SoCal Guide – San Diego Zoo with Kids and Families

As a San Diego native, my family and I have been going to the San Diego Zoo since I was a baby! The park has changed immensely over the years but some things have remained constant throughout. The San Diego Zoo has always been a place for learning, fun and unique experiences. It’s always safe, clean and well-kept – the ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon in San Diego. These are my tips for visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids.

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

This post was originally published Oct 17th, 2014

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

San Diego Zoo with Kids – SoCal Guide Overview

At a vast 100 acres, the San Diego Zoo is a sprawling paradise in the middle of the city. Plenty has evolved at the zoo over the years including a move away from isolated cages towards lush, natural exhibits that mimic that animal’s habitat. The Zoo is one of the must see things in San Diego.

The San Diego Zoo is a pleasurable outdoor experience that takes all day to properly explore. It is home to around 3500 rare and endangered animals of more than 650 species (the largest collection of species in the world). It also boasts a gorgeous botanical collection with 700,000+ plants.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

San Diego Zoo Guide

My San Diego Zoo with kids guide tips will help you properly plan your day. The park can be a challenge to navigate, with so much ground to cover. There are also varied elevations so unless you’re up for a long hike, you’ll want to know how to properly see everything. Start your planning by looking at the park map and plot out your day. It is quite possible to see all of the exhibits in one day. You’ll have to stay from morning to night and not linger too long in any one place. You’ll also probably walk 4 miles to cover the entire Zoo!

Zoo Location: The San Diego Zoo is located in the heart of Balboa Park. This 1200 acre park features museums, walking trails and gardens.

Tickets: San Diego Zoo tickets might be higher cost than you’re used to for local zoos. However this zoo is a non-profit and all proceeds go towards the animals. I recommend pre-purchasing discount tickets ahead of time. You can purchase discounted San Diego Zoo vacation packages or just Zoo tickets on the Get Away Today website. You can also purchase zoo tickets at the booths but you will pay full price.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Buy tickets from Get Away Today for the best pricing!

What Should You Bring to the Zoo?

The Zoo is located in downtown San Diego and it can be chilly and windy during the winter and spring. The Skyfari ride can be especially cold. Bring a lightweight jacket or sweatshirt. A considerable amount of the park offers large tree shade protection but you should still pack your sunscreen. While it might be overcast early in the day, the sun often peeks out after noon and it may get very hot.

Parking: 

Parking at the San Diego Zoo is totally FREE! There is a very large lot in front of the park, however during busy seasons, it does fill up. You can also seek parking elsewhere in Balboa Park and then walk to the Zoo.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and what NOT to miss!

Is Outside Food Allowed at the San Diego Zoo?

The San Diego Zoo allows outside food so feel free to bring a picnic lunch, bottled water and whatever snacks you need for the day.

Security Checks:

While most San Diego area theme parks will check your packages, backpacks and purses before park entry, there are no such security inspections at the San Diego Zoo.

Rides at the San Diego Zoo

There are many ways to explore the San Diego Zoo. Guests can take a 35-minute Guided Bus Tour on double-decker buses that give a good overview of the Zoo. There is also the option of the “Kangaroo” Express Bus that stops at several locations for guests to access different areas. The Guided Bus Tour & Kangaroo Bus is included in your admission price.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Also included in the Zoo admission is unlimited rides on the Skyfari Aeriel Tram. This ride will transport you quickly across the Zoo to the higher regions and you can work your way back downhill. I love this amazing view of the city and Balboa Park museums over the lush treetops of the zoo!

Tips for San Diego Zoo Rides & Tours:

  • Jump on the Guided Bus Tour first thing in the morning. From there, plan your own walking tour to deeply explore other areas.
  • You’ll be able to see the animals better from the first deck of the guided bus (rather than sitting on the top of the bus). I recommend sitting on the right side of the bus towards the middle for the best views.
  • The line for the Skyfari is always longer at the front of the park since most people take it to the top elevations and then walk back. Visit early in the day (try right after the Guided Bus).
Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

See the Skyfari in the distance?

Must-See Exhibits at the San Diego Zoo

There are many pathways that guests can walk, which reach aviaries and enclosures that you won’t see on the bus.  Please note that many of the trails are quite steep so be sure to take advantage of the Skyfari Aeriel Tram to take you to the top of the hill.

Bird Aviaries

Accessed only by the walking paths, making your way through the cool confines of one of the aviaries is one of the most fascinating parts of a San Diego Zoo visit. If you walk too fast you’ll miss a lot so make sure to find a bench to bird-watch. Many of these birds are camouflaged in the lush trees and bushes and you won’t see them until you pause to look. Keepers set up trays of fruit and the birds stop over to nibble.

Panda Canyon

Panda Canyon has two giant pandas on exhibit, one of the few zoos outside of China. These adorable pandas are so fun and playful to watch as they climb trees and strip bamboo. If you plan to visit the pandas, do so first thing in the morning.

Hippo Trail in the Lost Forest

The hippos have a cool upper and lower exhibit so you can watch them swim (so graceful under water!)

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Koala Outback

The San Diego Zoo has the most koala as well as the most successful koala breeding program outside of Australia!

Elephant Odyssey

Take a stroll through Elephant Odyssey for a close look at both African and Asian elephants. Last time we were there the elephants were loping around to grab branches from each other!

Monkey Trails

Monkeys, gorillas & orangutans are housed in these open air enclosed under deep shade. This is a lovely walk in the heat of the day.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Africa Rocks

The newest area at the San Diego Zoo, Africa Rocks is the new home for leopards and African penguins. Be sure to walk behind the big waterfall for an unforgettable photo experience.

Insect House

Located inside the Children’s Zoo area, the Insect House is one of the most fascinating places to get up close and personal with bugs! The creepy-crawlies are all behind glass (except when a trainer brings one out for a closer look). We loved watching the busy Leafcutter Ants and Diving Beetles.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Animal Interactions at the San Diego Zoo

The zoo offers a few shows and animal presentations. The shows are a nice place to get off your feet for a bit though you will be in the sun. Check out the animal encounter section on your daily map to see what Keeper Talks are planned during your visit. We usually catch them on Front Street coming in and out of the park. On our last visit we “met” a giant walking stick inside the Insect House!

Other Fun Things to Do at the San Diego Zoo with Kids

  • There are several 4-D theaters located at the Zoo and you can watch a show inside for an additional fee.
  • Looking for a major splurge for adults? Try the San Diego Zoo Keeper for a Day! Shadow either a giraffe or koala keeper, which includes preparing food, stepping inside the enclosure and even cleaning the exhibit.
  • Before coming to the Zoo, show your kids the live internet cams on the San Diego Zoo website to build up excitement for the visit!
  • Even if you don’t have young kids with you, make it a point to stop in at the Children’s Zoo area. There are animals here that you won’t find in other areas including the amusing Naked Mole-Rats.
  • Just outside of the Zoo gates is a children’s mini train and carousel. It’s a fun way to end your Zoo day with a ride on these (extra cost).
Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

The mini train located outside the Zoo entrance

San Diego Zoo with Kids, Toddlers and Babies

Toddlers and babies will greatly enjoy the outdoors at the San Diego Zoo. Because the Zoo is so large, I highly recommend bringing your own stroller or renting a stroller inside. There are some exhibits with high bushes so you may have to lift your little one out of their seat for them to see the animals. In other exhibits, the windows reach the floor and your baby will have a great view from the stroller.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Visit the Petting Paddock inside the Children’s Zoo where kids can pet the goats. Just inside the entrance to this area there is also a playground so we usually spend about 30 minutes letting our stroller-bound toddler run around. There are several other play areas around the park where kids can explore.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Dining at the San Diego Zoo

Dining at the Zoo is mostly walk-up with outdoor patio dining. Offerings are wide and include sandwiches, grilled burgers & chicken, salads, wraps and Chinese. The only full-service dining restaurant, Albert’s, offers a more elegant selection and happy hour. There’s also soft serve ice cream at many locations in the park (which makes my kids very happy on a hot day!)

