🗺 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!

The Benefits of Travel Insurance

travelinsurance

You purchase insurance in case of an emergency for your large life purchases- your home, your vehicle, your belongings and your health. Most vacations cost thousands of dollars and, in some cases, families have scrimped and saved over time in order to take their once in a lifetime trip.

Generally speaking, travel insurance can cover all aspects of your trip from lost or delayed luggage to flying you out of a remote location if you need medical assistance. The cost is usually minimal compared to the cost of your trip and can save you many headaches, lost money from a trip that cannot be taken and, in some cases, even your health.

I often think that clients do not understand the value of travel insurance until it is explained to them. I also understand that it can feel like you already spent enough money on your trip, so pulling out your checkbook to write another $400 (I just pulled this number out of the air) seems unnecessary because “nothing will happen”. However, you just never know and, just like with your car or your health, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Here are some ways that travel insurance can add value to your trip:

  1. Handling the Unexpected. You have saved for your perfect vacation and are all ready to go and then an elderly parent become hospitalized, a child becomes seriously ill or there is a work emergency. Travel insurance can save your perfect trip so you can take it at a later date.
  2. Rebooking for Later.   A policy that includes trip cancellation will allow you to preserve your funds so you can rebook with your agent at a later date.
  3. Trip Interruption. You are in the middle of a fantastic trip and get a phone call that there has been an accident at home and you need to return immediately. Trip interruption coverage allows you to return home in the middle of your trip and recover most of your investment.
  4. Lost Baggage. If your luggage is lost or stolen, baggage benefits on your policy can help you replace the essentials that have gone missing.
  5. Help with Problems. Having emergency travel assistance with your policy is essential. This provides your with a team available 24-7 to deal with emergencies. This could be a need for an attorney or lost or missing travel documents.
  6. Keeping your Healthy. If you become sick or injured while in another country, travel insurance with medical benefits allow you to be directed to a local English-speaking hospital or doctor.
  7. Getting you Home. If your insurer determines that your health and medical situation is an emergency and that you cannot be helped where you are, they can arrange for you to be moved to a proper hospital or medivac you back home.
  8. Peace of Mind. The peace of mind knowing that almost every situation that could arise would be covered by your travel insurance policy is probably the most important item on this list.

There are also insurance options if you are traveling closer to home. Your agent can provide you with an accurate quote in just a few minutes.

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!

 

 

 

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!

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! 

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