Vagabond Family Travel - Helping long-term travelling families
Living a family travel (or nomadic) lifestyle throws a lot of challenges your way and we are here to help you prepare, plan and live a less common lifestyle with your children. We Provide long-term travelling families with a means to meet and share with other families.
Sure Texas cities are full of fun family attractions like theme parks, state fairs, and acclaimed zoos and museums, but out in the West Texas desert, you’ll find some of the state’s best-kept secrets. West Texas might not be a destination on your family’s radar, but you may be pleasantly surprised to hear about all of the exciting locations and activities that this region has to offer.
So pack up the car, and get ready to embark on eight unforgettable West Texas experiences.
Davis Mountains State Park
Whether your family camps often or is dipping their toes in the water for the first time, Davis Mountains State Park is the perfect place to pitch a tent. During the day, hike the mountain trails within the park, let the kids bike around the campsites, or take the scenic Skyline Drive for some incredible views.
And if your family isn’t sure about the camping life just yet, stay in the Indian Lodge, located within the park. This iconic white adobe lodge has a rustic charm but includes all of the typical modern amenities of a hotel, including a swimming pool and the famous Black Bear Cafe.
Even though Davis Mountains State Park is tucked away in the mountains, it isn’t far from the town of Fort Davis. After a tiring day of park activities, nothing hits the spot like an old fashioned root beer float and a tasty diner meal at the Fort Davis Drug Store. Continue your blast to the past with a tour of the Fort Davis National Historic Site, a restored cavalry post with all kinds of exhibits recounting the old west. Kids will have fun with activities geared towards them like scavenger hunts and the junior ranger program.
Kids and adults alike will be amazed and wowed at the McDonald Observatory. Operated by the University of Texas at Austin, this astrological research facility is home to one of the world’s largest optical telescopes, along with numerous other hi-tech machines that let scientists gaze into the universe. Though it is a research facility, the McDonald Observatory has also made it their mission to inform, educate, and inspire the public.
During the day, explore Hobby-Eberly Telescope or check out the Solar Viewing Program. In the evening, catch a Twilight Program, which is theater-based that exhibits live scale models of the solar system, interactive demonstrations, and high-resolution images of space. Perhaps the favorite show of all is the Star Party. Star Parties begin with a guided orientation of the night sky in an outdoor amphitheater. Everyone will love learning about the constellations before going off to look at telescopes that the observatory staff has set up around the grounds. Make sure to book your Star Party reservation in advance because they fill up quick!
Big Bend National Park
Your family could easily spend a week (or more) at Big Bend National Park because they aren’t lying when they say it’s big. In fact, the park covers 801,000 acres and runs along 118 miles of the Rio Grande River. Experience all sorts of outdoor recreational activities from horseback riding to rafting to nature watching. Hike along the park’s trails, which range from multi-day treks to easy, little-kid-friendly paved walks. At night, roast s’mores by a fire, tell stories, and enjoy one another’s company under the starry night sky.
Ventrue down to the Rio Grande, where you’ll find neat attractions like the Hot Springs Historic District. Sitting on the edge of the river is the foundational remains of the Langford bathhouse, which contain the geothermally heated water that bubbles from the ground. Older kids and adults will enjoy relaxing in these calm waters.
And like Davis Mountains State Park, Big Bend has comfortable lodges if your family isn’t up for roughing it. The park is also known for its many, many miles of scenic drives if your bunch prefers to stay in the vehicle where it’s cool.
Balmorhea State Park
As a literal oasis in the desert, the pool at Balmorhea State Park has been providing a relaxing place to cool off for residents and visitors since it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It still holds the title as the world’s largest spring-fed pool thanks to the 15 million gallons of water per day that bubble up from the San Solomon Springs.
At its deepest point, the pool is 30 feet deep with a natural rock bottom. If your children (or yourself) are feeling daring, there’s a high dive to test your fears. The other, shallower end of the pool features even flooring and is perfect for smaller children who are not yet strong swimmers. For those who are extra adventurous, the park permits snorkeling and scuba diving in the pool as well.
The small town of Marfa is becoming well known for its art scene, but long before that it was defined by the mysterious phenomenon known simply as the Marfa Lights. Ghostly flickering specs of light have been spotted just outside of town since 1883, and to this day no one can explain them. Visit the viewing area just outside of town, where you’re most likely to spot these bizarre lights dancing across the night sky. See them for yourself and let everyone hypothesize their reason behind the illumination. Is it aliens? Ghosts? Campfires in the distance? Atmospheric reflection? No matter your family’s opinions, you will all get a chance to bond over this unique experience.
Chinati Foundation Museum
Take a break from the sun and head indoors to the Chinati Foundation Museum in Marfa. This museum that was once an army artillery shed now serves as one of the world’s largest collections of minimalist art and is largely the reason that Marfa has become the art hub that it has. For those truly dedicated to art, the Full Collection Tour can take up the whole day. If you just plan on stopping in, consider the shorter 2.5-hour Selections Tour. Regardless, everyone is sure to enjoy the unique works found in this museum.
Caverns of Sonora
Halfway between Big Bend and San Antonio, where the Hill Country and Chihuahuan Desert meet, lies the Caverns of Sonora. Take a guided tour and explore the earth,155 feet under. Even young kids will be fascinated with the cave exploring and geology lessons. Witness incredible rock formations with stalactites clinging to the cave ceilings and bold stalagmites building up from the ground.
Romania has many breathtaking natural sceneries and a long list of attractions that make it worth exploring on your next holiday. If you’re looking for a destination where the entire family can have fun and learn something new, Romania will surprise you with plenty of great places and a variety of things to do that you can’t find somewhere else and will keep your kids entertained. From medieval castles to waterparks, from national reservations to museums that kids will love, here are the top Romanian destinations to include on your family vacation:
Visit Dracula’s Castle
This list couldn’t start with anything other than Bran Castle, Transylvania’s most famous attraction, which has become so widely known due to the castle’s association with count Dracula. Although you won’t get to see any vampires roaming around, this won’t make your experience any less enjoyable since the castle does come with a strong medieval feeling and a fascinating history that will make your kids curious. Once you step inside, you’ll discover a creepy and very old interior unlike anything your kids have ever seen: winding staircases and corridor mazes will give you the feeling that you might come across a scary figure during your tour before stumbling into rooms showcasing medieval decorations and life.
