🎁 The Gift of Travel: The Who, What, Why and How 🎁

I love Christmas and am 1,000% on board with the joy of giving.

I also have 3 kids and know how the joy of giving can suck you (and your bank account) dry. You know the joy of giving I’m talking about..the one that leaves you weeping your last remaining tears in the PS4 aisle at Target because they are out of NBA19 and you needed just one more gift to even things out. 😢

This joyous feeling is what prompted me to rethink Christmas gifts for my kids a few years ago. I’m hoping I can save someone the agony of toys and items still sitting in boxes in February because you possibly bought things to buy them, not necessarily because they were wanted (no judging here, I still do it every year).

Here it is…give the gift of travel!

I know. I know you might be thinking that sounds complicated, out of your budget, and really difficult to wrap, right? 😉

No worries.. I have the answers.

The Who: Children are top of my list. We have given our kids large trips 2 out of the past 4 years and my kids STILL talk about them being their favorite gifts. Multi-generational family members are also a fantastic choice to receive a git of travel.

The What: Any trip from an overnight out of town to a cruise, an all-inclusive vacation, or Disney. Honestly, any trip that will allow you to make memories as a family, either big or small.

The Why: I’m going to say it, and I think as someone who has fallen into the deep pit -I mean joy- of giving, I think I can: the endless gifts and things are ALL TOO MUCH. Even now at 12 and 10 my kids lists are insane. They think Christmas is a free for all and nothing is off-limits to ask for. Yep. I’ll shoulder a good portion of the blame. We had great intentions before our kids were born and then that first year you become Santa all good intentions are shot to heck with your common sense and your Visa balance. Now, years later we’re working on backpedaling and changing how Christmas goes down around here. So back to the why. The why is simple: the stuff and the things do not last. Very few kids can remember what they received for Christmas by March. So, why not give an experience and memories that I PROMISE they will not forget.

The How: The how you give it is really up to you. We have given the gift of travel for Christmas two different ways.

The first time was a trip to Disney. The kids each received a few gifts and then they began opening Disney related items. For example, my daughter collects snow globes, so she got a Disney globe, they opened Disney socks, Disney notepads (I got at the Dollar Tree!) and a few other small things. They finally realized something was going on and asked if we were going to Disney. At that moment, the didn’t even care about the gifts they opened before they found out!

The second time was a cruise. The last gift the kids opened was a small box which began a scavenger hunt. Each box contained a large puzzle piece and once they had all the boxes they had to put the puzzle together to find out what the gift was. They had so much fun searching and assembling together! I just ordered a puzzle of a picture I created and came up with fun rhymes.

The physical HOW of booking and giving a trip is simple. Most people do not realize that you can book almost any trip with a deposit and make payments. So, now is the time to think about a trip for next Christmas. Speak with your travel agent (or me, if you don’t have one 😁), decide on a trip and book it! Pay on it all year and you will be ready for next year! We’re already planning our next one. 🏝

To wrap this all up, my kids STILL talk about our trips. On our cruise our kids got a glimpse into how people live in another country. A country where plugging in iPads isn’t top priority. It was a great experience for them and we had an amazing time. Our kids STILL talk about the cruise more than anything else. They will remember both of these trips forever. This is another reason multigenerational trips are a wonderful idea. Grandparents and grandchildren sharing experiences is the best gift you can give to everyone. 💗

Happy shopping!

Our Scavenger Hunt

🗺 5 Tips For Your Best Family Vacation 🗺

Family vacations are often a combination of fantastic moments and memories peppered with meltdowns and arguments. We’re all human and there is no such thing as a perfect vacation, but here are a few tips that might help tip the scales a bit in that direction!

 

1. Plan before you pack.📝

You will save yourself a lot of stress (and possibly your marriage 👰🏼🤵🏼) if you do a bit of research and planning before you go.  I suggest a travel agent (Five Sandals Travel, maybe?? 😬) for any trips taking place outside of the country including a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. However, even with trips like that, doing your own research is always beneficial. Don’t carry the weight of research on your own- include your family! You could let each one of your kids pick a family activity or a restaurant. This will help everyone to feel involved and have a sense of ownership over the trip, rather than feeling like they’re being forced to tag along on your vacation. My favorite part of trip research is that it builds excitement!

