10 Things to Know Before Visiting the LEGOLAND California Water Park

As LEGOLAND California continues to grow, I’m finding that one day just isn’t enough. This is definitely a destination vacation spot for families! If you’re planning a visit to LEGOLAND California, consider adding an extra day or two to your visit. You’ll be able to spend time in the theme park itself, as well as the attached LEGOLAND Sealife Aquarium and LEGOLAND California Water Park. The water park has recently undergone an expansion and it’s a fantastic place to spend a warm day!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. My kids had been with their grandma but this was my first visit. I was really impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. I have a 15-month old, 5 year old and two 13-year olds and each of them enjoyed something different at the water park.

I’ve since been able to visit two more times and have truly enjoyed the visit. There are ample seating areas for those not wanting to swim. Areas are spread out to lessen the crowd impact. And I love the diversity of the play areas for a variety of ages.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

1. Locker Rentals and Changing Areas

You can’t wear your swimsuit inside the LEGOLAND theme park. In the mornings, I’d suggest wearing your suit under your clothing to enter the park. Once inside the water park you can easily remove your clothes, apply sunscreen and be quickly ready to swim!

After you’re done swimming and you need to walk into the theme park again, there are ample changing areas available. I like that I don’t have to stand in the toilet stall to change and that there are roomy private areas to change out of my wet suit.

I highly recommend renting a locker if you don’t have someone to watch your things. Don’t risk leaving your purse on an empty beach chair while you splash; get a locker instead so it’s safe inside.


2. Get Soaked (or Just a Little Wet)

Wanna get soaked? Stand under the Joker Soaker, where over 350 gallons of water drops from the clock tower overhead.

Don’t want to get submerged? At Eglor’s Build-a-Boat, guests can build a LEGO boat and set it free in the rushing water in a CHIMA display.

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

Joker Soaker dumps buckets of water!

3. Things for Families to Do Together

My three oldest kids (ages 5 to 13) enjoyed a good amount of time in the Lion Temple Wave Pool (over 42″ tall). My preschooler is a tall 46.5″ and the waves were still strong enough to knock him over. Take note if your younger kids aren’t swimming and make sure they’re wearing a life jacket.

The float on Orange Rush can hold four adults and two children (over 42″ tall).

Have a side by side water slide race on the Twin Chasers (over 42″ tall).

Build-a-Raft River. The idea of this lazy river is that you can collect the floating blocks in the water and add them to your raft. Unfortunately there are only a handful of blocks available. Best to just kick back and enjoy the ride!

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

The lazy river is my favorite!

4. Places for Babies and Toddlers

Duplo Splash Safari has shallow water that’s nice for wading. My baby was able to walk in the water while my preschooler went down the short water slides. There are even wide “family-sized” mini-water slides here so you can splash down together.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are complimentary life jackets for use in the parks. All babies are required to wear a swim diaper. If you forget to bring one with you, they do have a small gift shop that sells them.

Splash Zoo is specifically sized for babies and toddlers however there were older kids running around here on our visit. The spray from some of the fountains can be rather intense. As you can see, my toddler was none to happy about the sudden squirt!

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

5. Take Frequent Potty Breaks

Every few hours each of the sections will close. This allows guests to take a break, eat and use the restroom. Signs encourage parents to take their children for potty breaks. Even that might not be often enough, as they did have to close down one section for a “poop evacuation”…yuck! Kids under 3 need to wear swim diapers, so don’t forget to bring them!


Visiting with a Preschooler? Check out my post about LEGOLAND California on Traveling Mom.

6. Rent a Cabana

A total of 35 standard, premium and deluxe premium cabanas are located all over the LEGOLAND Water Park. Cost is dependent upon the season and can be found HERE.Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

7. Surfers’ Cove is Coming Soon

Opening very soon is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides and enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon.

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.


Check out this post for 5 reasons to plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

8. Swimming Makes Me Hungry!

Big appetite? There are some truly tasty and hearty dishes to order here. I had a chicken and avocado burrito on my last visit and it was big and delicious.

When Surfers’ Cove opens you can eat like native Southern Californians at the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Legoland California hosts Brick or Treat Party Nights during Halloween.

9. Park Hours & Ticket Information

Hours of the LEGOLAND Water Park vary, depending upon the season. Be sure to check the guide to make sure it will be open when planning your visit.

Unfortunately there is only one entrance to the LEGOLAND Water Park and it requires a regular LEGOLAND theme park ticket to enter. This means you can’t plan a visit only to the water park. You’ll need a theme park admission to get to the water park. Upgrading your theme park ticket to included the water park is $30.

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

10. What to Bring with You (And What to Leave at Home)

Bring:

  • Your swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Flip-flops (especially important when you need to use the restroom!)
  • Wet/Dry bag to hold suits when you go into the theme park
  • Water shoes are allowed (except on slides).