Visit Dracula’s Castle
While Bran Castle might be popular for its connection to vampire stories, you shouldn’t miss Peles Castle from your itinerary. We all know how much kids like fairytales and once you show them a picture of Peles Castle there’s no way to not go there! Formerly the Summer residence of the Royal Family, the inside of the castle is so beautifully decorated and preserved that your kids will feel like they’ve entered the home of their favorite prince or princess. There are tours in Brasov that will take you to visit the castle and having a guide will be a great opportunity learn about our country’s fascinating history.
Spend a day at Brasov’s Parc Aventura
If you’re still in the Brasov area you should look into visiting Parc Aventura, a place of excitement and adrenaline that children in particular will enjoy. With over 180 games and 14 tracks of varying difficulty, this huge outdoor adventure site incorporates climb up ladders, hang on wires, zip lines over the lake and many other thrilling features. There are routes available for children of all ages, so even if your kids are under 8 years old they’ll be able to engage in some fun games.
Go on a day trip on Transfagarasan Road
Reaching up to 2046 meters in altitude and stretching over 90 kilometers, driving on Transfagaran Road’s twists and turns is something your family shouldn’t miss out on. The road features several twists and turns before reaching Balea lake at its highest point. The entire drive on this beautiful mountain pass is filled with places where you should stop and admire the breathtaking views of Transylvania and towering crests of Fagaras Mts. The jaw-dropping beautiful scenery will make this driving experience one of the most spectacular road trips you will remember!
Visit rescued bears at Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Established to offer shelter for bears exploited, abandoned or mistreated, Libearty Bear Sanctuary rescued over 70 bears which are now hosted in a protected forested area with habitat conditions appropriate for them. Visiting this 70 hectares hazel and oak forest in the Carpathian Mountains located close to the town of Zarnesti will give your kids the opportunity to see and learn about the life of bears up-close on a guided tour. Keep in mind that Libearty Sanctuary is not a zoo and its purpose is to educate people and future generations of the importance of protecting wildlife. Seeing happy bears in their natural environment isn’t something you can do any day, so it’s certainly worth the trip and kids are always fascinated.
Libearty Bear Sanctuary
A couple of hours at Turda Salt Mine
Being one of the oldest salt mines in the world, Salina Turda should be on your Romanian must-see list. Once you step inside you will discover a fascinating underground world beautifully decorated with ambient lights and – to much surprise - an amusement park that will keep the entire family busy. The museum, the Ferris wheel, the underground lake or various play areas – choose your favorite!
Turda Salt Mine
Check out "Lucia Condrea" International Museum of Painted Eggs
If you get to Bucovina region during your holiday in Romania, make sure to check out the Lucia Condrea International Museum of Painted Eggs in Moldovita. Egg painting is a traditional and very old Romanian craft carefully preserved in this region and at the museum you will find an impressive collection with over 5000 painted eggs on display. This place is the ideal spot if you are visiting the country near Easter when eggs are painted. You can even join an egg-painting workshop - kids will love the experience!
International Museum of Painted Eggs
The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
If the Museum of Painted Eggs made you fall in love with Bucovina and you’d like to explore this region a little bit more, you should also go on a tour to see the famous UNESCO Painted Monasteries. Your children will enjoy looking at the colorful buildings while you and your spouse can admire their intricate artwork and hear stories of how these monasteries were founded and painted. All 8 of them are quite impressive, but if you don’t have time to see all of them the top three choices should be Voronet, Moldovita and Sucevita Monastery.
Painted Monasteries of Bucovina
Go on a train ride from Otravita to Anina while in Banat
If you think there’s nothing that can get your kids excited about trains that’s because they haven’t been on a slow and scenic train ride, like the one between Oravita-Anina in Banat region, close to Timisoara. This is the oldest mountain railway in South-Eastern Europe and, make no mistake, it isn’t your usual boring train ride. Travelling at 35 km/h and two hours long, you will pass tunnels, bridges, and viaducts with views of picturesque valleys, traditional villages and Banat’s impressive mountain scenery. You won’t feel the hours go by and your kids will be entertained by the many things they will see!
from Otravita to Anina while in Banat
Explore the Danube Delta
Children are known to be wildlife enthusiasts and there is no better place in Romania to discover a well-preserved habitat with rare species of birds and plants than the Danube Delta. A UNESCO biosphere reservation, the Delta is a magical garden crisscrossed by canals and dotted with fisherman villages. There are plenty family-friendly activities to do during your stay there – go on bird-watching tours, take your kids to the summer open-air film festival Anonimul or teach them how paddle a kayak or fish - there’s no better place for that!
Explore the Danube Delta
Head to Constanta and check out the city’s abandoned Casino
Situated on the shores of the Black Sea, the abandoned Casino building in Constanta is an attraction that will impress the entire family. As you contemplate this magnificent-buy-decaying building that once used to be Constanta’s Monte Carlo, you can imagine how glamorous evenings in the 1930s used to be. After a peaceful walk along the Black Sea promenade (and hundreds of amazing selfies later!), make sure to check out the Delfinarium – the kids will surely enjoy seeing dolphins do all sorts of tricks!
abandoned Casino building in Constanta
A beach break in Mamaia
While the Carpathian Mountains of Romania offer plenty of things to do, if your kids love swimming, sunbathing and playing in the sand, why not spend a few days at the beach? The resort of Mamaia just North of Constanta is a popular choice, but other family-friendly resorts such as Neptun, Navodari, Olimp or Jupiter are just as good. The Black Sea is calm and its shores is with fine golden sands perfect for building sand castles. Or spend a day at the waterpark in Constanta for some amazing waterslides your kids will love!
Nine months is a long time for some, even for the most caring and loving mothers, this time can take a toll on your body, as well as your mind. Even after, with all the nursing, breast-feeding and long sleepless nights, you can easily forget about you, and your needs, physical and emotional. And don’t worry, thinking of yourself is not selfish, you are obliged to do something about it, for you and for your baby! You would want to be the perfect mom you always wanted to be, and to be so you have to be ready, strong and clear minded, prepared to raise your child.
