100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe: A Book Review & GIVEAWAY

I am so very excited! Several months ago, fellow travel blogger, Ashley Steel, reached out to me to inquire if my children would be interested in submitting their photography for a new book she was writing with Bill Richards. The focus of their new book was on traveling with kids in Europe and we had just returned from a three week excursion to Italy and Greece.

100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe This post may contain affiliate links.

My kids were delighted to take part and submitted several photos each – their favorites from each of the two countries we had recently visited. We didn’t know which photographs would be selected and have been looking forward to the discovery.

Our wait is now over! Traveling with Kids in Europe is now available in paperback from Amazon. We couldn’t be happier with the final product. The layout of the book is fabulous and I just love how the children’s photographs are dispersed throughout the book to augment the many wonderful travel tips provided by Steel and Richards.

lovelocks

Traveling with Kids in Europe is divided into three sections: preparing for your trip (get the kids involved in planning and setting an itinerary), the trip itself (navigating the airport, finding your hotel, etc.), and finally logistical tips and safety (alerting your credit card company prior to departure). There is so much packed into this book.

While we can’t list all of the tourist activities across this exciting continent, we sow the seeds for what your trip can really be. Don’t settle for just the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and Big Ben. Explore Europe! Dance to street musicians, learn about politics, eat seven kinds of waffles, go punting, and see fairy tale scenery (literally!).

Whether you are new to foreign travel or are planning your first trip aboard, you’ll find ideas and suggestions to ensure your excursion is memorable and enjoyable!

sails
Traveling with Kids in Europe is a fabulous book full of great tips for traveling with kids. What I love best are the photographs on every page – taken by children of all ages as they traveled in Europe with their families. Though I could be partial – I just love seeing Europe from the perspective of the kids. Their creativity brings to life the culture of each country through the eyes of the young travelers themselves.

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You might also be interested in their earlier book, Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids. You can learn more about their works by visiting their website.

5 Benefits of Local Science Museums & Nature Centers { BONUS :: Win a Family Pass }

When we travel as a family, one of the things that is always high on our itinerary are local science museums and nature centers. These local venues provide an intimate look at the natural world and ecosystems of the region. The perfect way to familiarize ourselves with the natural history and wildlife of the local area.

Science Museums & Nature Centers

First to mind are typically our National Parks and large-scale science museums like the Smithsonian, OMSI (in Portland, Oregon), or the Exploratorium (San Fransisco). The smaller museums are often overlooked for the educational opportunities they provide because they don’t have the advertising budget of larger venues. I want to encourage you to seek out these small, local museums and science centers.

Today, I highlight five benefits of local science museums. Best of all – I’m giving away one free family pass to The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California.

science museums exhibitsHands-on Exhibits

You are likely already familiar with the hands-on exhibits, IMAX and planetarium shows that explore the wonders of science and the universe that are provided by science museums around the country. However, science museums provide so much more!

The mission of museums today is to stimulate curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. Whether your visit is a family outing or a part of a school experience, the hands-on exhibits are the keystone of the museum.

Field Trips

The learning opportunities at science museums include field trips and school programs. Often, entrance fees are significantly reduced if visiting the museum in a large group. Consider coordinating an outing for your local homeschool community.

Perhaps your local science museum offers in-house classes or educational experiences with a trained volunteer or staff member? Reach out to your local museum education staff and inquire about their field trip programs. If they do not have programs in place, they may be happy to customize options to fit the needs of your class or school.

Adventure Tours :: Museum instructors and volunteers guide students through activities at the museum using the exhibits, grounds and classrooms.

Festivals :: Multiple stations are set up in and around the museum featuring hands-on activities and opportunities for learning. Students and chaperones explore in small groups.

Self-Guided Field Trips :: Some museums offer a self-guided field trip whereupon school groups pay a reduced admission rate and teachers and chaperones are admitted free.

Self-Guided Learning Expeditions :: Many museums offer materials which provide a focused course of exploration during your museum field trip. Developed with local teachers, each includes pre-visit activities which are built upon during the field trip and completed through post-visit activities in the classroom.

