Saturday, August 09, 2008


Michael Hughes' photographs bring together lots of things I love: travel, kitschy souvenirs, amusement parks and photography. Be sure to check out the whole set of photographs.

via not martha

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Summer Adventure

Looking for some adventure with your kids this summer, check out 101 Places You Gotta See Before You're 12!. The thing I like about this book is that it encourages curiosity, a sense of adventure and civic awareness, all without spending a lot of money on travel expenses, since most of the must see places are general enough that you can find them close to home.

Adventures include visiting an elected official's office, an artists studio, a marvel of engineering, a parent's office, a wildlife refuge, a landfill and the teacher's lounge.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Reading

We recently discovered Pictures from Our Vacation at the local library. It is a fun picture book about picture taking, road trips, day dreaming, family, and memories...a great book for summer.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Give your feet a vacation

For a different take on vacation photos, check out Photojojo's idea to photograph your summer travels by photographing your feet and the ground they cover.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Travel Tips: Create a Vacation Scrapbook

In case you missed the first Travel Tips post, my family is taking four long road trips this year and I wanted to share what we have learned about traveling with children. Feel free to contribute your tips in the comments.

Creating a vacation scrapbook can be a great way to preserve memories and pass the time during a long trip. Encourage your children to collect mementoes like ticket stubs, postcards and brochures during your trip. Be sure to bring a small scrapbook or notebook, pens, scissors and a glue stick or tape for the children to assemble their scrapbook on the way to the next stop or during down time at the hotel. In addition to mementos, have them draw pictures, write poems and stories or simply lists of the things they see and do. Leave blank pages to include photographs later.

Instead of having each child create their own scrapbook, try having each child create one or more pages about the trip and put them all together in a family scrapbook. You will be able to see the trip through each persons unique perspective.

A postcard travel journal is a simple variation on the vacation scrapbook. I don't remember where I read about this idea, but it is a great one for children or adults. (I did it myself a few years ago on our trip to Russia.) Buy a postcard at every stop and/or one for every day of your stay (try to find postcards with pictures of things you will be seeing on your trip). Journal about the events of the day on the back. If a post office or mail drop is easily accessible, mail the postcard home each day. The postcard will be postmarked so you will know when and from where you sent it. When you arrive home you will have a complete journal of your trip, including photographs of where you have been. This can be especially fun for international travel because of the unique postage stamps and postmarks. Even if you don't mail the cards, this is an easy and inexpensive way to create a unique scrapbook of a family trip.

What are your families favorite ways to document the trip? Share them in the comments.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Travel Tips: Involving the Kids

On our road trips this year, we have gone over our plans for the day with Ethan every morning, so he knows what to expect, and included fun stops along the way to break up the monotony.

Children love routine and predictability. Discussing the plan for each day at the beginning of the day can help them know what they can expect and deal with the change in their normal routine and environment.

One way to make this more tangible is to get a map or Trip Tik and talk about the route you plan to take and any stops you will make.

Include older children in the planning and the progress. During the trip assign one child to be the navigator, providing him with maps and a compass. Assign another to keep track of expenses, equipping her with a notebook, pencil and calculator. Even if they are too young to understand these tasks, children love to pretend and imitate adults.

Whenever possible, give your children choices. Children like to have control of their lives and make their own choices. When you take them out of their routine and familiar environment and sit them in a car for hours on end, it can help tremendously to offer choices. You do not have to provide a lot of options, just two is enough. For example: grapes or carrots; read a book or play a game; do you want to sit by the window before lunch or after lunch and so on.

What are your favorite ways to involve the kids? Share them in the comments.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Travel Tips: Travel Tunes

Ethan singing at the bowl. Whether in the car or at a stop along the way, music is an important part of our travels.

Our family loves music. We love listening, singing, playing instruments and dancing. So naturally music is a huge part of our road trips. Our recent favorites are by Laurie Berkner. Laurie's songs are fun, interactive and adult-friendly! Parent participation and "choreography" got Ethan excited, involved and distracted from the hours of sitting still.

A few other things that made our music experience great:

We filled up an mp3 player with all of Ethan's favorites, (you could also burn custom CDs) so that he could request a song and we could deliver. We included lots of new songs to keep things interesting.

We included a block of sleepy songs to help encourage napping.