Leave:

  • Beach chair
  • Umbrella
  • Outside food

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!


For more great water parks,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Phone Camera Tips for Capturing Your Best Shots

Everyone’s taking lots of pictures with their phone cameras. Naturally your phone is easy to carry with you, especially when traveling. And you can share images immediately on social media which is always fun! When traveling light, I leave my bulky DSLR camera at home and rely solely on my phone camera to take pictures. Here are a few tips for capturing your best shots on your phone camera.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Taking the Best Shots on Your Phone Camera

We’ve all seen some truly fantastic phone camera shots that look like they were taken with a “fancy camera”. And we’ve seen the out of focus, smudgy and too dark/overly bright cell phone shares too. Here are some phone camera tips for taking the best shots! All of these pictures were taken with my Android, Samsung Galaxy S6.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

So happy I had my camera with me to capture this first taste of a Dole Whip at the Polynesian!

Clean the Lens

That’s a no-brainer when using your regular camera, but often forgotten with your phone camera. Use a lens cloth to clean up smudges for the most crisp images. In a pinch, the edge of your shirt will do.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos at Disneyland during Halloween time.

Getting in Focus

Getting that beautiful bokeh (or blurred background) is easy with your cell phone camera! Simply tap the spot on the screen that you want to be in the most clear focus before you snap the picture. Having the item close to the camera will create that lovely bokeh in the background.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Adjust Brightness Manually Before You Shoot

Things looking too dark or overly bright? Just before taking a photo, adjust the brightness manually. Simply touch your cell phone screen and slide your finger either right or left to brighten or darken your shot. My phone has a little light bulb icon that pops up on the screen to indicate brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

The sun was overly bright on this day at the Wyndham in Disney World. I adjusted brightness before taking the shot.

Turn Off the Flash (or Diffuse It)

Sometimes lighting is lower than you like but always try to resist using your cell phone camera flash. The flash can create some intense shadows, hot spots and maybe even completely blacken out the background of the image. Instead of using your flash, concentrate on holding the camera very still by propping your arms or using a travel tripod.

Another option is to diffuse the flash (especially helpful when photographing food in a dimly lit restaurant). Hold a paper napkin over the flash on the camera to lessen the strength.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

I wanted to capture the entire scene behind the Dole Whip cup so I didn’t use the manual focus for this shot inside the Polynesian.

Night Shots

I find that I can capture better night shots with my cell phone camera than I can with my regular camera. One tip is to hold your phone very steady. For this shot of the Disneyland Hotel pool area at night, I held my elbows on a railing so I didn’t wiggle the camera when I took the picture. Use the brightness feature sparingly to lighten things up as you wish.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Dark scenes that are far away aren’t going to show up well. You’ll need to get up close to the item and make sure that it’s fairly well lit. Also items that are moving quickly in the dark are going to blur if you try to photograph them. Aim to shoot items that are still or moving slowly and very well lit, like the float in the Paint the Night Parade (featured image at the top).

 

Crop Later Instead of Using Zoom

Zooming on your cell phone camera is going to make you photo look very pixilated and/or blurry. Better to take the photo as you see it and then crop later.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.

Don’t zoom! Better to crop the image later.

Sharing on Instagram

If you’re taking a photo specifically for Instagram, set up the shot ahead of time to best fit their square frame. You don’t want to have to crop out your favorite part of the picture to make it fit into the frame for Instagram. I wanted to capture not only my kids in this photo but the sandy beach and the hotel behind them so I took a wide shot and then cropped for Instagram.

 

Snapseed

Rather than using the same ol’ filters on Instagram that everyone else is using, edit your photos in Snapseed. This free app allows you to simply crop, brighten or sharpen images. Or you can get as complicated as you would in Photoshop on your desktop with curves and healing tools. Except that Snapseed is totally easy to use!

I used Snapseed on this shot at Port Orleans Riverside, including white balance and brightness.

Want to take the best cell phone pictures? These tips for phone cameras will have you capturing the best images.


For more Disney photo tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolGoals #CollectiveBias

My 3 kids are excited to be headed back to school, are yours? They can’t wait to see their friends, start in a new grade and yes, even learn something new (Self-discipline runs high in those first few weeks of school and I try to take advantage of that!) Stocked with fresh school supplies, the kids are organized with assignments. They’re on top of their school paperwork and planning new projects. I’m on my game too, keeping a tidy calendar of events and going through the paperwork like a pro.

And then sometime in mid-October, energy wanes. Interest drops and sameness sets in. The school supplies aren’t so fresh anymore and motivation for school is POOF…gone! With three kids starting school in the fall, I’m looking for ways to keep my kids resolute on their school goals. Motivation leads to strong habits for a lifetime. And truly, that’s my ultimate goal as a mom: Raising independent people who can stick to their goals with minimal reminder from me.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation for School

I have one child starting kindergarten and two teens in their final year of junior high. Setting goals and having small reminders help my kids stay motivated year-round. I find that I’m more likely to accomplish my goals when I write them down. There’s just something about seeing those goals day after day in my own handwriting that helps me stick to it!