At larger museums often the education programs meet the Next Generation Science Standards as well as the Common Core Standards for Literacy and Math.

science museums festivalsCurriculum

Staff and volunteers of science museums often collaborate to develop education materials and public outreach for their visitors. These materials are often available online with the goal of increasing science literacy across the full spectrum of education, both in the classroom and in daily life, for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Discovery Classes :: Some museums offer classroom based programs that can either be held at the museum or at your school.

Traveling Trunks :: Traveling trunks are a great way to extend the learning experience and bring it back to the classroom. These curriculum-based learning units are designed to enliven classroom learning through authentic materials and hands-on lessons.

Look for ways you can expand upon what was learned at the museum by visiting local historic sites as I shared in my earlier post, Bonanza! Gold Rush Experiences.

Professional Development

Many science museums offer a range of professional development courses and workshops designed to strengthen teacher expertise and integrate hands-on science activities into the classroom. Many also offer formal classes and labs for students of all ages, professional development support for science teachers, and a broad range of formal and informal learning opportunities for visitors.

Teacher Training :: A variety of training programs are offered throughout the year for educators of grades kindergarten through 12. The sessions are designed to help teachers gain a deeper understanding of the region’s arts, culture, history and natural sciences.

science museums summer campSummer Camps

If you’ve been to camp, I’m sure you can list off numerous benefits of summer camp. But if you didn’t go to camp as a child, you may not realize just how good the experience is for children. Unplugging from devices, spending their day outdoors being physically active, making new friends, developing life skills, and growing more independent are just a few of the positives.

There are a multitude of summer camps sure to captivate kids of every interest—and your secret desire to enhance their education—from digging for fossils to programming robots, learning how to sail a boat or navigate across varied terrain with only a compass and a topographical map.

Here are just a few examples of camps available at science museums in California and Oregon:

Lawrence Hall of Science :: Lawrence Hall of Science camps are a great place to spend the summer. Where else can you build a wobbling robot, see how a chinchilla takes a bath, and visit the stars? Campers get inspired to explore, build, and create with new friends and cool tools!

OMSI :: Did you know Olympian swim suits were modeled after a shark’s skin? Look at nature differently as you build bio-mimicry challenges around a coastal campfire.  OR …Try your hand at everything from archaeology to web design this summer with brand new tech-based classes and junior overnight adventures.

High Desert Museum :: Offering a wide range of summer camps exploring animal science, astronomy, geology, and photography through fun and interactive activities and hands-on experiments.

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Happy Earth Day: 5 Green Travel Tips

traveltipsAs a family, we travel a lot. It is a major component of how we educate our children. As we explore our world – whether on a short hike along the Oregon Coast Trail near our home or on the ancient foot paths leading to Machu Picchu, we try to keep in mind how we are impacting the earth.

Responsible travel, in our mind, should do more than merely leave no trace. When we travel, we make an effort to consciously make a positive impact. Below you will find 5 green travel tips – simple things we do to help minimize our negative impact when we travel:

5 Green Travel Tips

travellightTravel Light

Airlines today are charging more than ever for baggage fees and heavy bags also reduce the plane’s fuel economy. We pack lighter by planning out our wardrobe prior to departure – just one pair of hiking shoes and a pair of flip-flops, for example.

We also pack moisture-wicking clothes that can be washed in the sink and line-dried in just a few hours. Between the four of us, we generally take just two-three checked bags. We carry-on only a small backpack. With each successive trip, we’ve learned what we really need and continue to make small improvements.

conserveresourcesConserve Natural Resources

Around the world, water shortages are becoming increasingly big problems. Reducing our usage of water is a goal both at home and as we travel. We re-use our towels during extended stays and we turn off the water while shaving and brushing our teeth. We each carry a refillable BPA-free bottle with us.

I now take a digital photo of the brochures and maps, returning them to reception when we’ve finished with them so another may use it.  Though it has proven difficult in some countries, we also try to recycle whenever possible.

We typically leave a “Do Not Disturb” sign on our hotel room door for the duration of our stay. Why waste energy and harsh chemical cleansers when we wouldn’t clean our living spaces daily at home. We are also mindful to never leave the lights, AC/heat, or television on when we are out of the room.

buylocalBuy Local & Responsibly

You have undoubtedly seen the identical assembly line-style souvenirs at shops and road-side stands. Chances are these kitschy souvenirs weren’t locally made. It’s worth taking the time to seek out local artisans and craftsmen from whom you can buy directly. It also gives you an opportunity to ask them about their craft, learn about their culture, and engage on a deeper personal level.

