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July 2015

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Egypt is a fantastic place to visit for the whole family. We could tell you what the big attractions are, but you already know. The pyramids! The sphinx! The Nile! And so much sun!

However, even here it can be a challenge trying to come up with cool things to do as a family. After all, small children, no matter how excited they are about mummies, may not think that touring a museum of antiquities is the most thrilling afternoon.

 

Exciting Egyptian Holiday

Exciting Egyptian Holiday – Image credit

With that in mind, here are some exciting Egyptian activities for the whole family.

Egypt Dune diving

This is a pretty simple one, but worth mentioning all the same. If there’s one thing Egypt has in abundance, it’s sand – loads and loads of sand stretching from one horizon to the other. Often it will pile up into great big dunes.

This is important, because hurling yourself head first down a massive sand dune, taking great big leaps out into the open air and then tumbling down through the sand, is one of the best things—well, ever, whether you’re three or 30.

 

Dune diving

Dune diving

You may choose to play around dusk, or during a cooler season, so that you won’t be completely cooked by the desert sun while leaping off the top of a dune and trying to make a superman pose before you hit the ground.

Pyramid exploring in Egypt

Well, obviously. Were you going to come to Egypt and not visit the pyramids? To get inside you need to get tickets from the tourist office at the Giza Plateau, which will sell the first 150 tickets for each pyramid early in the morning when they open, and then another 150 early in the afternoon. As can be expected, the price for entry to the Great Pyramid is more expensive than entry to the other Pyramids.

 

Pyramid exploring

Pyramid exploring

Crouching through the sloping tunnels into the pyramid can be a mild challenge for adults, but children will be able to scamper through just fine. You won’t see many treasures inside, as these have been taken away to museums in places like London and Berlin, but you will see some fantastic architecture and feel a real sense of adventure as you journey inside the ancient tomb.

See papyrus being made

The process of watching papyrus being made is a pretty mesmerising one whatever age you are you. There are plenty of papyrus shops that will allow you to watch the process and even buy some souvenirs afterwards (of course). With the plant papyrus is made from becoming increasingly rare, many of the products sold to customers are actually made from banana leaves, which may spoil it for you if you’re a stickler for authenticity. But either way the process is cool to watch—and rest assured, there’s no obligation to purchase anything, though it can be a nice way to support this craft’s survival.

Egypt papyrus

Egypt papyrus

Sail the Nile when in Egypt

If you fancy getting away from all the sand for a little bit, a ride down the Nile may be just the thing. We recommend a ride in a felucca, a flat bottomed sailing boat that is traditionally a common sight going up and down the Nile. Whether you want to take a boat out for an hour or two, or go on a cruise for a few days. Often the captains will be happy to show kids how to sail, and if they’re lucky, they may even get to have a go at the rudder!

 

Sail the Nile

Sail the Nile

Meet a camel in Egypt

Camel rides are easy enough to find, and the odds are that you’ll be approached by someone offering you a go at some point during your stay. From a camel’s back, you’ll feel very tall—so just be aware that your kid will want to be a bit adventurous for this one. For most visitors, though, a jaunt on camel-back is one of the most memorable parts of their Egyptian journey. Be wary of middlemen, who will offer inflated prices, and aim to ride a camel only if you’re directly paying the person providing the ride, and the camel looks healthy and well cared-for.

 

Meet a camel in Egypt

Meet a camel in Egypt

If you need even more ideas for a family trip to Egypt, this travel guide from Holiday Hypermarket offers an overview of the country’s main attractions, while the Egyptian tourism board’s website has articles about all sorts of activities for different regions.

There’s plenty to keep young ones entertained, as well as adults—Egyptians are very welcoming towards families. So long as you keep a balance of activity and rest, there’s no reason why you can’t all enjoy a desert getaway, together.

Going on vacation with children is not an easy task but it can be one of the most memorable times you spend together as a family. As you visit places, you build memories together that only you alone will ever share. So, when you think that you won’t have much enjoyment when you go on vacation with the kids, remember that taking them along with you strengthens the bond between parents and children even further. So go along and make that dream holiday with your kids in tow!

