Category Archives: Travel Tips for Families

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Read all about some great ‘Family Travel Road Trip Tips’ and enter to win a GoPro and other awesome prizes

 One Lane

Don’t Get Road Blocked

Getting ready for a family road trip? Summer is nearly here and many of us are looking to get away and head off for fun and adventure. When planning a trip with your vehicle, there is much to consider. Where will you go, how much will it cost, what can you see along the way, what will you eat? Don’t get stressed and hit a road block! There are many tips from seasoned travelers that can help you plan a memorable and pleasurable trip. At the end of this post, please read up on the fellow travel bloggers ‘trip tips’. Plus, you have a chance to win some great prizes! Roam if You Want To ..On the Road Again. Here are a few of ours that we suggest if you are the type of family that loves surprise and serendipity . Un-orchestrated encounters that make the experience exciting. Like so many road and travel songs portray, it’s seems to be an inner human desire, to explore, to get away and see what the world has to offer.

Road Trips

Ramble On

Go someplace you’ve never been. Somewhere else. We pick out our destination, order the maps and area guides ahead of time. Just so we are not wasting time, it’s good to plan. For our family, we need to try and stay with relatives or friends in the places we’d like to see. Once we have that sorted out, we don’t plan too much beyond that. It’s refreshing to let the journey unfold as it will. And travel can change your life. A local road trip we took a few years back landed us unexpectedly on a movie set. Just by following signs to explore an historical section of a town we’ve never been to.  HBO’s  “Killing Lincoln” was being filmed. So we stayed to watch and got to meet the cast, assistant director and crew. And through a series of events since that encounter, we have now been in 3 movies as background actors! One thing leads to another..more songs, more family stories to gather along the way of the path of life. Don’t be afraid to let the road guide you.

Map it Out

Map it Out

Hit the road, Jack…and Ramble On. Our idea of a great road trip is to come upon unexpected ( albeit favorable) adventures. As we ramble on towards our end point, we like to venture and meander to see where the road takes us. Once when our kids were little and we were touring upstate New York looking for a spot to have our picnic lunch, we saw a small sign that read “Child’s Park”. Perfect, a playground and park area, so we thought. Climbing up the mountainous road, we come upon the spot in which the sign led us. No park, no playground..but and incredible waterfall and nature hike area. It was someones name, Child’s. You can go your own way..Somewhere out there. Keep an open mind, be patient and let the road take you where it will. Good family memories can be made this way. Things that we experience, the people we meet along the way, the mishaps and breakdowns, they all count for learning and appreciation. These tips are not on any typical list. It’s more like an attitude or philosophy to try and achieve. Along with all of the practical and fruitful travel tips for a road journey, allowing yourself to be a free spirit will be rewarded in the end. So Hit the Highway onto that Freeway of Love ..love of family and exploring this beautiful world together.

Space Shuttle Launch

Beyond Earth Travel

Want more road trip tips? Check out the Blog Hop and enter to win one of two prize packages!

Just click on the highlighted rafflecopter text below to link to the prize chance form.

Displaying roadtrip-prize.jpg

Our Grand prize includes a GoPro HERO (camera only, $129 value), a selfie stick ($25 value) and three Lonely Planet Road Trip Guides ($30 value).

 

Second prize includes a travel eye pillow, hand-made soap, world map, stickers, Lonely Planet Kids’ books, National Geographic 2016 Kids’ Almanac, and a Thirty-One hang-up activity organizer. To enter, add your contact information in the Rafflecopter widget below and leave a comment on this post with your best road trip tip. You can earn additional entries – see the Rafflecopter widget to learn how.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rules

1. You must leave at least one comment on one of the participating blogs to enter.

2. Additional entries via commenting on other blogs in the hop are available to you.
3. You will receive additional entries by performing the actions in the widget, giving you a possible 20 entries (there are 10 participating bloggers, with two ways to enter each).
4. PRIZES ARE ONLY ELIGIBLE TO SHIP IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.
5. The giveaway runs through June 12, 2015 11:59 p.m. EDT.
6. Winners will be notified via email.

Roam the Roads. A Creative Approach to Family Travel

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Here is an awesome post by Jen Miller on how her family learns around the world. Homeschooling, world- schooling, life- schooling, road-schooling..how ever you name it, it’s what is best for you and your children. Great article on how they all learn together. What a wonderful way to live. I would love for us to be able to do what they are doing!

One of our families trips to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. Real life education from the 18th century.

