Family Travel to Sayulita, Mexico: A Pueblo Magico for Families!?!?

img_4021We wanted to get out of town – last minute! There was no snow in the mountains and my kids were about to be out of school for 2 1/2 weeks. What to do? Where to go? I started researching about three weeks out. I was sure it was possible to get away with our family of four using miles for travel and points for staying in an Airbnb, but not simple. I did a lot of research and finally landed on flying into Puerto Vallarta [PVR]. My whole family had spent time in Sayulita, Mexico over the years and it seemed like an easy trip that ticked off a lot of the most important travel points for my family:

  1. Travel mainly on miles/points
  2. Surf/beach/warm
  3. Easy non-stop travel

img_3948Having spent a lot of time in Mexico and Central America we knew we could make a quick trip to Sayulita and all get our needs met. Not a tough decision for my family!

Getting There

We flew to Puerto Vallarta on United for 17.5k points and back on Southwest for 9k points [per person]. We got cash in the airport [don’t forget to let your bank know you are traveling] from our ATM card [I recommend using your ATM as they give the best exchange rates]. We actually forgot to tell our bank and we ended up having to call our bank from the airport to get our account unfrozen – just plan ahead and it’s not a problem! We got the kids some snacks and drinks in the airport since we were about to take a cab for at least 45 minutes. We then easily caught a cab right outside the airport for $50 to Sayulita. Super easy! Most hosts can arrange a pick up at the PVR airport – but it will cost a little more.

Sayulita, Mexico

This amazing town has been designated as a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican Government.  It is an easy, non-stop flight from the USA and only 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. It is also a laid back, sweet spot, that offers lots of real Mexico with a lot of the comforts and ease you might expect from a tourist spot.

img_4039The town in small enough that you can stay almost anywhere and be in easy walking distance to the beach. Be aware that there are a lot of places to stay up steep hills just outside of town – okay for adults and teens, but tough on little ones. This time my family really enjoyed staying a little out of town – we stayed on the north end of town, right on the beach, and loved the peace and quiet. It was a flat 5 minute walk into town along the beach or roads just behind our Airbnb. Certainly there was still more than enough going on to keep us entertained – beach, pool, ceviche on the beach, great food, massages, surfing, etc… I did notice that a lot of Gringos rented golf carts – but I like to get my family walking.

img_3965Food: Sayulita has great food options! Check out garlic shrimp on the beach at any of the restaurants, fresh fish at Don Pedros [we indulged and eat at the fanciest Sayulita dining establishment and it was still under $20 for each of us including a delicious swordfish meal, drinks, etc…], and delicious food at almost any turn. Try Choco-Banana for yummy breakfast and deserts. Eat street tacos at Ivan’s in the evening. Tacos at Naty’s during the day is always a great, very inexpensive, meal. Indulge in churros on the street in the evening. The food scene is a feast for your bellies and eyes – kids love it! 

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

Surf: You can rent surf boards of all varieties right on the beach. Look up and down the beach for the best options – prices and quality varied. You can also arrange lessons at many surf shops along the streets right off the beach or at the tents on the beach. One surf school option is Lunazul. The surf was very calm in December, but it can get big!

img_3943Beach: The beach runs along the crescent shaped bay that is Sayulita. It is beautiful, but the sand is a bit rough. In places the beach drops off steeply into the ocean. It’s okay for adults, but overhead for many kids and even teens. You will see people swimming, surfing and paddle boarding all day and into the evening. There is also a riptide that my own child has been saved from by a life guard on this very beach, so be aware. They do have life guards – a lot of beaches don’t! 

