forget about the stress of having kids! Try a small, boutique resort like Villa Buena Onda in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. With only 8 rooms and no children permitted, there can’t be anything to do except read a book and listen to the sounds of nature. Remember books? Yeah, me neither.

Our Private Plunge pool at Hermitage Bay

Our Private Plunge pool at Hermitage Bay

Save the moderately priced hotels and vacations to take with your kids. You know why? Because your kids are impressed by things like playgrounds and towel animals, not 900 thread count sheets and champagne upon arrival. Although you can take children to a place like Lake Placid Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux property, I can’t imagine enjoying that stunning fireplace in my cabin when I am too afraid one of my children will fall in it. We love to go to secluded, luxurious places just the two of us – it makes a difference to us. For the kids, we love places like Meadowmere Resort in Maine – it’s affordable and centrally located in Ogunquit. Tons to do both for adults and kids.

Put Down Your Phone
When I met my husband it was before people were obsessed with their phones. We used to take long car rides without glancing at our phones (back then our phones were, well, phones). Resist the urge to capture each moment on Instagram and put the phone away and remember why you like each other. Okay maybe just post that one “don’t you wish you were me right now” photo and then put the phone away. Phones are nice distractions to everyday, boring life but vacations are that distraction so it is only getting in the way of connecting with your partner.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
If you’re going to feel no guilt about leaving your kids, do not replace that guilt with guilt about over- indulging. It’s a vacation! Eat the cheese and the butter (and the bread, definitely eat the bread) and drink the cocktails with the sugary ingredients. And forget working out. Just don’t bother. Relax. Take a hike. Take a swim. Paddle board. Have sex -it burns calories and is way more fun than running.

View from our romantic getaway in Antigua

View from our romantic getaway in Antigua

Plan Your Next Getaway
When you’re relaxed and happy is the best time to plan a vacation because you see the value in it. You get why you need it. It allows you to see what you saw before kids and schedules and weekends jam- packed with sports and activities took over your entire life and beat you down. It reminds you what life used to be like and what it will be like again someday. On our last vacation we narrowed our choices down to either Panama or Peru. I can hardly wait.

Sure, I’ll Go To Fiji With You

April 9th, 2012 | Posted by jenfortecuomo in Romantic Travel | Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

It was a gamble. At the time, it didn’t seem so crazy, but in hindsight – what were we thinking?

I had known my then boyfriend (now husband) for about eight weeks. Things were good. We were happy and the relationship was going along at a normal clip.

I had just started the best job I ever had at Laura Davidson Public Relations. Really, my dream job. And one of my first assignments was to go to Fiji for 9 days. And the client would “prefer” if I brought my significant other so I would really get the true sense of what being at a romantic island like Turtle Island Fiji was all about.

Now let me preface this by saying whenever a plus one has been required in my life, I’ve never had one. I had to go to prom with a friend (every young girl’s nightmare), I’ve been to numerous weddings with the guy buddy and so on and so forth. It seems that whenever I need a date, I don’t have one. So of course, when the charming Australian client asked “do you have a beau?” I was more than happy to chirp “oh yes, I do!”

When I brought it up, gingerly, to my boyfriend, he actually seemed pretty enthusiastic. I mean who can blame him? Turtle Island is a private island resort frequented by the rich and famous. Who wouldn’t want to go there? So – off we went to Fiji having known each other all of a few short months. It could have ended very, very badly. As it turned out, it ended in marriage and two kids. Who could have predicted that? Not I – for a few times on that trip I thought “what on earth have I done?”

Like when we arrived at Turtle Island and got to our private bure, a beautiful, two room suite with flower petals sprinkled about. My then boyfriend found a sheet of paper which basically said “our wish is your command – let us know what would make your stay better and we’ll have it delivered to your bure.” So my charming companion writes down “ring dings and Jack Daniels.” Hmmm. I did not realize I was traveling with Jed Clampett. And yes something like a ring ding and a full bottle of Jack was, in fact, delivered to our door step.

Our Bed Upon Arrival

Oh yes, you learn a lot when you travel for nine days with someone you don’t know very well. I won’t go into specifics but let’s call it eye-opening on a few fronts….for both of us.

View from our nightly cocktails spot

But our trip actually turned out to be pretty romantic and also very surprising. We thought we would not like the communal dining on island and would instead opt for a private dining experience at least once. As it turns out, the communal dining was so much fun we never did dine alone. We very much enjoyed the company of the other guests on the island and felt it enhanced, not infringed on our romantic stay.

The staff serenading us on a sunset cruise

We loved the staff (everyone who visits Turtle does), enjoyed the many activities on the island such as fishing and partaking in a private beach picnic. We really embraced the culture of the Fijians, which is warm and hospitable. Some of the nicest people on our earth.

Since then I’ve always said Steve and I travel well together. I credit Fiji and the magic of Turtle Island for that fact. Our shared adventure to Fiji made us realize we had the travel bug in common and since then we’ve been on many more adventures. And plan many more to come….

The Happy Couple on the sunset cruise

This PR Girl has little ones. Since my gig is travel PR, we do our best to make our kids portable. Although the thought of flying with my two-year old still puts a cold chill down my spine (yes – we’ve done it) we do take a lot of trips in the car. My brave PR Guy even drove 7 hours all by himself to Maine with both kids to meet me last summer. We had an amazing trip, even though travel with a 17-month old is no picnic.

But anything can turn into family fun – and this is a lesson I’ve tried to impart to my kids. Well to one kid. The other one is too non-verbal. This past weekend we took ride out to PA Dutch country, or Lancaster, PA. A place my husband is very familiar with and I’ve come to appreciate more and more over the years we’ve been going there. His family has a vacation home there and we go quite a bit. I myself am still a bit awed by the Amish, and so are the kids.

