Featured Travel Tips

Tips for Traveling with Children – We’ve Got Your Back!

traveling with childrenI am honored to connect with a community of other people & parents who have adventure in their bones.  Those of you who purpose to find your way around all the road blocks in your way and keep your eyes on where you want to go.

Don’t give up.  Traveling with your children is worth the effort, and I’m here to help you!

What’s the Point?  I’m Tired Just Thinking about it!

Before we dive into some of the ways to ease the pressure and stress of traveling with children, I want to get this party started off right by giving you some vision for what you can look forward to as you engage the world with your kids through travel.

I won’t sugar coat the obvious — traveling with kids can be hard —  which is why I wanted to write about why you should do it anyway!

I hope it serves as a little inspiration! 🙂

Traveling with Kids — Why You Should Fight for It

Nuts & Bolts Travel Tips

Traveling with a Baby – Top 10 Tips from a Traveling Veteran Mom

Air Travel with Kids — 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Flight

Road Trip Games & Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained on a Long Drive

To Avoid Pulling your Hair out while you Pack

Traveling Light: 16 Practical Tips to Lighten the Load

If you are a mother you are likely to be missing out on sleep anyway — regardless of whether you are traveling or not!   Don’t miss my favorite trick to feeling beautiful while you travel that doesn’t require you to pack your entire closet.  We have little ones underfoot, we don’t have enough space or extra hands for all that!   *Extra Zzzz not included

The One Rule Every Mom Should Break when Packing for Vacation

Not Convinced?

If you still aren’t quite ready to jump right in to hitting the road or catching a plane, think about easing into it with a Staycation!

Reap the Benefits of Vacation without Ever Leaving Home {Staycation Part 1}

Reap the Benefits of Vacation without Ever Leaving Home {Staycation Part 2}

You Got This!

Remember — YOU ARE BRAVE.  Really.  And, I love brave people — that is one of the reasons I made this resolution!


I hope these tips give you the inspiration you were needing to get out there and explore with your family.  I know how overwhelming it can be.  We are in this together, so please let me know if there is anything you need.

As I mentioned in the About Me section, it really is my goal to provide resources for that will help you connect with your family – and the world – as much as possible, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if there is anything that I can do to help!  And don’t forget to connect with me on whatever social media channels you are into — the buttons to do so are below!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road



Travel Tips

Airplane Carry-on List

airplane carry-on check list

Here is your extensive list for any & all carry-on items.  Be mindful of the pesky fact that you will indeed be carrying these things for the duration of your trip with child and/or baby in hand.  Have mercy!

Bring only what you know you need!

Airplane Carry-On List:


  • __ Passport and ID’s
  • __ Credit cards, travelers checks, cash (Check the currency exchange rate)
  • __ Travel insurance information
  • __ Plane tickets
  • __ Hotel reservations
  • __ Itinerary
  • __ Vaccination records (Usually a yellow card given by your doctor)


Bring two outfits for everyone. You never know if your bags will get temporarily lost.

  • __ Tops
  • __ Bottoms
  • __ Undergarments

Baby and Children’s Items:

  • __ Diapers and plastic bags for disposal (Bring twice as much as you think you need)
  • __ Wipes
  • __ Toys and entertainment

*Quiet toys work best! Books, coloring books, movies on a portable player… 

  • __ Bottle or sippy cup
  • __ Formula –  Powdered only for your carry on. Otherwise, you must buy it at the airport after security checks you in. (Request a bottle of water for mixing. Never drink the airplanes sink water)
  • __ Baby harness for airplane seat if needed (Careful- CARES seems to be the only FFA approved harness at this time)
  • __ Their favorite PJ’s so they know it’s bedtime on the plane
  • __ Packaged snacks such as cereal and fruit snacks
  • __ Their comfort blanket, stuffed animal, toy


  • __ Medicine (Don’t check this in just in case the bags get lost)
  • __ Camera and other electronics (Don’t take the risk of checking them in)
  • __ Travel guidebook- You can read it on your flight!
  • __ Jackets or sarong/blanket- Planes often get cold

Important points to consider:

  • It’s important to be careful with what liquids you are allowed to bring on the plane. Check out TSA’s website for their official rules.
  • Don’t bring snacks that will make a mess or cause someone nearby any discomfort- A peanut butter snack can cause someone’s allergies to go haywire!

HAVE YOU HEARD???  David and I just launched our new blog StrongLuv and we are over there doing experiments to strengthen our Marriage, Family, and Community and working hard at creating resources for those of you who want to strengthen your important relationships.  I hope you’ll connect with us over there and join us in a little LUVolution.  If you’re intrigued, you can learn about the Relationship Experiments here.

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Travel Tips

The Ultimate Travel Packing List

ultimate packing checklistHere is your Ultimate Travel Packing List! Check off as you pack and take this list out the door with you to ensure you got it all.  Nobody wants to be caught off-guard without something essential and this is double true if you have the family with you!

