Guest Post By: Norshafa Wati Nordin
Travelling to Europe just by yourself without any toddler could be a pain in the you-know-where already. It’s even more challenging to travel anywhere with a toddler in tow! Most people, especially new moms, would be shocked at the thought of traveling overseas with young kids. A toddler is more resilient and inquisitive but also needs a good pace when traveling because he can get cranky, moody, or tired especially if you’re visiting a walkathon type of areas in Europe.. Can you imagine? The key first and foremost for all of you to enjoy the trip is the pre-planning!
So, if you are wanting to visit the majestic scenes in Europe, here are some tips for traveling with toddlers:
Make sure you have a complete carry-on bag.
Whether you’re just about to board your flight, or are about to embark on a day of sightseeing, make sure you have a good amount of diapers, clothes, towels, formula, ointment, pacifier, etc. Messes can happen in the span of a few hours, so it’s good to be prepared. Ensure you have a first-aid kit as well, just in case.
If you’re traveling to a place with cold weather, bundle up appropriately.
A cold toddler is not a happy toddler - and you don’t want that as a parent as well! Bring a blanket or two for the flight. When going out, be sure he’s covered from head to toe. Double or triple mittens and socks if you need to.
Pack familiar things to help him be entertained.
They don’t always have the longest attention spans, and a 10-hour flight can be really boring for them if they have nothing to do Toys that your toddler loves can keep him distracted during plane landings and takeoffs, as well as during long periods of travel.
As a mom, you always have that voice in the back of your mind telling you “Oh, you might need this!” over and over again! Packing light means packing only those multipurpose essentials you absolutely need for the trip. After all, small things like toiletries can be bought or provided by your hotel.
Try to keep journeys not too long.
If you’re taking a car ride from one point to another that could take hours, your toddler could get restless. There are also meals and potty breaks to account for. Take a look at your itinerary as a whole and make sure that it’s reasonable for your kids.
I’m sure other seasoned travelers also have a ton of tips for traveling with toddlers. Let me know if you have more tips in the comments below!
Norshafa is a social media strategist, blogger & freelance writer. She blogs at jenjalankami.wordpress.com (her family travel blog) and simplemomjourney.com (her parenting & social media blog).
She loves writing about social media, motherhood and travel. Combining passion for photography and writing, she aims to share information on life and places, even if it's just 5 minutes from home!
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It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween… Crisp air, colorful leaves and the thrill of being scared. Looking for a spooky adrenaline rush? There are lots of Netflix options, but visiting a haunted place in person is the ultimate adventure! Here is my list of 3 of the most haunted travel destinations to get in the SPIRIT!
Savannah’s sweet southern charm along with being known as “America’s Most Haunted City” make it a popular destination. With an interesting and long history filled with pirates, slaves and battles during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the streets and squares of Savannah hold a supernatural energy - especially at night.
For a unforgettable experience stay at the Marshall House. This house was used as a hospital and during the winter when the ground was hard, amputated parts were buried under the floor. Misty figures without limbs have been seen and your feet might get “tickled” in the middle of the night!
Savannah’s best spooky spots:
New Orleans, Louisiana
Another charming southern destination, tales of Voodoo and excessive indulgence abound here in addition to many haunted tales. The Yellow Fever Epidemic 1817-1905 killed about 41,000 people who were buried in mass graves surrounding the city.
The cemeteries, or “Cities of the Dead” in New Orleans are a definite must see on a visit there. Since the area is below sea level, the high water table in this area caused burial issues. These were solved by tombs placed above the ground in rows that look like streets.
Although there are many cemeteries to visit, the most famous would be St. Louis Cemetery 1 where the famous Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau is said to rest. Or maybe not… There are frequent sightings of her apparition wandering the grounds in either human form or in the shape of her pet snake, Zombi.
Famous haunted spots in New Orleans:
San Francisco, California
Head west to the San Francisco Bay area for the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and a little ghost hunting. With a history including the Bubonic Plague in 1899 and underground speakeasies, ghost sightings are plentiful.