Housing: I love using Airbnb for housing – especially in small towns where I cannot use points or when I want a more local experience. Our options were limited because we were booking over the Christmas Break and we booked so last minute. But there were plenty of options on Airbnb. Also try VRBO and SayulitaLife for booking housing and all things Sayulita. With kids I always look for a pool in addition to the ocean since the surf can be exhausting to kids and sometimes it’s nice to get a break. It’s also nice to have air-conditioning in the bedrooms [even in December, but during warmer weather I think it’s essential!]. We booked with Airbnb for under $190/night, last minute, in high season and this included a pool and was steps from the beach. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it had everything we needed! 

img_4018There are a few different options for housing in Sayulita:

  • In-town – convenient, but noisy and often cramped
  • North of town – quieter, 5+ minute walk to town [can easily rent a golf cart for young kids or grandparents]
  • Gringo Hill [or neighborhoods off the river] – these can be beautiful views, but a long walk, and very steep [double check this option for kids and grandparents]
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The Ally Cat

Explore: 

  • Take a quick trip to Punta Mita which offers beginner surf breaks that are long, long, long.
  • Sail to the Marietta Islands with the Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. This was a super fun, all day excursion that included lots of sailing, food, drinks, whale watching, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jumping from the ship into the ocean below.
  • Take a hike to Playa de Los Muertos – this is a hidden beach within walking distance to Sayulita even with kids. Walk out of town along the road that parallels the beach past Villa Amor. Head up over the hill past the cemetery on your left and down to a secluded beach – sometimes it doesn’t feel so secluded, but it’s certainly more private than the Sayulita beach.

The Good

  • Easy, direct flights to PVR and simple to transfer to Sayulita
  • Good food and easy to find
  • Reasonably priced – the flights, housing, and especially food!
  • The North side of Sayulita – we loved it! Good food, quiet beaches, peaceful evenings, etc…
  • It’s easy to get around without a lot of Spanish language skills. I also see this as a negative for those of us who want to practice our Spanish.

The Bad

  • It was packed! So many, many tourists. I would say you can expect an equal number gringos and Mexican tourists in December. The summers are relatively empty there, but humid.
  • The beach is okay, but it is so crowded that there are literally umbrellas touching one another for 100s of yards, and stacked 6 deep, in the main part of town
  • You have to say, “No, gracias” so many times when you are near the beach because so many people are walking around selling their wares.
  • Too easy to speak English in this town that is used to tourists.

 

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Sayulita, Mexico. I do agree that it is a Pueblo Magico!

Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!

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Traveling with a family can be tricky. It can be expensive. Things come up. It’s tough to get everyone’s calendars synced. Needs change. Southwest Airlines to the rescue. The fact that Southwest in budget conscious and very flexible make me loyal to this brand. Southwest Airlines really rocks it for families!

Here is why my family loves flying with Southwest Airlines:

  • Change Your Flights Without Fees. Unlike any other domestic airline, you can book flights [paid or points] and then make a change to them up to 10 minutes prior to boarding for FREE. This is golden for my family!
    • I often book flights on Southwest with the idea that we MIGHT go. Sometimes I am just dreaming. Sometimes I need to figure out if this trip works with everyone’s schedules. I book the flights and then figure things out. I can take more than 24 hours that other airlines let me have to get things figured out or wait to see if the other pieces of the trip will come together.
    • For example, we have tickets booked to go from Denver To Salt Lake City this winter because we want to ski at Park City Ski Area. I’m still not sure how the snow will be in Utah, so I’ll sit on these tickets until we have a clearer idea of snow fall, without worrying about change fees. Flexibility is key for my family!
  • Free Checked Bags. You get 2 free checked bags which saves you a bunch over other airlines unless you have elite status or have their credit card.
    • This is self explanatory, but if I was flying on United or other major airline carriers, I would pay a fee per bag if I did not have elite status or their branded credit card. This could cost my family hundreds. I hate to pay extra fees! 
  • Early Bird Check In. You don’t get a seat when you book a flight on Southwest, but you can pay $15 to get their Early Bird Check-In. Since you don’t have assigned seats you can just have one parent go on board early [just pay $15 once] and save seats for the whole family. Everyone does it, so it’s not strange.
    • If cost isn’t an issue then just get everyone in your travel party Early Bird Check-in when you purchase tickets. If you want to save some $ then just divide up your reservation and make sure one parent is going on early to save seats for the entire family.
  • Excellent Value/Use of Points. If you plan ahead, and sometimes last minute, Southwest offers really low cost travel options – which is great for my family of 4!
    • Southwest is a great option any time you are traveling last minute as they are definitely worth checking and at times offer an excellent value.
    • Southwest points are usually a better deal than most other airlines. For example, I wanted to fly from LA to Denver this month [November] and there are plenty of $44 [2002 points] or $79 [4045 points] one way. On United would cost me much more if I purchase a revenue ticket or between 12,000 and 25,000 points one way.
  • Easily Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest Points. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points you can easily transfer then 1 to 1 and fill up your Southwest points account when you need them most. 

