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Family travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Family travel and exploring are two of my favorite things to do. In fact, if I could do anything in the world, it would be to show my children every square inch of the world introducing them to as many people, cultures, languages and lands as time would allow.

I believe that the key to being a good person is being a good citizen of the world and embracing and appreciating the differences in people and places, all the while remembering that at our core, we are all human beings; that is our shared experience and it all begins with family travel.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

This is the only tie we need to bond us to one another; humanity. It has nothing to do with where we were born, what we eat, what language we speak, our religion, who we love or what we believe. It has everything to do with decency, respect and human kindness. I feel it is my duty to instill this virtue in my children but there is only so much I can do from my neighborhood.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Like you, I teach my children that they need to respect themselves and those they encounter in the world but, right now, their world is still pretty small. It’s home, school, ballet, gymnastics, church and repeat. It’s quite the little bubble.

Family travel takes us out of our bubble and that’s good.

I’ve realized that the more we travel, the bigger their scope for human understanding becomes and in turn the way they move through this world. I see them grow with each travel destination we visit. I see curiosity for knowledge of others growing inside them. I encourage them to go be a part of it, to interact and have new experiences. I demand that we have adventures because I don’t want my children growing up as bystanders in their own lives.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I want to inspire my girls to spread their wings and venture outside of our comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I love 5-star hotels as much as the next person but there is a part of me that is filled with wanderlust and that part is hungry for adventure. I want to see things I’ve never seen and share those with the Big Guy and my girls. I want us to do it together.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I want to be a part of their life adventure so that someday they won’t be afraid to take their children on adventures. I want to not only visit places that are familiar but I want to immerse ourselves in places and cultures unknown. I literally want to give my children the world. As a parent, aside from unconditional love, I think the gift of travel and the perspective it gives, the bravery that comes from unshackling yourself from conventional thinking and inspiring my children to see beyond borders is one of the most important gifts that I can give to them. I want them to explore and learn new things that nature can give. Recently, I learned the best duck call for beginners which I also taught my daughters so we can watch ducks closely and just admire their beauty.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

On a recent call as a National Geographic ambassador, I was introduced to National Geogrpahic Student expeditions, summer trips for high school students and middle school students. My girls are still too young to travel alone but I like that they’ve put this program together.

More importantly, I was floored by the National Geographic Family Expeditions, Unique Lodges of World and National Geographic Journeys which just launched 70 Adventures because these are completely organized trips that you can take with your family. You choose your dream destination almost anywhere in the world and National Geographic does the rest. Trips range from 7 days to 22 days.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

I am most excited about the National Geographic Family Expeditions for obvious reasons. What better way to introduce my family to the wonder of world travel then through an unforgettable family expedition?

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

Set out on one of National Geographic’s family trips and experience the magic of discovery and exploration with your whole family. They’ve crafted their family expeditions to inspire and enrich travelers of any age, drawing on their global resources to create experiences in incredible places that are authentic, immersive, and fun. Watch humpback whales breach and kayak into remote fjords in Alaska; spot lions, elephants, giraffes, and more on safari in Tanzania; or go white-water rafting through Costa Rica’s tropical forest. National Geographic’s expedition leaders and local experts enrich your understanding of the culture, wildlife, and natural wonders of each incredible destination, and on many of their family trips, a young explorer leader facilitates fun learning activities for kids. This would be the perfect trip for our family of four to step put of our comfort zone and experience the world fully immersed. Now, I just need to start planning and saving for it.

Family travel, travel with kids around the world. Visiting new places, cultures and immersing in new adventures, National Geographic Family Expeditions, Journeys,

If you want to get your little ones mentally prepared to take a leap outside of their comfort zone and curious for adventure, why not watch some travel documentaries together like Wildest Africa, Wildest Arctic, Wildest Islands, Wildest Latina America, Wildest India and several more to ignite that wanderlust in those little hearts? Or if they are a bit too young for documentaries how about Netflix’s new series that’s packed full of adventure just for the little ones, Dawn of the Croods, now streaming on Netflix.

Where’s your dream family travel destination?

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adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney

Anyone who knows me knows that my dream would be to gift to my girls the world; a life filled with adventures. Of all the things I could give them, aside from kindness and tolerance, I’d love to introduce them to different cultures. I’d love to raise good human beings who were strong, independent.  Teen travel is so important. Start them young as babies and your vacation with teens will be an adventure you can share together.

It’s a very different life when you live in a bubble compared to when you’ve seen the world. I know it’s not possible or probable for most and I know that some people don’t care about global citizenship the way or to the degree that I do. It probably has a lot to do with my father not being from this country. It probably has more to do with spending my summers in Mexico.

This has always caused me to be more enthusiastic and open to adventure. Having a father whose first language was not English, made me more patient and tolerant of those who didn’t speak English. It made me want to learn other languages so that I could understand and communicate with others. This is why I spoke 4 languages by the time I graduated from college.

I appreciate the differences in people, places, and things. It’s more interesting to be surrounded by difference than sameness. My girls are falling into this same pattern. They see differences as an endless possibility for adventure and travel as the ultimate exploration. This is why I am so excited for Adventures by Disney. They have something for every family member.

