404 Travel Turtle Family Travel Blog

Nail clippers and packing lists


I love reading about packing for a trip. I even own two books about it.

Almost before every trip I search for the latest and greatest in packing technology and efforts. What are people doing now? What packing list best represents the trip I’m about to take?

Instead of highlighting too many tips, I want to focus on some of my favorite tips. These tips are for anyone, but especially useful for families.So, now I’m just going to share some of my favorite tips I’ve learned along the way.

  • Instead of organizing clothes by type (socks together, shirts together, etc…) Organize one outfit for each kid/family member. Put one outfit for each family member in a bag, until you have one bag for each day. Then you just have to take out the bag and all the kids have all of their clothes.
  • When going on a road trip with an overnight stay, pack a smaller bag with just the necessities for that night. Then you don’t have to lug out the whole suitcase.
  • Write out a packing list, check items off as you go, pack the list with you, and when you pack to go home use the list to make sure you didn’t forget anything. At the end of your trip, note what wasn’t needed so you know for next time.
  • I often throw things I might need into a laundry basket in the days leading up to the trip. Then, I can go through and remove things I don’t need – but I don’t worry about forgetting something I really wanted.
  • One of my favorite things to do is to only bring a backpack’s worth of “necessities” and buy everything once I’m there. Then ship all the new stuff back home. ***Disclaimer: this works better for city visits than theme park visits, and isn’t something I would do too often.
  • My three essentials: Nail clippers, band aids, and q-tips.

As you can guess, I’d love to read more tips. If you have any that you want to share, links to posts you like about the subject, or have any questions, let me know.

If you get a moment, please check out Uber Random for some travel-related, A-to-Z randomness.sexy en lingeriekeyword rankingWSP Italy SIDNEY W8801south beach realty



As an expat, I often forget how hard international travel can be. Since I’m lucky to be able to drive or train to several countries within a few hours, travel is easy. Since I already deal with a foreign language on a regular basis, knowing I will at least speak English at hotels and sites actually means I speak more English when I travel than at home. Since the Euro is the currency of so many countries I travel to, I don’t even have to worry about figuring out the cash situation.

So, when I arrived in London last week with only my German bank card and a few Euro bills, I realized something important. Money is important.

I don’t mean budgeting, which is vital, but actual money.

The best way for me to explain this is to list a series of what I should have done.

What I should have done on our trip to London

  • I should have remembered that my American debit card was expiring a few days before our trip started and ordered a new one as back-up.
  • I should have kept the pounds from previous trips in a secure place, a place that I remembered, so that I would have had some with me.
  • I should have looked up what the exchange rate was just so I would know if, at any point, I was getting a horrible or decent deal when exchanging money.
  • I should have contacted my German bank to see who they partner with, then figured out where those bank’s ATMs were located in relation to the airport, the closest tube station, or my hotel.
  • I should have looked up what the coins look like and what their value was to save myself a lot of time since the smaller coins did not necessarily mean they were of smaller value.
  • I should have researched tipping policy for things like sit-down meals, free-walking tours, paid tours, and other situations.
  • I should have visited the transportation site to have an idea of how much a tube ride would cost so I wouldn’t spend an extra 30 minutes trying to find the correct kiosk since I didn’t believe the tickets could be so expensive.e

And now I know. Just because I deal in foreign everyday, doesn’t mean I understand every type of foreign – even when it has a common language.

I would love to know what other money-related things you might recommend for your travels.

One of my favorite places in the US is San Diego, California. Donna is writing about the A-to-Z’s of this beautiful city as part of the challenge. Check out her site soon!

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Listen to your kids

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


Yesterday I wrote that kids love to travel. But they don’t want to do everything we want to do while on vacation

So my advice for today is simple: listen to your kids.

Let them be part of the planning process. Look over notes from previous trips to see what they like. (Don’t have notes from previous trips? Download my favorites printable or one-page travel journal.)

Ask them what they want to see.

Allow a portion of the family trip to speak to their hearts. Get excited about those places. These are  your kids dreams.

Today I’d love it if you’d visit fellow A-to-Z challenge participant Rhonda of Laugh Quotes. She has travelled all over the world with her kids and has great stories.


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Kids love to travel

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


When planning your next big, or small, getaway, remember this – kids love to travel.

It’s their natural instinct to be curious about the world around them. Help foster that curiosity.

