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Being a parent is a wonderful experience. Parenting means being part of it all from the first tooth to the first grandchild. One way to enjoy life even more is to travel with kids. It’s time to think about highly-specific details. This includes the desired destination, the choice of transportation and making sure that the kids are happy while they’re on their way there. Whether you’re traveling with twin babies or teens, the key to family fun is lots of advanced preparation and thinking about what will make everyone happy.

Deciding on a Destination

One of the first things to do is decide on a destination. Many parents already have an idea of the kind of vacation they want. This might be a tropical island or a ski resort that caters to adults and children. Setting up finances for the trip with installment loan direct lenders is a great way to begin. Timing is also important. Kids are off during the summer months, making many parents on a set schedule when it comes to deciding on a time frame for the vacation. A mother should be especially careful to practice self-care as plans her vacation. Think about a child’s special interests. For example, a kid might have a special love of water sports or have a particular academic bent. In that case, bringing the child to places where they can play on the beach or spend time visiting historic sites and museums when it rains is a good bet.

Driving or Flying?

Another factor to take into account is how to get there. This means deciding to drive or taking a plane. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Driving allows for more control. It makes it easy to get up and just leave. Driving also lets families bring everything they need with them in one convenient place. At the same time, driving takes a long time. Flying is typically quicker and makes it possible to consider options such as Europe, South America and the rest of the world. However, flying can be costly and hard to organize. Some flights may not be available to the desired destination or only fly every so often.

Keeping Them Entertained

Once parents have decided on the right place to go with their children, it’s imperative to keep them entertained along the way. Long car trips are hard on young children. Older kids may get bored and frustrated during a long flight. It’s best to think about each kid’s needs. Some kids are visual learners. They find it useful to have visual imagery that lets them concentrate even in the middle of a busy airport. Others are fine with written materials. Any parent should go into the vacation fully prepared with a series of items that everyone traveling can enjoy. Little ones appreciate coloring books and crayons. Older kids love books that have interactive features such as mazes and puzzles. Now is also the time to bring back the art of family communication. Encourage kids to put down the videos and speak up. Create a list of topics that you know your kids care about such as baseball or caring for their favorite pets. A long car ride or waiting at the airport is the ideal time to teach kids how to engage in thoughtful and intelligent discussion with others.

Great Snacks

Traveling with kids means making sure each child has the right thing to eat. Some children have allergies and may not be able to consume gluten or other substances. In that case, it’s best to bring snacks with you. Your child may have a list of snacks they prefer that are known to be safe. Find out what you can bring on the plane before you leave. Other kids have certain food preferences. If your child lives on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, be sure to make sure you have ingredients to make them. This is also a good way to save money. Many places charge a lot of money for drinks and even a small bite to eat. Overcome this issue by bringing food with you as you go. The food you make yourself is not only less expensive than standard roadside fare. It’s also more nutritious.

Hey all! Big thanks to Katy Blevins for handing over the reins to me at the end of 2017 to fulfill my new years resolution to write...often! Based in Miami, you can find me blogging about family life as a mother of two young kids. But i'll also continue the Chaos and Kiddos theme of business, fashion, parenting, product reviews, and...well, I could go on and on.

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Travel

3 Reasons Alabama Is the Perfect Destination for a Family Vacation

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America is overflowing with beautiful states to take the family on vacation. Some are more common than others (such as New York or Hawaii). However, while Alabama might often be forgotten, the Heart of Dixie is the perfect destination for a family vacation.

Before we get to the three reasons why, we want to encourage travelers to prepare their smartphones. After all, Alabama is home to scenic and breathtaking adventures, from golf courses to Instagram-worthy food displays to beaches. To ensure your camera and phone are in tip-top shape, you can visit one of the many AT&T stores in Alabama.

Now that your phone and family are ready for some serious photo ops, it’s time to take a family trip to Alabama.

The Beauty of Alabama’s Gulf Coast

While Florida, California, and Hawaii get all the credit for their beaches, the Alabama Gulf Coast is home to 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches, made of quartz grains that were washed down from the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago.

Fast forward to today, and the pristine beaches have become tourism wonderlands. While places such as Florida still get more attention, the beaches of Alabama can be considered hidden gems because they tend to be less crowded and are perfect for you and the family.

The best part is that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are year-round destinations with the average highs in January (the coldest month of the year) still being 59 degrees.

Just like all beach destinations, the Gulf Coast is home to restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment for the entire family, such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, zip-line tours, and other excursions.

Tourist Attractions

Speaking of entertainment for the whole family, Alabama is no stranger to must-see attractions.

To prove that point, here are some destinations you and the family should visit:

  • The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the largest spaceflight museum in the world.
  • Neversink is a 162-foot open air pit in Jackson County, Alabama and is a nature wonder you don’t want to miss.
  • Golf courses, sporting events, and other outdoor activities like seeing beautiful waterfalls flood Alabama and will provide plenty things to do.
  • History and culture: From the Battleship Memorial Park to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama is home to important monuments, museums, and historical sites.

Alabama is Affordable

One of the main reasons people don’t go on vacation is because they can’t justify the price. With Alabama being so affordable it is exactly why it’s the perfect destination for a family vacation. After all, according to CNBC, Alabama is one of the cheapest states to live in America. When a place is affordable, it’s that much easier (and in many cases possible) to take a vacation from a money standpoint. That’s a huge bonus if you’ve been wanting to take the entire family on a vacation.

That, simply put, can mean more southern BBQ for you and the family, which should be music to your taste buds because Alabama is known for its pit stops and barbeque joints. It could also mean a cheaper vacation overall.