If you have practiced prenatal yoga, then the rest of this article will be familiar, if you have not, you are in for as surprise. It takes only 6 weeks till you and your baby are ready for yoga lessons if you had a caesarean section, or matter of hours if you gave birth naturally. Of course, please do check with your doctor, just in case! Easy going, gentle, slow movements to regain your shape, realign your hips, shoulders, spine, your entire body strength, relax and enjoy time with your baby, sound wonderful, doesn’t it.
To start with your daily yoga rutine, you don't need much of equipment. The most important is to find a yoga mat featuring a superior non-slip fabric finish, just to be safe. Check out the yoga mom selection of any good yoga shop and you would easily find the answer to "what kind of yoga mat should I get and what should it be made of?".
The benefits of practicing yoga are numberless, every day a new benefit occurs, and so it is also with pre and post natal yoga, with the difference with post natal yoga, the benefits are doubled (for you once, and for your baby again!). However, among many, here is a list of the ones you will feel in matter of days:
Bring back your spinal strength – pregnancy can and probably will have an impact on your spine, making adjustments to fit new life in you. Yoga and postnatal poses will help you realign your spine and strengthen your joints, preparing you for all that heavy baby lifting!
Regain flexibility and tone your muscles – yoga will stretch everything that has been tensed in your body from the pressure of pregnancy, and will strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which will help with the back pain gained postpartum and help knit your stretched and separated abdominal muscles. Strengthening your arms and shoulders is also very welcomed, because your little one will want to be held for several hours per day. You will want the same thing, to hold it all day long, so best be prepared.
Keep calm and do yoga – yoga can help you achieve inner peace, and achieve that just by plain deep breathing. Deeper breathing calms your body, which you might already know, during pregnancy and shortly after is exposed to a lot of stress, especially if you are first time mom. Right breathing exercises also reduce the chances of postnatal depression, which can be tricky both for you and your baby.
Get those hormones back in order – your hormones are driven crazy, and it takes time to be yourself again, and yoga can speed up this process, maybe for a bit, but it still counts. Relaxation will speed the process, and get you in your own hormonal balance faster!
Quality time with your one and only – postnatal yoga is designed to be exercise together with your baby, and this is the time spent in your sanctuary, your inner peace, and yours as in plural, you and your baby. Create mutual patience even when he/she is few months old. Create a bond and start doing fun stuff right away, because, you know, yoga can be fun!
Social effect and commune – going to yoga classes will get your social life back from wherever you have left it, and plus, dealing with moms and sharing problems can be very helpful for both of you. Many classes say you can start hours after birth, but still, check it with you GP and yoga master. Happy mom means happy baby, and it really does, those little angels do feel your energy and can turn into horned angels just as you shift your energy!
Self awareness – all that body ache, tensed shoulders, arm and shoulder ache come from holding your baby with one arm while preparing your morning smoothie with the other, or back and abdominal pain from breastfeeding, or knee pain from all those squats million times per day. Yoga postures designed to ease the pain will help you understand how to do thing the right way, or better, the safe way!
All these benefits are just super for you, but what about your baby? Well, there are also a lot of benefits, and you’ll be surprised with the ones that matter the most:
Socializing with other babies, gaining similar interests
Calming effect on your baby, originally originated from you, but later the baby will be more aware of the space and peace of yoga classes
Create a bond between mom and baby a bit more deeply than normal
Some postures with your baby can help you and you baby with colic cramps, and this should have probably be the number one on the list. If you still don’t know why, you’ll know soon!
Getting out early can be a blessing for your baby, and gain more confidence early on
Gentle and slow stretches help open up your baby’s joints, for which your ortho will be much grateful!
So, because there is no side effect from yoga exercise, and especially postnatal yoga is safe, and doesn’t involve difficult postures, go ahead and try it. Your baby might be very grateful one day!
When you were a little kid, you probably looked forward to those summer trips with your parents. They would plan their budget an entire year, cutting down on some of their own luxuries just because they know you are looking forward to visit new places during your annual vacation. Now, it is time to take your parents on a vacation. And the good news is that India has a number of amazing places to visit, for parents of all ages.
1. Alleppey - In the Bosom of Nature
Let’s start with Kerala - the land of emerald green backwaters, mystical mountains, magnificent tea gardens, aromatic spices and more. You can watch the true beauty of Kerala as you glide along the backwaters on a houseboat from Alleppey.
Along the way, you can catch breathtaking views of the villages, the indigenous flora and fauna and if you stay the night, a glorious sunrise to remember. Your parents would thoroughly enjoy this tour because it is calming, refreshing and quite rejuvenating.
Mathura isa scared city in Uttar Pradesh. If you are planning to visit North India with your parents, and they are the religious kind, then they would thoroughly enjoy a visit to Mathura. The city has various pilgrim spots, ancient temples and a number of monasteries. The famous places that tourists visit are Durga Mata ka Mandir, Prem Mandir, Birla Mandir, Iskcon Temple, Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, and of course Vrindavan.
Vrindavan is just 20 kilometers away, so in all, it would take just a couple of days to visit these places completely. If you wish to absorb spiritual essence of the place, then you can spend as much as 4 days.
3. Jaipur - A Tryst with the Royalty
If you want to treat your parents like royalty, you’ve got to take them to the land of royals. Jaipur in Rajasthan is also known as the Pink City, and the splendor of this beautiful city with its dawdling camels and majestic palaces are a sight to behold. Visiting Jaipur is almost like visiting the heavens, and the Hawa Mahal and Amber Fort only make this feeling more evident.
4. Ooty - Visiting the Queen of Hills
No parent would ever say “no” to a visit to the “queen of the hills”. The pleasant hill station, Ooty in Tamil Nadu is a favorite spot for families. The soothing environment and the cool weather is definitely pleasing for them, and they would cherish a trip in the toy train, a visit to the Botanical Gardens and gazing at the Doddabetta Peak.
5. Haridwar - Irresistible Sacred Vibes
People head to Haridwar in Uttarkhand to enjoy the sacred vibes of the city, and to enjoy the pure magnificence of nature. According to Hindu culture, a visit to the holy places of Haridwar will free them from the endless cycle of life and death as it gives them eternal peace and liberation.
You can take your parents to visit the Mansa Devi Temple, the Ganges river for a refreshing dip perhaps, and Daksha Mahadev Temple.It is at Haridwar that the famous Kumbh Mela festival is held, every 12 years.