Yes, there will be times they are bored – that’s ok.

The benefits of traveling with your kids, learning about new cultures and spending time as a family make the enclosed space of flying with strangers, packing and unpacking, and dealing with food preferences worth it.

(Side note: I’ve had the Travel Turtle site since 2007. I took a break from it, moved to Germany, and had kids. In April 2013, on a trip to Prague, I decided to start writing about family travel. My first plan was to start a new site and call it Kids Love to Travel, but I decided to just restructure Travel Turtle.)

My friend, the first person I told about my relaunching of Travel Turtle, and fellow family travel blogger Andrea has also joined the A-to-Z Challenge. I know for sure her two little ones love to travel. Please visit her today at Passports and Pushchairs.macbook air case stickersonline spell check englishMemory Stick

Jokes while traveling

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


One of the many reasons I love to travel with my husband and kids is because of the uninterrupted, mostly undistracted time we spend together. This always results in some inside jokes. The you-had-to-be-there variety that solidifies our family, our history, and our future.

And as a keeper of our families memories, I like to write these down.

My A-to-Z of Family Traveling tip for J is JOKES. Keep it fun.

A Passion and a Passport is another A-to-Z travel blogger. She’s focusing on a wanderlust series and her posts are beautiful. Please be sure to check them out.GoPro Hero

Instagram Travel Thursday

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


If you are not a travel blogger you may or may not have heard of the Instagram Travel Thursday link-up. Travel bloggers link up their favorite Instagram-related posts and share it with their community. It is so inspirational to read about the different places people travel. It’s also easy to see how you can use Instagram to plan your own travel.

Today, since “I” fell on a Thursday, I’m going to write about ways you can use Instagram in your travel before, during, and after your trip. And add photos from my own IG account throughout.

Using Instagram before your trip

Do a hashtag search of the city you are traveling to. Click on something that looks interesting, then follow the hashtag trail to find other things to do on your trip.

If you find something that interests you, ask the IGer about it.

Using Instagram during your trip

Of course you can still do the hashtag search to find fun things to do near you. You can also pinpoint a hashtag to be more specific. Instead of #london, maybe #bigben.

Another fun thing here is you can get ideas for how other people captured this area and use that inspiration in your own photos.

You can also create your own hashtag, #travelturtlegoestolondon for example, and upload your own IGs. This lets your friends and family know where you’ve been, and makes it easier for you to find the photos from this specific trip later.

Added bonus: people may start to ask you questions about that destination.

Tip: For safety, be careful of your upload timing. I try to upload pictures slightly after I’ve been to a certain place, that way it’s harder for stalkers to find me.

Using Instagram after your trip

Well, now you can be the go-to person for the specific destination. Answer people’s questions if they have any for you. Keep Instagram the friendly community is and offer support.

I’m a strong believer in taking the photo off the computer (or phone) and print it out. There are a lot of Instagram-friendly printing companies that will turn your images into bound books. Simple memory keeping technique.

My featured A-to-Z Challenge Travel Blogger of today is the Travelling Book Junkie. She has some pretty cool Alternative City Destinations that she’s featuring.


This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco Lifestyle

Follow me on Instagram to see what’s taking me away from the blog. Leave your IG link in the comments and I’ll follow you when I get back!translator english to germanhow to find keyword search volumeProxes C1Sobd2goption review

Hotel Alternatives

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


After the worry of flying deters a lot of families from traveling, the next “problem” are the expenses associated with accommodation.

I’m a huge fan of hotels, but for the times when a hotel doesn’t make sense, here are some alternatives. (The companies listed below are ones I have personal experience with, but none of these are affiliate links. I just like them.)


What I love about hostels is that many are centrally located. And family friendly hostels, tend to have more families staying there. Extra bonus.

There are many ways to search for a hostel. I recommend using HI (Hosteling International). Search for your city and nights and the hostel description will tell you if it’s suitable for families. Please note that HI hostels in some countries require a membership, while others are available to anyone. Membership does give you a discount, though, so consider if it’s worth it for your travel style.

Apartment Rentals

Just like hostels, these can be centrally located. It depends on you. Here you have a little more room to spread out, cook your own meals, and feel like a temporary local.

Also like hostels, there are many ways to search for apartments. Many apartment owners offer their places through multiple services. Try the interface with different companies to see which you prefer. We have used Air BnB (I love their app) and Flip Key with success.

