Posts Tagged With: Traveling with Kids Tips

Tuesday Travel Tips: So Many Nebraska Places, So Little Time

Looking over my folder crammed full of options, I can see …

20 parks on the Nebraska Great Park Pursuit

80 Nebraska Passport Places

32 options in Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Several Lincoln places are on both lists: The Capitol, Morrill Hall, International Quilt Study Center and the Lincoln Zoo.  That still leaves ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT PLACES to go.  This does not include all of the places that did not make one of the passport tours this year.  Or the places from last year.  Or the festivals that one can find in Nebraska (To find these fun events, check out this list by by Family Fun in Omaha compiled with help from The Walking Tourists )  Or the extra 21 places that just were added to our list of “must-go” places (thankfully there are a few locations that duplicate other lists!  More on those soon!) And they say that there is NOTHING to do in Nebraska?  I say there is TOO MUCH to do!

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Just noticed this building, a part of the Lincoln skyline, and I am not sure I have ever been inside.  Yet another place to explore!

To avoid being overwhelmed at all the possibilities, following these suggestions will help you.

First, set your goals.  How many places do you want to visit? One or two per month?  One per week?  Several in one day ?  We tend to do the latter now that my kids are older.   At the same time, I am committed to spend at least one day per week at HOME!   We need that to stay balanced.   Another question: is going to the travel program places important to you?  Last year, we traveled to Northwest Nebraska. Since we do not have long distance travel plans yet, I know that we will probably not get as many Nebraska Passport stamps this year. Because we are sticking close to home, we hope to hit 30 of the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” places. As we needed a challenge, we are going for the platinum level!

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One of the 8 Lincoln passport stops we made today.

Second, pick a theme or a focus. Much to family’s amusement, I am teaching art at our cooperative this fall. While I am creative, my artistic skills might be lacking.  Yet I know that I can improve and grow in this content area. Going to art galleries is a part of that process for me. Today  we saw an original Warhol, and the kids were amazed at the price tag.   This focus has been rather enjoyable !  Need inspiration?  Check out the Nebraska Passport “tours” for suggested themes. Even if you cannot make their specific locations, possibly you have similar places near you.

Third, involve your children in the process.  Ask them where they want to go, but at the same time, give them parameters.   Would you rather go here or there ?  Which place do you want to go first?  Without giving them direction, you could end up on an unexpected three hour tour. Another necessity when traveling with children is to mix learning with play.  Even our children, who have gone to countless places, would not handle going to multiple places without taking play breaks!

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An impromptu short game of hide-and-seek.  Can you see the children?  Thankfully they did not hide very often. Not too keen on this particular activity in busy public spaces!  🙂

How do you narrow down your travel options?  How do you pick your travel destinations?  Wherever you decide to go, I hope your family’s journey is an enjoyable one!

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Categories: Family Outings, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Car First Aid Kit

For over a quarter of a century, my Dad has been “volunteering” for a local television station.  On most 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month, he does a special segment called, “Ask the Doctor” where he talks about various medical topics.  The kids and I always enjoy watching Poppa!  This last session was particularly helpful for traveling families, and my Dad definitely sums up the needed supplies well.  We have many of them in our car and will definitely try to add the rest.

Click on the below site, scroll down the community news section to the live interview.  Note: this link may not stay on here indefinitely – I will be checking into how to make it permanent.

Summer First Aid: Live Interview at Noon

P.S. Thanks, Dad, for being our Dr. Poppa.  While we do not see you in an official capacity at your clinic and instead go to see your partners, you have been “on call” for us my whole life.  I have especially needed that during the parenting years!  Love you!

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At a Glance

Like any student who went off to college, I loved to get letters from home.  Both my mom and my dad would communicate with me, but there was a stark difference between their communication styles.

My dad would primarily e-mail.  (Since I went to college in the mid-90’s, this was a rather new thing!)  He would get right to the point and fill in only the necessary details, but I knew he was thinking of me.  I printed some out and took them with me!  The Reader’s Digest version.

My mom would write long handwritten letters.  Full of news and information and questions as to how I was doing.  I tucked them away and now have a file folder full of them.  (Maybe I should make copies soon before the ink blurs together, and they become illegible!)  Her letters were an occasion – meant for savoring and taking time to absorb the details.

As I begin to write about places in this blog, I plan to combine the best of both of their writing styles.  A box where you can find out the details (hours, location, recommended ages, what to bring and even what food is available).  And also there will be a narrative telling about our family’s experience exploring there.  Because sometimes you just want the facts and sometimes you want the story.  If you are like me, you may even feel most at home with both!

