Category Archives: Family Travel Tips

Celebrate Travel blog carnival: An adventure travel salute to Earth Day

Welcome to the second monthly Celebrate Travel blog carnival sponsored by The Mother of all Trips, Walking On Travels, and me, WanderMom. Every month we’re going to have a little party in honor of a different quirky holiday in the way that we best love: By sharing a curated list of themed blog posts from travel bloggers.

Earth Day was this past Monday, April 22nd. When we travel we explore this Earth and by any definition, that exploration is an adventure, whatever the destination. We go, we see other places, people and cultures and we come home with a greater appreciation of our green-blue home. Enjoy these adventure travel stories…

The dictionary definition for adventure is ‘an exciting or remarkable experience’. Hmm, well I think I can say I’ve packed in a few of those in my travels. However when I went to write this post, I found there was really only one experience that I could write about. The word association of “adventure” and “travel” related to this particular day has obviously embedded itself so deeply in my brain that it forced thoughts of all other experiences out of my consciousness.

“And what day would that be?” I can hear you asking…
Actually it was less of a day and more of a night and a day and quite a few more days thereafter…
I’m speaking of when we arrived in Quito, Ecuador on September 2nd 2010 at the start of our trip around the world with kids.

Quito Airport

The old (grungy) Quito airport

We arrived into Quito’s grungy old airport late in the evening. I think once we were waved through passport control a demon in my brain started dancing a jig to the chorus of Whiskey in the Jar (the Metallica version) screaming out “whack for my daddy-o, whack for my daddy-o, what the f**k have you just done”.

The weeks prior to leaving had zipped by in a mad haze of sorting and packing. There’d been more than a couple of loud and funny goodbye sessions. If you’d passed us in Sea-Tac when we left, or when we transited in Miami, I swear you’d have been able to see the bubble of excitement surrounding us. However, by the time we arrived in Quito there was nothing left but adrenaline and a yawning pit of oh-my-what-have-i-done fear in my stomach.

None of this was helped when I realized that I had forgotten to print out the name and address of the hostel I’d booked for our first night in Quito. Tired, scared and dumb. Not a great way to start a year of family bonding on the road.

Murph rolled his eyes in frustration. I spotted an internet cafe and paid an extortionate amount for 5 minutes online. Problem. Solved. No-one died. It wasn’t an optimal start but it worked. Within minutes we were bundled into a taxi and on our way.


Murphy boys modeling Panama hats in Ecuador.

And so it went, our grand, glorious adventure. Some things went swimmingly, some things didn’t. We had a couple of mishaps (like losing a child in the jungle in Laos) but none too major. We came home a tighter family unit with a lifetime’s worth of experiences that I believe we’ll still be talking about years from now.

That’s my travel adventure story. Here’s a selection from a bunch of great family travelers on their adventures large and small:

Mara, from MotherOfAllTrips has always considered herself a fearless family traveler. So she was a little surprised that when she climbed the iconic Vermont mountain Camel’s Hump with her seven- and ten-year- sons for the first time that she had to conquer a tremendous amount of fear once they reached the summit. Hanging out on a mountain top with her boys showed her something about her love of nature and wild places, of her own impulse to protect her children, and of their independence.


Whale watching, Loreto, Mexico

It’s not everyday that you come in contact with one of the ocean’s largest mammals. Keryn shares her experience in Laredo, Mexico (traveling solo with two very young children) on her blog WalkingOnTravels. She says: “The pacific gray whales that migrate off the coast of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico are a must whenever traveling to the area in the winter months, especially if you have smaller children, an age that doesn’t always lend itself to ziplining and big time adventure travel. Sometimes those little moments are just as adventurous as the big ones”.

Amie from CiaoBambino has been in Costa Rica with Kensington Tours this past week and has been continually astounded by the persistent eco-conscious attitude throughout the country. Costa Ricans understand their wondrous natural resources play an important part in the global ecosystem and they want to preserve them for their own sake and the good of the planet. She kicks off her coverage of our Costa Rica experience with a post about her lucky glimpse of a Quetzal, one of the most prized birds in Central America, in Monteverde. A perfect way to celebrate Earth Day!