 

2.  Try not to overschedule your days.🏖🎡🛤🗽

If you are going on a trip that involves sightseeing, amusement parks or day trips, make sure you take the ages of your children into account when you’re planning those days. As adults we know how we can feel at the end of a long day, so keep in mind how the small people in your family must feel. Try to build in extra time between activities so you’re not rushing from Point A to Point B and missing those special, unexpected moments that happen when we just stop rushing.

 

3. Expect the unexpected. 🤢👎🏼

This might be the most important tip and piggy backs on Number 2. Anything can happen on your vacation…you might be siting in a  restaurant that had a bazillion great reviews on Trip Advisor, but you are not loving it. Rather than grumbling about it and letting it infect your trip, try to roll with it. You and your family could try to come up with a funny way to word an unfavorable review in order to finish out your meal or some other silly game. I PROMISE you, your kids will not remember the restaurant being horrible, but they WILL remember how much fun you had while you were there. It is all how you spin it.

 

4. Pack snacks.🍎🥜🧀🍭

Seriously. Pack them no matter where you go. The beach. An amusement park. The pool. The wax museum. I do not care where you’re going. Throw enough granola bars in your purse or backpack for everyone. We all know that at the most inopportune moment, one of your kids is going to have a meltdown because they’re hungry. There will not be a snack cart or stand within 100 miles of your location (because, why would there be?!) and nobody, I mean NOBODY, needs a hangry kid or husband on their hands!

 

5. Memorialize your trip. 📸🎇

Do you have a family trip tradition or something you collect to remind your of your travels? Our family collects sand from any of our beach locations. I stack it in a jar and label each layer with the location. My daughter collects snow globes and we always take family selfies. As a family you could decide on the best way to be reminded of each of your trips- it could be putting together a photo album when you return or collecting items from you trips. The most important part is to allow everyone to feel included.

 

If you have any tips you would like to add, leave them in the comments!

What to wear (and NOT wear) on a road trip. Plus, an Enter to Win!

We all love a road trip, am I right?? The excitement of getting in the car and heading far, far away from the yard work and the laundry. The very thought fills me with anticipation. 

And then it hits me. 

Hard. 

What am I going to wear?! Jeans? Sweats? The standard “Atlantic City track suit”?! (you might need to live in the northeast for that phrase to have meaning. Essentially, it is a track suit, normally of velour or some other equally odd fabric that all the little ladies wear on their bus trips to AC. But, as usual, I digress) 
I am all of a sudden struck by the pressure (self induced, I’m certain) of what your rest stop or gas station neighbor is wearing. Don’t pretend you don’t know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about her: 


You are in your comfy washed out sweat pants and your “I Lost My Ass in Vegas” t-shirt wiping Goldfish crumbs off yourself and you have to walk into WaWa next to someone dressed like they just came off the catwalk! It can really mess with your road trip confidence. 😠

Well, I’m going to help you out. I’ve put together a list of a few things you should avoid when traveling, and the I’m going to tell you how to be stylish AND comfortable while on the road. You’ll give the Highway Model a run for her money!

1. Heels. Please don’t wear them while traveling. I know more than one gal who has tripped in a parking lot trying to race to the bathroom at a rest area. Why not wear a pair of stylish flats and leave the heels for your destination. 

2. Jeans. Ok. This one is negotiable depending on the length of your road trip, but once you are in the car for more than a few hours you cannot make me believe they do not start to become a bit uncomfortable in all the wrong places. 😖

3. PJ’s. Just don’t. I know you love your Winnie the Pooh matching jammies and I know that they’re comfortable, but you never know where a road trip will take you and you might find yourself in a situation where you are super UNcomfortable being in them. 

I know you’re saying “GET TO STYLISH AND COMFORTABLE!”  So here it is. 

LuLaRoe. If you have never heard of them, you MUST check them out. They are a company that sells maxi skirts, dresses, casual tops and leggings. But they aren’t your boring black leggings-they are super fun! These leggings are an amazing way to be stylish AND comfy on the road! Pair them with a coordinating t-shirt or tank and a pair of cute flats and you just might show up Fancy Nancy in the restroom! 