Learning by Traveling

Learning by Traveling

Click here for the link to Jen’s inspiring article:

Road Schooling: A snap shot | Edventure Project.

Road Schooling: A snap shot | Edventure Project

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Don’t Shoot! I am a Hiker…and “Tom Cruise Slept Here! “

An Excursion to Lexington, Virginia, USA

Don’t Shoot! I Am a Hiker

Just got back from a 2 day getaway to Lexington, Virginia, USA. We were given a gift certificate for a Bed and Breakfast a few years ago from my parents and we finally got the chance to use it this week. It was a well needed time alone together, albeit quick. For Thanksgiving we hosted 17 refugees from Bhutan via Nepal, one ESL guest from Brazil along with family and friends. Great feast and much fun, but it was time for us to use that gift card.

I got online and searched all the listings with Bed and Breakfast.com and found one that fit all of the criteria my husband really wanted. Quiet, mountains, wilderness, fireplace and hiking. Since we only had a one night stay over, we could not drive too far. We found just the right place in Lexington, Virginia called House Mountain Inn. House Mountain Inn | Welcome to Destination Relaxation.

Front of House Mountain Inn

Hike, Eat, Read, Sleep, and  Be Allowed to Do Nothing!

These were our goals for the 2 days. From our home it took us about 2 1/2 hours driving. Once we pulled up the steep and windy mountain road ( well paved and with guard rails) and saw the lodge, we knew it was what we were hoping for. We met the owner, Mr. Irvine, who was working on the grounds  and he talked to us a bit and walked us in. He introduced us to Tim Grue, his son in law. The resort is a family owned business and was started in 2003. Check in is at 3 pm , but he let us check in earlier. As we  walked in through the large double wooden doors, it felt as if we entered into a resort in Montana or Colorado.

House Mountain Inn is located west of Lexington, Virginia, and is better than your average uncomfortable and overstuffed Victorian B+B. The 15,000 sq. ft. timber logs lodge is nestled into the slope of Big House Mountain in the Allegheny Mountains and set on a 1000 acre preserve.  The great room is beautiful and spacious with a large stone fireplace with comfy couches and chairs in front of it. There are numerous wild animals of the region mounted on the walls and displayed throughout the lobby, such as fox, wild turkey, deer and bobcat.  A very large moose head is mounted above the fireplace mantle. All of this adds to the mountain lodge style. The inviting dining area blends into the great room and includes pine cabinetry with granite counter tops. Here you can help yourself to coffee, tea, snacks and includes an small fridge, and microwave to use when you’d like.
Wild!

Wild!

Tim spent a lot of time with us while showing us our room, the lodge and all of the details of the place and what we could do. Come to find out, we were the only guests of the entire resort, being that it was a weekday right after Thanksgiving. So technically, our gift certificate afforded us a practical castle to ourselves! Tim told us we could look around the resort at all of the 9 guest suites and large dining and restaurant area. each nights stay includes a hearty gourmet served breakfast ( from your choice of delicious options from a menu). We also could have had a dinner included in the stay with local ingredients as part of the meal. And from 4-5 pm they offer wine, cheese and crackers by the fireplace, complimentary with your stay.
View from the Front Porch

View from the Front Porch

We opted to head out right away and hike up the mountain. At the entryway we saw a sign on the door stating that we needed to wear orange vests before entering the woods. It was hunting season. Conveniently on a coat rack by the door were vests for us to borrow ( and a animal fur stole, just in case you needed a scarf ). In a wood barrel you had your choice of walking sticks ( that we forgot to grab). I had on regular comfortable sneakers..not exactly hiking boots. The only item I had that was practical for our climb, was a water bottle. We love hiking, but have much to learn in being better prepared. We brought along some apples and cheese. I really needed a proper back pack and real shoes that work for climbing up and down a mountain.
Important Advice During Hunting Season

Important Advice During Hunting Season

We hiked up about 2 miles up to get to the observation tower. It was a steady incline for the most part and I found my heart racing and I got out of breath frequently. The trail was clear and wide. So it’s manageable if you are in good shape ( I was not conditioned very well for the climb, but did fine on the way down). Once we got to the tower ( a small portion is a side trail to get to the observation deck..a VERY steep portion ), we took a break to marvel at the gorgeous view. There is a picnic table and a couple rocking chairs to rest on after the rigorous climb. The day was sunny and clear, so it was ideal for us to take in the scenic vista. After having and apple and drinking lots of water, we worked our way down back to the lodge. Being careful and putting on our feet brakes so we did not topple down the mountain!