“During the summer of 2009 I was a mom on a mission”, says Sandra from AlbanyKid, “traveling with two tweens on a journey I like to call the ‘Read Across America Road Trip.'” A week into the 2-month-long expedition, I arrived at Mesa Verde National Park with high hopes for an educational, life-changing experience for my children. But it wasn’t long before I discovered that I was the one who had lessons to learn.

In part 5, the grand finale of Adventure TravelingMom’s Tornado Chasing series, her storm chasing group gets to see a tornado that happens maybe only once in a lifetime. True luck was with Fran Capo, our adventurer, take a look at what she got to see up close and personal in 80 mph winds

Oregon-based Amy from PitStopsForKids focuses on Earth Day saying “If your local Earth Day celebrations are like ours: cold, rainy, and sometimes uninspired, celebrate Earth Day every day instead. We teach our kids to get outside to learn about the earth instead.”

From Gabi at TheNomadicFamily: “My family and I are in our third year of non-stop world travel. We’ve lived in the Peruvian jungles with the indigenous, skipped through Colombia with no incidence (besides Kobi driving head-on into traffic on the wrong side of the freeway), and have become full-fledged Cambodian islanders living in a shack, off a pier with no water or electricity, and a hole in a plank for a toilet. And still, I’m a walking, talking scary cat terrified of the next step we’re about to take: a two month hike through Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit with my kids. People die there from avalanches and the sheer power of Mother Nature is freaking me out. Are we endangering our offspring?

I think we can all agree that hiking on a glacier counts as adventure, no? Terri from Travel50StatesWithKids counts their experience hiking on a glacier in Alaska as “One of our most memorable travel experiences as a family”. She says: “We hired a guide, strapped on helmets and crampons, and off we went with our guide and his dog. Seeing the blue ice up close was amazing.”

As I mention above, adventures change us. Jody titled her post on her family’s adventure in Montana “Pushing Boundaries“. “This vacation did something for my family that hadn’t happened before”, she explains, “it made us strong, as a unit. It made us see what we were capable of. And it made us enjoy being together. This vacation created memories that will last a lifetime. And, while that is what you strive for with vacations, rarely do you achieve it as completely as we did during this trip.”
Hear hear!

“The sun is bright, the snow is cold, and the experience is thrilling; dog sledding in Banff National Park provides a travel moment to treasure forever.” Since I haven’t been to Banff, I’ll have to take the word of Jen Miner (of the VacationGals) for that!

This round-up finishes with a couple of truly over-the-top adventures. Charli describes a thrilling week sailing across the top of Australia in pursuit of a dream foiled (to dive the Great Barrier Reef). And finally, my personal favorite (and one which is on my bucket list – with or without kids), Theodora’s tale of her 19-day trek to (and from) Everest Base Camp with her then 12-year-old son.

Got a travel adventure to share? Please leave your story in the comments below.

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Read more about our travels in Ecuador here.

[catlist tags=Ecuador]

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Moms, Wine, Travel And PRIZES!!


Have you got your tickets for our upcoming fun “Mom’s Night Out” at the Woodmark Hotel on June 3rd? Come hang out with me, Debbie from DeliciousBaby, Anne from HipTravelMama and Lora from CascadiaKids. We’re looking forward to meeting you and helping with your family’s travel plans (for summer and beyond).

You can pick up tickets from Brown Paper Tickets.

To sweeten the pot a little, we’ve also lined up a couple of great door prizes and a nice set of goodies for gift bags for all attendees.

Door Prizes
The Woodmark is offering their Escape To The Lake package as our main prize. This package includes an overnight stay at the Woodmark Hotel with breakfast for two. Honestly, given their location looking out on to Lake Washington, when you’re in the Woodmark you truly do feel as if you’ve escaped from the real world. (I did this overnight last August and during our visit my younger son did say “Mom, are you sure this is still Seattle? It feels like Hawaii!”).