If you are wondering what to wear with your new, super fun leggings, look no further. Their Classic Tee is what you need! They are patterned or solid. They are roomy without being sloppy (you can now comfortably whack back the Big Gulp and not feel like you’re busting out of your shirt!) it hangs a bit longer in the back-which we all love. At least, I’m not interested in seeing the shape of anyone’s butt 😳.

They also have a Maxi skirt that would be a great piece for traveling if you felt you just HAD to wear a dress of some kind. Their maxi can be worn a dozen different ways (seriously, there are YouTube videos dedicated to this!) This is just 2 of the ways you can wear the Maxi. So you could wear it in the car with a tank or t-shirt and sandals, but also wear it on your trip by dressing it up! I saw a girl at a baseball game wearing a LuLaRoe Maxi as a strapless dress yesterday, and she looked cool, comfy and stylish! So, it really can be done!!


Ok. I’ll fess up. I am a bit biased, one of my dearest friends sells LuLaRoe and got me hooked on the comfort and versatility of the items. I will admit that at first I said, more than once, that I would never wear leggings with crazy things on the …but the Bigfoot leggings belong to me! 😂😂😂 They are my fav and I get a ton of compliments on them. I mean, how many people have BIGFOOT LEGGINGS?!? It’s an elite club because LLR (if you’re “in the know” you can call it LLR 😁) only makes 2,5oo of each print and then it’s gone! 

🎉🎉Here’s the fun part🎉🎉: 

Want to win a pair of leggings and a Classic Tee of your very own?! Just do this by August 1, 2016:

1. Follow my blog (Five Sandals Travel in case you forgot where you were!)

2. Join  “Shop LuLaRoe With Meg Hayes” on Facebook. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shoplularoewithmeghayes/

3. Once you join, just make a quick post that says “I follow Five Sandals Travel” and you’ll be entered to win!

So, if you have a road trip coming up-or even if you don’t-check out LuLaRoe so you can feel fantastic and comfy out there!

Theme Park Etiquette

It’s that time of year. You know the time..we pack up the car and hit the closest amusement park (hoping) for a fun filled day of rides, smiles, and family fun!  As much fun as amusement parks are, there are going to be meltdowns (by adults and their children 😉) and long lines to wait in for rides, food and the bathrooms. 

Here are some tips to make the day more enjoyable for you and all the other guests in the park:

1. Be patient. If you are going to an amusement park during season, you have GOT to go expecting to wait in lines. Grumbling, complaining or being rude about waiting is not only making your trip less enjoyable, the happy family behind you doesn’t need to listen to your stinky attitude. 😱

2. No pushing or jostling other guests. This bears repeating-Do Not Push People. Please give people their space while waiting in line. Nobody wants to feel someone else’s sweaty body pushing against them in line. 😷 Shoving people forward or crowding them doesn’t get you on a ride any faster. 

3. Walking the right way. My kids learned the phrase “on the right to be polite in school” and this applies in theme parks (as well as malls or any place where people are walking). If you try to stay on the right hand side you will (hopefully) avoid walking into people or feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. 

4. Stopping in the walkways.  I love my cell phone as much as the next person, but if you want to send a text, upload a picture to social media or check your map app, please MOVE TO THE SIDE and do not just stop while you are walking. This could cause people to walk into the back of you or, even worse, have a stroller slam into your heels. 😲

5. Watch your language.  There are kids of all ages in the parks. They do not need to hear about your drunken escapades from the night before or the f-bomb peppering every sentence you’re speaking. Be respectful of the people around you-making fun of people makes YOU look bad. So just don’t do it. 👍🏻

6. Be prepared for meltdowns. From your children and your own! As much fun as a theme park is, it is also a long, hot and overwhelming day. We cannot expect our kids to be perfect all day, anymore than we can expect not to have our own moments. Just try to handle it as best you can, give a hug and a smile, let it go and move on!