There are unscrupulous people who have no problem selling ancient artifacts or products made from endangered species and precious hardwoods. When we shop, we read labels and ask questions, such as “What is this item made of?” and “Do I need special documents to take this home?”

It may not be against the law in their country to sell these items, but you can vote with your wallet by refusing to buy them. Take time to familiarize yourself with WWF’s Buyer Beware Guide.

leavenotraceLeave No Trace

National parks all around the world are reporting more and more damage caused by careless tourists. Just yesterday I read of a local natural hot springs that has been closed off to public use due to vandals and careless visitors who have left rubbish and human waste.

In places such as the Galapagos Islands, there are well-marked trails and naturalist guides who ensure that visitors stick to them. If you go hiking, it’s crucial to adhere to the established trails to avoid harming native flora. Also, consider taking an empty bag and picking up any trash you spot along the way.

embracecultureEmbrace the Culture

One of the greatest rewards of travel is meeting other people. Take time to immerse yourself in the music, art and cuisine of the native culture. Accept and embrace the differences that make it unique and take time to learn about their traditions. Get to know the locals and how they view life.

Whenever we travel to a new destination, we take a piece of that experience with us for the rest of our lives. You might be surprised what you discover when you open up your mind to new ideas

Many of the world’s developing nations have people desperately in need of basic necessities that we often take for granted. Non-profit organizations can help you make a big difference simply by packing school or medical supplies. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Adopt-A-School Promotes world literacy and donations to libraries and schools in the U.S. and around the world.
  • Cross-Cultural Solutions A nonprofit with well-thought-out projects based on community needs in 11 countries.
  • Earthwatch Sets the gold standard for voluntourism, with projects that often focus on scientific research and wildlife conservation and emphasize education for the traveler.
  • Global Vision International Runs 100 programs, partnering with local groups in 25 countries, ranging from the Jane Goodall Institute to Rainforest Concern.
  • Pack For A Purpose A nonprofit whose mission is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit.

carbon footprint

You might also be interested in my post, 10 Steps to More Sustainable Living.

The 52 Hike Challenge: Our Family Goal for 2016

A park in the center of town is centered around the natural beauty of two lakes and stabilized dunes. Along the trails are many viewing areas of the lakes with benches to sit and watch wildlife. It is our favorite place for a little exercise – mostly because it is so close – but it also provides a sense of solitude.

Hike #7 Saint Perpetua Trail, Cape Perpetual Scenic Area

Hike #7 Saint Perpetua Trail, Cape Perpetua

The kids accompanied me on a run this afternoon, they on their bikes and I in my kicks. While they took turns choosing which direction to turn each time we came to a fork in the trail, my daughter remarked, “I just love Oregon. I am so glad we moved back. There is such diversity here.” I couldn’t agree more.

An active lifestyle has always been an important part of our life. We have enjoyed outings as a family since the kiddos were infants and we pushed them in a stroller. Now that we are back in Oregon, it seems we have more time together as a family. More time to devote to the activities we enjoy doing together.

Family Goals

In a family meeting some weeks ago, we had discussed our goals for the new year. We each outlined what we hoped to accomplish and the challenges we set for ourselves as individuals. In addition, we talked about our goals as a family. I have outlined a couple of them for you below.

52 Hike Challenge: #8 Simpson Beach Coast Trail, Cape Arago State Park

Hike #8 Simpson Beach Coast Trail, Cape Arago State Park

What projects did we want to undertake in our new home?

–> Pay off our mortgage (acquired in October) as soon as possible … this is why I am substitute teaching

–> Geneva wants to utilize the raised beds in our backyard to plant a vegetable garden

— > Jeffrey wants to landscape our front yard

How do we plan to stay physically fit and mentally alert?

–> I want to begin running again

–> Go camping more often

— > Hike 52 different trails

52 Hike Challenge: Hike #9 Cape Arago Pack Trail, Cape Arago State Park

Hike #9 Cape Arago Pack Trail, Cape Arago State Park

52 Hike Challenge

There it is … 52 hikes. Essentially one hike every week. This coming weekend will mark the conclusion of the thirteenth week of the year. However, we’ve completed only nine hikes (we agreed each hike must be at least 1 mile in length to be counted) thus far.