This year I’m helping my kids get set for success by having them write down their goals before school begins. I’m encouraging them to stretch beyond the basics and truly extend and reach farther than they have before.

Coming Up with #BackToSchoolGoals

Keeping motivation high year-round is a challenge and kids need frequent reminders. Rather than the nagging “Mom voice”, I’m letting my kids come up with their own school goals. This is something they can foster themselves, with their own words and objectives.

Here are a few motivation goals for school that my kids came up with:

  • Clean out backpack each night after school
  • Prepare clothes, backpack and lunch the night before
  • Get to bed no later than 9 pm
  • Read at least 30 minutes each night before bed
  • Speak up in class and try to answer questions (even if we don’t always have the right answer)
  • Wake up early enough to have time for breakfast and getting ready without rushing
  • Aim not to miss any days of school
  • Remember to bring home physical education clothes at the end of the week
  • Complete extra credit assignments if offered
  • Organize folder and paperwork each week
  • Greet teachers and peers and make new friends
  • Limit free time at home with tablets and video games

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Writing Down Motivation Goals for School

Since I know that writing down goals helps develop good habits for a lifetime, I’ve created a FREE PRINTABLE: Motivation Goals for School. Kids can fill in their school year goals. This motivational worksheet can be referred to all school year. Use this free printable with your kids to help them write down their own school goals.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

In anticipation of the school year, I stopped at Walmart and I picked up the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches in a 50-pack. For some reason I always thought that a laminating machine would be really expensive, but it’s so reasonably priced (and now I can’t stop thinking about all the things in my house I want to laminate!) You can find these items in the back-to-school supplies section.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

I laminated my son’s school goals with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator. After he was done with the goal sheet we simply slide it into the Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouch. When the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator was warm and ready (a blue light indicator goes on), we slid the pouch in place and the machine did the rest!

We three-hole punched it and placed it where he’ll see it every day, in the front of his binder. This consistent reminder to my kids of their original goals is going to help them stay on track!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

More Motivation Reminders All Over the House

I have several motivational phrases in my home, including favorite Bible quotes. Seeing them daily and repeating them either in my head or out loud keeps me calm and centered. I like being surrounded by positive encouragements.

I created this trio of motivational quotes and printed them out. I’ve laminated them with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and will be tacking them on the walls of each of the kid’s rooms. With two of them in their final year of junior high, I want to fill them up with as much positive energy as I can before they start high school!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                      #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                           #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

FREE PRINTABLES: What Others Are Doing (orange), You Can If You Think You Can (blue)Motivation and Habits (green)

I frequently use Post-it® Notes around the house as motivational reminders. Seeing what I’ve written day after day really helps me soak in the affirmations. Strategically placed Post-it® notes with an uplifting message for the kids help keep them focused on their school goals.

I usually have my Post-it® Notes messages on the bathroom mirror. Consider placing motivation reminders where kids will see them frequently, like on a cereal box for the morning or inside their lunch box.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation Leads to Habit

Once kids are motivated, making something a regular habit will truly ingrain it into their routine. Since I was a child I’ve always taken a few minutes before bed to choose my clothes and prep for the next day. I have my kids do the same by getting outfits ready, putting their shoes and backpacks in the garage and we run through the next day’s calendar.

There are no last minute scrambles in the morning because we have a great habit of setting things up the night before. This daily preparation is now a habit that keeps me on track each day and sets up a calm and organized morning.

Another good habit is to keep binders and paperwork organized. Use of Post-it® Page Markers and Post-it® Flags Page Flags with crucial items tabbed saves time when trying to find assignments or important papers.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

What motivational goals are you setting up with your kids now in the hopes they will turn into habits? What #BackToSchoolGoals would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!

Tips for Kids to Enjoy Walt Disney World Playgrounds

Working downtime into your Disney vacation schedule can benefit everyone in the family. When you’re not in the Parks, take time to enjoy the amenities like the pool, resort activities and the playgrounds. Allowing kids time to play lets them burn off extra energy. The various themed playgrounds available at many of the Walt Disney World resort hotels let kids do what they do best! Here are a few kid-tested tips to enjoying the Disney World playgrounds.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Walt Disney World Resort Playgrounds

Playground structures are located at many of the resort hotels and are intended for kids aged 2-12. On my last Disney World trip I had my preschooler with me. I made sure we spent time at the resort playground each day. I found that he was much more cooperative about waiting in lines inside the Parks when he’d had the free play time!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids will love The Dig Site at Disney’s Caribbean Beach, with several areas to play.