Southwest really works for our family. The things I love the most are their flexibility and low cost/low points. I regularly transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest account to book flights. I love that I can leave the points in my rewards card until I need them – just in case I need them for some other reason. Southwest just makes my life so simple and helps our family to travel more!

How about the rest of you traveling families – what is your favorite airlines and why? 

Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

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Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

My family loves traveling! For us it is infinitely better when that travel is free/cheap. It just feels good! Here is one way our family of four has managed to make travel really affordable – we Airbnb our house whenever we are gone. Yup, we “move out” of our house for as short as a 3 day stay. It can be scary to step into the sharing economy and invite other people into your house I get it, but with a little trust most people are really happy with the results.

Renting our house on Airbnb made us feel like we hit the jackpot!

A Recent Airbnb Cheap Travel Example

My kids want to learn to surf. We live in Colorado. Let’s go to San Diego! We booked tickets early so got a great deal on Southwest [we had points to burn from a credit card sign up] and booked our return using miles on United. So no direct cost for travel. We then rented a car – we used Amex points for 1/2 the car so it was super reasonable [cost us

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

$130 for the week]. We rented a house in Encinitas, a block to the beach, for $250/night which turned out to be one of our biggest expenses. This is where it gets good – we concurrently rented our house in Boulder for $250/night. This was basically a wash though we paid a bit to Airbnb for the transaction on both ends. The costs for our week surfing trip – above our normal expenses – was surf lessons and 1/2 the car. And a few t-shirts the kids picked up along the way. This works for me – I’m ready to book another trip pronto!

Here is how you can make Airbnb work for your family

We hosted our first Airbnb guest last summer. It was a leap of faith but we were traveling for six weeks [internationally] and it just seemed one of our biggest resources was going to be left on the table. We jumped in with both feet and listed!

Then we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Then it happened, someone reached out about renting for a week. I looked up their profile and she had just joined Airbnb and had no reviews. Yikes! We exchanged emails multiple time and finally I felt comfortable accepting her housing request.

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Get your property listed

  1. List your property on Airbnb. It’s free and easy to list your property. You need to take some photos and think about exactly how you want to describe your property. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be honest. What is great about your location? Are there any drawbacks? Don’t advertise something you don’t have. Remember people will rate you and good ratings are the key to success in this endeavor.
  2. Set your price. This is a bit tricky. Do some research. Look around on Airbnb for houses near you. What are they listing their places for? Does the price fluctuate based on events nearby? What price would make it feel fair for you to move out and share your home with others? It’s not a science – trust your gut.
  3. Set your calendar. List the dates your home is available and the price for those dates. For example, during the Ironman in Boulder, CO, the prices can be set higher as there are no hotels available in the city.
  4. Do you need a rental license? In a lot of cities they are starting to make anyone renting their space out get a rental license – even for short-term rentals. If you are only renting once or twice your compliance is up to you. In Boulder, CO it costs $130 for a rental license for four [4] years – not too bad.
  5. Make a plan for getting your home organized/cleaned. We only rent out 3 of our 4 bedrooms so we can keep one for our stuff. We put a lock on the door to the extra bedroom. When we have renters, everyone gets a moving box, and then empty their rooms of valuables, things that are sentimental, and their closets. These boxes are packed up and put in the locked bedroom. We use one size box and make it super simple. We declutter and organize somewhat so it’s easy for anyone to enjoy the house. We hire a cleaning person to clean after we leave before anyone rents.
  6. Have a local contact. When we were out of the country we had a local friend act as the renters’ contact person. They were on call if anyone needed them and they walked through the house between renters to make sure it was all in order after the cleaners came in.
  7. Review your guests. Airbnb will ask you to review your guests. Your guests will also review you. This is a very important step in the sharing economy process – making things transparent. The guest won’t see your review until they have reviewed you, so feel free to be honest. I like to focus on the positive, but I won’t hesitate to mention something that could be improved. When you review each other, your reviews will then be public for everyone to read. Having positive reviews will increase your traffic and interest in your property.