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Stamps in my passport

One of the greatest movies ever (in my humble opinion 🙂 ) is While You Were Sleeping.  Lucy, the main female character, longs to travel and get away from her life.  This is how she is described by another movie character.

She would go all the way to Europe just to get a stamp in her passport. I don’t know if that amounts to insanity, or just being really, really… likable.

I can so relate to her feelings.  My most memorable activity in elementary school was our  “Around the World” 4th grade unit.  Each of us took turns dressing up and presenting information about a country.  One of my favorite parts was when we received a new stamp for each country we “visited” in our pretend passports.

After my high school freshman year, I went with my best friend Lindy’s aunt on a trip to visit Lindy & her missionary family who had gone back to Spain .  When I went to get my passport, I was excitedly anxious to fill the book with stamps.  Well, despite going to over a dozen countries, my first passport looks a little empty with only TWO stamps.

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Even though my trip was clear back in 1989, the European political climate had changed enough that passports were no longer checked and stamped at border crossings.  Although that system had to made for easier travel, that thought did not occur to me, and I was so disappointed!

I am happy to say that stamped passports have finally made their way back into my life.  Both the state of Nebraska and the city of Lincoln have passport programs.  Kids AND adults can take their pamphlets to various locations to get stamps.  Not only can you choose to go to enough places to fill your passport, but the more places that you visit, the more likely you are to win a PRIZE.  (That goes far beyond a simple booklet full of stamps!)

We have completed the “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” Lincoln passport program a few times.  Several years ago, one of my sons won the grand prize.  That just happened to be throwing out the pitch at a Lincoln Saltdogs baseball game, as well as 20 box seat tickets to an additional Saltdogs game.  (That was a fun evening!)

My kids are very excited to participate again this summer in the Lincoln program.  And this year, we are also going to try to fill up some of the stamps in the Nebraska passport program as well.  They were going through the booklets today plotting and planning all of the experiences that we can have together.  They are hoping to go to 40 different Nebraska places and win a digital camera for their efforts!  (We’ll see if we can manage to meet this lofty goal before running out of steam or tire of putting gas in our Odyssey!)

In the weeks to come, I will be writing more about both of these great programs.  But, if you want to find out more right away, you can visit these sites.

http://www.nebraskapassport.com/

http://www.lincoln.org/play/be-a-tourist

Note: you can pick up the passports at any of the participating locations, but you can also download the documents right away!

Since our family is participating in both programs, subsequently many of the places that I will be highlighting will be a part of one, or sometimes even both, passport programs.   Between both programs, there are over 100 Nebraska tourist possibilities.  Even if we only highlight half of them, I think that ought to keep this blog busy for awhile!

Categories: Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Prepared

For over 100 years, part of the motto of the Boy Scouts has been “Be Prepared.”  I long to have this phrase describe me as a mom.  At times that might, but I was far from being prepared as a new mom.

When my oldest child was a toddler, we were spending time with one of my dear high school friends and her youngest two kids.  Some sort of a calamity happened where a Band-aid was needed, and not only did she have one with, but she knew were it was.  Throughout the morning, other “mommy” items were needed, and she would reach in her bag and they would appear.  Like magic.  Only having one child, I recall thinking, “I can barely remember to bring my diaper bag. I will never be that organized where I feel ready for anything like that.”

After a decade of being a mom, I can tell you that I still do not have it all together (anymore than my friend did back then).  But I have learned a few tricks along the way of how to manage going places with kids.  They are not magic by any means, but we’ll keep that secret to ourselves.  Here are my top five favorites, and I will be expanding on a few of the ideas in the weeks to come.

1) First aid kit.

2 Keeping light jackets in the car and an extra set of clothes can save an outing!  This is particularly true if one is potty training.  (From personal experience, I will say that it is possible to use hand dryers to dry wet pants, but it is not recommended on a usual basis! 🙂 )  I still have extra underwear for my youngest two in the minivan even though we are a few years past the training days – they still have come in handy!

3) Snacks (unless you really like fast food).  Sometimes adventures take longer than they should or than you think they will.  Great car snacks: raisins, crackers, granola bars.  Beware of anything that melts – Nebraska weather can change quickly!

4)  Activities for your youngest ones in case they lose interest faster than your older ones.  Crayola Color Wonder markers should be your friend – they do not melt in the car and only write on designated surfaces.   Even plain paper can create many possibilities. We also have various seek and find books that can be “read” by even young children.

5) Books on cd.  While we do have DVD players in our Odysseys and will definitely use them on long trips. when we are driving around locally, the kids almost seem to enjoy listening to books even more.  Thankfully our local library has many selections available for check-out.

What do you pack or do to be more prepared when traveling with kids?

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