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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

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Disney and disney-fication


It’s a fact that for many people in the world, when they hear the phrase “I’m going to travel with my kids” they immediately think Disney.

For good reason.

Disney sets the standard for theme parks, cruises, and tours.  It is not only obviously child friendly, it is also adult friendly.

It’s not pet friendly, though, sorry dog owners.

I made a conscious decision to never write directly about the Disney theme parks on this blog. As a former Orlando resident, I’ve probably been to the Disney World Resort parks over 80 times. My laid-back approach to visiting Disney would not interest many people. “Five EPCOT center lines that are better than the ride” — no one wants to read that post. 

I also don’t write about their cruises and tours because I haven’t done them – yet. As soon as my kids meet the minimum age requirements I’ll be signing us up and writing about it right here.

While many people are against Disney, against tours, and thus against Disney tours, I’m a fan. Disney tours aren’t just child-friendly, they are child-focused. Child-focused! How nice does that sound?

Until my kids are old enough to go on the Disney tours, though, I’m going to take a few tips from the entertainment masters.

Here are three things I try to do on every trip.

Find the hidden Mickeys. Everyone knows that Mickey heads are hidden throughout all of the parks. While we don’t need to be on the lookout for him while on vacation in Austria, we can still look for something. For those of us that are too lazy to come up with a destination-relevant item – no worries. Create a generic scavenger hunt list that can be used on multiple trips. (Come back for letter S and I’ll tell you all about it.)
Be an active participant. Going to museums, parks, and shows are all fun. However, I think the best experiences are those that get people involved instead of passively watching things happen to them.  An easy answer is visiting a Science Center, they always have hands-on displays. A better choice is to find the experiences unique to the destination. Perfect your gelato recipe in Italy, learn how to shoot arrows from bows in Scotland, practice calligraphy in China.
Upgrade the memories. At the end of every day Adventures by Disney guests receive a branded pin specific to something they did that day. It’s something to look forward to and speculate about before hand. It’s also a souvenir. Find a way to surprise your young ones with a recap keepsake from your day, every day of your vacation. Perhaps a collection of metal pins will work for you, too. Or just a simple postcard that the child can use to record their reactions from the day. It’s a small token with a huge impact.

My Southern Gypsy friend is gearing up for a year of travel and is also participating in this A to Z challenge. Go check out her blog!commander les corsets sexy pas cherAH111 16Gb

The Devil’s Wall

The Harz Mountains is northern Germany’s largest mountain range.

Though not a part of the famous Fairy Tale Route (a 600 km route through Germany that includes many towns and sites made popular by the Brothers Grimm), the Harz region parallels it. The area is known for their witch and devil legends. Chances are some of the stories that the Grimm Brothers wrote about originated in these mountains. And it was this thought that sat in the back of my mind as we drove around town.

The Teufelsmauer – Devil’s Wall

Between the towns of Quedlinburg and Thale, we saw rocks jutting out of the earth. It’s called the Teufelsmaur, or Devil’s Wall.

Devil's Wall, Germany


There is a nice path leading around and to the top. We passed the time by counting the steps with our son. First in English, then German, Japanese, Spanish, and French. Our three-year old was able to walk on his own all the way up, which was a nice surprise.

Devil's Wall, Germany

The views from the top, along with viewing the wall up close, was one of my favorite experiences during our weekend trip in the Harz Mountains. Once there, all I could think of was Snow White’s famous witch. I could imagine her sitting on these stones, holding that poisoned apple, plotting her revenge.

When I got home I eagerly looked up the actual legends associated with this wall. Unfortunately, Snow White’s witch isn’t part of that legend. (Or, at least, I like to think it’s not part of the known legends.) Instead, the story goes that God gave the devil one night to claim the area he wanted by building a wall around it. The devil was almost done when something happened and morning came earlier than expected. He was so upset, he tore down pieces of the wall. So today, that’s what we get. A devil’s wall broken into three section in Germany’s Harz Mountains. (The full story, as well as the scientific explanation for the wall, can be found here.)

Should you visit the Devil’s Wall?

If your travels are taking you to the Harz Mountains anyway, take the time to stop and explore this area. You’ll get beautiful views and a memorable experience. If you’re traveling with small children, be prepared to carry them if they can not walk too much. This site is not stroller friendly.

This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination Unknown,  Hines Sight BlogHouse of Anaïs, and many others. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.

Also, why don’t you follow me on Instagram?

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Even the Rijksmuseum is child friendly

Last week I found myself in Amsterdam aching to go to the Rijksmuseum. Aching? Really??


On our previous trips to the city I had managed to avoid some of the city highlights, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s highlights. I’ve known that the Rijksmuseum was undergoing renovations, but that wasn’t the real reason I didn’t go.

I didn’t go because I’m just worried about my kids in an art museum.

It turns out, I had nothing to fear.

It turns out, the Rijksmuseum doesn’t mind kids.

It turns out, they even have special things for kids.

It turns out, I liked it so much, we went twice!

Rijksmuseum with kids, Part 1

(AKA: Does it count as a visit with kids if the kids were asleep the whole time?)