You can also bring in any of your own food from home (which we frequently do). Have a picnic lunch in the Treetops Cafe seating area. There’s plenty of covered seating and an amazing view of the city. Please note that straws are not permitted as they are a choking hazard to the animals.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Chocolate soft serve in the Treetops area of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Special Events

Nighttime Zoo

Throughout the entire summer, the San Diego Zoo stays open late for Nighttime Zoo. Included in your daily park admission, the Zoo is open as late at 9 pm for special evening shows, live music and animal encounters. There are also summertime food offerings including Berry Walnut Salad and a Loaded Hot Dog.

Extra Zoo Experiences

The San Diego Zoo offers special experiences at an additional fee, including an early-morning tour to visit the pandas, overnight sleepovers in the park or even children’s birthday parties. Educational classes and camps can also be booked.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Meerkat lookout

Kids Play FREE at the San Diego Zoo in October!

Yes, in addition to free admission at the San Diego Zoo, kids also get in free at LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld. They’ll also dine free at participating restaurants. Read more about the kids free in San Diego for October promotion.

WATCH THE VIDEO for more San Diego Zoo with Kids tips!

Read this post for more tips if you only have one day to explore the San Diego Zoo.

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo.

Peeking at the tortoise


Save Money on Your San Diego Zoo Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).

If you’re also planning to visit SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo with kids consider purchasing a discounted ticket bundle that includes both locations.


READ MORE:

Visiting the San Diego Zoo with kids? Read this ultimate guide on what to do and see, what's new at the Zoo, how to navigate and where to purchase discounted tickets for the San Diego Zoo. #California #SanDiego #SanDiegoZoo #Zoo #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #SoCal #ThemeParks


Must-Have Vacation Travel Products for Toddlers, Kids and Parents

Have the right travel products can truly make your vacation that much smoother! Some of these travel products are always going to be inside your luggage, like t-shirts and shoes. Other items you might not have ever considered – but once you use these unique travel accessories, you’ll wonder how you vacationed without them! I’ve also included airplane travel packing ideas for toddlers. So grab your travel bag and let’s see what travel products for toddlers, kids and grown-ups you could use on your next trip.

I have received complimentary product of some of these items to facilitate this post. No other compensation has been made and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Comfortable Vacation Tees

A cozy cotton t-shirt is a vacation must-have for everyone in the family. And if you’re headed on a “magical” vacation, like my family just did, these tees from the Polka Dot Pixie Shop are perfect for packing! Soft and comfortable, they were perfect for summertime in Orlando. I absolutely loved the creative designs and so did everyone else who saw them. I was stopped so many times in the Disney parks, asking where I got my shirts!

Many of the styles and designs are unisex (so that means I can snag my teenage son’s Jungle Cruise shirt whenever I want!) And each design is sold in a wide variety of sizes so it’s ideal if you like to do matching shirts on vacation.

DISCOUNT CODE: Use coupon code PIXIE at Polka Dot Pixie Shop for 15% off any order.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Hello Vacation! T-shirt by Polka Dot Pixie Shop

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

This tee from Polka Dot Pixie Shop is perfect for Disney’s Animal Kingdom (see the Hidden Mickey?)

See this post for more ideas on what to wear to Disney parks!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including Disney-inspired tees!) for your next trip. #Disney #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Tshirts

Sleep Mask for Sweet Nights

We decided to keep our family on West coast time when we traveled to Florida. This meant staying up till midnight and sleeping in until 9 am most days in an effort to maintain their usual sleeping and waking times. My body instinctively wakes up as soon the sun shines into the room, so a well-fitting sleep mask is a vacation must-have.

This Brave Era Sleep Mask is 100% silk and hypoallergenic. It’s very comfortable and blocks out all ambient light in the room. I always sleep so much better when I slip on my sleep mask before falling asleep. Brave Era also offers silk travel sheets for the ultimate in vacation luxury!

Comfortable Camera Strap (With a Surprise!)

I’ve had the same Canon DSLR for years and it’s had the most uncomfortable strap ever. It would dig into the back of my neck so much I never wanted to take my camera anywhere. Wow, am I glad to have found Wrapped Creations comfy camera strap! She carries a variety of designs, including more Disney-themed straps like my Toy Story Land-inspired version!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The Wrapped Creations camera strap was so comfortable to wear all day

Simply attach the strap to your camera and it’s sooo much easier to carry a heavy DSLR. No more painful neck as the strap is made of soft fabric. And my favorite part? The hidden zippered compartment where you could store your cell phone, cash, cards or passport! I received so many comments on this unique travel accessory. In fact, while I was waiting with my daughter in line to see Goofy, someone asked me about the strap and they ordered themselves one immediately from their phone!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

The hidden pouch on the camera strap from Wrapped Creations

Cross-Body Bag That Holds it All

When I’m traveling I want to be hands-free. With 4 kids I usually have my hands full enough, I don’t need to be holding onto my purse too! That’s why I prefer a cross-body purse and Baggallini are my favorite. I’ve had several versions over the years because they are so great even for everyday use. Right now I’m loving the Baggallini Everything Bag because it has a designated flap pocket for my cell phone. Roomy enough to hold your boarding pass and travel itinerary but with many individual zippered compartments to hold things like sunscreen and lipstick.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip. #Travel #TravelTips #TravelPacking #Packing #TravelAccessories

Comfortable Shoes for All Types of Weather

Pediped shoes are the go-to for my little ones on a daily basis. Since we were planning on lots of water play during our trip I was delighted to see that pediped has water shoes as well. Turns out visiting Orlando during Hurricane Season meant that we got a LOT more rain than we’d ever expected! Fortunately all of the pediped shoes that my kids wore during our trip were comfortable and dried quickly.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes have no “breaking-in period” so my kids were able to wear their brand-new shoes into the parks without any complaints about sore feet. Plus they are SO cute! Check out the pediped Outlet for discounts, then use code THANKYOU18 for an additional $10 off!

Here are more tips on choosing the best shoes for Disney!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Pediped shoes went easily from water to sidewalk

Travel Products for Toddlers Offers Safe Freedom

We have a “runner” in the family. When we took our family trip to Palm Springs, each time opened up the hotel room door, our toddler would shoot down the hall and run out of sight. I knew that when we traveled to Disney World I needed something that would keep her close but still allow some necessary freedom. Skip Hop backpack with harness for the win!!

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

When traveling at the airport, I filled it with travel entertainment (more details on that in the next section). When we were in the parks, I put in a diaper, pack of wipes and disposable bibs for dining. My toddler liked having the choice of sitting in her stroller or wearing the Skip Hop backpack (she’d hand us the harness strap and say, “Hold my tail”!)

It was the perfect compromise for letting our toddler walk but still keeping her within arms reach. Skip Hop has an entire line of Zoo collection with whimsical travel accessories, including luggage and meal sets.

Entertaining Travel Products for Toddlers

The last time I’d traveled with my daughter on a plane she’d just turned one year old. Her “in-air” entertainment consisted of a teething toy before nursing to sleep. Now that she’s two I knew I’d need a bag of tricks to keep her occupied on the 5 hour flight. It appears that I packed all the right things because there was no boredom and zero tantrums on the flight! I was aiming for inexpensive and lightweight. Here’s what travel products for toddlers I packed inside her backpack.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Plastic Zoo Animal Figures – I brought a bag of these and divvied them up between my two littlest kids. Since there were so many of them and they were so inexpensive, I wasn’t worried if a camel fell on the plane floor. The kids loved lining them up on the tray table and “feeding” their animals Southwest Airlines pretzels!

Lacing Cards – My just-turned two year old might have been a little young for these but I was surprised by how long she played with them.

