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Airport Code Journaling Cards

Last year I wrote a post of 50 American experiences I want for my children as a celebration of American Independence Day.

Boston Journaling cards - 1 of 29 available for free download.New York  Journaling cards - 1 of 29 available for free download.Washington DC Journaling cards - 1 of 29 available for free download.

This year, I want to give a little gift. I created these fun airport code journaling cards with the hopes that you can find equally fun uses for them. My suggestions? Use them as an impromptu personalized travel journal by printing them out and taping them to the cover of your favorite notebook. Or print on colored card stock and put it in a divided page protector for a photo album. Or printout a few of them and play a game.

Quick tips:

  • The cards measure 3 x 4 inches. Do not set the printer to “fit to size”.
  • There are 29 cards based on the 29 busiest airports in the US (via this list from Wikipedia). They are in alphabetical order according to city, then by the actual airport code.
  • Don’t print all of them if you want don’t want to (they print out one per page), but select the pages that correspond to the cities you want.
  • Chances are I’m missing your favorite airport. If you’d like me to add it, let me know in the comments and I’ll let you know when it’s done.

To download the free pdf click: Airport code Journaling cards.


Oh, and here’s my daughter playing with some I printed up, cut out, and added some details to. Possibilities – endless.

Happy fourth everyone!

(Oh, by the way, follow my board dedicated to printables I make. Everytime I post one, I pin it there. And if you use any and blog about it, I’ll pin it there too!)

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Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt Berlin

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces. –Judith Viorst as seen at Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt Cafe in Berlin

My parents love Ritter Sport chocolate. I’m not sure how well-known it is in the US, it is sold at some Targets and other grocery stores. In my family, Ritter Sport is THE German chocolate. Scratch that – it is THE chocolate. The one thing my parents answer when I ask what they want from Germany.

Berlin even has a whole store dedicated to Ritter Sport chocolates and products. Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt (Ritter Sport Colorful Chocolate World).It’s popular enough to be one of the recommended sites for families from Visit Berlin and their Berlin Welcome Card. I never really understood why. There are a ton of family friendly activities in Berlin – does a chocolate store selling chocolates found on every corner deserve a place in a “top 10” list?

For my parents – it did. Since they were visiting and our itinerary included an overnight in Berlin, I had to take them to Schokowelt. This was not my choice. I had so much I wanted to show them in Berlin. But, they flat-out told me, “skip it – take us to the Ritter Sport Store.”

Ok, mom and dad.

Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt

What to expect

For those unfamiliar with Ritter Sport, here’s the gist.

Delicious chocolate. Many flavors. Colorful packaging. Squares.

I love their branding.

The shop in Berlin includes a very small museum, a cafe, a cafeteria, and the store selling tons of chocolate and Ritter Sport items.


The ground floor cafeteria is the first thing you walk through. Immediately to your right: a counter that seems to be a place for Ice Cream sundae toppings. On further inspection you find out it’s a place where you can your own SCHOKOKREATION. (More on this in a moment).

The Schokolateria offers an assortment of drinks and chocolate snacks. The setting (chairs, signs…) fit the brand by relying on colorful and square design. It’s lots of fun.



 (Photo Credit: Ritter Sport)

Within the Schokolateria you get to become your own Willy Wonka and make a chocolate bar with your own fillings. There are over 21 choices, and you get to pick 3 fillings plus the type of chocolate you want. I picked gummy bears, rice cereal, and gold stars in dark chocolate.

It was amazing.

The staff mixes the chocolate, throws it in a mold and gives you a ticket to pick up your chocolate 30 minutes later.

(Obvious tip: place your order first thing so it’s ready when you leave.)

The downside to the SHOKOKREATION

This could easily be a memorable, exciting, and tasty experience. Unfortunately, I think I caught someone on a bad day.

I imagined a Marble Slab-type experience. Pick my chocolate flavor and add-ins from the display, then watch as they mix it in a bowl. That’s what the people in front of me did. That’s what the people were doing when I walked in.

When the staff member got to me, though, she pulled out the card to note what I wanted. There was still a family ordering in front of me. I thought we were going to wait for them to finish so I could see the options. Instead, the staff member huffed impatiently. I told her I couldn’t see the choices. She pointed to the sign behind her with the listed items and didn’t say a word. As I was trying to figure out what some of the things were, she tapped her pen against the table. There was no one behind me, but I felt rushed. I gave her my 3 add-ins expecting to at least watch her put the chocolate and add-ins in the bowl and mix (again, as I’ve seen others do). Instead she handed me a ticket and told me to come back in 35 minutes.

