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Wine Tasting in Calistoga, California

October 20, 2014

Wine Tasting in Calistoga, CaliforniaJust north of its better-known California wine country cousin, Napa, is the small resort town of Calistoga.  My husband and I recently had the chance to visit Calistoga for a weekend getaway to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.  We had a relaxing time staying at the historic Indian Springs Resort, known for its geothermal heated pool, full service spa, and old-school mud baths.

Calistoga is situated in the heart of the Napa Valley, so grapes dominate the landscape and wine tasting tops the list of local must-do activities.  Because we had a rare trip away without our two children, my husband and I made sure to visit several of the better known Calistoga area wineries.  There are many within just a few mile drive, so choosing which ones to visit was no easy task.  We narrowed it down to four wineries, and each was able to deliver some tasty wines as well as a unique perspective on the Calistoga wine scene.

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Celebrating 200 Trips With Tykes Posts!

October 18, 2014

Celebrating 200 Blog Posts in 2+ years on Trips With TykesIt’s hard to believe, but this post marks a big milestone for me – 200 posts!  I’ve been blogging for more than 2 years (with a few interruptions, mainly due to the addition of Baby #2 to our traveling family).

As I mark this milestone, I hope you can indulge me as I take a quick look back.  When I first launched the blog, I’m pretty sure only my mom and maybe a friend or two actually read it (the stats pretty much back that up).  I had no social media presence for the blog at all and didn’t even bother to have dedicated domain name.  But I was writing some really content I was proud of and enjoying the process, so that was all that mattered.

The blog has grown by leaps and bounds since then.  A post I wrote in the summer of 2013 about Southwest’s in-flight entertainment options proved to be quite popular thanks to Google search, and a packing list post for toddler carryon bags was spread far and wide via Pinterest (I can only thank my friend Lucy who pinned that post within the first few weeks of Pinterest’s launch).  I would never have guessed that those two posts plus many more would bring so many new readers into the fold.

In the spring of this year, I finally took the step of making this blog something more.  I got with it on the social media front (shameless plug – are you following Trips with Tykes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest?  Don’t miss out!).  And over the summer, I took the next step in my blogging journey by joining a great group of travel writers at TravelingMom.com.

But I’d love to grow this blog much more.  If you’ve found the blog helpful over these past two plus years, please share it with a friend who travels with their children.  And please feel free to reach out with questions, comments and suggestions.  I love hearing from (and being able to help) readers.

Frequent Flyer Miles & Credit Cards: A Cautionary Tale

October 17, 2014

Frequent Flyer Miles & Credit Cards: A Cautionary Tale

As I’ve alluded to a few times, I’m a big fan of frequent flyer miles and points as a way to reduce travel costs.  My family has used miles and points over the past 4-5 years to fund a reasonable amount of our travel.  The biggest way we earn points is through credit card signup bonus offers (here are a few posts about cards I’ve gotten in recent years).

I don’t blog about miles and points because there are plenty of experts in that crowded field already.  And frankly, I’m not really one of them.  My husband and I are incredibly financially conservative, and we don’t apply for dozens of credit cards just for signup bonuses and the like.  We probably average 2-3 new cards per person per year.  This is child’s play in the real credit card churning game.  We don’t keep up with every single trick, hack, or deal.  We do what works for us, and we are happy with that.

But fellow blogger Dia over at The Deal Mommy encouraged me to share a miles and points personal story as a cautionary tale to others.  So I’m breaking with my usual practice of not blogging much about miles and points to share just that.

Confession time.

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Friday Blog Roundup: The Best of the Family Travel Blogs, October 10, 2014

October 10, 2014

Friday Blog Roundup Oct 10, 2014

Happy Friday!  Thanks for bearing with my while the blog has been a bit quiet for a short while.  I never take breaks for very long though, so expect some new post soon.

In any event, I have some catching up to do this week in this blog roundup since I skipped the last two Fridays.   So, I’m featuring three weeks of excellent family travel stories today.  Keeping up with all the family travel blogs weekly is a bit of a challenge, so you’ll probably see this post only once or twice a month going forward.  But I tweet a lot of good family travel articles as I find them, so follow me on Twitter for the latest and most current updates.

Here are the best of the best family travel articles from the past few weeks:

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Southwest Oversold Flights: How Not To Get Bumped

September 24, 2014

How Not to Get Bumped From Your Southwest Flight

If you read this blog often, you will know that I am one of Southwest Airlines’s biggest cheerleaders when it comes to traveling with kids.  I think Southwest offers a superior product for traveling families and have chosen to fly Southwest a lot more in recent months with my own children.  A few weeks ago, however, I had a situation occur on Southwest that made me (temporarily, at least) question my undying devotion to the airline.  This happened because Southwest oversold the flight on which my family was scheduled to fly from ATL to SFO on August 18, 2014.  For more than a few brief moments at least, we were at risk for being bumped off our Southwest flight. Read more…

Friday Blog Roundup: The Best of the Disney Blogs, September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014

Disney Blog Roundup

At the end of every week, I usually publish a list of the week’s best stories from the various family travel blogs I read.  Because this is a special DISNEY week at Trips With Tykes, we are doing things a little differently today.  Today’s post highlights the best Disney-related stories and posts I’ve seen in the last several weeks from both family travel bloggers and Disney-specific bloggers.  Hope this  adds a little bit of pixie dust to the end of your week.