Disney Moana’s Necklace – This was a last-minute addition to my daughter’s travel accessories and I’m so glad I brought it. The necklace glowed when opened. She played with it frequently on the plane, showed it off to fellow travelers and used it on the trip as well.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Imagine Ink Magic Ink Coloring Book – These travel-sized “coloring books” include just one marker that does it all! No-mess, my toddler was able to scribble to her heart’s content onto the pages of the Magic Ink book with miraculously colorful results.

Stickers – My toddler happily peeled and stuck stickers for a long time. Don’t forget to bring paper or a coloring book to put the stickers in.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves for your next trip.

Great travel products and accessories can make your vacation so much better! Check out these family vacation must-haves (including these items that are toddler must-haves!) for your next trip. #Travel #TravelwithKids #FamilyTravel #Vacation #Toddler #ToddlerTravel

How My Family Chose Healthy Road Trip Snacks at the Convenience Store

Road trips call for great musical playlists, memorable in car photo-ops and conversations and of course, plenty of snacks to keep everyone happy! As a family of 6, when we pile everyone inside the minivan for a road trip, we want to avoid bickering, whining and grumbling bellies. Having well-balanced, healthy snacks (that are still fun!) are important. Find out how my family chose healthy road trip snacks for everyone, aged toddler to adult on our recent drive to Palm Springs. I’ve included my healthy road trip food list that includes suggestions on substitutes for favorite road trip snacks.

This post is sponsored by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). All thoughts & opinions expressed are my own. 

Family Road Trip Must-Haves

Recently my family headed out to Palm Springs for the weekend. It was supposed to be a 2 1/2 hour drive that stretched out to nearly 3 1/2 hours. We’d intended to hit the convenience store to fill up on snacks but were stuck in traffic, unable to get off the freeway. As you can see, at least one of the kids was not pleased!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Our hungry toddler was ready for a pit stop!

Why Are Road Trip Snacks Important?

Snacks are especially important for kids. Their stomachs are smaller and they burn off their food quicker. Healthy road trip snacks for kids can prevent dips in blood sugar as well as crankiness in the car! Keep in mind that snacks should not be replacing regular meals on the road. If you’re taking a very long drive, skip the fast food drive thru. Try to stop every 2-3 hours so that everyone can get out of the car, stretch and have a snack. Full meals should stay on your usual time schedule. Read my eating out tips for dining with kids.

There may be times on the road trip that everyone will want to eat a snack while driving. Consider snacks that are less likely to make a mess (ie: choose applesauce in a squeezable pouch instead of a cup that requires a spoon). You’ll also want to think about the foods that may be choking hazards for younger kids, avoiding raisins, popcorn and nuts. My friend Becca at This Crazy Adventure Called Life has more tips on the best road trip snacks.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

You can’t go wrong with chilled cut fresh fruit

Choosing Healthy Convenience Store Snacks on the Road

My family and I recently took a road trip to Palm Springs, driving from San Diego. It took us over 3 hours driving there in traffic. We stopped at a convenience store to grab snacks for the trip. The NACS survey shows that convenience stores offer the top three reasons that most people stop on the road: 96% use the restroom, 95% get gasoline and 91% buy food and drinks! Convenience stores that are also a gas station make this the perfect rest stop location while on the road.

I took my kids inside to see what kind of healthy snacks they’d choose for the road. The teens didn’t want to be on camera (figures!) But my 6 year old was all smiles while he took me around the store to show me which road trip snacks he thought were the healthiest.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

My 6-yr old headed straight for the cookies! Probably NOT the healthiest choices.

What Constitutes a Healthy Snack?

When choosing a road trip snack, aim for these general healthy guidelines: A snack should be around 150 to 250 calories, contain about 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and not have more than 12 grams of fat. The best snacks are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Protein and fiber will help you feel full and satisfied between meals.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Read the labels. Some of these trail mixes are more than one serving or have a lot of sugar.

We aim for choosing healthy snacks that have no trans fats and are low in sugar and sodium. We consider beverages to be a snack as well, since so many of them are high in sugar and we try to avoid this.

Take a minute to look at the labels before choosing snacks. The front of the packaging can be misleading but if you read the label on the back you’ll see the low-down on calories, fiber, protein, fat and sugar. Also look at the “serving size”. Some snacks are really intended for two people. This small “healthy” protein bar had 21 grams of sugar. Too much for us, so it was a “pass”.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Healthy Road Trip Snacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Within 10 minutes of hitting the road, our toddler was down for her usual mid-day nap. We pressed on, driving as far as we could while she slept. However once she awoke (earlier than we’d anticipated), she was hungry and ready for a snack! These are a few healthy snack choices for toddlers and preschoolers.

Pack a spill proof sipper cup with you to fill with your toddler’s favorite beverage. If you have a cooler, grab a bag of ice from inside the convenience store and fill it so you can stock up on bottled milk and water. Then when you stop for a diaper change, refill your toddler’s cup along the way.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

We grabbed milk to keep in the cooler for our toddler.

Use a “spill-proof” travel snack cup for toddler snacks on the road. I was able to fill my daughter’s snack cup with bite sized snacks, like dry cereal and the toddler favorite, Goldfish crackers! If they dropped onto the floor or in the car seat, these dry and mess-free snacks were easy to clean up. She happily snacked and then finished up her nap (thank goodness!)

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Tortilla chip in hand – this is one full and sleepy toddler!

Elementary Aged Kids Healthy Road Trip Snacks

When it comes to beverages, my 6-year old goes straight for the flavored drinks like Gatorade. We don’t allow him to drink energy drinks or soda but I agree, sometimes water is boring! Purchase flavored water enhancement, like Mio. This will add flavor to plain water without adding any sugar.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

My kiddo can be very particular about his food (aka: he’s a picky eater, like I was as a child). He loves to eat chips for the salty crunch. I’m not a fan of messy cheesy-coated fingers in the car or the crumbs inside the booster seat! Consider these chilled pickle chips instead.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Cheese, crackers and deli meat is an easy grab-n’-go snack while traveling. These smaller sized Lunchables trays are great for sharing and ideal for road trips. Low in calories and fat but high in protein. Deli meat is higher in sodium so be sure to drink plenty of water. My kids also enjoy individual meat-wrapped cheese sticks for a protein-packed snack.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Healthy Road Trip Snacks That Appeal to Teens & Adults

My teenagers are generally healthy eaters on a daily basis. Naturally they also like to treat themselves to something sweet when on vacation. It’s not too hard to find something fun to eat on the road that won’t make them crash and burn with too much sugar. These are some good snack choices for teens and adults.

The convenience store offered wrapped hard boiled eggs, a perfect choice for my husband. My big kids went right to the jerky. There was a great variety to satisfy varying taste buds including teriyaki, jalapeno and sweet & spicy.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Protein bars are always the first choice of my husband and me. However many of them are high in sugar as well. I found this high protein bar that is also low in sugar (only one gram). It’s a fun treat that is also going to satisfy more than a candy bar. So much better than any of the best road trip junk food and you’ll feel a lot better after indulging.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Only one gram of sugar but high in protein and fiber – this ONE bar is a healthy road trip snack winner!

Healthy Snack Swaps

While we avoided the candy aisle completely, you may want to choose something like this for the family to share. Licorice is a popular choice and while it does have sugar, it’s also fat-free.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Choose wisely in the candy aisle.

Snacks that have a salty & sweet combo are what I (and my sweet tooth!) gravitate towards. Certain trail mixes can contain a high percentage of candy or sugar, negating the healthy parts, like the protein-packed nuts. These trail mix blends had a nice mix of nuts and seeds with dark chocolate for sweetness. Nuts contain the healthy fats which are good for you, so feel free to indulge!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

When driving the long-haul, grabbing a caffeinated energy drink may be tempting. Be sure to check the label to see how much sugar the can contains. You’ll probably be better off with black coffee or diet cola to avoid the sugar high and then the crash!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Chips are a popular choice, but many are high in sodium and covered in artificial flavorings. Consider multi-grain chips, low-sodium popcorn or crackers if you’re craving a crunch. If you like a chip and dip combo, nix the fatty bean dip or sour cream mix and choose this savory hummus and pretzel combo!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

When snack time is over, everyone in our car gets a bottle of water to drink and I hand out sugar-free gum to chew (not for the toddler!) Sugar-free gum is a great after-snack choice. For my kids, gum signals that snack time is over. It also cleanses food from the teeth and can help with ear pressure when traveling through higher elevations. It’s a road-trip must-have for us!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Choosing between bubble gum, peppermint or cinnamon sugar-free gum.

