Tag Archives: family travel

How to have a stress-free family road trip

How to have a stress-free family road trip

How to have a stress-free family road trip

Planning on taking a family road trip on your next vacation? Don’t want it to be chaotic?

I feel you. Being in a far for hours with kids can be a challenge. But no matter where you’re headed, you can make the trip easier and more enjoyable by planning ahead and taking breaks.

Make Sure To Pack kid-friendly Healthy Snacks

You never know what types of sugar-loaded, unhealthy snacks will be available at whatever gas station or 7/11 you pass on your trip. And it may take hours until you hit up a decent restaurant. In order to ensure the kids are eating well while you’re traveling, make sure to pack healthy snacks they love. Whether it’s carrot sticks and hummus or organic granola bars, have a bag filled with healthy options in the back seat ( right by the kiddos) so they can munch whenever you’re hungry. If you’re overseas and aren’t sure where you can get healthy snacks, iHerb is a great place to get organic chocolate, gluten-free cookies, almond butter, and pretzels. They ship pretty much anywhere too!

Pack Lots of Games

The inevitable ‘I’m bored’ is sure to creep in at some point, maybe even a few minutes into the trip…if you’re not prepared!

Have your kids pack their favorite toys & games that will help them stay entertained, and keep the bag within reach so they access them easily. Even if you’re a low-media family, you’ll probably want to give in on a long trip and let your child use your phone or ipad. Minecraft is our daughter’s favorite game, as well as the Toca Boca series. And if you’re homeschooling/unschooling or just looking to help your child learn to read, apps like Homer and Hooked on Phonics are fun and affordable investments that they’ll love!

Take Breaks Often

While you may have a time frame you need to stay within to get to your destination, it’s still important to take breaks, which will make the road trip more enjoyable for everyone. Plus, you need bathroom breaks and to eat, right?

If you’re going on a family road trip in an area you’re familiar with ( or can easily research/google) plan ahead of time where there will be gas stations, restaurants with healthy options, cafes, and sights to check out.

This can be a lot harder to do if you are say taking a road trip in Thailand and you’ve never been here before, but even if you haven’t you can ask the hotel you’re staying at if they have driven to wherever you’re going and if there are any sights/stops they recommend. There are actually loads of gas stations and rest stops on all the main high-ways here, if you are planning on driving in Thailand. And thankfully, our 7/11s have decent frozen Thai dishes, if you’re driving late at night and need a quick bite to eat.

Make sure to take loads of family travel photos when you do take breaks, even if they’re short.

Diffuse Essential Oils

Whenever we travel, we always take essential oils with us. They are seriously so versatile, especially oils like lavender and tea tree. You can purchase a cheap diffuser for your car, and choose a relaxing oil to help the kids ( and adults) stay calm.

Get Your Kids Excited About The Trip

We’ve always tried to use our travels as a teaching opportunity for our daughter, even when she was a toddler. By talking about why we’re taking a trip or going somewhere ( even if it wasn’t a vacation per se) this got her excited. Whether we were driving to get my ID card in South Korea or through Tuscany, we told her about the fun we’d have on the way.

Point out different attractions you see our your window, or come up with a game to spot a certain type of car, bird, etc

No matter where you’re taking your family road trip, you can make it an enjoyable, stress-free experience by being prepared ahead of time!

Follow

4 Things Your Kids Will Need In Their Summer Holiday Suitcase

4 Things Your Kids Will Need In Their Summer Holiday Suitcase

4 Things Your Kids Will Need In Their Summer Holiday Suitcase

4 Things Your Kids Will Need In Their Summer Holiday Suitcase 

Now that summer holiday season is fast approaching, there will be many things for you to get sorted. Not only do you need to book holiday transfers and get your travel money, but there are suitcases to pack too! As a parent, this means organising your own, as well as packing those of your kids – and let’s face it, they are likely to miss some essential items if left to their own devices! Of course, you may be prone to forgetting a few bits yourself if you leave everything until the last minute.

Therefore it makes sense to take plenty of time to get all your holiday jobs done, as it should allow you to do everything right the first time. Although it is always helpful to get a little assistance sometimes, so here is a little something from us… we have the lowdown on a few things your kids will need in their summer holiday suitcase, meaning that you can pack the essentials first!

Sun protection 

We are cheating a bit with the first item on the list, as there are quite a few things that can be classed as sun protection. However they’re all really important to keep kids safe and healthy, so it makes sense to group them together. You’ll definitely want to pack a natural sun cream along with some protective sunglasses and a hat. There are other items you can buy such as cover-ups for the beach which can be ideal for the midday sunshine.