The looming island fortress of Alcatraz looming in San Francisco Bay is the most famous of the area's haunted sites. Long before it was home to the prison, Native Americans and early explorers found the island an unsettling negative place with a disturbing atmosphere.
In 1870 the old light house station was turned into a prison. Alcatraz housed some famous inmates for the early 20th Century including Al Capone. There are stories of suicides and murders. Records of prison escapees include 6 who were shot, 2 drowned and 5 that were presumed drowned. A popular rumor is that many prisoners at Alcatraz went crazy due to claims of ghostly activity including whispering and clanking chains. Skeptical prison guards also were known to report unusual spooky activity. Schedule a visit to Alcatraz at night for some paranormal chills.
Scary spots to explore in the San Francisco Bay area:
These three haunted travel destinations are just the tip of the ghostly iceberg. Lists abound, ranging from the quirky to the macabre and everything in between. One thing is for certain: there’s a haunted place to explore in every corner of the United States.
Whether your travel interests include the supernatural, or more earthly explorations —
I can help! CLICK HERE to contact me!
Please comment below with your favorite haunted destination in the United States!
When it comes to taking a river or ocean cruise, it is pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities and the opportunity to explore interesting ports. However, each type of cruise comes with its own unique perks.
One of the biggest differences is intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller and as a result, you are likely to do much more interacting with other passengers and crew members. Usually river cruises have under 200 passengers. The smaller ship size translates to less amenities which normally include libraries, workout rooms and cultural programs. Wine is normally included in the price of the cruise and some cruise lines include specific excursions as well. Each day you are introduced to a new port to intimately explore through expertly crafted tours or on your own agenda. Port destinations offer a chance to learn about and experience the culture of the area. While river cruises tend to be more expensive, they include more extras.
River cruises are popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together and anyone interested in learning about the culture of an area. Cabins are catered to couples. However, there has been an upward trend in families traveling to Europe and river cruise lines have recently been adjusting their accommodations to meet this need. While Adventures by Disney always has the entire family in mind on their adventures including river cruises, cruise lines such as AMA Waterways are adjusting to meet the family market by adding adjoining rooms.
With more passengers and much larger ships, ocean cruises allow you to moderate your own personal level of intimacy. Ocean cruises offer many opportunities to socialize with thousands of fellow passengers. Amenities abound with Broadway shows, skydiving simulators and clubs for the kids. You may spend some days at sea enjoying ship amenities and then you can expect port days to be exciting with exotic and high adventure excursions or taking it all in at your own pace. Often ocean cruises are headed to tropical destinations with amazing beaches and water sport opportunities. Although an ocean cruise may have a lower sticker price per person, there are often many extra charges including soda, alcohol, Wi-Fi, excursions and other amenities.
Ocean cruises are a great option for multigenerational travel. With a larger ships, staff and amenities there is something for everyone. After all, who doesn’t want everyone to be happy with little effort? This is one of the biggest challenges of family travel!
Whether you choose to cruise on the river or the ocean, both offer amazing experiences to share with the ones you love.
Which type of cruise would you choose and why? Please comment!
Click HERE for my Free Guide to River Crusing!
While most of you have been traveling for pleasure this summer, I am ending my summer with a completed checklist of college visits. It is a total different type of travel for sure! It can be hot, stressful, relentless and repetitive. Here are my tips to survive and make the most out of a summer of college visits.
Construction will be everywhere in the summer! Roadways from large to small will be under construction so be prepared and plan your travels accordingly. Campuses are under construction as well.
Somehow it seems that every college or university has a “squirrel watching club”. Some even have clubs that watch the squirrel watching club. I have no idea if these are real, but they seem to think that mentioning this on the tour will actually persuade your student to attend their school.
Do Not Take the Entire Family
With my own family, I found that when we all went it was distracting and hard for her to fully focus on the school. Also, if other families are touring with their extended family you may be in the presence of siblings that do not want to be there and are not paying attention to where they are walking because they are on their phone.
Get an Interview
While you are there anyway, set up an interview. Especially for schools high on your students list, this will emphasize your interest in their school. In addition, the school will get to know your child even better which is always helpful!