READ ALSO: Top  Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney Vacation

As you know as a reader of my multiple posts about our trips to Disney World, Disneyland and on Disney Cruise line, we love Disney. The thing is you can take a short escape or a long one. You can travel in the United States or internationally. It really is a choose your own adventure Disney style and as anyone who has ever been to the happiest place on earth can attest to every adventure by Disney is different. Make of it what you and your family will.

Adventures by Disney offers many different destinations and new ways for travelers to experience the world’s most remarkable destinations with guidance, which is always nice especially if it’s your first time in a city or country. Teen travel is exciting and hectic because not only are our children changing at a dizzying pace, showing them the world is amazing. Adding a guided vacation with teens allows you to eliminate the frustration and just enjoy your time together.

In 2019, Adventures by Disney travelers will experience the captivating culture and rich diversity of Japan during a brand-new itinerary, with expeditions ranging from ancient locales steeped in tradition to fast-paced modern cities. Adventures by Disney collaborated with the Japan National Tourism Organization to create a trip that is both culturally authentic and deeply immersive. Whether exploring a breathtaking bamboo forest, centuries-old temple or high-tech metropolis, vacationers will be fully immersed in the ancient customs and storied traditions deeply rooted within this cultural wonderland.
During this 11-day, 10-night itinerary, travelers will visit Kyoto, Osaka, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo.

In 2019, a reimagined Alberta, Canada itinerary will offer all-new adventures in Calgary, before traveling to breathtaking Banff National Park and the stunning Lake Louise. In Calgary, travelers will be welcomed as honorary citizens during a traditional ceremony before visiting some of the area’s ranches and farms.

Banff is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I’ve ever traveled to. I’ve not taken my family there yet. When I went I came home with an entirely new outlook on life and appreciation for natural beauty. There is something about standing amongst ancient glaciers and surrounded by pristine nature that makes you feel so small and lucky at the same time. Banff is on my family travel bucket list. I think this Adventure by Disney would be perfect for my family.

Adventures by Disney also recently announced an array of offerings that can be added to a Disney Cruise sailing. Talk about the ultimate land and sea vacation. In 2019, travelers can journey to unforgettable locales such as Barcelona and Copenhagen. All while enjoying renowned Disney service and storytelling. Can you even imagine?

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream. 

These unforgettable trips join dozens of Adventures by Disney vacations worldwide, including a new itinerary on France’s Seine River. Revel in the beauty of the sites of Paris while engaging in immersive activities for the whole family. Paris has been on my travel bucket list since I was in 7th grade.

adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney, Paris

The 2019 Adventures by Disney land tours feature a wide variety of vacation destination options, something for every traveler. Families will find a wealth of unforgettable moments imbued with special touches that are uniquely Disney.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Disney World Trip

If you prefer s short trip how about a best of Boston adventure? Treasured American history and contemporary culture come to life in Boston on the new Short Escape itinerary.

adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney, boston

Guests are immersed in the city’s legendary stories. During a privately guided tour along the Freedom Trail, families follow 18th-century costumed guides back in time. A private, after-hours tour of the Old North Church places travelers in the famed footsteps of Paul Revere, while another special after-hours visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum concludes with a private dinner steeped in the city’s storied roots.

Other family-friendly excursions and activities include rowing along the Charles River and biking the city on a private sightseeing tour. Perfect for teens are exploring the grounds of Harvard Yard. Perfect for the entire family, indulging at a private New England clambake on Thompson Island.

I can tell you from going here every year with our children, there is no shortage of things to do in Boston. You could go back time and time again and still find things to do.

adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney, banff

Looking for the ultimate family vacation that’s teen friendly?  Whether you prefer beaches resorts or outdoor adventure, Adventures by Disney has you covered. What are you waiting for?

What Adventures by Disney trip would be perfect for you and your teens?

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toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

I don’t know about you but travel is a form of religion to me. Nope, I don’t think travel is my God but in a profound way, I feel closer to something bigger than myself when I’m experiencing the beauty and the wonder of the world, especially if there’s music playing loudly in the background. For example, when I am flying or on a boat in the ocean, I feel freer and smaller than I’ve ever felt before yet, at the same time I feel grounded and significant in my small part. Sometimes when you’re on the open road headed toward a destination, driving can feel almost like a holy experience. I know, it might sound weird to some of you but to others you completely understand.

There is just something about taking all of that beauty in and really comprehending the enormity that this planet is where we get to live, in all of its natural glory. I’ve always loved travel but it’s only been the last few years where I’ve really begun to appreciate the beauty of the different landscapes, people and cultures. I want to show my children the entire world and everything in it

Last month, I was loaned the new Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited in toasted walnut pearl. I mean, is there a more perfect color name for a car that you are driving around amongst the changing leaves? The 2017 new front fascia with an updated front grille and redesigned headlights make a bold first impression.

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I don’t know everything there is to know about the Toyota brand, as I have never owned one myself but I know what I like. I have friends and family members who will only buy Toyota because they hold up so well and last for so long. To me, that says something about the brand. The Highlander certainly exceeded any expectations I had.

