404 Thoughts

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

Scavenger hunt

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One of my favorite activities to do on a trip – a photo scavenger hunt. The rules are simple:

  • Create a list of must-take photos
  • Decide if you want to do the hunt in teams (parents v. children, male v. female, or whatever combination suits you) or as a family (and all work together in taking these shots)
  • Grab a camera – and go

Here’s a sample of some must-take photos our family has had in the past. I think it works best when you stick to the same 5-15 photos on every trip so that you can see how the same prompt compares from place to place.

  • In front of public transportation
  • Stand in front of a statue and pose like the statue
  • A sign that is very “that place”
  • Something that has made you laugh
  • A landscape shot
  • A meal or drink
  • A paparazzi shot
  • In front of a famous attraction
  • A reflection of yourself
  • A selfie
  • Something looking straight down
  • Something looking straight up
  • Wildlife

Photo Scavenger Hunt Guide

What photos are your must-dos when you travel?
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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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Anabel is writing about some of her favorite places in the A-to-Z Challenge. Visit her blog today!

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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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