The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Tue, 10 Jul 2018 01:33:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Best Things to Do on the Oregon Coast for an Incredible Vacation https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/north-america/the-best-things-to-do-on-the-oregon-coast-for-an-incredible-vacation/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/north-america/the-best-things-to-do-on-the-oregon-coast-for-an-incredible-vacation/#respond Fri, 29 Jun 2018 01:20:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16356 Looking for the best things to do on the Oregon Coast? We just finished up a fun family roadtrip along the Oregon coast and decided to share some of our favorite places and activities with you.

The Best Things to Do on the Oregon Coast

Any good Oregon coast road trip itinerary will start and end with an oceanfront view. Sure, there’s a lot to do here besides taking in the beaches and coastline, but we’ve made special note of can’t miss vistas, plus notes on unique things to do, as well as tips for what to do if it’s raining or the weather’s a little off.

Our road trip started in Portland, and then followed the coast from the top of northern Oregon in Astoria, down south and finally ending in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor near the California border.

Canon Beach Oregon Coast DP

Cannon Beach Oregon Coast

Where to Stay

We love the road trip, but we’re not fans of the standard, tired, road trip motel. Wherever we travel, we look for a clean, stylish and affordable place to stay.

There’s tons of places to stay in Oregon however clean, affordable, stylish motels are surprisingly hard to find, especially in popular tourist spots like the Oregon coast. When Motel 6 asked us to try out some of their newly renovated properties we were keen to give them a try. The renovated properties have flat screen TVs and stylish bathrooms, plus wood style floors (which I love, as wood seems so much cleaner and fresher than carpet).

You can see a map of the renovated properties here. Scroll down to see pics and our take on our favorite Motel 6 in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Motel 6 Lincoln City Oregon_1

Clean and nice! Our room in the Motel 6 at Lincoln City Oregon.

Where to Eat

There’s no shortage of great grub in Oregon, but the coast is best known for fresh seafood and, lately, a booming craft beer scene. Plus, as any hard core road tripper will tell you, road trips also mean diner food and lots of it. We also kept this a budget trip, so we made good use of our Motel 6 fridge to self cater.

What to see and do on your Oregon Coast road trip

Wondering what to do on the Oregon Coast?

The Pacific Northwest’s Oregon coast is home to rugged cliffs, secret coves, seemingly endless beaches, and amazing marine life.

Our route along US Highway 101 takes you from Astoria in the North, all the way down to the California border in the south, traveling past historic lighthouses, charming seaside towns, giant sand dunes, and beautiful state parks.

Portland

Portland is Oregon’s largest city, and well known for its cool and hip vibe. It’s a great city to land in but since we were more interested in visiting the coastal areas of Oregon (Portland is over an hour from the nearest beaches), we didn’t spend much time in Portland itself. If you’re interested in visiting Portland, make sure to check out it’s many parks, microbreweries and coffeehouses as well as the iconic Washington Park.

Astoria

Astoria is one of my very favorite Oregon coast drive attractions. I’ve stopped by here many times, and love the gritty, historic vibe of this little city.

It’ll probably look instantly familiar to you, as Astoria was home to filming plenty of TV shows and movies, from Kindergarten Cop to the Goonies.

We had a great meal at Buoy Beer Co., which is perched right on the water, but there are plenty of other cool micro brew pubs here.

Buoy Beer Co coaster Astoria Oregon Coast

Astoria sits at the mouth of the Columbia River, and the old harbor is now home to some cool restaurants and fancy hotels. Be sure to check out beautiful Fort Stevens State Park, plus the Military Museum with gun batteries buried in sand dunes. There’s plenty of hiking, biking, camping and a pretty beach near the Peter Iredale 1096 shipwreck.

If you’re looking to while a way a little time in town, check out the Astoria column (and it’s great view over the city) as it’s worth a stop, plus the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and the Astoria Riverfront Trolleys are fun as well.