 

Things to Do with Kids in Sicily

Things to Do with Kids in Sicily – Image by https://flic.kr/p/5QxkPp

Holidaying in Sicily with your children is easier more than ever as the people there are very warm-hearted and are open to catering to little guests as well. As you prepare for your visit to the Mediterranean island, make sure to book suitable lodgings, there are many villas for rent in Sicily available online to make your stay extra cozy and comfortable. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions of things you can do with your kids.

  1. Mt. Etna Excursion. Make it a thrilling adventure for your children by taking them to visit the majestic volcano. You can take the cable car ride which will bring you to a certain point on the slope of the volcano. During the ride, you get to watch the volcano in all her glory. Otherwise, you can get a guide and a car ride up to the crater to have a better feeling of the place. Children would consider it a big adventure especially for boys! Go in comfortable clothes and walking shoes and bring your sense of adventure with you!
  2. Bioparco in Palermo. Located in Carini, this is the largest zoo in all of Sicily, housing a large number of animals including various reptiles and a botanical garden. Most kids love the zoo and for sure your entire family will like the atmosphere of the place with its dinosaur park.
  3. Madonie Adventure Park. This is an ideal area where you can let your kids test their strength, endurance and agility as they try to hurdle the courses. Activities include rope ladder-walking, tree climbing, and cable slides. Levels of difficulty depend on the age of children so there’s always something appropriate for every child and teenager. You can also inquire about mountain biking, horseback riding, or hiking across the area.
  4. International Puppets Museum. A time-out from the outside, this is a good place to bring your children to see the wide collection of traditional Sicilian puppets and also from around the world.
  5. Museum of Toys. Children love toys. When you bring them to a place packed with these, they will be delighted. This museum allows you to educate your children as they discover ancient toys in the forms of dolls, board games and cockhorses.
  6. Etna Adventure Park. Children love playing in the water, more so if there are different ways to have fun. This water park is full of attractions to keep you and your kids amused. Try the various water slides and be entertained by different shows and attractions. Check out their pre-historic park which exhibits life-sized dinosaurs.
  7. Chocolate Experience. Drive off to Modica to witness how they make their chocolate following the original and ancient recipe of the Aztecs as brought by the Spaniards in olden times. Enjoy every tasty treat!
  8. Archaeological Education. Sicily is perfect for learning something about the history and culture of the place. The island is full of temples and castles. Visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the Greek Theater in Taormina, the castle in Erice, and other amazingly well-preserved buildings.
  9. Island-hopping. Go on a boat excursion around the Aeolian Islands to experience a trek to the craters of Stromboli and Vulcano. The children will be excited to see the “Sciara del Fuoco.”
  10. 10. Park of Nebrodi. If you are interested in nature jaunts, it is ideal to also bring your children to this place. In summer, you will be amazed by the flowering Euglena sanguinea which is a kind of algae that thrives on the bottom of the lake Biviere, turning it into a red colour.
  11. Park of Alcantara. It would be interesting to walk around the banks to see flora and fauna. It is also possible to descend near the water for some playing around and have a picnic.
  12. Island of the Rabbits. Here you will find a beautiful beach where your children can play along fine, white sand and even possibly chance to spot a particular kind of sea turtle, the Caretta caretta. A lot of the flora in this area is African in origin of which you cannot find the same in any other part of Italy.
  13. Vendicari Nature Reserve. If you haven’t experienced watching migratory birds, this is the ideal place to visit. December is the best time where you can see various kinds of birds – royal swans, wild geese, kingfishers and other avian species. In autumn, the pink flamingoes arrive, as well as turtle doves, stone curlews, Kentish plovers and more. A number of species of mammals also call this home.
  14. Gelato Adventure. Kids love sweets and when it gets hot, a cold, tasty treat is always welcome. Sicily is known for the gelato and there are so many flavours available. Try all the flavours to discover your favourite!
  15. Agritourism Activities. Why not bring your children to experience picking fruits from the trees or harvesting grapes? In an agritourism farm, the children can also learn how to ride horses and learn a few things about farm life.
  16. The Beaches. This is perhaps the most popular thing tourists do in Sicily. You can’t miss the beautiful beaches of the island and your children will surely love playing around. There are the beaches near the bigger cities and there are the hidden gems not so commercialized. In Stromboli, you might want to visit the beaches where the sand is black. You can also take the cable car to Mazzaro, a beach resort near Taormina.
  17. Water activities. Sicily is surrounded by water and there are a lot of fun activities to keep the entire family busy. You can go on boat trips and snorkel and fish. The children might also enjoy an adventure on pedal boats.
  18. Eureka! This is an archaeological workshop for children where they can visit the Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Park of Syracuse to have a glimpse of the life of Archimedes. There are different activities including discovery games, colouring and drawing. Materials are provided and parents take part in the workshop.

