Family Road Trips Tips

Family Road Trips Tips

Road trips are a constant in my life – the majority of our trips are taken in the minivan! Tanya from Traveling Tanya has some excellent tips for your next road trip with young kids. If you have a trip planned in the near future, be sure to take in her words of wisdom … For some, the thought of loading the family into the minivan for a cross country adventure sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Yet others dread the thought of a long road trip. No matter which camp you are in on this issue, an extended amount of time in the car with young children can test even the most patient person! As a mother of teenagers, I’ll admit I’m happy to be beyond the toddler stage. Although raising teenagers creates its own unique challenges! But I can still clearly recall the struggles I experienced in the car when my girls were little. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve (and in the diaper bag) that I am now happy to pass along to other moms with wee ones in tow. My best advice for traveling with young kids: Be prepared and have reasonable expectations. While every child is different and their needs may vary, here are some practical strategies to try on your next road trip with toddlers, preschoolers and beyond. Pit Stops Even though you may want to get to your final destination so your vacation can really begin, kids require frequent stops. Be prepared to stop at least every 2-3 hours. Regular potty breaks and diaper changes are a must...
Take Your Dog

Take Your Dog

In the mood to spend a day exploring but only have a few free hours?  Why? Because there is no one to let the dog out.  Ever happened to you? We love our dog, but he does cramp our style. When there have been weeks where it seems like he has been alone too much – or we just find ourselves with a full free day and want to run around without having to stop back home mid-day, we find a way to bring him along. It’s a little more work but can definitely lead to a fun and different way to spend the day. Luckily there are many places these days that allow dogs.  I’ve had good luck at local restaurants and breweries or wineries with outdoor seating, parks of course; ice cream shops, coffee shops, farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and sometimes an outdoor tourist attraction (like a walking tour – self-guided or not). A few tips to make for an easy day: Call ahead to make sure your pup is allowed. Combine a variety of activities – some food, some walking, maybe just some hanging out Check the weather – nothing worse than a wet dog in the car! Be a good dog owner – bring along water and poop bags and pick up after your dog Ready for an example?  If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a fun day with your dog: The day must start with coffee, right?  Luckily most coffee and bagel shops are happy to have your dog join you. Once everyone is fully charged, a little walking seemed like...
Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

It’s been a few years since we visited Mackinac Island, but we did have a wonderful visit! My family especially loved the Fort and the carriage ride around the island. My friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya was there last year, and hearing about her trip takes me back to our day on the island and makes me want to plan another visit soon! Check our her adventures and advice:  Spring has finally arrived! I’m Traveling Tanya, and I enjoy traveling just about any time of the year. But spring is an especially fun time to get out and explore. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway this spring, consider Mackinac Island. Last fall I took my family to this magical island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While fall is a great time to visit the island, I long to return in springtime to see the flowers in bloom and watch this quaint town come back to life after a winter slumber. But for now, I’ll reminisce about our fall getaway to Mackinac Island! Preparing for Mackinac Island I’m a planner by nature, so before heading to Mackinac Island I did my research. Reading several travel brochures and googling places of interest on the island. Even if you aren’t your family’s designated “tour guide” or “travel agent” there are other fun ways to get up to speed and energized about an upcoming trip to an unfamiliar destination. A few months before our trip, I happened to see a secondhand copy of a novel about Mackinac Island.  The book included 4 short stories, all taking place on the island during different...
Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

At least a few times a year we embark on long road trips. As neither my husband or I particularly like to drive, we had to come up with a way to make them bearable. Getting in the car and driving all night was not something we could do – the few times we tried it, we wound up exhausted the next day and essentially missed the first day of our trip. Talk about stressful! Luckily, I’ve found a way to make the trip enjoyable. So much so that my kids would prefer to drive than fly! How did we do it? Attitude. This is the most important part – by simply reminding ourselves that the journey can be as fun as the destination, we hit the road with the right mindset. We’ve come to look at a road trip as a chance to relax (versus work), see something new, and have some great conversations. Try new restaurants. It’s a rare trip that we don’t break out Yelp when we start to get hungry and search up local restaurants. Once everyone starts getting hungry, I open the app, switch it to map view and start searching for places twenty minutes ahead or so of our current route. We’ve discovered awesome dive bars, amazing breweries, old-school drive-ins and everything in-between. The rule is it can’t be more than ten minutes off the road we are traveling, and it can’t be a chain. Other than that, anything goes. Yes, it adds time to our trip, but we’ve created a fun memory, enjoyed much better food and had some fun while getting...

Chicago for Tweens

I recently had the opportunity to visit Chicago with just my son. For school-related reasons my daughter (and therefore husband) couldn’t join us so it became a fun one-on-one trip. Not something we get to do often, so it was very special. We arrived Friday night to our amazing room at the Wyndham Grand – it was the perfect location, easy to get everywhere and with awe-inspiring city views. Once I parked my car, we used Uber or good old-fashioned walking the rest of the weekend – it was lovely to not think about driving, parking, etc. However, I do want to caution everyone to be very careful with valet parking – we ended up with some issues that I’m still dealing with – and this was at a very nice hotel and expensive parking spot. Thanks to our Chicago CityPASS, we knew our Friday night adventure would be the 360 Chicago Observation. After enjoying the views – loved the ice breaking up on the water – we walked across the street to do a little shopping at The Water Tower. I actually remember shopping there as a kid so it was nostalgic to share that experience with MY kid. As we had a full day planned for Saturday, we just grabbed quick salads and “fancy” drinks at The Cheesecake Factory just outside the mall. I rarely do chains when traveling, but that’s what my kid wanted and this was his weekend … The next morning started bright and early with the goal of seeing how many museums we could visit in one day (and still enjoy them!). We also...
Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

A big thanks to Choose Chicago and CityPASS for sponsoring our Chicago activities via CityPASS. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. Recently I took my son to Chicago for a fun mother-son weekend. Although the whole family went last summer, this was a trip specifically geared towards things the two of us enjoy doing together. Thanks to CityPASS, we were able to do everything we desired for one low price! I’ve heard of CityPASS before but hadn’t checked it out myself, so when we received two passes for this trip, I was super excited to learn more. Each Chicago CityPASS has savings of 51% off regular admissions. Our CityPASS included Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Science & Industry OR 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. As an added bonus, we got VIP admission, so were able to skip ahead of the normal ticket lines. As soon as we arrive Friday, we picked up our passes and headed off to the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Neither of us had been to this attraction before so we were super excited to check it out. It was early evening so we had the opportunity to see the skyline at dusk which was beautiful. It was interesting to walk all the way around the observation deck and check out the city from various angles. We didn’t indulge since we were heading to dinner next, but there was a lively bar full of specialty drinks for both adults and kids. For an additional $8 we could have tried the tilt option. There is...

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