Before we get to the actual list let’s go over some things to think about prior to throwing things in your suitcase:

  • What are you doing? Check the weather and think about the possible activities you will be doing and pack appropriately.
  • What country are you going to? Check that a vaccination is not needed. Even some airlines wont let you on without proof of vaccination. It’s important to check the country you have the layover in as well as sometimes it’s necessary even if you don’t leave the airport! (Crazy, I know!)
  • Money: Call your credit card providers well in advanced so they are prepared and know you will be using your cards overseas.
  • Luggage fees: It’s becoming increasingly popular for airlines to spring luggage fees on you. Be sure you know the weight limit and what fees are associated if you go over that limit. Don’t forget this important point if you will be flying around on numerous airlines as well.
  • Space: Effectively pack! One way to do this is to roll the items and separate them in bags. Example: All of your tops go in one bag. Or plan your outfits ahead of time and pack them in bags by outfit.  This way you know exactly which bag to look in for what. This will avoid the suitcase “throwing up” all over the room once you get to the hotel. (Good ‘ol plastic shopping bags will do fine)
  • Necessity?: Strollers, cribs, and other such items are not always a necessity.  Check if the country you’re going to has rental services for these items. They even have delivery for things such as diapers!!  For those programs and services check this site out for Europe and this site for the U.S.

Travel Packing List:


  • ___Passport and ID’s
  • ___Copies of your passport and ID’s stashed elsewhere in case of theft. You can also email these to yourself for extra safe measure.
  • ___Credit cards, traveler checks, cash (Check the currency exchange rate)
  • ___Travel insurance information
  • ___Emergency contact information of someone back home. Just in case!
  • ___Plane tickets
  • ___Hotel reservations
  • ___Calling cards
  • ___Itinerary


  • ___Shampoo and conditioner- travel size
  • ___Body wash and loofa
  • ___Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • ___Floss
  • ___Body lotion
  • ___Deodorant
  • ___Make-up bag (Don’t bring the whole thing ladies!)
  • ___Razor & Shaving Cream
  • ___Insect repellent
  • ___Eye wear: glasses, contacts, sunglasses
  • ___Brush and comb
  • ___Sun lotion
  • ___Tweezers and nail clippers
  • ___Hairdryer and/or straightener
  • ___Hair accessories for you and kids. (clips, bobby-pins, headbands, hair ties)

Children and Baby Items:

  • ___Diapers, as many you might need to at LEAST get you to your destination. (Even then, multiple by two and bring extra bags for disposal.)
  • ___Wipes
  • ___Bottle or sippy cup
  • ___Formula and/or baby food. Don’t forget the spoon!
  • ___Toys and books
  • ___Baby blanket
  • ___Water items such as: swimming wings, toys, and water diapers.
  • ___Changing pad
  • ___Baby sunscreen
  • ___Diaper cream and moisturizer
  • ___Baby carrier (Like Baby Bjorn or Ergo)
  • ___Stroller
  • ___Travel bed
  • ___Travelers high chair
  • ___Other accessories depending on your needs: pacifiers, breast pump, extra bottle nipples, teething toys or creams, bottle bags…


  • ___Phone and its charger (If you’re going abroad make sure your phone will work there.)
  • ___Camera and its charger or extra batteries
  • ___Laptop/ Tablet/ Kindle and charger
  • ___Extra USB stick/ Camera stick so you can take as many pictures as you want!
  • ___Headphones- noise cancelling are the best!


***Please chant the following as you pack clothes: “I will pack light, I will pack light!”

A reasonable amount of the following determined by length of trip:

  • ___Tops
  • ___Bottoms
  • ___Undergarments
  • ___Swimsuits
  • ___Shoes and sandals
  • ___Socks
  • ___PJ’s
  • ___Accessories
  • ___Depending on the weather:
  • ___Hat
  • ___Jacket
  • ___Sweater
  • ___Scarf
  • ___Gloves
  • ___Long sleeves

SEPERATELY pack extra clothes x2 for you, baby and kids for your carry-on. (You never know if your bags will get lost for a day!)

These are the basics and same for each family member. However something to keep in mind besides packing light (you can stop chanting now) is to pack efficiently! Take items that can be used for multiple things. For example bringing tank tops that can be used during the day as well as for bedtime. Another great trick is using a sarong instead of a towel! A sarong is much lighter and takes up less space. Possible uses: towel, beach towel, beach cover up, blanket, scarf…. you get the point! Don’t bring a shirt that ONLY goes with one pair of bottoms. And the same is true for the kids.  Most hotels and resorts have access to washing machines.  If by chance that is not the case, don’t be afraid of a little washing by hand on your vacation. It’s either that or lugging around x10 more than you need!

Extras to have in your purse/ carry-on:

  • ___Antibacterial
  • ___Hand cream
  • ___Pen and paper
  • ___Books- or ebooks on your kindle….even better
  • ___Small quiet toys/ other entertainment for baby
  • ___Feminine hygiene products


  • ___Laundry bag and soap
  • ___Ziplock bags- various sizes. These are so handy and can be used in many different ways
  • ___Mini flash-light
  • ___Prescription medications
  • ___Towel / Sarong  (the better choice)
  • ___Snacks for the ride/flight (Make sure they are packaged if you are going on a flight.)
  • ___Needle and thread
  • ___Travel guidebook & Maps
  • ___Small medical bag:
  • ___Band aids & Gauze
  • ___Cotton swabs
  • ___Alcohol wipes
  • ___Water-resistant Tape
  • ___Antihistamine
  • ___Pain reliever

I sincerely hope this is a useful resource for you in your upcoming vacation!  If you need an airplane carry-on packing list, I created that too!

