Destination Overview: Vancouver, British Columbia

Last month, we took a short trip to Vancouver – My Mom, Three-year-old daughter, Taylor, and myself. We flew direct from Winnipeg With WestJet. As always their service was fantastic and they were very helpful and supportive of us using the car seat on the plane. My next blog post will be about traveling with a car seat, which is rarely an easy feat. Our trip was short, but jammed full with excitement to keep the three of us entertained. Of course, Taylor’s schedule was amok, but there was enough to keep us busy for her to forget about being grumpy. Here’s a breakdown of the venues we used and my review. Holiday Inn – North Vancouver Coming from Winnipeg, I’m always surprised by the cost hotels in major cities. We paid well over $200 per night, but it was well worth it. The room was spacious and clean, the service exemplary, and the amenities reminded me of the four stars at home. The hotel was equipped with a pool and fitness area, that included a sauna and hot tub, which made for a happy Taylor. The hotel had several dining options within walking distance and was located in the...Read More

Are we there yet?

The only thing more annoying than hearing, "Mom... Mom... Mom... Mommy... Mom... Mama... look at me! Mom... Mommy... Mom" on repeat are the dreaded road trip questions, "are we there yet?" and "how much longer?" This past weekend, we had an impromptu six-hour road trip (each way) to Northern Ontario for a funeral. With limited notice and time to get ready, I didn't plan much to keep Taylor, our three-year-old, busy. In a mad dash to remember everything from snacks to clothes, I forgot to load the iPad with new Paw Patrol episodes. We try to avoid extensive amounts of screen time but let's be honest, this is the easiest solution while on road trips. So, this left us to improvise. Here are a few easy and cost-effective solutions to entertain toddlers in the car. 1. Braiding/Bracelet making (almost 1 hour) One of the few toys we did manage to bring was a Barbie with long hair. I often braid my daughter's hair, but she had never tried and to my surprise, she picked it up fast! Barbie's hair being long enough to braid, but short enough not to get tangled at the bottom really helped her concentrate to learn the pattern. I also...Read More

Memories vs. Photos

I'm notorious for returning from a trip with only a few photos or a lot of photos of only one part of a trip. It's because I'm usually so caught up in the moments, I forgot to bring out my camera or phone to snap a picture. Plus, very few people are interested in seeing photos from other people's trips, so what's the point? As I get older, and now that I have a family, I'm disappointed that I don't have photos of all my adventures. I travelled and did a lot during that decade of  my life, and all I have to show for it are my stories, which are great, but my daughter (and others) want tangible evidence. I want to show Taylor the look on my face when I jumped out of plane over the Hoover Dam. I want her to see the view I saw from thousands of feet above the Earth. Not only have I been photo-shy, but I was also too cheap to pay for the photo services at many of resorts and attractions. We do have one professional photo from a cruise we took years ago, not because we paid for it, but...Read More

The Diaper Challenge

Travel with infants is hard for minimalist packers such as myself. I try to pack as little as possible and buy what I can upon arrival, especially if I'm travelling within North America or to a major city. Nothing's more frustrating then carrying a diaper bag, your carry-on, and your childrens' carry-ons in addition to your infant. But where is the line? How do you know you're not overpacking and will still have enough in the event of an emergency. I'm talking about diapers, specifically. Let me tell you a little story about a time I pushed the limit of only packing eight diapers when returning home from visiting my brother and his family in Halifax. Upon arrival, I bought a large box of diapers, figuring I'd leave the leftovers for my niece who was the same age as Taylor. Our flight home included two legs, Halifax to Hamilton and Hamilton to Winnipeg, a total of nine hours. Typically, because of the tiny bathrooms, I never change Taylor's diaper on the airplane, unless it's an emergency of course. So, I calculated that I would need four diapers, and then doubled it just in case. As normal, we boarded the airplane twenty minutes...Read More

It Takes a Village

You know that cliche statement that we keep hearing when we need help. It takes a village. It takes a village to raise our children; it takes a village to protect them; and it takes a village to influence them. This also applies traveling. Traveling with the village makes traveling easier. Yes, it might cost more to bring the village, but can you really put a price on rest and relaxation? You will get more value out of your trip if you have help; you will be able to enjoy the beach instead of chasing your child through the Louvre or arguing with them at a ristorante.But, the good news is, that this doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Bring your parents Your parents make great villagers, and company, too! In my experience, parents are always happy to travel  (and help out) with the grandchildren. The best part, they'll often pay for their own way! Take advantage of this while you can. Nothing can replace the relationship and memories your children will build with them while exploring foreign territory. Plus, if you ask nicely, they may hang in the room with the little ones, while you and your love...Read More