I recognize that this may seem ridiculous. However, I think I missed out on part of the fun of making your own candy bar. Plus, I paid for it. A regular candy bar in the store is €0.85. This “experience” was over €3 and I’m willing to bet that the show of picking flavors and watching them mix-it is supposed to be part of the attraction. If it’s not, then they’re really missing out on a great opportunity and should reconsider.


Directly behind the SCHOKOLATERIA is the SCHOKOSHOP. The walls are filled with small and large squares of colorful chocolate packaging and flavors. There are options to fill bags, buy already assorted bags, get a meters worth of chocolate and more. There are also branded polos, backpacks, and soccer balls. My absolute favorite was a cooler bag for regular sized Ritter Sport bars to fit in perfectly.

Again, the only fail in the SCHOKOSHOP was the staff. My dad had asked for help finding the caramel chocolate, and the employee said they don’t have it. I was confused when my dad told me this because I saw the caramel variety in the mini-chocolate section. My mom went in to look for herself, found a giant bar, and purchased it within 5 minutes.



Upstairs you’ll find a small walk through area where you learn more about Ritter Sports process in making the chocolate. The explanations are in English and German. The displays are interactive. My three-year old loved them. Afterwards, there’s a short film, old commercials, and a place to take your own photos.



And finally, the Schokocafe (also upstairs). In addition to the chocolaty goodness on display at the SCHOKOLATERIA downstairs, the cafe has breakfast, lunch, and chocolate items. Things like chocolate soup (with churros), crepes, and varieties of fondue. Perhaps this is just a little slice of heaven right in Berlin. (Whatever you do, don’t click on this .pdf to the menu – I warned you!)


Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt: Great products, not so great staff

Almost every employee we encountered seemed uninterested in their job, impatient with the customers, and bored. Especially at the Schokocafe upstairs. But, it’s hard to let them get you down when you can simply ignore them and enjoy the surroundings. Because it’s so conveniently located it’s worth at least a stop inside for a snack and a drink and to stock up on some tasty treats for friends back home. Just don’t expect the colorful and cheery atmosphere of the brand from the staff.

Thinking about going?

  • Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt is conveniently located a street away from Unter den Linden and a few blocks from Gendarmenmarkt and Checkpoint Charlie. It is among some of Berlin’s higher-end shopping, but also close to places like H&M. The Friedrichstr. S-bahn and U-bahn stop are only 2 streets away and the U-6 at Franzoeischestr. leaves you right around the corner from the shop. In other words, it’s easy to make it part of your Berlin itinerary.
  • For those with strollers, the shop is small and can easily get crowded and difficult to navigate with the strollers. The elevators are kind of hidden in the back to get upstairs.
  • If you have children between 7 and 18, you can sign them up for a Chocolate workshop. You have to do it online in advance. You will find more information here: Bunte Schokowelt Schoko Workshop.

Who should go?

This is definitely not just for kids, but is obviously kid-friendly. You’ll likely end up somewhere near this shop and if so, stop in! It’s worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity. For those with Berlin plans outside of this central area don’t go unless you really love Ritter Sport or need some branded trinkets to take home. It’s a small shop, museum, and cafe so it does not take up too much time.

For more information

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Open Air Museum Arnhem, NL

If there’s one aspect of travel I can’t seem to shut-up about it’s the importance of knowing some of the history of where you are traveling to. And I don’t mean you have to dust off your old books from Mrs. Miller’s class (this was actually my European History teacher’s name in 9th grade), though that would be nice.

There are multiple ways to get a crash course in history when you visit someplace new to you. One of my recent favorites are Open Air Museums. In the U.S. the places I think of that are similar to Open Air Museums in Europe (places like the Jamestown Settlement or Old Sturbridge Village) are referred to as Living History Museums. I’m not sure if there are more differences than just the name, but thinking of these in terms of being similar to what I’m familiar with helped me understand it more. That’s a mouthful.

In the Netherlands, head to Arnhem to catch a historical and cultural examination in their Openluchtmuseum.

Open Air Museum Arnhem

Child Friendliness

As with most things Dutch, I find this museum to be extremely child and family friendly. The idea is not to learn by seeing, but by doing. Throughout the exhibitions there are opportunities for families to get dirty, to try things themselves, and to be involved in the process. As if that’s not enough, there is also a cable tram running throughout the park, a small tram depot, a playground, a boat dock, mini cars to play in at the cafes, and plenty of pancakes and poffertjes to go around.