Emily Oak Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips

How to Save on Theme Park Passes

how to save money on theme park passes

Good BBQ, the smell of funnel cakes, scary rides, and your kids’ ice cream melting all over make for a great day at your favorite theme park- but if you can find a way to throw in savings- it’s PERFECTION!   When it comes to vacationing who doesn’t love a visit to a hair raising, fun theme park?

Whether it’s a day trip or a long weekend with the family, after you add up the costs of the notoriously expensive park passes, you can sometimes fork out as much as a beach getaway without any of the relaxation!

But lets face it, we kissed all dreams of a zen vacation goodbye when we welcomed baby #1… bring on the coasters baby!!!

A family can save ALL YEAR in order to go to Disney for ONE WEEKEND!  That’s insanity Y’all!  These theme parks can come with a colossal price tag.  Here are some tips for making sure you please the kids without putting your house up for sale!

Budget and Savings:

You can save money right off the bat by making sure you use cash.  Why pay interest on this vacation?  It’s easy to get in the debt cycle and end up paying interest for nearly everything – so make sure to avoid that mistake and start your planning off right by making a budget.

Realistically, how much will this trip cost you?  Remember food is always more expensive in theme parks – and don’t forget the trip there with today’s gas prices.  Factor in everything and then give yourself some extra cushion just to be on the safe side.

theme park passes

Have everyone partake in the savings.  Get the kids to donate some money from their allowance each week.  Or encourage them to save their own money for something extra they may want to purchase while they are there.   I have found that my kids are more invested and feel a sense of pride by contributing.

Make a family money jar and get everyone to throw in their days change.  If you do this  6-12 months before your holiday you might be surprised on how much you have put away!

Avoid the Crowds:

Unless you are infinitely patient(and have no children), you definitely do not what to visit a theme park when everyone else is there!  It sounds like a no brainer but it’s easy to forget, and this one mistake can blow your entire experience.   Do you want to deal with sweaty teenagers rubbing up against you in hour long lines?  Or cranky bystanders who have no patience for your toddler?  Theme parks are often packed as it is.

Don’t make life harder on yourself!

Plan on going on a week day or a weekend while school is still in session.  There will be a line but not half as long as when 30 schools in the area are on break.  Speaking of lines, try avoiding them by getting everyone up and going early.  If you get to the park when it opens, you can get the major rides in first and avoid the masses.  The more time you have in the cool of the morning the more time you have to see all the attractions and ride all the rides.

save on theme park passes

Buy Ahead of Time:

If there is anything that you can buy outside of the park, do it! Buy your sunscreen, water bottles, waterproof disposable cameras…whatever it is. Even buying snacks to have on hand to save money on food is a good idea.

Since several members of our family are sensitive to gluten we often bring our own food in.  Even if park policy is no food inside- I have yet to have my bag of food turned away at the gate after throwing out the words “food allergy!”

It’s a fact that everything inside the theme park is far more expensive.  Even souvenirs can be cheaper on the outside! Depending on what you want to buy, you might be able to find souvenirs from the theme park at a nearby local store for a discount.

Make sure to do the souvenir shopping towards the end of the day so your not lugging everything around.

how to save on theme park passes

Consider an Annual Pass:

Is this theme park close to home?  Do you visit often?  Do the kids have friends with passes?  Do they beg you week after week to let them go with their friend to this theme park?  Get a darn annual pass!

Sometimes going only 2-3 times a year in itself pays for the annual pass.  Your kids can go off and ride every ride they want nearly any day of the year.  Most theme parks, including Disney, offer annual passes.

When we lived in Kansas City we used some of our Christmas money and bought annual passes for the family at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.  Even though we only went twice that year, it was still cheaper than paying per day.  Plus we bought them during a promotional time when we got several buddy passes with each annual pass.  We were able to take friends along for FREE and had the best time!

save on theme park passes

It’s worth noting that when you have an annual pass some theme parks will offer further discounts on souvenirs and food. Even parking can come at a discount.  All these things add up and next thing you know, the annual pass has already paid for itself.

If you don’t want an annual pass or don’t think you will use it enough, be sure to check if the theme park is offering a special deal.  For example Disney has an on going deal for you to pre-purchase tickets at todays price with no expiration.  Since Disney raises their prices nearly every year, it might not be a bad idea!

When to Buy:

Purchase your tickets BEFORE getting to the park.  If you wait, you will likely over pay and lose out on time waiting in line.  Buying online is the easiest way to purchase your tickets prior to going.

Make sure you do NOT buy tickets from sites like Craigslist.  Many theme parks make their tickets non-transferable.  When you show up with someone else’s ticket you will be out of luck and out of money.