You really can’t miss the Astoria-Megler Bridge, with it’s striking steel frame architecture and beautiful views. If you have kids (or you’re a kid at heart), you may want to pop even further North to visit Great Wolf Lodge water park, about two hours north of Portland closer to Seattle. If you take the #5 highway from Portland to Astoria, it’s only an hour out of your way. We stayed a night, and wished we’d had a few more days to spend there! Check prices here.

Great Wolf Water slides

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is one of the most photographed landmarks along the Oregon Coast, and one of the top must-see Oregon coast road trip stops. It may not be the most unique thing to do on the Oregon coast, since it’s so popular, but it’s an absolute must visit.

There’s a bustling little town here with some good food (stop by Bruce’s Candy Kitchen for sure), plus the whimsical DragonFire Gallery, and wine and beer tastings at the cute but touristy Wine Shack.

The landmark Haystack Rock protrudes 235 feet out of the Pacific, and it’s well worth a visit. The day we visited, it was pouring rain, but we managed to get a break just long enough to see Haystack Rock peeking out among a dark sea and moody storm clouds. Even on a bad day, it’s stunning.

On a clear day, take time to walk along Cannon beach itself, which has some wonderful tidal pools, and see Haystack Rock up close.

Canon beach Oregon clouds and field in front

Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach is a charming seaside village of just over 1,000 people with a picturesque beach. Make sure you stop by the Beach Bakeshop for home baked and delicious treats. I loved the scones, but you can’t go wrong with any of the treats here.

Take the time to go down to Rockaway Beach wayside, a cute little beachfront stop with public parking. There’s a playground, restrooms, and the main attraction, a stunning view of the off-shore Twin Rocks. Animal lovers like me love the friendly squirrel family that makes its home here.

You can also catch a ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad here, or in nearby Garibaldi below.

Beach Bakeshop Rockaway Beach Oregon Coast

Garibaldi

If you enjoy trains like me, or just like taking a relaxing ride with great scenery, check out the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. It’s a slow ride with plenty of stops in a historic 1925 steam train. The train runs from Garibaldi to Rockaway Beach (you can depart from either town).

If you have time, the Garibaldi boat basin is also a fun place to take a stroll and check out the working docks and boats.

Tillamook Creamery

Honestly, we stopped by the Tillamook Creamery on a whim because it was rainy and we were looking for a break from the rain.

Turns out, it’s a huge tourist attraction, with a packed parking lot, and a remodeled interior. On the plus side, there’s free cheese tasting that makes the wait well worth it. There’s a new building, with the sampling area upstairs, and a huge gift shop with Tillamook things to purchase.

Tillamook cheese sampling oregon coast

Lincoln City

We spent a good chunk of our time in Lincoln City, one of the most popular small towns along the Oregon Coast.

There’s a great mix here of stunning scenery, cool shops, great food, and plenty of activities. The top draw here is the beaches, which stretch for seemingly endless miles along the coast. They’re perfect for beach combing, playing in tidal pools, and long, leisurely walks. We spent time both on the beach in town (which we accessed near Chinook Winds Casino) and Siletz Bay beach.

family on beach Oregon Coast by the beach Lincoln City

Lincoln City beach

Siletz Bay beach is long and packed with driftwood and tons of people enjoying campfires along the water. There’s also tons of harbor seals and lots of people crabbing and clamming along the mud flats in the area.

Make sure to stop by Eleanor’s Undertow at the public beach access in Siletz Bay for some delicious ice cream.

We spent a few days in Lincoln City riding out a blast of rainy weather, and found some fun indoor things to do in town. There’s a decent movie theater, and a smallish outlet mall, but we really loved Prehistoric. This small shop dinosaur themed shop specializes in authentic and manufactured fossils, plus has a cool selection of gemstones. There’s also a cheesy but fun animatronic baby T-Rex out front that the kids loved.