Get the kids bought in! 

Our boys are okay with this plan as they have done it for a long time. They think it’s normal.  When we started renting out our house when we traveled we offered that we would give our boys something they wanted if we rented the house out for X days. It worked. They cleaned their rooms out well and spent the time rooting for us to get that extra week. We did get that extra week and we rewarded our kids!

Dream about your vacation!

If you don’t already have a vacation planned, head over to Airbnb or Trip Advisor and poke around. They have great suggestions and ideas of what to do in all these locations. I got a 10 page booklet about what to do in and around San Diego when we booked our trip to Encinitas. Also, hosts offer guidebooks which often tell you a lot about what to do in and around their property. It can be a helpful process as you clarify your travel plans.

Please share your experiences!

Have you had experiences sharing/renting your family home? Would you do it again? Are their other options beyond Airbnb and VRBO that are family friendly? Please share!

Questions about family travel, how to Airbnb your place, or anything else, give me a shout at Email Amanda

 

Free [or practically free] Skiing/Snowboarding in Colorado for ALL 5th and 6th Graders

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Skiing/Snowboarding Is Free [or almost free] in Colorado! Calling all 5th and 6th graders – you can ski 60+ days this winter for free [or close to free] at 20 Colorado resorts! If you are thinking of skiing/snowboarding in Colorado AND you have a 5th or 6th grader, you are in luck!

The Colorado Passport program is for you – even if you don’t live in Colorado. Live in Massachusetts and want to ski/board in Colorado – your 5th grader skis free. Live in California and you want to ski/board in Colorado – your 6th grader skis almost free. As long as you can prove your child is a 5th or 6th grader they qualify for the 5th & 6th Grade Passport Program! 

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Here is how the 5th & 6th Grade Colorado Passport Program works:

5th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 5th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Ski up to 60 days. That’s right your 5th grader can ski 3 times at all of 20 resorts including: Winter Park, Copper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]!

6th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 6th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Register by November 30, 2016 and pay $105 to ski 80 days. That’s right, your 6th grader can ski 4 times at all of the 20 resorts including: Winter ParkCopper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]! You can still register through January 31, 2017, but the cost goes up to $125. This is still a screaming deal if your child qualifies!

PARENTS/ADULTS/KIDS [Not 5th & 6th graders]

The best way to get a deal on skiing in Colorado [if you aren’t a 5th or 6th grader] is to purchase a pass at any of the mountains at which you plan to ski. People in Colorado know, it makes sense to get a pass. The walk up prices at some of our amazing mountains can easily be over $150/day. I am not kidding! Here are some ideas of passes that might work in conjunction with the Colorado Passport:

Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk: Get a Classic Pass which give you 4-7 days at a serious discount with no blackouts from $199+

Winterpark: Get a Season Pass ahead of time for $429/adults and $249/kids. This also gives you 10 family/friend passes at $69 – $89/day, so maybe you just buy one pass and use the benefits to purchase cheap tickets for other adults skiing with you.

Copper Mountain: Try a Copper 4 Pack for $169/kids & adults. It’s a deal!

PASSPORT PROGRAM MOUNTAINS

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-40-38-amNeed more ideas for how to get your family skiing in Colorado for cheap? Give me a shout – I’m happy to help! -Amanda

Colorado Elementary School Kids: Get 16 free days of skiing at Vail Mountains with their Epic School Kids program

#Skiing #Free #Kids #Families #Colorado #Winter #Snowboarding

Family Travel: Paris over Christmas for under $500 on United

Want to go to Europe? United Airlines is offering fares for under $500 to Paris from Denver over the holidays. Paris for Christmas anyone? If you’ve been thinking about going to France this may be the time to make it happen.

Here is a search from December 19th to the 28th. You can find different dates around the same time that work. Go to the search on Momondo to find these deals. Click here for the Momondo site. Let it load fully to see the deal. Then you can change dates and times to get the flight you prefer.