6. Munnar - A City Carpeted in Mystical Mountains
Your parents would enjoy visiting Munnar in Kerala. The hill station in the Western Ghats with its numerous viewpoints is a great delight to visitors of all age groups. The top attractions in Munnar include Top Station, Meesapulimala, Rose Garden, Mattupetty, Kollukkumalai Tea Estate and Echo Point.It’s a beautiful and peaceful place where you can take your parents to, especially if they want to enjoy peace and quiet on their vacation.
7. Shimla -The Coolest Hill Station of India
Regal snow dusted mountains engulfed in mist are shrouded in mystery at Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. If you or your parents have never been there, that’s where you should all be going. Shimla is the winter wonderland, and you have several places worth visiting there fit for a 2-3 day trip.
The major highlights of Shimla include Kalka Shimla Mail (including luxury trains), Lakkar Bazaar, Jakhoo, Christ Church, the RashtrapathiNivas and the Summer Hill. If you are looking for an entire day of fun, or a picnic of some sort, then the Shimla Glen with its luscious verdant forests consisting of pine and deodar trees and the salubrious climate is just perfect.
8. Kashmir - Known Fondly as the Switzerland of India
They say that you must visit Kashmir at least once in your lifetime. And give your parents a gift of a vacation at this surreal and magical place. Cosseted in the Himalayas, Kashmir is a haven you wouldn’t want to come back from. It is a place where you feel like doing soul searching.The beautiful valleys, the migratory birds, colorful flowers, splendid lakes - there is too much beauty in here.
Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is bounded by snowcapped mountains, and boasts of amazing views of Tibet and Bhutan. Tawang has the oldest and largest monastery in the world, and your parents would have a different kind of experience visiting this place - a cultural experience replicated in no other place.
10. Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Exotic and Charming
Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the Union Territories of India and is famous for offering great opportunities for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. There are a number of tour packages to choose from depending on how many days you want to spend there.
Some of the highlights of the islands include the Forest Museum, Samudrika Naval Marine Museum, Anthropological Museum, Ross & Smith Island, limestone caves and mud volcano, Craggy Island, etc.
This is the whole package - all of these places exude culture, traditional, color and religion, and should definitely be a part of your itinerary. Vacationing in these places with your parents would make them feel cherished and loved, and help you create some great memories with them. These memories would definitely stay with you for life.
Author Bio: Sunu Philip is the Inbound Marketing and Creative Head for Paradise Holidays,Cochin – a Kerala based tour operator. She loves reading, exploring new places and trying out different cuisines!
‘No man needs a vacation more than the man who has just had one.’ – Elbert Hubbard
Budget-Friendly Family Road Trip
Travel is expensive even for the solo tourist. If you’re marshalling a group of six, eight or ten, the price tags climb faster than you’d think. Regardless of the membership tally, the typical large family still has only one or two breadwinners. This means that finding economies of scale is critical to maximizing enjoyment while minimizing cost. In other words, the trip for your family of eight can’t cost four times as much as the same trip with your partner. Sure, fitting more people in a single vehicle or hotel room will help to some extent, but other costs like food, transport tickets and admission fees don’t necessarily scale down with larger numbers. Let’s take a few minutes to sift through some tips for keeping a road trip for a large family more budget-friendly.
Tip #1: Think Through the Financing
Even if you see yourself as head banshee to a band of free-spirits, the world costs money. Before you can spend any time on the subsequent steps, sit down with any other adult (or adult-adjacent) members of your brood and crunch the numbers.
Write an Itemized Budget
Obvious? Maybe, but you’d be surprised how many families neglect this. Don’t just set a limit for spending. While this is a good starting point, it doesn’t do much to help you plan. Itemize your budget as much as possible, with categories like lodging, gas, food and anything that requires admission. If you can pre-book any aspects of your travel, you can put hard numbers in for these expenses and ballpark the rest. Most families will see that their budget isn’t going to get them as far as they thought, especially with a lot of travelers. Making alterations to your plans in advance is less painful than cutting your trip short due to lack of funds.
Cash vs. Credit Cards
I always recommend carrying a stash of cash, split between multiple mature members of the clan. I’ve known companions whose financial institutions canceled their cards while they were traveling (for irregular spending), putting them in a serious financial bind. On this note, you can reach out to your bank and credit card providers, alerting them to your travel plans.
In general, debit and credit cards are safer and more versatile for traveling. While almost all credit cards protect against loss and theft, some of the best travel credit cards also entice members with travel perks like lodging benefits and airline miles. You can either rack these up during your trip or spend the ones you’ve previously accrued. If someone in the family travels for work, you may have these benefits available to use on your trip.
#2 Pre-Book Your Lodging
In the pre-internet era of my childhood, my parents had a rather reckless strategy for booking hotels: drive as long as they could and then scour the strip for Vacancy signs. While I admire their pluck, this made for some pretty long days and less-than-ideal rates. In the modern tech-drenched age, we have myriad resources for planning lodging. Let’s check into a couple.
Travel Booking Sites
Sites like Hotels.com, Kayak and Trivago compare tons of different types of lodging and even compile results from multiple other sites to help you find the cheapest rates. These sites also have a plethora of filters to help you sort by factors such as price, amenities, location and rating. Once you actually locate the lodging, I advise checking with the hotel directly to see if they have the lowest rate. Unless they’ve already allocated all their rooms to these third-party sites, you may avoid some fees with this strategy.
Free Cancellation & Flexible Dates
Flexibility is a major factor when traveling, especially with a large group. Booking the cheapest rate is pointless if you can’t make the stay, have to re-book and don’t get a refund on your original room. Carefully check each hotel’s cancellation policy, which is often specific to the room, the price or the third-party site you’re on. For example, the same hotel may have free cancellation if you pay a bit more for the initial booking. If you’re booking far in advance or expecting diversions, it may be worth it to pay this additional charge.
Hotels Along Your Route
Google maps and other sites can help you locate hotels and other types of lodging along your specific route and at the most advantageous intervals. This may be a big benefit if a portion of your travel involves consecutive days of high-mileage travel.
Hey, if you’re up for it and you have the gear, go for it. You can’t beat the price.