Swimwear 

Next up is swimwear, as this is something your kids will use each and every day on a sunshine getaway. Whether they’re playing in the pool or by the sea, swimwear is essential to keep other items of clothes dry. Swimming costumes and shorts are made of a material that will dry very quickly, which is great for comfortable wearing, as well as when you rinse them out in the evening when playtime is over.

Flip flops

Another really handy addition to a holiday suitcase is flip flops. There are plenty of brands out there, but Havaianas are a favourite of many due to the design and quality of the product. Flip flops are a lightweight addition to a bag, meaning they can be brought along on carry-on only flights, as well as in beach bags when going down to the sea. They are also ideal for wearing by swimming pools where the ground is often slippery for bare feet.

Shorts 

Shorts are something that are really versatile for travellers of all ages, but they are even more perfect for kids. Many holiday resorts do not expect tourists to dress overly smart for dinner, meaning your kids can often stay in the same outfit both in the day and the evening. However a dirty top can be replaced if necessary and will likely still match the shorts they are already wearing, especially if they are denim.

3 Things YOUR KID wants to do in Birmingham

I won’t lie. 

We’ve outgrown Phuket island life and have been searching the web for new stomping ground.

Obviously we have a list – a quota – for our potential cities and countries.  And upon meeting some of the main points, we hope to spend a few days experiencing the lifestyle and vibe while seeing how our daughter, Kaya, reacts to the change.

So…  First on the list, is actually quite surprising, seeing as I worked in the city over 10 years ago and never thought I’d be looking back.  But after it hit so many unexpected points, I just had to make it one of our candidates.  I mean come on – it’s an Asian/Indian foodie’s delight touting the famed Balti Triangle – packed with over 50 SE Asian restaurants.  I mean the city has an unofficial count of 179 mostly Kashmiri influenced Indian restaurants!  It was UK’s Curry capital in 2005! This calls for a visit. Hotel Direct book me a room in The Cube please.  Don’t have it? Alright then, just suggest a few on your “Most Popular Hotels” list.  Thank you!

///

Birmingham, England.  Yes, the Brums!

So we’ve created a list, not for the parents, but for the kids – cause we’re doing this as a family and what’s more appropriate for Europe’s ‘youngest’ city – It’s true!  40% of the population are under 25!

3 Things YOUR KID wants to do in Birmingham

1)       Cadbury World

A family trip to Birmingham must start where life began.  In chocolate.  With chocolate.  Okay so maybe not literally, but if you live or have at one point journeyed to the eastern hemisphere of the world, you know that Cadbury chocolate, candy and sweets are tops.  Dairy Milk may just be the king of milk chocolate.  And everyone knows about Cadbury eggs!  So why not take a journey to Cadbury World!  Enjoy the best history lesson – where chocolate began, enjoy seeing the original Cadbury shop on a replicated Bull Street (complete with actors!), watch the magic in action as they describe the ingredients and what makes a their milk chocolate exquisite, take a ride through a Cadbury wonderland for the kids, and partake in the Interactive side of Cadbury with simulated “chocolate rain” (song not included).  After all the fun, there’s even a 3-storey play area for the kids to burn off any excess sugar highs.  You’ll have to run past the world’s largest Cadbury store, lest you succumb to temptation that has been brewing since you bought the tickets!

2)      Library of Birmingham

You can’t miss the largest public library in Europe; the 9 Floor (11 if you count the 2 ground floors) Library of Birmingham.  This 400K Book library has a glass elevator, 2 gardens – one for ‘discovery’ and one for serenity, a top floor Shakespearean Memorial room, and an excellent Children’s Library set away from the more quiet areas of the library.

new-birmingham-library11library1 library2 library3

The Library of Birmingham

If the architecture doesn’t draw your kids through the doors, perhaps show them this video about a special collection of books and games, called the Parker Collection.

3)      RoguePlay

And after a trip, you can walk around the city center while enjoying sights and sounds of the boats and canals.  Head on over to Bull Ring for some shopping or even better yet, get the kids enrolled in a Circus skills workshop at RoguePlay.


Usually only once a month, these 2 hour workshops are for kids 7-15 (don’t worry they do have more intensive classes available for the older teens) and “introduces them to a range of Aerial and ground based Circus skills.”  Trapeze, aerial hoops and ground acrobatics all taught by professionals in a safe environment.  But plan ahead – I’ll repeat – these are available only once a month!

