Calgary Stampede Kids Get in Free Deal

The Calgary Stampede is turning 100 this year and there are lots of ways to celebrate.

A great promotion put on by the Stampede is the “Kids get in Free” deal ! Just clip the coupoKids day calgary stampeden from 12 packs of Coca Cola products and you will have FREE admission for your little one to get into the Stampede this year.

At $8/child this is a great way to save a little money on your way into the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Happy Stampeding!

Oahu with kids

I’m writing this week’s blog from Hawaii. My 6 yr old twins are with me and we are staying on the island of Oahu.

Normally Oahu is just a quick stop we make before travelling to other neighboring islands but this time we have decided to make it our vacation destination.

Oahu with kids

The Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of the island of Oahu is where we are staying. We have a beach villa that is just steps away from the beach.

I’m on a multi-generational trip that includes my parents, my sister and brother-in-law as well as their 6 month old son. I love travelling with extended family, we travel together about once a year.

My must have gadgets for this trip have been an IPOD loaded with kid’s tv shows and movies and my TomTom GPS. When we aren’t at the beach or in the swimming pool we are driving around the island exploring. The kids love the IPOD’s loaded with shows and music just for them. I love the GPS because it gets us where we need to go quickly and efficiently.

We are half way through our vacation….more sun reports to come.

Vacationing with Wildlife

My family and I just got back from a vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I didn’t expect to see as much wildlife as we did but every day there were whales to watch playing in the Bay, Sea Turtles exploring at the beach and birds of all different colors.

Being Canadian my children and I are priveledged to be close to all sorts of wildlife. A trip to Banff National Park (just 1.5 hours away) regularly includes herds of Elk, mountain goats and the occasional Grizzly Bear sighting.

In Hawaii, the kids were enamoured with all the new animal sightings. I was surprised that I had to remind them that animals in the wild are not meant to be disturbed. We came across this guy

Sea Turtle in Hawaiisunning himself on the beach. We had seen so many Sea Turtles that week that the kids walked right up to him and were having a closer look.

Later I saw this sign on a Black Sand beach we visited:

When the kids asked if they could touch the Sea Turtles we were seeing on the beaches and in the water it was a great time to remind them that tourists that visit our part of Canada are asked not to get too close to the wild animals (even in the National Parks) and likewise, we needed to respect the Hawaiian wild animals and their homes.

Hawaii’s abundance of wildlife was a great addition to our beach vacation. We picked up a children’s book about Hawaiian animals for the kids to take back to their classroom to share with the other students!

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

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!

Seattle Airport for Kids

When we travel I’m always on the lookout for the ‘best kids play area’ in airports. On our last trip through the Seattle Airport, I wasnt’ expecting much. We had a bit of a layover in between Los Angeles and Calgary so we were wandering around to kill some time.

We followed the sounds of happy children and to my amazement found this:

 

Seattle Airport’s answer to tired and weary travellers! http://www.portseattle.org/seatac/services/kids.shtml

Recession Travel Rules

Frommers travel guides have always been in my suitcase.

In the early days of travel when my husband and I were backpacking in Europe it was actually a Let’s Go (www.letsgo.com) guide that was often found at the top of my pack.

We found that as we got older and our backs got a bit weaker, we liked Frommers guides for lots of reasons (the absence of hostels in their guides being the biggest reason).  

Frommers not only produces those softcover guides that you are probably familiar with. They have a great wefrommersguidebsite filled with lots of travel suggestions and one of the best Forums for travel I have been on.

They had an interesting article on there recently about travelling during this recession: http://www.frommers.com/trip_ideas/family/article.cfm?ideaID=FAMILY&articleid=5785&t=5%20More%20Recession%20Travel%20Rules%3A%20Surefire%20Ways%20to%20Get%20More%20Bang%20for%20%20%20Your%20Buck 

Keep an eye on our website for a link to a new article coming out in a Canadian Magazine in the next couple of months. I will be providing some tips for budget family travel!