Tip #3 Vet Your Vehicle
When it comes to a rolodex of road trip questions, the vehicle you drive is central to the answer. From safety to comfort to cash-friendly tactics, your family chariot is the key factor that divides well-thought-out success from reckless failure. As usual, planning is the key.
Choose the Right Vehicle
For some families, there will only be one (or an obvious) choice of vehicle to take on the road trip. For others, there are viable options. As you’re deciding, keep the following factors in mind:
Current Mileage on the Car
Known Mechanical Issues
Room for Passengers & Gear (Consider Roof-Top Cargo Carriers)
Safety Factors (e.g. Airbags)
Comfort Factors (e.g. AC)
Entertainment Factors (e.g. Bluetooth)
Don’t automatically rule out the possibility of renting a car for your trip. Although finances may make this a non-starter, there are definite advantages including dependability, insurance and support from the rental agency. This is also a good option if you’re flying at any point along your adventure.
Get Your Ride Ready for the Trip
For many reasons, a road-trip is a seriously awful place to have car trouble. Already, most people don’t do as much preventative maintenance on their vehicles as they should. If you’re coming up on the time for an oil change, tire rotation, fuel system cleaning or other routine bits of maintenance, take care of them before you leave.
It’s also worth having your car checked out by a mechanic. If you don’t have one you trust, chains like Valvoline make this part of their regular service charge. Even if you don’t choose to pay for recommended parts and services, you will gain additional information about your vehicle.
Finally, stock up on supplies like wiper fluid, jumper cables, flares, extra oil and wiper blades. Hopefully you won’t need these during your trip, but you will eventually.
Tip #4 Stock the Pantry
Let’s start this section with some theoretical math:
6 family members x 14-day trip x 3 meals x $8 meal = $2,016
Whoa. Something necessary (eating) and seemingly reasonable ($8/meal) has turned quickly into a budget resembling your family’s annual health insurance premiums. Obviously, this expense can’t be avoided, but it can be substantially curtailed.
The broad answer is to pack as much as you can into the car and avoid restaurants. Let’s look at some specific strategies:
Easy-to-Access, Easy-to-Eat Snacks. Providing access to family-friendly snacks throughout the trip has several advantages, including reducing stress.
Meals Included in Other Costs. The best example of this is included continental breakfasts at hotels. Eat up (and stock up).
Buy in Bulk and Split it up. Avoid ready-to-eat foods, individual packaging and foods that will go bad quickly once you prepare them.
Extended Stay Hotels. Extended Stay Hotels often have mini-kitchens in them, including fridges and full stoves. This can be a great way to prepare your own food without having to eat it in your car.
Tip #5 Skip the Gift Shop
Another bit of exploratory arithmetic:
6 family members x 14-day trip x $5 souvenir each day = $420
Now, consider this: Figuring $3/gallon at the pumps and averaging 20 miles per gallon, you can drive 2,800 miles on $420, the distance from Los Angeles to New York City.
I know that everyone likes to bring things home from travels, but there is something to be said for allocating this money elsewhere, to have more and better experiences. Also consider that many pieces of your trip (e.g. digital photos, ticket stubs, postcards) are either free, very inexpensive or included in another cost.
The Bottom Line
Preparation = Thrift. If you’re enjoying this article, you probably love to be spontaneous, free-spirited, even nomadic. I salute that. However, from a pocketbook perspective, planning is the mother of all frugality. Do your homework. Ask around. Chart your course and brainstorm contingencies. Once you’re out there on the road, there will be plenty of opportunities for impromptu itineraries and ad-lib adventures. Thanks for reading. See you out there.
A firm believer that freedom of information improves business, travel and life, freelance writer Ben Lovell is committed to sharing best practices. Read more of his articles at the Gothic Optimist.
Travelling with family is one of the best ways to strengthen your bond as a family and have loads of fun with the people you hold closest to your heart. However, if you don't plan well, what could have been a wonderful time can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Travelling with family
The following are 8 family holiday travel hacks that will ensure you get the best out of your trip with family:
Make sure everyone's travel documents are ready long before the trip
There's nothing worse than realising that one of your kids does not have an important travel document two days to the departure date. Everyone should have all their travel documents like passports and travel insurance documents ready. As an extra measure, you can scan them and email yourself a soft copy in case you ever need to use them.
Involve the kids in the plan
Since you will be bringing the kids along, why not involve them when deciding where you are going and other key details? Involving the kids gets them excited and reduces the chances of them being grumpy during the trip.
Get your travel vaccinations
Before you head off, make sure everyone has had all the required vaccinations, especially if you are travelling to exotic climates. If you are going to a place where malaria is a threat, have all the necessary anti-malaria products like mosquito repellents, nets, and long clothes.
You need to be very careful when packing for a family vacation. You don't want to pack too much stuff that it causes you problems as you move around, and you don't want to pack too little that you lack some essentials on the trip. Make a list of all the things you know you will need and pack them up in an orderly manner. You can use vacuum bags to save on space.
Send your luggage ahead
This is a relatively new travel hack that an increasing number of travellers are opting for. Lugging your bags through the airport and waiting for them at the carousel at the other side adds a lot of strain and time to your travels. When you factor in the increasing price of adding luggage to your flight and the excess fees for over-sized bags then you can see why so many people are choosing luggage delivery companies to send their luggage ahead so that it’s waiting for them at their hotel when they arrive.
Use ziplock bags
Ziplock bags come in various sizes and are great for creating order and keeping items like travel documents dry. Since they are transparent, it's easy to see the contents without opening the bag.
Prepare your travel entertainment
Kids can get bored and restless especially when going on a long road trip or a long flight. When kids get bored, they become naughty and do annoying things that will make you wish you left them at home. To avoid this, carry along some toys, audio books, DVDs, games, or any other source of entertainment that you can.
Make a schedule
It's okay to be spontaneous, but it is much better if you have a rough plan of what you will be doing on each day of the trip and if possible, what it will cost. Do some research on your destination and find out what interesting activities are available during the time you'll be visiting.
Document your travel experiences
Travelling with family is one of those special moments that live in our minds for many years as happy memories. Bring along cameras to take pictures and record videos of these special moments and make sure you have enough storage space. Don't forget to share a few on social media to show off to friends and family back home.