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If you have an Epic ski pass [Vail Resorts] you can ski at some European ski areas for free this winter. This includes France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Get the scoop on skiing Europe on your Epic pass here.

Will your family be heading to Europe this winter?

My Family Scored 4 Round Trip Tickets for Under $150!

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What summer isn’t complete [when you live in landlocked Colorado] without spending time in the ocean? So my family of four decided to head to San Diego for a week of surfing. And we are doing it for around $50 [total of fees paid for all tickets] plus a $95 annual fee, so a total cost of $145. How? We signed up for a credit card through Southwest Airlines, spent $2,000 on the card and viola – we are heading to surf this summer! My favorite part is that we have lots of flexibility in our itinerary – just in case something changes – and there aren’t tons of extra fees like we would pay with other low cost airlines. Flexibility and No Extra Fees = Awesome!

I value these tickets at around $200/piece so I would say we got approximately $800 of value out of one single credit card sign up. Is this the best credit card perk I have ever received? No. But it is up there. Southwest points are really valuable!

I decided to get the Southwest card after I flew to Phoenix for a soccer tournament and realized what a great option they are. Their prices were good. The points they charge are usually reasonable compared to the general market. And the most important part to me and my family – Southwest tickets are ultra flexible. As long as you cancel or change your ticket within 10 Minutes of departure time there are no fees involved on Southwest. No fees – they just redeposit your points or refund your dollars. On United we would pay a $150 change fee each or over $100 to put our points back in our account if we were not taking that same route in the future. Flexibility rocks for Family Travel! 

One trick on Southwest – book your tickets as early as possible. I’ve found tickets for as low 5,500 points to travel Denver to Seattle or 7,000 points Denver to San Diego. Round trip for under 15,000 points – I’m in – but reserve them early! 

Do you like flying Southwest? Any tips or tricks for getting the most out of flying Southwest?

You Can Still “Google It” When Traveling Out Of The Country: Otherwise I’d be lost half the time!

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It’s hard to imagine life before Google Maps. Wondering how long it will take between one location and the other? Google it. Wondering how bad the traffic is? Google it. But what about when we are traveling and have limited data plans? Can you use Google then? Yes!

How To Use Google Maps With Limited Data

The great news is Google Maps can be used by turning on your data plan briefly. Googling your location and where you wish to go. Once Google has located you and your desired location then you can turn off data. Yup, just turn it off. Your phone has a GPS built in and even with data turned off you can still use the Google Map function to find your way around. It is like magic!

This past summer we were in Paris. I don’t know my way around Paris. I also don’t really like to be pulling out my map a lot and looking like a silly tourist. Though map reading is an important skill that I like to teach my kids, when I’m in a big city on foot I really like to know where I am. Even with a very limited data plan on my iPhone I used it to navigate by foot all around the city using the Google Map strategy outlined above. I felt so much more comfortable knowing I had Google Maps when I needed to cheat and take a look at where I was or where I was heading.

On the other hand getting “lost” together can be a big learning experience and a fun adventure for the whole family if you have the time and no one is melting down. So, maybe turn off Google Maps at times and get lost. Don’t worry about exactly where you are as long as you are all together. This is one of my favorite parts of family travel time!

How to you navigate around foreign cities these days? Are there other apps we should know about? 

#Travel #FamilyTravel #Paris #France #Kids #Families

Want To Get Out Of Town? How To Find “Last Minute” Spring Break Flight Options

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If you just realized that in a bit over a month your kids will be off school for a whole week [Spring Break] and you are dreaming of getting out of town with your crew, then this post is for you! If you are considering a beach vacation or visiting family and you need to find a flight I suggest trying Google Flights – http://www.gooogle.com/flights.

Google Flights is one of my favorite ways to find good flight deals. You cannot purchase flights at this site – but this powerful search engine finds you great flight options you can compare from many, many, many airlines. Then you just head over to the airline site and book your tickets out of town.