I’m not sure if I really intended actually going the first time we went. My kids were asleep in the stroller. The rest of our party was on a canal cruise and I needed to pass the time. I was sick, it was cold, and decided to just walk past the museums.

The day before we discovered just how long a long line could be. Even with a museum card or previously purchased tickets people had a serious wait in front of them. I thought if the line’s short, maybe I’ll go in. I approached the line and distracted myself by looking down into the lobby – the warm, inviting lobby.

Then someone said, “do you want to go in?”


So he opened the obvious, not so obvious elevator and pushed “0” and we were on our way. (And for a while, I wasn’t even sure if he worked at the museum or was just someone walking by. I’ve since confirmed he DID work at the museum. I’ve also confirmed I’ll trust anyone that offers me warmth when I’m sick.)

Fortunately, I have a museum card for the Netherlands so I didn’t have to wait in line to buy tickets… because yes, the people that are waiting outside to get in then have to wait to buy tickets inside.

I walked past some renaissance art and headed for an area marked “Asian art” before finding a room called the Picknick room. There were placemats and blank postcards set up with colored pencils, art work, pencils, and pens inviting me to have a seat and draw. Which is exactly how I spent most of my time visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids the first time.

Rijksmuseum with kids, Part 2

(AKA: This time they’re awake!)

One reason we knew the museum was going to be child friendly was their map specifying a route that is interesting for kids. This included stops to see the Dutch Old Masters, doll houses, airplanes and more.

The highlight for my son was Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Not because he’s an art aficionado, but because of the excitement surrounding the piece and because the image is also used on the museum’s ticket. Plus, it’s massive.


Around that time we discovered removable information sheets located next to some of the photos. We played a game of locating the art work listed on the information sheets, and pointing out a detail or two before moving on. Some of the staff even helped us locate the pieces.

While it was fun exploring the museum, kids are still kids. Ok, to be fair, I need a lot of breaks when I’m visiting an art museum.

The Rijksmuseum cafe and Picknick room were both good places for adults and children for those breaks. The cafe has a children’s menu that includes the very popular hageslag (chocolate sprinkles) on bread, or cheese and bread. The presentation was just nice enough to make it feel like a special occasion.


After 4-5 hours at the museum, we headed back to our hotel. What was a big surprise to me is that the kids didn’t even nap while we were in the museum. I guess they were too caught up in the art, but it definitely exhausted them since they napped the whole walk back.

Thoughts and tips on visiting the Rijksmuseum with young kids

  • If you have a stroller you can avoid the long lines and enter via the outdoor elevator. It may take a little looking for, but it’s at the other end of the lobby from where the line forms.
  • It’s best to purchase tickets, or a museum pass, in advance.
  • It’s free for children under 18, but they will still need a ticket. When you enter the museum, the person checking your ticket will be able to give you one for your child.
  • You aren’t allowed to bring backpacks in the museum, so use a different bag to bring anything you will need for the children.
  • Keep your tickets or cards easily accessible because you have to show it at various entry points past the main entrance.
  • There are many elevators within the museum itself. The very first elevator you find will likely have a long wait, skip it and go to another one.
  • Go online and print pictures of some of the artwork you might encounter at the Rijksmuseum. Share those with your kids to start building excitement in the trip.



This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.

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Düsseldorf’s Christmas Markets for families

With Köln and Düsseldorf being only a short train ride from each other, there’s a lot of friendly(?) competition between the two. Which is a better place to experience Karneval? Which is a better place to work? To live?

While Köln has a lot going for it: a huge cathedral on the Rhein, direct train to Paris via Thalys, and a beautiful city center, there’s at least one area that Düsseldorf wins – hands down. It’s the better place for families with young kids to see the Christmas markets.

Why Düsseldorf’s Christmas Markets Reign Supreme (over Köln’s) for families

1| Less crowds

Köln’s main markets start right next to the train station. In Düsseldorf, you have to go three stops on the subway to get to them. There are also a lot of markets. If you find that one’s crowded, move on and circle back later. Chances are the crowds have subsided.

2| Family activities

In our short time in Düsseldorf I saw a ferris wheel, several rides, and an ice skating rink. Seriously: family fun at Christmas right in the heart of Düsseldorf.

3| Space to wander

Yes, the crowds are smaller, but there’s also generally more space. The markets seem to have wider “halls”. Not to mention, they’re all located near the Rhein River promenade and the Hofgarten. Have an antsy toddler? There’s plenty of space for them to run around.


disclaimer: My most recent trip to Düsseldorf was with Farrah from the Three Under. Although I have gone to the markets before with my clan, this particular trip was without kids. My thoughts above are based on a combination of our girls’ trip and other trips I’ve made in the past. Alternatively, I’ve only been to Köln’s Christmas Market once. I was with the whole family, it was harder to see all the markets to give a proper judgement on some of the topics above. I very well could have missed the super family friendly area with lots of rides and few people. My tip: they’re less than an hour from each other so do both!

Either way, Köln still wins my heart for the Christmas Market with the best food. And not just between it and Düsseldorf, but for all the markets I’ve been to in Germany. 

After exploring a million markets in Düsseldorf, Farrah and I headed to an afternoon tea



This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.

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