What are your favorite road trip snacks? Do you choose healthy or let-it-go on vacations? I’d love to hear your comments!Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Restaurant Hacks for Kids That Make Eating Out Easier

Eating out with kids can be an ordeal. You just want an enjoyable meal but often feel rushed and busy cutting food, entertaining the kids and wiping up messy faces (all while trying to eat a hot meal yourself!) What if you have a picky eater and have to pack food that they’ll actually eat? Then there’s the potential for mess. A BIG mess. Is it better just to eat at home? I like to eat out, especially when traveling, but sometimes I dread it with all the kids! Here are my travel dining hacks for kids, including products that can make eating out with kids easier!

I received free product for several of the items mentioned in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

How to Take Young Kids to a Restaurant – Travel Dining Hacks for Kids

To be fully honest, when we’re at home we don’t really eat out in restaurants very often. Restaurant dining with kids is reserved for times when we’re traveling and far from our kitchen. Being able to enjoy a special meal out is something we don’t do often, but absoutely plan for when we travel. Since we have a toddler, kindergartener and two teens, I have a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and happy until the food arrives! (Hint: This doesn’t have to include electronic devices, keep reading!) I’ve included my travel dining hacks for kids with lots of tips on eating out as well as the must have travel items for babies, big kids and toddlers when restaurant dining is in your plans.

Choosing the Best Restaurants for Kids

Sure, you can take your kid to just about any restaurant you want, but do you really want to? I know I don’t want to eat in a fancy place with my noisy toddler and feel like I’m needing to shush her every 2 seconds when she uses her “outside” voice indoors! Personally when I’m eating in a restaurant with my kids I choose a place that might be just a bit more noisy and more on the casual side.

Before you step inside, check out the ambiance and weigh whether you think it’s a good place for your kiddos. Second, peek at the menu. If there’s something there that your kids will eat, then proceed! If you have a picky eater in the family, see my post with practical dining tips for at home or on the road.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

What to Order Kids in a Restaurant?

When we go out to eat (which isn’t very often), we usually encourage the kids to order something they don’t usually eat at home. Why get buttered spaghetti noodles when you can order steak and baked potato with all the fixings?!

My middle son always orders chicken nuggets and fries because we simply don’t feed him that at home. For him, that’s his special restaurant meal. I’m not going to spend dinner out arguing with him to try something new, especially if I may get push back. Restaurant dining isn’t the time to pressure your kids. And if nuggets and fries is something he’ll eat (and usually finish!) then that’s what I let him order!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Give ’em what they want! If ordering nuggets & fries will get them to eat, then so be it!

1. Table Covers Keep Food From Touching Dirty Tables

If you’ve been eating out with kids before, you know that the food doesn’t always stay on the plate. In fact, if given a plate of food my two-year old will immediately dump all the contents directly onto the table! Instead of giving your toddler an entire plate to herself, dole out a few pieces here and there to minimize mess. I use disposable table covers so I know her food stays away from germs.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

The moment right before the pizza hit the table – thank goodness for the disposable table cover!

2. Portable High Chair for Babies and Toddlers

Dirty restaurant highchair? Skip toting around the bulky cover and consider the Totseat Chair Harness. Quickly convert a regular chair into a secure seat for babies on the go.

3. Drink Up! Kid’s Travel Cups That Are Easy to Clean

My baby daughter used to make the biggest mess when she tried to drink out of a cup. She never grasped how to drink out of a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup had been equally challenging. Fortunately she learned how to drink out of a straw very early on. But that still didn’t minimize the mess (she tended to let whatever she doesn’t swallow dribble down her chin!)

When we went on vacation, I brought along a set of Silikids Siliskin Silicone Sippy Tops. These silicone tops stretch over your own cup, turning it into a child-friendly sipper. While in the hotel room, I was able to convert a small drinking glass into a sippy cup for milk. And when taking her in the stroller, I placed a Siliskin Sippy Top onto a plastic cup filled with water.

The Siliskin Sippy Top has tiny holes that do not leak out liquid. The child has to gently bite on the top and suck to drink. This made it much less of a mess because my daughter only took in what she was swallowing. I really liked having these on-the-go to convert any cup into a sipper. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, though I just washed by hand in the hotel bathroom sink.

I also have the Silikids Siliskin Silicone Straw Cup. I’ve always been hesitant to purchase sippy cups with straws because of the cleaning aspect (tiny parts are challenging to get totally clean, even in the dishwasher).

This cup is only three simple parts and all can be boiled in water to sanitize. The straw is really quite big for my toddler daughter to use but my preschooler drinks from it perfectly (and I don’t have to worry about spills in the car).

4. Entertaining Ideas for Baby

I’ve taken my baby on a few trips by myself, including traveling alone to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have extra hands, make sure to pack a few things that will make your dining experience more enjoyable. A few toys for entertaining baby and a clever strap that keeps the bottle or sippy cup from falling to the floor.

If your baby is in the loud screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase request a seat on the patio where the extra noise may be better absorbed. If Disney is your destination, check out this post with additional tips for dining with a baby.

5. Keep ‘Em Clean with Disposable Bibs

Other than taking extra clothes with you (always a good idea anyway, I guess), a bib is the best way to keep clothes clean when eating out with kids. A disposable bib is even better! Pop it on, fold in the bottom to catch any food that falls and then toss it when done with the meal. So much better than toting around crusty clothes!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Disposable bibs are a must in my travel bag!

6. Best Travel Snack Ideas for Kids

Despite your best efforts for choosing kid-friendly restaurants, some kids just won’t eat. Consider packing in a few of their favorite snacks that you know they’ll eat. I like the b. box Snack Pack. There are two separate compartments. And it comes with a child-sized utensil that snaps in to the lid!

In between meals or while on the road, try the Munchkin Snack Catcher. I use it in the car with my toddler and big kids! You can fill it up with an age-appropriate snack (fishy crackers for little ones, trail mix for older kids). This really helps to minimize spills and mess in the car when they drop it (because you know they will!)If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

7. Kid’s Restaurant Busy Bag (Aka: The Device-Free Dinner)

We went to a restaurant a few years ago and before my kids were even in their seats they were each handed an electronic tablet to play games. We weren’t even asked by the waitress if it was okay. Our kids don’t use devices at home so naturally it was a special occasion. Was the wait for the meal really quiet? Yep. They had their noses pressed against the screens the entire time, silently playing their individual games.

There are times that having the devices come in handy during travel (like on a boring road trip). But for me personally, I’m not a fan of having electronics at the dinner table. We let our kids play with them at this particular restaurant for about ten minutes before removing them and asking the waitress to take them away. My husband and I enjoy chatting with our kids together and while it was certainly quiet, it didn’t connect us as a family to have the kids playing games alone. However do what you have to do – if the kids are bickering and all you want is 10 quiet minutes, then maybe letting the kids use a device is what you need to do.

Waiting for food to arrive can make young diners impatient. Some restaurants will offer paper and crayons but not all. Consider having a restaurant “busy bag” to occupy kids. The contents inside the bag can be items that the entire family would enjoy. Supply a grab-bag of goodies to keep kids entertained while you wait. Here are a few mess-free ideas for different age ranges, from babies to big kids! Grown ups, set your phones down and pick up one of these family favorites.


If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families! #Restaurant #TravelWithKids #FamilyTravel #EatingOut #Dining

6 Useful Tips for Walking Outside With Your Baby

Shortly after the birth of your baby, your doctor will likely recommend walking as a first exercise. Walking is perfect, because your pace can be as quick or slow as you wish and you may walk for as long as you feel comfortable. And my favorite: you can exercise when baby is with you! Here are my useful tips on walking outside with your baby.

