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Travel

8 Wonderful Reasons to Visit Paris with Kids

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

We took our kids to Paris in 2016 as part of our 30-day trip to Europe that coincided with our daughter’s “I Do Take Two” – she and her husband had a small ceremony in the states with her U.S. family, then had a big, beautiful wedding in Nottingham with our son-in-law’s family. Since we were going anyway, we decided to visit some of our favorite places – Berlin and Wiesbaden, Brussels, and of course, Paris. We only had a few days, so hit the hot spots – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and paid homage to Jim Morrison at Pere Lachaise.

But if you have more time to visit (we’re definitely planning to go back), here are 8 wonderful reasons to visit Paris with your kids.

1. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont Playground – A giant-sized playground-cum-landscaped park, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is full of streams for playing and has a pavilion on the top of a hill. The gigantic place also offers an alcove with a waterfall gushing out of it and a breathtaking view atop a suspension bridge above the water.

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Kids are sure to love the place, what with donkey rides and funfair events encircling the main pond. Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a unique, green area certainly worth a casual family stroll.

Numerous birds share the space, such as black-headed gulls, moorhens, and mallards, which enjoy its heights and also the lakewater’s freshness. If you’re traveling to Paris anytime between autumn and spring, you’re sure to spot the long-tailed songbird jerking.

2. The Ménagerie  Zoo – Lying in the heart of the Jardin des Plantes, the nation’s most significant botanical garden, the Ménagerie Zoo is home to plenty of big cats including snow leopards, and red pandas and is exceptionally child-friendly. Easily accessible, the zoo also has orangutans, kangaroos, snakes, a 100-year-old turtle, and a variety of birds including vultures, ostriches, and flamingos.

Inside this living book of diverse wildlife, you’re sure to experience tenderness during your encounters with animals, letting you reconnect with nature. These unforgettable moments also make kids aware of the vital need to protect and preserve biodiversity. You can also take guided tours to understand common and rare types of animal behavior.

Younger kids will enjoy themselves at a petting zoo here, full of farm animals, while the older ones can spend quality time at the Microzoo, zooming in on tiny organisms.

3. The Jardin d’Acclimatation Amusement Park – A huge success with kids, the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a 19-hectare amusement park is best to visit during summer. Packed with kids’ attractions like pony rides and puppet shows, the park also houses a livestock farm and an aviary.

The Jardin d’Acclimatation features 4 fabulous roller-coasters, flying chairs and 18 hectares to stroll on. Summers offer kids ample scope to chill out with water-themed rides.

While the “Enchanted House” entertains toddlers, radio-controlled boats and mini-golf areas fascinate the older kids. What’s more, the park has, in its vicinity, a mini train with pushchairs running right up to its entrance.

4. The Grévin Wax Museum – Offering a wacky yet useful experience of French civilization, the Grévin Wax Museum houses more than 300 wax shapes. The figures include those of historical characters like Napoleon, political figures like Obama and singing superstars like Celine Dion. What’s more, kids could have their pictures clicked by the side of waxworks of these celebrities!

Image by Iva Balk from Pixabay

The fascinating museum takes kids through the history of France via its numerous waxworks. On the museum tour, you will also get to learn the detailed process of making the wax figures.

Last but not least the Grévin Wax Museum boasts an incredibly opulent marble staircase leading up to an equally exuberant hall of mirrors throwing light from every angle. Under dimmed lights, the hall creates eye-catching optical illusions of a temple, mysterious forest and a palace made of gold.

5. Disneyland – With a French-speaking Mickey Mouse and making a perfect fairytale family vacation destination, Disneyland Paris is full of classic attractions, entertainment events, and street processions.

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Your magical tour of Disneyland covers two parks, namely, Parc Disneyland and Parc Walt Disney Studios, Disney Entertainment Village, and countless restaurants. At Disneyland, kids can meet all Disney characters including Goofy and Captain Hook.

The little ones can enjoy themselves at Fantasyland that brings Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to life, while the older kids can indulge in adventure rides like the “Star Tours” where they need to dodge objects and fly at full speed for destroying the Death Star.

Don’t miss out on “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, the most popular family ride in Parc Disneyland, where spooky pirates will attack you.

Disneyland offers a unique experience in autumn due to Halloween as well as Christmas celebrations.

