4 Holiday Packing Tips For Families

Four Holiday Packing Tips You Won’t Want to Miss!

Traveling over the holidays can be stressful and super exciting all at the same time. Here are some of my long-learned travel lessons for families traveling this holiday season.

  1. Start as soon as you can! Holidays are a busy time and will fly by faster than you know, so if you have travel planned pack as soon as you can! Obviously, this is hard if you need some of the stuff but if you live up north and are having a beach vacation get to packing!
  2. Make a list and check it twice: Just like the big man in the red, fur-trimmed suit, you need to make a list and check it twice! This will make packing so much easier for you and will ensure you do not forget anything super important.
  3. Packing CUBES for everyone: These are travel game changers and make it so easy to pack for a family. Read more about why I love packing Cubes here: Packing Cubes- The best invention for traveling with kids
  4. Delay Kit: Winter weather can sometimes delay or even cancel some air travel plans so be prepared! Set aside a “Delay Kit” to put in your carry on. In this kit should be an entire change of clothes, two pairs of underwear and small airline approved size toiletries and deodorant.

Doing these four things have significantly helped me out when traveling around the holiday season. We hope you and your family have a wonderful 2018 holiday season and a safe, joyful family vacation!

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4 Tips for famlies packing

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Cabbage Patch Babyland General Hospital: Making Magical Memories

Nostalgic best describes how our recent visit to the Cabbage Patch Babyland General Hospital was for me personally. As a kid, my family visited the original location and I still remember watching a Cabbage Patch baby being born out of the magical cabbage tree! I was a tad confused then, but it was a magical and exciting place to be!

And it STILL is a magical place to be. The new location opened in 2007 and sits on a beautiful lot with mountain views. Outside, the property looks like an old southern mansion and has huge white cabbage patch statues throughout the grounds. When you walk in they have you sign in as a visitor just like you would visiting a baby in the hospital. In the main lobby, they take you through the history of the Cabbage patch doll and even have a giant cabbage you can sit in to take your picture.

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You walk down a hall with the nurseries and rooms set up like hospital rooms into a large room that has the magical cabbage tree inside. My four-year-old daughter LOVED it! She was so entranced by the cabbage baby being born and all the fun things inside to see. She spent her time going around looking at all the dolls they have set out around the store.To me, it was just a very nice and BIG doll store, but to her, it was a magical place, and that’s all that matters.

If you are driving into the mountains or visiting Helen, GA, AND you have girls, visiting Babyland General Hospital is worth it. We somehow managed to visit without buying a single thing – another bit of magic in and of itself! However, they have several different price ranges of dolls and some other small toys you can purchase if you’re not looking to spend $80- $250 on a Cabbage Patch one-of-a-kid doll.

Some tips if you are planning to stop in:

  • Around the holidays, they decorate the building making it an even more magical and exciting experience for the kids.
  • Make sure to bring your camera for the many photo ops they have throughout the experience.
  • Plan on spending at least an hour there so you can look around snap photos and “witness” a “baby” being born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Traveling Family

When first deciding I was ready to have a child, it was a big deal. I was a world traveler and not the backpacking Euro type. I was the exploring journalist who went to South Sudan and picked Istanbul as my five-year wedding anniversary trip during their riots type of traveler. To me, traveling was all about the rush of immersing yourself in an unfamiliar, unpredictable culture while capturing that experience with my camera.

To be honest, it was this aspect of my life I was not ready to give up. When I WAS ready, it was with hesitation and a lot of promises to myself and to my husband that we wouldn’t give up our adventuring.

Of course, the reality of having children, paying bills, and a “normal” life set in a few years later and we travel to exotic places less, but we have yet to stop exploring and adventuring. We just do it now with our children by our side.

I use this blog as a resource for families like us; ones who are looking to experience things, to travel, but maybe not sell everything and live nomadically.

We are a practical traveling family.

10 Family-Friendly Halloween Events in Memphis, TN – 2018

Halloween is such a fun time for the kids and an even better time to plan exciting adventure the whole family can enjoy. Who doesn’t love visiting pumpkin patches, fall carnivals, eating way too much candy, and getting their faces painted? It’s all these things that make Halloween (and Fall) so special.

Here are 10 family-friendly Halloween events in Memphis, TN and the surrounding areas that will entertain your entire crew this Halloween season!