 

Mondello beach Palermo Sicily with Kids

Mondello beach Palermo Sicily with Kids – Image by https://flic.kr/p/aynPvV

 

With Kids in Sicily

With Kids in Sicily – Image by v

Whether they get there by car, train or plane, parents are likely to face a few extra obstacles both packing and traveling to a new destination. But being a parent doesn’t mean the end of global adventures! And why not spark the travel bug only months into a little one’s life? Resorts like the Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico, or the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia, welcome families with open arms (Club Med even has programs for babies as young as four months) — and nearly any destination can be made infant friendly with the right preparation.

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

Let these tips, tricks and words of wisdom be a guide to taking on the next travel adventure, plus baby.

Pack Ahead

When traveling with a baby, packing is all about organization. Prioritize the packing list, keep the most important things within easy reach, and don’t waste valuable space with baby gear that can be borrowed or rented.

  • Carry a fully stocked diaper bag onto an airplane.
    When flying, plenty of diapers, plastic bags (to contain dirty clothes and diapers), a changing pad, bibs and burb cloths will help keep everyone clean and tidy. Especially if traveling internationally, including enough food, formula, or breastmilk is also important!
  • Not everything has to go in the carry on.
    This step-by-step packing guide breaks down which items really belong in a carry on versus checked baggage. Some things (outerwear, tons of blankets) should definitely be packed in a checked bag so as not to take up valuable space.
  • Don’t sweat the big stuff
    Large items such as cribs, high chairs, and large toys (think bouncy seats) are almost never worth it to pack — whether driving or flying. Call the hotel concierge to find out what type of sleeping set up they offer for infants. Most have a Pack ‘n Play or other play pen set up (be aware that hotel cribs may not meet safety standards). The more high end the hotel, the better amenities they’ll offer for babies. Staying in a condominium or Airbnb? Rent cribs, high chairs and more from services like MV Baby Rent or Rockabye Baby Rentals. These services also rent to hotels!
  • Research the airline policies
    Each airline may have a slightly different policy when it comes to checking strollers or car seats. Start research through the TSA website, which has a Traveling with Children page, then move on to specific airline research. Do parents have to check strollers at the ticket counter? Or can it be checked at the gate? These are the kinds of questions to ask.
The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Babies

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Babies

Flying? Prep for the Plane

Parents have a few options when it comes to flying with babies and toddlers two years old and younger (what most airlines consider a “lap baby”). Know the facts and consider a few tips to make plane travel as easy as possible.

  • Most airlines allow lap babies to fly for free
    Worried about paying baby’s way? Tots under two years old are permitted to sit in mom or dad’s lap on most flights within the United States. Taxes, fees, or fares may apply. Some airlines, like United, do require a ticket for babies on international flights.
  • But the safest way for babies to fly is in a car seat
    Buying an extra seat for a baby is not possible for everyone, but airlines like Southwest do offer affordable infant rates. If you do decide to purchase a ticket for a baby and his car seat, ensure that the seat is FAA approved by checking out a few questions, answers and tips (including how to install a car seat on a plane) here.
  • Even a lap baby may need documentation
    When traveling with a child that does not require a ticket, the airline might still require a government issued birth certificate or passport. All babies flying internationally require a passport, so be sure to apply for one in due time.
  • When bringing a stroller…
    Bring the smallest, most compact stroller for any kind of travel, but especially plane travel. Most airlines allow passengers to check collapsible strollers at the gate when boarding, and to pick them up when exiting the plane, but they will have to go through the x-ray at security. Any large, bulky strollers will likely need to be checked at the check-in counter.
  • Breastmilk and formula have different rules
    When it comes to packing a carry on bag, as long as a child is present, parents can pack more than the restrictive three ounces of breastmilk, formula or juice. Simply declare that you’re carrying breastmilk or formula onto the flight at the beginning of the TSA screening process. Some parents have found it helps to have the rules printed out, which can be found here.
  • Don’t be shy
    Ask about bottle warming, if bassinets will be available, if there is family pre-boarding, and if there is a diaper changing station on the plane. Take advantage of any benefits offered for families, especially if it will keep a baby calm. Everyone appreciates a quiet baby on board.
  • Concerned about breastfeeding in the airport?
    Don’t be! In the U.S., women are permitted to breastfeed in any space they are legally allowed to occupy. Many airports now have lactation suites from companies like mamava, where mothers can nurse in both quiet and clean spaces (because no mom should have to nurse in an airport bathroom).