Not all of the Disney World Resorts have a playground. Here’s a list of those that do:

  • All-Star Movies Resort
  • All-Star Music Resort
  • All-Star Sports Resort
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Art of Animation Resort
  • BoardWalk Inn
  • BoardWalk Villas
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Coronado Springs Resort
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Pop Century Resort
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel

What to Expect at Disney World Resort Playgrounds

Some of the playgrounds are more elaborate than others. Certain playgrounds are themed to the resort. Other playgrounds look like they’d be at your local park. Most will have some kind of climbing equipment, bars for hanging and slides.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

The Disney World playground at Fort Wilderness is under a canopy of trees.

During my visits (late spring) the playgrounds didn’t have a lot of kids. I’d expect that during busier seasons, there might be more activity. If your kids are anything like mine, they prefer when the playground has other children to play with! Check the times posted on when the playground is open (they generally close at dusk).

Some play areas at Disney World are under shade and others are out in the open. Play structure equipment can get really hot in the sunshine. Be sure to check before letting your child play.

There seems to be a good number of benches and seating for adults around the playgrounds. But of course, sit where you can supervise your kids!

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Coronado Spring’s Disney World playground is Mayan-themed like the resort.

Just Add Water!

A few of the pool areas at the Resorts also have interactive play structures. Kids can climb, splash, spray and stay cool. Many have height restrictions which limit use to preschool age or young elementary. These play structures are nicely suited for little ones who aren’t comfortable with full swimming pools or can’t yet swim.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Elaborate pirate-themed water play structure at Disney’s Caribbean Beach

Other Places to Play

No playground? No problem! Many of the resorts have areas for kids to play or simply run around. Always be considerate of noise (especially if the location is near hotel room windows and/or it’s particularly early in the day). And of course observe all rules, stay out of flower beds and take heed of signs that restrict access.

Kids can run and do cartwheels on the lawn at Beach Club.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

No playground? Let kids run on the grass (so long as there’s no sign restricting it)

There’s a game of corn hole in the bus waiting area at Port Orleans Riverside.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

A game of corn hole at Port Orleans Riverside

Many hotels, like Coronado Springs Resort have sandy beach areas.

Disney World playgrounds and water play structures at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels in Orlando are another way for kids to play!

Kids enjoy playing in the sandy beach at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Do you have a favorite play area at Disney World? Share with me in the comments!


For more play areas for kids at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


 

Painted Rocks Project – How Rocks Get My Kids Active in Community

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

How can painted rocks make kids more active? And could painted rocks create a culture of kindness? My city started a painted rocks project that has everyone young and old getting out in the community to hide and find painted rocks of all styles and sizes. Find out more about how you can paint rocks or even start this project in your own area.

Painted Rocks Project #SanteeRocks

It started on a walk to the park. We found the painted rock on a park bench. One side of the rock had the word “DREAM”. The backside said, “Post a picture on #SanteeRocks FB page then rehide”.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Our first painted rock find!

The Santee Rocks Facebook page description states, “Santee Rocks began with the sole purpose of spreading joy, kindness, and a sense of community through creativity and was inspired by the Whidbey Island Rocks Facebook Group. The goal is to paint rocks and then hide them in various locations to bring joy to the finder”. 

 Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Getting Kids Active with Painted Rocks

Hardly a day goes by without my son requesting that we go on a walk to look for Santee Rocks. He knows exactly how many he’s found over the last few months (26).

And when my son does find a rock, he shows it proudly to anyone passing by before finding a perfect hiding spot. I’m seeing him be less shy and more conversational.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

This patriotic rock was found (along with a Susan B. Anthony coin) on the Fourth of July!

While my daughter isn’t as likely to chat it up she’s enjoys showing off her artistic side by painting rocks to hide. All the kids love to see the rocks that they’ve painted being shared on the Facebook page.

Painted Rocks of Your Own – Host a Painting Party!

Ready to paint your own rocks? Gather up a few inexpensive supplies and get creative! Use your inspiration from anywhere. We’ve seen some incredibly beautiful rocks on our Facebook page. And we’ve found some rocks that were probably painted by 2-year olds! Doesn’t matter. Each time my son finds a rock, he’s thrilled, no matter what it looks like.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!  Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

You’ll need rocks, of course. Smooth river stones can be purchased if you don’t have rocks in your yard to use. There were some issues in our community when people were taking rocks from in front of shops to use for painting. Don’t steal rocks! Use your own or buy them.


Collect a variety of acrylic paints and paintbrushes. Use big brushes for covering the entire rock with paint and thinner brushes for details. A paint palette is a mess-free place to hold and mix colors (or use a paper plate for quick clean up).


You’ll need a permanent marker, like a Sharpie to write instructions on the back. Sealant is a must otherwise your artwork will wash away if the rock gets wet. Extra items could include a painting smock and a table drop cloth.


