Travel Tips For Families

I have travelled to over seven countries, including Canada, the United States and Europe, with my kids on family trips. I have become an expert in making family travel easier, from how to entertain kids on long car rides to travelling with a baby on a plane. This is the post where I share my Travel Tips For Families…

Travel Tips for Families

FAMILY TRAVEL TIP: A Packing List is a huge sanity saver and will help keep your family organized. Research weather for your destination to ensure you pack correctly for the weather. 

Travel Tips for Families

Travel Tips For Families

An up-to-date passport is the most important thing to have when travelling. Be sure to check expiry dates on passports (during one trip I realized my daughter’s passport was set to expire the day before we came back…eek!). Passport Canada has many in-person locations or your can simply mail it in. (I always choose to mail – it makes life easier).

Snacks are a must for travelling with kids. It keeps them energized and becomes a boredom buster. I pack dry cereal in resealable bags because it’s easy to eat on the go, whether you are en route, in a line up or at your destination, and it’s somewhat healthy.

I always take cash in Canadian or U.S. dollars when we travel. Not a huge sum but enough to pay for border crossings, buy a bottle of water, or pay for taxis. Years ago we didn’t have exact change to cross the border at Windsor/Detroit and I had to walk across six lanes of traffic to go to the duty free shop to get change. I learned my lesson and now carry a small amount of cash, be it a weekend trip to the States or a few weeks in the Caribbean.

When you travel as a family, your smartphone becomes an essential item. From GPS to phone book, to camera to social media connector, to an entertainment device for the kids. I always pack a smartphone when we travel.

Obviously, you want to take a suitcase filled with enough clothes for your trip. However, consider what you don’t have to pack. Going to Europe I never pack diapers, shampoos, or soaps because they are bulky and take up a lot of room. Instead, I pack enough for the travel day plus an extra day (just in case) and then go to a store and buy my essentials there. Saves suitcase room and is usually about the same price I pay for those items at home.

Whether you’re planning a car ride, train trip or plane ride, an activity bag is a must-have for family travel! From Kids Activity Bags (for bigger kids, which would include music devices and paper and pen) to my suggestions for Activity Bag For Toddler Boys, an activity bag is essential.

We share a huge border with the United States and, now you can plan your family’s vacation without worry and on-the-go with real Unlimited Data, Talk & Text across the USA from WIND Mobile. Just another way WIND delivers true mobile freedom.

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by WIND Mobile via Glam Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of WIND Mobile.

 

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Kids Activity Bags

Call it a busy bag, travel kit, or kids activity bags – these tips will help keep your kids entertained while en route. From day trip to road trip to international flight…I have filled my share of kids activity bags. Here are my kids activity bags suggestions…

Kids Activity Bags

Kids Activity Bags

Put all your kid travel activities in a resealable bag!  It helps to keep kid stuff organized (and if you travel for with multiple children like I do…it’s helpful for each child to have a dedicated activity bag). A resealable bag is easy to pack in a tote bag or backpack. Easy to store under a car seat or in the pocket in front of you in an airplane. It is a one-stop-shop for entertaining your kids.

Yes, I pack individual  kids activity bags (because my kids have a wide age range and thus their entertainment activities are wildly different).

Toddler activity bag ideas

  • Board books
  • Small toys (small enough to fit in your bag but age-appropriate-enough that they are not choking hazzards)
  • Headphones (for airplane or train movies)
  • Snacks (dried cereal, pretzels, dried fruit)
  • Spill proof water bottle or sippy cup
  • Crayons and paper (great for airplanes or trains)
  • Their favourite music on cd (for the car)
  • Paper cups and plastic spoons (role play stirring, drumming, digging)

The paper cup idea is one of the best (and most free) activities for kids on the go. Next time you stop for coffee, ask for a 2nd cup. Then, pass it back to your toddler and create role play games. Once I had my son repeating “Luke, I am your father” while speaking in a deep voice and talking into the bottom of the cup. It was hilarious for us…and our laughing…encouraged him to repeat it over and over.

Big kid activity bag ideas

  • Ipod & headphones
  • Magazines
  • Homemade Journal (my book Boredom Busters shares how to make this)
  • Snacks (dried cereal, pretzels, granola bars)
  • Water bottle
  • Word search, sodoku, crosswords & pencil
  • Gum (for airplane take-off)

I have even gone so far, as to create a word search for my kids based on our trip. Use a word search generator (there are tons of free ones on the internet) and plug in hints and answers based on where you are going and what you will see (i.e. Ocean, Airport, Table, Window, Dock, Hill, Highway).

And as an aside: My Family Travel Packing List might come in handy for your next family trip.

