20 Awesome Road Trip Activities For Kids

Road Trip
A summer road trip is a right of passage for many American families. It is a time for families to spend hours on end enjoying one another’s company, playing games, seeing new sights, and creating memories. Some people might see it this way, but for me, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. It is an endless journey of complaining, hungry, tired children, who expect me to perform miracles of making the car drive faster and entertain them with every trick I know. Honestly, this is not how I want to travel. My husband however, loves road trips. We usually end up making at least one road trip each year and have learned many things along the way. The longest car ride was from Chicago to San Antonio, and I have sworn I will never, ever, travel that far in a car with three children again. I am sure the kids enjoyed the vacation, but it was a LONG trip and I certainly needed my own vacation once we returned. Continue reading

Essential Travel Gear for Families

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When you travel as a family there is a lot of planning involved, along with a lot of gear. However, when you travel frequently, you learn to scale down and bring only the necessities in your bag. Over the years we have come up with a set list of essentials we never leave home without. I’m not talking about the usual toiletries, medicine, and clothes, but those items that always travel with us. The next time you get ready to head out the door, you might want to throw these in for good measure.


12 Essential Items to Pack for Your Next Family Vacation

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Chicago’s Greatest Attractions for Families

Kids in Chicago

When our family moved to the Chicago area nine years ago, we were pleasantly surprised by the wealth of kid-friendly activities the city has to offer. Chicago almost feels like a city built with children’s entertainment in mind.From the Lincoln Park Zoo to the Museum of Science and Industry, the city offers destinations for children of all ages, which makes it a perfect destination for a family getaway.

Chicago is a city made for walking (except in the dead of winter). Gorgeous architecture abounds, but there is also a sparkling lakefront, a charming river, world class restaurants and endless shopping. These are the features that make the city attractive to adults, but children find the city appealing for many other reasons. In creating this post, I decided that my kids (ages 7, 9, and 11) would be the best ones to ask about their favorite Chicago attractions. Hopefully, their perspective will help guide you in choosing the sights you want to visit with your family.

Drumroll please… Continue reading

Packing Tips for Families

Family Packing Tips

Don’t Take More Than You Need!

Packing for a trip can be an overwhelming task, but when you add kids to the mix, the task becomes more daunting. With the addition of each child comes more clothes, toys in every shape and size, and the need for new packing strategies. As a parent you need to have a game plan in place. There are things you will need to do before you go, things you will have to pack in your suitcase, and things you will need on the plane. Here are our tips for managing the mounds of clothes, eliminating the extras, and saving space in your suitcase.

Before You Go

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Around the World in A Day: 5 Things We Learned at Epcot

EpcotIf you have never visited Epcot, you don’t know what you’re missing. Think of traveling around the world, but never leaving the confines of the United States. Well, central Florida for that matter. Think “It’s A Small World” on steroids. The park is made up of two distinct sections: Future World and World Showcase. Future World is not so futuristic, it actually consists of an aquarium, soaring experience, and some hands on technology exhibits that now seem incredibly dated. If you have read any of my previous posts, you know why World Showcase appeals to our family. Eleven pavilions, each representing a different country, ring a central lagoon and within each one you can experience a bit of culture through shows, rides, shopping, and our favorite, food. This time we showed up just in time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (bad idea) so the park was crazy busy. NOTE: These people actually run a half marathon and then tour the park the rest of the day. Who does that? Be sure to check the Disney calendar and make sure there are not any major events on the days you are planning your visit.

We entered the park and headed directly for the FastPass+ kiosk (see previous post about navigating Fast Pass +), got our coffee on at Starbucks, and set off to explore. Continue reading

Fast Pass+ and Animal Kingdom – A Survival Guide to Disney’s Outback

Animal Kingdom WDW

A Visit to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom and How to Navigate FastPass+

The night before we leave, everyone can’t sleep. They are crazy excited to see the mouse. Well not really, they’re more excited to see their grandparents and escape from Chicago’s horrible weather. Sadly, our children have reached that age where the allure of Disney characters is no longer their cup of tea, and now their focus is entirely upon the rides.

We set our alarm for 3:30 a.m. and everyone is super chatty and excited as we make our way to the airport and onto the plane. We always try to make them rest, but for some reason (adrenaline maybe?), it never works. Thankfully we aren’t the only parents who have dragged their children out of bed for the early morning cheapo fare to Orlando. These flight attendants must see all sorts.

After an uneventful flight, we hit the ground running. Rental car, check. Toll roads, check. Arrive at Animal Kingdom less than an hour after arrival…impressive, and I am now patting myself on the back.

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Discovering Italy – Florence

Easter in Florence

Easter time in Florence in unlike anything you have ever seen…

Florence is a magical city.  The red clay rooftops, cobblestone streets, and piazzas around every corner enchant visitors once they step out the door of the train station.  Artwork and architecture from some of the most renowned masters of the Renaissance (Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli to name a few) adorn this beautiful city.  This is my fourth visit to Florence and each visit I love it a little bit more, and my guess is that you will too. Here is our trip report for what to see in Florence with your kids, but if you happen to visit at Easter, you are in for a special surprise, read on. Continue reading