The Good – And Bad – Side Of Instagram While Traveling

For someone like me, who loves to take pictures and fancies myself as a sort-of ok photographer (in the realm of amateur photography), Instragram instantly became both the answer to my prayers. Having the ability to take photos, and share them, instantaneously, warms my photo-taking heart. Add in the fact that I can filter my photos til I get the look I desire and it becomes, in my eyes, a masterpiece. When deciding what pictures to add to my blog, or to Facebook, I worry about overwhelming people with too many photos – I am sure not everyone wants to see picture after picture of buildings, statues, beaches and, more importantly, my kids. But I love that Instagram takes that hesitation away, that whoever chooses to follow me expects to see nothing but photos! (psst, follow us on Instragram – passportsandpushchairs!)

It seems perfect, and the answer to every traveling families wishes, a quick way to share photos, an automatic backup of pictures that you take while on vacation, and an easy way to revisit your trip with a click of a few buttons and some scrolling back through your pictures, all in one space, but there definite disadvantages to this otherwise easy to use and helpful app.

I have two accounts, a personal account and an account related to this blog, with no way to switch between the two except to log out and log in. When we are traveling this can become an inconvenience, with some photos taken to be shared by one account, some on the other, and some on both.

The pictures taken with my phone, while decent, don’t compare with the photos taken by my fancy camera, but in order to share those I need to email them to myself, download them onto my phone, and then instagram them. Again, doable, but not the most efficient use of time.

At the end of the day Instagram does what it should – it is a vessel to quickly share pictures of a moment, or memory, as it happens. I will take that, flaws and all.

Recent Instagram pictures:

Annapolis, June 2013

Annapolis, June 2013

Vancouver, June 2013

Vancouver, June 2013

Seattle, June 2013

Seattle, June 2013

DC, June 2013

DC, June 2013

Whistler, June 2013

Whistler, June 2013

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky, hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of the above links to check them all out!

Pack Light, Pack Right – Packing With Kids

I am a packer. Actually, I am an over-packer. I grew up with a dad who loved the motto Pack Light, Pack Right and tried to instill that in our whole family over our years of travel. He seems to be the only one who still adheres to that saying, and does it well. I, on the other hand, have veered dangerously the other way, but as we travel more I am working hard on cutting back on what we bring, but it still seems that no matter what we pack it is a lot!

Case in point, our luggage as it was packed up and ready to go for our one week trip to Seattle and Vancouver. 3 suitcases, 5 carry-on bags and a baby carrier. Missing from the picture are our two car seats.

Definitely not packing light nor packing right!

Definitely not packing light nor packing right!

When I see it in a picture it seems excessive, but when packing I work hard at bringing only the things I think are necessary. The first thing I do is lay it all out on the bed like this:

Initial packing, round one

Initial packing, round one

I pare it down, which was difficult on this trip since we had a fluctuation in weather during the week.  I wanted to get it all down into a kid size suitcase, and we had access to a washer/dryer the last half of the week, so I brought enough to cover 4 or 5 days, with room for messy clothes and accidents (which came in handy!). All of the stuff above ended up in this suitcase, so I did pretty good with their stuff!

Fitting it all in the bag

Fitting it all in the bag

The final result for the kids suitcase

The final result for the kids suitcase

Our suitcases had all of our stuff, along with some extras, like all of our toiletries, and (ahem) my husband’s pillow, which makes all of our trips with us. We also had the bed Lila slept in inside one of the suitcases, which is fantastic for traveling and so easy to use, along with all her bedtime ‘stuff’, which included her blanket, pillow and several stuffed animals. It will be a good day when we can pack less than that.

Carry on luggage is a totally different story (and a different post), but these suggestions work well for us in keeping our luggage a little lighter – at least for the younger kids.

- Pack a day or two before, lay it all out based on outfit/day. Walk away for an hour or two, come back and reevaluate. You can probably remove 1/3 of what you originally thought you needed.

- With young kids (and no access to washer/dryer) you will probably need to account for one outfit per day, with one or two backup clothes in case of accident/messes. We generally bring pajamas that can be worn twice, so for 6 nights we would bring 3 pairs

- We decided adding in a third bag that is child sized means more bags for us to deal with but it also makes them responsible for their belongings, and if they know they have limited space to bring extra ‘stuff’ they limit what they bring. Plus they just look cute pulling it!

- We always bring a plastic bag for laundry and ziploc bags for any clothes that may be soiled or smelly.

- Packing cubes are great, and a good way to separate the clothes if packing for more than one person in a suitcase.

What packing tips do you have? Any great advice for packing less with young kids?

Seattle To Vancouver By Car

When we first booked our trip to Seattle we knew we wanted to go to Vancouver as well, and looked into several different ways to get there – plane, car, train – and ultimately decided we wanted to drive so we would take our time and see some sights along the way. And then a bridge collapsed and we had to reroute ourselves completely, but it was fine because we decided to add in Deception Pass State Park to our drive.