I was pleasantly surprised by what it added to our travel experience. Not only is it a beautifully sophisticated piece of machinery, it is eco-friendly, which is something else that I tend to look for more as my fondness for the planet grows deeper.

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Traveling with my family is my favorite thing to do and we do a lot of that traveling on four wheels. We like the freedom to stop and explore along the way. So the little things matter, especially when you are in a car for 18-24 hours.

Here are some of my features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

  • Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal lights and blind spot warning indicators and folding features. Safety, convenience and indulgence all rolled into one.
  • Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade and jam protection. This moonroof adds a level of sophistication and adventure.
  • Three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, separate second-row control panel, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers, and second- and third-row vents. This is perfect, especially for long road trips with children, tweens and/or teens. Everyone controls their own temperature, a little less complaining and distraction for the driver.
  • Integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines. At this point, I am annoyed with any vehicle that doesn’t have backup cameras but the dynamic gridlines feature is perfect for new drivers learning to parallel park and just be safe in general.
  • SofTex®-trimmed 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat with sliding headrests and recline function. I know this sounds like an unnecessary luxury but believe me when you have tall passengers, stuck in a vehicle for long amounts of time the recline functions is definitely one that you will appreciate.
  • Blue LED ambient lighting on the interior of the front and rear doors and in-dash shelf. This sounds so unnecessary but I’m telling you, it’s one of those things you never knew that you always wanted. That little bit of ambient lighting makes all the difference when getting into your car at night.
  • Five total USB ports (three front and two second-row). Talk about convenience and luxury. There are 4 of us, we each have an iPhone and iPad and they need to be charged. No more fighting/bickering over whose turn it is to use the charger.
  • Second-row retractable window sunshades. If you have babies, this is a lifesaver on long trips. If you have children of any age sitting in the back seat trying to stay entertained with electronics or just not spend the drive with the migraine-inducing sun in their eyes, you too will love these window shades.
  • I love the safety features. I will have teen drivers in not too many years.
  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) — Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). My girls will be driving before I’d like to think about and I will feel a lot less anxious if I know they are driving in a vehicle that does its part help keep them safe.
  • More safety features we can all get behind. Star Safety System™ — includes Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB), Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST).
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) like backup cameras, how did we ever live without these features?
  • toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travel

**No husbands were harmed in the taking of this photo. He just has a morbid sense of humor and was in desperate need of a nap.

  • The storage space is huge. I was able to put my 6’5″ husband in the back. Not that you’d move a body in the Highlander but, the point is, you could if you needed to 😉
  • And, did I mention the mileage on the Highlander Hybrid? If I didn’t I definitely should have. I had the vehicle for 10 days and never had to fill it up. The mileage is out of this world compared to my Enclave.

toyota, highlander, Toyota highlander hydrid limited, travel, family travelI could go on for pages but these are just a few of my favorite features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. All of these features help me to focus on what is important about family vacations, family and not let the small stuff like comfort, charging stations and gas mileage ruin the whole thing.

Travel really is an experience that transcends time and space, your mind needs to be free to wander without distraction and completely immerse in the people and places you visit. Traveling with my family, showing them the people and places of this planet, is having the very best of both worlds. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited makes the journey as fantastic as the destination.

What was your favorite family trip destination? How did you get there?

Disclosure: I was provided the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited to drive for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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I am very excited be collaborating with Sarah Wilson of One Savvy Mom and to give you our candid take on some of the top Family Travel Destinations in the United States.

When it comes to traveling as a family unit, there are definite challenges that can present themselves especially when traveling with young children.  Because all destinations and hotels are NOT created equal, we have compiled some fabulous destinations and accommodations that will make your next family getaway a success. We will showcase reviews for some excellent Family Friendly Destinations (Hotels, Cruises & Attractions) that you won’t want to miss when booking your next family getaway.

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Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

My new life mantra is eat the cake and travel the world! Yesterday’s burning of Notre Dame Cathedral has me reassessing my life choices. Visiting Paris and seeing Notre Dame was on my travel bucket list for as long as I can remember but I took for granted that it would always be there and now, I will never get to see the original spire or the forest of latticework that was the ceiling of the cathedral. That opportunity is gone and I can’t get it back. Today, I’ve decided not to wait anymore but to go for it. Life is not about things being perfect, it’s about getting things done. It’s better to travel the world on a budget than not at all. The thing is this life lesson applies to more than just travel.

When I was a little girl, I loved traveling. I still do. It is my favorite thing to do. My biggest dream was to travel the world and see as much of it as I could. It started with books of far off places and my imagination took it from there.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

READ ALSO: Five Ways to Have an Amazing Spring Break on a Budget

When I was in middle school, around 12-years-old, I was assigned to write a report about the place I most wanted to go. Most of the kids in my class chose the closest metropolis, some chose New York City, Los Angeles or San Francisco. I chose Paris, France.

After researching Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, Sacré Cœur of Montmartre, La tour Eiffel, le Musee D’Orsay and the catacombs, I fell deep in love with the people and the culture of Paris. I decided that I need to speak the language and eventually, live there. But first, visiting Paris was a priority.