1.  Halloween Spooktacular at the Children’s Museum of Memphis October 20th from 10-3.

Celebrate the season at CMOM’s (not-so-scary) Halloween Spooktacular complete with all the fall festival trimmings: pumpkin decorating, Halloween costume parade, glow party, Magic show with Mr. Nick, Spooky Science experiments, and Treats-not-Tricks goodies.

More info: Halloween Spooktacular at CMOM

2.  Zoo Boo at the Memphis Zoo October 19-21, 26-28 & 31.

Everyone’s favorite SPOOKtacular event is back for SEVEN nights of fright! Join us the last two weekends of October for Le Bonheur Zoo Boo. This event features candy stations and hayrides, straw mazes and magic shows, plus so much more! Zoo Boo is fun for ghosts and goblins of all ages.

More info: Zoo Boo

3.  Midsouth Corn Maze & Haunted Maze at the Agricenter Sept 15 – Nov 4.

Enjoy the corn maze, haunted maze, corn cannon and jumping pillow. The corn maze is great for kids of all ages and kids 5 & under are free with an adult ticket purchase!

More info: Agricenter Corn Maze

4. Flick or Treat Movie Night at the Memphis Botanic Garden Oct 27.

Trick or Treat through My Big Backyard 5:00-7:00pm. At 7:15pm settle in for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”(G). At 7:45pm, venture through the woods and into the land of the dead with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (PG). Kettle corn, food truck concessions, photo ops, and adult “spirits” will be available throughout the evening.

More info: Flick Or Treat

5. Trick Or Treat at the Tanger Outlets Oct 27.

Calling all ghosts, goblins, princesses, and superheroes!  Tanger Outlets Southaven is inviting you to a Spooktacular Halloween Celebration! Join us for Trick-or-Treating at Tanger Outlets Southaven from 1 – 3 pm on Saturday, October 27th. Join us at 2 pm at the playground to show off your costume at our costume contest. For kids under 12.

More info: Tanger Trick Or Treat

6. Halloween Hollow at Heartsong Church Oct 27.

Join Heartsong Church for Halloween Hollow Oct 27th from 2-5pm. Come in your best costume and trick or treat down our amazing wooded trail.

We did this last year and it was such a fun twist on the typical trunk or treat events. People in costumes set up their candy stations all throughout the path creating a trail of goodies. Some of the setups were really elaborate and they had lots of fun themes with nothing spooky to scare your little ones.

More info: Halloween Hollow

7. Lakeland Halloween Festival at IH Park Oct 21.

Enjoy some small town fun right outside of the city limits. Bring your whole family for this ghoulish Sunday afternoon event. The kids will get a thrill out of Lakeland’s Great Pumpkin Patch filled with pumpkins for the picking. Once they pick out their favorite pumpkin, they can decorate it and take home. This is a free event for families.

More info: Lakeland Halloween Festival

8. Halloween Family Fun Fest at Bartlett Rec Center Oct 26.

Come dressed in your best costumes (grown-ups too!) and join us at the Bartlett Recreation Center for our 4th Annual “Halloween Family Fun Fest” (#HF3)! You’ll enjoy a night of games, candy, music, and plenty of Halloween-fun!

More info: Halloween Family Fun Fest

9. Boo Grass Festival at Collierville United Methodist Church Oct 19.

We will have rides, bounce houses, food trucks, game truck, obstacle course, local craft vendors, trunk or treat, and live music! This is a free event for the entire family.

More info: Boo Grass Festival

10. Halloween Carnival at Singleton Community Center Oct 19.

Come to our very popular Halloween Carnival which will take place in the Gymnasium. There will be games, contests, candy, and fun

More info: Halloween Carnival

Contributing Writer: Stacy Craft, Mom, and Memphis Tennessee Resident.

Learn more about Stacy and show her blog Protecting Your Pennies some love and connect with her on social media!

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9 Things You Won’t Want to Forget When Flying with Preschoolers

Flying with preschool-aged children can be a challenge. Well, traveling with children of any age can be challenging, but the younger ones are harder sometimes to keep entertained, or just overall happy from start to finish. I have lots of first-hand experience with this and when prepping for trips haven’t found many useful lists for preschoolers. There’s tons of info out there for babies and toddlers, but what about after they are toddling and just becoming “kids”?

Here are a few things that help keep my daughter (age 4 going on 15) entertained and a happy camper while traveling long distance on an airplane.

1.Magic Coloring Paper: This is small paper coloring pad that when using a “magic” marker unveils the colors of the image in the book. My daughter loves them and they only require the one marker, so less to carry along in your bag. She spends hours making sure she has colored every inch. She has recently been asking me about the words and what they spell, reading them out to me.

