Cost U Less travel, Cost-U-Less Travel, or CostULess Travel is a “travel program” pitched like a timeshare condominium. We received multiple offers in the mail advertising an “opportunity” to receive two free airplane tickets and two nights in a hotel in exchange for hearing their pitch. We love traveling and though we’re not really interested in timeshares, curiosity finally made us cave and we called to learn more.
The woman on the phone was friendly but mysterious. She would tell me nothing about the free gift (those free plane tickets and hotel rooms that sucked us in) and seemed to know very little about CostULess except that (1) it’s spelled with a “U” instead of a “You”; (2) it is NOT a timeshare; and (3) it’s a discount travel club. I imagined something like a travel Tupperware party and decided that, at worst case, it was only 90-minutes and we could blog about it. How bad could it be right? Read more
We traveled a lot when our kids were young and entertaining them in planes, buses, cars, and restaurants was a challenge. I recently cleaned out our travel box and found some of my old favorite, mostly homemade, old fashioned, travel tricks. These cheap and easy finds helped me not just endure our adventures but truly enjoy traveling with my kids.
My Travel Book: I took an old 3-ring binder, a light, plastic 1” binder, and I converted it into a travel activity book. It only came out when we were “on the loose” so it was new and exciting every time. Inside were several cheap, plastic, transparent pencil holders. One held small toys. At the time of this photograph, it was a collection of linking monkeys from an old-fashioned “Barrel of Monkeys” game. Read more
What’s your best family travel tip? What saved your last trip? What makes your kids really have a good time on a family vacation? What awesome kid-centric European destinations have you been to? What fun kid-friendly European activities have you discovered?
OK, OK, OK – we’re adding a destination to our new book. Everybody wants a travel destination with their travel tips so we’re going European this time – art museums, mountains, cultural icons, rural villages, bread and cheese, many languages, castles, history, beaches, music, famous rivers, East meets West, and more politics.
Share your suggestions for a great, educational, and fun European adventure with kids in the comments below! We’ll try to include it in our new book “100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe.” If we do, we’ll include your first name and location so please tell us that information with your tip. You can also click “Read more” for a nifty giveaway!
Before kids we were adventurous campers. We camped while backpacking, rafting, sea kayaking, and even skiing. Rarely, if ever, did we go car camping. In fact, we wondered why anyone would pack the car and head to a campground full of other people. But now that we have kids, we know better. It’s fun, affordable, relaxing, and great for the kids. Camping with children, however, takes a bit of work and some practice to do well. Fall is the perfect time! The number of both bugs and people is greatly reduced. Here’s some our favorite tips for a fun and successful camping trip. Read more
One of my strongest memories from middle/high school is driving in a bus for what seemed like days (probably about an hour) to go see Plymouth Rock. We’d been studying the pilgrims and were excited to see the spot, the very spot, where the first pilgrim set foot on America in 1620. We drove, we parked, we disembarked, we saw a large pavilion, we walked over, and there is was, a rock. I was shattered. I don’t know what exactly I expected of an attraction named “rock” but that certainly wasn’t it.
Today, I took the kids to “blog the rock.” A great opportunity to write about educational adventure with kids right? Over breakfast, Bill got out Wikipedia and I read a local brochure about the rock out loud. We devoured delicious pancakes and omelets as we learned about the following saga: Read more
We started taking the kids on international trips when our daughter was only two and a half, and it doesn’t surprise me that now, 8 years later, she doesn’t remember much about that trip. What did surprise me was how fast the memories can slip away, even for older children. Along with all the other fabulous tips and tricks in Ashley and Bill’s book, I really enjoyed the suggestions for how to keep the travel experience alive after you are home. My favorite souvenirs are those that tie to a special experience from the trip, or those that are created.
Sometimes you can stumble upon a special souvenir. In Switzerland we found a small store that had an English version of a children’s book by a local author. They also had a handmade doll of one of the characters. We bought both. Eight years later the doll from this town remains my daughter’s special travel companion, and the doll has traveled to every single country with us. The doll, Florina, also started a love of handmade dolls which has been shamelessly encouraged by her mother. My daughter now has handmade dolls from Russia, Armenia and Portugal – all purchased on trips. We keep our eyes open for new opportunities. Read more
Dwellable has a great new look! What is Dwellable? A nifty app for finding rental houses all across the country.
This past winter, I was bored and waiting for my daughter to finish up at the physical therapist. I downloaded the Dwellable app (Sync!) and started looking for a getaway cabin (Search!). And, voila, I ended up in a hot tub (Soak!) at “The River Chalet”. Note: If you read that with a french accent, it sounds even better.
Dwellable was good then. Now, it’s new and improved. How? First off, it starts with calming waves. Now, I have to admit that I liked the crisp square pictures but there are just too many destinations for squares now! That’s the second big improvement, Dwellable now covers the whole USA. They seem to be adding new properties by the minute. In fact, I checked for houses on Cape Cod a few months ago and I checked again today. Lots of new houses just in West Yarmouth alone! Third, it’s still fast and maybe even faster. Unlike other phone apps where I can doze off while waiting for something to load, Dwellable zips along. It’s so fast, I can actually start searching for house rentals in line at the grocery store. Fourth, the houses are great! Staying in a house while traveling with kids can be easier and cheaper than staying in a hotel. Playing around on Dwellable helps make it happen. Read more
Our affordable London hotel (lower left) was under the Eye!
It wasn’t that long ago when finding a hotel meant pulling out my Lonely Planet Guide and telling the taxi/rickshaw/tuk tuk driver to take me to whichever guesthouse was recommended. Many other travelers used the same method and inevitably places became too popular and overcrowded. Sometimes I found lodging by word-of-mouth and by getting advice from other travelers, but often these recommendations were based on the very same guidebooks. Sometimes lodging solicited me. I remember coming out of immigration at the Kathmandu airport and being accosted by a sea of people offering beds in their various guesthouses and feeling overwhelmed by it all; the sights, the sounds, the hustle, the bustle. But that was in the 80’s, when international phone calls were only for periodically checking in with worried relatives at home and incoming mail was so slow it had to be sent general delivery weeks in advance. Read more