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Disney Week: Throwback Thursday #TBT

September 18, 2014

In honor of Disney Week here at Trips With Tykes, I thought it would be fun to share some of our family Disney vacations of old for Throwback Thursday.  Both my family and my husband’s family have made many trips over the years to Disneyland and Disney World, and we have watched the parks expand and evolve before our very eyes.  Enjoy!  (And don’t laugh too much at us!)

Disney World 1980s

My husband at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, early 1980s

Breakfast with characters, WDW

My sister and I eat breakfast with Goofy at the Walt Disney World Polynesian Resort, circa 1990.

Fanny packs at Walt Disney World

Remember fanny packs? How embarrassing. Me at WDW somewhere in Epcot near the Japan Pavilion, early 1990s.

 

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - First Ride

My daughter’s first ride on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland, February 2011.

Review of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

September 16, 2014

Review of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

One of the highlights of our Hong Kong Disneyland vacation this past May was our 5 year old daughter’s makeover into Princess Belle from Disney’s Beauty & the Beast.  This magical transformation happened one afternoon at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

If your family has traveled to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you are probably familiar with the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  Here, little girls are treated to makeovers where they can dress as their favorite princess.  Our daughter was a bit too young for the experience on our last Disneyland vacation in Anaheim, but we knew she was the perfect age on this trip.

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It’s Disney Week At Trips With Tykes!

September 15, 2014

Family With Mickey Mouse at Disneyland

As my family starts preparing and researching for our next big trip (Disneyland in November), I thought it would be fun to dedicate a week here at Trips With Tykes to all things Disney.  We are big Disney fans in our family.  We try to visit Disney as much as we reasonably can while still seeing many other kinds of destinations in our family travels.

Everything you are going to see on the blog this week is going to be a celebration of Disney.  Every day, I’ll have a new Disney-themed post for you.  But the pixie dust won’t stop there.  The Trips With Tykes social media channels are going to be sharing even more Disney fun, so make sure you are following me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.  Look out for some really fun Throwback Thursday photos of Disney trips I took as a child (embarrassing but cute!).

We’ll end the week on Friday with a Best of the Disney Travel Blogs post instead of my usual Best of the Family Travel Blogs post.  Bloggers: if you have an unfinished Disney post waiting in the wings, hurry up and get it published this week so I can feature you!  I’ll be sharing anything Disney-related that strikes my fancy that has been published in the last month or so.

To get Disney week kicked off right, be sure to get caught up all the Disney content I already have on Trips With Tykes:

Disneyland

Disney’s Aulani

Hong Kong Disneyland

Family with Snow White at Hong Kong Disneyland

Friday Blog Roundup: The Best of the Family Travel Blogs, September 12, 2014

September 12, 2014

Friday Blog Roundup: Sept 12, 2014

Another Friday, so let’s get down to it!  Here are some of the gems from around the family travel blogosphere this week:

  • Where To Put a Car Seat on an Airplane?: Points With a Crew explores the question of where car seats go on airplanes.  Since most seats are bulky and can block egress, it seems like the right answer in most cases is the window seat.  But it turns out you can put them in middle seats too, as long as no one is sitting in the window seat.  As with everything car seat related on planes, your miles may vary.
  • How to Be Prepared If Your Flight is Cancelled: Triathlon TravelingMom shares some excellent tips for dealing with flight cancellations (which are never fun but that are even less fun when traveling with kids!).
  • A Parent’s Guide to Traveling with Asthma: Suitcases & Sippy Cups travels with a child with asthma and so can you.  Thoughtful and helpful tips to make things easier when facing challenges like asthma on the road or in the air.
  • Today’s Hint: A Travel Tip for When Kids are Too Big for Strollers (Think Scooters): Hint Mama contributor Eileen Gunn shares a creative tip for traveling with preschoolers.  Scooters!  My now 5 year old daughter has never been much of a scooter fan, but this is a good reason to make sure our little guy learns to ride in the coming years.
  • Save the Date for Family Travel for Real Life 2! 3/7/15 in Charlotte, NC. See You There?: I’ve mentioned a family travel conference, Family Travel for Real Life, several times over the past few weeks.  It was hosted by Dia The Deal Mommy in DC in August.  Looks like it was such a success that she’s already planning a second one.  If you are interested in funding your family travel with frequent flyer miles and points and also learning lots of other money saving family travel strategies, this is the conference for you.  Really hoping I will be able to attend this one!

Note: Every Friday, I share the best-of-the-best family travel news stories and blog posts that have been published during that week.  Featured posts are usually consistent with the theme of my blog – the logistics of travel with young kids.  If you have a post that you think would be a good fit, please email me or tweet me!

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