January and February, as expected on the Oregon coast, were pretty wet. We thereby didn’t get out every weekend. There was also a swim meet in Eugene and illnesses which kept us busy or otherwise obligated. As the weather improves, however, we hope to knock off 2-3 on some weekends.

One of the things I love best about our hiking adventures – beside the unexpected encounters (wildlife, mudholes, fallen trees, etc.) and the destinations for which we aim (the views of the coast from the highest point at Cape Perpetual and the WW2 bunkers at Cape Arago) – are the learning experience it provides once we have returned home.

Each Friday, I ask the kids to select one thing that sparked their interest on the last hike to record in their nature journals. I am always fascinated to discover what they found of interest.  Roosevelt Elk and Fall Mushrooms have been my favorites thus far.

My daughter has also started a YouTube channel, Werifesteria, that highlights some of the trails we’ve hiked. She loves to take photos (particularly macros of fungi) and to put together slideshows. I have shared her first video above.

Werifesteria ~ To wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery

In addition, my son hopes to earn a merit badge in hiking this year. To accomplish this goal, we need to hike three 10-mile hikes, one of 15 miles, and one 20 miles.

To learn more about the trails and options in our region, we have also joined a local hiking club. We will be joining them this coming weekend for a hike we’ve never done before. It will be nice to go with a guide.

I’ll keep you posted periodically on our progress. I would also love to hear about the trails you love. I keep a bucket list of trails and scenic areas to explore when we travel.

Great Spots to Watch Oregon’s Winter Storms

Having lived in the Redding for the past four years (in the midst of a severe drought), we are delighted to be back on the Oregon coast. We’re smack dab in the middle of peak storm season and it is fun to catch the fury of the Pacific as the waves and wind crash into the shoreline.Great Spots to Watch Oregon's Winter Storms @WellTraveledFamily.net

On the Oregon Coast south of Depoe Bay, there is a rocky outcropping called Cape Foulweather. It was named by Captain James Cook as he searched for a passage to the Atlantic Ocean. Though his quest was not successful, winter storms on the Oregon Coast can be most certainly be foul. It is a perfect place to watch Oregon’s Winter Storms.

A little storm science

Peak winter storm season typically runs from November through March. While it doesn’t tend to get cold enough to snow here thanks to the warming influence of the Pacific, our mild winter weather is punctuated by spectacular storms featuring high winds and heavy rain that roll in from the ocean.

In the winter, the eastward-flowing atmospheric river of air known as the jet stream intensifies and moves south, pushing rain-bearing weather systems along with it. These storms form over the ocean, typically where warm and cold air masses collide.

Beginning this week, meteorologists have predicted a train of winter storms approaching our coastline. Varying in intensity and location, the storms will hit every one to three days with waves of drenching rain, heavy mountain snow and gusty winds.

Where to watch

Perfect high spots from which to view spectacular surf include Rocky Creek Scenic Viewpoint near Depoe Bay, the viewpoint at the lighthouse at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, multiple spots at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area south of Yachats, and Shore Acres State Park near Charleston.

  1. Seaside
  2. Ocean Front Cabins near Tillamook Bay (503) 842-6081
  3. Tyee Lodge in Newport (541) 265-8953
  4. Coos Bay
  5. Sunset Oceanfront Lodge in Bandon (541) 347-2453

If you choose to experience the full wrath of a winter storm, safety should be your first concern. Some storms are simply too dangerous for beach walks, so be sure to heed all safety warnings issued by the authorities. If you do venture out, stay up high out of the reach of sneaky storm waves. They can always reach further up the beach than you think and sneaker waves can be deadly.

If you prefer to watch frothy waves and horizontal rain as you sip hot chocolate by a wood fire, then snuggle up comfortably – here are our top picks for places to watch these storms in Oregon.

After the storm

One of the great bonuses of coastal storms is the exceptional beachcombing that can often be done after the storm has subsided. All kinds of fascinating debris is more likely to be found after a storm, including glass Japanese fishing floats, tsunami debris left over from the 2011 tsunami, and interesting biological specimens wrenched from the depths of the ocean.