Sometimes we listened to music that wasn't created exclusively for kids.

We made a car guitar (a small box with rubber bands stretched across) so that Ethan could play along. Tip: create other instruments - a shaker out of one of the snack containers filled with peanuts (or other snacks) and a horn out of a toilet paper tube. Personalize them with drawings or stickers. Trade instruments after each song.

We took a few audio books. Some stories Ethan was familiar with and a couple were new. We had the actual book to look at with one story, but the rest he just listened to and used his imagination. I was surprised at what a big hit they were. Download stories for free from Project Gutenberg, download audio books at or get tapes and CDs at your local library.

More Favorite Travel Tunes:
Sesame Street Platinum: All-Time Favorites
They Might Be Giants - No! (and many other songs off various TMBG albums)
VeggieTales - If you like to talk to tomatoes, if a squash can make you smile
Parachute Express - If you've ever gone to Gymboree you know their songs. If not, check them out
Putumayo - World music collections for all ages

What are your favorite travel tunes? The first four people to enter their favorites in the comments will receive three of our favorite Laurie Berkner songs FREE via iTunes. Be sure to identify yourself in the comments so we know where to send the songs.

Don't think your thirteen year old will appreciate "I've got a song in my tummy?" Let us know and we'll send a gift certificate so you may choose the three songs.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Travel Tips: Snacks

The travel snack of astronauts!

My favorite travel snacks as a kid were Space Food Sticks and Easy Cheese (that's right, cheese in a can). We still bring Easy Cheese on trips - it's great for creating edible art on a cracker (if you're the type that considers cheese from a can edible). We also bring along healthier options like grapes, carrots and celery, dried fruit and nuts Trader Joe's has lots of tasty and healthy snacks).

Rather than filling our car with lots of big boxes and bags of food, Judy filled Ziploc snack bags and small sealable containers with our favorite snack foods, then put a variety into sealed 1 gallon Ziploc bags. This kept the food fresh and allowed us to have a lot a variety without taking up a lot of space. The size was perfect for Ethan and just enough for us, but you could use larger containers for older kids. We put one 1 gallon bag in the glove box and the rest in the trunk. Whenever we ran out or needed some variety we got a new bag from the trunk.

What are/were some of your favorite snacks? Share them in the comments. The first three people to post will receive one package of their favorite snack, FREE. (Snack must be $5 or less. In the event that we cannot locate the snack, we will provide a similar item.)


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Travel Tips: Planning Ahead

When we were planning our road trip from Southern California to Washington, we fondly reflected on road trips from our past, but also feared endless hours of crying and screaming from our 2 1/2 year old Ethan. That fear motivated us to plan ahead. In the process we found several great travel planning sites that helped us think through all aspects of the trip, from car activities to snacks to good places to take a break. Here are a few of the sites we found useful: - activities, games and trips for traveling with kids. - internet store specializing in travel products for kids - their best feature is that the activities are categorized by age. They also have an articles section with lots of great tips. - AAA members can easily create a multiple day itinerary online using Trip Tik (under "Travel by Car"). Get detailed maps with stops along the way including hotels, gas, restaurants and more. If you are planning far enough in advance, you can request a bound copy. - online itinerary planning, like AAA Trip Tik - find authentic local restaurants and avoid generic fast food and chains while traveling - online guides for larger cities
City Websites Search google for your destination city or for cities along the way to find a list of parks (many city websites have pictures of the parks as well as info about bathrooms, playgrounds, etc.)
Mom's/Parent's (i.e. MOMS Club) group websites. They can give you a locals view of kid-friendly parks and activities. While planning a trip to San Francisco we came across a great site that had detailed pictures and information of all of the parks in the city.

Share your favorite family travel resources in the comments below. The first person who comments will receive a free ticket to the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. Be sure to identify yourself in the comments so we know where to send the ticket.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Road Trip

We recently went on our second big road trip as a little family, the first since Ethan (2 1/2 years old) could protest sitting in the car for hours, using actual words. In all we spent six days on the road for seven or more hours each day and had a surprisingly good time.

With summer vacations rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to dedicate the next few blog entries to traveling with kids. Each entry will focus on a specific topic - travel tunes, snacks, activities, destinations - and you can share your favorite tips by leaving a comment under the blog entry.

Ethan looking for some fun with his homemade binoculars.