Holiday Family Travel Tips

If you are traveling to see family or take a much needed family vacation during Thanksgiving or Winter Break, check out all of our family travel sanity-saving tips. Over the years we’ve put together some great tips and ideas on how to make your trip less stressful and have way more fun. Here are some of our top blog posts to help you travel with ease this year. Think of it as your Ultimate Guide to Family Travel Adventures!

Essentials



Make it Fun!



Who’s Up for a Road Trip?


Leaving on an Airplane?


If you have a travel trip or idea to keep the kids amused while traveling, please leave us a comment and share. We’d love to feature your ideas in a future post.

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Tags: Traveling with the Family

Free Family Vacation Packing List

Packing for a family vacation is a pain. There, I said it. Not only do you need to think about what outfits and gear YOU need, you also have to do it for your children and maybe even your spouse.

Despite my desire to be super organized, I usually end up forgetting some essential item for myself or the kids. “Mom, where’s my underwear?” While you can buy and replace some items, some you can’t. My worst packing experience was the time we left to visit family in Iowa and realized that we left my daughter’s bag with her clothes sitting at the top of the stairs. I had to drive to Wal-Mart in the next town and buy her some of the ugliest clothes ever. Oh well. At least she didn’t have to spend the weekend naked. “Mom!”


However, packing lists have helped me get my act together. (Lists in general tend to be a Mom’s best friend. You know, the whole Baby Brain Drain does some real damage to your memory.) Even if some lists don’t include everything that we need for our family, it’s a good place to start and helps so that we don’t forget the essentials. “Honey, why did you bring the nose hair clippers and not any toothpaste?” Anyway, download our Chocolate Cake Moments Family Vacation Packing List here to help you stay in control and smiling. If I’ve missed anything important, let me know.

Read all of our Family Travel Sanity-Saving Tips to make your trip less stressful and more fun. Have a wonderful family adventure!

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Tags: Traveling with the Family

How to Have Fun in the Airport with Kids


With the big Holiday travel season upon us, you may be dreading the trip and the time you’re going to spend at the airport. Traveling through the airport with kids is stressful on a normal day but add in the Holiday rush and inevitable delays and you might break out into a sweat. Never fear, there are ways to keep kids amused and even for parents to have fun while waiting out that delay at the airport.

While you may live in a town that has a nice easy in/easy out airport, we live outside Chicago so we know the beast that is O’Hare Airport intimately. Whether your airport is small, nice and accessible or you have to traverse the crowds in Chicago or Atlanta or travel a thousand miles within the airport like in Dallas or Denver, or deal with the hordes of humanity in Boston, hopefully these tips will help you easily deal with your time in the airport with kids in tow.
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Tags: Traveling with the Family

Looking for Americana at every stop!

Going on a road trip this Memorial Day Weekend? Here are some great traveling tips from our guest blogger, Cindy McCarthy with OntheGoChicago.com, on having adventures and discovering Americana along the way.

One of the things I enjoy most about road trips is experiencing Americana. My family goes on at least one long road trip a year (many over 3K miles), and we’ve become experts at breaking up those long drives with interesting and often quirky stops. These great diners, pop culture locations, obscure monuments and GIANT statues are, in my opinion, one of the things that makes this diverse nation so fun to explore.

Here are some of the resources we use to find fun things to break-up our drive and experience our surroundings. In fact, we’ve even planned entire trips around visiting some of these quirky examples of Americana!

Travel Section
My husband reads the travel section of the Tribune each weekend as well as USA Today and WSJ when he is on business travel each week. He regularly clips articles about interesting restaurants and stops, and saves them in a folder for future trips. USA Today pointed us to the best burger in NY, The Burger Joint and the Tribune inspired our trip to the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan.