We made a short detour on our journey and stopped off at Gas Works Park, a public park  that was once home to the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union. The views of Seattle were amazing, but the smells, well, not so much. There was definitely a lingering scent of urine that seemed to follow us wherever we went, so we didn’t spend too much time there.

The view from Gas Works Park

The view from Gas Works ParkGas Works ParkGas Works ParkGas Works ParkGas Works Park1 happy child, 1 not so much1 happy child, 1 not so much

To get there we drove North on I-5 to Mukilteo, where we caught a ferry to Whidbey Island.  Make sure you check the times, and based on signs along the drive it must get really busy, so I am glad we got there early. The actual ferry time was short, so we didn’t do much, and once we got off we just drove until we hit Deception Pass State Park, which is known for Deception Pass Bridge.

Once we entered the park we drove to a lot with access to a beach and did some hiking. The views were incredible.

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State ParkDeception Pass BridgeDeception Pass BridgeChecking out the biggest slug we've ever seenChecking out the biggest slug we’ve ever seenHanging out on the beach at Deception Pass State Park Hanging out on the beach at Deception Pass State ParkA beach of rocksA beach of rocksDeception Pass State ParkDeception Pass State Park

From there we headed onto Vancouver,  with very few options of places to eat, and long-ish waits at the border (Peace Arch). I don’t know that another way would have been faster, since you have to deal with border patrol no matter the way, but going through Deception Pass State Park was definitely worth any extra time we may have incurred!

 

Croatia With Kids: Brac

This is part three of our guest post series on Croatia by my good friend, B. Check out their visit to the city of Brac!

As if our time in Croatia wasn’t perfect enough, it’s also home to an amazing archipelago. Close to 80 islands linger off the coast just waiting to be explored and discovered, so we thought it would be the perfect way to end our stay. We found another great place through Croatian Villa Holidays, and settled on a cottage just outside the tiny town of Murvica on the island of Brac. (The ‘c’ is pronounced with a ‘ch’, as in Bra-ch)

We drove the rental car about two hours north of Dubrovnik to the town of Makarska and hopped on a car ferry to Sumartin on the island of Brac. The ferry was fun for the boys. They loved it and really enjoyed running all over the boat and checking out the views. Once we docked in Sumartin we had a 40-minute ride to the town of Murvica just outside of the resort town of Bol. The island is small so it’s very easy to find your way around.

Once there, we realized we were in the middle of nowhere waiting for some guy to pull up and show us to our cottage. Talk about trust! After Ray got off the phone with the landlord he said he didn’t speak much English and since I didn’t take Croatian in college, I was a bit worried. But we are always up for an adventure!

While waiting for our mystery man to show, our youngest son face planted in the gravely dirt road right beside a roadside cafe. As I’m yelling at my husband to grab the baby and give him to me, the bar keep runs up the hill to the main restaurant and brings back some wet paper towels for us to wipe his face and makes sure we are ok. What a sign, I had a good feeling everything would be ok after that.

Sure enough it was! Soon after, our landlord arrived and we followed him down a gravel road on the edge of a cliff for about 5 km. The scenery was amazing as we slowly inched along. My husband and I looked at each other a few times though, where on earth was he taking us?  Finally we rounded a bend in the road and we saw the cottage and it was literally an AHHHHHHH moment. The house was just as it was pictured and we couldn’t wait to get inside to see if the rest of it measured up. “Always lock gate” he said, ‘The goats, they eat, very bad for grapes.’ That’s the first time I ever heard that, adventure indeed!

The cottage in Brac

The cottage in BracView from the cottage in BracView from the cottage in BracA walk from the cottage to the beachA walk from the cottage to the beachAnother view of the cottage in BracAnother view of the cottage in BracA walk from the cottage to the beachA walk from the cottage to the beach

After the tour we realized we really were off the grid. Power lines haven’t been extended to this part of the island yet but the cottage was perfectly equipped. They had a water collection system for bathing and we used bottled water (provided by the owners) for cooking and drinking. We were on solar power and if the batteries dropped below 24 they told us we would have to boot up the generator. We decided to make a game of it and enlisted our oldest son’s help. We tried to see how little electricity and other resources we could use during our stay. He was our eco-cop and would turn off lights and make sure no one was wasting water. It was a fun eco-lesson for everyone.

The cottage was amazing but it was only a base for our exploration of the island. On the way to the house we passed some ruins up on a hill and after some research found out it was an abandoned Dominican monastery. It wasn’t a safe hike for the kids so while they napped Ray checked it out on his own and took some amazing photos. He told me it was a bit creepy because he didn’t see anyone the entire hike up and down. Plus, it wasn’t the safest place in the world; it was a ruin after all. He recommends it but doesn’t think small kids should hike it. This mom agrees!