Prehistoric in Lincoln City

Inside Prehistoric in Lincoln City

We had a great breakfast at the Pig n’ Pancake, which serves typical breakfast American fare and makes a great waffle. The rest of the time we grabbed some to-go meals at the local Safeway and IGA grocery stores and heated them up in our motel microwave.

While we were in Lincoln Beach, we stayed in the the newly renovated Motel 6. Forget whatever you think about motels – this was a clean, stylish and affordable place to stay with some rooms overlooking the Oregon bay. This motel is part of Motel 6’s newly renovated properties and even the furniture here was a little different, with a clean, comfortable and contemporary style.

We’ve long been fans of the Motel 6 renovated properties. We stay at the Swift Current, Saskatchewan, property almost every year on our yearly road trip to visit family in Western Canada. It’s a great value and we love the clean and simple lines!

Motel 6 Lincoln City Oregon_2

 

Depoe Bay

Just south of Lincoln City is Depoe Bay, one of the best places in Oregon to watch whales. Most people go to see the nearly 20,000 gray whales that migrate from mid-December through mid-January on the way to Baja Mexico or in March to see them migrating back up north.

There are plenty of tour companies that will take you out on the water, but the Whale Watching Center is a great place to start. You can watch from the windows to catch a glimpse of orcas, humpback whales, dolphins, and even the occasional blue whale.

Ainslee’s Salt Water Taffy is well worth a stop to curb a sweet craving and there are stunning views from Tidal Raves if you’re up for a seafood meal.

Depoe Bay Water Stream off Gray Whale Tail DP

Devils Punchbowl

Just south of Depoe Bay, on your way down to Newport, lies the Devils Punchbowl State Park. The walk to the Devils Punchbowl is only safe at low tide, but the walk itself is a wide and fairly easy stroll. There’s a small waterfall, and plenty of tide pools for exploring. Do not hike to the Punchbowl during high tide, as it’s dangerous!

Love wine? Oregon’s wine region, Willamette Valley, is home to over 550 wineries and is only a short hour’s drive to the interior. Willamette Valley runs south of Portland through Salem and down to Eugene.

Nye Beach, Newport

Nye Beach is a wonderful place to hunker down for the night. It’s a scenic beach town with lovely bakeries and bookstore. The Chowder Bowl at Nye Beach is a local’s favorite for, you guessed it, fresh chowder.

If you tire of the small town vibe, nearby Newport offers plenty of activities and food options. Newport also has two historic lighthouses that are worth checking out. One is called the Yaquina Bay lighthouse and the other is the Yaquina Head lighthouse.

Newport is also known as the Dungeness crab capital of the world, so it may be worthwhile to take in some seafood at the highly recommended Local Ocean Seafoods while you’re there. On your way from Newport to Cape Perpetua, stop by the cute The Chocolate Frog shop for homemade candy, saltwater taffy or ice cream.

Pocket book a little light? You can go on your own clam dig or crab hunt and cook your own seafood delights to help keep your costs down while in the area. Check out this page for some of the best crabbing sites around Newport.

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua offers a stunning view over the local coastline.

This is dramatic coastline, with scenic attractions with names like Devil’s Churn and Thor’s Well, which are both worth a visit. If you’re looking for something less dramatic, stop by the cute Little Log Church. Nearby, you’ll find craft beer at Yachats Brewing + Farmstore.

Thor’s Well

Florence

The sea lion caves in Florence are a series of interconnected caves and caverns about 11 miles south of Florence. It’s a privately owned sanctuary, so there’s a charge to enter. It’s a wild place, the USA’s largest sea cave and a year-round home to the Steller sea lion.

Take time for the easy hike nearby at the pretty tree covered Hobbit Trail to the ocean.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse was built back in the 1890’s and is as charming and historic as that date suggests. It’s still active, and you can visit at night to see the lighthouse in action.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the largest stretch of coastal sand dunes in North America.