By the time I was 14-years-old, I was actively working on making the dream a reality. I learned the language. Ate the food. Became a Francophile. Dreams of putting a padlock on the bridge of love and throwing the key into the Seine, walking the city at night under the stars and writing about it all, permeated everything I did. But I never did it. Any of it.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Family Vacation

Instead, I got married after graduation and never made it to Paris. The bridge of love has been dismantled and the Notre Dame Cathedral has burned and I’ll never get to see the forest within or the original spire. But I’m not going to wait anymore. I’m going to plan the trip, eat the croissants and drink the espresso.

My girls are getting older now and I want to share the world with them. That is a gift that, as a parent, you can’t top. The experience of seeing the world is priceless. But how do you literally give your kids the world when you live on a budget? It’s possible with some careful planning, smart shopping and frugality.  Think about it this way, is it better to see Paris now, maybe not the way you imagined it, or to wait until everything is just right and never get to see it?

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

I did some research and where there is a will, there is always a way. 

How to Travel the World on a Budget

Travel at Night

By traveling at night, via train or airplane, you save yourself the cost of a night stay and red-eye flights are often more economical. This is a great way to save money.

Explore the Great Outdoors

We all know that staying in a huge metropolis is more expensive than staying in more remote areas. Take the chance to explore the amazing national parks of the USA. For $80, a National Park Pass allows you entry to every park in the country for a year, creating the perfect route across America for a road trip. Discover the world in a deeper, more natural and meaningful way. Enjoy the desert parks, the cool redwoods, beaches, mountains and forests for a fraction of the cost of visiting the cities.

Buy Foods at the Supermarket

No matter where we travel, we always hit the grocery store for water, snacks, fresh fruit and yogurts. You can save a lot of money by not eating out for every meal and then enjoy one nice meal out a day.

Plan ahead and have a budget

Shop for flights on Sunday and Tuesday nights, at least 3 months in advance or watch for specials. Often, there are flight specials to Europe for fractions of the cost, if you are flexible in your travel dates.

Use Points for Flights and Hotel Stays

Make sure that you have points cards for every hotel and airline that you use. I use my favorite airline and hotel chain regularly and accumulate points to use for future trips. Also, acquiring credit cards with your favorite airlines, hotel chains and Chase Sapphire offer lots of points when signing up, sometimes for several flights and stays.

Use Student and Other Discount Cards

Are you a student, teacher, or under 26-years-old? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a whole lot of discounts. Get a student/teacher/youth card and save half on your travel. Always ask if there are discounts available for students or youth because you never know.

Pick Budget Friendly Destinations

Visiting budget-friendly destinations like Asia and South America where your money goes further. Exploring India or making your way across South America can be surprisingly cheap. With a little research, you can find out where the best places to visit are. Save your money for the more expensive countries. Balancing them with cheaper destinations means you can spend a little more, without burning through your entire budget.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

Get City Tourist Cards

If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card. It’s a great deal and will save you lots of money.

Most importantly, eat the cake and travel the world. Stop waiting for the time to be right. Just go.

Travel the World on a Budget, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting Paris,

What is your ultimate travel bucket list destination? Whether you’re visiting Paris or the Taj Majal, what is your number one tip for how to travel the world on a budget?

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Boston harbor, Faneuil hall, freedpm trail, historical Boston, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

I’ve made a short list of things to do in Boston when traveling with children.

When my family was in Boston,Massachusetts we saw and did a lot of wonderful things.Honestly, too many things to mention in one post but I would like to mention some of our favorites.

I won’t lie, I drug my kids all over Bean town. It was like Disney World to me. There was just so much to see and I only had 6 days to see it. This trip has made me realize that I like about 7 to immerse myself in a city and the key to any great trip is to talk to the locals. They live there and they know the best places to go, see, do and eat (Boston foodie post coming soon)

Things to do in Boston when traveling with kids

The Boston Children’s Museum located at 308 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

Boston Children's Museum, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

This was one of my children’s favorite places. It is enormous, we were lucky enough to be spending that day with friends and it was a welcome break from the hot June Day. Quick fact: The Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest children’s museums in the world. It was founded in 1913 by a group of visionary educators. For over 100 years it has been engaging children in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning.

Boston Children's Museum, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts
It is huge and three floors of solid fun. If you want to tire your little ones out while stimulating their brains and hearing their non-stop giggles, you will love this place as much as we did. The Museum’s exhibits emphasize hands-on engagement and learning through experience, employing play as a tool to spark the inherent creativity, curiosity, and imagination of children. Designed for children and families, Museum exhibits focus on science, culture, environmental awareness, health & fitness, and the arts. My girls’ favorite exhibits were Arthur’s world and the art room. We could have stayed there for days but closing time was at 5 pm.

Boston Children's Museum, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Harbor Cruise New England Aquarium Whale Watch Cruise at 1 Long Wharf, Boston, MA 02110.

whale, Boston harbor cruises, whale watching, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

I was so excited to do the whale watch, probably more so than the kids. It was the one thing, aside from walking the Freedom trail that had me acting all squee-like.
The BHC hi-speed catamaran provided a fast, comfortable way for about 400 passengers to see, what I consider to be, the ocean’s most magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, up close and personal. The “in their natural habitat” was the most important part to me because no matter how badly I’ve been wanting to see these amazing creatures, ethically, I refuse to see them in captivity.
In 3 hours (yes, believe me the Gilligan island song played non-stop in my mind), BHC gets you to and from your destination; Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, a rich feeding ground for whales and dolphins. There is a NEAQ-trained naturalist on board to point out which kind of whale you are seeing and give you some background on each one. This was very helpful to us and educational to the children, especially since we were on board with a large group of field trip children.