I received an Ergobaby 180 Stroller to facilitate this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Put All Your Walking Essentials Together

When I’m ready to take my baby for a walk, I don’t want to make a dozen trips back inside the house to get what I need. I created a place in my garage that holds all of my walking essentials in one place. Think about the things that you use when you go for a walk and place them in one central spot for quick access.

  • Walking shoes & socks
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen (for you and for the baby)
  • Sunglasses
  • Music player & ear buds
  • Water bottle
  • Sweatshirt (for chilly days)
  • Cooling Towel (for hot days – one for you & one for baby!)
  • Baby care needs, including diaper/wipes and sipper cup and snacks for toddlers

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

2. Choosing the Right Stroller for Your Baby

My family is already a fan of the Ergobaby line. I have the Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier. I’ve called it my “must-have travel item for babies“! It’s come in so handy on vacation. But I also use it every day when I need to hold my toddler but also remain hands-free.

As soon as your doctor gives the okay, it’s usually fine to take your healthy newborn outside for a walk. At first you may choose to place your baby inside of the front carrier. But eventually you’ll probably want to graduate to a stroller. The Ergobaby 180 Stroller has so many great features, including a reversible handlebar that quickly adjusts for height. I like the simple recline with breathable mesh side panels so my daughter can comfortably nap on our walk. It’s a very simple-to-use stroller, with one-hand folding and easy-tap foot brakes. Having a stroller that’s equally easy to maneuver and also comfortable for your baby is ideal.

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

3. Where to Walk With Baby?

If you live in a neighborhood or city, hitting the sidewalk right outside your front door is great. On particularly hot days, I’ve taken my baby and stroller to the indoor mall for window shopping while walking. The Ergobaby 180 stroller has 4-wheel steering and easily moves from smooth sidewalks to rougher terrain. You can quickly adjust the wheel locks by pressing a button to adjust each wheel.

I personally love to walk in the park. Local parks often have looping walking paths that are perfect for walking with your baby. At just 20 lbs, the stroller is lightweight for travel and easily folds with one hand. It’s also car seat compatible (with the car seat adapter, sold separately). Grab your walking essentials, load the stroller into the car and head out to the park!

4. Best Time of Day to Walk With Baby

In the warmer summer months, early morning hours are ideal for walking with your baby. However I have a toddler, so my daily walk is intended to kick-start her nap time! I usually don’t start my walk until around 11 am. This means it can be warm outside and I need to take the proper precautions to prevent overheating.

I make sure that my daughter has her sipper cup filled with water and that I’ve applied sunscreen to her legs. The Ergobaby 180 stroller has an over sized sun canopy to protect her from too much exposure. The stroller also has roll-up panels that reveal full mesh sidewalls. This helps to keep air circulating and prevents the baby from overheating when she naps on our walk.

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

5. Benefits of Taking Baby for a Walk

  • Fresh air, exercise and stimulation! I find that a daily walk helps me to work out my thoughts, improves my sleep at night and gets me moving (especially in those early months with a newborn, when you only feel like you’re sitting and nursing all day!)
  • If Baby is overstimulated by the view or if you simply want to keep an eye on her while you walk, the Ergobaby 180 stroller has a quick response. The handlebar has an easy flip option so you can turn it to face either way in about three seconds!
  • My daughter is just two-years old, so I like taking her for a walk in preparation for nap time. Sometimes I’ll walk to the store and pick up a few essentials. The under-stroller basket on the Ergobaby 180 stroller is extra large for holding plenty! Usually my goal is getting her to fall asleep so a long walk benefits us both.

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

6. Safety Concerns

  • Don’t walk where you don’t feel comfortable. Choose walking areas away from vehicle traffic and that are well-lit.
  • Consider walking in a group with other people.
  • Use the brakes on the stroller every time, even if you stop on flat ground. You never know if Baby’s movements will cause the stroller to roll.
  • Don’t put your wallet or phone where it can get grabbed. The Ergobaby 180 has a hidden storage pocket behind the seat where I place my valuables and then zip it closed.

My toddler and I really do like the ease and comfort of the Ergobaby 180 Stroller. We’ve already taken the stroller on a trip and appreciated the lightweight frame & ability to fold down small into the trunk. Click the link to purchase and you’ll receive a code for a free snack tray attachment with your stroller order (offered for a limited time).

Read these 6 tips for walking with your baby including what to bring with you, where to go and choosing the perfect stroller. #Exercise #NewMom #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn

 

Traveling with an Ergobaby Baby Carrier – Must Have Travel Item

Since my daughter was about two weeks old I’ve used a baby carrier. Neither of my boys liked their baby carrier experiences. But I’ll be honest- I didn’t consistently use the carriers with them, but I did with my daughter. Since my daughter was 5 months old (she’s now 17 months), I’ve traveled cross-country with her twice and the baby carrier has proven to be the must have travel item. Here are a few reasons when traveling with a baby carrier can truly make your vacation experience better and why the new Ergobaby Omni 360 is ideal for babies of all ages.

I received a complimentary Ergobaby Omni 360 for review in compensation for this post. No further monetary exchange was made and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Traveling with an Ergobaby Baby Carrier on Vacation

While it might not necessarily fit inside your diaper bag, a baby carrier should absolutely be something you take with you when traveling with a baby. I traveled alone to Walt Disney World, across the country by myself and my 5 month old. I would not have been able to do it without my baby carrier.

Even if you think that there will be plenty of people to hold the baby on the trip, bring the carrier. Babies can get easily overstimulated and appreciate the close quarters that a baby carrier provides.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

I use my Ergobaby baby carrier every day at home. See why I take it when I travel too.

Even if the baby is old enough to walk, bring the carrier. Little ones get tired and want to be carried and you won’t want to tire yourself out from carrying her.

Places like airplanes can have a lot of strange germs. Placing baby in a carrier can keep him from touching everything. And keeping him in the carrier also dissuade germy people from reaching out and touching the baby!

Click through and use the special code at the end of this post for a discount!

1. Baby Carrier at the Airport

If anything, you want to be hands free at the airport. From having to take out paperwork like tickets, passport and ID, dragging your carry-on bag, and removing and putting back on your shoes, putting items on the conveyor for scanning, you’re going to need your hands. If you’re taking a stroller, that’s just one more thing to push around.

I preferred having my baby snuggled in close in her carrier while going through the airport. I was even able to pass through airline security with my baby safely sleeping at my chest. TSA swabbed my hands and allowed me to skip the full body scanners.

2. Baby Carrier on the Airplane

Since I was traveling alone with my baby, I didn’t have anyone to hold her on the plane. Having the Ergobaby baby carrier was so convenient during the flight. I did have to take my daughter out of the carrier during take off, as requested by the stewardess. But as soon as we were in flight, I was able to slip her back inside the carrier. This made everything from eating a snack, holding a book and yes, even using the bathroom that much easier!

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

While you can’t baby wear during take off or landing, you can wear Ergobaby Baby Carrier in flight.

3.Baby Carrier While Touring on Foot

There are some places where pushing a baby in a stroller just isn’t conducive to the environment. For instance, what about when the terrain is rocky or steep (like on a hiking trail). How about when the streets are cobbled or overly crowded. Or perhaps it’s raining and you need to keep baby under an umbrella. In these cases having baby in a carrier makes so much sense. You’ll be able to climb stairs without looking for an elevator and easily navigate through crowds.

4. Baby Carrier in a Hotel

At the end of a long day, I found that it was sometimes tricky to get my baby to calm down and sleep. The strange location and having the entire family inside one room was disturbing her rest. Holding her in the baby carrier while I walked around the hotel room, prepping for the following day, allowed her to relax and actually fall asleep. Then I was easily able to transfer her into her crib.