Sand dunes tower up to 500 feet above sea level, and are perfect for ATV play, hiking, sand boarding and sightseeing. The Oregon Dunes Visitor Center near Reedsport is a great place to start, and packed with information about local wildlife and activities.

One of Charles’ favorite offroad memories involves driving a dune buggy over the Oregon dunes and getting himself into a little trouble back in the day. Needless to say, it’s best to follow the rules while riding the giant dunes however if you enjoy atving, 4x4ing or motorbiking then this area shouldn’t be missed and is one of the best sand areas in the country.

Oregon Dunes boy and dad walking

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres is a chance to immerse yourself in Oregon’s flora and fauna. Set among sandstone cliffs, there are two rose gardens and a Japanese garden. Plus, you can see one of the tallest trees in the world here. It’s a 95-foot tall Monterey Pine that has a massive 208-inch round trunk.

Tidal Pool

Tidal Pool

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor

This is a stunning 12 mile long stretch of shore almost to the California border. Photos taken here are stunning, and there are stone formations like Arch Rock and Natural Bridges that are all worth a look. Unfortunately, we didn’t get as far south as this on our Oregon coast road trip this time however it’s on our must see list for our next trip down to California.

Have you visited the Oregon coast? What were your favorite things to do? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear!

Are you looking for must see things to do on your Oregon Coast vacation? Check out the beautiful beaches, visit stunning Lincoln City and Seaside, plus find the very best hotels #Oregon #Adventure #Explore #Discover #Travel #Getaway #TravelTips #BestTravelTips #USA Are you looking for things to do on an Oregon Coast road trip? Check out the beautiful beaches, take wonderful hikes and drive along stunning highway 101! #Oregon #Adventure #Explore #Discover #Travel #Getaway #TravelTips #BestTravelTips #USA ]]>
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Fun and Interesting Facts About the Great Barrier Reef in Australia https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/fun-and-interesting-facts-about-the-great-barrier-reef-in-australia/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/fun-and-interesting-facts-about-the-great-barrier-reef-in-australia/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2018 20:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16679 One of the greatest natural wonders of the world lies just 15 kilometers off the Australian coast.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is an amazing living mass of vivid colored coral that stretches over 2300 km (1400 miles). It begins just north of Queensland’s Cape York and continues down past the city of Bundaberg. The Great Barrier Reef lies between 15 to 60 kilometers just off of Australia’s east coast in the aptly named Coral Sea.

Interesting Facts About the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

When we last toured Australia, we not only visited the reef, we also did some amazing diving and snorkeling while we were in the state of Queensland. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good digital underwater camera back then (GoPro’s didn’t even exist yet!), however we do have memories that will last a lifetime.

As our kids get older and their fascination with the land down under continues to grow, we put together a post on some of our personal memories of the reef and then tied it in with some fun facts about the amazing Great Barrier reef in Australia for your enjoyment.

Read on to learn more interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef. They’re definitely a great reason to go visit!

If you’re thinking of heading out there, that there’s no time like the present to plan a holiday to the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is huge

At over 2300 kilometers in length (1400 miles) and up to 65 kilometers wide (40 miles) in some parts, the Great Barrier Reef is the single largest living structure on earth.

In all, it covers an area of 344,400 km2 (132,973 m2).

How huge is it?

The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing that can be seen from space.

It’s longer than the Great Wall of China and nearly half the size of Texas, plus it’s bigger than the UK, Holland and Switzerland combined.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef compared to Queensland

How many islands are there?

The area known as the Great Barrier Reef also includes 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays and around 150 inshore mangrove islands.

How deep is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef has an average depth of 35 meters (115 feet) inshore while the outer reefs can extend down to depths of more than 2000 meters (6562 feet).