6. Aquarium de Paris – Situated opposite the iconic Eiffel Tower and brimming with interesting collections of marine life, Aquarium de Paris offers an extraordinary experience for kids as well as adults.

With approximately sixty tanks and ponds where you’ll find more than 7000 sea creatures, all from the French waters, seek out clownfish, the favorite aquarium pets, the poisonous puffers, and the endangered species of stingrays.

What’s more, the aquarium with its glass walls touching the floor caters to even toddlers as they’re able to see inside without you having to pick them up.

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Kids will love, in particular, the shark tunnel, the dwelling of twenty-four toothy sharks as well as the petting pond where they can fondle warm and friendly sturgeon fish as they thrust their long funnel-shaped noses outside the water.

7. Parc de la Villette Playground – A 55-hectares playground located in northern Paris, and full of slides and jungle gym-style, fun-filled activities the Parc de la Villette is a full-fledged, kid-friendly attraction. Children will find plenty of games as well as carnival rides to spend any additional time while relishing cotton candies.

Watch your kids shooting down Chinese dragon slides as you experience the beauty of this urban delight. Red-colored pavilions dotting the playground serve as huge climbing frames and also as a kids’ art center.

Summertime attracts large crowds to a film festival held on the lawns, in the open air.  Parc de la Villette has 10 themed gardens having reminiscent names like the “Garden of Mirrors”, “The Garden of Mists”, and “The Garden of Acrobatics”.

8. The Cat Cafe – “Le Café des Chats” – The first cat cafe in Paris offering a relaxed ambiance for you and the kids to savor your coffee and pastries while being around cats, Le Café des Chats is home to a dozen, beautiful cats.

The two-story cafe serves as a stable shelter for abandoned cats, thus contributing to animal welfare. With plenty of comfortable sofas and a large variety of pastries on the menu, kids will have a memorable time here, while gently interacting with the cats.

Children can also learn about the cats’ different personalities by reading a card about every individual cat, displayed near the tables. This way children will surely get to know the cats better while enjoying watching them play around the place.           

Bonus tip: Be sure to get a scratch-off map of the world so that once back home, you can add Paris to your travel memories.

Categories
Travel

15 Travel Tips for Flying Alone with Young Children

Going out of town for the first time as a single parent?  Probably thinking it will be the worst flight ever.

We’ve done our research, prepared for the nightmare ahead of us, and put together the best list we could for flying alone with young children.

Below are 15 tips and age-based checklists to properly prepare you for traveling with a young child, both domestic and internationally.

Flying Alone with Young Children Under the Age of 2

Tip #1: Just because children under 2 fly for free (on your lap) does not mean it’s the best route to go.  Buy a seat, bring a pillow.

Tip #2: Check your stroller at the gate so that you have it until you board the plane and right when you get off the plane.

Tip #3: Bring food.  Bring milk.  Bring water. Bring tons of food and drink. As you go through security, you’ll simply need to have liquids stored separately in a clear plastic bag.

Tip #4: Magnesium or cold chamomile tea helps with teething by calming the nerves.

Tip #5: Bring your car seat, strap it in the airplane seat, let your little one sleep.

Checklist

  • Diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Blanket
  • Change(s) of clothes
  • Pacifiers
  • Toys
  • Plenty of snacks and bottles.
  • Extra zip-lock bag for soiled clothes.
  • Stroller
  • Milk, juice, and formula for a baby are exempt from the three-ounce liquid rule.
  • Car Seat

Tip #6: Make sure your baby chews on a pacifier or toddler chew gum during takeoff to help reduce pressure in the ears.

Traveling Alone with Children Ages 2 to 5

Tip #7: Inform the airline ahead of time about any allergies. Typically they’ll not serve nuts if there is a tree nut or peanut allergy on board.

Tip #8: If you’re traveling out of the country, you should get travel insurance as your primary health insurance doesn’t cover you or your dependents medically while abroad.

Tip #9: You should book for a row in the back of the plane to minimize attention. Usually, there are restrooms in the back, and your toddler can stretch.

Tip #10: Always book a direct flight as getting back onto a plane can add to the frustration or better yet, humiliation.

