404 2013 April

Archives for April 2013

Happy Queen’s Day

Untitled designToday is Koningendag in the Netherlands.

The last one, at least for a while, as the Queen of the Netherlands will abdicate the throne to her son. Starting next year, the Netherlands will celebrate King’s Day. Queen’s Day is one of the Netherlands largest parties, if not the world’s largest party, with family friendly events included in the schedule.

In honor of Queen’s Day, here are four family friendly activities to do in Amsterdam all year round guaranteed to keep everyone happy.

Family Friendly Amsterdam

NEMO Science Center 

For kids of all ages, anyone interested in pushing buttons , playing with balls, and learning how all things work. It’s conveniently located near Centraal Station and the Amsterdam Public Library.

I wrote more about Science Center NEMO here.

Hot Tip: Order tickets online to avoid the lines. During weekdays, the Science Center can get quite busy with school groups. 

Nemo Science Center

Nemo Science Center

Another bonus: Head up to the top and enjoy beautiful views of Amsterdam. During the summer (and in good weather), this is a great place to eat lunch. Bring an extra set of clothes because there are some water features that kids can’t help but jump into.

Nemo Science Center

Picnic in Museumplein area

On one end, a grocery store (Albert Heijn) selling ready-to-go meals. On the other end, a large Iamsterdam sign, the Van Gogh Museum, and the very recently reopened Rijksmuseum. In between, a large grassy area with a playground on the edge. Perfect place for picnic and play.






Amsterdam is a busy city, with canals, trams, bikes, cars, people… whew. Vondelpark is a great escape to let the kids run around and explore without any immediate danger. Rumor has it that there are also playgrounds here, but my son had too much fun running around in the open grassy areas to care about the playgrounds.

family friendly amsterdam

Heineken Experience

The kids won’t get to sample the beer, but the Heineken Experience is interactive enough to keep it fun for them.



This post is part of Travel Tip Tuesday. Click on the link to get more great travel tips.car seat cover rav4kits de sexeReplay JE5gopro hd hero3 black edition

What Now, Using Most of the Photos from our Trips

I’m a strong believer in living with our photos. By that I mean, take them off of the computer or memory stick, and find a way that the whole family can enjoy them easily.

This three-part series is going to offer tips on how to choose from the hundreds (or thousands) of pictures taken on a single trip and turn them into a beautiful souvenir that your family will enjoy for years.

(Note in this post I reference various services and products that I am using. These brands are not sponsored, nor affiliated in any way with Travel Turtle. They are just products that I have used and enjoyed.)

Quick Review from Last week.

Last week we took a huge group of photos from one trip, grouped them into smaller, workable categories, and deleted all the unneeded photos. I am working with photos from a 2011 trip our family took to Paris for my son’s first birthday. I went from 400 photos to around 200 photos in a total of three categories: Disney/Halloween, Birthday, Paris Sites. This week we will look at options for creating something that our family can enjoy using as many of the remaining photos as possible.

Part 2: Organizing Large Photo Collection: Ways to use ALL of your favorites from a Single Trip

One school of thought, when it comes to photos, is that if we are going to take a lot of photos, we might as well do something with them. The other school of thought thinks that we just don’t need to keep every photo we take. Last week we deleted all the photos that didn’t add to our travel stories. The blurry shots, the multiple shots of the same things, the less worthy shots.

I feel my 200 remaining photos tell a complete photographic story of our trip. There is not too much redundancy with a good amount of sites and people.

For those who want to use as many photos as possible from your trip, this part is for you.

I’m not going to kid, 200 photos is still a lot for one one-week trip. With large numbers, we are limited in both money and space on what we can do with the photos to create something that our family can enjoy. However, we are no longer burdened with the stress of deleting photos. Sometimes, especially for the more special trips, it is worth keeping as many photos as possible.

Here are some options for your consideration:

Create a Slide Show

If your photo storing software on your computer allows this, it is definitely the easiest option. Otherwise, there are online sites that will allow you to upload your photos and make a slide show. With 200 photos, this can take a long time.


  • Break down your slide show according to the categories you created in part 1.
  • Each category should take the length of one song.
  • You will want photos to last on the screen 5-10 seconds, so keep that in mind when picking the song. (For example, one of my categories, has 33 pictures. So, I want to pick a song that’s at least 2 1/2 – 5 minutes long.) Alternatively, you can find the song you want to use for each section and then include the number of pictures that will fit into that time frame (For example, I found a 2 minute song and decide to remove some more pictures so that each photo gets more time on-screen.)
  • Use transitions between photos.
  • Have a compelling opening and closing photo.
  • Keep in mind that viewers may start to lose interest if the total time for viewing is 10 minutes.
  • If you have the software to do so, add a few segments of a video clip.
  • Burn it DVD and watch on tv and enjoy!