Whether you look near or far, be sure to think about how your student will get home. If close, you may just plan on driving them back and forth. If far away, it is a little trickier. It may involve planes, trains, busses and automobiles. Explore the options so that you know and are comfortable with the options.
Stay in The Heart of It
Be sure to stay in the heart of the area as close to campus as possible, even if it is a little more expensive. This will give you and your student a chance to really explore the area and campus and get the overall environmental feeling.
Bundle – But Not Too Much
Plan to see as many schools as you can with each trip. Doing them one by one is ok, but it’s nice to check them off while you are on a roll. Take a few days and see the colleges in a certain area. Do not, however, see two schools in one day. Seeing just one is exhausting and you definitely won’t get as much out of the second in one day. During each visit, be sure to schedule tours and/or appointments with the departments in which your student is interested in pursuing classes. This will help later when deciding which school to attend.
Take Pictures & Notes
If you are like us, you may have a long list of schools to check out. Make sure you take pictures to help remember the campuses. I do not recommend taking notes on everything, but it is helpful to take notes on what you like best about the school. Every college application asks about why you have chosen their school and details will make your response stand out.
Trust Your Gut
Pay attention to your comfort level and feelings while on campus. Not only does your student need to be able to see themselves there, you need to feel comfortable that your child will be happy and safe.
Enjoy Your Time Together
Although your teen will probably be doing some eye rolling at you throughout your travels, remember to enjoy the time together. Soon everything will change and this time will be a sweet memory. Use your time in the car to discuss application essay ideas and to make plans for senior year. Focus on and listen to your students hopes, dreams and worries. Fit in some fun and check out restaurants, entertainment and sports teams in the areas you visit.
I seriously do not know where the time has gone, but I do know this is going to be one crazy and exciting year. Once again time has gone too fast, but I have enjoyed every moment of my time with my daughter on these college visits. Sometimes with teenagers, you just can’t tell what they are thinking or feeling. Although you sure know when you are annoying them! Throughout the trip I was annoying, embarrassing and silly – am I really that uncool? Hopefully she will look back at that as a good thing and cherish this special time we had together. I know I will.
10 Key Places to See on College Tours - US News & World Report
The 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America - Conde Naste Traveler
Almost exactly one year ago, I headed out for the adventure of a lifetime and one I will never forget. Through my own experience in Alaska and planning a cruise tour for 80 guests, I have put together my reflections and a few Alaskan Cruise planning tips so that you can make the most out of your time in Alaska.
You have to first understand, I am a true beach bum and mostly my ideal vacation is pedicured toes in the sand with a drink in hand. I really didn’t know what to expect out of a trip to Alaska. Of course I knew it would be beautiful and cooler, but what I discovered once I was there made me fall in love with Alaska.
First, although it was a little rainy and misty it was not as cold as I thought it would be. Most of our days in port were around a comfortable 55 degrees or warmer. By the way – it IS cold when cruising the glacier though!
Alaska is wonderfully remote. If you love nature, this is a place you must see. The green trees and beautiful water set an excellent background for wildlife such as whales, moose, eagles and sea otters with their babies on top of their bellies.
The port towns are small, laid back and reminded me of the Wild West. It is really like stepping back in time. Shops filled with souvenirs and handcrafted Alaskan treasures and restaurants
with delicious food line the streets.
Fish is the dining specialty – especially halibut and salmon. Although I am not a fish girl, my fish loving friends enjoyed delicious fresh caught delicacies. Some of them also went on excursions where they caught fish that was immediately frozen and packed for them to ship or take home.
Below are my top tips for planning a cruise to Alaska…
I would recommend planning at least one year in advance for better availability and pricing. If you are thinking about going to Alaska next summer, NOW is the time to plan! Alaskan cruises fill up fast and get more expensive the closer to the sailing. Do not wait for a “sale” because in the end the price will have gone up anyway and you will not be saving anything.
Choose a one-way cruise!
Either choose to begin or end in Alaska and extend your time there. This way you are able to see so much more. These cruises usually begin or end in Vancouver, BC. I would highly recommend spending a little time there if you can. It is a great city set in a beautiful landscape with amazing views everywhere you look.