Starting Your Own Painted Rocks Group

If you think that your own community would benefit from something fun like this painted rock project, consider starting it up in your own area. Start off by enlisting friends to create their own painted rocks to hide. Start a Facebook group and things should get rolling from there. Our community site has over 10K followers!

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Dad found this painted rock and brought it home for my son to hide the next day.

Basic Painted Rocks Rules – (adapted from #SanteeRocks Facebook group)

  • If you find a painted rock that you can’t bear to part with, please keep it. Replace it with one of your own creations.
  • Coat rocks with a sealer for longevity.
  • Do not decorate rocks with glue-on accessories. These decorations will eventually fall off and become litter and a hazard to wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to the environment, stay on all trails, and do not hunt in protected habitats.
  • Do not hide rocks inside businesses
  • We encourage you to take rocks to other towns, states or countries to hide and share. This is a kindness project, and kindness has no boundaries!

  


For more on activities and ways to beat summer boredom,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


No Painful Feet! How to Find Foot Comfort in Your New Shoes

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

I hate shoe shopping. Okay, so I know I’m in the minority and lots of ladies love to buy new shoes. But I don’t. I HATE getting new shoes because it means I have to try them on, break them in and suffer through the pain and discomfort of new shoes. The thought of painful feet is enough for me to avoid buying new shoes. So I stick with the worn out and broken in shoes I already own. I’m on the hunt for foot comfort, especially when I know I’ll be traveling and walking a lot!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you! I’ve received complimentary product for some of the items reviewed in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Painful Feet? Try These Tips

  1. Compression Socks
  2. Open-toed shoes
  3. Shoes that don’t require “breaking in”
  4. Stick with what works for you
  5. Inserts

Compression Socks

Several years ago my husband and I flew overnight to Europe. It was my first long-haul flight and I made the mistake of taking off my shoes and putting on cozy socks while I slept. When it was time to get off the plane, I had to cram my swollen feet back into my shoes. By the time we reached the taxi I had blisters on every toe, across my heel and several of my toe nails were broken! Not the best start to a 10-day trip.

The next time I flew long distance you can believe I was wearing compression socks! I’ll be honest: I always thought that compression socks were for “old people” or if you were in the hospital and couldn’t exercise. But these adorable patterned socks from Vim & Vigr changed my mind (they are so cute!)

These nylon compression socks from Vim & Vigr have a multi-dimensional weave and 400-needle count that allow for comfort, flexibility, and breathability. They even offer socks for wide calves.

I hear that compression socks are great if you’re running (not that I’d know about that!) I’ve worn the Vim & Vigr socks on each flight since and no blisters or broken toe nails after flying again!

Vim & Vigr 15-20 mmHg Graduated Compression Socks – Nylon Collection – M – Cream & Black

Why I Gravitate Towards Sandals

After the birth of my last baby I realized that my feet had grown along with my belly! In fact I now have one foot that is over a half-size larger than the other foot – how annoying is that?! And it makes it nearly impossible to purchase certain shoe styles. I suffer with having one shoe too tight or the other flopping off.

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My 7 1/2 months pregnant feet walked the Disney parks in Crocs!

That’s why I tend to choose sandals over any other shoe type. Fortunately I live in Southern California, where I can wear sandals 75% of the year! Here are a few of my favorite sandal choices that are comfortable for long distance walking. I discuss more sandal options in my post, Best Shoes for Disney Parks – Why I Love Sandals! 


Comfortable Shoes for Kids (No Breaking In Period!)

I’ve been purchasing pediped shoes for nearly 6 years. They were my son’s very first pair of shoes. When I saw how comfortable they were for him and how much he enjoyed walking in pediped, they quickly became the only pair of shoes I would buy for him. It’s a happy day for him when he sees a box from pediped in the mail!


When I first found out I was having a baby girl, a pair of pedipeds Originals was one of my first purchases! They are the shoes she took her first steps in and I’ll be putting them into her keepsake box. Any other shoes she outgrows will be gifted forward to another child. We’ve handed down my son’s outgrown pedipeds to his cousins.

If painful feet stop kids from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My kids wearing their pedipeds at Walt Disney World.

I’ll be honest about the price because it might be more than you’re used to paying. Many people will not pay a high price for kids shoes, preferring to buy cheaper shoes. I’d much rather purchase something of high quality that is comfortable for my child, supports her feet and won’t fall apart or look worn after just a few wearings. My kids only have 2 or 3 pairs of pediped shoes and rotate between them (instead of a dozen pairs of “cheap” shoes).

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My son in his Flex Sahara Red sandals at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

Because many pedipeds are washable they uphold their look. And the high crafted quality means they last and last. My son is currently wearing pediped sandals he had last summer and they still look in perfect condition!