Tip #11: Some would say to pre-board before everyone else onto the plane. I disagree. The least amount of time on the plane the better.

Tip #12: Some airports have play areas for kids to get energy out prior to the flight.  Let your kids run the long walkways if the airport is empty.

Tip #13: If your child still takes a nap, flights during this time may help them sleep. If you can do a late-night flight, that may help too.

Book a window seat so the child can lean against the wall to sleep.

Tip #14: Download the GoGo Air app before your flight. Not all flights have entertainment provided. This app applies to most if not all airlines. Just in case the plane doesn’t have TV on the back of the seat, you can always access movies, shows, and games on your phone on this app for free.

Tip #15: Ask a flight attendant if they have wings to pin on their clothes to make them the child feel like they’re part of the flight crew.

Follow these tips, and you should be good to go on your next flight out!


About the Author:

Shawn Plummer is an insurance expert training advisors for over 10 years, a parent of a feisty little girl, and blogs for The Traveling Parent and The Annuity Expert.

Categories
Travel

How to Get from Point A to Point B with Young Kids

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Not every kiddo is a great traveler, and some road trips will be more successful than others. There are too many variables to predict how travel will go with young children, but sometimes travel can’t be helped. You might be moving, traveling for work, or on your way to visit family. Whether your children love the journey is to be determined, but there are steps you can take to make it easier on everyone.

Overpack.

I say this with a bit of sarcasm, because my husband always tells me I’m way over-prepared. But there have been some moments where I was glad that I considered the what-ifs and packed accordingly. Did I know my toddler was going to shove her socks into her mouth, soaking them in the parked car while I was trying to feed the baby in the front seat? No. No I did not. Good thing I had extra socks packed for my toddler, something I normally reserve for the infant who likes to lose socks. (He had three extra pairs.) Bring snacks and then bring an extra snack. Bring extra water. You never know what you’ll need.

If it’s a long journey, consider packing an extra outfit for yourself, too. I’ve had a baby puke all over me and was glad I had brought a change of clothes for all involved. It would’ve sucked to wear a puke-stained shirt the rest of the ride.

Start with nothing.

The only thing we hand our children at the beginning of any long journey is a stuffed animal or treasured doll to hold. That’s it. We rely on the passing scenery and music to entertain our children for as long as possible. You don’t want to bring out the big guns until absolutely necessary, and you’d be surprised how fascinated kids are by the world around them.

Bring favorites.

When the kids finally get bored, have some of their favorite car-friendly items on hand. Books are great for car rides, and even our toddler is happy with a teether to fidget with as they sit. Stickers are easy to have in the car as well, but don’t be surprised to find stickers all over the seat for a bit.

Keep trying.

Not every child is going to love the car. Not every child is going to be capable of withstanding the car seat for extended periods of time. Keep trying. Do short trips until you figure out what they’re capable of and extend the ride even for just a few minutes. It will come in handy those times when you do have to hit the road unexpectedly, and you’ll have a child better prepared for travel.

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Making Memories Parenting Travel

Turn Road Trips into Family Fun

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

We love road trips. We’ve done two cross-country road trips for vacation (around a month long each) in addition to our five cross-country moves (just a road trip with all of our stuff in tow). In fact, a road trip can make a great vacation for families. We’re planning another one for next year, traveling West across Canada, down the West coast, then back through the middle of the states. While we are lucky that we can work and travel, since we own our own business and can work from anywhere, but even if you only plan a short road trip during your annual vacation, it can be well worth it. Our tips for success:

Get Your Kids Involved

To make your kids excited for the upcoming trip, let them in on the planning process. Give them a say as to where you will go on your road trip. Since you will make many stops along the way, you can accommodate your children’s wishes, as well as yours, when it comes to determining what places to visit. The more involved they feel, the more excited they will be about the vacation.

Drive Safely

Don’t drive away without first seeing your mechanic. Let him or her know what you’re planning, and have them give the car a once over. Get the oil changed, make sure you have a functional spare tire, and replace the wipers. For extra peace of mind, we have found it to be well worth the cost to be members of AAA. Their roadside assistance program is incredibly helpful. (Dead battery? Call AAA. Flat tire? Call AAA). And, your AAA membership works in Canada, too (they call it CAA). AAA also gets you discounts to many attractions and hotels.  [MomsGetReal has no affiliate relationship with AAA and is not advertising for them – this is just a personal recommendation].