See if there are any deals going on online for the park you are interested in visiting.  Even discount websites like have deals on tickets sometimes.  Their restrictions are rather reasonable and easy to work around so it doesn’t hurt to try.  The Entertainment Book is a good place to check as well.

Where to Stay:

If the theme park isn’t in your hometown, consider that while many places offer discounts if you stay at their on-site hotels, it is still usually significantly more expensive.

Your best bet is finding a nice place on the outside of the park.  The benefits of staying on-site often include transport and special privileges but you might not care about those small perks and prefer to crash out just a few miles away for half the price!

theme park accommodations

One Last Tip:

After you’ve done all the hard work of planning and saving, let your hair down and have a good time.  Maybe surprise your kids or spouse by joining them on the roller coaster you have been afraid of.  Or sign up for that glass blowing workshop scheduled during the heat of the day.  The element of surprise is sure to make your getaway exciting and memorable for the whole family!

Do you have a trick to saving money at theme parks and attractions?  I’d love to hear from you!  Also, If you found this post helpful, I would be so grateful if you would share it with your friends.  FB and other social buttons are below.  Thanks in advance!!!


Emily Oak Home Sweet Road 

Featured Travel Tips Travel With Kids

Ways to Keep the Kids Entertained on a Long Drive SO YOU DON’T LOSE IT!

road trip games

This list of road trip games and activities is designed to keep the party goin’ and the peace flowin’ long after the excitement of leaving town has worn off.

It’s true that if you are traveling any real distance, it takes a while longer to get to your destination.  And with kids it can take A LOT longer!  Nursing breaks, potty stops, etc.  I mean, it can make your head spin!  But, man, there is just NOTHING like the open road!

road trip with kids

It’s exciting to jump out of your regular routine and into the car on your way to a new and exciting destination.  Jamming out to your favorite tunes, singing along with the kids and making fun pit-stops at random places.  However, after a few hours go by you get slapped in the face with the reality of the situation.  All that excitement turns into “Are we there yet?”  “When are we getting there?” “Mom, I have to pee again.” “I want to get out of the caaarrr, I’m booored.” And you might just think of turning around and giving up on the trip….

Don’t do it!  Stay in the game.  YOU GOT THIS!  Take some of these game ideas on your next road-trip so you don’t think about running the car off the road – on purpose.

Games & Activities for the Road

  • Give the Kids a Pep-Talk before your big adventure.  Whaaaat?  Where’s the fun in that?  The Man and I have found that this one thing can make or break a getaway for our family.  If you are unlike us and have a super chill, laid back crew, you may not need to give details and set expectations, but for some it can be a real life saver.    Make sure to have a few goodies stashed away so you can reward their good behavior.
  • Travel with a Mascot.  Have the kids pick out a stuffed toy from their collection and put them in charge of coming up with unique places to photograph it along the way.  Then post pics on Facebook or send them to close family and friends.  You could even make a game of it and have people guess where you are.  The kids will love it!
  • Give the Kids the Camera to play with in the beginning of your trip to take photos of whatever they want.  You can tell them to play ‘photographer’ and later they will help make an awesome scrapbook with all their cool photos! This might be exciting for them(depending on the kiddo)  but at the very least it will entertain them for a bit.
  • Bring some NEW Toys!  Make sure it’s something they can actually play with in the car.  Legos, for example, could be a horrible idea for the car – they are tough to build in a small space while you are strapped down- not to mention their proclivity to fall through the cracks and end up in the floorboards.  Our boys, however, love them so much that it’s worth the extra effort.  If the payoff for your family isn’t quite the same stick to practical games or toys that won’t wreak havoc on your interior!
  • Games in Travel Size can be purchased at most convenience stores.  You can find mini-magnetic chess, shoots and ladders… all the classics without the huge game board and 1000 pieces.
  • Bring the Electronics.  They will get used!  Items like the iPod, portable DVD player, and any other handheld game devices can serve as incentives for good behavior or just a break when you get tired and want some quiet time to yourself.
  • Worksheets, Crossword Puzzles, Word Finds, & Funny Fill-in-the-Blank Stories can keep them distracted from the hours of being stationary.  Print them out or buy them at the dollar store.   Make sure to include coloring books and blank pieces of paper in your arsenal so they can color pictures for someone special back home and make their own ‘postcard!’   
  • Load up on Snacks.  Everyone is bound to get the munchies on the long drive, and it’s a pain to stop every few hours.  Give them treats when they answer trivia questions right, or win a family game.  Tell them they can eat the healthy snacks now, and after dinner dig into the good stuff!

healthy snacks road trip
healthy snacks road trip

  • Have Podcasts or Audio Books downloaded so the whole family can enjoy a story on the way to your destination.  Our personal favorite is Adventures in Odyssey which can be found at  This can keep the kids interested for a quite a while!
  • Play iSpy and Other Classic Car Games.  Since you are driving, there will be a time limit which can add to the fun.  They must guess quick! Also, you can make fun sentences with license plates.  If a license plate says FFG 2MS you could say, “Funny frogs go 2 Miami Sunday.”

road trip games

  • Reward them for Resting!!!  The kids might fall asleep naturally but a bit of encouragement won’t hurt! Tell them they should be rested up for the day of fun! So nap now…A LOT…like the whole drive if you want to.
  • Don’t Skip the Pit-Stops.  Resist the urge to jump right back in the car but take time to stretch out and let the kids burn some of their energy.  Kick the ball around or play tag and get them running.  It does add a few minutes to the trip but the payoff is worth it.

road trip games

  • Avoid Chains if possible, and if the kids are old enough have them help you pick out what unusual or award-winning restaurant to eat at along the way.  A local hole in the wall is way more memorable than a quick drive-thru.

