404 atozchallenge

Queues with little ones

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While most people with young kids will say that flying is the hardest part of traveling, I disagree. I think it’s queues. They’re everywhere. Perhaps a good way to prepare for a trip, especially to theme parks, is to stand in the longest line you can find for 30 minutes and see what happens.

Let me know, though, as I really hate lines and will never force myself into one without any benefit.

So, how do we deal with this?

The culture of the queue

First – queuing is a cultural thing. Here’s a sample of different types of queuing cultures.

  • First come, first served.
  • Loudest is first.
  • Survival of the fittest.
  • Whatever, we’ll all eventually get helped.
  • Pick a number.
  • Show me the money.
  • What’s a line?

Now that we have that out of the way, figure out what the line culture is where you’re going. Then remember that what may be considered rude where you’re from, might not be rude where you are going. So, get over any feelings of being polite or you’ll still be standing in line as I’m posting the Z for this challenge.

Very basic queue etiquette

Regardless of the above, there are still some line rules that you just don’t break.

 

  • Don’t push pass people in any line that is roped off.
  • If people are going in or out of a place (subways or elevators), let the people out before going in.
  • Don’t look at the reservations book to find the last name of someone else and pretend you are them.
  • Actually, never pretend to be someone you aren’t just to get preferential treatment.
  • In dangerous situations – women and children first

 

Dealing with long lines and waits

Kids aren’t good waiters, so prepare some spur of the moment games and distractions to keep everything fun. Here are some ideas:

  • Play two truths and one lie
  • Talk about what’s around you via the game I spy
  • Take turns with the game 20 questions
  • Recap the things you’ve done and discuss what you will soon do
  • Take selfies on your phone, post them to IG #queueselfies
  • Eat a small snack

If you have any fun line anecdotes, tips on how to queue in a country you’ve visited, or suggestions for keeping wait times somewhat fun, let me know in the comments!

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Adventuring at Home‘s blog is about life in Charlottesville, VA. Her take on the A-to-Z challenge are things she wants to do in her 20s. Check it out!

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Parks, Playgrounds, & Picnics

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Before I had kids I thought authentic travel experiences had to include places where locals drank or ate. Once I had my own kids, I worried that finding that local connection might not be so easy. Especially now that I prefer drinks and food via room service many nights – don’t judge, I never realized how enjoyable eating at a desk-turned dining table could be when the alternative is dealing with over-tired toddlers in a public place.

Then I discovered that parks and playgrounds are filled with locals. The conversation that used to be struck up over a drink, now starts while pushing a swing on a swing set. The parents I meet at the parks and playgrounds, they’re the ones that can give me the inside tips that I worried I would miss having kids. Only these tips are more suited for my new travel lifestyle because these tips are suited for my children.

So feel free to let your kids run loose at the playground, you never know who you’ll meet.

What about the food, though?

In my pre-kid days I enjoyed tasting new dishes at restaurants. These days, I’m rediscovering my love of picnics. Plus, it’s a complete cultural experience. Shopping in a local grocery store and figuring out what treats are perfect without heating or plates is just the half of it. Then there’s searching for the perfect spot to snack. A place with a view and a playground. Some of my favorite travel memories are those that happened while eating a picnic.

Know this – if you’re travel changes when you have kids to include more parks, playgrounds, and picnics, it’s really not a bad thing.

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If you have a moment, please visit fellow A-to-Z Challenge travel bloggers Kitty & Francisco of Bay Essence. Their alternating their posts between English and Spanish, so take a look!

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Over-the-counter drugs

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My overall tip for packing for a trip is less is more. Most things can be purchased abroad. No need to bring everything.

The exception, for many reasons, are over-the-counter drugs.

This mostly applies to international travel or any types of travel where it may be hard to find a drug store, target, or CVS. But, it is still a good idea to pack some basics so you don’t have to go out in the middle of the night looking for something for your kid.

Why bring over-the-counter medication on your trip?

Difficulty finding over-the-counter medication

In some countries, you can’t get OTCs over the counter. You have to speak to a pharmacist. In many European countries, pharmacies are open regular shop hours. That’s not a lot. They could be closed on Sundays, some Saturdays, after 6pm. You just don’t know.

Difficulty finding English speakers or English instructions

Plus, there’s the language barrier. While everyone in the world will likely say, “don’t worry people who work in pharmacies KNOW English,” you can’t depend on this. In my city I have three pharmacies within a 5-minute walk from my apartment. My chance of speaking to someone in those pharmacies who knows English? Slim. (Side note: it’s ok because my German can usually get me by, but this is not the case when I’m outside of Germany.)

Even if you do get an English speaker, the instructions will likely not be in English. And you do not want to be up at 2:00am trying to understand the pamphlet of information using Google Translate.

Difficulty finding the types of medicine you have back home

Different types of medication. You flat-out get less for your buck in some places. This can be anything from less-effective medication, to fewer actual pills. You can definitely get stronger medication if needed, but those usually require a prescription, which requires a visit to a doctor, which requires figuring out how to make a doctor’s appointment, which requires paying for the doctor’s appointment, which requires more and more time – when you could have brought drugs that were probably just as effective with you and saved the hassle.

What kind of meds should you pack?

This depends on you, your kids, and the trip you are going on. Bring a few things for regular colds and fevers, something for allergies, diarrhea, bee-stings, anti-bacteria cream, and a thermometer is a good place to start.

For a more complete list of recommended items, check out the CDC’s website. They also have information about packing prescription medication.

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Nail clippers and packing lists

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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.

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Money

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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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