The biggest resort town on Brac is Bol. It’s really busy June-September so the last week of May the tourist traffic wasn’t all that bad. Actually, it was pretty dead which was fine by us. The biggest draw in Bol is Zlatni Rat, or the Golden Beach. It’s a huge draw for windsurfers and kite surfers but also offers a great family friendly beach with a bar, food, gelato and plenty of sun! I loved the fresh fruit stand and so did the kids. Why don’t U.S. beaches have options like this?

Private beach outside the cottage

Private beach outside the cottage

We were only able to go to Zlatni Rat for one day because of the weather and we wanted to make sure we had time to enjoy our private beach at the cottage. Bol has some restaurants and bars and a lot of rental apartments and villas. The island is very well known for their Brac marble and is home to a stonemason school. You can take tours of both although they don’t open until June. One rainy day we decided to head out and explore. We winded our way across the island to the seaside town of Supetar, which is a very busy ferry port. We walked around the town enjoying the sights and settled into a café for lunch. They also have a nice little playground tucked behind some hedges along the waterfront where we let the boys burn off some energy.

The main goal of our stay on Brac was sun and relaxation. The Adriatic is blue and gorgeous and the white rocky beaches of Croatia are among the cleanest in Europe. We had our own little private beach down the hill from the house so when we had our sunny days that is where we spent our time. But unfortunately, they were few and far between. One such rainy day we headed to the town of Split on a ferry out of Supetar. Thankfully for us the mainland was not having the same rainy weather as we were.

The town of Supetar

The town of SupetarThe town of SupetarThe town of SupetarLunch at a 'Konoba' in Supetar. Whenever you see a sign with Konoba, it's a restaurant.Lunch at a ‘Konoba’ in Supetar. Whenever you see a sign with Konoba, it’s a restaurant.

Split, a large port city in the northern part of Croatia, is mainly known for the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. It sits on the harbor and is an easy walk from the main ferry station in Split. This large metropolis has a hip and young vibe and is home to many bars, restaurants and shops. We saw quite a few bachelorette parties and loads of young folk ready to party. Perhaps that’s why we had a harder time finding a baby seat in the local restaurants. We eventually gave up and settled on a café with tables outside so at least the pigeons could help out with the mess we knew we would be leaving behind. On this day we also brought the stroller and didn’t encounter too many issues getting around with it.

Diocletian’s Palace is inside the old city wall of Split and if you didn’t know where it was you might just walk right past it. The Roman Emperor Diocletian chose Split as the location for his retirement home and construction began in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries A.D. He knew what he was doing because the weather and view must have been amazing even then. It was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Center in 1979. It has architecture spanning centuries and is a must do while in the area.

In front of Diocletian's Palace

In front of Diocletian’s PalaceW and B in front of Diocletian's PalaceW and B in front of Diocletian’s PalaceStatueMarkoMarulicW in front of a statue of 15th century poet Marko MarulićW posing with 'Roman soldiers'W posing with ‘Roman soldiers’Diocletian's PalaceDiocletian’s PalaceDiocletian's PalaceDiocletian’s PalaceR walking in SplitR walking in Split

 

Another great day trip from Split is a visit to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It’s the largest National Park in Croatia and is a cluster of crystal blue lakes, rivers and waterfalls dotted with pathways and bridges across the water. Just punch the name into your web browser and you will think that you are looking at doctored and fake photos. But it exists and from what we hear it’s worth the trip. We didn’t get there because our base was on Brac and we felt it would be too much travel for the kids in one day. But it is something I know we will do when we return.

Croatia. The people are friendly and kind and it’s no wonder, their country is incredible and the views alone should put you in a good mood. Add some wine from the local vineyard with the sunny Mediterranean temps and if that doesn’t get you in the vacation way, then nothing will! We will always cherish our first trip to Croatia, she was good to us (despite the rain!) and we know that we will return to her someday.

 

Next up, a side trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 

Croatia With Kids: Dubrovnik

Let’s head back to Croatia, thanks to our friend B and her family! After they visited Cavtat they headed on to Dubrovnik!

Part II: Settling into Dubrovnik

The drive from Cavtat to Dubrovnik is simply gorgeous. The two-lane highway hugs the mountains right along the edge of the Adriatic Sea and winds north to Dubrovnik. As you get closer the walled Stari Grad (a.k.a. ‘Old City’) peeks out at you from between the twists and turns. It’s very reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway and the drive from Big Sur, CA to San Francisco. You catch glimpses of the striking turquoise water and the rusty orange terra cotta roofs and you sense how special this place is.