Use a Digital Frame

Upload your photos to a digital frame. Then people can just watch the frame when they want.

  • I have the Kodak Pulse 7-inch frame. I can send photos to the frame via wifi. 
  • The slide show and transitions happen automatically.
  • With my frame, I am only able to have 400 photos at a time. So, the frame will only allow me to have two trips worth of photos unless I upload fewer, of course.
  • Place the frame in a prominent place and enjoy!

Create a Photobook

Easy way to organize large number of photos from single trip

Here’s part of my process. So easy!

There are plenty of online or in-store options for turning digital photos into photobooks. These books are the only way to have a physical copy of your photos without using up a lot of space.


  • Allow a lot of white space in the pages.
  • Use a template and select autofill for the book. Make adjustments as needed, but don’t get too caught up in the details.
  • Keep in mind the number of pages you will need. For a book with 200 photos, 50 pages means 4 pictures per page. Since we’ve already deleted the really unnecessary photos, we will want these pages to have no more than 4-6 photos per page so that they each get the attention they deserve.
  • When you get the book, use a sharpie marker and write any details that you want to share about the photos.
  • Purchase an extra copy of your book and give that one to your children. Now they have their own book of their own trip that they can look at when they want!
  • Alternatively: Many people commented that they use their blog to keep memories from their trip. Turn your blog into a book by using a service such as blurb.com. In between or at the end of blog pages, include all the photos that didn’t make it to the blog. Now the children will have something to look at to remind them of their trip!

What I’m doing: Due to computer limitations at the moment, I opted to create a photobook with Shutterfly over creating a slideshow or adding photos to my digital frame. Using their simple path, I can put up to 4 pictures per page automatically. They have several travel styles to choose from suiting a wide-range of vacation experiences. I chose the 8  x 11 photobook. I like that it’s big enough to really showcase my photos without being overwhelming. Prices shows are for books with up to 20 pages, with an option to pay for additional pages. Because of this, I did end up reducing the overall number of pictures I used. My book would have been $65 for 78 pages, which is beyond my budget. I adjusted the book manually to allow for 6 pages occasionally. I did pick autofill and shutterfly organized my photos in date order, not in the order they were uploaded.

There are many great photobook making services out there, so find one that works best with your process.


A note about editing: For the purpose of this project, I opted out of individually editing the photos. I wanted it done. These photos are from 2011, I’m making this for my family, and I don’t need 200 perfectly composed, contrasted, white-balanced photos. Next week, we will look at creating items with just the best of the bunch and I will offer some tips for editing photos.



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Raising Responsible Travelers

Intelligent Travel’s Leslie Trew Magrew recently interviewed author Elizabeth Becker. Becker’s Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism examines our impact as travelers. In the interview, she sites France as a model of sustainable tourism, embracing the culture that people go to France to see. Cambodia exemplifies the worst case scenario, exploiting the sites and people to make more money. Governments and tourist offices are burdened with finding ways to balance the influx of tourists with the local resources. However, it is not just their burden. Responsible travel is our burden. As parents, sharing our love of travel with our families, what can we do to make sure that the places we visit now will still be an authentic experience for our children’s children?


Sacre Coeur, Paris.

Responsible Travel: Proper Preparation

Using a Staycation to Better Understand a Vacation

One way Becker suggests approaching the issue of responsible tourism was taking a staycation.

My advice is to first be a tourist where you live. Explore the museums, the farms, the churches, the night life, the historic monuments–and then read up on local politics and history. If you’re interested in volunteering overseas, first volunteer at home. Then when you’re planning your next trip abroad, use that experience as a template and study up on the destination you’re about to visit.

I admit, other than a lower carbon footprint, I didn’t quite understand how this would help. Then I read a little more about responsible travel in Cambodia and the idea of visiting orphanages was brought up. In bold letters the site asked

THINK TWICE BEFORE VISITING AN ORPHANAGE …Would you go to visit an orphanage in your home country? Would somewhere that puts the best interests of the children first allow random visits from strangers?

This helped me put it in perspective. The way we would approach travel where we live, that’s how we should approach travel somewhere else. How do locals like to be treated? What types of things are off the tourist radar, but worth the visit? How do we connect to the community?

With children, seeing what their own community offers helps them make a connection outside of their community. An added benefit to staycations? Learning more about our family’s travel style.


