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The Many Joys Of Holiday Travel With Kids

Traveling with children, especially during the holidays, can be exhausting. And some things are just inevitably going to happen. 

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Raising children, no matter how many you have, what gender they, or what age they, will always be stressful. There are plenty of tricks and tips out there you can use to make it as easy as possible, but in the end, there’s only so much you can do. And there are plenty of things that are just plain unavoidable.

But traveling with kids? Now that’s a whole different beast in and of itself! There are so many different things that can come up or happen that you will not be prepared for. And there is plenty of stuff you’ll just inevitably do because, heck, what choice do you have?! So let’s go through some of these inevitable things so you can be prepared as possible the next time you travel with your kids during the holidays.

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SCREEN TIME RULES

Screen time rules are an important part of raising children in today’s day and age. With TVs and computers and tablets, there are so many options of things your kids could watch. So you have to be careful to not let them spend too much time staring at a screen. It’s just plain bad for them! That’s why screen time rules are key.

But when it comes to traveling with your kids, especially during the holidays, those screen time rules pretty much disappear. For most of any vacation, just avoiding a temper tantrum and maintaining your sanity is all that matters. So don’t feel bad about letting your kid watch a few more cartoons than usual. It will keep everyone happy and you can go back to the normal rules as soon as you’re home.

SAY GOODBYE TO ANY SUGAR RULES AS WELL

Just like with your screen time rules, any rules about how much sugar your kids can eat in a day are pretty much going right out the window. Breaking these rules will similarly keep your children happy and keep you sane. But there’s also a lot of unknown factors on a holiday vacation like grandma making too many cookies. We can’t just let those cookies go to waste now, can we?!

YOU’LL MAKE THE HOLIDAYS SPECIAL IF IT’S THE LAST THING YOU DO

All that stress can certainly go to your head. But you’re putting yourself through all of it for one reason and one reason only: to make a special holiday memory for your family! And damn it, you’re gonna do it! So everyone better stop complaining and better start having a wonderful time! OK?! OK.

This can materialize in all sorts of ways. Matching sweaters, Santa hats, too many gifts, perfectly wrapped gifts, and everything in between. Your kids may look at you like you’re crazy while you’re doing it. But they’ll finally appreciate you and your efforts once they’re a little older!

YOU WILL FORGET SOMETHING IMPORTANT

There is literally nothing more inevitable when it comes to holiday travel with the whole family. You will forget something. It will be important. There’s no point in trying to fight it, people! It’s going to happen. Have you ever even seen Home Alone?? But you’re smart, you can problem solve, and you’ll figure it out.

YOU WILL FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SOMETHING

This is a tough one, but unfortunately, it is very likely that you will end up feeling guilty. Everyone will be so stressed out and so exhausted that eventually, someone will complain. And no matter how much you try to tell yourself they’re just tired and they don’t mean, you will still end up feeling guilty for “forcing” them to do whatever family activity they claim they don’t want to do or present they claim they don’t like.

It’s a really difficult part of parenting, but it’s sadly all too common. Just try to not let it get to you any more than it should or affect any further decision making. It will pass. And you’ll feel better before you know it.

YOU’LL REMEMBER WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT

In the end, despite all of the stress and guilt and frustration, I promise you something will happen that will make you remember why you do it. What Christmas is all about. It could be as simple as everyone laughing at the same joke or spilled plate of food, but it will be special and it will make you want to cry. Because Christmas is all about coming together as a family, being thankful for what you have, and showing each other how much you love each other. And that perfect little moment will make it all worth it.

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Travel

How to Pick your Travel backpack

Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be…

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Picking the right bag for your trip is going to save you so much hassle. The right bag will benefit you and make your trip easier, so make the right choice for your specific adventure. Weigh the pros and cons for what you will be doing, where you will be going and more importantly, how are you traveling. These all will determine what bag to chose, Backpack or Suitcase. Just remember, every journey is different, so a bag that worked for a work trip to Minneapolis may not work as well on a trip to the Nile River Delta.

 

Suitcase versus Backpack

First, you must decide to bring a suitcase or backpack? Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so chose wisely. Suitcases are better if you are traveling to one location and not moving for a longer period of time. Backpacks however are better in almost every other situation.   Suitcases are awkward to carry around, they seem to get damaged easier than backpacks and are just not as efficient. I can pack so much more in my backpack than I can in a suitcase of comparable size.  