Vietnam is known as one of the famous destinations in Asia which is attracting a lot of foreign tourists every year. Beaches and Luxury resorts in Vietnam are one of the main reasons why many people come here.
It is undeniable that there are many beautiful beaches across the S-shaped country. With 8 the great best beaches in Vietnam which I will mention here are on top the most charming ones in the nation
1. Star Beach, Phu Quoc
Bai Sao, otherwise known as Star Beach, would be up there with some of the best beaches in Vietnam, and most definitely one of the best Phu Quoc beaches.
A quieter and largely undeveloped beachfront located to the east of Phu Quoc, Star Beach still dazzles with its beautiful shores and pristine waters. Much quieter than the West of Phu Quoc, you’ll be able to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the famous Vietnamese beach at your own pace. Spend your days snorkeling or diving in the pale blue waters and relax afterwards with an obligatory cocktail at one of the few more chilled beach restaurants dotted along the water’s edge.
Just don’t go during Vietnamese New Year like I did – the place was PACKED, and kinda dirty, but I’m assured that’s only because there were so many people there at that time of year.
2. Ganh Dau, Phu Quoc
A heavenly scene, Ganh Dau Beach is another Phu Quoc beach gem. With white as white sands and towering lofty palms fringing the shoreline, this idyllic Phu Quoc beach can be easily accessed via a newly paved path from the nearby traditional Vietnamese fishing village. Both sheltered and shaded with calm shallow waters, you’ll enjoy Peppercorn Beach Resort that boasts discreet and minimalistic yet elegant bungalows if you’re looking for something a little more laidback. The restaurant is first-class and is an excellent lunch stop if you’re just visiting for the day.
3. Doc Let Beach, Nha Trang
With 11 miles of pure white sandy shores, Doc Let Beach has long been ranked one of the best beaches in Vietnam.
Known for its shallow turquoise blue crystal waters, this impressive bay can be divided into distinct areas. To the north, you’ll find a cluster of guesthouses and beachfront hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants where all the tourist action can be found. To the south, you’ll find a quaint wooded outcrop that is a peaceful sanctuary, making it the ideal place to escape.
4. Ong Lang Beach, Phu Quoc
Made up of calm bays and stretches of golden sand peppered with black rock and swaying palms, Ong Lang Beach is in the north of Phu Quoc’s principal town, Duong Dong. Dotted with an array of mid to exclusive beach resorts, this is the perfect place to enjoy a few cocktails in the sun.
5. City Beach, Nha Trang
City Beach is one of Vietnam’s number one beaches, although when I went in February 2017 I was shocked at how much development there’d been since August 2012. So you probably need to get there ASAP to see anything like the sight above.
Over 14 miles of sand stretch along Nha Trang’s coastline. It’s home to impressive rolling waves and a host of cool cafes, restaurants and bars. The long beach promenade has something going on day and night with hoverboards, cyclists, skaters and people just hanging out and enjoying the sea air.
6. Mui Ne, Phan Thiet
Located on a beautiful stretch of sand with swaying palms and lofty dunes, Mui Ne in Phan Thiet is both charming and exciting. The beach’s great surf is perfect for a host of daring water sports, which includes kitesurfing, sailing and surfing. Not too far from Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne Beach is the perfect weekend getaway destination with loads of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and boutiques.
7. Hon Chong, Nha Trang
Travel a little further north in Nha Trang from City Beach and you’ll find its more secluded sister – Hon Chong Beach.
Despite its isolation, Hon Chong Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in Vietnam.
The mountainous rugged coastline makes for a stunning view, and the unrefined surrounding villages add to the charm. Hon Chong Beach is an ideal Vietnam beach destination if you’re looking for a place to explore the country’s natural beauty in a predominantly undeveloped area. There are still loads of watersports to try though!
8. Ho Coc Beach, Ho Coc
Golden sands, the rolling inland sand dunes, together with the clear blue waters make Ho Coc beach one of the best beaches in Vietnam to stop off at. Weekends are busy and full of life, but come the week, you’ll soon discover you’ll own the beach. Stretching 3 miles, this chilled out Vietnam beach has impressive dunes, boulders, clear blue waters and tranquility.
Often, people see having children and travelling the world as two separate paths, choosing one or the other. However, as many parents have proven, travelling with children can be a match made in heaven.
Not only are you scratching an itch by exploring new cultures and countries, travelling enriches your children’s lives and helps them learn more about the world — even if it’s just a short trip.
That said, the logistics of travelling with children can be tricky, especially when you consider long-haul flights and busy airports.
Heathrow Airport is the second busiest airport in the world and the busiest in the UK. Because of its many, varied routes, it’s a popular choice for those flying to far-flung destinations. If you have booked up for your next escape, read our tips for navigating London-Heathrow with the little ones in tow:
Getting to the airport
Before you step foot in Heathrow airport, you’ll need to get there first. As you’d expect, getting to one of the world’s busiest airports can get congested, meaning delays are likely. It may sound obvious but leave enough time for your journey, taking into account any toilet breaks your children may need.
Consider the time you’re travelling, too. If you need to be at the airport around rush hour, keep in mind that traffic may be heavier and public transport could be more crowded — which is not ideal when you’ve got a pushchair and suitcases in tow. When travelling a long distance to Heathrow, it’s a wise choice to travel to the airport the day before and stay at a nearby airport hotel.
A late flight home can also be problematic when you’re travelling with tired children. You’ll want to get home as quickly as possible, so consider taking advantage of Heathrow Airport parking available from companies like NCP. You can ensure your car is parked safely for the duration of the holiday and because it’s closely located to the airport, you could be back at your car within 5-10 minutes of leaving the airport via a bus transfer.
If you are planning on taking advantage of airport parking, we recommend booking in advance to save on on-the-day fees and guarantee your space.
Facilities For Families Inside Heathrow Airport
As an airport, Heathrow offers a number of facilities for families, with everything from family-friendly eateries to play areas for the little ones. Here is an overview of some of the ways you can keep little ones entertained in Heathrow airport:
If you’re hoping to grab a bite to eat when you’re in the airport, there are a number of restaurants serving family-friendly meals. You’ll find old favourites like Giraffe and Carluccio’s, as well as quick and easy food and drink outlets like Caffe Nero and Pret a Manger.