View from the Tower

View from the Tower

Observation Tower of House Mountain Inn

Observation Tower of House Mountain Inn

Tom Cruise Slept Here

When War of the Worlds by Steven Spielberg was being filmed in 2004, Tom Cruise and his crew booked the entire House Mountain Inn for a whole week. Tim showed us the suite that he stayed in. Never thought that a place we picked out from a list of so many B+B’s would have been chosen as the place to stay in Lexington for Tome cruise. We are so used to visiting places that claim” George Washington slept here”, so I thought it amusing and we took pictures of the room he stayed in. After our hike, our dinner ( that we picked up at Macado’s because we wanted just a sandwich and soup after all that fresh mountain air) and some touring of  the historic part of Lexington, Virginia , Tim told us he was locking up the Inn and that Breakfast would be ready at 9 a.m. Coffee, tea water , muffins and fruit would be out for us earlier. So we settle in by our gas fireplace for the evening ( white cotton and terry cloth robes hanging in our closet if we so desired) and complete peace and silence. The television in the suite offers DIRECTV and as we scrolled through to see if there was anything worth watching ( we don’t have any cable channels at home), what do we find?  Four of Tom Cruise’s movies to choose from.

Tom Cruise Slept Here

Tom Cruise Slept Here

Wine and Cheese by the Fire

Wine and Cheese by the Fire

The Kids Would Love This Place

This typically happens where ever we go. On the rare chance that we have some time alone together ( we have 7 kids, remember), the whole time we are away, we comment on how much the kids would enjoy the destination also and that we want to go back and bring them next time. The area had lots of outdoorsy activities, historical interest sights and hands on educational opportunities. Sam Houston ( Remember the Alamo) Sam Houston Birthplace. grew up nearby, the Virginia Military Institute. and an old mill house museum of  Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical farm reaper. Also, while driving on the way to the Inn, we saw a large flock of sheep ( and we stopped by the farm to meet the owner ), alpaca , horses ( Virginia Horse Center Foundation ). and cattle farms. So we hope to go back and bring the kids. They would enjoy it all and we now can recommend this area and the Inn to other families.

Big House Mountain

Big House Mountain

Sam Houston Slept Here Too

Sam Houston Slept Here Too

McCormick Mill

McCormick Mill

Historic Lexington

Historic Lexington

Don’t Shoot! I am a Hiker

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Some people think that the adventure and fun of travel is over once you have a family. Well we want to let you know that the fun has just begun. Don’t think that as a family your adventure days are over. To us, it’s much more wonderful to share your travels with your children. And in our case, that means 7 kids along for the ride.

Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Taking a stroll amongst the wild alligators while 6 months pregnant

Happy and Free on the Pacific Coast

A recent article written by a CNN reporter called ” 5 Rules of Traveling with Kids” made a few claims that we feel are not the truth. This is the article in question (http://www.cnngo.com/singapore/life/tell-me-about-it/elaine-ee-hard-truth-about-traveling-kids-its-hell-704511). She listed her rules as: #1 The Younger the Child, the Bigger the Suitcase… Our experience proves the opposite. We all pack the minimum amount possible.  A few outfits per family member that are comfortable and worry free ( no dry cleaning or ironing needs) will suffice. Pack 5 changes of clothes if you must and clean them at the end of the wearing time. Some times, because there are nine of us traveling together, we end up shipping our clothes via Fedex.  That way we can each just bring a carry on and not worry about luggage claim. Kids really don’t require that much stuff. Keep it simple and enjoy your travels with out so much baggage!

Yes, we did Disney

Sleepy Kid

#2 The Younger the Child, the Harder it is to Get Over Jet Lag How to cope with that one?  We try and listen to our bodies. The crazy time change could really mess up a vacation from the beginning. Once arriving, we get settled into our hotel / cabin /friends or relatives home /tent, and regroup. Get the kids some basic needs ( healthy foods, water, family time to talk and explain your next activity, etc. ) Then we usually try and get some fresh air after all the time cramped on the airplane or in the vehicle. Run, stretch, play, take a walk, swim! That is a big help when it comes to trying to adjust to  a time change. If applicable, we head to the nearest beach for some sun, surf and sand to restore our spirits. 