I hope this list of Road Trip Games & Activities is useful for your family and helps you stay relaxed and have more fun on your next long drive!  From our personal hours logged on the road, my best advice is to make every positive thing they do a BIG deal.  Obviously, if you do that the kids will be more engaged and want to spend more time doing whatever it is they are being reinforced to do.

Is there something I missed?  What are your favorite games and activities for the road?  I’d love to hear from you, so make sure to add them to the comment section so other traveling tribes can benefit from your wisdom!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips

Healthy Snacks for the Road {Gluten Free}

healthy snack gluten freeIt can be a challenge to find healthy snacks when you are on the road — and being gluten free makes that task even more difficult.   Stopping at the gas station is mind numbing and if you have the audacity to ask the clerk if they have any gluten free options most likely you will be met with a confused blank look staring back at you.

These are some of the gluten free, healthy snacks we like to have on hand when we hit the road:

Healthy Snacks for Bead Box OR Snack Bags

  • Whole or slivered almonds
  • Banana chips
  • Craisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Pistacios {shelled}
  • Any thing gluten free you find in the bulk section
  • Gluten free cereal like chex
  • Gluten free pretzels

Healthy Snacks for Travel Containers with Lids

{We like to pack these with cut fruit/smaller fruit like grapes OR cut veggies.  After those have been eaten we can then use the containers to hold the other items listed}

  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Snap peas
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Gluten free cereal like Chex
  • Gluten free pretzels
  • Chips from larger bag
  • Popcorn

Healthy Snacks that Don’t Need a Special Container

  • Seaweed
  • Applesauce squeezers
  • Fruit & Nut bars
  • Lara bars
  • Yogurt on the go {obviously needs to be eaten on the front end of the trip – we freeze ours before we leave to extend the life}
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Nectarines
  • Gluten free beef jerky

Peanut Butter in a Jar with Celery

{You can use a mason jar or any lidded jar/container that you like}

healthy snacks road trip

healthy snacks road trip

gluten free healthy snacks

Not Technically “Healthy Snacks” but Necessary for the Road

  • Individually wrapped dark chocolate
  • Fruit Snacks {not technically “healthy snacks” but I figure if they ate all the other good stuff…plus I like to bribe reward my kids for good behavior}

I hope this gives you some good ideas of healthy gluten free snacks that you can pack next time you hit the road.  I also shared my current favorite healthy gluten free snack — fat burning popcorn —  so make sure to check that out too.  Do you have favorite gluten free snacks that are perfect for traveling with that I didn’t mention?  If so, make sure to leave a comment and tell us about them!

Also, if you are new to the site and like what you see, please join us over on our FB page, like us on Pinterest and/or circle us on Google + {all of which you can do below}.  I’d love to connect with you!!!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

family fun Featured Travel Tips

Staycation Ideas – For the Fall

staycation ideas for fallHopefully after reading {Part 1} and {Part 2} of our Staycation Series you are inspired to plan a staycation of your own!  I am currently planning a “Seattle Staycation” for our family now that we have settled in the Pacific Northwest.  After creating this series I am even more excited about our time “off” than before.

I am really looking forward to turning the electronics off and getting in some good quality time with one another.  We are also working on a unique way to help the homeless during our staycation.  I’ll write about that in future posts:)

Without further ado, here are 20 creative ways to connect with each other and enjoy your time off this season:

  • Create a family meal together and eat it by candlelight
  • If they are old enough, give the kids the reigns on one special activity.  Have them plan it from start to finish.
  • Bundle up for a nature walk {collect acorns and colorful leaves to use in an art project}
  • Get lost in a corn maze
  • Make a homemade apple or pumpkin pie
  • Set aside an hour or two for a family art project – if craftiness isn’t your thing consider buying a pre-made art kit.  Perhaps you can make a few Christmas gifts like candles in a mason jar,  handmade cards, or a custom decorated picture frame for grandma!
  • Go to a drive in movie
  • Make caramel apples
  • Take a hot-air balloon ride
  • Take a tour {winery, chocolate factory, local museum}
  • Build a bonfire {roast marshmallows and make s’mores}
  • Pitch a tent in the living room and tell stories to each other in the dark
  • Get a massage
  • Make a “thankful tree”
  • Choose one book the entire family will enjoy and take turns reading it aloud at night, or while you’re driving from one place to another
  • Paint, carve, or decorate a pumpkin based on a character in the book you are reading
  • Create a scavenger hunt
  • Go zip lining
  • Start your Christmas shopping
  • Help the homeless or less fortunate in some way

I hope this gives you some great ideas for ways to really enjoy this season together as a family.  Things can get so hectic with school schedules in full swing, extracurricular obligations and the holidays just around the corner — so wether you are planning a staycation of your own or not, make sure to do something to steal back some time with your family and do something special.  Time with our little guys is precious and slips by so fast, doesn’t it?!