Open Air Museum arnhem

Go back in time

Scattered throughout the property are representations of life back when. Many of the buildings are either replicas from one of the Netherland’s cities, or the original building relocated for educational purposes. Through informative plaques and hand-on activities, it’s easy to let history soak in. One of my favorite attractions is a typical street with the same home repeated several times. As you walk into the home you see what life was like in that same place at different points in history. Pretty cool.

Open Air Museum Arnhem

Cultural significance

When talking about Dutch culture there are certain images that come to mind: windmills, boats, cheese, Indonesian food, tulips, royalty. It’s all there. Many of the exhibitions are perfect for learning the country’s history, there are significant tributes about the modern society as well.

Open Air Museum Arnhem

It’s fun

Seriously. It almost felt more like a really cool playground than a glance into important aspects of entire country. It wove the education seamlessly. It’s impossible to walk out without both a smile and a brain filled with interesting tidbits. The perfect way to start any Dutch adventure.

Thinking about going?

  • It’s only an hour away from Amsterdam via train (and a bit more via car) close to the German border. Then take public transport to get there from the train station. There is plenty of parking available for those driving, just remember to pay for your parking token when you enter the park.
  • It being an Open Air Museum lends itself to being a good option on a sunny day, but there are several indoor exhibits if the weather isn’t perfect. So, bring your raincoat if you see grey skies.
  • There are plenty of restaurants and cafes on site. Many are connected to a play area for kids. It’s also very stroller friendly.

Who should visit?

This is an ideal destination for anyone interested in Dutch culture and is looking for a day trip (or longer) outside of Amsterdam. While it is definitely toddler-friendly, the exhibits would be interesting to people of all ages.

Great links for further reading

  • The official website for the Openleuchtmuseum (with a drop down menu to change it to English).
  • My own post about something that happened during our visit.
  • Reviews from Tripadvisor (seems like it’s a nice Christmastime destination, too)

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A to Zs of Family Travel and a recap

A to Z

In April 2014 I participated in the A-Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), I wrote a post on planning tips or memory keeping ideas.

I’ve compiled those here.

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

Recap of my A-Z Challenge Experience for 2014

Before I get to that, I want to write a recap of the experience.

On the suggestion from DJ at Dream Euro Trip, I signed up for this challenge the weekend before it started. I was a little nervous about it. Writing 26 posts in 1 month when I probably only wrote 2-3 posts in the previous 3 months? Plus, April was a busy month for me. I had plans. I was going on a mom’s trip to London and then my husband was going to leave me with the two kids as he went to the US for work for two weeks. But, I signed up and went for it.

I made some quick decisions at the beginning. I was going to keep it on the family travel theme, but anywhere from the planning to the memory keeping aspect of it. I was not going to allow myself to get too caught up in everything. I wanted to write 26 posts, I didn’t want to write 26 blogging masterpieces.

I pulled out a spread sheet and came up with an A-Z list of family travel topics. Out of all my pre-planned ideas, I only stuck with two “R is for Rest” and “X Marks the Spot”.

The rest kind of just happened.

I realized early on that I wanted my posts to go live the same time every day. 7am. Done.

I wanted to connect with other travel bloggers. Done.

I wanted to post every day of the challenge. Done.

I wanted to get better at social media. Done, but not as much as I would have preferred.

I wanted to write without too much worry about photos and perfection. Uh- yeah, definitely no perfection here. Done.

My favorite parts of this challenge was starting a new day and seeing what some of the people wrote about. I liked the camaraderie with the participants. I appreciated all the comments, especially when my topic doesn’t apply to some of the reader’s lives. They still humored me, left thoughtful comments, and were very encouraging. Thank you.

I also liked just the actual writing of posts. Getting it done. Mosts of these things were things I wanted to write about anyway. The challenge gave me a reason to.

I will definitely participate again. While I still don’t want to write 26 masterpieces, I will add photos to my posts, pin some of those photos, and take part in more social media. I’m hoping that my next theme focuses on places instead of just travel tips. Oh, and I definitely want better titles. (If there’s one thing I learned, I’m not a title writer.)

Some things I’d like seen done differently? Perhaps a link-up for each day and letter. That way it would be easier to keep up with people who were participating, but maybe we had missed in scanning the sign up sheet.

Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking to have some fun while also being challenged.