5. Baby Carrier at an Amusement Park

In many cases, when visiting an amusement park, you’ll have a stroller with you. I suggest that in addition to the stroller, bring along the baby carrier as well. I tuck my carrier in the basket under the stroller and use it throughout the day. While standing in queue, you’ll be able to hold baby without sore arms. While my baby napped inside her carrier, we were able to go on family-friendly rides without disturbing her. I was even able to nurse her inside the carrier while I walked around the parks. Most convenient was being able to hold my daughter in the carrier while folding her stroller and boarding a Disney bus to and from the parks.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Some amusement parks will allow you to ride with baby in the Ergobaby Baby Carrier without any nap disturbance!

Tips for Your Baby Carrier

I recently received the Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier for review. Offering all carry positions, the Ergobaby Omni 360 can switch baby to face out or face you and easily adjusts from newborn to toddler (7-33lbs), no infant insert needed.

Get Used to the Parts

The various straps, buckles and buttons on your baby carrier can be overwhelming at first. Definitely sit down with the manual and your carrier to get familiar with the different styles of carry and techniques for the most comfortable fit for your baby. It helps to have another adult there to help you with interpreting the instructions and diagrams.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Watch a Video

If you’re struggling to understand the instruction manual with pictures, try watching a video on Ergobaby’s Facebook page for more clarity!

Practice at Home

Your vacation shouldn’t be the first time that your baby has been in the carrier. Make sure both you and and the baby are comfortable with the carrier. Practice putting him in and out of the carrier and let him ride around the house to get used to it.

The Ergobaby Baby Carrier is my MUST HAVE baby travel item, read why! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Get work done while baby naps in the Ergobaby carrier

Follow Size Rules

It is very important to follow the size rules for your baby carrier. Take into consideration the size of your baby and take note of what methods to use for each age.

My daughter is now a toddler, a petite 21 lbs and 17 months old. She still enjoys riding in her baby carrier, especially when traveling. She likes being close to me. However my arms and shoulders get so tired when holding her for extended periods of time so I’m happy to have the Ergobaby Omni 360.

Try a Variety of Positions

I can place my daughter facing in, which is perfect when she’s napping. In the Ergobaby Omni 360 my daughter can also face outward, ride on my back or sit on my hip. Velcro tabs and button closures help me quickly adjust the carrier for my baby’s size. Double-lock buckles are easy to snap in and release with one hand.

Comfort for Parent and Child

The fabric and design of the Ergobaby Omni 360 is soft and flexible, but still offers sturdy support. The padded straps and ability to crisscross in the back helps relieve any discomfort to my back when carrying my daughter.

10% off coupon code at ergobaby.com: BBMkp9VIniU

Valid until 12/31/2017

As always, shipping is free!

Find Ergobaby on Social Media Here!

Instagram: @ergobaby

Facebook: facebook.com/ergobaby

Twitter: twitter.com/ergobaby

Pinterest: pinterest.com/ergobaby

See what is my MUST HAVE baby travel item! #Ergobaby #LoveCarriesOn #ad

Tips and Products for Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

Over our spring break vacation to Monterey we lost my 5 year old son. One moment he was playing on the lonely beach in the sand with my husband. The next moment he was gone. It was the scariest ten minutes of our lives, not knowing where he was. Looking back there are a few things we should have done to ensure that he’d never been lost in the first place. And there are also steps and precautions we can take in the future to keep him safe. Here are my tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Getting Lost (Scary for Kids & Parents!)

On our Monterey vacation I was on the hotel balcony watching my sons and husband on the beach below. My husband and teenager were poking in the sand with a stick, looking for crabs while my preschooler ran up and down the wet sand behind them. When the baby needed a diaper change I took her inside and returned to the balcony a few minutes later. What I saw next made my heart stop.

My eldest son was yelling up to me, “Mom, is Dillon up there with you?”

Then I saw my husband. He was running up and down the beach, calling Dillon’s name. He was stopping strangers to ask if they’d seen a little boy in a blue bathing suit.

He didn’t go into the water, I knew that (he was scared of the ocean’s big waves). My eyes squinted at a crowd of people sunbathing in the distance. Had he wandered that far?

My husband was now in full panic mode. He ran around to the front of the hotel, concerned that my son might have gone with someone to the parking lot. My teenager was racing down to the crowd further down the beach. I raced down to the hotel lobby.

I met my husband in the lobby as he’d looped around the front of the hotel. He was cradling our 5-year old in his arms. My son had wandered into the lobby, wanting to return to the hotel room and asked for his mommy. The reception desk had wrapped him in a towel and had him stay put. Thank goodness, found.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

One moment he was there, the next moment he was gone.

Tips to Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

It was a scary 10 minutes and honestly, it’s taken its toll on us all. For the first month after our vacation, my son was extremely clingy and afraid of getting lost. He has cried during drop offs at school and Sunday school at church, something very unusual for my independent boy. I started trying to think of ways that we could have kept him safe.

Here are tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

I received complimentary product for testing and review. All opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. SafetyTat

If my son had been wearing a SafetyTat when he was lost, it would have saved us 10 minutes of worry. The hotel lobby would have been able to call me immediately! SafetyTat is a water-resistant temporary tattoo. The original SafetyTat can be pre-printed with your contact info and applies with a damp paper towel.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

The SafetyTat temporary tattoo is water resistant.

Write-on SafetyTat peels and sticks with a bit of pressure and can be personalized with the included water resistant pen. I love the idea of using the SafetyTat when traveling to busy locations like at the zoo, children’s museum or amusement park when kids can easily become lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

Write your number to personalize the SafetyTat and keep kids safe on vacation

In addition to returning lost kids, several of the SafetyTats have specific child-safety needs printed on the tattoo. Alerts like, “I have Autism”, “Allergies – Ask First!”, “Non-Verbal” and “Alert – Diabetic” help other adults know immediately about your child’s special needs. These special SafetyTats would be great for children to wear when in large groups where they might be separated from their parents, like at day camp, church or at a party.


2. Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

I received a complimentary bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Repellent just in time for my trip to Orlando Florida. On my last visit, I’d gotten a nasty bug bite on the final day and it took ten full days to clear! I was hoping to avoid such a fate this time, especially for my kids!

The contents of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit are Deet-free and include lemon Eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, cedar bark, citronella, peppermint and rosemary blend. These non-toxic and pesticide free ingredients help to repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and other biting insects. It’s proven effective in children 3+, though I did use it sparingly on my 1-year old’s legs and arms with good success.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation., including the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

Spray Fairy Tales Bug Bandit before going outside to protect skin from insect bites

Simply spray the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit onto your body after dressed and ready to head outside. It worked like a charm! The smell is pleasant and works for several hours.

And then there was the day I forgot to apply the spray. I was headed to a conference and stepped outside briefly to access another building and within 2 minutes a bug got me. Within moments my ankle was swollen and itchy, ugh! I immediately texted my sister-in-law to remind her to spray the kids before they went outside! Happy to report that my kids returned from our week-long vacation without one bug bite.

3. Travel Baby-Proofing Safety Kit

Before settling in at the hotel, make sure you check out the room for any potentially hazardous items. Looped window cords? Furniture that your toddler or child could climb and topple over? Loose cables? Exposed electrical outlets? Bring a safety kit along with you on your travels to “baby-proof” the room (even if your child is no longer a baby, they might become curious).

If your baby will be using the hotel crib, be sure to inspect it for any loose screws, chipping paint or pinchable parts. If you’re taking medications with you, be sure that they stay inside their child-proof bottles and keep out of the reach of your children (consider a box with a lock).