Lastly, I am a newbie to social media.  Apparently there are about a zillion rules to follow — I am stumbling my way through and pretty sure I am breaking exactly all of them.  If you like the information we provide on this site it would mean a lot if you would share it on FB, Google +, or Pinterest {the buttons to do so are below}.  Thanks in advance!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips

Staycation: Reap the Benefits of Vacation w/o Ever Leaving Home {Part 2}

stay-cationIn {Part 1} of our Staycation Series we looked at both the benefits and the obstacles to carving out a little rest and relaxation time for you and your family without ever leaving your hometown.   I hope that after reading about the advantages of a staycation, you have warmed up to the idea and are ready to jump in with both feet and plan one yourself!

Regardless of if you have two days to tack onto a weekend or two weeks off of work, devoting yourself to connecting with your loved ones and rediscovering your city is sure to pay off.  But remember, the key to a successful staycation is in the planning.  Avoid the temptation to ‘wing it’ and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

staycation tipsThese tips will help make your staycation as close to a “real” vacation as possible!

  • Stay Close:  The activities you do during your staycation should be close to home so you can sleep in your own bed at night.  Don’t over extend yourself and try and go somewhere too far.  The exception to this is if you want to go for one night to a fancy hotel in the city or a bed and breakfast nearby that you’ve been dying to try.  Splurge one night and save money by staying home the other nights.
  • Get Unplugged:  Leave the computer in the office and make it off limits for the duration of your staycation.  Don’t cheat!  Work can wait.  It’s vacation time baby!
  • Do Something You Haven’t Done:  We often ignore the places nearby and put them in the back of our head as things to do “someday.”  Well, someday has now come.  Or maybe there is a place you don’t even know about yet.  Research your city to find something everyone in the family will enjoy.  Paintball?  A museum?  The local dinner train?  A different beach?  A family picnic at the end of a hike?  A theatre production?   Let each family member pick one thing and work your “itinerary” around those affairs.
  • Don’t Over Do It:  You want to do fun activities on your staycation, but don’t run yourself ragged.  Don’t book yourself up with a bunch of things to do to the point where you are completely exhausted.  Factor in some downtime so you can be refreshed after your time off.  This is especially important if you have kids!
  • Splurge:  Yes!  Since you’re saving a bunch of money by sleeping at home and not going far — treat yourself.  Don’t be afraid to splurge on a nice dinner for everyone or enjoy a little R&R with an afternoon at the local spa.  There have to be a few things you have been wanting to do but were just slightly out of budget or you haven’t made time for in your daily life.  Here’s your chance!

One way to nab a fabulous {and thrifty} staycation is by using one of the popular deal sites like or  Look up what deals are going on near you now and receive email updates for new offers that become available.  Costco is another great resource.  The wholesaler offers discounted tickets to popular attractions and restaurant gift cards in your area.

Staycations are an excellent alternative to vacation and you still get that break you so desperately need.  It’s an easy and cheap way to do something special, get your mind off of your daily grind — and best of all — to connect with one another.  A little pre-planning will help ward off the temptation to do house work or anything else non-staycation related.  I hope these tips help you enjoy every minute of your time off!

In {Part 3} of our Staycation Series, I’m going to give you some creative ideas and fun activities to do no matter where you live.  I am passionate about helping others connect and forge deeper relationships with those they love — and think that taking a staycation is a great way to do that — so stay tuned for that!

What is your experience with  staycations?  If you have had one, what would you do differently next time around?

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Featured Travel Tips

Staycation: Reap the Benefits of Vacation without Ever Leaving Home {Part 1}

staycationSo you have been working your tail off for months, you or your spouses’ vacation time is still 4 months away, and you are about to lose it.  I totally get it.  The answer to your problem is closer than you might think — as close as your backyard in fact!   What you need, my friend, is a STAYCATION!

A stay-what?

A “staycation” is a vacation without leaving your home or city.  If this doesn’t sound like a vacation to you?  It’s probably because you’re not thinking about it right.

Let me help you with that.  First let’s start with the pros and cons.

Here are a few things that I love about a good ol’ Stay-cation:

  • They are a great alternative if you need to “get away” but don’t have much vacation time.
  • You are still taking time out to connect with your family in an intentional way.
  • No wasted time packing and waiting in airports- or in the car.
  • It’s cheaper because you’re sleeping in your own bed and don’t have to pay for a ton of gas or an airline ticket.
  • You are supporting local businesses.
  • You get to play tourist for a day — minus the getting lost part!  It gives you a chance to do the things in your city you have always wanted to do but just couldn’t find the time for.
  • You still get a break from work (even if it is just a day or two extra tacked on to a weekend) which will energize you and hold you over until your next vacation.