The airport also operates a Kids Eat Free offer in selected restaurants during the school holidays, when an adult dines too. Choose to dine at the Perfectionists’ Café or Gordon Ramsay Plane Food and you can take advantage of this offer all year round. A full list of qualifying restaurants and dates can be found on Heathrow Airport’s website.
Let your little ones stretch their legs in Heathrow Airport’s Stay and Play play areas found in Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. They’re open from 6am to 9pm every day and feature slides and soft play toys in dedicated areas for babies and juniors. When waiting to board, these play areas can be the perfect distraction for little ones who are growing tired of waiting.
Bookable children’s lounges
Luxury airport lounges aren’t just for adults. Many of the airport lounges at Heathrow Airport are child-friendly. A standout lounge is the No. 1 Lounge at Terminal 3. This plush lounge features luxurious décor and a fully tended bar so adults can relax in style, while the little ones can help themselves to sweet treats and cakes before watching a film in the in-lounge cinema.
Adult entry to the lounge costs £34, while entry for children between 2 and 11 years old costs £18. Children under two can enter the lounge for free.
Heathrow Airport also has you covered when it comes to feeding your baby. Liquid restrictions on flights may seem daunting at first, but Heathrow Airport allows you to take enough baby food, sterilised water, prepared baby milk or up to 2 litres of expressed breast milk for your journey. For many parents, this gives them the peace of mind that they have all of the essentials they need for the journey ahead.
If you’re in a hurry to get to the airport, you can save some time with Heathrow’s Reserve & Collect baby milk service. Pre-book the baby milk, food and other items you’ll need for your flight and you can pick it up after you’ve passed through security.
Throughout the terminals, there are regular changing and baby feeding spaces for parents to use. If you’re breastfeeding your child, it’s good to know that you’ll have some privacy as you feed.
When you have the kids and luggage in tow, navigating a busy airport can be tricky. To help, Heathrow Porters can be booked online, by email or by phone up to 48 hours before arrival. The helpful porters will help transport your luggage to the check-in desk or from the baggage carousel, so you can focus on your children and get any necessary documentation ready for check-in.
If you’re travelling to Heathrow Airport from a country outside of the UK, it’s worth considering the airport’s Meet & Assist service. As part of this service, multi-lingual agents are on-hand to help guide you through the airport, helping you through check-in, security and baggage collection. This service must be booked up to 48 hours in advance and prices start at £125.
Of course, as well as the above, you can make your experience at Heathrow Airport — and the flight itself — much more enjoyable by packing plenty to keep your children busy. From books and teddy bears to card games and computer tablets, pack a selection of items to keep your child occupied during the journey ahead.
Moving homes with kids can be a real nightmare for many people. What seems simple can get complicated during the process of moving.
Moving Homes With Kids
What many people do is get professional help from a moving company that specializes in helping families move such as the moving company in Calgary, Helping Hands Family Movers.
But still, it’s definitely worth taking the time to get yourself prepared and organized ahead of time to minimize any problems and challenges that might come up along the way.
In this article we are listing the main things you need to keep in mind when moving to a new home with your kids.
Kids Either Love or Hate Moving
Your kids will either be super happy about moving to a new place especially if the new home is going to be larger, they will have a nicer room, maybe a swimming pool. You get the idea.
Or, they will hate the fact that they’re leaving their old home and along with this a lot of memories, friends, emotions attached to that place.
You need to understand this fact and notice early how it’s going to be. Either way, it’s your job as a parent to make this transition to a new place as smooth as possible.
One of the best methods to understand how your kids feel about moving is to simply ask them. Parents can easily get caught up in what needs to be done and forget about their children’s feelings.
What’s important to realize is that there is no easy way to explain why the family needs to move to a new place, especially if the kids are young and can’t understand why dad has a new job, why it’s time to move to a bigger house, or why it’s safer for everyone to be in a different city.
One last thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much your kids will hate to move to a different home, they will pretty much forget this in the first few days and get used to the different environment.
They will probably make new friends really fast. Much faster than you imagine, actually. So, don’t worry if you can’t convince your kids to look at all this process in a good way.
Being attached emotionally to things and places is normal for people. We get used to a way of living and when change has to happen, we don’t feel good.
Kids however experience it in a completely different way. They can get attached emotionally on a much higher level than adults.
This can be one of the reasons why they might be negative about moving to a different home.
Their room is their everything. Whether they’re teenagers or 5 year olds, they will not accept the fact easily that they will have to change to a different environment.
If they have a particular toy, you can get it with you, but if your children want to take all the stuff in their room with them (and that’s something you weren’t planning to do), try to look at ways you can get them to leave them behind.
Maybe give some of the stuff away and explain to your kids that giving to other people is good. It’s an important lesson that they can learn, and there’s no better time to do this than now.
Travelling with young kids can make parents a little bit anxious, especially when your travels take you to exotic places like Samui Island, far away in the Gulf of Thailand where the culture, the local kitchen and the traditions are so very different to what we know. However, even first-timers won’t have to worry about a thing, Samui is a beloved tourist place where you can experience exotic Thailand without having to give up on modern comforts or even luxuries. Your kids will be perfectly happy and the local people will adore your little ones, too. With the right preparations, you are in for an amazing family holiday.
Here is what you need to know before travelling with young kids in Samui:
Essentials to pack for you Samui Family Holiday
Travelling with kids always requires some extra planning and preparation and that is totally fine - nothing to stress about. Make a checklist and you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything essential for your Samui Family Holiday. I put together a list of items you want to be on that checklist of yours:
Credit cards, passports and travel insurance.
You may think it is completely unnecessary and over the top to put this on the checklist but last-minute stress can sometimes lead to total blanks and blackouts, leading to situations where the essentials of essentials are somehow left on the table in the living room. Just put it on there and check it off the list when you’re good to go. Oh, and a travel insurance is very, very important, especially when travelling with kids! You need to be prepared for unfortunate events so you can take your little one to the hospital when needed without it breaking the bank. You don’t have to think of dramatic scenarios but small accidents can easily happen but even those can cost quite some money in foreign countries. Better safe than sorry! Have a designated place in your luggage for these essentials so you always know where they are.