If you have physical restrictions like back problems, then surely you should choose a roller suitcase, but for all others, go backpack.

 

What to look for

So, we decided on a backpack, I guess you are going on an adventure. If you chose a suitcase then you should read another blog by some nerd who only uses suitcases.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here is my backpack picking protocol.

 

Water Rating

Check out the fabric to see what it’s water rating is, which is a very important and you’ll thank me later. Waterproof is the best but water-resistant is acceptable depending on your trip. If you are going white water rafting, maybe choose water proof, all other trips water resistant should be fine.

 

Lockable

Does your bag have a built in lock? That is important if you are flying or staying in a hostel or other group living situation. Think about it, the bag has all your belongings for your trip so you want to make sure your stuff is safe. Nobody wants some stranger rummaging through their stuff while they sleep.

 

How Many Pockets

This is a crucial question to ask, because you want to know how much packable space the bag offers. These numbers are usually offered in cubic feet.   It also matters how you pack, so make sure you read my blog on packing tips to get the proper techniques. The amount of pockets and the space they provide is very valuable information to help determine which bag to use.

 

Frame?

Does the backpack have a frame and is the frame external or internal. Frames help to distribute the weight of a bag on the person’s back, to make carrying more efficient. Check out all three types of bags: frameless, external and internal frames, to see what suits your needs and preferences better.

 

Padding

How’s the padding, is it soft enough or is it hard or just plain cheap feeling? Does the back have ample padding as well for the shoulder pads? I prefer a good amount of padding on the shoulders, as this is the area that carries the most weight.

 

Size

How big is the bag and how easy will it be to navigate your trip with this bag fully packed on your back? Trial and error is probably the best way to determine these aspects.

 

Price

Finally, how much are you willing to spend on such a bag and what’s too much? This all boils down to personal preference and your bankroll. I would tend to stay away from the cheaper bags because they will be made poorly and you don’t want your bag to break mid trip.

 

Good luck finding the perfect bag for your adventure and remember proper preparation makes for a better trip.

 

Read the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of physictourism, ubelong, TravelHack, travelfashiongirl

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Travel

Should I Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Back in 2008, I joined my first frequent flier program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched…

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Joining a frequent flyer program is important and very valuable if you fly often.  Saving you money, making booking easier and enjoying in all the perks related to frequent flyer programs, you will be a happier traveler for sure.

Back in 2010, I joined my first frequent flyer program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched networks and carriers all the time. The lowest price always won.

Another reason I had never signed up before? All my favorite carriers are spread out over different alliances. Japan Airlines (JAL) is on the Oneworld network, while Singapore is on Star Alliance. Emirates Airline, the carrier that makes me salivate the most, isn’t on any of these networks.

Yet back in 2010 I realized that as I was going to fly around the world more, blogging as I went, it was probably a good idea to join an airline alliance – racking up miles, earning upgrades, and getting lounge access was probably a good idea for someone who was going to be in an airport every few weeks.

Over the years, I’ve been a member of all the alliances and my opinion about these programs has changed since I first wrote about them in 2008. Last year, I wrote about why people should not be members of frequent flier programs. Sure, you should always sign up for the program to get the points, but if you aren’t flying enough to hit elite flier status, then you should base your decisions on price. Go with the lowest price and when you do get miles, exchange them for a free flight.

But if you do think you are going to fly enough to make it worth it, you should totally join a frequent flyer program. The lowest tiers in the program, while not great, usually start at 20,000 flown miles.

You can read a lot of opinions on which program to join. Some people will say to join them all, others will tell you to join the ones with your favorite carriers, and others believe you should join the one with the major airline in your home town. I’m of the last opinion. The right alliance to join is the one on which you will most likely earn elite status.

This year I switched from Oneworld to Star Alliance. I did so because I was supposed to move to Europe and the major airline out of Stockholm is SAS, a Star Alliance member. But now that I’ve moved back to the States? I’ve switched back to American, a Oneworld carrier, because they have a hub at JFK and I like them better than United, who is part of Star Alliance.

