We live in New Jersey, in a town that is located about 20 miles from New York City. We have always liked to travel, and are happy to report that having a child has not stopped us from jumping onto planes to go to interesting places. Fortunately, our daughter Anna has generally been easy to travel with and enjoys visiting and learning about new places and cultures. She is 11 years old, and has already been to 26 states and 29 countries.
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Anna on one of her adventures
Countries that Anna has visited:
Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
States within the USA that Anna has visited:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. She has also been to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, which technically aren't states.
A view in Rocky Mountain National Park
National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites
We are very big fans of the United States' National Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites. They are one of this country's greatest bargains, offering visitors the highlights of our scenery and history at an affordable price (usually under $20). Every year we always try to visit a few more. Our favorite thus far is Yosemite, although we also loved the national parks and monuments of southern Utah (Bryce, Canyonlands, Zion, Arches, and Grand Staircase-Escalante ). Other ones that we have visited include: Crater Lake, Newberry Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes, Pu'uonua Honaunau, Sequioa, Kings Canyon, Devil's Postpile, Manzanar, Death Valley, Muir Woods, Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Montezuma's Castle, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Devil's Tower, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, Gateway Arch, Mammoth Cave, New River Gorge, Acadia, St. Gaudens, Thomas Edison, Independence Hall, Gettysburg, Steamtown, Lowell, New Bedford Whaling, Ellis Island, and many of the historic sites in Boston, New York and Washington DC.
Small Museums and Out-of-the-Way Attractions
We love to discover small museums and other attractions that aren't on the usual tourist itineraries. We've learned a lot of interesting things and met a lot of nice people in these places. A few that we recommend are listed below:
Tillamook Air Museum - Tillamook, OR
St. Gaudens National Historic Site - Cornish, NH
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum - Bronx, NY
Huntington Art Museum - Huntington, WV
River Heritage Museum - Paducah, KY
Quilt Museum - Paducah, KY
Isabella Stewart Garden Museum - Boston, MA
Army Ordinance Museum - Aberdeen, MD
Newark Museum - Newark, NJ
New Jersey Naval Museum - Hackensack, NJ
Marx Toy Museum - Moundsville, WV
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace - New York, NY
New England Carousel Museum - Bristol, CT
Whaling Museum - Nantucket, MA
Virginia Museum of Transportation - Roanoke, VA
Booker T. Washington Birthplace - Franklin County, VA
Brandywine Museum - Chadds Ford, PA
Warm Springs Indian Museum - Warm Springs, OR
Smithfield Plantation - Blacksburg, VA
Creede Underground Mining Museum - Creede, CO
Liberace Museum - Las Vegas, NV
Oglebay Mansion Museum - Wheeling, WV
Oglebay Glass Museum - Wheeling, WV
Woodrow Wilson Museum - Staunton, VA
Archdiocesan Museum - Krakow, Poland
Musee Cognacq-Jay - Paris, France
Fondation Maeght - Saint-Paul, France
Sudtirol Archaeology Museum - Bolzano, Italy
Eremitani Civic Museum - Padua, Italy
Liechtenstein National Museum - Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Menshikov Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia
Museu do Azulejo - Lisbon, Portugal
CP Nel Museum - Oudtshoorn, South Africa
Maison de Broderie - Cilaos, Reunion
Livingstone Museum - Livingstone, Zambia
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum - Melaka, Malaysia
Stamp Museum - Melaka, Malaysia
Soong Ching-Ling Museum - Beijing, China
Piano Museum - Xiamen, China
Sanxingdui Museum - Chengdu, China
Anna visits the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg
Traveling with a Small Child
Many people look at us as if we have sprouted seven heads when we tell them we are traveling to Europe or the Western United States with a child. They assume that we are crazy and/or foolish to even think of doing it. The truth, however, is that traveling with a child is not that difficult, it just requires a little extra preparation and a few adjustments to the trip. And the benefit of having a child who has seen new places and experienced a lot of new cultures and other things far outweighs the inconveniences, in our opinion.
A few things tips for parents who are thinking about traveling with a child (a few of them are things that we have learned the hard way):
1. When flying to Europe (or any long eastward flight), take an overnight flight. Hopefully, your child will sleep right through it. Also, eat at the airport before the flight so that you can go to sleep on the plane right after takeoff.
2. When getting on an airplane, always have something for your child to sip on or chew during takeoff. It will make it easier for them to clear their ears when the pressure changes.
3. For long daytime airplane flights, bring a portable DVD and/or videogame player with extra batteries. An entertained child is a happy child on a plane. The DVD player and/or videogame player also come in handy if your hotel's TV doesn't have any childrens' programming or anything in a language your child understands. Books and coloring books are also great for long flights.