Family Outing Tips – 5 Items To Pack

Family Day, March Break, P.D. Days, and more…this is the post where I share my essential Family Outing Tips – 5 Items To Pack…they have saved my bacon a time or two…Family Outing Tips - 5 Items To Pack

Family Outing Tips – 5 Items To Pack

These 5 items are always in my diaper bag – and are my go-tos for when we are road tripping, standing in line, waiting our turn, or coming home from a family field trip. Seriously, they may sound simple but they could make the difference between having a great family day out or a horrible bad no-good unpleasant family day out.

  1. Snacks – the best fast food is food that is fast…like the snacks you already have in your bag! No line ups, no debit card, no french fries…food from home is great because it costs nothing (you’ve already paid for it) and you can control type and quantity of snack. Cut veggies (carrot sticks anyone?), fruit slices (yum apples), granola bars, homemade muffins, crackers, dry cereal, trail mix. I have quashed many a waiting-in-line meltdown by simply offering a snack to keep the kids busy and fill their hunger.
  2. Bubbles – sounds crazy right?! I stumbled on this idea watching a nanny blow bubbles at a playground (read 5 Things To Take To The Playground for the full story). Mini-bubbles can entertain kids for minutes upon minutes. Individually or in a group. Let them blow. You pop. You blow. They pop. Perfect boredom buster!
  3. SmartPhone – so useful! From a safety tool (always good to have a phone) to camera to map (always good to know where you are going) to public transit updates – from an adult perspective a SmartPhone is a must-pack item. Add in the kid-friendly benefits: music for an impromptu dance party in line (it has happened), games to keep them calm on the drive home, videos to entertain them while you are stuck in traffic…so many good uses for a SmartPhone.
  4. Water – hydrate! From a sip for a tired toddler to a gulp for a thirsty teen – water is a great thing to have on hand. I don’t always love carrying a full water bottle (it can make my diaper bag heavy) so I sometime carry a half full one (less weight) and then fill it up at drinking fountains when we are at our destination.
  5. Wipes – because messes happen. Yes, I love wipes. From wiping bums after a diaper change to wiping tables before we eat to wiping hands after our fun has been had…wipes clean the messes in life.

#WW w linky – Paris Airport Playground

For this week’s #WW w linky let’s go to Paris!

And look…someone very smart thought to create a playground right inside the Charles de Gaulle airport terminal. This was a happy surprise to keep my kids busy (right in front of our gate!) before our long Paris-Toronto flight. Let’s have a little cheer for smart people who think of little travellers shall we?! Yay for smart people!

Paris airport playground

As always links to your own #WW most welcome!

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What’s in your diaper bag?

Monday morning: I make school lunch, I check e-mail, and I re-stock our diaper bag. The contents of a diaper bag are personal yet practical. This is the post where I share all that…and I ask…What’s in your diaper bag?What's In Your Diaper Bag

  1. Black Skip Hop diaper bag (mine is a 2nd-hand-older-version – and I envy the drink pocket on the model pictured above).
  2. Toddler boys pjs – oldnavy.ca (this is the “in case of emergency” change of clothes. Pjs are lighter to pack and always comfy!).
  3. My Nokia Lumia 920 (read my review of this windows phone – it makes my life easier!)
  4. CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Lipcolour (I use #528)
  5. Boys’ socks – joe fresh (I use heavy socks as mittens in the winter – they stay on and keep lil’ fingers warm)
  6. Hand sanitizer and holder – bath & body works (used every time I put the grocery cart away – germs be gone!)
  7. Tim Horton’s gift card (in case I don’t have cash – we can still have lunch on the go!)
  8. Aveeno lotion travel size (my dry hands love this)
  9. Wet bag (this one is itzy ritzy – mine is not – but both keep wet clothes compartmentalized)
  10. Kirkland wipes (for hands, cheeks, and other sundry body parts)
  11. Infinity scarf – ardene (I hate having a chilly neck – plus it doubles as a kid’s scarf)

It might be of interest to have a look at my suggestions for Family Travel Packing List as the baby items on there kind of marry with what’s in my diaper bag. I also created a FREE printable of that list.

So share…what’s in your diaper bag?

Family Getaways

Now is the time we all start thinking about some winter family getaways (well, I am!). From Disney to Great Wolf Lodge to a family cruise…this is the post where I round up my most favourite family field trips (near and far, small and big budget, a weekend or a few weeks).

Family Getaways

Bigger budget (and a week or two please)

My review of Disney Parks with some Disney Tips is not to be missed! (Most magical staff on earth!)

Disney_Castle

 Dream family vacation – a cruise on Allure of the Seas. (You will love the pics of the state rooms!).

Allure of the seas

Universal Studios Review (note: get there early!).

Universal Studios

Family Getaways

Smaller budget – (and it’s a weekend staycation in Ontario!)

Family Getaway at Blue Mountain (The mountain coaster is a must)

Blue Mountain

Tips For Great Wolf Lodge (with a review too!).

great wolf lodge niagara

 

Family Getaways

A day in Toronto

Toronto Fun Family Things To Do (indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family!)