    In many other countries, Australia, France, and Iceland for example, mothers will find more acceptance of public breastfeeding than in the U.S. But others, like Saudi Arabia, ask that mothers be very discreet about breastfeeding. Respect the culture, wherever you travel.

Road Trip With Kids

Road Trip With Kids

What About a Road Trip?

Aspects of traveling by car may especially appeal to new parents. Worrying about a crying baby on a cramped, long flight could be a source of a lot of anxiety. Driving will take longer, and may involve a certain amount of “crying it out,” which is something to remember.

  • Check the car seat
    Before driving long distances, it doesn’t hurt to double check that baby’s car seat is properly installed. Read up to find out the best car seat by age, how to safely install one, and to read about safety ratings for various brands and models.
  • Plan for messes
    Keep a roll of paper towels, a change of clothes, wipes and even a plastic grocery bag (for trash) handy when traveling with babies and toddlers.
  • Stay organized
    Organizers which hang on the back of a (grown up) car seat make toys, wipes, change of clothes and such, much more easy to access.
  • Plan rest stops in advance
    Take time to get out of the car, walk around and breathe in fresh air. A little wiggle room will do everyone wonders before the next leg of the trip. Feeding breaks are also
  • Drive through the night
    Many parents find that driving through the night, when babies are (hopefully) sleeping anyway, to be a the best way to travel. Just be sure to take shifts and get plenty of sleep yourself.
  • Keep baby engaged
    Consider (if there are two adults on the road trip) taking turns sitting in the back with a hand comforting the baby while he or she is still in the car seat. Read, talk and play together so the baby stays engaged, which is beneficial to their growing brains and keeps them calm.

No matter how much love exists between parent and child, sometimes traveling with children under the age of 10 can feel like anything but a vacation. There are diapers to be changed, mouths to be fed, temper tantrums to be soothed, and an absurd amount of luggage to be hauled from place to place. But you can have kids, and take vacation, and enjoy it, too.

 

Traveling with Young Kids

Traveling with Young Kids – Source: https://flic.kr/p/8FxzVu

Follow these travel safety tips for a truly restful vacation (sans babysitter).

Pre-Vacation: Plan for Success

A little foresight can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth trip. Keep the following tips in mind while planning the next family vacation.