If you’ve never been on a whale watching tour, be prepared for breathtaking views all around. It’s like flying without all of that pesky altitude and seeing a whale beside your boat for the first time feels a little like seeing a baby be born. It will stop you in your tracks in amazement. While on our tour we spotted a finback, a humpback and a couple minke whales. It is something we will never forget. Also, if you go on the tour and don’t get to see any whales, no worries, BHC guarantees their whale watching tours and you will be issued a ticket to return for another cruise. For me, the BHC Whale watching cruise is something everyone should try, at least once, though I fully intend to go again on our next visit.

Faneuil Hall located at 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston, MA 02109

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Faneiul Hall Marketplace is located in downtown Boston in walking distance from the harbor. In 1742 our nation’s fathers proclaimed it “The Cradle of Liberty” today, it is a buzzing marketplace with over 70 retailers and 160,000 square feet of space on Boston’s iconic festival marketplace. The kids loved it.
Faneuil Hall’s cobblestone streets are filled with music, laughter and people of all ages shopping and watching as street performers and musicians dazzled the crowds. Our girls thought the caricature and balloon artists located directly outside Faneuil hall were the best. There is definitely something for everyone.

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You can enjoy unique, locally loved, and nationally recognized shops while indulging in the a variety of cuisines at the many restaurants, pubs (Cheers was one of our favorites) and the world-famous Quincy Market.

Faneuil hall, freedom trail, historical Boston, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts
You can also start walking the Freedom Trail, right from here!

What are your favorite things to do in Boston?

 

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to Boston’s Children Museum and the BHC Whale Watching Tour but every single one of my opinions about these two places were my own. Stay tuned for Part 2 of things to do in Boston coming next week.

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Road trip Essentials when Traveling with Teens, Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Traveling with teens this summer? Making one last road trip for Labor Day? What are your road trip essentials when traveling with teens? I’ve been really laser-focused on the fact that we only have a few more precious summers left with the girls living at home. If we’re being honest, I’d like to just hide them inside the house and keep them all to myself for the next few years but alas, being a mom means raising good human beings that can go out into the world and thrive, do all the good human things. It’s my duty as a mom to help make the world a little less crappy by populating it with awesome little people.

Firstly, don’t be afraid to travel with your teens. Traveling with teens on road trips is a lot less painful than you might imagine and certainly less suicide-thought inducing as traveling with toddlers in Christmas traffic. Holy shit, I’ll never do that again. Well, maybe one of these days with grandkids but the same rules don’t apply when you didn’t birth them yourself, right?

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Parenting Teenagers

My point is that teenagers are pretty awesome. They’re funny, full of personality and they can pump gas and go buy snacks. I’ve grown to love long road trips, especially in an RV, because being trapped in the car with your husband and kids for 18 hours really does say I love you. But more importantly than that, spending that kind of time traveling to new places, talking to fill the space and being in such close proximity to one another really is a recipe for making memories, inside jokes and bonding.

road trip essentials when traveling with teens, Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You may find yourself exhausted and tired of being trapped in a car or traffic or even a little frustrated while it’s happening but you will always make the most beautiful, subtle and nostalgic memories that you could ever imagine. Trust me. You want to do this before they go off to college.

Road Trip Essentials when Traveling with Teens

A Clean Car

Make sure the car is clean, free from clutter and the heat/ air is charged and working. Don’t find this shit out the wrong way.

Carpool Karaoke Mic

We received the Carpool karaoke mic for review purposes and it has been so much fun. My girls love to sing in the car, so do the Big Guy and I so this was the perfect addition to our road trip essentials.

Apple Music

We could not survive a road trip without all of our favorite music and playlists. No matter the genre or your mood, you can always find what you’re looking for to serenade you in the soundtrack to your life.

Hand Sanitizer

This is a no-brainer. Messes happen. Germs happen. Things get sticky when you’re eating and driving or karaoking in the back seat. No one wants to eat chips with gas pumping hands. Be safe, bring the sanitizer.

All the Snacks

We usually hit up the local supermarket or Walmart and get a good assortment of fresh fruit and already washed and cut veggies to snack on in the car. But a few other favorites are coconut and chocolate Lar Bars, wasabi and Himalayan sea salt dark chocolate almonds, Bubly preferably in Blackberry, San Pellegrino, toasted coconut Oikos and Cheese sticks to name a few.

Bluetooth headphones for everyone

Sometimes you, they, he just wants to tune out the other people in the car and listen to some tunes they want to listen to. You can only listen to Baby Shark and laugh as a family so many times before someone goes bat shit crazy and drives the car into a guard rail.