Becker mentions the Baedeker Travel Guides from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These “were written in consultation with historians and archaeologists who presumed the tourists wanted to immerse themselves in a country.” As opposed to many of today’s guides, the Baedeker Guides focused more on the history, culture, politics and even language of a country and only a small space for hotels and restaurants.

Keep this in mind when preparing for a trip. Make sure the amount of time searching for the perfect hotel is matched with taking the time to gain a greater understanding of the country itself. Include children in this preparation. Whip up relevant meals, read stories set in the location, look up phrases and photos online, and do a search on youtube for videos. This knowledge gives everyone, kids included, a better appreciation for the country and compassion for its people.

Responsible Travel: The Local Impact

It’s important to understand just how travel impacts the local community. Becker’s Cambodia example shows that their shortsightedness is actually destroying the very reason people started traveling there in the first place, “In Angkor, a thicket of new hotels has outpaced infrastructure and is draining the water table so badly the temples are sinking.”  And that’s just the beginning. The greed exhibited there has made Cambodia popular for sex tourism and even profiting from tours to the killing fields.

This is an extreme, but unfortunately, small example of the effects of tourism. An influx of tourists will have both a positive and negative impact to the local community, in every community. Responsible travelers, educating future travelers, must find an appropriate way to travel  with minimal negative impact.

The Ethical Traveler suggests to

Be aware of where your money is going, and patronize locally owned inns, restaurants, and shops. Try to keep your cash within the local economy, so the people you are visiting can benefit directly from your visit.

Fortunately, according to a list by Conde Nast’s Wendy Perrin of what kids say they really want, this should coincide nicely. They want a place that is completely different from home, preferring the experience of a local market where they can the varieties of food then going on a picnic at a park later, and purchasing souvenirs directly from the maker.

This topic is far larger than these simple points I mention above. Acknowledging our impact is the first step. By educating ourselves we can find the balance to make more right choices for our families and the places we visit.

This is definitely a subject I will return to again. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on responsible tourism and any challenges you might face as a traveling family.

If you are interested in other articles about this topic, please visit the following sites:

International Center for Responsible Tourism

The Sustainable Tourism Gateway

I-to-I Volunteering

This post is part of Friday Daydreaming at R We There Yet Mom?sexe vibrognail

Wordless Wednesday: Graffiti


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Five Tips for Using the German Rail with Babies and Toddlers


rail updateFor the first two years of my son’s life, we relied solely on public transport to get from one place to another. We learned a lot using the German rail system both locally and nationally. Here are 5 cost-savings and/or sanity-savings tips for conquering the trains in Germany.

german rail with kids

Here we are using the Kinderabteil room for the first time. It was nice to be able to keep W safely buckled in his stroller while on the train.

1. Kids under 6 travel free. So do their strollers. The German Rail website sells a pass for 4-11 year olds, but if the child is under 6, they are free when traveling with an adult.

2. Some trains allow reservations. On those trains, try to book a “Kinderabteil”. This is a kid room. Instead of the typical 6-seat configuration, there are 4 regular seats and two-fold down seats. Strollers go where the seats fold down. On some trains and in first class the Kinderabteil is even larger than the regular 6-seat configuration areas, giving kids some space to move around without bothering others. If the Kinderabteil is not available for reservation, then it is first-come, first-served.

german rail with kids

On this train we noticed (see where the arrow is pointing) that the seats lift up to make space for things like strollers. Be on the lookout for that sign if you need the space. It’s usually at the end of the car.

3. Many tips for flying with kids are applicable for riding the train with kids. There are three things to consider about train travel that differs from plane travel: train seats don’t have seat belts, there are no liquid restrictions, and the train often stops. For children who are easily distracted, try to schedule train trips to avoid their nap times. I know anytime I thought my son was going to fall asleep, the upcoming stop was announced. If that didn’t wake him up the group of people exiting and entering the train sure did.

german rail with kids

This time we weren’t able to secure a Kinderabteil. Even though kids under 6 travel free, they can still get a seat reservation. We put our suitcase in the area in front of him for added protection.

4.  Kids love to snack. Unlike airports, train stations sell food and drinks for prices similar to what they are at regular stores. No need to shop at the grocery store to save prices before going to the train station! Snacks are also available on a lot of trains. They are sold by an employee walking the aisle and/or at the restaurant car. These snacks are a little pricier, but still reasonable.

5. In almost all cities in Germany shops are closed on Sundays and holidays . Main train stations (Hauptbahnhof) and airports are the exception. If diapers are running low on a Sunday, head to the Hauptbahnhof to replenish stock.

This post is part of Travel Tip Tuesday. Click the link to read more great tips.

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