My city of origin is Denver and I used the search to look at North American flight options for my kids’ Spring Break which is the week of March 21. This is what I found when I searched in a very general way. It gets my creative travel ideas going…

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When I added the option of searching by the same dates and origin, but saying I want to go to a beach in North America this is what comes up. Again it gives me some great options and gets me thinking…

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Here is how you search for flights on Google Flights:

  1. Go to www.google.com/flights
  2. Enter your city of origin
  3. Fixed Dates and Travel Destination: If you know where you want to go enter your destination city and your dates of travel
  4. Fixed Dates but Open to Many Destinations: If you do not know where you want to go enter your dates of travel and scroll down to the map feature. Click on the map feature and you can see what your cost for travel will be. This is my favorite as it gives you lots of options.
  5. You can get more specific by listing general “Places” you want to go and/or your “Interests” for travel. You can also not if you want to travel for a specific duration.
  6. Try it out! It’s really cool. And it gets you thinking about your options for travel where ever you want to go…
  7. Have any questions about using Google Flights or searching for reasonable family travel options? Give me a shout at info@boulderfamilies.com

Happy Family Traveling! 

Zika Virus and Travel: What’s A Family To Do?

It is no secret that the CDC has issued a travel warning for pregnant women considering traveling to infected areas of the world. In fact many airlines are offering refunds for travelers wanting to change plans based on the Zika Virus. It’s not clear how Zika is impacting travel and specifically families who are traveling. It is clear that the virus is spreading rapidly and to some of my favorite places to travel!

Zika Infected Areas

The most infected areas are shown here:

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Zika infected areas include [but are not limited to]:

  1. Cape Verde
  2. Caribbean
  3. Central America
  4. South America
  5. Mexico
  6. Samoa

Infection and Prevention

It seems only 1 in 5 adults infected with the Zika Virus show symptoms which are reported to be flu-like. The biggest issue is for pregnant women because there Zika could increase the risk of birth defects in unborn children. But what about babies? Young kids? Teens? The list goes on.

Since Zika is transmitted by mosquitos it is important to prevent being bitten. How do you do that? Outside Magazine online has some great suggestions:

  1. Use repellents that contain at least 20% deet
  2. Cover up with clothing
  3. Stay inside at high mosquito times of day [dawn/dusk]
  4. Use permethrin-treated clothing

Also, Consumer Reports just published a review of mosquito repellents that best protect against Zika. These are all ways to control your exposure to mosquitos and Zika virus. And the CDC has plenty of reading on the issue including an CDC FAQ page.

Will Zika impact your family travel plans? 

 

Packing For Traveling With Kids

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Traveling with kids? Let the kids have some input and travel like a pro!

As soon as our kids could pull a suitcase or carry a backpack we always included them in the travel experience by having them take responsibility for at least some of their own gear. Especially in an airport this can make your life easier but be prepared to offer a hand if your child gets tired of carrying the items you’ve given them. My priority is to ensure they learn to love traveling not dogmatically make them carry their own gear.

Packing a Suitcase – Always pack things they like to wear. It’s no fun to have a suitcase full of clothing or shoes and have your child say they won’t wear them, so avoid this issue and pack what they like. Better yet, give them a list of things they need to pack [you can alter this list based on your child’s age/ability] and help them identify the items they love to wear – and pack those. Always pack an extra set of clothing and a little more warmth than they kids think they will need.

You can find child size suitcases at a local department store, Target, Amazon.com or at high end travel stores such as Patagonia.com. 

Packing a Backpack – The backpack has the items your kids need to have with them for comfort [e.g., a bankie or other cuddly toy for comfort] and for entertainment. The pack should be their size and fit comfortably. This is true if you are packing for a car ride or an airplane ride. When our kids were young we had things we always did for them like wrapping a few new toys for them to unwrap in the airplane. These can be simple, but engaging. Now we never leave the house for a trip without a sketchbook, art supplies, and an iPad [preferably loaded with a movie and some games since you cannot count on wifi on planes and certainly not in the car]. We also like to pack things like a hackysack or soccer ball for when we land or on a layover. Entertainment is key!

You can find child size backpacks at online retailers such as LLBean.com. I like these because they last forever! You can get fancy and have their initials or name embroidered on if you have time. The younger kids love this! 

Please share any packing and travel tips! Enjoy your family travels!