The city is smaller than you think but can be tricky to maneuver through, especially if you are unaccustomed to city driving. We rented a car for our stay and we have lived in cities with crazy traffic and both know how to drive a manual transmission so we felt okay… after a day or two. Seriously though, if you are uncomfortable in any way with narrow windy streets, fast cars, or aggressive drivers at every turn then driving may not be the thing for you. There are plenty of taxis everywhere you go and many people opt for a driver for the duration of their stay. We stayed in a condo at the top of a crazy steep and narrow two-way street (think Lombard Street but it’s a two-way street and chock full of blind spots). Oh, and we had off street parking but it was off of a very narrow street and into an even smaller and narrower garage.

So that brings me to the accommodations for our stay. They were perfect in every way! We found our villas through internet research and used www.croatianvillaholidays.com. A husband and wife team run Croatian Villa Holidays and they were professional, helpful and answered any and all of our questions. And they exist!!! Which unfortunately is not always the case. Do your due diligence and make sure you are working with a reputable company. Another great resource on accommodations in Croatia, as well all things Croatian, is a website called www.croatiatraveller.com. A woman named Jeanne Oliver writes it. She has been traveling to Croatia since the war ended 18 years ago and has a wealth of information on her blog/website. Great resource!

Our place in Dubrovnik was a two-bedroom, 1 ½ bath two-story condo with two patios and a private pool. It was located in the hills above the city in a residential neighborhood and only a short drive to the ‘Stari Grad’. And the views, because it was tucked into a hill, were gorgeous. We had views of the city and port to the North and West and could see some of Croatia’s many islands in the distance.

View from the back patio of the villa looking North

View from the back patio of the villa looking North

 

View from the front patio of the villa

View from the front patio of the villa

After settling in we drove about a half mile from the Old City, parked and walked through a park and hidden city streets to the Old City Gate. The roads and walkways are not the easiest to maneuver through with a stroller so after learning this lesson the hard way, we opted for the Ergo carrier for our 18 month old for the remainder of our trip. Once inside the Stari Grad, the smooth polished city streets are stroller friendly. But, if you go off the beaten path the stroller can become a hassle.

Walking the narrow roads to the Old City Gate

Walking the narrow roads to the Old City Gate

Parts of the city wall go back as far as the 8th century, however most of it was built and completed in the 15th and 16th centuries. Now, these old city walls are teeming with tourists, residents, stores, boutiques and cafes.  Even though the city is a huge stop on the Cruise Ship circuit we still found it easy enough to get around. But we were there mid-May when it’s not quite as busy. The high season runs June through September.

Walking the Wall in Dubrovnik

Walking the Wall in DubrovnikWalking the Wall in DubrovnikWalking the Wall in Dubrovnik

Some of the highlights are walking the wall around the Old City, the Church of St. Blaise, the Rector’s Palace, Fort Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik’s Cathedral and walking the Stradun, which is the main thoroughfare that extends just inside the city wall at the Old City Gate to the Clock Tower at the far end. Many also recommend visiting the Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries, something we just didn’t have the time to do.

Acting the tourist part in the heart of Stradun

Acting the tourist part in the heart of Stradun

Stradun

StradunLooking into the Old Harbor from the Southern Entrance to the Old CityLooking into the Old Harbor from the Southern Entrance to the Old City

We also found the people of Dubrovnik to be extremely friendly and accommodating and English speaking. When dining out, all the menus were in English and most of the restaurants we encountered had high chairs (called ‘baby seats’ in and around Croatia). The sight of our children didn’t make anyone recoil in disgust, which is a far cry from some of my experiences here in the states! The food was great and perfect for kids. They are heavily influenced by the Mediterranean and offered wonderful pizzas and pastas. We also had some amazing seafood dishes of fish, shrimp and mussels. Even my 5 year old started to become a mussels connoisseur and he won’t even eat a tomato!

We didn’t have the best weather in the world for our stay; it was the rainiest May anyone could remember. They kept calling it ‘English weather’, ha! So we had to find some indoor fun as well. We did visit the Maritime Museum and the Aquarium, both located inside the Old City. We also visited the Rector’s Palace and the Church of St. Blaise. We spent plenty of time in our raincoats too and just made due. If you have children you know you can’t stay stuck inside all day! One such rainy day we rode the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the top of Srd Hill. Spectacular views of the whole city and the nearby island of Lokrum make this a must do. It is also home to a memorial to those who lost their lives in the siege of the city in 1991. See www.dubrovnikcablecar.com for more details.

Ride up the cable car to Srd Hill

Ride up the cable car to Srd HillFrom Srd Hill looking at the Island of LokrumFrom Srd Hill looking at the Island of LokrumOn top of Srd HillOn top of Srd Hill

Dubrovnik was beautiful, friendly and exceeded all of our expectations. We will definitely go back because we just didn’t get to do and see everything we wanted to. The weather kept us from sailing and from taking an old fishing boat around to some of the nearby islands. They were cancelled due to inclement weather. And with one napping child we just couldn’t take in everything the city had to offer. But that is fine by us, it gives us another chance to plan and start a new list for when we get to return to this enchanting city on the Adriatic.