TIP: Read the fine print to see if it’s family friendly.

I prefer an apartment that’s sole purpose is to be rented by other people. I don’t want to stay at someone’s home that they rent out randomly and have to deal with their food in the fridge and toiletries in the bathrooms. This is all personal, obviously, so do what you need to do.

My unscientific way of determining if an apartment is one and not the other:

  • If the artwork on the wall is large photos of the city you are visiting, or artwork by famous artists of said city, it’s more likely not someone’s permanent home.
  • If the photos on the wall are of family members, the bathroom is filled with shampoo bottles and hairbrushes, and there’s mail on the kitchen table, it’s likely to be a private dwelling sometimes used as a rental.

Holiday Parks

Unlike the above, I’m not sure to what extent these exist outside of Europe.

Holiday parks in Europe are closer to small towns and villages instead of big cities. The word “holiday” is used in more the British sense meaning “vacation” instead of the US sense meaning “thanksgiving”. They are a place to connect with your family instead of site-see (though there are usually many tourist-worthy sites in the vicinity). There are activities at the parks like mini-golf, swimming, bowling, and hiking. The accommodations are private ranging from apartment-style, private chalet, treehouses, houseboats, and everything in between.

There is usually a minimum 3-night stay. What I love about these is the affordability. For example, we stayed at one with a private chalet, kitchen, and two bedrooms in Belgium for 99 EUR for 3 nights. However, depending on the season and location they can be as expensive as 2-300 EUR a night.

What you have to remember is that necessary (bedding) and unnecessary (birthday decorations) extras are not included in that price. It can get expensive if you have a happy “select” finger.

I recommend Landal GreenParks (located in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary. I’ve also heard great things about CenterParcs.

These are just three of my favorite alternatives to hotels.


If you get a chance, please visit Reflection En Route today. She’s another A-to-Z Challenge participant who happens to be an American expat in Germany.tarpaulin car cover dealers chennaiReplay KI16car windscreen sun shade australia

Gear suggestions for traveling families

GI’m a firm believer that you do not NEED a lot of gear for your family vacations. But, I’m also a firm believer in making things as easy as possible. And that definitely means different things to different people.

With that in mind, here’s a list of recommended travel-related gear for families.

Please note: If one of the links takes you to Amazon, it’s an affiliate link. Otherwise there is no affiliation with the recommendations.

A reliable travel stroller

Uppa Baby G-Luxe

I love the Uppa Baby G-Luxe. It has the largest wheels of umbrella stroller that I could find, which means it’s easier to pull up stairs and such. The seat reclines (if you don’t want a reclining seat, get the more affordable G-Lite). The hood has SPF protection. My favorite thing about the stroller? The variety of colors it comes in.

I’ve had mine for 3 years, through two kids, and many trips abroad. I mostly use it exclusively as a travel stroller, but I will also use it in the summertime because it’s well ventilated. It has held up very well.

Runner Up: Yo-Yo

If I knew about this stroller when I purchased mine, I might have picked this instead. Well, except that it’s a lot more expensive than the Uppa Baby G-Luxe. Still, my favorite feature with it is that it folds so compactly that it can fit in the overhead bin. I have a friend who travels very frequently with her 1-year old and she loves this stroller.

Travel stroller accessories

Rain Cover

Short story: I brought my Uppa Baby G-Luxe to Amsterdam when my son was about 7 months old. It was June and we expected nice, warm weather. Instead it was unseasonably cold and extremely rainy. We walked all over the city looking for a stroller rain cover.No one we talked to, even sales people at baby stores, knew where to find them for sale. We ended up buying an adult-sized disposable raincoat and covering the stroller with that.

I felt like a horrible parent (sort of) with all the death scares I received from people who are obviously better planners.

When we got home, we immediately ordered a rain cover.

The added bonus: now that we’re prepared with a rain cover, it rarely rains when we travel! 😉

Cup Holder

Self explanatory. 🙂

Boogie Board

Great when you have two or more children, but don’t want to bring a larger double stroller. My brand isn’t the one pictured above, but is very similar.

Other carrying options

Beco Baby Carrier

I’ll be honest here. Not a fan of babywearing. I tried, but it’s not for me. The exception –  travel. It just makes life so much easier. The Beco Butterfly II was my favorite of the ones I tried.


I have a Pack ‘N Play. However, when I’m at a hotel I use hotel cribs.