Toronto

And bonus post (to make travel with kids easier!)…

How to make a kids’ travel activity bag

Kids Travel Activity Bag

 

Malvarosa Beach #WW w linky

This week’s #WW w linky takes us to Malva…the local term used to describe the Malvarosa beach in Valencia, Spain. This was the view from our rented apartment…

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Malvarosa Beach, Valencia, Spain

And this was the huge cockroach (cucaracha in Spanish…and OH MY GOSH in any language!) found in said rented apartment…

Cockroach

These cockroaches were always outside on the sidewalks at night (and darn they move fast!). The kids were both attracted to and repulsed by the cockroaches. Ewww.

As always links to your own #Wordless Wednesday posts most welcome and comments appreciated!
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Castle of Xàtiva #WW w linky

This week’s #WW w linky takes us to the Spanish town of Xàtiva (near Valencia, Spain) to see the impressive Castle of Xàtiva.

Castle of Xàtiva

Don’t take a stroller because the site is perfectly preserved (down to the cobble pathways which are not stroller friendly at all!). However, it is a must-see with kids (put the baby in a carrier and you are good!).

Tip: we paid 10 euros for the taxi ride up to the castle (5 minute ride) well worth not having to do that upward walk with kids.

Castles, towers, and even a dungeon! A great family field trip!

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Valencia, Spain #WW w linky

This week’s #WW w linky takes us to the main square in Valencia, Spain.

Valencia, Spain

Let’s stop at The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia also known as the Valencia Cathedral. You have to pay to tour it – but well worth it. The art is magnificent. The architecture fantastic. And you might just find the severed arm of St. Vincent (yep, it’s in a ornate glass case at the back of the cathedral…kids might groan about going into an old church…but the moment they see a mummified severed arm in a glass case…well, the tour becomes very interesting to kids at that point…trust me…been there…done that…saw the arm with kids).

As always links to your own #Wordless Wednesday most welcome and comments appreciated!

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#WW w Linky: Street In Spain

A street in Europe just looks like a street in Europe doesn’t it? No mistake-en-ing it really? It looks, feels, and sounds different than North America. Narrower. Busier. Older. Yet so much charm.

This week’s #WW inspiration: A street In Spain

Street in Spain

Links to your own #WW w linky most welcome… [Read more...]

#WW: Charge Your Phone in Paris

This week’s #WW: Paris Charles de Gaulle Train Station – phone charging station

I just had to take a picture of this battery charging station in the Paris Charles de Gaulle Train Station…totally free…sit down…bike pedal…and charge your phone. What a perfect way to kill time while you wait for your train. The things you find when you travel!

Paris Charles de Gaulle Train Station charging station

Links to your own #WW posts most welcome!

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Mom On The Move

I am a…Mom On The Move. Going to get groceries, headed to a park, driving to karate class, swinging by the library –always moving and always with a toddler (and add a couple of kids to that equation during the summer). Always on the go means I have to be organized and have my diaper bag stocked for everything from everyday needs to emergency items. Here is my diaper bag checklist for a Mom on the Move.

Mom On The Move

1. Bath & Body Works: PocketBac Holder 2. Foogo by Thermos: Stainless Steel Leak-Proof Straw Bottle, 3. Huggies Snug & Dry Diapers, 4. Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone, 5.  The Children’s Place: Pull-On Shorts, Ape Graphic Tee, Ankle Socks.
 

Hand sanitizer and wipes are always easily accessible in my diaper bag (going directly from playground to snack, we always need a hand clean-up). A bottle of water for the whole family is now an on-the-go staple and you never know who is going to get thirsty when you are out and about (and the best fast food is food you already have!).  Dependable diapers are a must because a diaper fail is never a good thing, no matter how kid-friendly your destination may be. My phone is my favourite portable kids’ activity (my kids’ fave too). I load it with age appropriate games and videos and offer it as a really-special-treat for when we are waiting in doctor’s offices.  A change of clothes is a must (not only for spills, but also for spontaneous outings to indoor playgrounds where socks are obligatory or as a change after a surprise splash pad find).

Are you a Mom On The Move too (or Dad or other caregiver)? I created a FREE printable Diaper Bag Checklist to help make going out with baby a little easier.

Diaper Bag Checklist

Click here to print out the pdf of Diaper Bag Checklist

Here’s a snapshot of where my Mom on the Moves took me this week: Grocery store (2x), library, park (4x), farmer’s market, shopping mall, home building store, playdate (2x), walk in the ‘hood (3x), ortho appnt (2x). My diaper bag essentials are my go-to for keeping toddler clean, dry, fed, and happy (and myself as well!).

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Huggies via Glam Media. The opinons expressed herein are those of hte author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Huggies.