Next stop, the Island of Brac…

Croatia With Kids, It’s Easier Than You Think! Part 1: Cavtat

What happens when you are an expat living in London, about to return to your hometown with an 8 month old, and none of your hometown friends have kids a similar age? You are introduced to another new family to the area by a mutual American in London, find out that in this sprawling city you live a mere 2 miles from each other, with boys the same age, and you become fast friends. When they move to Annapolis18 months later you are all heartbroken but realize that even when a year or more goes by between visits you all, boys and new children included, pick up where you left off. This is a guest post from my dear friend B, who was brave enough to take her 5 year old and 18 month old to Croatia for two weeks, and I think you will enjoy reading about her trip as much as I did!

Part I: Air Travel and the resort town of Cavtat

Croatia, or Hrvatska as the locals know it, has been on my travel radar since 2006. My husband and I are sailors and we heard through various friends how its crystalline waters and coastline were a sailor’s dream. So after a quick web search we were smitten with Croatia’s breathtaking coastline, gorgeous Mediterranean climate, and stunning old world architecture. We were newlyweds, young-ish and determined to watch the races of the Louis Vuitton Cup (precursor to the America’s Cup) in Spain in 2007.  We hoped to add Croatia to our itinerary back then, but work commitments and lack of vacation conspired against us. Hence, Croatia was shelved for a later date.

Fast-forward almost 7 years, 3 moves and two kids later and we finally had Croatia within reach! My husband, Ray, received a sabbatical through his company; a lovely perk that is extended to each employee after 7 years of service.  And without question, we knew we wanted to go to Croatia. While our original dream included sailing the Dalmatian coast and visiting wineries while we ate well and slept late, that dream needed to be tweaked to accommodate our two boys, a 5 year old and an 18 month old.

So in May of this year, planning and preparation came together and Croatia finally became a reality. We booked a red eye out of Dulles Airport on Lufthansa to Dubrovnik. There were no direct flights so we had one connection through Munich on our way to Croatia. And with it being a red eye, the children did better than expected. We did bring our car seat for the toddler because he is high energy and always on the go. While bringing your own car seat can be a hassle, for us there was no other option. He was comfortable in it, it was familiar to him and he was able to sleep for a few hours. Which is more than I can say for me!

There is a 6-hour time difference between here and there so when it’s 8:00 am in Washington, D.C., it’s 2:00 pm in Croatia. It did take a couple of days to adjust but we did our best to acclimate to the time change as quickly as possible. We left on a Thursday night and arrived Friday late afternoon. Since we couldn’t get into our villa rental until Saturday, we rented a room for the night in the town of Cavtat. (The ‘C” is pronounced with a ‘Z’, so it’s pronounced Zahv-tat)

Hotel Croatia in Cavtat

Hotel Croatia in Cavtat

 

The hotel pool at Hotel Croatia

The hotel pool at Hotel Croatia

Cavtat isn’t very well known to American tourists but Europeans love this quaint seaside resort town a mere 21 km south of Dubrovnik. It has some luxury hotels and properties and offers a relaxing beach getaway. We opted to stay the night at Hotel Croatia, a very James Bond-esque property made of stucco, metal and glass. We used Priceline and got a great deal for our one-night’s stay. It had an indoor and outdoor pool as well as several restaurants, stunning views and a quick ride to the center of the old town of Cavtat.

The room at the hotel was decent sized and we scored a room with a view and a child friendly balcony. Although, after our very long travel day we really didn’t use it or enjoy it all that much. We ate dinner in the buffet-style dining room and called it an early night. The chair in our room folded out to a twin-sized bed and they brought in a crib for the baby while we slept in a queen-sized bed. It would have been a bit cramped if we were staying longer but it suited us well for the night.

I wish we had more time to explore the town of Cavtat; it was quite beautiful and hosted some mighty fine looking mega-yachts in the harbor. Plus, after that long travel day and my older son’s whining I really just wanted to lounge by the pool like all those bronzed and chic Europeans I passed on my way back from breakfast. But we decided it best to check out of the lovely Hotel Croatia and headed north along the coast to Dubrovnik our home for the next 7 days of our Croatian vacation. Dubrovnik, ancient and stunning city by the sea (which in my opinion) really is the jewel of the Dalmatian Coast.

5 year old W, enjoying the hotel view

5 year old W, enjoying the hotel viewView of Cavtat from Hotel CroatiaView of Cavtat from Hotel Croatia

How To Be Prepared For A Sick Child On Vacation

I don’t know about other kids, but our kids? They like to get sick. Or, rather, they like to get these weird little 1 or 2 day fevers or colds that don’t really stop them completely but do slow them down enough to make a difference, especially when traveling. So we always have to be prepared when we travel for these crazy viruses to strike, especially after flying.