My only complaint? That my eldest daughter is now 13 and has outgrown them! I’ve only bought her pediped shoes for the last five years. She has one foot that rolls inward, causing shoes to get a hole in them after just a few wearings. Pediped is the only brand that we’ve found that will hold her foot solidly upright and not to roll. pediped footwear has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of healthy foot development.

Stick with What Works

I legit own 8 pairs of shoes total. Four of these shoes are exact duplicates of each other, just in different color schemes. I know what works for my feet so I tend to purchase two at a time.

I gave up a long time ago trying to wear regular high heels. Now if I’m dressing up I wear my favorite crocs Women’s Leigh Ankle Strap Wedge Sandal. I have them in oatmeal and black and they’re versatile enough to wear with either a dress or jeans. And the best part is that I can actually dance and walk comfortably all night in them (and not revert to the barefoot walk back to the car at the end of the night!)

If you have a favorite shoe, next time buy two so you can switch out between them!

Comfort Aids for Inside Shoes

Adding extra support where your foot needs it is a great way to get comfy. A little lift here, a little cushion there and your foot pain can be greatly relieved. I recently tried Silipos Active gel products. These conform to your body reducing friction, abrasion and burning sensations during high impact activities.

I tried Silipos Active Ball of Foot Gel Cushions. Slip the loop around one of your toes and the cushion rests underneath, covered by a sock. These cushions are so thin I wondered if they’d make a difference. I tested them on a 5 mile hike we took across concrete and gravel. I could really tell the difference after walking as I didn’t have the usual ache in my foot bones that I usually do after walking on that type of terrain.

Ever worn a pair of flip-flops when the center post cut into your toes? That is just the worst! Silipos Active Sandal Toe Protectors slips over that post to cushion between the toes.

How do you counteract painful feet? Share in the comments!

Gifts for Father’s Day that Dads Really Want!

What are the gifts for Father's Day that Dads really want to receive?

Stop right there with the tie. Put down the funny patterned boxer shorts. And a money clip? No, thank you. Most Dads don’t really want any of those gifts for Father’s Day. So what does Dad want? Besides sleeping in and full control of the television remote, these are the gifts for Father’s Day that will make Dad happy!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Gifts for Father’s Day

I’ll be honest, we don’t usually buy my husband anything for Father’s Day. He’s really hard to please and always says he doesn’t “need anything”. I thought hard about the things that would make him happy and this is the bomb list that would totally make his day. (I also asked him specifically what he’d like to receive!) Check out these gifts for Father’s Day that will truly make him smile.

Shower Products That Aren’t Girly

My husband not-so-secretly loves a good soap. He wants to get the grime, sweat and stink off but he doesn’t want an overpowering scent after he gets out of the shower. He’s partial to the hard-milled natural and organic soap bars from the market. I think he’d really enjoy these vegan soaps that are more “manly” scented – Beer Soap Gift Set of 4 Bars and Three-Pack of Activated Charcoal Bar Soap, Handmade & Natural Vegan Soap

   

Key Chain That Helps Dad Locate His Keys (and Wallet) (and Phone)

My husband is forever misplacing things. They’re not LOST he says, he just can’t remember where he last set them down. I’m totally buying him these! The slim design means you can slip them inside your wallet or hook them to a key ring. Use the app on your phone to send a message to the Tile tracker and a loud noise will sound so Dad can find his stuff. Can’t find his phone? Press one of the Tile trackers and his phone will ring (even if it’s on silent mode). – Tile Mate & Slim Combo 4-Pack

Comfy Lounging Clothes

As soon as my husband comes home he takes off his heavy work pants, showers and slips into comfy clothes. It’s flannel in chilly weather and knit when it’s warmer. He likes the ComfortSoft brand because they have a comfortable drawstring. Plain Tagless Hanes tees are a favorite as well –Hanes Men’s Cotton ComfortSoft Printed Knit Pants and Hanes Men’s ComfortSoft Tagless Tees.

Cell Phone Charger (Because He Almost Always Forgets to Plug in His Phone)

I plug my husband’s cell phone into the charger every night before I go to bed. He’s an early riser and usually heads to bed without remembering to plug in the phone. If I’m not home, he doesn’t always remember to charge before going to bed. He needs this charger to keep in his glove box so he’ll be able to recharge on his work lunch break!-  Anker PowerCore 10000

Something That Lets Him Jump into Summer

My husband loves the water (while I’m more of a land-lubber). I do enjoy sitting pool side though, watching him swim and play with the kids! I buy Lands’ End swimwear for all of us, Dad included. And a swim tee means I don’t have to use half a bottle of sunscreen lotioning his back! – Lands’ End Men’s Swim Trunks and Swim Tee

Books with Subjects that Your Guy Likes

My husband isn’t a reader. However there are a few subjects he enjoys that I think he’d crack open a book for. Think about your husband’s favorite interests (mine loves exercise, being outdoors and cleaning…yes, really!).