Personal Note: As we traveled down the eastern coast of Australia and checked out the small towns that dotted the sshore, signs for day trips out to the reef appeared everywhere. They must have worked, because we went out to the reef several times as we headed south down towards Sydney. All together, our six month Australian road trip was a ton of fun and of course, our best dive in Australia happened on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef has a lot of life

With over 3000 separate reefs, each with their own ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef has a ton of diversity. In fact, nearly 10% of the world’s total fish species can be found within the Great Barrier Reef system itself.

What animals live in the Great Barrier Reef?

Curious to what lives there? Here’s a quick breakdown of the species you can find on the Great Barrier Reef.

The largest concentration of dugong on earth – The dugong is closely related to the manatee or sea cow and is a relative of the elephant.

6 species of sea turtle – Not only are six of the seven known sea turtles found here, the reef is also the largest green turtle breeding ground in the world.

15 species of sea snakes – Yes, they are crazily poisonous, but attacks are almost non existent.

30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises – Everything from iconic humpback whales to playful bottlenose dolphins can be found at the Great Barrier Reef.

100 species of jellyfish – Including the very poisonous box jellyfish for which you need a special lycra suit to protect yourself with if they’re in season.

134 species of sharks and rays – The most common being the harmless white-tip or black-tip reef sharks.

300 species of soft coral – Over one third of all soft coral in the world exists within the area of the Great Barrier Reef.

330 species of ascidians or sea squirts – Small round shaped animals that attach to rock or coral and look like a tube swaying in the current.

400 species of hard coral – As hard coral dies, its skeleton forms the base on which the next hard coral builds for generations upon generations.

500 species of worm – Think colorful fan shaped ones as well as little spiraled ones rather than the earth variety.

1300 species of crustaceans – Besides for the ubiquitous crab, the reefs also contain the mantis shrimp, famous for it bullet fast punches that have been known to break glass.

1600 species of fish – From small Nemo inspired clownfish all to the way up to 8 foot, 800 pound groupers, the Great Barrier Reef is teeming with fish of all shapes, colors and sizes.

3000 species of mollusk and clams – Including the giant clam which can grow over four feet long and weigh more than 500 pounds and live over 100 years.

Personal Note: As we dove and snorkeled around the Great Barrier Reef, we saw some of the largest concentrations of fish in one area that we had ever experienced as divers. It’s amazing that an area can yield such a diversity. We also saw some enormous groupers and only found out that saltwater crocodiles can also be found out there after witnessing one swimming below us as we walked along the pier on the beach. Who knew!

*Icons made by Freepik via Flaticon

How old is the Great Barrier Reef?

At over 500,000 years old, the Great Barrier Reef has seen some crazy changes over the years. From droughts and ice ages to population booms and busts it has stood the test of time. That being said, this current “version” of the reef is only around 8,000 years old.

There was an ice age in the region around 20,000 years ago and the water levels dropped nearly 200 feet (61 meters) from today’s height. As the glaciers eventually melted and the sea water rose again, they left behind small dunes which helped form part of the Great Barrier Reef we know today.

Want to read more about crazy Australian facts and our trip there? Check out this post about interesting facts on Australia we wrote back in January.

Coral breeding on the Great Barrier Reef is synchronized

No, the Great Barrier Reef doesn’t have a clock but if it did, that would explain its yearly breeding event. During certain moon phases and for only a few nights a year in late October or early November, the Great Barrier Reef is home to the largest synchronized breeding event in the world.

On these rare low current nights, billions of red, white and pink coral eggs and sperm are all simultaneously released over the span of the reef. The entire Great Barrier Reef is literally alive as all the different coral species of egg and sperm find each other and begin life anew.

Each fertilized egg can theoretically start its own colony and the tiny coral joins the thousands of other minute fish species that comprise plankton as it matures and seeks it own home along the reef and beyond.

Personal note: We missed this event by only a few days when we were there and it’s still on my diving bucket list to witness the phenomenon firsthand.

The Great Barrier Reef is an UNESCO Heritage Site

UNESCO listed the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site in 1981. The reef has also been protected one way or another since the creation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1975.