7. DO NOT BLOCK CHILDREN. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. If you are at a park (or anywhere for that matter) and there are children waiting to watch a parade, or other show that requires you to stand, and children have been waiting DO NOT SQUEEZE YOURSELF IN FRONT OF THEM. I honestly cannot believe this even needs to be stated, but it happens over and over. Little Suzy has been standing there for an hour waiting to watch The Main Street Electrical Parade at Disney only to have adults squeeze in front of her. STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW. What kind of monster blocks a kid from seeing a parade so they can watch it?! 😠

8.  Stay with your group in lines. It’s super frustrating to have 6 people jostle their way past you because the rest of their party got in line 30 minutes ago and have been “holding” their spots. 

9.  Diaper changing. I get the frustration of needing to change diapers. I have three children with two of them being twins. So, I have changed my fair share of diapers. Please try to find an appropriate place to change diapers. Generally a diaper change is not an emergency situation so keep your eyes open for bathrooms.  I have seen people change their children on tables in food courts and picnic tables. 😳 Who knows if those tables will be wiped down before the next person sits down with their tray. 

9.  Smile! Remember that you are there to have fun and make memories with your family. Do not let the handful of grumpy or rude guests ruin your special day!

☀️Heather 

Travel Tip Tuesday: Road Maps

Did you miss me? I missed an entire week 😖. I have no good excuse-the week just got away from me! However, I’m back on track! So, here we go!

Road maps. An atlas. Whatever you want to call them…I think they are necessary to keep in your vehicle if you travel. 

I wonder if there is someone reading this that has no idea what I’m talking about (much the same way my kids do not understand a phone with a cord, a VCR, TVs without remotes or car door that didn’t always open from across the parking lot 😒)

If you are unsure WHAT a map is. Here it is:


You might be wondering WHY I think a map is a great thing to keep in your vehicle, and here is why: Linda (the name for the lady in my GPS-her name is a family joke and comes from The Wedding Singer. I’ll leave it at that! 😉) is not always right. *GASP* Yep. I’ll say it again. 
Linda is not always right. 

Neither is Mapquest, Google Maps, etc. *double gasp*

I does pain me a bit to write that because I ❤️❤️❤️ technology. I don’t like thinking that it cannot do everything all the time but, alas, it cannot. 💔

I would need 2 hands to count the amount of times we have pulled ours out because we’ve been detoured onto some road that isn’t recognized and we have had to figure out where we are and how to get back on track. We have also used it when we are in u familiar areas and not sure if we trust the GPS directions. It has truly gotten is out of more than one jam. 

They are also a fun way for kids to track your trip!

They take up very little space. We keep one of the US in the glove compartment. So, go get one. You might be surprised when you find you need it! 

Travel Tip Tuesday #4: Travel Binders for Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, they want to remain attached to their electronics on a road trip. Ultimately, 2 problems eventually come into play after hours spent staring at their screens:

1. Using your phone as a hotspot is eating your data like one of those ticket eating machines at Chuck E Cheese

2. Your kids 👀 begin to rot from staring at their screen and even they grow tired of using them. 

So, what is a mom to do with hours left in the trip?! Pull our your customized travel binders. 😍

 Travel binders are a great idea if you are traveling by car, plane, train or boat. Any kind of travel that requires your kids to sit still for a boring extended period of time and they are on a much needed electronic break. 

If you are unsure what they are, here is a picture of a binder from Creative Connections for Kids

  

I made travel binders last year for my kids and they were a huge hit. I set ours up the same way using the case that would clip into the rings of the binder. The nice thing about the travel binders is that you can tailor them for your individual child’s age or interests. 

Creating them is a breeze! I promise. I am not a crafter. I actually don’t like it all all, so I wouldn’t consider this a crafty project. It’s super simple this is what you need:

1. Three ring binder for each child

2. Pencil case or bag that can clip inside the rings

3. Those plastic page protectors for 3 ring binders

4. Dry erase markers/cloth to wipe off pages

5. Pages you have printed and slipped into the page protectors. 

Here are a few samples from the binders we still had hanging around:

 
At the time, my daughter was almost 9 and my boys were 6 so they had some of the same pages and some different ones. They could all play along with things like scavenger hunt pages, tic tac toe, word searches and road trip bingo. My daughter was old enough to follow along on maps of the trip, so hers held a few maps. 