The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible: 101 Best Workouts to Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Sculpt Your Best Body Ever!, Best of The Total Outdoorsman: 508 Skills: Featuring Field & Stream’s All-Time Greatest Hints and Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home.

  

Polarized Sunglasses

This is the most expensive item on the list but if well cared for, a good pair of sunglasses can last a long time. The Maui Jim brand are my husband’s favorite. He says they are very comfortable and stay on his face, even when he leans forward. He liked the polarized lenses (as a fisherman, he can see clearly past the water glare at the fish in the water) –Maui Jim – Five Caves – Polarized Lenses

Something Yummy That Dad Doesn’t Have to Share (Unless He Wants To!)

My husband has a chocolate sweet tooth! Chocolate is one of his few indulgences and See’s Candies is his favorite. He prefers the dark chocolate so I graciously take care of the milk chocolate candies so he can just eat the dark 🙂 – See’s Candies Father’s Day Gifts

 
For more Father’s Day gift ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


5 Reasons to Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

We’ve been LEGOLAND California guests since shortly after the park opened in 1999. I appreciate that it’s a park for a good variety of ages, with places for toddlers to roam, rides geared just for preschoolers and adventures for older kids too. These are my 5 reasons why I think you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Why You Should Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

Like the versatile LEGO play sets, the LEGOLAND California park is constantly reinventing itself. Over the last few years LEGOLAND has been consistently adding new and exciting pieces to their theme park. New sections like Ninjago World, Star Wars to Miniland USA and LEGO Friends Heartlake City have rejuvenated areas of the park. Additions to the resort like Sea Life Aquarium. LEGOLAND water park and the Resort hotel make LEGOLAND California a true family vacation destination.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Waiting for the water park to open at LEGOLAND California

1. LEGOLAND Water Park

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. I was so impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. There is a Duplo-inspired Splash Safari and Splash Zoo for toddlers & preschoolers. My kids liked the wide “family-sized” short water slides here. There are plenty of big-kid water slides too with lots of interactive ways to get wet. I’m partial to floating in the Build-a-Raft River.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The size of the LEGOLAND water park is impressive as well, with the addition of the Chima section. This includes a more slides and the Lion Temple Wave Pool. And the water park is about to get even bigger!

Opening next month is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides, enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon and enlighten their taste buds with the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.

The LEGOLAND Water Park is open seven days a week starting Friday, May 26 2017.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

2. LEGOLAND Hotel and Castle Expansion

My older two kids stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel with their grandma a few years ago and I’m jealous! This hotel is jam-packed with fun (if a disco-ball in the elevator and a treasure hunt in the room is any indication!) Check out this enormous pirate play house in the hotel lobby.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

This big pirate ship play area is inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel lobby

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has already broken ground and is slated to open in 2018. Given the popularity of the LEGOLAND Hotel, I’d expect this new hotel to be equally fantastic!

3. LEGO Fun for Babies

With all the bright colors and interactive elements, LEGOLAND California includes things for baby as well. Sweet and slow rides like Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise are appropriate for baby to enjoy. There are baby-friendly splash pad areas in Pirate Shores and Heartlake City (just be sure to bring swim diapers & a towel).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are some rides that I would have thought would be okay for babies to go on (like Safari Trek) but my 14-month old wasn’t tall enough. Make sure you check the height requirements before getting in line.

My baby’s favorite place in all of LEGOLAND is Duplo Playtown. She enjoyed walking around the playhouses, playing with the blocks and riding the LEGOLAND Express train. My preschooler was able to climb and explore in this area as well.

Book a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel and you can return to the room mid-day for a nap then return to the park later in the day.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Riding the LEGO Express Train in Fun Town

4. The Perfect Park for Preschoolers

Coastersaurus is a great first roller coaster. Mia’s Riding Camp is a cute carousel. Every preschooler loves the Royal Joust which takes kiddos on a LEGO horse ride through the “countryside”. Junior Driving School is a can’t-miss attraction for kids 3-5 (they can drive their own LEGO car!)

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers will love to drive their own car at LEGOLAND California Junior Driving School.

I love that there are places in many of the queue for little ones to play with LEGO blocks while parents wait in line. You can simply scoop up your kids before boarding the ride!

The 4D movie experiences are short films that preschoolers will delight in (3D glasses and quirky interactive moments will make preschoolers giggle!) Leave time in your day for a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. This area is nicely geared for preschoolers, with plenty of hands-on activities in this LEGO-splashed space.

Check out my TravelingMom post for all the reasons to take preschoolers to LEGOLAND.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers can gallop on a LEGO horse at LEGOLAND California

5. Stuff for LEGO-Loving Tweens and Teens

My teens love taking in all the brick-by-brick details of Miniland USA. The Star Wars section is of particular interest! The scenes replicated from each of the Star Wars movies are crazy-detailed and impressive (1.5 million LEGO bricks were used!)