The downside is that if you don’t plan it right you will set yourself up for dissapointment because:

  • You might be tempted to work a bit since you didn’t actually leave town.
  • You will still be spending extra money.
  • You might lose the staycation vibe when you see a pile of laundry or think about the other jobs you need to take care of.

A staycation can be as fun and relaxing as any vacation, or just as hectic as any other day.  How well you plan for it will make or break your experience.  In {Part 2} of our Staycation Series I will give you all the tips you need to help you safeguard your family time and avoid the common pitfalls people face when they plan a staycation of their own!

On a personal note, after living out of our suitcases for 10 months we recently bought an moved into our new home!!!  We are so happy to put down roots again!  Instead of going away during our time off, this year, we are currently planning a staycation of our own here in the Seattle area.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

How about you — have you ever had a staycation?  What was your experience?  Also, if you are finding our content useful, and want to follow what is going on here at don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, and/or add us to your G+ circles!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Travel Tips

Traveling with a Baby – Top 10 Tips from a Traveling Veteran Mom!

traveling with baby

Traveling with a baby can seem like a daunting task.  Even thinking about it make the heart beat a little faster, but having extensively traveled with children myself, I’m here to tell you- it doesn’t have to be that way!  Whether you are a stay at home mom, or working parent- you worked hard for your time “off” and you deserve a vacation just as much as anyone!  I gotcha covered!

Ten Tips to Enjoy Time Away with Your Baby

Stay Central:

When choosing accommodations ask yourself where you want the bulk of your time on vacation to be spent. Do you want to spend as much time as possible relaxing by the beach or do you prefer to be in the city where all the action is?  Then choose lodging that places you smack dab in the center of the activities and sites where you want to be.  With baby, chances are you will be making at least one trip back to the room during the day so being centrally located may cost a little more upfront but will save you on your most precious resource of all- you time.

Set Realistic Expectations:

Traveling with children is not the same as traveling alone so make sure to be flexible as possible.  Expect to have a great time but remember that you don’t have to cram everything in to one trip.  Take time to think about the things that are most important to you and leave second tier activities to fall into place if time allows or save them for another time altogether.

Prepare for Sleep:

If you’re up for it, have a few trial days in which you help your baby prepare for a different sleeping arrangement.  Will you be in a different time zone?  What is the set up of the room you’ll be staying in?  Will he have his own room or bed or be with you?  Having a portable crib might be cumbersome- but for some it’s a good idea.  Not only is it familiar to your baby, it can save you loads of money too as some hotels charge you an arm and a leg to use theirs!

Stick to a routine:

Baby’s need routine.  No matter how exciting a new place can be, being thrown off schedule can wreck havoc on a generally good disposition.  It’s difficult for little ones to get used to all the activity and different sleep schedules anyway so keeping to a schedule that will help your family thrive!  Planning your day around what the baby’s needs are will help you utilize each hour wisely.

Eat Up & Eat In:

It’s not necessary to get up and go out to breakfast to get the day going, but it is important to get the day started right by nourishing your bodies with food that will give you as much stamina as possible to meet unexpected opportunities or challenges head on.  If you have a kitchen in your room put it to good use or grab some power bars and bananas at the grocery store when you get in to town. Not only will it save you time but money…and who doesn’t love that?!

Let Baby Set the Schedule:

It may seem counterintuitive to let the baby set the schedule- you are on vacation after all!  I assure you planning the bulk of your activity around when your baby is generally the happiest will give you an overall better experience.  If there is a specific restaurant you want to try out while you are in town but baby is fussy at dinnertime, go for lunch instead.  You can also call and ask if they allow baby in during happy hour so you can sample the menu.  Not only will your baby thank you but your pocketbook will as well!

Be Sneaky:

Let the baby think it’s nap time while your out.  Get the stroller- aka bed on wheels- ready with a blanket to black out light, go to a semi quiet place, fill his tummy and you just may be able to site see or enjoy a quiet lunch while your babe is snoozing! No need to go back to the room if you’re already out and about.

Nap Time:

It is hard enough for a little one to get used to all the activity and different sleep schedules so be wise with your time.  It might be a good idea to plan quiet activities- like that art museum you’ve been dying to see- for afternoons while the baby is napping. 


The name of the game here is to occupy them with something they haven’t seen before or don’t already own.  New toys or objects can be a lifesaver in a pinch.  Even just a few minutes in order to avoid a major meltdown and plan your next move could mean the difference between an enjoyable outing and a complete nightmare!  You don’t have to spend money either.  If the baby is too little to open a lid try putting pebbles or rice in a used water bottle and close the lid tightly and voila- you have a music maker!


Lastly and most importantly… Have fun! I know it might not be the easiest with a baby in hand, however it can be done. Don’t give up on your vacation if the baby is a bit fussy or sleepless.  They will get used to it and you WILL be able to find time to enjoy yourself.  Don’t stress out about what others think if your baby gets fussy.  Just do the best you can and take a deep breath and be in the moment.

I sincerely hope this list serves as a useful resource for you as you plan for your upcoming vacation!  Do you have any useful tips that I didn’t cover?  I’d love to hear them.  Just leave a comment below 🙂

Emily Eck


Featured Travel Tips

Traveling with Kids – Why You Should Fight for It!