 

If you are staying for a longer period of time, you can explore other kid friendly attractions like the Birmingham Nature Center, the BBC public space at The Mailbox where you kids can take part in making their own radio drama complete with sound effects on a tour of the BBC public space, and if they’re truly thespians, take on a day trip over to Stratford-upon-Avon!

Cruising with the family: What entertainment can you expect?

Cruising with the family: What entertainment can you expect?

Cruising with the family: What entertainment can you expect?

Going on holiday with the family can be a mixed blessing at times. While it’s always great to have your nearest and dearest by your side, there are quite a few pitfalls to look out for. You want to make sure that the kids can have fun while you’re not bored witless. You want to ensure that everyone is safe and that there are enough things for you to do for the duration of your holiday.

Keeping everyone happy is usually the first thing on your mind when on a cruise, but how easy is it? Most cruises tend to be family-friendly nowadays, with bars and saunas for the adults and waterparks and arcade games for the kids. What you can expect to find on a cruise will vary from ship to ship, but some cruises have been tailored to families more than other passengers.

Cruising with the family: What entertainment can you expect?

On-board entertainment

Cruises from operators such as Disney are known to be the sort of thing families will love. What makes family-friendly cruises so alluring is that they tend to have such a long list of activities on board that it’s almost impossible for passengers to succumb to boredom, no matter how impatient they can get!

Usually, every cruise ship will at the very least have a swimming pool, if not two. There’s always a chance that there’ll be a waterpark complete with slides, diving boards and paddling pools for the toddlers. However, you do need to accompany any kids under the age of nine on some ships, but there are members of staff poolside to see that the kids are behaving themselves.

Nights in, nights out

On an evening, there’s usually an opportunity to see a spectacular stage show. Disney are one of a number of cruise lines providing such shows, putting plenty of work into them in order to keep adults and kids alike entertained. Also, some ships have on-board cinemas which show the latest Hollywood family blockbusters and a few timeless classics.

Away from the on-board theatres, there are places where you can sit to dinner as a family, ordering from a long and diverse menu which caters for all palates. Aside from that, you could play a few sports like tennis or crazy golf or spend some time in your cabin, kicking back with a DVD or watching what’s on TV.

Going onshore

To shake things up a little, it might be worthwhile going on a shore excursion. They usually take in sights such as major landmarks, beaches, islands and big cities like New York, London and Cairo. They can help to offer a change of pace if it’s needed, while they’re pretty safe too as you’re usually accompanied by a tour guide.

Cruising with the family: What entertainment can you expect?

A Possible Return to the US?

family travel

Recently I posted about our visit from my mother in law.  While we had a wonderful time, there was a pink elephant in the room at most sit down moments and restaurant dinners.  And it’s the same topic that comes up often with my parents during video chats and even quick instant message conversations on Facebook or Skype.  It’s one I deflect often, push of on Elizabeth usually, and detest always.  The dreaded question for most expats – “When are you moving back to the US?”

Trying to answer this prevalent question is equivalent to speaking out about controversial topics like “Why do you choose to homeschool/unschool?” or “Why don’t you eat meat/gluten/candy/American food?”  It requires a long winded story with backbone, set reasons and future opportunities that lie outside the continental 48, and above all, anything to distract or change the inquirers train of thought.  We’re not moving there or revisiting old stomping grounds, even if a football team comes to Los Angeles, we get excellent Orlando ticket deals for seeing the Theme park extravaganza located within  or the combined culinary expertise of Thailand, France, Italy, Korea, India and the whole Asian/European world moves to the US.

My wife is British and grew up in Europe. We tried to move to the UK but ended up relocating ( impermanently) to Thailand. I haven’t revisited the States in some time but we’re considering moving to BC in the future. In the bag of reasons I won’t be calling the States home again is due to food quality. Coming from America, the home of the Genetically Modified meal, the commercial food – that found in %85 of supermarkets across the nation, is the antithesis of ‘good for you’ and nutrition.  The conventional food (unorganic) is loaded with chemicals, dyes and ingredients not allowed in most other countries.  I also don’t want her seeing aisles of chips and snacks, candy bars and bags, while having to settle with small areas of bagged green produce and stickered fruit from the corporate giants, Dole and Sunkist.

And more than just what’s inside the food, is the sentiment among the populace and how it affects us and how we teach Kaya about what she eats.  The lunchroom is a breeding ground for creating customers of the sweet and salty foods ‘traded’ and shared among classmates.  We don’t like the idea of having to police her food choices.  We have taught her about the issues with the commercialized food products, the dangers of eating too much sweets and the problems with sugar alternatives.

But… she’s 5.

The marketing genius of corporate America has over 100 years of training, re-tooling, adjusting and refining their craft.  They know the tricks of the trade – heck they created them!