I strongly recommend that if you are going to be traveling a lot, you stick to one alliance and earn elite flier status. Your status will last 14 months, so even if you don’t fly a lot the following year, you can still reap the benefits for a little while longer.

Because there is nothing like seeing the line for security check-in and realizing you can whiz right on past it or sit in a comfortable lounge with free drinks to make the flying experience infinitely times better.

 

 

 

Check out the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of Baltia, dailyMail

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Don’t Ever go on a Road Trip Without Packing These 10 Items

Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head…

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Road trip season is almost here and you have to be prepared. The weather is going to clear up soon; spring break is on the horizon and your need for travel will be growing. It’s an American tradition to pack up the car and head out into the great beyond, navigating your way through the beautiful country. I know once the first signs of spring begin to appear, its road trip time!

 

Let’s look at what essentials you should bring to make your road trip epic and unforgettable.

 

Sunglasses

You can’t leave home without your shades dudes. I live in California so I wouldn’t even think about starting a road trip with out my favorite pair of sunglasses and I might even bring a backup, because you never know. Driving down the highway with the sun glaring back at you can be dangerous, so the shades aren’t just for looking cool, although they certainly help.   Make sure your sunglasses protect against UV rays and you should be safe.

 

Water Bottle

Water is the basis of all life and we need it to survive and thrive, so make sure you pack a quality water bottle. I enjoy one that keeps my water cold for longer, like a Contigo. We should be drinking 4-16 ounce glasses of water a day at minimum to keep you hydrated, so a good water bottle is key. Plastic water bottles are environmental nightmares, so steer clear of these bad boys and get yourself a refillable bottle.

 

GPS Navigation

Most smartphones come with map apps already installed but I prefer an aftermarket one. Try WAZE, it’s a navigation app that adds in the functionality of social media to increase its effectiveness. This app tells you where traffic is and redirects you to minimize your travel time. I honestly don’t drive on the highway without first checking WAZE to see what the traffic is like.  Getting lost can be a fun adventure, but getting found is much better.

 

Tunes

What’s a road trip without some great tunes to guide your way? I always make a road trip specific mix so that my trip soundtrack reflects the drive.   If your car has an auxiliary port, make sure you bring that aux cable so you can hook up your mp3 player, or just burn some sweet mix CDs.

 

First Aid

You never know when you may need a first aid kit and if you are on a road trip, who knows where the closest help could be? You may just need a bandage or some aspirin, but a properly stocked first aid kit will always come in handy.

 

Emergency Kit

Going along with the first aid kit, a roadside emergency kit is very helpful to have in the trunk. A good roadside emergency kit should contain jumper cables, road flares or reflective triangles, a shovel, rope and a battery jumper. I have a great battery jumper in mine and it’s saved the day multiple times. Believe me, accidents happen and it always is good to be prepared. I knew being a Boy Scout would come in handy.

 

Camera

You need a good camera for your road trip or did it even happen? I pack my GoPro when I travel because you never know when adventure will happen and you need to document it. On a good road trip, you will see some sites that you’ve never seen before and you better record it. A simple point and shoot digital camera works great for this purpose, just toss it in the glove compartment and make sure your battery is charged.

 

Snacks

How can you go on a road trip without the proper snacks? I advise a good mix of sweet, salty and sour. Candy and chips are the standard with some beef jerky tossed in for sustenance. I always like to drive with emergency food, just in case you get stranded somewhere.

 

Sunscreen

Believe me, you will notice a driver side arm tan after a few days on the road. I always pack sunscreen or sunblock for road trips.   Make it an SPF of 30 or higher for the proper protection and you won’t have to keep reapplying throughout the day.

 

Cell Phone Mount

A good cell phone mount is key, especially since distracted driving is fast becoming a cause of many fatal car accidents. I use a vent clip phone holder, while many will chose the suction cup version that sticks to your windshield.   Either way, this will keep your hands free to drive and your attention on the road.

 

Hopefully these items make your road trip one to remember. Drive safe and follow all posted signs, its an epic adventure out there, just waiting for you to take it.

 

Photos Courtesy of Trend Hunter, ignant, sunglasswarehouse, travelsupermarket 

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