4. Always have a change of clothes with you, in case of an accident (big stains, wet pants, etc.) while out sightseeing.
5. Whenever possible, stay at a hotel with a beach or swimming pool. Kids love to swim and makes for a good bribe during the day's sightseeing (If you behave, we'll swim this afternoon.)
6. Find a few sights and activities that your child will enjoy (toy museum, zoo, amusement park, horse carriage rides, puppet show, circus, playground, etc.) and weave them into your itinerary.
7. Stop for ice cream a few times during the week. Also carry some candy for an occasional good behavior bribe/reward.
8. For small children, buy a lightweight folding stroller and a folding backpack so that your child does not get tired of walking and become miserable.
9. Don't book tight connections at big airports. Running through a large airport with a stroller and/or small child is not fun.
10. Don't get overly concerned about time zone changes. Your child's body clock may not fully adjust, but will get close enough to be OK. When we go to Europe, we just sleep in a few extra hours and stay up a little later than usual.
11. Even if your child is a picky eater, you will probably be able to find something that they can eat.
12. Make things interesting to them. If visiting a castle, tell them about the kings and princesses that lived there. In an art museum, point out paintings of little girls, angels, and ponies.
13. Get a rental car. That way you don't have to deal with the logistical hassles of getting your kids and luggage off and onto trains and buses. You will also have more flexibility to deal with bathroom emergencies, temper tantrums, and other unscheduled child-related events.
14. Carry something for them to play with when they get bored (in restaurants, museums, ets.). Books and coloring books are great for restaurants.
15. Be on the lookout for children their age that they can play with from time to time on the trip. A few minutes of playtime works wonders, even if they can't understand the other child's language. It may also give them the opportunity to get a pen pal that they can keep in touch with.
At the Alcobaca Monastery in Portugal
Our Recent Travels
Montenegro (Budva, Kotor, Sveti Stefan) and Croatia (Dubrovnik)
Poland (Krakow, Czestochowa, Zakopane)
Las Vegas and Death Valley
Rhode Island (Wickford and Newport)
Portugal (Lisbon, Fatima, Obidos, Alcobaca, Batalha, Sintra)
West Virginia (Charleston and Huntington)
Slovenia and Northeastern Italy (Venice and Trieste)
Roanoke and Blacksburg, Virginia
Vancouver, Alaska, Yukon
Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC
Roanoke and Blacksburg, VA
Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, China
Blacksburg and Roanoke, VA
Orlando, FL (Disney World)
Blacksburg and Charlottesville, Virginia
Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC
Mauritius and Reunion
Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, and Swaziland
Wilmington, DE and Philadelphia, PA
Rhode Island and Connecticut
Orlando, FL (Disney World)
South Carolina (Hilton Head and Charleston)
The Alps (Germany, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland)
Northern Italy (Verona, Padua, Lake Garda)
St. Martin and St. Kitts
Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE
China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu)
China (Guangxi, Shandong, Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Hong Kong)
New York City
At the Timmelsjoch Pass in the Alps
Yosemite National Park (California)
The Dolomites (northern Italy)
Li River region of southern China
Favorite Upscale Hotels
Pestana Palace - Lisbon
Casa do Sol - Hazyview, South Africa
The Cloister - Sea Island, Georgia, USA
Sirkeci Konak - Istanbul
Favorite Budget Hotels/Motels/etc:
Bakkhos Guesthouse - Kusadasi, Turkey
Inyathi Guest Lodge - Knysna, South Africa
Mutlu Hotel - Fethiye, Turkey
Favorite Small Airports:
Roanoke, VA, USA
Nelspruit (Kruger), South Africa
Paducah, KY, USA
Nantucket, MA, USA
Favorite National Parks:
Reunion (Reunion, France)
Death Valley (USA)
Seward to Anchorage (Alaska, USA)
Route 1 - Santa Barbara to San Francisco (California, USA)
Alpine Loop (Colorado, USA)
Timelsjoch Pass (Italy/Austria)
Fethiye to Antalya (Turkey)
Sainte-Chapelle - Paris
Scrovegni Chapel - Padova, Italy
Chartres Cathedral - Chartres, France
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newark, NJ, USA
Melk Abbey - Melk, Austria
Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood - Saint Petersburg, Russia
Favorite Swimming Pools:
Grand Hyatt Beijing - China
Furnace Creek Ranch - Death Valley, CA, USA
Hilton Hotel - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bellagio Hotel - Las Vegas
Glacier Point - Yosemite National Park, CA, USA
Le Maido - Reunion
Island in the Sky - Canyonlands, National Park, UT, USA
South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona, US
Kalalau Valley - Kauai, HI, USA
Lake Bohinj (from Vogel gondola) - Slovenia
Dolomite Mountains (from the Ortisei gondola)
Lichtenstein Alps (via the chairlift from Malbun)
The Three Rondavels (Blyde River Canyon) - South Africa
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