An Education Vacation

In recognition of the first day of school (at least here in Calgary, Alberta) I started thinking about the value of an education vacation with the kids. These Learning Trips are part of a growing segment of family travel.

Familyl Learning Vacations

Family Learning Vacations

We’ve had friends that took their kids out of school for an entire school year and toured around the world with them! Depending on your child’s age this can be tricky but well worth it.

My children are in Kindergarten this year and I wouldn’t hesitate to take them out of school for a 1-2 week vacation. A whole year though- I’m not sure.

The value of a learning adventure experienced as a family seems immeasurable compared to what can be learned within the 4 walls of a classroom .

Here are 5 things to think about if you are contemplating an Education Vacation:

  • If you are going to be away for a significant amount of time are you prepared to Home School your child on the road?
  • Are you going to ‘Go It Alone’or join a group excursion? Even Disney has a family adventure travel company!
  • High end or budget friendly? Companies like Artisians of Leisure  specialize in exclusive family learning adventures.
  • Deciding where you want to go can be influenced by your children’s interests (dinosaurs, sailing, safaris)
  • If you are only going to be away for a few weeks, you will want to ensure that your child’s school is supportive.

Want to know more? Check out these links:

http://travel.kaboose.com/travel-and-learn.html

http://www.kidscantravel.com/tipstravelkids/activity/learningvacations/index.html

Top 5 Family Travel Gear

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulder. Ever since my twins turned 5 years old I feel like things are just getting easier.

We’re into booster seats not car seats, they ride their own bikes and aren’t on the back of mine, and I haven’t used a stroller in months!

Looking back at how we ever managed to travel with two babies, then toddlers- I don’t know how we could have managed without the following few pieces of crucial gear:

1. gogoKidz Travelmates gogo

2. Snack & Play Travel Trays

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3. Baby Bjorn carriers

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4. Prince Lionheart Stroller connectors

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5. Fabric Travel High Chair harness

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Do you have a favorite that didn’t make the list?

Ziploc Bags are my new suitcase

I haven’t perfected the art of packing for a family vacation, not even close.

My husband and I used to travel to Europe with backpacks, bedrolls and a tent. One year I decided that our backpacks were too close to being over the airline’s weight limit so I decided to leave a few tent poles at home to conserve weight. Imagine my husband’s surprise when it started to rain in England and we were short one very important tent pole.

Now, when we travel with our twins I try to bring as much as we are allowed. If our baggage allowance is 2 pieces per person- I make it count.ziploc

On a few recent trips I have discovered a great use for the ZIPLOC Big Bags. These bags are like super-sized plastic bags with the classic ZIPLOC top closure and built in handles.

On long trips away from home I usually designate 1 Big Bag for the kid’s socks/undies. That way, when it is time to get dressed in the morning I can just grab that bag out of the Suitcase and find what I need. It helps keep everyone’s belongings organized in a big suitcase.

It works great to store wet bathing suits/towels after a swim too. When we go camping overnight, I use a Big Bag each for the kid’s clothes and tuck them up in one of the storage bins. So much easier than trying to fit a square suitcase into a curved bin!

Banff Park Gates

This year has been unusually busy at the Banff National ParkGates. Summer is always a busy time of year in the parks but our trip out to the mountains on Canada Day solidified just how busy the park can be. The traffic was lined up longer than I have ever seen it!

 Here is a local’s tip for how to get around the line ups at the Banff gates: buy an annual pass. Annual Pass holders get to bypass the line up and use a thru-lane on the right hand side of all the line ups. An Annual Pass for a family costs $136.40 ( a day pass is $19.60). You can use the pass at any Canadian National Park too.

national-passes-2008

You can always split the cost with another family too if you don’t think you will be spending 7 days in the park over the course of the year. The passes are transferable.

If you are just visiting Banff you can purchase a pass before arrive too. Just call them (1.403.760.1343), order your pass by phone and have it delivered to your home before your trip!

Do you have a travel trip for the Banff area? Remember, we are making a cash donation to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter for every comment made on the blog in August!

Pregnancy Travel

When I was pregnant with the twins we stuck pretty close to home. I was convinced they were going to come early (and they did). Our biggest trip was a 5 hour trip from Calgary to Jasper, Alberta. We stayed at our favorite resort, the Jasper Park Lodge.

pregnant travel

I can remember the car ride being pretty uncomfortable. My husband went skiing while I stayed at the Lodge trying to entertain me and my bloated belly.