Traveling with Teens

Living with teens can be hard enough. And then, we think we can surprise them with a trip of a lifetime, but instead, they can be ungrateful and potentially put a damper on a family trip. Follow these tips to lessen the stress, and hopefully save your family vacation. I used to teach dance to 15 and 16-year-olds. Just before spring break, I heard one of the girls complaining to her friends that her Mom is forcing her to go to Paris for spring break, with her family. My first thought was, "What a brat! She doesn't know how lucky she is." She went on, telling her friends about all the plans she had already made, but had to cancel. After they returned, I asked her about her trip, and she was surprised by how much fun she did have. I also taught her younger sister, who also said the trip was great. But then, I spoke to the mother who confided in me that she wished she had never bothered, "the girls complained about everything - getting up early, walking, eating strange food." It was like she was on a different trip than her two daughters. What went wrong?...Read More

3 Secrets to Affordable Travel

Travel doesn't have to break the bank. Follow these three not-so-secret tips to save big when traveling: Road Trips Flights for a family of four or five can easily rack up to $2,000 when traveling cross country. Why not load up the car and iPod and hit the open road? You'll also get to see more of your home country - some of the small towns have the coolest sights. For example, the swinging bridge in Souris, Manitoba, or the Boswell Embalming Bottle House, a house built of discarded glass embalming fluid bottles, located in southern British Columba. These and many other unique attractions would be missed if you fly directly to your destination. Keep in mind that there may be the added cost of overnight stays at hotels if you're going on a long road trip. This can be managed by staying at motels along the main highways or camping. Even with gas prices rise, and the new carbon tax, the price will be significantly less than flying. However, I wouldn't recommend this, if you're tight for time. Time is money, after all. Plus you might want to consider if the savings worth listening to your kids argue for six hours...Read More

Take Advantage of Time Zones

Flights and different time zones can create havoc for an infant or toddler, creating more stress for the rest of the family. This doesn't have to be the case. My first advice is fairly obvious, schedule your flights around your child's sleeping habits. If he or she is an early-riser, book an early flight. If they're past the napping phase, but require a full-nights rest, book a mid-day flight. Although, sometimes this isn't always possible, as we are restricted to the airlines' schedules and sometimes it's cheaper to fly at an inconvenient time. To make matters worse, when you arrive at your destination, you may be two hours ahead or two hours behind. This could either be your worst nightmare or a dream come true. Living in Winnipeg, a lot of Central America is in the same time zone, as well as many other great US destinations (LOVE Texas!) And to our East, everything is either an hour or two ahead. The beauty of this is that now my daughter goes to bed two hours later and sleeps in two hours later, allowing us to use our vacation time more wisely. Normally, she's up at 7:00 AM and in bed...Read More

Destination Overview: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Up until my brother moved to Halifax six years ago, most of my travel has been transborder and international. It wasn't until then, that I really started to appreciate the beauty and diversity of each Province. I have had the privilege of visiting Halifax four times, twice included my daughter, but all were heavily geared toward family activities. My brother and his wife, have five kids ranging from one to nine. Needless to say, it's a full house when we stay. Halifax is an incredible city for kids to grow up, and just as great to visit. Between spending the day at the Halifax Waterfront and taking day trips to the charming towns, there is something for everyone and busy kids will be kept amused. I'll highlight some of the best kid-friendly attractions below: Halifax Waterfront [caption id="attachment_140" align="alignright" width="300"] Taylor and Theodore Tugboat, August 2017[/caption] Located in the heart of Halifax's downtown, this is the home to many attractions - Theodore Tugboat, the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry (oldest salt-water ferry in North America), Seaport Farmers' Market, and COWS Ice Cream, just to name a few. During the tourist season, each weekend brings festivals and unlimited activities. We were fortunate enough to...Read More

5 Reason to go Disneyland, instead of Disney World

I'm often asked, "Should I go to Disney World or Disneyland?" Most others quickly respond with Disney World. And they might be right - Disney World is home to four theme parks and over twenty hotels onsite, giving families the ultimate Disney experience. However, Disneyland is much smaller with two theme parks and three hotels and is a lot more. 1.     Size Matters Disney World is over 27,000 acres and can be intimidating to little ones looking to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Families may have to pick and choose their time wisely, missing out on many of the incredible experiences. A much easier feat is Disneyland, at 85 acres (soon expanding to 100 with the addition of Star Wars Land). Don't get me wrong, Disneyland is also a lot of ground to cover and you'll need to several days, but it's do-able. I took Taylor to Disneyland for the day when she was 18 months. I followed some bad advice and didn't bring or rent a stroller. However, even with her little legs and my overly developed "mom-arms", we were able to manage the day. Because she was so young, we spent most of the day in Mickey's Toontown,...Read More