Natural mosquito repellent for kids & sunblock with a high factor
You want your kids to be safe from mosquito bites but you don’t want to put chemical creams all over their sensitive skin. Good, natural mosquito repellent can be hard to come by in Samui and if you find it, it’ll be very expensive. Same goes for sunblock. Get these essentials at home, pack them in your suitcase and you’ll be keeping your kids well-protected for the whole duration of your island stay. Be mindful of the environment, too, and get a natural sunblock with zinc when swimming in the ocean to protect the marine life and coral gardens.
Motion sickness pills
You never know whether you are drawn to motion sickness until you are on the boat. Better have them with you!
Bruises, scratches, fever, belly pain - pack up, pack up! You need it right there and then when you need it. Make sure your first-aid kit includes electrolytes - hydration is of utmost important.
Stroller & baby carrier
A stroller is always handy when you need you baby to go to sleep and you still want to walk around a bit or do some shopping. It’s also great to have a stroller when you are at the airport. You can take it all the way to the gate and when you get off the plane, it will be ready for you to use again straight away. A baby carrier is handy when you go for long walks or even hikes. Bring both!
Most probably, you won’t find any baby snacks without added sugar in Thailand (luckily, they do have lots of tropical fruits for your kiddos to munch on!). Anyway, a little hearty and healthy snack always comes in handy at some point, so pack a box or two from home!
Swimming diapers are also something hard to find and if you find it it’ll be twice as expensive as at home.
Swim stuff, light summer clothes, camera, etc
Make a list with basic packing stuff like this yourself. Remember that we always tend to pack too much, especially with kids. That’s actually totally ok when staying in a villa but just keep it in mind :)
Where to stay with the family: hotel, resort or villa?
You can think very long and hard about whether to go for a hotel, resort or a villa but in the end, the decision is not all that hard! Just think about it; what you need is a clean space for your little one(s) to crawl around, a kitchen to prepare or heat up the baby food, a swimming pool to cool down every once in a while, a garden to play in the open-air, shaded by some trees and an air-conditioned bedroom to put your baby to sleep.
Staying in a villa gives you all the privacy in the world, it is clean, private and there is a swimming pool in the garden. No noises or disturbances, no going to the restaurant every time one of the family members is a little hungry and no crowded swimming pool to share with strangers - it is perfect! With a villa, you get a true home with all the comforts you need for pure quality time with the kids. The great benefit of having a kitchen for your usage is that you can easily cook up something familiar for your little ones to munch on or even better, you can have the staff to prepare it for you if you have the the right ingredients ready to use inside the villa. Need I say more? Book your vacation home through Samui-villa.com to make sure the villa is well-maintained and regularly inspected by villa experts. This doesn’t cost you extra money - it is the villa owner that pays the service fee, not you!
Eating out with the kids
When going out for dinner, it is good to realize once again that traditional Thai food is spicy - the locals love it hot with lots of chilli! This is perfect for you moms and dads who love to get an authentic taste of the local kitchen but for the kids, it is not so great. However, many of the established restaurants in tourist towns have Thai and Western options on the menu. You can munch on a bowl of steaming hot Tom Yum or a plat of Pad Thai noodles with extra chilli while the kids can have a good, familiar plate of spaghetti bolognese, french fries or a pizza. Perfect!
Best family beaches
I think most people agree, the best beaches on the island for families are Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut and Maenam. Chaweng is obviously the busiest option with lots of beachfront restaurants, beach clubs and street vendors. The beach is 7 kilometres long and the town is home to shopping malls and more. Lamai is the second’s biggest resort town on the island, perfect if you want a quieter beach than Chaweng with plenty of choices to have drinks and food. Bophut is a real genuine village with a lovely ambience for families with kids (do stick around for the Friday’s Night Bazaar). Mae Nam is really tranquil and they’ve got pathways to push strollers - another great option to spend your Samui holiday with kids!
Family adventures on Samui - Things to do:
Plenty! Here are some of the highlights:
Ang Thong National Marine Park
The Ang Thong National Marine Park is one of the most magical places in the Gulf of Thailand, just up north from Samui island. A speedy boat ride will take you there in no time and from there, you can explore this archipelago of 42 islands, featuring the most stunning white sand beaches, lush jungle, mountains, emerald lakes and crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling. Bring your little ones along, they can play on the beach and splash around in the calm sea water. Bring your baby carrier and take them for a little hike to see the lake and snap some gorgeous family photos of this family adventure.
Na Muang Falls
Apart from the beautiful beaches and tropical islands, there is more natural beauty to be discovered in Samui. Pack up for a family-style picnic, bring plenty mosquito repellent and off you go into the jungle of Samui (it sounds more challenging than it is) - land inwards, you will find Na Muang Falls, a majestic 30-meter cascading waterfall with a natural pool at the bottom, surrounded by rocks and rainforest. It is a beautiful tranquil place, perfect for a family day out (as long as you have your mosquito repellent with you!). Roll out the picnic blanket, open the picnic basket and enjoy the natural, peaceful ambience. You can even go for a swim (or just a splash) in the cool, refreshing spring water. If you are up for a little hike, you can go see the second waterfall in this area or you can pay a visit to the elephant sanctuary which is also nearby.
Wat Plai Laem Temple
This impressive golden Buddha statue towers out above the island of Samui and it glistens brightly in the tropical sunshine. You can’t visit Samui and not see this massive cultural landmark. Your little ones will love it too, especially when they get to feed the koi fish that swim in the large lake near to the Buddhist temple. In exchange for a small donation, you will get a basket with fish food to feed these hungry lake inhabitants.
Secret Buddha Garden
The Secret Buddha Garden is another enchanting place to visit on Samui Island, located up in the hills in the centre of the island. Featuring an exotic collection of hand-carved stone Buddhist statues and breathtaking views of the surroundings, you can keep walking around this beautiful garden where there is lots of shade to protect your little ones from the sun.
Pink Elephant Water Park
Pink Elephant Water Park is a water playground where the little kids are bound to have a whole lot of fun. The water park is located in Mae Nam, a quieter area with a perfectly family-friendly beach, so make sure to spend some a few nights here in the north of Samui.
If you are planning to see lots of things on Samui, the best thing to do is to get a private chauffeur with a car and a baby car seat. It is much cheaper than taking taxis all the time and you get a whole lot more flexibility, too. The staff at your private villa can surely assist you in arranging this!