  1. Plan ahead. Sure, couchsurfing or hostel-crashing are tons of fun when traveling solo, but spontaneity becomes decidedly less appealing with a bawling three-year-old in tow. Maximize the chances of enjoying a well-earned vacation by making concrete plans in advance — from booking flights, hotels, and campsites to reserving rental cars or museum entrance times. When purchasing flights, buy tickets online in order to reserve seats in the same row.
  2. Know the airline’s rules. Before packing, read up on airline baggage restrictions, specifically as they pertain to young kids. Some airlines allow infants to check baggage, have special policies for car seats or strollers, or provide bassinets for infant travelers. Know the rules and plan accordingly.
  3. Prep documents. Make sure that all documents (especially passports) are up to date well in advance of the trip. Check to see if anyone will need visas at the destination; children often require visas just like adults. If traveling with an adopted child, be sure to bring along adoption papers. Also note that if you’re the only parent travelling with the child (regardless of marital status), you could be asked for proof of consent from the other parent.
  4. Check in with the doctor and the insurance company. If taking a trip overseas, call the doctor to find out if any vaccinations are required or recommended before flying. Also be sure to contact your health insurance provider to learn how overseas medical costs are handled.
  5. Pack light. Though children inevitably come with (literal) baggage, try to limit the amount of stuff the family brings on vacation. When traveling with young kids, it’s enormously helpful to have a hand free for handholding while navigating busy public spaces.
  6. Pack layers. From airplane temperature fluctuations to unfamiliar climates, don’t risk a tantrum because the kids are uncomfortable. Instead, dress children in layers so they’re ready — and happy — for anything.
  7. Bring a first aid kit. Kids are notorious for acquiring scrapes and bruises in all manner of ways. Having basic first aid items on hand at all times will help mitigate children’s anxiety if anyone gets hurt. Antiseptic wipes, Band-Aids, and an ace bandage are easy to squeeze into any carry-on.
  8. Take advantage of smartphones. Use a phone’s camera to record important info such as each family member’s passport, the trip itinerary, and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of hotels or taxi services. This will help reduce the chances of needing to dig through a suitcase with a crying toddler in tow.
  9. Consider a child locator. These techy devices work by strapping a small unit to a child’s belt or shoe and holding onto the transmitter. It’ll be a huge help if junior disappears in a busy bus terminal or crowded dinosaur exhibit — just set off the transmitter’s alarm and follow the sound. Want a lower-tech option? Write an emergency contact number on young children’s arms in case they get lost.

During Vacation: Tips for Tranquility

Congratulations: The family is out the door and vacation is officially starting. Here’s how to ensure the vacation itself goes as smoothly as planning for it.

  1. Build in time buffers. As any parent knows, young kids’ standards for efficiency tend to differ from those of adults. Help eliminate travel stress by building in extra time around all planned activities, from shuttling to the airport to making that 11 a.m. museum tour.
  2. Invest in extra rear-views. If a trip involves long periods in the car, extra mirrors pointed at the back seats can be invaluable (especially if you’re the only adult in the car). They’ll allow extra visibility when kids start to bicker — without having to pull the car over.
  3. Plan kid-friendly activities. The kiddos are more likely to remain happy vacationers if they get to spend some time doing things they really enjoy. Schedule time at local parks or kid-centered exhibits to ensure everyone remains a happy camper. Even better, spend the whole vacation in a family-friendly locale with plenty of choices such as New York City or Munich (both cities have a great selection of kid-centric museums with interactive exhibits).
  4. Child-proof hotels. After checking in, double-check that the room’s locks and windows function properly and note any potential safety hazards such as wobbly balcony railings, loose towel racks, or exposed wires. Make accommodations as necessary.
  5. Keep tabs on bathrooms. Whether at a theme park or in a hotel lobby or restaurant, it’s always smart to note the location of the nearest restroom facilities — you never know when a young family member might need them.
  6. When eating at restaurants, go early. This helps avoid crowds, which can be stressful for young children, and will make it easier to maneuver if a child goes into tantrum mode.
  7. Take breaks when the kids fuss. This one’s for all the family road-trippers out there. If the kids are quiet in the backseat, for goodness’ sake keep driving (even if you have to hold it). Take breaks if/when kids start to act up, and use the time out of the car to let them stretch their legs while you fill up for gas, buy snacks, etc. Cover as many miles as possible while the kids are happy or sleeping.
  8. Keep distractions on hand. You never know when you’ll get stuck in a long line at the airport or a famous monument. Help prevent meltdowns by bringing along toys and portable games to keep kids engaged and happy.
  9. Find community. If traveling with a child with special needs, it can be helpful to talk to parents who have done it before and may have helpful tips. Disabledfriends.com or youreable.com let parents do just that. Also consider getting an identity bracelet that lists the child’s medical condition, treatment, etc. Likewise, if a child has serious allergies, consider having her or him travel with a card specifying the allergy.
  10. Use an app. From Sunday drives, to cross-country road trips, to foreign potty stops — there’s an app for that. Check out this list of family travel apps and choose one relevant to your needs.

Perhaps the most important tip for traveling with children? Remember to be present. Turn off the smartphone, don’t check email, and choose to be fully on vacation. The experience — and the family memories — will be all the better for it.