Grab that Vitamin D and Iodine. Sun and Salt Surf

Sand+ Sun+ Surf = Happy Kids

#3 Travel to a Destination that Serves French Fries No Way! When you are in a new local, you should eat indigenously. And that includes your kids. Besides the fact that all that junk food ( especially if those French Fries are from a fast food joint ) is so bad for them , they won’t learn how to eat like a local. We really believe in feeding our kids authentic and real food.  You know, when in Rome.. On a trip to Cajun Country, Louisiana we ate fresh crawfish out of the bayou , frogs legs, gumbo, cafe au lait and beniets. At a TexMex restaurant in San Antonio, we all had fresh made burritos, yellow rice, beans and  salsas in some ladies dining room. In San Fran, we ate Italian , Chinese, sour dough bread and Ghirardelli chocolate . No chicken tenders, french fries, fake grilled cheese or hot-dogs. And we never make up a cutesy sounding name for foods they don’t recognize or have never tried. Call it what it is and they will learn. If I serve them kombucha, braised Brussel sprouts, lamb kabobs and Kimchi, I tell them exactly what they are eating. Why sugar coat a food ( figuratively or literally)? Let them know what wonderful arrays of foods this world has to offer. We love to eat all the specialties of a region, listen mostly to their music and get the full experience through all the senses. It will be beneficial to them in the future for their health and for their broader understanding.

When in Rome, Eat as a Roman

Curry in a Hurry

#4  You Can’t Have too Much in Flight Entertainment for Young Children. Actually, you really don’t need to bring much. Our kids will take one backpack each and fill it with the bare necessities. Depending on the age ; a Bible and a favorite book , a sketch pad, drawing pens and pencils, a camera, ipod and earphones, a favorite toy and some snacks. Just what fits in their own sack. Plus they should save room for any items they may like to pick up on your travels to bring back. Mom and Dad can carry the diaper bag and please..breast milk is free! Natures perfect food for babies. Other forms of inflight entertainment? Look out the window, go and talk to the pilot before and after the flight ( we used to be able to watch them fly the plane while up at 20,000 feet, but no more these days), read the ubiquitous maps inside the airlines magazine that show all the flight routes ( where I dream about our next destination ), see a film, take a nap or talk to the person next to you ( if they don’t mind ).Before you know it, your plane has landed. Please always thank the pilot and crew. We teach our kids to be thankful for them getting us safely to and from our vacations.

Kids Play While Waiting for a Flight

Perfect Spot for a Baby

Flying Lessons

#5  Strollers, bane or boon? It’s really no big deal. Get a good one that is easy to open and close at a moments notice. The airlines are pretty good about having it ready for you when you need it. If not, carry the kids for a while.                                                                             

That Trusty Double Stroller

We have been flying and traveling with the kids since our oldest ( now 21 ) was a newborn. We had 7 kids in 11 years and have always managed to travel with them. If we can do it, so can you. Yes, it is possible! It takes some planning ahead of course, but serendipity is always welcome. Some times when our kids ask where we are going , I say  “where ever the road or sky take us ” And above all, be flexible and gracious in your travels.

Always Be Flexible

For more great travel tips and a debunking on that CNN Go article, read on with these family travel writers! http://www.akingslife.com/2012/02/the-surprisingly-easy-truth-of-traveling-with-kids http://familytravelbucketlist.com/the-secret-to-traveling-with-children http://www.bohemiantravelers.com/2012/02/debunking-cnns-rules-for-traveling-with.html http://livingoutsideofthebox.com/2012/02/15/how-do-you-travel-with-children/ http://edventureproject.com/5-rules-of-traveling-with-kids-a-traveling-child-responds/ http://havebabywilltravel.com/2012/02/06/cnns-ridiculous-rules-about-travel-with-kids/ http://travelwritingpro.com/shocking-tips-traveling-kids-unnoticedit-time-demystify-rules-traveling-kids/ http://travelexperta.com/2012/02/5-reasons-family-travel-is-a-must.html http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2012/02/the-worlds-worst-family-travel-advice http://aroundtheworldineasyways.com/2012/02/more-than-french-fries/ http://www.suitcasesandsippycups.com/2012/02/rules http://familyrambling.com/family-travel-tips-5-rules/travel-resources/ http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/-five-rules-of-travelling-with-kids/ http://experientialfamily.com/myths-not-rules-of-traveling-with-kids/ http://walkingontravels.com/2012/02/15/my-reality-not-rules-when-traveling-with-kids/ http://albanykid.com/2012/02/15/yellowstone-national-park-backpacking-with-kids

http://www.thenomadicfamily.com/2012/02/worse-family-travel-advice-ive-ever.html#more

Yes, You Can! It is Possible to Travel With Kids of All Ages