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Touristy Attractions

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Iconic sites and touristy attractions are the Three O’s: Overrated, Overseen, and Overwritten about

I have no problem visiting overrated, overseen, and overwritten about sites – or as I’ll refer to them, the “three Os”. Just because 95% of the people who go to Rome visit the Colosseum doesn’t mean that I have seen it for myself. And when I want to see something for myself, I want to see it for myself. 

Touristy attractions are a good thing for kids. Don’t let travel cynics stop you from giving kids something relatable. The iconic images that they’ll see in their textbooks and in movies are part of the fabric of travel that will connect their memories with what they’re learning. It will get them to continue to be interested in seeing the world. And that’s ok.

Ways to make a visit to the Three O’s a pleasant one for your family

That said, I do think there are some positive and negative ways to handle visiting the three Os. So, here are some things for your consideration.

  • Research it in advance
    • Learn the story
      • What’s the history leading up to the creation of this iconic site?
      • Why is it still so popular today?
      • What are some tidbits that may be interesting to your kids?
    • Consider the responsible tourism angle
      • One of the problems with overrated sites is that they’re crowded. In the short-term, this is bad because no one wants to spend a lot of time in line visiting a place that’s over crowded. In the long-term, it can have negative effects on the resources in the community. Find out when high season is – and do your best to avoid it.
      • Make a plan to visit the site in a responsible way when considering any hotels, tours, and even souvenirs you may purchase.
    • Figure out the logistics
      • How can you maximize your visit? Is it better to buy tickets online to avoid the long wait, or do you have to book a tour to get decent access?
      • What’s the best way to approach the site? The first time I visited the Eiffel Tower, we drove right up. It wasn’t quite the “moment” I was looking for. The next time, we took the metro at night and I turned a corner and all of a sudden – wow! I mean, I’d already seen the thing before, so you could imagine my surprise to actually be wowed by it.
      • Know your kids. If you’re visiting a field in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of old stones jutting out of the earth and touching those stones is illegal – are your kids old enough to understand this or will they be tempted to touch? Find an alternative place to see.
      • Think about the length of your visit. Know that you may have to cut it short if the kids get antsy.
      • Make sure everyone has eaten before you go.
      • When’s the best time of the day to visit to avoid the crowds?
      • Do they offer guides (people or audio) that are aimed towards kids?
      • What else is there to do in the area that would be interesting for the family?
  • Share the information with your family
    • Talk about the history of the site leading up to the trip. Look for those popular images in movies and books.
    • Talk about the history the day of your trip as you head to the place. Remind them of what life was like back when this was made and why it is still popular today.
    • Encourage them to look out for something that they’ll only see there.
    • Remind them of the things they should do to be responsible travelers, especially in these places that get so many visitors.
    • When you leave, give them some time to reflect on what they saw.
  • Don’t do too many of the Three Os in one day. The key to enjoying the uniqueness of some of these destinations is to balance it with something completely different.

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Thee Getaway Gal is talking travel in her A-to-Z Challenge. In fact, within this challenge she’s issued a fun Instagram Challenge to encourage everyone to travel locally. I love it (and I’ll be launching a separate site soon focused just on the local-to-me travel opportunities, so this is close to my heart. Please visit her site and join the challenge.english to malay translation googleoutdoor car cover nzusb hub

Rest planning

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When I was a travel agent, I used to preview customer itineraries for the trips they were planning. I love planning itineraries. Seriously, send me a question about yours anytime.

Anyway, I like to plan, but my travel style is different. I prefer to have a simple goal of the day. It could be a site I want to see, a region I want to explore more in-depth, or just a day for strolling around aimlessly (which tends to be my preferred method of travel – and why I often leave a place wishing I saw more!)

Regardless of how someone plans an itinerary, one important part to consider – whether you have kids or not – is rest. Back at the travel agency I worked with many young adults visiting Europe for the first time. Because they had limited time and wanted to maximize their trip, their schedules were very go – go – go. City after city, train ride after train ride. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, it’s a good idea to take a break every few days. If you’re scheduling everything in advance, take a break from the big cities by heading to the beach or a small village. If you’re going with the flow, the easy tip is when it all starts to feel the same, change the course.

(Please note: the slow traveler approach lends itself to more rest than the “I want to see as much as possible” approach does. And, to be honest, you know yourself and what you can handle. If you want to travel to a new city every day for a week without a break, that’s ok, too! I wouldn’t suggest it, but I’m not going to get upset if you do. 🙂 That said…)

When you have kids, these rest days are crucial. We all know that we should plan for a kid’s day or two while on a trip. That’s a day where the sites are more geared to them, as oppose to say, Harrods food court. It’s also important to plan a rest day for trips that are kid-activity-centric. Say you’re going to the popular theme parks in Orlando. Instead of visiting four back-to-back, take a day to enjoy something more relaxing.

In addition to having a day for resting every few days, make a plan for rest during busy days. Even if the kids no longer nap, it’s a good way to decompress before facing the rest of the day. A good time to do this is after lunch. Go to a local park or cafe and just relax. Or just head back to the hotel. Grab a book, or give the kids some time to reflect in their journals.

To me, resting during a busy trip is the key to making it a successful trip.

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Lynne is doing her second A-to-Z Challenge on her blog Winnie’s Views. She writes about her travels with her dog, Millie, in her winnebago. Visit her site today!sun cover carApple WatchPrology TFT

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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Anabel is writing about some of her favorite places in the A-to-Z Challenge. Visit her blog today!

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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.***

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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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