Bring Snacks and Activities

While your kids will love visiting the destinations you have chosen, the time spent in the car between each new place can get boring. Our kids are great travelers, so headphones, music, and books keep them happy. Since we now have unlimited data through Verizon, they can keep talking, watching, and listening as we travel – even through Canada. [Nope, no affiliate relationship with Verizon either – just love the new unlimited plan and its spillover into Canada since we tend to spend a lot of time there]. To keep kids occupied and happy, bring some snacks for between meals. Water bottles, juice boxes, fruit snacks, and granola bars are a few essential items to have on hand that will not go bad if left in the car. Make sure to pack some age-appropriate activities, too. A portable DVD player can be a lifesaver, but be prepared – one time when we were moving from New York to Nevada, the kids watched The Incredibles the entire way there, over and over again. To this day, I can recite the entire movie.

Help Your Kids Learn

Whether you visit a local place or somewhere far away, your trip can be as educational as it is fun. A road trip is a great way to teach your kids about the places they are visiting as well as the history of the area. And let them teach you, too. We had no idea how much our kids knew about history and geography until we were on the road with them. They taught us as much as we taught them.

Get Directions

The first time we did a road trip, we didn’t have GPS and phones weren’t super smart yet. Navigating required an atlas and a familiarity with how to read a map. These days, all you need is your phone – but because road trips often take you into areas where you don’t have service, we’ve found it beneficial to either print maps or save maps to the phone. There are also some great apps that help you navigate cities and they’ll even work offline (we used one in Germany).

Don’t Push It

Don’t try to drive 12 hours a day. The goal of a real road trip isn’t the destination but the getting there. Plan your stops in places where you can explore and have fun along the way. We try to drive no more than 6 hours, so that we still have some daylight left to explore each town we stop in.

A road trip can be a family adventure and a memory maker. These tips can help make it more fun.

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Making Memories

5 Kid-Friendly Summer Travel Destinations That Don’t Involve Disneyland

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

With summer quickly approaching, families are eagerly planning their next vacation. But when traveling with kids, all destinations are not created equal. If you want to enjoy some family time minus all the frustration, consider taking a kid-friendly journey:

Dine, Whale Watch and Sightsee on a Cruise

Alaska, Mexico, Greece, Hawaii — take your pick and instead of booking flights and hotels, choose to cruise instead. You’ll be able to enjoy family-friendly entertainment while on board and experience your destination city through daily excursions. Many cruise lines cater to families, offering onboard rock walls, miniature golf courses, bowling alleys and water parks. Though many cruise ships offer onboard WiFi access, pricing tends to be expensive. If you want to call home, remotely access your security system or check in at the office, wait until you disembark and find an Internet cafe instead.

Trek Through National Parks

With nearly 400 national parks across the U.S., there are many outdoor summer vacation opportunities to choose from. Explore the geothermal features of Yellowstone while waiting for Old Faithful to blow. Hike or ride horseback across the beautiful terrain, pointing out any wildlife you see. Or visit Yosemite and tour groves of giant sequoias. If interested, your kids can even become junior rangers (and earn a Junior Ranger patch) by completing a self-guided booklet.

Snorkel, Swim and Sunbath at the Beach

Besides hanging out at one of its many gorgeous beaches, San Diego has plenty of free fun for the whole family. Spend the morning sampling fresh produce at a colorful farmers’ market. Watch sea lions play at La Jolla Cove. Museum hop at Balboa Park — many of which offer free admission on Tuesdays. Roast marshmallows on one of the county’s bonfire-friendly beaches. And of course if you’re willing to spend money, there’s always Sea World and the world famous San Diego Zoo.

Museum Hop Around Washington D.C.

Rediscover history with your kids while exploring our nation’s capital by bike, bus or on foot. Wander through the Smithsonian museums, touching a moon rock at the National Air and Space Museum or seeing a recreated woolly mammoth at the National Museum of Natural History. Don’t miss other national monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial and Capital Hill. To keep the kids happy, stop off at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens or National Zoo as well.