These days, the Australian government spends over $200 million each year tending and protecting it. As such, it is one of the best protected environments on the planet with lots of rules and regulations delegating everything from no boat to no fishing zones.

Over 2 million people visit each year

With over 900 tour operators and 1500 vessels and aircraft permitted to operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, over two million visitors check out the area annually, bringing in over $5.6 billion each year to the Australian economy and creating over 70,000 jobs.

Personal Note: Just like everyone else, we were charged a daily fee (Environmental Management Charge or EMC) for visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (it’s currently $6.50 AU for kids age four and up), however I can remember at the time that we truly believed our tour operator was swindling us. Turns out they weren’t!

The Great Barrier Reef exists above water too

What, you thought reefs only exist below the water? Turns out that the Great Barrier Reef is a complete ecosystem and that includes over 900 islands. Up on land and in the air you can find 215 species of birds (including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds) living or visiting the many islands as well as the giant blue skinned cassowary which can grow up to 2 m (6.6 ft) tall and weigh up to 60 kg (130 lb).

Like I previously mentioned, large saltwater crocodiles also live in mangrove and salt water marshes along the coast near the reef and some have been seen out on the islands. The islands also contain huge monitor lizards that feed on giant grasshoppers local to the area.

If you’re there in the sea turtle season, which runs from November to late March, you might also get a chance to see a sea turtle on shore laying its eggs or perhaps seeing the baby turtles fighting their way back to the sea after hatching. Either way, both can be a magical event.

Personal Note: Besides for seeing huge saltwater crocs in the ocean (we never realized that was a thing) we had the opportunity to see some baby sea turtle hatchlings in a local turtle hatchery. As much as we love sea turtles, baby sea turtles are even cooler.

The reef is in danger

A new study in the respected scientific journal Nature reports that a heatwave in 2016 caused severe mass death of coral.

The death came from coral bleaching, which happens when excessive heat kills algae that have a symbiotic relationship with coral. Without the algae, corals often die. The damage is a warning of what the future might hold if climate change continues to warm tropical reefs like the great barrier reef.

Best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Every day of the year is a great day to visit the Great Barrier Reef, however there are certain times it’s better if you’re hoping to see certain events.

Stinger season happens from November to May. During this time you need to swim inside designated stinger enclosures at the beaches or wear a lycra stinger suit. If you’re diving or snorkeling they’ll give you a suit to wear or a typical wetsuit will do you fine. Just be careful taking it off or rinsing it down after just in case you had a jelly fish encounter and didn’t realize it.

Turtle season runs from late November to late March. This is the perfect time to go if you hope to see a sea turtle on land. Go early and you might see a turtle laying, go in February and you might see some hatching.

Wet season generally runs from December to May and is considered the low season which means better specials, but it’s more likely to rain and the weather can get quite hot. Either is fine if you’re diving but you could get wet and you will get hot while exploring topside.

Dry season generally runs from June to November and has lower day time temperatures, humidity and less rainfall. This is considered high season around the Great Barrier Reef, so there are more visitors and less tour availability.

Coral spawning season happens over the course of 2 or 3 nights in late October to early November and depends on temperature, ocean currents and the moon phase. Its exact timing varies from year to year however they all involve one thing. Going out to do some night time diving and a little luck.

Whale season happens from May to September with many Dwarf Minke Whale encounters happening in June and July. Tours for the ever playful humpback whale typically happen in August and September and dolphin sightings happen year round if you’re likely.

No matter when you head there, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has an amazing collection of underwater species that will leave you yearning to return time and time again.