Entertainment

An Ipad for Streaming movies on Hulu, Netflix, prime and watching Youtube is a necessity. But if your teen is extra to the extreme, bring along all the Tarte makeup and be entertained while they film their own make-up tutorials or Tik Tok themselves silly. Truly, it’s entertaining for the entire family. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Electronic chargers, Sneaker boxes

There is nothing so somber and woeful as a teen without charged electronic devices. They are great until you cut them off cold turkey from their electronics. For my girls, it’s not even being on the devices so much as it is having the security of the option to do so.

Pillows and fuzzy blankets

We all need and like to be comfortable when on a long road trip. For all the time spent bonding, we are, for all intent and purposes, in very close proximity to one another and sometimes you just need your space so the least you can do is be comfortable as to alieve any unnecessary aggravation and a nap and rest seems to do the job on many levels.

Money

Carry some cash and make sure that you’ve got a card “for emergencies”. Nothing ruins a road trip faster than being broke.

Games that prompt conversation Get to know your kids on the road

We have several games like would you rather, have you ever, conversation starters that really let you get to know your children and vice versa.

READ ALSO: Growing up too fast

We really do have so few summers with our children. When they are little days and hours seem to go on forever. We linger there wishing it to go faster and then before we know it, hours fade into days and time speeds up so fast that just as we are beginning to really know and like our children, they leave us. Make the moments count. They won’t all be winners and every moment won’t be special but together really is better than apart.

What’s at the top of your list of road trip essentials when traveling with teens?

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sunrise, travel, traveling alone, traveling without kids

Leaving my children behind when I travel is the hardest thing I do. I travel and I love it. I travel a lot with my kids and the Big Guy. I traveled a lot before I had children. I was born with an insatiable wanderlust and it always begs for more. I don’t se it ever being satisfied. There is an ever growing bucket list of travel destinations because any place can be an adventure if you’re open to it.

Before I had my girls, I had specifically chosen a career path that would allow me the freedom to travel the world. I wanted to see the whole thing; every nook and cranny and hidden treasure of a culture. I still do; now, I just want to do it with my family.

Right now, as I type this, I’m watching the sun come up from 13000 feet. The view is spectacular. I only wish my daughters were here to see it with me. But they were left behind on this trip. Sometimes, we moms have to travel the road less traveled alone and that’s good because it allows us to grow and be better for our children.

I’m headed to New York City this morning. It’s my first trip there, which is ironic because this was the place I’d decided to call home so many years ago. But it wasn’t meant to be. Before my life plan could come together, I met the man I would marry and life took us in other directions, as life often does.

Still, here I am, like Icarus flying too close to the sun, heading for the missed opportunity trying my best to keep my hubris in check. I’m headed to BlogHer 2015. I haven’t been in a couple years but it seems kismet that I would find myself headed to my original destination with a plethora of opportunities before me on this sunny July morning.

We just returned from a family road trip on the east coast in Ogunquit, Maine. It was magical and more relaxing than any vacation I’ve ever had. My girls are turning into quite the junior travelers. I can see in them that the wanderlust is strong and that makes me happy. They are miniature foodies with an insatiable desire to know all the places of the world; to speak the language, eat the food and live amongst the people. This is my legacy.

Of course, this is the part I hate… Leaving them behind when I go on my travels. Since becoming a mother, the world is so much more wonderful and exciting through their eyes. Everything is new and wondrous to them and in so, born again in mine.

When I leave on a trip, we all feel a little sad about the separation. They miss me and I miss them but while I’m in Manhattan hugging necks and chasing dreams they will be with me like a couple tiny handprints on my heart. I hate to leave them but there is something absolutely magical about knowing that I get to return home to all that love.

What is your favorite travel destination to visit without children?

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What is the coronavirus? , What every mom should know about the coronavirus?

Wondering if you should be taking more precautions to protect your family from Coronavirus? Don’t want to be an alarmist? But want to take care of your children? Maybe you’re wondering why they named a really shitty virus after a vacation cocktail. Yes, I’d like an ice-cold coronavirus, add lime. Not funny, right? Let’s just talk plainly, what the hell is coronavirus and what should every mom know about it.

Now, while I’m not raiding my local stores of all the cleaning supplies, I am keeping my pantry stocked with Lysol, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper but I do that all the time anyway. I’m not buying a year’s worth but with 4 people who seem to catch everything that goes around living in the house, we’re always stocked just in case. While I’m not one for screaming the proverbial fire in a crowded theater, I’m also a realist and the fact is that Coronavirus exists and it does not discriminate.

READ ALSO: Parents who send their kids to school sick are the worst

However, being immunosuppressed with an immunosuppressed child, I’m also not taking any unnecessary risks. We won’t be using public transportation; planes, trains, and buses are not on our to-do list. We’re also not going to be going to any large crowded venues if we can avoid it. I’m also considering taking advantage of pick-up for groceries and necessities rather than being in the stores until some of the flu strains and viruses going around are not going around as much.

Here is what I’ve found out and what every mom should know about the coronavirus!

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) is not new. They’re a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The issue with the current novel coronavirus is that it’s a new strain and is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and people. The strains that typically infect humans generally cause symptoms that are no more severe than the common cold. However, sometimes a rogue coronavirus jumps from animals to humans and is more severe than typical.