2.Window “Stickies”: These are meant for holiday décor but can also be awesome for window seat entertainment. They can spend the entire flight decorating their window over and over — or at least 20 minutes of the flight — and we will take any distraction!

3.Snack Bag: In a gallon-size zip-lock bag put an assortment of snacks for your children to pick from. That way when they say they are hungry they have options and you avoid the complaints of not having what they want. It also gives them some freedom of choice when they can pick from whatever they want, keeping them happy campers.

4.Something New: Get them something new to play with at the beginning and a small reward to give them at the end of the flight. For my daughter, I get her a small toy to open when we take off (nothing big — something from the Dollar Tree). For the end of the flight I get a surprise I know she will be on her best behavior for! With Caroline that is a small LOL or My Little Pony Suprise figurine.

5.Water Bottle: Bring an empty water bottle with a lid for the flight. Once you get through security fill it up with water. Make sure they are drinking on the flight as air travel tends to cause dehydration, especially children. If it is empty have the flight attendant refill it or better yet, have them put some juice in it as a treat.

6.Magnetic Doodle Board: Like the magic coloring pads these are mess free! Easy entertainment on the airplane and while traveling in general. When I first got my daughter’s, I used it as the on-flight toy surprise.

7.iPad or Smart Phone:I know this one can be controversial but I am all about screen time in the right amount and right time, and long-distance travel is the RIGHT time. Make sure you download some preschool appropriate games ahead of time and if you have Netflix or movies you will need to have them downloaded as well since there is not always Wi-Fi inflight. Longer flights will have in-flight entertainment so sometimes I don’t even need to pull out the iPad but would hate to be caught without in a time of need.

8.Anything from the Target Dollar Spot: The Target Dollar spot has some great cheap arts and crafts $1 packs, and other great stuff to entertain your littles at a low cost, so make sure to hit it up before you head out to the airport for take-off.

9.Their Own Bag: Have them pack their own backpack for the journey. Let them pick a few things that you approve, but give them the freedom to decide what they bring on the trip. Just make sure it is all airplane appropriate and that they don’t bring things that are valuable or have lots of parts that can get lost and or left behind. My daughter LOVES packing for trips and will play with everything and “everyone” she brings since she is the one who decided who was coming along on the trip.


Every child is a little different from the next, so make sure to do what you think is right for traveling with your children. These are just some things that have helped us manage long-distance cross-country and international flights with our preschooler.  Many of these suggestions work for long car trips, too.

Do you have an inflight must have? Share with us in the comments.

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8 Must-Haves​ When Traveling with Babies

Traveling with Babies & Toddlers —Don’t Get Caught Without These Travel Essentials

Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib — We talk about this one a lot but it is at the top of our list for a reason. We LOVE our Lotus Crib from Guava Family. If we had known about it sooner we would have had one the day our oldest daughter was born. Not only is it sleek looking, but it is small, sits on the ground so weight is not an issue, and folds into a small case that can be worn as a back pack. We would set it up in the airport for cross country or international trips. Read more about our Guave family use here 5 Baby Must Haves – The Second Time Around

Good Umbrella Stroller — We use the Summer Infant 3D Lite Convenience Stroller for travel. It is lightweight and comes with a strap that makes traveling with it easy. There are a few other options like the Zoe Stroller that fold down. We have not tried them and they are on the expensive side, but having a small but sturdy umbrella stroller is a must for traveling with babies and toddlers.

Collapsible Boppy Seat — We use this a lot when traveling. You can toss it in your car seat check bag so it doesn’t take up suitcase space. It is good for feeding a baby on the road, in a hotel room, or at a family member’s house. You won’t always have access to a high chair when traveling, especially if you are staying in an Air B&B or visiting family, so having this will provide a secure and relatively mess-free alternative to feeding baby on the road. Read more about feeding baby on the road on my blog here:

Sturdy Car Seat Check Bag — We use the BRICA Cover Guard Car Seat Travel Bag because it is sturdy and a good size for most convertible car seats. Your bag will get tossed around like your luggage, so make sure to get a sturdy one. However, it likely will still need some duct tape after the first few uses, but that’s okay. One perk of this larger sturdy bag is room for things like diapers or Boppy seats.

Gate Checked stroller bag — This does not need to be sturdy. We have the standard bright red one. This is a MUST because if you don’t use one, your stroller will get filthy dirty being gate checked.