And without further adieu…

The A-Zs of Family Travel

A is for Airplanes with Small Children

B is for Breakfast while Traveling

C is for Count: Children and Bags + Learn Numbers

D is for Disney and Disney-fication

E is for Emergencies while Traveling Abroad

F is for Favorites

G is for Gear Suggestions for Traveling Families

H is for Hotel Alternatives

I is for Instagram Travel Thursday

J is for Jokes while Traveling

K is for Kids Love to Travel

L is for Listen to your Kids

M is for Money

N is for Nail Clippers and Packing Lists

O is for Over the Counter Drugs

P is for Parks, Playgrounds, and Picnics

Q is for Queues with Little Ones

R is for Rest Planning

S is for Scavenger Hunt

T is for Touristy Attractions

U is for “Unknown” Destinations

V is for Volunteering Trips for Families

W is for Water – Water – Water

X is for X Marks the Spot

Y is for Yucky Food while Traveling

Z is for Zoos and Science Centers

survivor-atoz [2014]

Photo by susivinh

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Zoos and Science Centers

Z copy

And here we are – 26 letters later – Z.

I can’t believe I’m going to talk about Zoos. When I first decided to restart this Travel Turtle as a family travel blog, I read a lot of like-minded blogs. There was a one or two-week period when I kept reading about zoos. I turned to my husband (we were in a car) and I said, “I don’t know why people keep writing about zoos. I mean, they’re zoos. What’s there to know? You go in and look at animals. Besides, why would people go to zoos when they’re visiting a new city anyway?”

Then a funny thing happened. Over the course of this past year, I’ve been to several zoos.

Turns out there are legitimate reasons to visit a zoo, or a science center, or a lot of other types of family friendly attractions that could exist closer to home when you’re far from home. Before having kids, I hadn’t visited a zoo since at least high school. So it surprised me that they are actually interesting.

I was kind of against them because of the cruelty to animals thing, and I’ll get to that in a second.

Zoos and science centers are not the same the world over. When you are traveling, the nearest zoo will have a large section devoted to local animals. The nearest science center will give insight into the natural and scientific story of the region – and it’s really cool.

So, don’t be like me and dismiss a zoo or a science center while on vacation because  you have an annual pass to the one in your neighborhood. You can learn a lot from both. (And, of course, your kids will love them, they have playgrounds, hand-on activities, and kid-friendly eating establishments.)

Why read a blog post about zoos?

This is where the “who writes about zoos and science centers” comes in. I never visited zoos because of fear of animal mistreatment. I never stayed knowledgeable in zoo facilities because I just never went. Then I visited one that was near me and had great reviews. That’s when I discovered the value in a good zoo. Employees are not just people who needed any job. These are competitive jobs that require some level of interest and education. These people are people who care about animals. They’re animal advocates and they’re showing the visitors why animals matter.

Not all zoos are created equally, unfortunately. I know I have some readers that may have good information for me to look into to make sure I’m visiting a zoo that really puts the animals first. I’d love to hear your opinions about this. What should I look out for, if you don’t visit zoos why not, what (if anything) would you recommend in the place of zoos?

In some of my research I’ve discovered that in the United States, the USDA is the only government organization regulating the treatment of animals at zoos and aquariums. There are various accreditation agencies, each with their own standards, but membership into those agencies are also fee-based. Be aware of that distinction when you see that a zoo has a certain accreditation.

For the zoos I have been lucky to visit the past 12 months, I’ve had a good experience. For me, this is invaluable. My son loves animals. I want to take him to a place that will foster his interest, where animals are properly treated, and employees are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. This is why I read reviews.

Now I’m putting it here, for the last letter of the A-Z Challenge. It’s an introduction to what I’ll be doing in May. One thing that has been lacking in my website are reviews about places like zoos, science centers, and tourist spots. These places often have a website filled with the practical information such as prices, directions coming from the highway or public transportation, maps, and hours of operations. That’s only part of what parents want to know, though. They want to know if the price was worth it, if the animals’ environments are up to a high standard, if the kids like it, if the food was good, and other pointers and opinions they can’t find on the official website. And since this is a family travel blog, I want to provide that information.

So please come back in May and read about a few of the zoos we’ve visited, some of our favorite science centers, and other fun vacation spots (my line up includes scenic views in Austria, Paris, and Switzerland, government buildings, amusement parks, museums, mountains, beaches, castles, national parks, and UNESCO sites)

Thank you A-Z Challenge Participants

Thank you to everyone who joined me, read along, and commented during this challenge. It was truly a challenge (I had around 70 posts before starting, now I’m at 96!). Every day I highlighted a travel blogger participant. Here’s a complete list of those blogs. Some of them have kept up, some of them are still working on it, and some of them are finished at the moment, but at some point in this challenge they provided me with fun travel information and for that – thank you!

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One last thing. I’ve started a Triberr account for anyone who participated in the A-Z challenge and wants to continue to connect. I find it to be a really easy sharing tool, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you want to join the A-Z Travel Bloggers tribe, click here and let me know.


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