Let’s keep it real for a minute.  Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart!  Navigating new cities and cultures can feel a little like walking around in the dark.  Each family has unique challenges- and when those challenges present themselves it can hurt.  Bad.

But if you determine to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world in new ways, you and your kids have some of the most tremendous, life altering times ahead.  

traveling good for kidsTraveling for your family may be uncharted territory.

If your globetrotting experience turns out resembling anything like ours, you will have some trying times along the way.  Your patience may wear thin, expectations get a dose of reality, and you may even wonder what the heck you have gotten yourself into.

It’s true that kids can be loud, precocious, difficult to manage, and moody(they are smaller versions of us after all),  but if we let their worst moments (and our biggest fears) determine the level of interaction our family has with the world around us- most of us would be confined to the same four walls until they grow up.

I hear about kids who don’t throw tantrums in public.  I did not bear them.

My kids don’t care who is watching. Meltdowns can happen just about anywhere, at anytime.  And not only does it try my patience, it can be really embarrassing.

In the end, The Man and I purpose to live free of fear.  Fear of looking foolish, fear of what others think of us, fear of what bad things might happen…..basically all the thoughts that suck the life out of you, and tempt you to shut down.

Because, you know what I fear more than those things?  Living a lukewarm, passionless life  — and raising our children to do the same.

crazy kidsYears ago I heard a phrase regarding raising children- especially young children- that has stuck with me to this day.  “The days seem long but the years fly by!”  Isn’t that profound?  Our kids aren’t going to be small forever.  And this little bit of time we have with them will help mold the kind of people they will be their entire lives.

Weighty stuff, right there.

Life is meant to be LIVED.  You have to protect your time, fight for it even.  Despite their size, our little ones have the same innate need to discover, question and explore as we do.  More so even.  And if we don’t fight for the time to get out there- we lose it.

Exposing our kids to new cultures/subcultures and experiences helps them form a worldview that is more centered in reality.  They discover the beauty in difference, become acquainted with the struggles of the needy, and learn that fear is a liar.

Exploration is an essential part of life.  Of growth.

So even though traveling with children is profoundly exhausting and difficult at times, I think it’s important to step back and try to see it from the bigger picture.

Because it may take a lot to raise little world travelers, but it takes everything to raise WORLD CHANGERS!

And that’s what I’m after.

raising world changersYes, they can be loud, precocious, difficult to manage, and moody.  And, yes, leaving the comfort of home can be super hard to pull off.  But, trust me, seeing them light up by trying something new, discovering things they never knew existed, overcoming something they were previously afraid of, or having new empathy for the poor is worth every bit of effort and inconvenience.

Those things are precious and worth fighting for!  And a true sign that they are going places!

*Read about how my kids’ interaction with a Pink haired girl named “Gypsy” made me realize that our efforts were paying off!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

Style Travel Tips

The One Rule Every Mom Should Break when Packing for Vacation

rule breaker image

When you read articles about how to pack or what to bring on vacation you will hear the same mantra over and over again.  Less is More.  Heck, I have written about packing light myself.  It goes without saying that packing less frees you from the unnecessary burden of shlepping your non-essentials around with you from place to place.

Which is doubly important when traveling with children.

But, for me, the less is more philosophy fails me in one area.  And that is Accessories.

MORE IS MORE when it comes to them, and here’s why:

If you heed expert advice and pack smart, it’s true that you will have the basics covered, but those “experts” are forgetting one very important thing.  WE ARE MOTHERS!!!  That means it is likely one or more of the following things are happening simultaneously:

  • We have dark circles under our eyes because we have not had a proper nights sleep since we got pregnant with our first-born X years ago.
  • Our hair is a mess and we don’t have ample time do it before we leave for the day because the children haven’t adjusted to the new time zone, woke up early, and the hotel staff have already alerted us to complaints they have received from other hotel guests due to the noise level reverberating from our room.  We’ve got to get out of there ASAP.
  • We will be visiting the beach later in the day and want to draw attention away from the road map known as stretch marks which decided to take over a few years back.  While these love marks tell a beautiful story of a life given to bring these treasures into the world, we may not feel like telling that story today.

This is just a short list of scenarios that could play out at any given time on the road.  Yes, our bodies have changed, our schedules are not our own, and we may not have the same amount of time or interest in always looking picture perfect but we don’t want to look like stressed out, stretched out mamas either!

The way we present ourselves to the world does affect how we feel.

Enter accessories.

Bangles, dangles, head scarves, belts, sunglasses, necklaces, hats, colorful flats, and wraps can turn you from looking worn out to LOOK OUT in no time!

What I also love about accessorizing is that it can transform any basic outfit into something special.  You can feel like a million bucks with very little effort! No one has to know that amazing printed headscarf is hiding 3 day old hair!

That is why when I pack I usually stick to the basics in monochromatic colors so that I can mix and match throughout the trip and add in the drama with accessories.  That way you are packing light AND feeling pretty.  Works every time!

What are your favorite travel style tips?  I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any great ideas add them in the comments below:)

Emily Eck