Travel Cot — As your “littles” grow, they can move from the Pack-and-Play to the Travel Cot. It is compact and even fits in my suitcase without taking up a lot of room. They are just like camping cots and kids love them. We use ours in hotels and when visiting family. Our oldest daughter loves it so much she requests to use it every now and then in our room when we are home. The best part about them is the price. The one we got was only $25 on Amazon and is great quality. Extra tip: buy one for visiting grandparents and leave it there so you don’t have to bring it back and forth.

Baby Carrier — So there is not one specific one I would recommend. Depending on age and type of trip you are taking there might be one better than the other. If you are not planning on going far you can use a cloth wrap. This will make it easy to wear your baby or toddler onto the airplane, but not take up too much room in your carry-on luggage. If you plan on visiting a place with lots of exploring and walking around I would suggest an Ergobaby or Tula carrier. They work for babies and toddlers alike and have more support than a cloth wrap. If you plan on hiking, I recommend an Osprey Baby or Child Carrier. We have used ours on very intense hikes and it is AMAZING. The Osprey packs are equipped with so many wonderful features to keep babies or toddlers comfortable and safe during light or more intense hikes. It is also easy to wear and helps with the weight the same way a camping pack does.

Packing Cubes — They might be at the end of this list but don’t let that fool you… packing cubes are a MUST have when traveling with kids. These simple zipper cube shaped bags help keep me organized in my suitcase and when I arrived at my final destination. I pack all my daughter’s clothes in a medium size cube, and her socks and undies in a small one. When we arrive, I can pull her cubes out and organize them in the hotel drawers as I please. Read more about how I use my packing cubes here: Packing Cubes- The Best Invention for Traveling with Kids.

There are a ton of great products to help make traveling with babies and small children easy, but these are my MUST haves for domestic and international travel.

More travel tips:

Do your family photos when you travel

9 Tips For Traveling With a Baby

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12 Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting the Georgia Aquarium

When we told our friends we were moving to Atlanta they, of course, were bummed to see us go, but almost every single one (that had children) mentioned visiting and going to the Georgia Aquarium with us. The thought of having visitors is always appealing and I LOVE exploring my new city, so of course, I told them all the invite is always open (hint, hint, friends).

Moving to Georgia was exciting for many reasons and one of the main reasons is all the extended family we have around. My dad’s cousin’s daughter (so like my third cousin) has two young children close to Caroline and Ella Jaye’s ages. When we connected at the Georgia family Christmas party, our girls hit it off big time and we both decided to do our best to get them together now and then so they can grow up with young family nearby since neither of them have first cousins nearby.

They also had recently relocated to the Atlanta area, and downtown is a midpoint for us so we planned our first little adventure at the Georgia Aquarium. I personally love aquariums so I was excited to see what this place was all about. So many people mention it in and outside of Georgia, so I knew it would be a great experience.

However, I was not prepared 100% for the size and just sheer busyness that we encountered. I thought providing my readers with some do’s and don’ts when visiting the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta would be helpful.

  1. Don’t just plan on finding cheap parking when you get there.
  2. Do purchase your parking online at a discount and print it out before you arrive.
  3. Don’t purchase your ticket at the gate.
  4. Do buy your ticket online; you will skip the long line and get a discount. They also give you an extra discount for entry times before 11 a.m.
  5. Don’t go in the middle of the day.
  6. Do avoid the full parking lots and traffic by arriving when they open OR arrive an hour or so after lunch. According to an Aquarium employee, the aquarium is least busy between 3-5 p.m. However, if you leave at 5 p.m. make sure you have dinner plans downtown so you don’t have to sit in rush-hour traffic.
  7. Don’t go on the weekend if you can help it.
  8. Do go on a weekday. It is less busy.
  9. Don’t skip the shows! They are Disney-quality performances.
  10. Do make sure you look at the attractions and shows ahead of time and plan your day. There is so much to do at this aquarium you don’t want to miss out on epically if you are only in town for a few days.
  11. Don’t forget the camera! The shot of the shark swimming over your head is a moment that you won’t want to forget, so be ready the snap a photo.
  12. Do enjoy every moment and take it all in! There is so much to do and see and they are only expanding. Enjoy yourself and your company during your visit. Crowds can be stressful, but I find it helpful and less stressful when I am prepared for it.

We loved our visit so much we are considering getting a family annual pass. I have never visited an aquarium of this size and this nice. There is so much to do and see at the Georgia Aquarium, you won’t want to miss it!