I once found cigar-shaped egg cases on the beach near Depoe Bay. I brought them to the lab at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and was able to watch the embryos of Pacific Squid develop.

Storm-watching season has just begun. Make your reservations now to catch an Oregon Coast storm from a cozy cabin or waterfront lodge.

Don’t forget your rain gear! ?

Pompeii Rises from the Ashes

pompeii columnsOn August 25, AD 79 the great city of Pompeii laid at the feet of Mount Vesuvius. It began with a light rumble that came upon the city, knocking off ceiling tiles and tipping jars from shelves. No one knew that the rumble was a sign that Mount Vesuvius would erupt. People went about their day. Adults were shopping in the forums. Children were playing in the courtyards.

Out of the 20,000 citizens who lived in Pompeii, 2,000 were slaves. Most Pompeiians were craftsmen or traders providing for themselves or their masters.

The people of Pompeii worshiped many gods and goddesses.They prayed for them in a public temple or a private shrine in their homes.

Most of the shopping and restaurants were located in a place called “The Forum”. Here the people enjoyed visiting with others as they went about their day.

Their diet consisted of bread, lamb, fish, and fruits including peaches, apples, pears, and grapes. They liked to drink goat milk and wine.  The people consumed grains, fruits, nuts, olives, lentils, local fish, and chicken eggs. Only the rich enjoyed more expensive meat and salted fish.

pompeii bathsIn their free time, they enjoyed going to the public bath. There were separate quarters for men and women. Here, they could bathe in the hot waters, get a massage, and hear the latest gossip. In the central courtyard was a large exercise field.

Around 9:00 a.m., there was a small explosion of tiny ash particles that sprinkled the city. The ground continued to rumble. Gradually the larger chunks of pumice and rock began to fall on Pompeii.

At 1:00 p.m., an enormous cloud made of ash, pumus, and rock apeared over the top of Mount Vesuvius. Pliny the younger watched from across the water and in a letter to Tacitus later wrote, “The cloud was shaped like an umbrella pine, with a long trunk that branched at the top. Soon, ashes were falling; hot and dense. Next came pumice stones, black and scorched by fire.”

Within thirty minutes the cloud was over ten miles high heading straight for Pompeii. The cloud was so dark it blocked out the sun. According to Pliny, “Soon the courtyards … filled with ash. The buildings swayed with heavy tremors. The sky turned blacker than night. Then flames and sulphur fumes sent everyone into flight.”

At 5:30 p.m., pumus and rock two inches in diameter began to fall on Pompeii. By 8:00 p.m. most all buildings had burned down or were buired by ash. By 12:00 a.m, the first story of the buildings were blocked by ash.

Two hours later, the second phase begins – six pyroclastic surges of hot gas and ash that blew down the mountain. Each surge was larger and spread farther than the one that preceded. The surges ranged in speed from 60 -180 mph. In the end, over 18,000 people died.

pompeii tragedyFor over 1,500 years, people had forgotten about Pompeii. The ash that had buried the city provided good soil for farming olive trees and grapevines. Periodically, farmers and canal workers would uncover statues, beautiful marble, and brick walls.

In 1863 archeaologists found cavities which they poured plaster into to make a cast. This revealed the people had been caught by surprise and their bodies were buried in the ash and debris. Skeletons were also found.

Scientists discovered that “a person who died during the surge of hot gas and ash after dawn on the second day of the eruption was more likely to create a cavity in the volcanic material than someone who had died the first day during the pumice fall.” (Deem 2005) Soon the casts were put on display for all who visited.

Since then, about 60% of Pompeii has now been excavated. Though excavations have now stopped, the focus today is on restoration and perservation. Today there are more than two million people who come to visit the ruins each year.

Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano. Scientists are monitoring the activity to help warn the people who live in the vicinity. If the mountain were to awake, the hope is that the people could be evacuated in time.

Bibliography

  • Caseli, Giovanni. In Search of Pompeii: Uncovering a buried Roman city. New York: Peter Bedrick Books. 1996.
  • Damon, Cynthia (translated). Pliny Letter 2.16. http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/pompeii/PlinyLetters.htm
  • Deem, James M. Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2005.
  • Osborne, Mary, Pope. Pompeii Lost and Found. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2006.