Road Trip Across the Northwest

Stop your road trip in San Fransisco long enough to bustle through Fisherman’s Wharf and catch a glimpse of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Explore the city by cable car then travel down the coast stopping by the many famed beaches and eventually making your way through Los Angeles. A detour to Hollywood could keep you busy for a day, but after you’ve had your share of museums and amusement parks, head west to Las Vegas. Spend a night or two in Sin City, walking the strip and catching a few family-friendly shows. Drive four hours then hike your way to a campground in the Grand Canyon for the night. After a few days of roughing it, you could go home or continue north stopping off in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

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Let's Talk Travel

Traveling with Kids Made Easy

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce
Whether you’re singing “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go,” or screaming “Stop it right now or I’ll pull this car over!” traveling with kids is a challenge.

I should know – in addition to three cross-country moves, last summer we took a 35-day road trip with three of our five kids in tow.

If you want to survive traveling with kids, you need to ditch the car bingo and roadway i-Spy and get serious about entertaining the kids in the car.

It’s a vacation, so loosen up on video game and movie watching restrictions

I’d love to be able to say I’m one of those moms with pre-planned educational activities ready for the kids for each mile of the trip. While I do like Rand McNally Are We There Yet? (Backseat Books) the older your kid is, the faster they’ll lose interest. Worse yet, you might have a kid who gets car sick when reading. And traveling with puking kids is way less fun than traveling with whining, fighting kids.

The best solution for happy travelers is to provide them with electronic stimulation.

  • Portable dvd players allow your kids to watch movies to while away the hours. It makes it easy to answer the “are we there yets” with a “just finish watching ‘Madagascar 3’ and we’ll be close!”
  • Laptops, while slightly more risky depending on your vehicle set up, offer an even wider variety of options, from games to movie watching to surfing the net, provided you have a mobile hotspot (and if you’re traveling long distance, it is so worth turning on the mobile hotspot)
  • iPods are perfect for the music lover, but be sure to invest in some sound canceling headphones so that they can hear their music over yours without going deaf

The mess will vacuum up, so relax

When we departed in our brand new van last summer, I started the trip thinking that with a little care and planning, we could avoid messes, spills, and perhaps even eating in the car. And then the kids got hungry when we still had miles to go. It’s better to plan healthy snacks that won’t wind the kids up.

  • Kind bars are a great healthy choice for eating on the road. They can be a little sticky, though, so be sure you bring along baby wipes (another must-have when traveling)
  • String cheese is a quick and easy protein that will keep your kids satisfied between stops.
  • Water is a necessity, and a much better choice than turning the kids loose with soda or juice. Just watch how much you let them have, or you’ll be stopping far more often than you planned.
  • PBJs – or anything else you can pack from home – are a much better choice than fast food.

Stop and stretch

Unless your trip is short and sweet, somewhere along the way you should plan to stop, stretch, and let the kids go potty. Yes, it will add to the trip time, and yes, it can be a pain to haul everyone out, but it is the perfect refresher for everyone and can mend frayed nerves. It also helps the driver stay focused so you get there safely.

How do you survive traveling with kids?

Comment below with your suggestions, or tweet your ideas to @MomsGetReal!

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Let's Talk Travel

Staycations Are a Fun Alternative To Expensive Travel

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

With the weather getting colder and snow heading our way soon, our travel will soon be much more limited than it is in the warmer months. Not ready to hibernate just yet, we try to plan travel closer to home, but as the October birthdays and impending holiday budget starts to impact the travel budget, staycations become a very attractive option.

Exploring a nearby city can be a great, less expensive alternative to a weekend getaway. It still takes some planning, but when you aren’t having to worry about overnight stays, expensive hotels, or packing suitcases, it can be pretty spontaneous too. There are some things we never leave home without-

  • A fanny pack to hold cash & IDs
  • A backpack with our water bottles, some baby wipes, a few of those emergency rain ponchos, an umbrella, and most important – extra socks
  • A map for exploring or directions to a specific museum, science center, or other location we’ll be exploring
  • The camera!!

You can center your staycation around a place your kids love to go or one they’ve always wanted; if you plan to be walking around a lot, wear comfortable shoes. Dress in layers so that you can adjust to the unpredictably changing temperatures of the season.

No matter where you’re headed, you can make it a real adventure for the kids by letting them help in planning the day.