🗺 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!

To Do: 11 things you should be doing before you leave on vacation.

to-do

I am a busy, working mom with 3 children. My family also loves to travel. So, nobody understands as well as I do what those days leading up to actually LEAVING the house can feel like. If you are anything like me, you have lists and then your lists have lists! It can feel as thought you are trying to keep track of a dozen papers in a hurricane. Even with all of our list making, it can be easy to forget to the basic things that need to be taken care of because we can be so focused on all the large things. I provide all of my clients a Travel Tips and Checklist document so they can leave for their vacation confident they have taken care of everything. I’m going to highlight some of the important items from that list today.

Money Matters: ALWAYS contact your financial institution and let them know you are traveling. We do it for every road trip that crosses state lines and you should ALWAYS contact them if you are leaving the country. If you are leaving the country, make sure you debit/credit cards have an expiration date that is one month after your scheduled return date. Pay any bills that will be due while you are away.

Your Mail/Newspaper: If you will be gone longer than the weekend, hold your mail. It is super easy to do. Just go to http://www.usps.com/holdmail. You just provide your mailing address and chose your hold dates. This will stop mail from piling up in your mailbox- and from people realizing your home is empty.

Your Services: Do you have a housecleaner or lawn service that would generally be scheduled to come while you’re away? If so, make sure you either cancel that scheduled service or make special arrangements with them to come while you’re away. If you have an alarm, notify your alarm company you will be away.

Your Pets: If you have to board pets, make sure they are up to date on their shots. If you have someone coming into your home, make sure you confirm your dates with them and leave your contact info.

Garbage Day: Will you be gone over garbage pick up day and have garbage that needs to go out? If you have a great neighbor, maybe they can drag your cans out if you have everything ready to go.

Clean Up: I know. I actually groaned when I typed that. However, the only thing worse than coming home from vacation is coming home from vacation to a messy house. So, try to get the laundry caught up (think about all the dirty laundry you’ll come home with), put clean sheets on the bed (think about how good it will feel to climb into your own bed with clean sheets when you get home), give the bathrooms a quick wipe down and clean off the kitchen counters.

The Fridge: Take a quick peek in the fridge and clean out any fruit, veggies or other items that could spoil while you are away. You do NOT want to come home and play the “what’s that smell” game.

Medication: If anyone in your family takes prescription medication, make sure you have picked up a refill if it will run out while you are away.

Your House: Set a light timer or two in your home. Close curtains or blinds. Double check all windows and doors are locked. Water your house plants. Set your thermostat (upper 70’s for summer and upper 50’s for winter).

Let People Know: Make sure you give a few people a copy of your itinerary and let them  how to get a hold of you if you will be in an area where you might not have cell service.

Documents: Double check that you have your identification, wallets, tickets, confirmations, copy of your travel insurance, and cell phones and chargers.

Last but not least, do a head count on the way out the door so you don’t forget any of the kids!

 

 

 

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 #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! 

Travel Tip Tuesday #3: If you travel with kids on road trips you will thank me for this tip. 

I want to write that again….if you travel with kids on road trips, you will thank me for this tip. I am positive of that. If you don’t find it helpful, then I will find myself questioning everything my life has been about. 😂

We have 3 kids and when we travel, we travel. By that, I mean we’re a bit insane (according to our friends 🙄). We drive straight through from Upstae NY to South Florida without stopping. (Well, we stop to use the bathroom 😬) We spend up to 22 hours in the car  this often has us eating in the car. I’m certain I do not have to tell you that 3 kids eating in the car can very quickly make the inside of your vehicle look like the local land fill. Not to be forgotten in this scenario is spilled drinks while they are all screwing around (all the while insisting that they aren’t 😒). During hour 4 this scenario is manageable. During hour 14 (and every hour after that), this scenario has me considering stuffing myself into our car top carrier where it is quiet!

I came across these little basket things at The Dollar Tree (I just ❤️❤️❤️ that store!) a couple of years ago and picked them up. We’ve been using them for various things ever since! 

Feast your 👀 on this:

 

the “K” is for one of my kids. each of their baskets has their initial on it
 
There are so many great things about this basket. 

1. Can you see how it fits over our armrest on the captain’s seat?

2. It has a spot for a cup. It will hold plastic cups from our house or cups from most any restaurant 

3. The frog (sorry… My pictures reflect my life!) is sitting in an area that will hold a sub, hamburger, pretty much any kind of food. 

4. The little section next to the cup will hold fries, chips, apple slices, you name it. 

5. They come in different colors so there is no question about which basket belongs to which little person (we still did an initial because a certain mommy couldn’t seem to remember 😳)

The baskets also stack for easy storage. I’m all about easy, clean storage! 

BONUS TRAVEL TIP:

These also work great to hold crayons or other items to keep your kids busy on the road!

BONUS NON TRAVEL TIP:

These would also be great if you have a sick kid (or husband 😉) at home. You could set them up with this cup of ice or ginger ale, crackers, busy items, etc. 

I’m pretty sure they are out in the stores now. Do not walk-run to your local Dollar Tree and grab some! 

☀️Heather