Add a land tour to your cruise for even more beauty and adventure!
We had a land tour at the end of our cruise that included Talkeetna and Denali National Park. I would not have missed these for the world. Once on land, our weather was perfect – 70s and sunny. We were extremely lucky to have had amazing views of Mt. Denali.
Pay more and get the balcony!
My only regret from the cruise would be not having a balcony. I didn’t realize how much this added to the cruise experience. My clients with balconies had front row seats to the wildlife in the water and on the shoreline. In addition, when we were cruising by Hubbard Glacier they could stay in the comfort of their cabin and see the glacier. Otherwise, you will be on the cold deck with just about everyone else trying to catch glimpses and get pictures.
Choose unique excursions that allow you to truly experience Alaska!
The excursions were amazing! There were so many that it was difficult to choose. Alaska is all about adventure – think helicopters, float planes, dog sledding, whale watching and more. My favorite was kayaking and climbing on Mendenhall Glacier. Outfitted in our gear, we paddled out to the glacier. Once there we explored the gorgeous ice caves and climbed up the glacier for some beautiful views.
Take time to respect and learn about the Alaskan culture!
Alaskan culture is SO interesting and some excursions highlight and share a true Alaskan experience such as tribal dances and historical tours.
In Anchorage, check out the Alaska Native Heritage Center for an interactive experience.
Don’t stress too much about packing
I wish I would not have spent so much time agonizing over what to pack. Heading to Alaska, especially your first time, can be a packing nightmare because you just don’t know what to expect.
Pack comfortable and casual. You will need at least 2 nice outfits for formal dinner nights, but for the rest of the time think jeans, leggings, t-shirts and sweatshirts. I would describe my usual attire as sporty - you are on an adventure, right? For the most part, think an average of about 55 degrees and misty/rainy. Glacier cruising days and excursions are the only times you would want a hat and gloves. On the other end of the scale, add some shorts just in case you get some warmer weather.
I hope this inspires you to plan your own bucket list trip to Alaska with a little less worry and a whole lot more excited anticipation!
See more about Alaska in my guest post 5 Alaska Destinations That Will Blow Your Mind
As you get ready to take off on your anxiously awaited summer vacation, here’s a quick list of 5 smartphone apps that can help you get organized, find great deals, and save you money along the way.
1. Waze - Whether your trip involves a lot of road travel, or you just want to find a faster way to get to places in your own city, consider Waze. Recently purchased by Google, it uses social media input to give real-time updates on traffic situations. So, for example, if there’s a game downtown in the city you’re visiting and you are trying to navigate that same area to get to a restaurant, Waze can help so that you can avoid the tangle, wasted time and fuel!
2. GasBuddy – GasBuddy is another app that takes advantage of the constant updates and interaction of crowdsourcing. People input gas prices and keep an eye out for low prices, so users can quickly and easily search for gas stations nearby and compare prices to ensure the best deal in their area.
3. TripIt Travel Planner - This is a great tool to use in partnership with your travel agent and it is my favorite! I use this one all the time with my clients, especially on complex itineraries. You can basically have all the important details of your trip at your fingertips in one convenient place – reservation details, confirmation numbers, tour tickets, events and activities. You know all those confirmation emails that you get from hotels, airlines, car rental services and more — the ones you frantically search for in your Inbox the night before you leave on a vacation? Your travel agent can simply send all these emails along to email@example.com, which will then magically generate a digital itinerary that you can refer to on your mobile device. It also provides weather info and maps of your destinations. You can add multiple trips to TripIt if you're a frequent traveler, or just use it for a single vacation. TripIt was awarded Best Travel Mobile App for 2011 at the Webby Awards. All the services described above are free, or you can upgrade to a paid version for even more cushy service and alerts.
4. Around Me - Ever find yourself in an unfamiliar city, and you just want a decent cup of coffee or a place to buy an extra toothbrush? This application tells you all the points of interest that are located near you. It detects your current location, and lets you select from categories like bars, cafés, hospitals, pharmacies, and hotels so that you can filter though the results.