If you have older kids, try creating pop culture trivia sheets, or “guess the song” with just a few words from the lyrics. All kids love hangman-make a hangman sheet! You are really only limited by your imagination! Plus, there are literally DOZENS of sites that have the sheets you can download. I’ll list a few at the end. 

I also picked up a few things at the Dollar Tree (my fav store! 😍) and Five Below and stuck them in there. 

Tailor them for your individual kids and you’ll have a car full of happy people!

☀️Heather

Living Well Mom She has over 150 downloadable forms and tons of great ideas!

Glue Sticks Blog This blog is an excellent source for travel binders! You must check this one out! 

Where to go Wednesday:The Finger Lakes and the Senaca Lake Wine Trail, Upstate NY

If you are from Upstate New York (some people are surprised to find out there is a WHOLE GIANT STATE outside of New York City. 🙄) you are familiar with The Finger Lakes and the Finger Lakes Wine Trails-including the Seneca Lake Trail. Before I get into good stuff about the wine, it seems like I need to share a few facts about the Finger Lakes and it’s largest lakes:

1. 11 lakes make up The Finger Lakes

2. Skaneateles Lake is a trendy little town where famous people and former presidents have been known to visit. (At least that is what the Finger Lakes website tells me. I cannot vouch for ever having seen even the back of someone’s head)

3. Cayuga Lake is not only home to tons of amazing wineries, but is also the home of Cornell University and Ithaca College (so if you have kids who want to tour either of these colleges, be sure to hit the wine trail to try and erase the dollar signs from your vision 🤑🤑)

4. Seneca Lake is the largest lake and has the largest amount of wineries in the area. Not only is Seneca known for it’s amazing wine trail, but Watkins Glen and the Watkins Glen International Race track sit at the southern end of the lake.

 

Finger Lakes in Upstate NY

The activities are endless in The Finger Lakes region. Boating, camping, fishing, summer home/cottages..the list is endless!

Ok. On to the fun stuff…the wine trails! 🍷🍷

I will confess, it has been a handful of years since I have been wine trailing. 😟 However, I can tell you that as a result of my many years spent happily on those trails, I went from someone who hated wine, to someone who needed the sweetest you could get to now preferring a glass a bit on the dryer side. I tell everyone who says “I can’t drink wine. I don’t like it” that they must hit the wineries and discover what they like-because there is one out there for everyone.

Heather, how does the wine trail work?  I’m guessing you’re wondering this and here is the answer:

Anyway you want it to.

Seriously. You can hire a limo to take you and your 8, 10, 12 closest friends to drive you from winery to winery so you can sample all the grape goodness (then stay in a hotel in Watkins Glen maybe?! No drinking and driving 😠) You can also drive from winery to winery (do I need to tell you (in clearer terms) to please drink responsibly and have a DD??). Many places have outdoor seating or decks so you can admire the stunning view after you’re done tasting. Maybe pick up some cheese or snacks and just…sit and stare.

Some wineries might charge you a nominal few dollar fee to sample, and some do not. You basically stand around the counter while a super knowledgeable wine person explains the grapes used to make the various wines, what to pair the wines with, etc. You will very quickly learn what you like and what you do not. You will also discover that a Reisling from Hazlit can taste different than a Reisling from Red Newt. That having been said, I feel like you can never go wrong with a Reisling ☺️ (just my 2 cents) I learned that no matter where I am, I can order a glass of Reisling and be happy!

 

Seneca Lake Wine Trail map
If you have someone who insists they only drink beer, never fear! I’ve got you covered. 😬 There is also a Beer Trail!


 

 

Lamoreaux Landing Wineries and Finger Lakes Scenery

I could fill this entire post with nothing but amazing images from the area, but I’ll stop myself. It really is an area you should experience for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it is winter (the wineries look so beautiful decorated for Christmas ❤️), spring, summer or fall. There is never a bad time to visit!

☀️ Heather

Here are a few sites to get you started:

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Finger Lakes Things To Do

Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce

Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce

p.s. All of these images belong to someone else originally, but who knows who.