4. Disinfect to Help Prevent Stomach Bug

Ugh, nothing ruins a vacation like coming down with the stomach bug. Help keep the bug from spreading through the family with frequent hand-washing, the use of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Wipe down things in the airplane before flying, like the arm rests and pull-down table. Disinfect items in the hotel room that are frequently touched, like the door knobs and remote control. Of course if spending your vacation in another country make sure that the water is drinkable before allowing your child to sip.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

5. Avoid Sunburn

If your kids are extremely prone to sunburn, consider indoor activities during the day and then swim at night. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid sunburn is to cover up as much as possible. My kids have Lands’ End rash guards with UPF 50 rating. A hat for toddlers that can be worn while their splashing will protect scalps and faces.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

And of course, you can’t forget the sunscreen! Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before getting into the water otherwise it’s just going to rinse off in the pool!


6. Pack a Get-Well Bag

Despite all preparations sometime your child may get sick. Rather than have to make a run to the 24 hour market at 3 am, have a get-well bag ready to go with what you might need.

7. Car Seat and Stroller Safety

Don’t assume that you’ll have the car seat you need when you arrive. For instance Uber may provide car seats for some children. However they don’t have rear-facing car seats that children under two must use. For infants and toddlers, it’s best to bring your own.

For pre-K and up, bring along a mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. Weighing only about one and a half pounds, the mifold is a booster seat designed for ages 4 to 12. So clever and convenient when using Uber, Lyft or a taxi.

If renting a stroller at your vacation location, be sure to inspect for any spots that might pinch little fingers. Always use the buckles to secure your child in tightly. Get in the habit of putting the stroller brake on each and every time you let go of the handle. You never know when the stroller might roll away from you. Never leave your child in a stroller unsupervised.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.

8. Safety After Dark

If you’re worried about losing your kids, it can be even more challenging once night falls. Remind kids to stay close to you. Carry a flashlight. I keep a supply of glow necklaces and bracelets for my kids to wear when we’re walking about after dark. If walking in a dark area where there are vehicles, dress your children in light colored clothing. Consider adding a reflective strip of tape to their back and down each pant leg for better visability.


Other Things You Can Do to Keep Safety First

  • Before hitting the road for an extended vacation, be sure to schedule a pre-trip check up with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will be able to check for any developing illnesses.
  • Bring your child’s immunization records.
  • Dress your child in very bright clothing. It’s so much easier to see them if you can spot a bright yellow, orange or hot pink shirt.
  • Remind kids not to touch wild animals (this includes squirrels and pigeons)
  • Take a photo of your child each morning so you have a record of what they are wearing.
  • Before going into an establishment (like a theme park or museum) discuss what to do if lost.
  • Wash hands frequently and especially before eating.
  • Remind children to stay put in case they are lost.

Travel safety with kids is priority #1. Check out these practical and inexpensive ways to keep kids safe on vacation.


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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?

Epic California Road Trip – 5 Tips for Traveling by Car

Last spring break my family and I hit the open road on our first family road trip since adding two more to our brood! We drove from San Diego and headed to Pismo Beach first. Along the way we visited, Monterey, Lake Tahoe/Reno and Bishop. Nine years ago we took a similar road trip when our older kiddos were in kindergarten. Now that we have four kids, we were excited (and a bit nervous!) about taking the whole family on the road. You might be wondering what is a good itinerary for a west coast road trip? I’ve got the California road trip tips with ideas on where to stop along the way and what to do with the kids.

My family and I were hosted at several of these locations on our trip. Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making  a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

California Road Trip Tips

My husband and I are big time “planners” and like to have a solid route and itinerary. We knew a bit ahead of time what we’d be doing at each location, with free time built in for relaxation, play and adventure! With our little one only just turning one year old, we knew that extended time in the car wasn’t feasible. We planned to be in the car no longer than 3 hours at a time (aiming for her nap time!) We also worked in plenty of time to get out, stretch and play at each stop. Read more about the Art of the Road Trip Pit Stop from my friend Patty at My No-Guilt Life.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Ventura, California

We’re started our road trip from San Diego and the first stop was in Ventura. Even as a SoCal native, there are so many coastal towns I’ve never been to, including Ventura! We parked the car at Plaza Park and walked up the street a few blocks to the busy Main Street. Here, we dined at Anacapa Brewing Company. It was a nice break after the initial drive. Afterwards we walked along Main St. to stretch our legs. There was a man with parrots, posing with them on the kid for photos in exchange for a few dollars. We let the kids play at the park before getting back into the car for the next leg of the drive.

Other Things to Do in Ventura –

  • Stop at Marina Park Beach for a picnic lunch and allow the kids to play on the pirate-themed playground.
  • There’s a Golf n’ Stuff here for a rousing round of mini golf!
  • Rent a bike (and more) from one of the six locations Wheel Fun Rentals has in Ventura.

Road Trip Tip #1 – No reason you have to eat all fast food or expensive restaurant meals on your entire road trip. Make a quick stop at the local grocery for healthy fruits, prepped veggies or freshly made sandwiches. Our favorites in California are Whole Foods Market and Sprouts.

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Dinosaur Caves in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, California

Our first overnight of the road trip was in Pismo Beach with a stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. After a cheap dinner at In n’ Out we took the kids for a walk along the Pier. We then window shopped on the streets near the Pier. Lots of cute beachy-souvenirs here that won’t break the bank.

Other Things to Do in Pismo Beach –

  • There is an amazing Monarch Butterfly grove here but it’s only open from October to February each year.
  • The Livery Stables offers horseback riding on private trails through the Oceano Dunes and Beach.
  • Pismo Beach Surf Shop has year round stand-up paddle boarding with board and wet suit rentals available.

Road Trip Tip #2 -Check the City Calendar

Before your visit, check the city calendar online to see if any special events are occurring. There might be a festival, art show or seasonal activity. We also stopped in Pismo Beach in spring break of 2010. Our kids participated in an awesome Easter egg hunt and festival at Dinosaur Caves Park that overlooks the ocean. This event was a highlight of our road trip several years ago (totally free and fun for the kids before we got back on the road).

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Where the mountains meet the ocean in Big Sur

Monterey, California

Next up for us was two days in Monterey. With a county that includes Big Sur (a waterfall that pours into the ocean!), Pebble Beach (golfing!), Carmel-by-the-Sea (shopping!) and Salinas (food, glorious food!), there are countless things to do in this beautiful coastal area. We stayed at the Monterey Tides Hotel, right on the oceanfront. It was absolutely a perfect location and easy to get to all of the activities within minutes. We took in the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium, an agricultural tour at Earthbound Farms, and a surrey ride from Adventures by the Sea. We also dined on local fresh seafood at Flaherty’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar and Peter B’s Brewpub. You can read the entire 2-day itinerary for Monterey on this TravelingMom post.

Other Things to Do in Monterey –

  • Take a hike in Big Sur. This majestic area is a must-do for anyone vacationing in Monterey.
  • The Dennis the Menace park was a favorite of my kids on our previous road trip. Lots of fun play equipment, along with peddle boats for rent along the lake front.
Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Dennis the Menace park in Monterey

Road Trip Tip #3 – Study Road Conditions

Check for road construction, updates and closures online before your trip. 7 years ago we drove Hwy 1, a two-lane route alongside the Pacific. Gorgeous, but slow-moving at times. And there is a section of this highway that is currently closed so thank goodness we’re aware of this and not planning on taking the same route this time! Check with CalTrans before your visit for a quick look at road closures.

Fairfield

About 3 hours outside of Monterey we stopped in Fairfield, home to two cool factory tours. Grown-ups will enjoy the Anheuser-Busch factory tour (with beer sampling). Kids (and adults!) will love the Jelly Belly Factory Tour. The Jelly Belly tour was really a lot of fun! They were making lots of neon colored Jelly Belly on our visit and wow, the scent was really strong! Check out our video outlining the tour:

Road Trip Tip #3 – Research Between the Big Stops

When plotting your course, check out those little towns along your route and see what they have to offer. We never would have considered a stop in Fairfield if we hadn’t seen that the Jelly Belly Factory offers tours here. Fairfield  was the perfect place to have lunch, take a family-friendly tour and make memories!