Whether you’re a diver, a snorkeler or just love nature, if you’re planning on taking a holiday to Australia, you should definitely check out the Great Barrier Reef for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

Since we regrettably don’t have many pictures of our time at the reef, some pics are courtesy of Tourism Queensland as well as Pexels.

turtle, whale, coral, ocean Fun facts about Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Cool and fun facts about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia boy snorkeling photo

Interesting Facts about the Great Barrier Reef turtle whale and coral

 

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Kid Friendly Things to do in Colorado Springs That Guarantee Family Fun https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/kid-friendly-things-to-do-in-colorado-springs/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/kid-friendly-things-to-do-in-colorado-springs/#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 21:00:57 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15295 On our recent family trip to Colorado, we enjoyed some of the most fun kid friendly things to do in Colorado Springs. We had a few great days seeing everything Colorado Springs has to offer and loved our sunshine filled days exploring this part of Colorado, USA.

On this trip we rode a train, spelunked in a massive cave system, fed giraffes, played on water slides, explored nature, climbed a mountain, swam in giant pools, ate at some delicious restaurants and ran wild in a former elementary school.

It was a great experience, and since it was just my son Cole and I representing the family on this trip, we spent some amazing time together getting a chance to further strengthen our already great relationship. Read on to see our top picks for family fun!

Kid Friendly Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Day 1

So what kids activities did we enjoy in Colorado Springs? Well, the first day we rode a cog train up North America’s most visited mountain, Pikes Peak. We then wandered through the beautiful Garden of the Gods. Next, we descended to the depths in the Cave of the Winds and we ate s’mores as well as went on a MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs. And that was only a small portion of our time.

Before we even hit Colorado Springs, we had the opportunity to visit the area around Cañon City. At just over an hour from Colorado Springs and to the west of Canon City itself, is home to some of the best whitewater rafting in the state. Not only did we get our feet wet while white water rafting down the Arkansas River, we also checked out the newly opened Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience. We even had the chance to spend a night in the newly built Royal Gorge Cabins. If you’re curious, you can check out our Cañon City Colorado family experience here.

That said, overnighting in Cañon City was only one small part of our family Colorado tour.

The second day we had breakfast and a pint in the re-purposed sprawling Ivywild School, fed giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and finally relaxed in class and comfort at the sprawling Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Sound like fun? It was, and now here’s the lowdown on all the fun things to do with the family in Colorado Springs.

Ride a cog train up Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs

The entrance to Pike’s Peak is just 15 minutes west of Colorado Springs in quirky and charming Manitou Springs. Hosting nine natural mineral springs and a collection of spiritualists, visiting Manitou Springs itself can be a great way to get the kids drinking water while you do the Springsabouts Walking Tour and sample the varieties of water the springs offer (and yes, each spring does taste different).

The entrance to Pike’s Peak highway is also found in Manitou Springs and though you can drive yourself up to the summit of Pike’s Peak (it’s about 19 miles of crazy switchbacks), or climb the 13 mile long Barr Trail (only for the fit and bold), we chose to go up via the old Pikes Peak Cog Railway train that runs year round (weather permitting).

Once we picked up our tickets and determined our departure time, we got in line and jumped into one of the three open aired coaches our train provided for that run. Luckily for us, the windows close because, as we got closer to the peak, our very hot day suddenly became much, much cooler.

On the way up the 14,115 foot summit of America’s most famous mountain, we saw waterfalls and rock formations, old miner cabins and a post office. We also saw deer and about 2/3rds of the way up we saw a bunch of yellow- bellied marmots known locally as whistle pigs. These huge woodchuck shaped ground squirrel relatives were fun to watch and the kids loved spotting them. Some days you can also spot bighorn sheep and even black bears.

Tip! Remember a jacket, even in summer! What started as a very warm summer day at the bottom became downright cold by the time we reached the top

Once you get to the summit of Pikes Peak, which takes just over an hour each way, you can stretch your legs and walk around the top before the Pikes Peak cog railway returns you to the bottom. The entire trip lasts three hours and 10 minutes, so it makes a great morning or afternoon getaway.