Books
There are a number of books to choose from in the travel section of your local bookstore that specializes in helping you find “Americana” and other interesting stops. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • 1000 Places To See Before You Die and 1000 Places To See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die – We own both of these books, and have found countless ideas for fun weekend trips and great restaurants, attractions and hotels to check out around the world. At the end of each trip, we write the date and our rating of each of the “1000 Things” places we went to. It has become a family tradition. These books make a wonderful gift too.
  • James Dean Died Here – This book will tell you the locations of great pop culture landmarks. It includes everything from where Apple Computer was born to the sites of famous assassinations. We’ve visited Richie Cunningham’s house in Los Angeles and the famous gym from the movie Carrie in Hermosa Beach, California just to name a few our stops inspired from this book.
  • Off The Beaten Path- This book has great ideas for scenic drives. We’ve been on some amazing drives inspired by reading this book including Highway 1 between LA and San Francisco, Avenue of the Giants (a scenic drive through the Red Woods in Northern California) and the Blueridge Parkway in the Smokey Mountains.
  • The Great American Road Trip – This book has all of the amazing little Americana stops we love so much. If you want to know what city the largest ball of twine is in or where to find the giant dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, this is the book for you.

The Atlas
My husband has an unusual affinity for the atlas. He regularly breaks out an atlas when we are home watching TV or when he is reading the paper. The man is just plain curious! His Atlas of choice is the Rand McNally Road Atlas. They have little red squares that are labeled with points of interest. He dragged me an hour and a half out of our way on our move/road trip from LA to Chicago to see the highest point in Iowa, Hawkeye Point. We also found The Corn Palace in Mitchelle South Dakota through the Atlas, which is honestly a gem!

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network
My hubby and I love this show, and have visited a number of Guy Fieri’s recommendations. In fact, before embarking on a trip, my husband will look up the cities we will be in or near on Guy’s website to find some great dining options. We visited Manci’s Antique Club in Daphne, AL last year on our way to FL to see the in-laws. It was delicious, and had some of the most interesting decor I’ve ever seen.

For us, discovering Americana is what makes the journey so fun. What types of stops does your family enjoy on road trips?

In addition to looking for ways to have more “Chocolate Cake Moments” with her two daughters, Cindy McCarthy is an urban explorer of kid-sized Chicago and author of www.onthegochicago.com, a blog that highlights where to go eat, shop, play and learn in Chicago. You can also follow Cindy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/onthegochicago or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gogogoChicago.

Thanks Cindy! These are great tips. For more information on family road trips, read How to Make Family Road Trips More Fun as well as all of our tips and ideas on how to make family travel easier and more fun.

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Tags: Traveling with the Family · Traveling with the Family

Baby proofing on the go!

Taking the baby to see Grandma for Easter or Passover? Here are some great traveling tips from our guest blogger, Cindy McCarthy with OntheGoChicago.com.


Unlike your home, hotel rooms and vacation rental homes are not carefully baby proofed. Keeping your active crawler and toddler safe on the road can be quite challenging.

Below are some tips for baby proofing on the go:

  • Most hotels offer cribs at no charge, but you may want to bring your own crib sheet. Hotels will often simply wrap a queen size sheet around the tiny mattress.
  • You should also check the crib to make sure it is stable and does not tip easily.
  • Ensure your child cannot reach anything on the counters or furniture around him from his pack-n-play.
  • Walk around the house/room to check the furniture to see if any of it can easily be tipped over if your child pulls up on it.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed.
  • If you are renting a car seat from a car rental company, then make sure it is installed properly. Ask for the manual if it is not attached to the seat.
  • A strange environment just invites danger. Babies want to explore their new surroundings (especially while your in the bathroom or getting ready to go). One way to solve this problem is to put you little one back in his pack-n-play with some toys while you get ready. It usually works best if you put the pack-n-play next to where you are getting ready so that he can see you.
  • Bring a small container or plastic bag of cleaning wipes with you. This way you can wipe down the surfaces your baby is most likely to touch.
  • Check all drapes and drape cords to make sure your little ones cannot get tangled up in them. Drapes and drape cords can be a serious strangulation hazard.

In addition to looking for ways to have more “Chocolate Cake Moments” with her two daughters, Cindy McCarthy is an urban explorer of kid-sized Chicago and author of www.onthegochicago.com, a blog that highlights where to go eat, shop, play and learn in Chicago. You can also follow Cindy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/onthegochicago or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gogogoChicago.


Thanks Cindy! These are great tips. Check out all of our posts with more tips and ideas on how to make family travel easier and more fun.

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Tags: Traveling with the Family · Traveling with the Family

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