The Woodmark is also offering a drawing for a $100 gift certificate for the newly-remodeled NW Face Spa at the Woodmark which is opening in July.

Gift Bags
Your gift bags will be presented in bags provided by Lands’ End. We’ve got chocolates from Hawaii Tourism, GoGo Inflight gift certificates, Travel Kiddy activity kits and subscriptions to Sticky Fingers Recipe Of The Month Club as well as a bunch of other goodies.

Ooh! And we have wine provided by Trio Vintners from Walla Walla. Yay!

Mom-Tested Travel Advice
If you’re on the fence about whether or not attending will be useful for you, I thought it would be helpful to get a sense of the type of information I’ll be sharing during the evening.

What To Expect When You Travel With Children
6 Tips For Planning A Destination Family Reunion
Practical Tips For Flying With Young Children
Handheld Video Games, Kids and Travel
Travel Toys To Keep Your Kids Entertained

Don’t forget to pick up tickets here – although we will sell some at the door too!

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April Is A Fantastic Month For European Travel

I wrote this post on our way to Ireland four weeks ago with great intentions to post it during our trip. So much for good intentions. I’m posting today because I still think this is good information for anyone considering a summer trip to Europe – it may be worth your while to wait until next April to get more for your travel dollar.

My kids plonked themselves into their seats for the flight from Chicago to Dublin, with their attention distracted by the bright in-flight entertainment screens they started investigating the menu of movies leaving me standing in the aisle with three carry-on bags to put away and a line of impatient people building up behind me – or so I thought. I struggled mightily to lift all three bags into the overhead bins. Once done, I expected glowers from the passengers behind me but all I got instead was a calm “No rush, no rush” from the one person who’d been patiently waiting for me to finish and then I noticed that there really weren’t very many passengers lined up in the aisles waiting to find their seats.

We travel between the U.S. and Europe so that our children can grow up knowing their extended family – most of whom live in the British Isles. We try to spend time there at least once a year and I bargain hunt for airfares to allow us to do so as economically as possible. A number of times in the past few years we’ve opted to spend Spring Break in Europe and I’ve come to believe that this is the best time for transatlantic travel for budget-conscious families planning a European vacation.

Using our trip as an example, here are four concrete ways in which we benefited by spending Spring Break in Europe:
1. Cheaper Flight Costs. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, Farecast’s 2008 study shows that airfares to Europe are up to 150% higher in July and August than at other times during the year. We paid $770 for return flights from Seattle with United and Aer Lingus.
2. The Flights Are Less Busy . As I mention above, our flight to Ireland was only half-full. There were plenty of empty seats in coach allowing us to spread out and be more comfortable. CAM, who’s almost 14, is currently a gangly mess of elbows and knees. I was not looking forward to sharing the narrow confines of a coach-class row of seats with him. Instead, I had two seats to myself and he had plenty of room to stretch out.
3. Local Spring Events . American Spring Break usually falls on or around the same time as the European Easter holiday. Just as in the U.S., the schools are closed and it’s a popular time for families to take a short vacation. You’ll find fun local festivals in many towns and cities. When we’ve traveled at this time of year we’ve also enjoyed shorter lines at larger attractions and lower accommodation costs.
4. Spring Weather. The weather can make or break any vacation. In April, temperatures are moderate in most of Europe so you need to be prepared for some rainy days. That said, the trees are starting to turn green, spring flowers abundant and, in Ireland anyway, there are sheep and lambs all over the place. I’m finding I’m compelled to photograph “the cute sheepies” every time I see lambs in the field – to my husband’s growing frustration.


I’m sure there are other benefits I’m not thinking of. If you’ve traveled from the U.S. to Europe during this time of year, do leave a comment below and share your experience.

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