On our trip to Seattle we set off on the wrong foot, with F sporting a fever that had him down for the count, which was clear when he refused to get out of the stroller, something a normal 5 year old would think is totally uncool to sit in. It was only a matter of time before L came down with the same thing, and sure enough 2 days later she was down for the count, starting with throwing up on the street in Bainbridge Island and ending with her falling asleep on my lap at dinner that night.

Asleep at dinner

Asleep at dinner

So what do we like to bring with us when we travel to help out in moments exactly like these? When we travel in the US we know we can get what we need at the store, but we never know how easily accessible stores will be, so while we don’t overload ourselves with stuff we do bring the basics.

My new favorite things are Fever Bugz and Be Kool soft gel sheets to cool a hot head. The fever bugz are a sticker you can place on their head (and can stay on for up to 48 hours) and see how warm they are. My kids like the fact they are bug stickers, and I like the fact that I don’t have to wrestle them to take their temperature. I will say it isn’t accurate to the degree, but it gives you a good idea of where it falls, and that works for a minor fever. The soft gel sheets can also be placed on their heads, for up to 8 hours, and can cool them down and help make a miserable child feel better.

Modeling the FeverBugz after some medicine

Modeling the FeverBugz after some medicine

L, 2, is, shall I say, medicinally challenged. It has amazed her doctors how averse she is to taking medicine, and it makes bringing her fevers down difficult. Now that she is 2 and can take children’s chewable ibuprofen they have become our go to medicine for travel. No liquid, so we don’t have to worry about a TSA agent not allowing us to bring it through (despite the fact medicine is exempt from the 3:1:1 rule), and I can throw it in my bag to take wherever we go. Most medicine comes in chewable form, so it is worth checking out to see if what you need comes this way.

When we fly we always bring extra clothes, and a ziploc bag to put soiled clothes in. We do the same when we are out for the day touring, since getting back to the hotel/apartment isn’t always easy to do. A ziploc bag (freezer size) comes in handy for so many things, but no one wants to walk around with dirty clothes and nowhere to put them.

Traveling overseas is a different story, and since we don’t know what we can find when we are in other countries we do bring enough to cover our bases in case of any situation. One thing we found out when traveling back to the UK and F, then 18 months, came down with a cold, is that ‘snot suckers’ are not sold over there. Who knew? So even small things like that, which make a difference with a cold, may not be found while traveling overseas. We also discovered that while cough medicine is not sold for kids under the age of 6 in the US we were able to buy cough medicine for our almost 4 year old with no problem in Europe.

Finally, with kids as clumsy as ours, who like to run and explore and inevitably fall, we always carry the MediBuddy with us, a first aid kit for kids that includes band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze and more.

What do you travel with to ensure keeping your kids healthy, or making them feel better if they get sick?

This is part of Travel Tip Tuesday at WalkingOnTravels and Suitcases and Sippycups

Seattle With Kids Day 3…Bainbridge Island & Volunteer Park

Hey there! Remember that trip we made to Seattle weeks ago? The one I am just now jumping back into the blogging world to start writing about again? Yeah, that one. So, here we are. It turns out when you go from one trip to another that includes 22 hours of driving you have little energy left to expend on writing about the trips. But, I will do my best.

We woke up on our last day in Seattle before we were driving up to Vancouver and decided to head out to Bainbridge Island. This trip was going to satisfy a few wants of everyone in our family; we would be able to ride a ferry, looking for whales (we knew we wouldn’t see any but F, at 5, didn’t know so it was exciting for him to be on the lookout for them), and we got to explore a different part of Seattle that was very different than the Seattle we had been experiencing.

Getting to the ferry was easy, even though we paid a premium for parking around the corner. We purchased our tickets where we waited to board the ferry (both F, 5, and L, 2, were free), and we were each $7.70, with the return portion free. The total time was around 35 minutes, and while we didn’t see any whales we did some gorgeous scenery that we all enjoyed.

View on ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island

View on ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge IslandWatching the water as we ferried to BainbridgeWatching the water as we ferried to BainbridgeFYI - this is not looked upon in a positive light!FYI – this is not looked upon in a positive light!Coming up on BainbridgeComing up on BainbridgeWelcome to Bainbridge!Welcome to Bainbridge!The marina at Bainbridge IslandThe marina at Bainbridge IslandHanging out by the marinaHanging out by the marina

Once we got there we walked the short walk into ‘town’ and set out to see what there was to do there. Unfortunately for us, not much. There is a children’s museum, but we opted not to visit it due to time. Instead we sat and had a snack – which, for our kids, was as exciting as it gets since it involved chocolate – and talked to some friendly locals who seemed fascinated that we had come from Atlanta just for vacation. One of them kindly pointed us in the right direction for a family friendly lunch, and after a second stop for a drink we had some lunch at Doc’s Marina Grill, which was both easy and good for kids.

