7 Tips for Traveling with Children and Having Fun

As most of you know, I love to travel and I have totally passed on the travel bug to my family! YAY :) We love to go on adventures big or small and explore new places!  Flying for a family of 4 can get expensive, so lots of our trips are road trips!  But, on the occasion where we do get to fly, we still use the same system for traveling with our kiddos because it seems to work great for us!  So, if you'll be traveling with children this year and are a little nervous (as well you should be!) take a deep breath and check out the tips below on how to make traveling with children less stressful and lots more fun!

1.  Prep the kids.  If you'll be in the car for a few hours, let them know.  Tell them how long the flight is going to be.  Depending on the age of your kiddos, you don't have to be exact.  A simple, "We're going to be on this plane for a long time." Is enough.  This helps keep the "Are we there yet" chants at bay, at least for a little while! 

2.  Keep your expectations low.  Kids are kids.  They will get cranky, they will ask a million questions, they will get bored, they will need to go to the bathroom 5 minutes after you asked if they needed to go and they said no.  If you mentally prepare yourself for these situations, they may not seem so major when they actually happen.  Don't expect perfection from them, but do tell them what type behavior you want from them.  I find that if I tell my kids how I want them to behave beforehand, it's easier to redirect them when they get rowdy or off track.  

3.  Have entertainment.  Yup, I am not above having my kids watch movies or play games on an ipad or laptop when I know it's going to be a long trip.  We also pack them books, small toys, pencils, crayons, and paper to draw.  For our last road trip we printed out a few family-friendly road trip games online, such as license plate games and I Spy.  We even found Road Trip Bingo game cards!  

4.  Plan a surprise (or two!) On our road trip to Ensenada, Mexico this past spring, we used our Happy Family Movement Road Trip in a Box kit.  This was a blast!  The kids really loved opening up the packages at the designated times and taking breaks to play with water guns, blow bubbles, or just have a dance party in the middle of nowhere!  The kits are no longer available to purchase, but you can totally make your own!  Just grab a few fun dollar type toys, wrap them up, give them instructions on when to open them and wait for the fun to happen!  You could do simple things like temporary tattoos, gummy worms, stamp kits, an inflatable beach ball, etc!!! The possibilities are endless and will definitely make for a memorable trip!  

5.  Rest.  This one, I learned from experience!  We totally didn't plan for much rest on our summer trip to the east coast and we hit the ground running when we go there.  This was a huge mistake and we ended up with some major cranky jet lagged kids in Washington DC!  Once we slowed down a bit and they got a good night's sleep, we were great.  The remainder of our trip was awesome!  From now on, we start our trips a bit slower, don't plan a ton of activities when we first arrive, especially if there's a time difference, and we find it makes for a much better trip overall!  

6.  Start travel traditions.  We love to goecache! So, for us going on a trip also means we get to do a fun geocache in another state.  The kids expect it now and it's part of our road trip tradition.  Whenever we travel to California or Utah, you know we're going to have Chick-fil-a because we don't have any in Vegas.  Also, when we go on road trip, you know Johnny Cash's Everywhere Man is gonna be playing!  Our traditions aren't too big but they're ours and we love them!  Whatever your tradition is, big or small, your kids will love it.  Traditions make kids feel special and who doesn't love that?

7.  Have Fun!  Some of my best memories as a child are from family vacations and I really want my kiddos to have these kinds of memories too!  I love it when one of my kids starts off a conversation with, "Remember when we did/went..." We know that traveling with children can be tough and tiring, but it's also so worth it!  And the best part about traveling with little ones is that they don't remember the time when you were stressed out at the rental car ticket counter or the time they made you upset because they broke a coffee mug at the souvenir shop, nope, kids tend to forget that stuff pretty quickly.  They'll remember the little things.  The ice cream cone you got them at the beach, the fun rides they rode over and over, the jokes you told, the giggles, the fun, the good stuff.  And at the end of it all, that's what really matters.  The good stuff!  

Here's to safe travels, fun adventures, and making memories that last a lifetime! 