Lake Tahoe & Reno

After two days along the Pacific, we headed inland for “snow-much” more adventure! We stopped in Lake Tahoe and Reno Nevada area, where we visited family and exploring the area. We stayed with my husband’s family, except for one overnight at the Atlantis Casino in the city. I was in heaven, getting pampered in the Atlantis Casino spa for my very first massage!

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Enjoying the snow in Reno, Nevada

Road Trip Tip #4 Allow Plenty of Travel Time –

The last time we drove this route (from Monterey to Reno) we got held up in a snow storm. Being SoCal natives, neither of us had ever driven in a snow storm before so it was a very tense few hours. After putting on chains, it was a late night white-knuckle drive through the pass that had us arriving to our destination several hours later than expected. This time we allowed ourselves plenty of drive time and left much earlier in the day.

Bishop

Our final day of travel included an overnight in Bishop, CA, one place we’ve never been before. We arrived late at Law’s Historic Village, and wished we’d had more time. It was a snapshot of the old West, including trains, incredibly detailed historical rooms and a gold mine reproduction. We took a warm dip at Keough’s Hot Springs. Bishop is where many “cowboy” movies were filmed, so as we left town we stopped in for a tour of the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine.

Other Things to Do in Bishop –

  • Even though it looks like a hole-in-the-wall, stop in at the Burger Barn for delicious grass-fed beef burgers and handcrafted shakes.
  • Older kids who like history, may enjoy a visit to Manzanar (a Japanese-American internment camp).
  • Take a short hike in the Alabama Hills to view some of the movie sites.
  • For a more in-depth review on some of these activities, see 6 Unique Family Experiences in California’s Eastern Sierra on TravelingMom.com.

Road Trip Tip #5 A Mix of Fun and Learning –

Along your travels see where you can combine history and teaching as well as fun. From Law’s Historical Village to the Manzanar site (place where Japanese Americans were interned during WWII) there was lots to learn in Bishop. If you have very young children, be sure to leave space in your itinerary for free play and fun.

What are your road trip tips? Share with me in the comments!

Check out these helpful tips for a California road trip.

Can’t Afford a Trip? 7 Ways to Take a Family Vacation on a Budget

Taking a Family Vacation on a Budget

For a majority of families, what stops them from the family vacation of their dreams is their wallets. They think they can’t afford a vacation.

I think they’re wrong.

Even as a family on a tight budget, we’ve found that there are many ways to make a vacation happen.

Travel brings so much joy, adventure and memories to families. I can safely say that most of our happiest family memories are from our vacations. I’m sure I’m not alone in that sentiment.

So why aren’t you taking a vacation? What is truly stopping you from planning and going on that dream vacation? And if your answer is “money”, here are a few ideas to consider.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Think You Can’t Afford a Trip?

According to a recent survey on Spring Break Family Travel, conducted by Vacatia, TravelingMom and TravelingDad, agreeing on a budget and coordinating payment is a concern for 36% of respondents. If you’re on a tight budget than you might fall in that 36% range.

I’ll be frank though – My family is on a tight budget and we still find a way to take several vacations a year. I think family travel is way more important than having the newest gadgets. That little sacrifice can go a long way! Here are 7 ways we make those all-important vacations happen:

1. Day to Day Savings

Naturally your day-to-day spending can make or break whether you have extra vacation money or not (those lattes add up!) By cutting back on little things (generic instead of name brand, packing a lunch instead of purchasing), you can always seem to “find money” that can be used for your vacation.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Every dollar counts! Put saved money towards your trip & get the kids involved.

Yeah, it can be a downer to eat pb&j from home when you’d rather get a sandwich at the deli but the $5+ savings means more money for you to take that trip. But there are little ways to cut back without it feeling like a major sacrifice. Consider a month of no extra expenses. Take a hard look at all the money going out and choose a few easy ways you can save on expenses.

2. What Can You Do Without?

I’d rather plan another vacation than have cable television. That’s just me, but traveling is just more fun than watching TV. I make the choice to do without. What do you have that you could cut back, freeing up more money for a trip?

It can be hard to tell the kids “no” when it comes to spending on things. When my older kids ask why they can’t have a cell phone or my preschooler wants a toy at the store, I use a distraction technique. I remind them about an impending trip and how we’re using extra money towards our vacation. Then I’ll bring up a certain part of the trip I know they’ll want to talk about and soon enough they’re excited, talking about the vacation instead.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

3. Buy Less Stuff

A recent article suggested that parents should spend less on toys and take more vacations. I’m all for that. We save toy purchases only at Christmas and even then, we try to choose high-quality classic items that work for a wide age group.

We take this concept of limiting stuff even further by branching out into other parts of our home. All the money saved by not buying “stuff” (Dollar Spot, I’m looking at you!) goes into our vacation fund.

4. Use Points for Your Trips

I’m not a huge credit card hacker but I do have a few practical and very easy tips for earmarking points towards travel. Since we do a lot of Disney travel, I have a Disney Visa that I use to pay household bills. The Disney Dollars earned go towards our meals at each trip and we have very little out-of-pocket expenses there.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Our Costco Visa is used solely for groceries and gas and we earned about $250 in Costco cash last year. I took the check we received to Costco, they cashed it out for me and I’m using that money on our road trip. I’ve also plotted out on a map where all the Costco gas stations are on our route so we can get our gasoline at a great price! We purchased 2 new cell phones at Costco last year and received a $450 Costco gift card rebate so this is our gas money for the road trip.

I also use and love Ebates and book all my travel through the links. I get paid in a “Big Fat Check” and naturally, that’s money to go right towards the vacation.

5. Realize that Separate Vacations Are Okay

According to the responses in the survey, 38% say that coordinating everyone’s schedules is the worst part of planning a vacation. And once you do choose a date that works for everyone there’s also the challenge of making everyone happy. 32 percent say the ickiest part of planning is finding a destination that makes everyone happy and 24 percent say it’s choosing accommodations that will make everyone happy.

Here’s a solution to this issue – Plan separate vacations. Don’t wait until you can get things “just right” because that day might never come. When trying to work out a trip between my husband’s work and school schedule, the kid’s school year and allotted vacation time, finding that week when everyone is available is the equivalent to a needle in a haystack.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

We compromise with separate vacations. My husband likes going to Disneyland as a family once a year for a few days but traveling cross-country to Walt Disney World for a week is not his idea of fun. He’d rather be riding the ocean waves in his kayak, fishing for tuna (definitely not my style!) while the kids play in the sand.

Our kids get the best of both experiences and nobody is gritting their teeth through a week of something they’re not happy with. And on the budget-side of this, a vacation with fewer family members is going to cost less.

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

6. Find Ways to Budget on the Trip

Once you nail down the itinerary, decide what features of the trip are the most important to you. If spending time at a fancy hotel suite is a must-do, place the majority of your budget there. If you don’t care where you lay your head, then scrimp on the hotel costs and drop your money where it matters most, like on activities or meals. Survey respondents note that they spend about half of their travel budget on accommodations, which tells me that maybe the call of the upscale hotel pool is high!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

7. Take the Time Off (and Save More)

If you’re white-knuckling those sick leave hours, you might need a vacation! Here’s a hint: Your coworkers can survive without you. Take the vacation time!

If you wait until summer vacation when the kids are out of school, the costs of a trip during peak travel season will be higher. Consider pulling the kids out so you can plan your vacation when the travel prices are best. I’m taking my kids out this spring for 5 days so we can take a road trip. I was able to contact their schools about independent study. The kids will be able to get their school work done on the road and not get “dinged” with unexcused absences while they’re gone.

Research tells us that family vacations have long-lasting impact on your child’s happiness. I know that seeing my children soaking in new experiences is going to have a greater impact on their lives than any gadget ever will!

Think you can't afford a trip? Here are 7 tips on how to take that family vacation on a budget, without crazy sacrifice or drastic penny-pinching!

Save money on your family vacation!

Purchase discount vacation packages to destinations like Orlando, Hawaii and California from my affiliate Get Away Today. They even offer a layaway program for as little as $125 down.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).