Really we went to hit the outlets for some bargain shopping (really HE went to hit the outlets, his wardrobe was sorely lacking) but me and the kids went along too. I wanted the kids to have a good time so I really hyped it up to my four (almost five) year-old as a “family fun vacation.” He got very excited. I got very nervous. The majority of fun things to do in Lancaster are not taking place in March.

I quickly scoured the internet for some family fun options. And found some great ones!

When we got there it was late in the day, too late to do anything significant but Nicholas was expecting some fun! We found that fun in the form of family bowling night! This actually, in hindsight, could have gone really wrong. A two and four year old bowling? But I give them credit not only did they embrace the sport, they were pretty darn good at it! Well, Nick was good. Sienna just jumped up and down each time the ball went down the lane and screamed “I win! I win!”

But we did have fun and Nick found a new activity to love.

Saturday, while hubby outfitted himself, Mommy braved the Hands-on House, a children’s museum in Lancaster. Sincerely one of the best I’ve ever been too. There were age appropriate activities for both kids and Nick was absolutely captivated by the assembly line exhibit with step by step instructions on how to build a watcha-ma-giggle. We stayed for over two hours. Sienna liked the dress up room and the snow men and women that she could put hats, scarves and faces on.

After we picked up daddy, we headed to a new attraction, The Turkey Hill Experience. A wonderful, hands-on exhibit there was definitely something for kids and adults of all ages. The opportunity to taste product, create your own, use lots of hands on experiences like a simulated cow milking and a big tub where kids can dump virtual flavors and watch them mix together in a big vat. Very cool stuff. It took about an hour to go through and the kids really had fun. And we did too!

Dinner that night was a favorite – a classic Amish meal served family style at Plain & Fancy. The best fried chicken you get up north. Seriously those Amish know how to cook. Mashed potatoes, fresh veggies, buttered noodles, chicken and dumplings, homemade country sausage, iced raisin bread, chow chow and more. It’s yum. My kids particularly liked the little canister of sprinkles left on the table for their vanilla ice cream at the end of the meal.

We had so much fun that we didn’t even get to go on the buggy ride we promised the kids! But we’ll be back to experience the more traditional attractions like Dutch Wonderland.

My takeaway is – any trip, any where is what you make of it. Family fun is about sharing an experience together and it doesn’t have to be as exciting as Disney World. My son sorted fake mail for over 30 minutes at the chldren’s museum. Now that’s good old-fashioned, imagination inspired fun. Like the Amish kids have.

Cruisin’ Along

March 1st, 2012 | Posted by jenfortecuomo in Cruising | Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Lot’s of talk about the cruise industry lately and not exactly the kind of talk a PR person likes to hear. With the renewed interest consumers have over safety of sea cruises combined with a recent drop in bookings, I wonder, will River Cruises see an upswing in bookings?

River cruises are hot. Hot in 2011 and even hotter in 2012 – check out this article from Cruise Critic. Also, Conde Nast Traveler sites that cruising is still popular for their readers despite negative press and river cruising is growing in popularity.

River cruises are not only growing in popularity, but the deals are amazing. Really. Amazing. This is from a gal who looks at deals all day long. Trust me. Book one.

Premier River Cruises has the terrific knowledge of the industry, plus some amazing deals right now. One is below.

Premier River Cruises, America’s best travel agency for any river cruise vacations, is having a limited time only sale on select 7-night Amadeus Premium European river cruises on the Danube or Rhine Rivers. In order to take advantage of these extraordinary rates, which reflect savings up to 50% off, trips must booked no later than March 25, 2012.
These are not off-season sailings, but prime August, September and early October sailings aboard the luxurious Amadeus Diamond and Amadeus Princess. These 7-night Danube or Rhine river cruise itineraries stop in places like Budapest, Vienna, Melk, Regensburg, Cochem, Rudesheim, Speyer and other extraordinary cities – all in a French Balcony cabin for the extraordinary price of only $2,149pp (normal rate is $4,298pp).
To reserve a cabin, call Premier at 1 855 255 1200 or view details on line by clicking here

Always a “PR Girl” at Heart

February 27th, 2012 | Posted by jenfortecuomo in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Jennifer Forte Cuomo

Welcome to the JFC PR blog, a new venture for a PR Girl making her way into the digital world slowly but surely. Yes, follow me on Twitter, like my FB page, read my blog and I am sure Pinterest is next. What can I do? In the fast moving world of PR, things are changing to say the least. For this PR Girl, and yes no matter how old you get, you’re still the PR Girl to some of your clients, it’s about bringing value to the table for my clients. A simple advertising value is no longer valid and no longer cuts it in terms of ROI, which let’s face it was no picnic to measure in the first place. I know more than one small practitioner like myself that’s lost a client because they haven’t had the ability or the insight to add such services as blogging, social media and digital press releases to their arsenal of PR Tools. Unfortunately, it is no longer okay to bury your head in the sand and drag out your awesome rolodex of contacts who will take your call and meet your client.

So – here we are. A new blog to update my many, many fans with the best travel deals, travel discounts and travel news. We will be discussing trends and I will recommend my favorite blogs, experts and more as we move along this digital journey together. I’ve considered the fact that keeping up is much more work, but at the end of the day I am a PR Girl at heart. I have a passion for the travel business, a love of all things hotel related and I still get that rush when my client gets a great placement or story and I know it was because of me.

So stay tuned and keep on traveling!