And then? It went downhill. On our walk back to the ferry L was crying, and made herself sick. We thought it was from the tears, but the fever came on after and so we knew we were on track for another rough day or two with fever. To the kind people of Bainbridge who watched her get sick on the sidewalk, I apologize with all my heart. It sucked worse for us than you, I can assure you.

We rushed to the ferry, hopped on, and headed back to Seattle. Later that day, after some naps and quiet time, we were due to meet some friends for dinner and had some time to kill, so we stopped at Volunteer Park, located in Capitol Hill, where we were staying. It is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum as well as the Volunteer Park Water Tower, a wading pool and some fish ponds. It had some beautiful flowers, and would have been lovely to walk around more in. Unfortunately for us L was still feeling under the weather and we had dinner plans, but we did get some time in with the fish.

Not happy in Volunteer Park

Not happy in Volunteer ParkOne of the fish pondsOne of the fish pondsThe fish were huge!The fish were huge!

A few blocks away we met some friends at Vios Cafe, a Greek restaurant that not only claims to be family friendly but truly is, with a play area that kids can play in while you wait for your food, or, in our case, visit with friends. It is such a great way to be able to eat and keep your kids occupied at the same time.

We tried to end our night with Molly Moon, but it is no joke that this is one of the most popular ice cream places in Seattle!

Highlights of the day:

Food:

- Docs Marina Grill

- Vios Cafe

Sites:

- Bainbridge Island

- Volunteer Park

Transport:

Today was strictly a driving and ferry kind of day, with the exception of some walking on Bainbridge. If you planned on just seeing the main street area/marina area of Bainbridge you wouldn’t need a car, but if you wanted to explore further you would need to drive, bringing your car on the ferry.

Helpful Tips:

Sometimes I feel like I am constantly weighed down by the amount of stuff I carry with me on a daily basis, but I was really happy that I had thrown in a change of clothes for L, as well as a plastic bag and plenty of wipes, because we had to use all of them when she got sick. Sometimes making sure you have an extra change for all kids involved is worth the extra weight of carrying them with you! And a ziploc bag is a God send when you have to throw soiled clothes in your bag until you get back to your hotel/apartment/house!

 

 

Seattle Day Two: Quack Quack

If there is one thing we always try to do in a new city it is a tour, which is ironic because we aren’t actually tour people. But a hop on hop off bus tour always gives us an easy overview of a city without having to figure it out on our own (even though my husband is the research king) and generally for a fairly low price vs the value of what we get.

So we decided to step it up and go full tourist on our second day in Seattle, and give the kids a tour they would actually enjoy, so naturally we did the Seattle Duck Tour, full of the cheesiest of the cheesy tour guides you could possibly imagine, but since the bus turns into a boat, and actually goes on the water, well, we had to do it. And of course we couldn’t say no to the quackers, also known as the most irritating whistle you will ever give your children, along with permission to use it at will. Trust me.

About 2 minutes into the tour, which was cold and windy, L fell asleep. This left F to hold down the ship with sharp observations about the people we drove past and the things we saw. His highlight was definitely the water part of the tour, where he happily quacked away at any and everything he saw. We rode past Gas Works Park, and knew we would be back to check it out the next day, and at the end of our tour F turned to us and said “Huh. I didn’t know this would be so boring!” I’m pretty sure this was not given a seal of approval by our 5 year old, but we enjoyed it!

Waiting for the duck to take off

Waiting for the duck to take offQuacker!Quacker!Gas Works ParkGas Works ParkWatching a sea plane take off with Seattle in the backgroundWatching a sea plane take off with Seattle in the background

Embarrassingly after we got back it was time for lunch, and we figured we may as well try out the Seattle Center Armory again for lunch, since it was a hit the day before, and we all ate some awesome pizza at MOD Pizza. Since we all have very different tastes in our pizza choices the individual sizes were perfect.

With L fully refreshed after her duck tour nap we opted to stay where we are and we headed over to the Pacific Science Center, which, in a word, was awesome. From the dinosaurs when we first came in to the toddler area to the hands on area where F stood and touched sea creatures for a long time, to the butterflies, it was well worth the cost to visit and the amount of time we spent there.

Pacific Science Center

Pacific Science CenterDinosaurs greet you when you enter. Dinosaurs greet you when you enter.

The toddler area was a great match for our 2 year old, L.
The toddler area was a great match for our 2 year old, L.If it is a sea creature and you can touch it our 5 year old, F, is there!If it is a sea creature and you can touch it our 5 year old, F, is there!

We checked out some other exhibits, and finally had to drag our kids away, with promises of ice cream, which always work with our two. After we paid our exboritent parking fees we headed to the Queen Anne neighborhood of the city to check out Kerry Park, an overlook which I am sure everyone is familiar with. Like all photo opportunities with a 5 and 2 year old the pictures were hit or miss, but we did walk slightly down the hill to a playground which they enjoyed more than the scenic vista. Imagine that!