Viva Las Vegas | 5 Year of Calling Vegas Home

I cannot believe that we've been living in Vegas for 5 years already.  Time sure does fly when you're having fun.  I gotta say, I really like living here.  My husband misses trees, but I don't really.  I mean, it's always nice to see trees when we go on vacation, but I really do love the desert landscape.  Is living in Las Vegas perfect.  Of course not, but what place is?  Well, maybe Southern California is really close to perfection...But, alas, I don't live there. I live in Las Vegas and I'm making it work for me and my family. 

We made the decision to move from Central Florida to Las Vegas 5 years ago because my family had moved here and we were expecting baby #2.  Family is very important to us and I wanted my kiddos to grow up with family around them.  Being in Florida without our family just didn't feel right.  Plus, Jason and I were really ready for a change.  Florida had been good to us for 12 years, but we felt stuck and it was definitely time to move on.  So, we packed up our things and said goodbye to the sunshine state (which is such a bad nickname being that it's so humid & rainy there!)

Making the move cross country wasn't as hard as I thought I'd be.  I'm sure this was because my family was here and it helped make the transition a lot easier.  I didn't feel lonely or lost in a new environment.  I immediately took to the desert lifestyle and I find myself defending Vegas to people how ask how we could like living here or if it's a good place to raise a family.  The truth is, we don't live on the strip and outside of the strip, Vegas is just one big suburb.  We have lots of parks, nice communities, shopping centers, and plenty of kid-friendly activities.  It's like living in most cities, you don't take your kids to the "bad side of town" or with you for a night out, right? Here are a few things I like about living in Vegas and how Vegas has helped me and my family live a fun life:

*I worked really hard to establish my business here.  I grew as a business owner and my photography skills improved, as well.  I'm a wedding photographer, feel free to check out my work HERE (shameless plug, I know!) I don't think I would have such a successful business if we would have stayed in FL.  I didn't have the motivation or the drive to move forward like I felt when we moved here. 

*We get to travel more.  Florida is mostly surrounded by water and it takes about 3 hours traveling north to get out of the state from Central Florida and even then you weren't anywhere super fun.  Yes, Florida has beautiful beaches, amusement parks, and other fun places to visit, but for someone like me who loves to travel and explore new places it just wasn't enough.  Flying is expensive for a family of 4, so road trips are more our style. Living in Las Vegas has really given us the opportunity to visit some awesome cities, national parks, and landmarks in many different states.  

532699_4063305189012_1677268593_n.jpg
25502_1411167767234_2795930_n.jpg
45900_1559865724590_6325049_n.jpg
Its_a_messy_life-zion-national-park-utah.jpg
215772_1965407142872_2390953_n.jpg
303867_2341224778078_80304384_n.jpg
223986_4467353009955_2143566672_n.jpg

*Getting outside!  Yes, summers in Vegas are HOT!! But, they only last 3 months and the rest of the year the weather is pretty close to perfection.  Plus, it's not humid and it rarely rains! We love going on hikes around Red Rock Canyon (which is just 15 mins from our house), going to parks, and just exploring the great desert outdoors right in our own backyards!

3085_1125712031019_337617_n.jpg
34190_1497950776755_7516433_n.jpg
62248_1592135571316_64478_n.jpg
251376_2071135626018_3173104_n.jpg
63151_4799397030848_1150585870_n.jpg

*Getting healthy!  Ok, so this one didn't happen immediately.  It took me a long time to realize that there was a lot more to it than dieting or being fat versus being skinny.  In 2012, I finally realized that I had to make permanent lifestyle changes. I was tired of being overweight and feeling sluggish, so I made the right changes and now I live a much healthier and active life and my family does too! 

1474472_10202456456920737_1884458997_n.jpg
969574_10201166159104098_1177873523_n.jpg
544176_10200901386044937_1819001969_n.jpg

Like I said, l really enjoy living here and we've made some good friends and awesome memories here. I could look at this town and find a million things wrong with it and yeah, sometimes I do.  Sometimes I wish we lived in a city with more of a local vibe, with more cultural centers, museums, and nice farmers markets.  Sure Id o.  But, I choose to embrace where I am and make the best of it.  I choose to look for the good and be positive.  It's easier and makes me happy.  I look forward to lots more family road trips and days hiking along Red Rock Canyon with the kiddos.  Thanks, Vegas!

Vegas peeps, what do you like about living here? If you aren't from Vegas, what do you love about your hometown? I'd love to hear from you! xo