This new coronavirus is spreading quickly throughout the world and we’re all on edge, especially parents because we’re worried about our children. At last count, more than 92,000 known people have contracted Coronavirus and at least 3,000 people have died since an outbreak began in December in Wuhan, China. While most confirmed cases are still in China, the coronavirus has since spread to at least 71 countries, with at least 100 recorded cases and at least six deaths in the United States.

Previously, the bulk of the cases in the United States were connected to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Japan after it was revealed that some guests onboard tested positive for coronavirus. But a growing number of those diagnosed have happened after contact with an infected person or after no known connection to previous cases, suggesting that the virus is spreading among communities. The outbreak is on the verge of being a pandemic if it can’t be contained.

Symptoms of the Coronavirus that Moms should be aware of

  • Common signs of infection include
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
  • In more severe cases, an infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

How to stop the spread of Coronavirus

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

READ ALSO: Working with Preschoolers and Jumping in the Cootie Pond

To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses in the general public do as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:

  • Wear a cloth face mask that covers your mouth and nose at all times when in public.
  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissues away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

Why are experts so concerned about this new coronavirus?

  1. This is a new illness that doctors have never seen before so there’s still a lot to learn about how it’s transmitted and how it will affect everyone.

  2. The virus is contagious, even before symptoms appear.

The CDC believes the new virus is contagious during the incubation period, which is believed to be 14 days, and symptoms can appear anytime between two and 14 days after exposure. Chinese officials reported person-to-person transmission as the virus spreads. The CDC also has confirmed person-to-person transmission in the U.S.

  1. The 2019 novel coronavirus may be mild but, in some cases, can be very serious

“As with a cold, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and a flu vaccine won’t protect people from developing it. Washing hands especially after eating, going to the bathroom, and touching your face and avoiding other people who have flu-like symptoms are the best strategies at this point.”

  1. There’s a lot that we don’t know, so precautions are extremely important

Given that the symptoms tend to be mild and the number of people infected worldwide remains small, you may wonder why so much attention is being paid to this particular illness. Extreme caution is warranted because of how little is known about this new virus. For now, spreading awareness, keeping people updated as scientists learn more, and screening people who might be at risk are the best tools available. If you travel or if you visit a health care provider or facility, it may be helpful to know that the coronavirus-related signs you see and questions you may be asked are important.

  1. Guidelines will evolve as doctors learn more

The CDC advises people who travel anywhere, locally or internationally, to:

  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Avoid animals, whether they are dead or alive, as well as animal markets, and animal products
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What to do if you think you may have been exposed

Anyone who has traveled to Wuhan and is experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms should:

  • Seek medical care immediately. Call ahead to their doctor or emergency room to let them know about recent travel and symptoms.

  • Avoid contact with others

  • Avoid travel if they are sick

  • Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) if they must cough or sneeze

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The virus can be spread from animals to people. But it also can be spread by coughing, sneezing and through close contact with an infected person or an object carrying the virus. Experts are still figuring out how long an infected person is contagious as they try to determine a point of transmission.

How different is it from the common cold or flu?

Coronavirus infections, in general, are indistinguishable from other respiratory infections. In most cases, they cause a runny nose, cough, sore throat, fatigue and fever. But with the new coronavirus, patients tend to have a fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Do I need to stockpile N95 face masks?

No.

The C.D.C. recommends that only infected patients and their health care providers wear N95 respirator masks, which are a special type of mask intended to filter out 95 percent of airborne particles. When physicians treat a person infected with the disease caused by the virus, they wear a face shield, gown and gloves.

Standard surgical masks also can’t fully protect you from contracting the virus. However, if, when in public, everyone wears a cloth face mask properly, covering the mouth and nose, it can drastically reduce the amount of spread of the virus.

Should parents be worried?

Right now, no. Be cautious but not crazy. Cases in children have been very rare. Most people infected with coronavirus are between 49 and 56 years old. It appears that when kids do get it, they have milder symptoms. Flu is killing a lot more Americans, including children, but flu is the monster we know.

Update (11/7…129000 new cases today) coronavirus can be contracted by anyone and it affects everyone differently. There are also long term health effects. The 49-56 age group being the highest affected is no longer the case.

What steps should parents take to protect their child from Coronavirus?

You should take the same precautions you would take to protect your child from the common cold or flu.

  • Encourage children to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can work if that’s all you got, but they’re generally not as effective as soap and hot water.
  • Hands should be washed before children eat, after they use the bathroom, come inside from outdoors or touch something dirty like garbage.
  • If you see someone coughing or sneezing, try to keep your kids as far away from them as possible. It’s believed that respiratory secretions don’t travel more than six feet.
  • Travel is also fine but use common sense and caution. For the most part, domestic trips and even most international ones are still OK. Check the CDC guidelines before you plan a trip. If you’re planning a cruise for spring break, the C.D.C. urges you to avoid ones that travel to or from Asia. Personally, as much as I love cruising, it’s a stew of germs in the best conditions.

If there is an outbreak in your town, you should practice what’s known as social distancing. That means staying at home, rather than going out and about to movies, sports events and other activities. Schools could close, at least temporarily, and people who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.

For now, if you and your kids still haven’t gotten a flu shot, get one.