And bandwagon-ing seems to work the best with the youth.  ‘All your friends eat this – you should too…’  Schools are full of competition and comparison with what happens in the lunchroom at the forefront.  Kids congregate and share pieces of their homelife in the school cafeteria.  The meals they pull out of those brown bags or the choices they make in the lunchline dictate their ‘coolness’.  And sadly, just as when I was growing up, the food products that pepper television advertising and popular tv shows are the ones that kids identify with.  They are the cool items, the ‘wow you have that? – I want to be like you’, things that are the top tier items in lunchroom trading.  Kid-perfected advertising and flashy packaging have all the draw – while grapes in a baggie, celery sticks with almond butter in a re-used plastic peanut  butter jar, and hummus with pita bread evoke jeers and ridicule.

Here, if sweets are to be had, we head off to the local ‘wet market’ and indulge in some homemade delicacies like mango sticky rice or seek out coconut ice-cream man.

914

family travel Egypt

Family Fun in Egypt

Egypt-Holidays

Family Fun in Egypt

 

If you’re after a family holiday destination with a twist, why not consider holidays to Egypt? It might not be the first place you think of when you’re planning a holiday with children, but with so many exciting activities on offer, a world-famous heritage, fantastic year-round climate and some of the best resorts in the business, Egypt is certainly one to watch.

 

You don’t have to take the kids to Cairo or Luxor to experience Egypt. If you’ve got young kids in tow, or the type that get easily bored – even in front of some of the world’s most important archaeological treasures – it’s probably best to stick to the coastal regions. Children of all ages will be well catered for in Egypt’s stunning Red Sea resorts, particularly in bustling places like Sharm el Sheikh. It’s the best-known coastal resort in Egypt and has plenty of fun up its sleeve for holidaymakers both young and old.

 

Children will have a ball playing on the fine golden sands, building sandcastles or splashing in the pristine waters of the Red Sea. There are endless boat trips to whisk you and the children off to discover Egypt‘s stunning coastline and its tiny scattered islands. You’ll also find plenty of leisurely boat excursions offering glass-bottomed tours – perfect for enjoying the Red Sea’s underwater world without getting wet – as well as memorable dolphin spotting tours.

 

Older kids and adults will have a ball exploring Egypt’s Red Sea with a snorkel. The waters are calm and clear so you’ll have many wonderful opportunities to swim with marine life in their natural habitat. Scuba diving is big here too, so join a PADI instructor and discover Egypt’s rainbow-coloured corals, exotic marine life and sunken wrecks for yourself.

 

Whatever floats your boat, Egypt is an absolute gem that’s packed with unforgettable experiences. It could just be your family holiday of a lifetime…

unschooling

Leave the Crankies Behind: A Survival Guide for Traveling with Children

 

photo by Holidayextras

Traveling with children brings families closer together and builds memories that will last a lifetime. It can also be stressful and exhausting. Here are some tips to make your next holiday a vacation from the pouting, complaining and whining that so often accompany family travel.

Planning


Creating a positive vacation experience for everyone starts with careful planning. Research kid-friendly activities at your destination and work them into your itinerary to keep young travelers engaged throughout the trip. Choosing a child-friendly vacation spot, like one of the Top 10 Family Holiday Destinations listed at:
http://www.hostelbookers.com/featured/family-holidays/ is another way to ensure that children enjoy the trip. Let kids be part of the planning process, looking up attractions online and reading travel guides with you. If they have a hand in building the trip’s itinerary, they’re more likely to want to follow it.

Packing


Be sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes. Nothing brings little ones to tears faster than blistered feet or other physical discomforts. Frequently used medications and a first aid kit can also come in handy. Have younger children select a few comfort items to pack, like favorite stuffed animals or blankets, to make sleeping away from home a little easier. Don’t forget to bring a bag full of activities to keep kids busy en route to your destination. Age-appropriate books, movies, toys, music and games should be readily available during long flights or car rides as well as when waiting in airports or train stations.

Health and Wellness


Keeping kids feeling their best when away from home makes for more pleasant family vacations. Whenever possible, respect their sleeping and eating schedules throughout your holiday. Because children might not enjoy the local cuisine at your vacation spot and because traveling often means too many fast-food meals and sugary snacks, it’s wise to bring some of your children’s favorite healthy treats along to keep their energy up and avoid nutritional pitfalls. Whole wheat crackers, granola and nuts are just a few suggestions. If your trip is marred by illness or injury, seeking immediate medical attention might be the key to salvaging the rest of your vacation.