5. Road Trippers — This is a fun travel tool made for the iPhone as an app but is also available via mobile web so you can use it with Android, Blackberry, and other smartphone platforms. I love and have used this one too! Here is how it works: you type in your starting and destination points and it tells you distance, time and estimated gas costs. This is great for short or long trips. While the distance-finding feature itself isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, with RoadTrippers you can opt to see all the attractions worth seeing along the way, from the obvious to the wonderfully ridiculous. You can also choose to see gas stations, camp grounds, restaurants, hotels, etc.
There are tons of apps to explore and this is just a glimpse — but these should add some fun and help you plan and save a few dollars and time.
Enjoy your summer! Please comment below on YOUR favorite travel apps!
Let’s face it – travel can be expensive. So why should you spend your precious pennies on a vacation? Is it really worth it?
As it turns out, travel is the BEST way to spend your money! Of all the things you can buy, the experience of traveling gives you, by far, the most bang for your buck. The following fantastic elements of travel have been proven to make people happier.
EVERY part of the travel experience before, during, and after is more satisfying, more enjoyable, and has longer-lasting positive effects than buying stuff.
For me, planning is one of the most exciting parts of a vacation. When planning, you get to make progress and take steps towards realizing your dream. Each step is actually part of the adventure itself. Anticipation and thoughts of where you are going to go, what you’re going to see, and all the adventure that awaits give you something to look forward to and happiness.
The travel time itself comes with a bunch of obvious benefits: you get to spend time with people you love; you get to see new things and try new things; you get to relax away from the pressures of work and everyday life; you get the thrill of fulfilling dreams you may have had for a long time.
After you take an amazing trip, you have the memories of good times together that can never be taken away. Every time you think of that trip, or you see something that reminds you of it, your brain registers those joyful times and releases mood-enhancing chemicals that make you feel like you’re re-living the happiness of the experience itself. It stays with you, and you get to access it whenever you want.
In 2003, Thomas Gilovich published his landmark study called “To Do Or Have That Is The Question” a study that, more than a decade on, continues to influence social psychology and the study of what brings us true contentment. Gilovich looked at how economic choices affect well-being and analyzed the differences between experiential and material purchases on human happiness. His unexpected discovery has changed the way we look at our buying habits: Across the board, doing things makes people happier than having things.
In fact, travel trends over the last few years show an increase in the popularity of "experiential travel". People are choosing to travel not only to see the things on their ultimate bucket lists, but to experience unique opportunities that they will never forget. The new mindset - collect memories not things.
My family may not have the biggest house on the block, the fanciest car or a closet filled with expensive clothes. But – we have traveled a lot and no one else has the priceless memories of beautiful adventures with our family. Travel makes us happy and for us, the experience is much more valuable than anything we could purchase. I am lucky to have a husband that loves to travel as much as I do and together we have made it a priority in our life. Are we crazy to spend money on travel rather than things? No, I think it’s worth every penny.
A few articles to inspire you:
7 Reasons Why Spending Money on Experiences Makes Us Happier Than Buying Stuff
The Secret to Happiness? Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things
Please share your thoughts below!
Growing up in Michigan, I spent many lazy days at the beach soaking up the sun and hunting for treasures of beach glass and Indian beads along the shore. It was the perfect way to spend summer. As a little girl and now with my own family, I have adventured all around the state. I guess you could say I’m a little partial to The Great Lakes State, but there is no doubt it is an amazing summer destination! Here are my Top 5 Fun Family Michigan Summer Favorites.
2. South Haven
We have spent vacations and weekend stops in South Haven just to hang out at the beach and have yummy food. Just north of Harbor Country is South Haven with a sweet little downtown and beautiful boardwalk along the Black River Channel to Lake Michigan and South Beach. From here you can walk out to the iconic South Haven Lighthouse. On the other side of the channel lies North Beach. South Haven is known to be the blueberry capital of the world and hosts an annual Blueberry Festival (August 9-12, 2018). A trip to South Haven would not be complete without a visit to Clementine’s, an old bank turned restaurant. Clementine’s is usually packed, but their onion rings on a stick are worth the wait.