Recently a pregnant friend of mine returned from a family trip to Mexico. They wanted to take one more trip before adding a 4th child to their family. Unfortunately, the whole family experienced some form of illness during their trip ranging from nausea to diarrhea to both…. She avoided much of the sickness until just before they boarded their flight home.

Her decription of being pregnant, nauseaus and confined to an airplane seat was disturbing.

It brings up the question of when does a Baby Moon turn into a Nightmare?

Here are some great tips and resources about air travel when you are pregnant:

http://www.babycenter.ca/pregnancy/travel/airlinerulestravelinsurance/

http://www.thecmr.com/pregnancy/air_travel_while_pregnant-348.htm

http://www.deliciousbaby.com/journal/2009/may/10/traveling-while-pregnant/

Where have you travelled while pregnant?

YYC Calgary Airport

I spend a lot of time in the Calgary International Airport. Summer is a busy time of year for One Tiny Suitcase and many of our customers pick up their baby equipment rentals there.

My kids love the airport. There is a certain buzz in the airport that draws them in, that and the numerous play centers! Whenever I get the chance to bring the kids with me to the airport, I do.

This week they were especially entertained by the kids play area across from the International Arrivals area.

yycplay

yycspinIf you are looking to kill some time while waiting at the airport in Calgary- check it out.

Waiting in Seattle?

Waiting in Edmonton?

Amsterdam?

Have you found a great kid’s areas at an airport? Tell us in the comments and help us reach our donation goal. For every comment we receive on the blog in August, we will make a cash donation to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. Thanks!

Our Summer Road Trip

We just got back home from our summer vacation. Our trip included  some time in Manitoba and Saskatchewan this time. Even though we were visiting family and friends there were a few pieces of equipment that we were really happy to have with us. gracobooster

My twins are 5 years old now and the Snack and Play Travel Trays make eating, drinking, drawing, etc. on the road so much easier.

With my business (www.onetinysuitcase.ca) I get to ‘test out’ a lot of different car seats. When it came time to move our kids into Booster Seats we choose the Graco Turbo Booster Safe Seats. These booster seats are height adjustable and have extra padding which makes long car rides more fun.

I’m always interested to see how other families travel. This family found a unique (but not so safe) way to use their Fisher Price Healthy Care booster seat while at a rest stop!

Rest Stop

Child & Pet Friendly Hotels

We took a summer road trip this year that included our 5 year old twins and our 7 year old Boxer dog. 

Our Toyota Sienna was the only way to accommodate the 5 of us on this cross-Canada adventure. Betweboxeren getting the kids snacks and keeping the dog out of our snacks, I was back in forth in that van!

We stopped in both Winnipeg and Regina without any pre-arranged accommodations. After looking in the local guides we tried to find hotels that had a pool/water slide and that accepted pets. I thought this was going to be a daunting task but to my surprise we found a few options in each city. These hotels were pretty basic accommodations but just the right size for us!

waterslide

In Winnipeg we stayed at the Viscount Gort and in Regina the Best Western Seven Oaks.

 

The coolest part was waking up on the last morning of our trip, eating room service with the kids and the dog (she always gets a few bites) before heading down to the pool to go on the water slide. As a family, this is the ONLY way to travel now!

Family Vacation Critics

I always think the best travel advice comes from a trusted friend. Someone who’s been there, seen it all and is willing to tell the ‘real’ story.

When it comes to travelling with kids I am lucky to be friends with two women who’s husbands are pilots. These families travel a lot and were a great resource for me when we started to travel with our twins. Here’s an interview with my friends that was published in Calgary’s Child Magazine http://www.onetinysuitcase.ca/CalgarysChildnovdec.htm

Family Travel Forums

Family Travel Forums

I came across a new site called Family Vacation Critics that had a great up-to-date forum of families talking about their experiences with family travel. If you don’t have a friend who has travelled with their little one, a forum is a great resource!

Where do you get your best family travel advice from?

Women’s Shelter Donations

As a mother and a business owner I know how important it is to give back to my community. One Tiny Suitcase has grown over the last 3 years and I have been very fortunate to meet some amazing families in Calgary and Edmonton.

Our success has enabled me donate our products and services to various charities and non-profit organizations.

For the Month of August, we have a new program set up to enable us to donate even more to a local charity. For every comment we receive on this blog we will be making a cash donation to Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.

We love family travel and love writing about new and exciting topics to help families get out there and travel together. We’d also love to hear more about your family and your travels. Feel free to post a comment on our blog relating to one of our posts. For every comment we receive, a cash donation will be made by One Tiny Suitcase.

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Thank you!