Sightseeing


Children have notoriously short attention spans, but that doesn’t mean they should be left with a hotel nanny while you go out and see the sights. What better way to teach children about culture and spend quality time with them than to venture to museums and monuments together? Older children might be captivated by trivia or unusual stories about the places you visit, so bring a guidebook or research sights ahead of time. For younger children, turn a museum visit into an engaging game by preparing a scavenger hunt that encourages them to discover the museum’s most famous exhibits. Many cities even offer food tours, shopping tours or ghost tours that make for fun and interesting ways to explore new places together.

Downtime


Never forget that fun and relaxation are the main goals of family holidays. Be sure to leave some unstructured downtime so kids don’t get burned out on sightseeing. Stop at a playground to climb and slide between tourist attractions, or go for long walks through airports during layovers. Look at your vacation destination from a child’s point of view; the hotel pool might be more attractive to them than famous landmarks or cultural experiences.

Traveling as a family allows you to experience new things, reconnect with one another and create priceless memories. With careful planning, packing and scheduling, children of all ages can enjoy holidays away from home—and so can their parents. 

3 Budgeting Ideas To Save You Money On Your Next Trip

3 Budgeting Ideas To Save You Money On Your Next Trip

3 Budgeting Ideas To Save You Money On Your Next Trip

Planning a trip with the family takes a blend of skills: frugalness, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. You want to know all the great places to stop at a certain destination, but it needs to be as inexpensive as possible, yet entertaining and rewarding for all.

Wow. How can you manage to be so awesome?

Here are 3 great tips for acquiring that cheap holiday full of memories and pictures that tell a story remembered fondly by all

 

  1. Understanding the Hotel and extra occupant charges with the kids

 

So obviously, this one depends on the size of your family. If your unit is 3 or 4, you might be able to make do with just 1 room. The boy’s bed/girl’s bed setup worked in my family – dad and son, mother and daughter. If you’ve got 2 girls or 2 boys – they can share a bed (hopefully with minimal fuss) and mom ‘n dad get the other.

 

Things get easier if you’ve got one little one. Even to the point of not being charged! Contact the hotel before hand and inquire about the age of children that needs that ‘extra person’ charge. Many times the hotels say 4 or 5 years old, yet the internet sites usually charge after 2 years. If you’ve got the hotel approval, just put 2 adults and save yourself the extra nightly charge!

Related Post: How to have a stress-free road trip with kids

 

  1. Weighing the Costs of Transport

You’re probably thinking “It’s cheaper to just get taxis”. And why not? It’s less hassle, you don’t know the streets, and quite possibly – you don’t drive stick!

But, wait. These days, taxi prices are growing. More and more ‘metered’ cars negotiate the price before hand and leave the machine off and unplugged, leaving you clueless as to the correct price. And who knows if there IS a correct price. A taxi trip from airport to hotel can run you a steep price making you ponder the ‘cost vs. rental car’ mid-trip.

Here in Phuket, one 30 minute trip from airport to hotel can cost you the same as 2 days of rental car. Crazy. A trip to the beach? Ten bucks down the drain. Restaurant? $15… The prices add up and if you’re planning multiple outings, best to have one payment with a driver you know and trust – you. Just understand that the road rules are different. Bikes and motorcycles come first. And keep your wits about you and emergency numbers on speed dial.

 

  1. Eating – the hidden expense!

If you’re like our family, food is the big motivation for a vacation location. Tourist restaurants in our theatre of the world are the costliest and also the least delicious. They cater towards making foods that tourists have in their own countries – pizza, hamburgers, strudel, fish & chips, etc. They have the biggest signs, brightest pictures, even doormen directing you in to their expensive establishments. They’re banking on you not quite having a grip on that exchange rate. 300 Thai baht sounds cheap for a burger, but actually that’s $10 and it’s made by a chef that wasn’t working in the restaurant last month and probably will move on next month. Restaurant cook turn-over rates are high at these places, where menus are books with pictures downloaded from the internet.

Stay away from the brochure eateries and go where the locals go – if that’s why you’re there. Food courts might not be the flashiest of places, but the food there has been cooked by the same guy for 20 years. It’s their own stand/stall/cart! Of course they’re going to want to make the best dang food possible – their livelihood depends upon it.

Best Phad Thai I ever had was 45 baht from an elderly cook who worked the wok like a wizard! Hotel Phad Thai? 300 baht and lacking both the flare and the flavor. Food is culture. Experience your trip every way possible!

 

Hopefully these 3 tips give you a little insight into budgeting your vacation while still leaving room for exploration and pure entertainment!