3. Traverse City
Our family loves Traverse City because there is so much to do in and around the town and there is always something fun happening! A much longer drive north will bring you to the Cherry Capital of the world, Traverse City. A vibrant downtown home to the National Cherry Festival (July 30-August 7, 2018), complete with cherry pies and cherry pit spitting contests. Traverse City is set on two bays – the East and West, offering water activities sheltered from the sometimes wild waves of Lake Michigan. In between the bays is Mission Peninsula which boasts the 45th parallel. This peninsula is a beautiful drive with views of the water on both sides at times. Along the drive stop for samples at the wineries as this is a perfect climate for wine growing. Have a tasty dinner at Sleder's and kiss the moose for good luck!
4. Sleeping Bear Dunes
This is a favorite because we love the huge dunes and the beautiful view. A view you wouldn’t expect in Michigan. West of Traverse City is the land of Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Leelenau Peninsula. You will find rolling hills, lakes, beautiful scenery and more cherries and wine. Don’t miss the Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor with more gourmet cherry products and gifts than you can imagine. Sleeping Bear Dunes is an incredible national park and was named after a legend of a mama bear and her two cubs. These dunes are so incredibly beautiful that Good Morning America appointed the park “The Most Beautiful Place in America”. Take a canoe or tube down the Crystal River and end at a gorgeous beach in the middle of the park for a picnic.
5. Mackinac Island
Out of the many places our travels have taken us, Mackinac Island is one of our absolute family favorites! It is peaceful, relaxing and like no other island in the world. Just a few hours north of Traverse City, park your car in Mackinac City and take a ferry across to Mackinac Island. No cars are allowed on the island, only bikes and horses. With a circumference of 8 miles, the bike trail around the island is a nice beautiful ride. Make a stop at Arch Rock and along the route to spend some time stacking rocks on the shore of the cold and crystal clear water. After the ride, walk the quaint main street for some shopping and fudge tasting. Head up the hill to the Grand Hotel and gaze at its historic beauty and two football field long porch. A stay at the Grand Hotel is an incredible treat, as decadent as it’s infamous “Pecan Ball”. You can stay in Mackinac City and just ferry across for a day or two, but to stay on the island and have it all to yourself after the last ferry leaves is magical.
Visit any of these 5 favorites to make some incredible and lasting summer memories. And while you are there, don’t forget to try Blue Moon ice cream – one of our Michigan traditions and another one of my favorites!
Please share YOUR Michigan summer family favorites in the comments section below!
Welcome to my new blog, “Travel A Latte”! Obviously, I travel a lot and love coffee. Grab a latte and join me on this adventure, it is sure to be an interesting one as I’m new to the blogging scene. But, I’m ready for take off and to learn to fly.
My name is Nikki. I grew up in small town in Harbor Country in Southwest Michigan. As a little girl, I dreamed of being a glamorous Stewardess and traveling the world. Well, that didn’t happen. However, I majored in German Studies in college and worked for an international wine importer and a German Bank.
I now live just west of Chicago with my family. I am a wife and mom of two teenage girls. Making fun and lasting family memories is important to my family and luckily my husband likes to travel as much as I do. We may not have the biggest house on the block, but we do have lots of priceless memories from the many places we have been lucky enough to visit.
As a Michigan girl, I’m a little partial to that great state. There is so much to see and explore from beaches to islands! My other absolute favorites are Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. My family and I have been on many exciting vacations inside and outside of the country including Alaska, Arizona, California, Europe, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Antigua, Jamaica, and Mexico.
Travel is my passion! I love everything about it from researching, planning, packing to taking off! For me, travel planning is one of the most exciting parts and I especially like to research for clients to find the perfect fit. I take time to carefully plan every vacation as if it is my own. Being a travel agent is truly my dream job and I love it!
I have created this blog so that I can share my knowledge of the amazing places I have been and share travel stories, favorites, tips and more. I spend tons of time researching the heck out of destinations and travel tips and I hope to share some helpful information and ideas.
So basically, if you are a fellow travel addict, this blog is for you!
I hope travelalatteblog.com will be a source of travel information that is fun, inspiring, and helpful. If you have any questions or travel topics you would like to hear about, please comment below or contact me. I would love to hear from you!