If you worry about foreign-to-you Pack n’ Plays, order a coveryard. This completely covers the Pack ‘N Play and you can avoid the unknown. (Yes, I found out about this company from an episode of Shark Tank – genius!)

Luggage things to consider

Family Passport Wallets

I wrote a full post on this a while back. I love family passport wallets. Since that post I have received the one by the Tracey Lipman Collection and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. There’s so much room for our four passports, tickets, and more.

Packing Cubes

I don’t have packing cubes. They’re high on my list since my friend at The Three Under recommended them. She has 3 boys under 5, so she knows travel organization.

Anything you recommend for me to look into for our next trip? Let me know in the comments and then click on over to A Brit and a Southerner. They’re blogging their Dream Destinations for this A-to-Z Challenge and they have some truly stunning sites on their list!

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Favorites – a free download for trips

F copy

Memory keeping is important to me.

Memory keeping while traveling is one of my favorite things to do.

Getting my kids to record their thoughts of our trips is almost my idea of perfection.

But it’s not easy.

When I started this blog, I created a free one-page travel journal printable that I figured would be a simple way for kids to record their memories in a fun way. I still love it, but sometimes we need something even simpler.

Before kids, I kept journals of our trips. So many journals – with insights, details, conversations, haikus, and sketches. At the end of each trip I did a summary of our favorites. I would ask my husband what his favorites were and add his answers next to my own. It’s one of my favorite (there’s that word again!) things to look at when I glimpse back at past trips. (And other than the sketches, it’s usually the only thing I look at).

So, this is my word for my day – favorite. And this is my encouragement of the day – find simple ways, other than photos, to record everyone’s thoughts while your travel. Even if it’s just by answering a few prompts.

My gift to you

To get you started, I’ve created a 4×6 printable with four “favorite” prompts. Use one per person, put several responses on each, or use one just for the general consensus. The 4×6 size means it will easily fit into most standard photo albums – you do print your photos don’t you? If not, store it separately. Perhaps an old photo box that now only houses travel favorites 4×6 cards created by yours truly. 🙂

Click on the image below to download.

Trip Favorites - Free Download


Travel Favourites - Free Download


Your gift to me

This post is part of the A-to-Z Challenge. I would love for you to take a moment (after downloading one of the “favorites” prompts) to visit another challenge participant, Contented Traveller. Their theme for this challenge is: a Weird and Zany World. I’ve had fun reading their posts, and I think you will, too.moshi iglaze macbook pro 15 retina reviewsous vetements sexywebsite optimization testsocial networks websitegopro hero 3 silver edition specs

Emergencies while traveling abroad


Let me take a moment in this challenge to be serious.

We don’t like to think about it, but it happens. Emergencies arise while on vacation. The best thing you can do is prepare. Here are some tips on things you can do before you leave, and resources for you to bookmark.

If you have more tips, please leave them in the comments.

Purchase Travel Insurance 

I can’t recommend a specific policy because ours is via my husband’s company. I am familiar with CSA Travel Insurance and World Nomads, though I haven’t used either personally. (These are not affiliate links, just links to the products for your convenience.)

Do your research for your destination

At the minimum make sure you have the 911 equivalent number for the destinations you’re traveling to. This list provided by the U.S. State Department should help.

Write down the number your country’s nearest consulate or embassy for each city you will be visiting. Note most U.S. embassy websites include contact information for English-speaking doctors in the vicinity. It will be under the section for American Citizen Services.

Read up on any necessary vaccinations, familiarize yourself with the medical process, and general safety tips via the U.S. State Department site.

If anyone in your group has allergies, keep a list of the allergies translated into the language of the country you are visiting. Even if people guarantee that all doctors will speak English where you are visiting, you never know. Trust me. I have 50/50 luck with English speaking doctors in Germany – and I’m in a big city.

Keep a copy with you

To help with this I’ve created a free downloadable pdf to keep track of this information for up to four countries. Print it out for each trip and put it in a safe place.


Now that we’re done being serious, I’d love it if you go and check out my friend Jenny’s blog A Taste of Travel. She’s also participating in the A to Z Challenge, focusing on places off the beaten path. True travel inspiration on her blog. Her selections so far have me wanting to purchase plane tickets, buy insurance, do a little research and fill out the form you hopefully just downloaded.sous vetements feminins sexy