I’m pregnant. Should I be concerned about Coronavirus?

Yes, but no more than you would be about coming down with the flu. During pregnancy, your immune system can be depressed, which makes you more susceptible to complications from viruses like the flu and chickenpox.

There isn’t much information on how the new coronavirus affects pregnancies, though preliminary research suggests it isn’t likely to be transmitted from a mother to her baby through the womb. A study that followed nine pregnant women who were infected in Wuhan found that all of the newborns, who were delivered via cesarean section, tested negative for the coronavirus, and there were no traces of the virus in the mother’s amniotic fluid, cord blood or breast milk.

The C.D.C. does caution that it has observed miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women infected with other related coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV). A high fever during the first trimester of pregnancy which can happen after infection with the new coronavirus and with illnesses such as a cold or flu can also increase the risk of certain birth defects.

Let me be honest with you, mom to mom, I’m not a doctor. This is just a lot of research that I found by scouring the internet. The truth is none of us want our children to catch something that we know so little about but panic is not the way to protect ourselves. In reality, I think there are probably a lot more cases we don’t know about because symptoms are mild and comparable to the viruses that we’re used to. Most cases will probably go undiagnosed. My advice is to be cautious. Practice good hygiene. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Take care of your health and maybe spend more time at home with your family during the cold and flu season. Use your common sense and mama intuition. Don’t ransack the stores and buy out all the TP, Clorox wipes and face masks because then people that need them won’t have them. It’s not the apocalypse people. It’s scary because it’s new. Be careful and be safe.

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sterling Virginia, GoRVing, Winnebago, Hyatt Place, Road Trips, Traveling with Kids, Mission BBQ, Abbot's Custard

We’re headed to Cape Hatteras for our end of the summer road trip but tonight we’re in Sterling Virginia. We love to travel and there is nothing like one last getaway before school and routines go back into effect. The sad story of it is that our girls are at the age where they really have no free time throughout the school year for travel.

We still travel but it is always at the expense of something else. For us to get away, they have to miss something. Give up something. Forfeit something. That’s mostly been okay. I think it’s good to teach kids about making choices and letting them know that we can’t always get what we want and most of the things worth having come at a sacrifice, a cost.

This year, the wiggle room for sacrifice is even slimmer.  This year, we have confirmation and we’re planning for travel over breaks and we’re preparing for high school and possibly a move. There are a lot of balls in the air so this trip, the four of us, the calm before the storm that is our day to day lives is so special.

Tomorrow we head over to Reston, Virginia to pick up an RV that we will be driving to Cape Hatteras, NC. Not going to lie, the Outer Banks have been on my travel bucket list for many years. We used to live in North Carolina in our 20’s but we were so busy with work and life, we just never made the time to go. We kept thinking, we can go at any time. We live so close. But before we knew it, we didn’t live there anymore. So we’re all very excited about this opportunity to not only go on an adventure someplace that we’ve always wanted to go but to be able to do it the week before school starts back. One last taste of salty air and ocean breezes before the minutia and obligations take over.

Tonight we find ourselves in Sterling, Virginia a quaint, charming, beautiful city about 40 minutes west of Washington D.C. which just so happens to be one of my happy places. By degree, I am a political scientist and all things about politics and history make me ecstatic. D.C. makes me absolutely giddy with delight.

sterling Virginia, GoRVing, Winnebago, Hyatt Place, Road Trips, Traveling with Kids, Mission BBQ, Abbot's Custard

We pick up the RV in the morning and with a 6-hour drive ahead of us to the Cape, I thought Sterling would be the perfect setting for a relaxing night. I used up some points and we are staying at the Hyatt Place at Dulles. Just like last month, when we stayed at the Hyatt Regency, the service is consistently awesome. After a long day of being trapped in the car, it was a welcome relief to be greeted by friendly faces and a room pristine and stocked with the foam pillows that I requested ( allergies to feather pillows make travel a challenge at times).

sterling Virginia, GoRVing, Winnebago, Hyatt Place, Road Trips, Traveling with Kids, Mission BBQ, Abbot's Custard

The room was a very nice size with a separate sitting area big enough to accommodate all 4 of us on a sectional. We unloaded our belongings and set out to find food. We found Mission BBQ and OMG, am I glad we did. The food was delicious and the staff was awesome. Our server was so helpful with picking out sauces to top our BBQs. There were like 8 choices and he even let us taste test them. His recommendations were spot on by the way. The food was melt in your mouth delicious.

Then, after an hour or so of just relaxing (as God intended vacations to be), we decided to go find something sweet and explore the area. That’s when we found Abbott’s frozen custard located in the cutest little shopping center and fell in love. I had the strawberry cream cheese and chocolate almond and it was divine.

sterling Virginia, GoRVing, Winnebago, Hyatt Place, Road Trips, Traveling with Kids, Mission BBQ, Abbot's Custard

I’m convinced I may need to revisit living in Virginia. I’ve never been to Sterling before but we lived in the Richmond area and we loved it. Sterling feels like Matthews NC and Washington D.C. had a beautiful baby and I want to live here.

It was just supposed to be a stop along the way but I’ve got to say, Sterling Virginia, I think I love you.

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