The state of Alabama has so much to offer and, given all of the reasons above, it’s the perfect destination for a family vacation, especially if you still want to book a trip to a warm-weather climate that features sandy beaches.

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A journey you’ll never forget: the Camino de Santiago from Sarria

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When you decide to take on your first Camino de Santiago challenge, you will be preparing yourself for a journey that will live with you forever. You will not only challenge yourself physically, but also see many beautiful sights and have so many new experiences.

Traditionally a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago is now a modern pilgrimage loved by those seeking a spiritual break from our busy world as much as hiking, cycling and cultural enthusiasts.

The Camino de Santiago is a large network of routes from many different starting locations, all of which are spectacular in their own special way. But for those on their first journey, the Camino Frances starting at Sarria with santiago ways is a perfect way for beginners to start.

Sarria, a place full of history and culture

Sarria is around 111km from Santiago, just over the minimum distance that is required for pilgrims to be eligible for the traditional ‘compostela’ certificate that verifies they have completed the Camino de Santiago.

It is a great way to really capture the essence of the Camino. The route takes you through beautiful towns and cities and charming medieval villages and inspiring landscapes.

In the centre of Sarria you have the chance to see beautiful churches,chapels, monasteries and pilgrim hospitals. The main street, rea Maior, is a gorgeous picturesque place and the Church of Santa Marina, the Castle and the Fortress of Sarria are well worth a visit.

From here there is a relaxed hike to Portomarin, 22 km away along country roads past traditional Galician granaries. Highly recommended is a quick stop to the Romanesque church at Barbadelo.

A beautiful green landscape and fantastic local cuisine

One of the best things about this route, is the beautiful forests, farmlands and rustic villages, and stonewall lined trails and paths typical of the Galician landscape.

Leaving Portomarin, the route crosses the Miño River and ascends to the Sierra de Ligonde. Heading through to Palas de Rei, you will see many quaint typical country villages, such as Gonzar and Ventas de Narón.

The next stage from Arzua to Amenal passes through beautiful forests and more quiet villages. You will also be able to see the famous statue of Santiago in the Chapel of St. Irene.

At each overnight stop there are quaint bed and breakfasts to stop at, and many lovely little local restaurants and eateries, so you can not only experience the stunning surroundings, but also get a taste of Northern Spain as well. If you want to split up any of the journeys, so you can take in a little more and ease the day’s hiking that is also possible. The pace and itinerary can be planned to how you like it

A great sense of achievement as you reach Santiago de Compostela

As you reach the final day of your pilgrimage or challenge you will feel a growing sense of achievement, and maybe even share that experience with other travellers on the route. A quick stock at Lavacolla, on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela, where traditionally pilgrims would wash in the river to prepare for their arrival  in the city. As you approach along the Monte do Gozo hill you will be able to see your final destination, the Cathedral, in the distance.

Arriving at your journey’s end in Santiago

The architecture here is incredible. You will easily find yourself captivated by the historic centre, it is no surprise that it have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You must arrive in time to participate in the Pilgrim’s Mass. Here you can also receive the ‘compostela’ certificate, and take a little time to visit the city and local area.

You may even wish to relax there for a day or two before heading home and really take in the feel of the place.  A day trip to Finisterre or the Cies Islands comes highly recommended.

One thing is for certain, you will never forget the memories you have made, the friends and people met on your journey or the difference you now feel spiritually. In fact you may find yourself hooked and already planning to walk one of the other Camino de Santiago walks.

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Travel

5 Tips for an Amazing Babymoon

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For the uninitiated, a “babymoon” is a vacation that a couple takes before starting a family. Typically, this trip occurs after a woman becomes pregnant, but before she reaches the stage in her gestation period when she can no longer travel. Babymoons have become increasingly popular in recent years, and they offer happy couples one last opportunity to enjoy a holiday together before they settle down into parenthood. If you’ve been thinking about planning a babymoon of your own –– or are interested in taking one eventually –– then check out these five tips to ensure your babymoon is a blast:

Get Your Ducks in a Row

Naturally, pregnant women should speak with their doctor often. However, it’s particularly important for pregnant women to consult a medical professional before they go on vacation. Your doctor may advise you to cancel a trip if they feel you’re unable to travel safely –– or if you’re too far along in your pregnancy. (Typically, women take babymoons during their second trimester, for reference.) Let your doctor know about your plans as soon as possible, and make it a point to visit a testing clinic before you depart. 

Select the Right Destination 

A babymoon should, ideally, allow you and your partner to enjoy each other’s company and relax. As such, some travel destinations are more suited to babymoons than others. Las Vegas might be a great place for a bachelorette party, but it’s far from perfect for a babymoon.

Account for Your Hormones

Every pregnancy is different, but almost all are turbulent to some degree. Strange food cravings, mood swings, morning sickness, aches and pains –– they can all still occur even if you take a trip halfway across the world. Rather than trying to ignore these hormonal changes, pick a destination that will help you handle them accordingly.

Talk to Your Partner 

Yes, this trip should be all about the mom-to-be (and we’ll get to that in a moment). Yet it doesn’t make much sense to alienate your partner and plan a holiday they won’t enjoy in the slightest. Talk to your partner and set aside time for a few activities you’ll both relish.

Indulge

There’s no two ways around it –– pregnancy is stressful. From the physical toll, to the new financial responsibilities of starting a family, everything about impending motherhood can feel daunting. Babymoons, then, should allow expecting moms relax, unwind, and relieve some tension –– if even for a few days. Eat what you want, sunbathe, nap, take in a few tourist attractions, and do whatever else your heart desires. It’s what babymoons are for!

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