Seattle from Kerry Park

Seattle from Kerry ParkF and L in Kerry ParkF and L in Kerry Park

Highlights of the Day:

Food:

-Seattle Center Armory/MOD Pizza (lunch)

-Poquitos (dinner)

-Molly Moon Ice Cream (dessert – yum!)

Sites:

-Seattle Duck Tour

-Pacific Science Center

-Kerry Park

Transport:

We drove down and parked by the Space Needle. It wasn’t cheap, but we had a stroller and it worked best for doing the duck tour and staying for the Pacific Science Center, and then driving to Kerry Park.

Helpful Tips:

The duck tour was cold, likely because we did the first one of the morning and it was overcast. They provide blankets but be aware it can be windy and cold, so dress appropriately (again, layering is great!)

You can bring food to the Pacific Science Center, and eat at any of the many picnic tables outside.

The playground at Kerry Park is fun, but not huge, and it is a steep walk back up if you park on the top by the scenic overlook.

Molly Moon ice cream is delicious. Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle: An Ideal Family Destination

After the tumultuous beginning to our trip I knew we could really only go up from where we started, and even if we couldn’t I made the decision to tell myself we would so we were starting the trip off on the right foot.

When we first started planning we knew we didn’t want to stay in a hotel; setting aside the fact that if we all had to share a room we would be going to be around 7 every night it just wouldn’t allow us enough space to be comfortable and to have space to have breakfast every day without going out. We booked a 2 bedroom apartment in the Capital Hill area which, will not the most central, was still central enough to walk in and see the major tourist areas of Seattle.

We decided to tackle some of the bigger attractions on Sunday, and with the weather sunny and cool, a nice respite from the recent Atlanta heat, we packed up and walked into Seattle.

In the planning stages of this trip we had very little information to go on, as I had been the only one to have visited Seattle at all, and never Seattle with kids. We had a general idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see, and we ended up going above and beyond over our week long visit to both Seattle and Vancouver.

Our first stop was Pike Place Market, or as our 5 year old, F, calls it, the fish throwing market. It was, understandably, crowded, but bearable. I think the crowds intimidated both of our kids so they never strayed far from our sides. The flowers were spectacular (and only $10 for a huge bouquet!), and while kids may want to rush over to see the flying fish you should take a moment to stop and literally smell the flowers. If we lived in Seattle we would be there every week buying new arrangements! We headed over to the main attraction, the Pike Place Fish Market, and watched the fish sail through the air. It was definitely a highlight for both F and our 2 year old, L.

Ready for Pike Place Market

Ready for Pike Place MarketThe flowers are stunningThe flowers are stunningChecking out the fish (he didn't realize this wasn't real!)Checking out the fish (he didn’t realize this wasn’t real!)

Once our bodies realized it was lunchtime we headed up to the Seattle monorail and rode it over to the Seattle Center, where we checked out the Space Needle from below, and went in search of food. We ended up eating at the Seattle Center Armory, which is similar to a food court but with local, fresh food options. It had great choices, and we didn’t feel guilty about eating there – plus we were allowed to order beer, which is always a bonus! This is also where the Children’s Museum is located, although we decided to skip it since it was such a beautiful day.

It was quickly determined that it was nap time for L, so we decided to take a taxi back to our apartment. We were told by a taxi driver that Washington required car seats in taxi cabs, which is not the case in most states. I am still not sure if he was correct, but at that point it didn’t matter and we just had to figure out how to get back to the apartment without walking, and so after some quick research and finding One Bus Away we hopped on a bus and it took us straight back to the apartment, give or take a few blocks. It’s a great app, especially for people unfamiliar with the city and its bus routes.

The Space Needle

The Space Needle

After naps we decided to check out a park that was recommended by An Emerald City Life (a Seattle mom) and we headed out to Ella Bailey Park, with a fun playground and great views of Seattle. We tried to snap a few pictures but our kids were more excited to play than to be photographed so we let them run off and play, good for both getting rid of energy and helping with jet lag!

Posing in Ella Bailey Park

Posing in Ella Bailey ParkChecking out the view from Ella Bailey ParkChecking out the view from Ella Bailey Park

Highlights of the Day:

Food:

- Seattle Center Armory (lunch)

- Skillet Diner (dinner)

Sites:

- Pike Place Market

- Seattle Monorail

- Ella Bailey Park

Transport:

- Walking

- Seattle Metro Transit (Bus)

Helpful Tips:

Parking is hard to come by – we paid extra for a space behind our apartment and it still wasn’t guaranteed! We did street park for dinner, and when we went out to Ella Bailey Park it was outside the city enough that parking wasn’t an issue. Be prepared to walk or take public transport, or pay a premium for parking. We found the downtown area very walkable.

We tried to do a Seattle Duck tour and they were very busy, so we opted to come back the next day. If you decide to do it on a weekend book in advance!

Layer, layer, layer! It was cool in the morning, but warmed up nicely by the afternoon!