There aren’t any wild thrill rides at LEGOLAND California but unique and clever wins over thrills in my book (The Technic Coaster, Knight’s Tournament and Ninjago the Ride are all cool for tweens & teens).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

LEGOLAND California features amazing Star Wars displays in Miniland

LEGOLAND California is also a foodie paradise as far as theme parks go. There are a great variety of flavors represented here, from Japanese style ramen bowls, smokehouse ribs and Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches. Of course there are the traditional pizza and burgers too. For dessert Granny’s Apple Fries are a can’t-miss. Your tweens & teens could happily eat there way around the park and be quite content!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel

Have you ever been to LEGOLAND California? Would you consider a vacation here? Share in the comments!

 

7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

Adjusting to Changes When Traveling with Kids

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Traveling with kids is rewarding for parent & child alike!

My family doesn’t leave home very often. Yes, I’m a travel writer for TravelingMom.com but most of our “vacations” are only one or two days and very close to home (that’s why I’m the Day Trips TMOM!) There are many considerations to make in schedules when traveling with kids, whether short or long distance.

Traveling with Kids

In the course of 30 days, my family and I had two scheduled vacations where we were gone from home a total of 16 days. As adults, we can likely adjust just fine to that kind of schedule variance. In many cases, we relish a break from our usual daily grind! But for kids, the changes in their daily routine can make things a little rough. They’re in new surroundings, away from their home and what they’re familiar with. Perhaps there is a time zone difference. And all the new people and faces they’re seeing and meeting can be confusing. Here are a few things we learned on our recent travels that I wanted to share in case they help next time you’re traveling with kids.

As an HP Smart Mom Panel member, I receive products, promotional items & educational material to use and share as I see fit. However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

1. Bring Something Special from Home

Allowing your child to pack one special something can help ease travel anxiety. My son’s rainbow blankie is a frequent travel companion for road trips. A favorite bedtime book that can be read in the hotel room is another must-have. A small favorite toy (like a race car or a doll) can occupy kids and give them a connection of home. Help them choose one special thing (hopefully small!) that they can bring with them on the trip.

2. Aim to Keep Kids on Their Usual Schedule

I recently traveled with my 5 year old and 13-month old from San Diego to Orlando. I had the idea that I would keep the kids on California time and not change them to the three hour time difference. That meant my kids would be staying up till 11 pm and sleeping in until 9 am.

Thank goodness, it worked! My kids stuck to their California time schedule, which meant staying up very late and sleeping in.  Not only did I keep their sleep times the same but we stuck with a Pacific coast dining time schedule as well. This meant we were usually eating dinner at 9 pm EST! It totally worked for my kids and our travel schedule.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Eating late-night pizza in the hotel Just sticking to our at-home schedule!

The key for us was staying in a hotel with blackout curtains so the kids could sleep in. I also made sure to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so the kids weren’t awakened by hotel staff wanting to clean the room.

3. Remind Kids of Familiar Faces with Photographs

When traveling with my little ones I like to bring photos. Photographs of loved ones can spark conversation and help with sadness over missing someone while away from home.

When my two littlest children traveled with me cross-country to Orlando, I made albums that included photos of their Dad and older siblings who didn’t come on the trip. These softback albums cost about a dollar and can be personalized with your own printed front cover. Include simple photos like a picture of your house, their bedroom or even a favorite toy that was left behind.My preschooler wanted pictures of his teacher and friends from school.  I’ve also made the albums for my husband and I to take with when we’ve traveled without our children. It’s a “brag book” of sorts, so we could show fellow travelers our brood left at home.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Printing at home couldn’t be easier! My HP printer, Snapshots app & Instant Ink give me photos in a minute.

Print Photos at Home

How many photos do you have in your phone that have never been seen? Printing them out doesn’t require a lot of work. Good printer paper, a full color cartridge and your at-home printer are all you need. My new HP Envy 7640 prints photographs like a dream!

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Sweet memories at the Beach Club pool at Walt Disney World

I’m having fun with the HP Social Media Snapshots app and the coordinating photo paper sheets. You can print them off at home then take them on vacation with you. The back of the 4 x 5″ photo paper is stickable.

Simply peel off the backing, place the Snapshots wherever you want (in the car, a bathroom mirror in the hotel room, on your laptop, etc) and then pop them off easily without any damage. And since most of my photos are taken on my smart phone, I love that I can easily share and print from my mobile device straight to my printer.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

With the Instant Ink program I’ve never run out of ink mid-project. At a cost of $2.99 a month I receive 50 pages. My printer “talks” to HP and lets them know when my ink is low.  I get a new ink cartridge in the mail and never have to go to the store or figure out which ink cartridge I need. Sign up via my HP Instant Ink link & you’ll receive a month for free.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

What are the ways you adjust to changes while traveling with kids?