Planning to fly your family on a cross-country vacation? Packing for air travel – and security – is daunting when it’s just grownups. Add kids to the mix and you might feel the start of a small panic attack.

 

Flying the Family Cross-Country

Flying the Family Cross-Country – Source: https://flic.kr/p/61V2rq

There’s no need to stress. Simply keep these six tips in mind when packing and preparing:

1. Do Your Research First

Don’t assume you know the current rules for luggage and carry-ons. Before you start packing, research what you are or aren’t allowed to wear or carry so you can skip the last-minute switches between carry-ons and checked baggage.

This will also help you skip meltdowns with the kids if they know ahead of time that something can’t be brought on board with them.

2. Plan for Easy Access

You know the security line is coming, and if you’ve done your research you know what to expect. Don’t hold up the line by fumbling with clothes, liquids or other items. Instead, plan ahead.

Liquids will need to be taken out during security, so put them all in a gallon Ziploc bag and leave it at the top of your carry-on. That way, when the time comes, you can simply pull it out and place it on the belt. If you don’t want to mess with unpacking your electronics, pick a bag that is made to be checkpoint friendly. This will eliminate the need to remove your laptop from your bag.

Keep all travel documents, tickets and important papers in one folder. Make sure either mom or dad has this folder on them and ready to go at all times.

3. Dress with Care

Some of your kids’ favorite clothes or vacation necessities may need to be checked instead of worn on the plane. Shoes need to be easy to remove at security, so multi-buckle sandals or tightly laced hiking boots should go in checked luggage and flip-flops or slip-ons should go on your feet.

Wait to put on jewelry or belts with metal buckles until after you’ve passed security. Keep them in their own bag in your carry-on so they’re easy to take out during security. Once you’re through you can accessorize to your heart’s content.

Don’t look suspicious. Wear clothes that fit and are seasonally appropriate, as bulky or ill-fitting items look like you’re trying to hide something and may result in more thorough – and time-consuming – security checks.

4. Expect the Unexpected

Kids and travel are unpredictable enough on their own. Combine the two and you never know what might happen.

You want to be economical and savvy with your luggage, but avoid only packing the bare minimum of underwear, clothes, diapers, etc. for kids. Make sure their checked luggage is stocked with a few extras, just in case.

One experience with lost luggage is all it takes to make a lasting impression. Consider slipping a pair or two of underwear into carry-on luggage to tide you over in the event your bags are lost or delayed.

Kids are unavoidably messy, so make sure to have wet wipes and a small towel in your carry-on. For young kids that are potty-training or in diapers, consider a change of clothes and a wet bag for soiled items.

5. Don’t Forget the Entertainment

The younger your kids, the more trouble they will have entertaining themselves on a flight – no matter the length. Encourage older kids to pack their own books and handheld entertainment devices and take it upon yourself to pack enough to keep younger kids distracted. Not only will this keep your kids happy, but it will also cut down on dirty looks from fellow travelers.

You know best what will entertain your kids, but here are a few suggestions to kickstart your packing list.

6. Explore During Long Layovers

If the kiddos are restless from sitting through a long flight, take advantage of seemingly inconvenient layovers by exploring the area near the airport. If you know you’re going to be in an interesting town or city for a few hours, check out local attractions before you land and plan your layover time (and luggage) accordingly.

If actually leaving the airport is too much of a hassle, take your kids for a walk around the different shops and restaurants in the airport itself. If you’re lucky, your layover airport might even have a play area with children in mind.  If this is the case, make sure to pack comfortable play shoes so your kids can get some quality exercise in between flights.

If all else fails, you can also grab dinner at one of the interior restaurants or head over to those big, glass windows to watch planes take off and land. However you choose to explore, try to make the most out of long layovers, rather than bemoaning how annoying they are.

Bonus Tip:

Investing in a security precheck package is helpful for anyone who wants to cut down on time spent in security lines. If you have kids, any time saved and hassle avoided is invaluable. There are several precheck plans available, but CLEAR appeals to families as it is free for kids under 18.

Being prepared when traveling with kids is half the battle. Make sure you pack correctly so your vacation is as smooth and enjoyable as you deserve.