Up on Pikes Peak, you’ll find washrooms (there are none on the train so make sure you go before you leave) as well as a snack bar featuring some unique donuts (they had to be specially crafted to rise at a high elevation) and also a gift shop. Other than that, the view in all directions is simply beautiful so make sure you have a camera with you.

Note! Departure times, seating assignments and return times for the Pikes Peak cog train from the summit are all preset in advance, so make sure you pay attention to the times otherwise you could be left at the summit.

Descend to the depths in the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs

While we were in Manitou Springs, we also checked out the infamous Cave of the Winds. These caves were discovered over a century ago by a couple of young brothers and then later explored in depth by a slew of early adventurists.

Over the years, as new tunnels have been discovered, the Cave of the Winds has been opened up to the public and is now a major tourist destination. The huge complex features multiple cave trips, two adrenaline inducing aerial lines (the Bat-A-Pult and aptly named Terror-Dactyl free fall) as well as the Wind Walker climbing course that sits directly over a 600 foot drop. It also has a large concession area, a picnic area, a giant slide and a mining station for kids.

Wind Walker climbing course, the Bat-A-Pult adrenaline ride and the free kids slide

We did the 45 minute long Discovery Tour and that was perfect for the kids.  We walked up and down pathways and also stairs and ladders as we explored everything that a million year old cave system features. We saw tons of stalagmites, stalactites, amazing waterfall like flowstones, fossilized shells and other speleothems (cave decorations).

At one point, our guides shut off all the lights and, well, you haven’t experienced darkness until you’ve stood in the middle of a cave a hundred feet below ground. It really made me want to take the special Lantern Tour where the group travels only with handheld lanterns like the early spelunkers and explorers did while telling ghost stories and delving into the caves past.

For the truly adventurist, there’s also the well reviewed Cave 101 tour where you strap on your helmets, grab your flashlight and climb and crawl your way through undeveloped caves and smaller passageways. Claustrophobics need not apply for that tour.

Wander the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

If gods roamed gardens, you might find them in this oversize 480 acre garden of giant colored sandstone formations. The Garden of the Gods was donated to the city of Colorado Springs in the early 1900s from the head of the Burlington Railroad, Charles Elliott Perkins, after he passed away.

Set forth with strict provisions, the Garden of the Gods nature park is set to remain free for all visitors and free from all structures not prevalent to maintaining the park for all time. As such, you won’t find much in the park except the world class Visitor & Nature Center and the Café at the Garden. It’s simple, but still one of the many fun family things to do in Colorado Springs that’s worth a visit.

You can walk around the park, take a Segway tour or, go on an open aired Jeep excursion that drives around the park just like we did. A guide will tell you all about the history of the park and the formations you’re seeing. No matter how you see the Garden of the Gods you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the main 300 foot sandstone formation as well as all the different colors of the smaller formations.

Inside the sprawling Visitor & Nature Center is a museum featuring local flora and fauna as well as the cool multi screen Geo-Trekker theater experience explaining how all the red sandstone rocks were formed and how they became part of the amazing scenery. (Shows start every 20 minutes.)

Eat s’mores, enjoy waterslides and go on a MagiQuest at Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs

What’s the best way to end a long day seeing all the sights and sounds of Colorado Springs? Well, if you’re a kid, or a kid at heart, not much beats water slides and s’mores.

The newly opened Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs has that and a lot more and the kids loved ending their day there. The rooms were a huge hit as well with many theme rooms and, every kids fave, bunk beds!

On the fun side, not only were there indoor water slides for the whole family, but there is an indoor ropes course, indoor mini golf and of course, MagiQuest! All it takes is a special wand and your kids will be running around the huge Great Wolf Lodge waving their magic wands at everything they see as they go on their very own magic quest.

Not only that, there are ice cream parlours, candy stores, restaurants, pizza joints, and, luckily for parents, a bar you can sit in, as your kids run around burning off whatever remaining energy they have. The kids might have their own favorite memories of Great Wolf Lodge, but mine will be sharing a few delicious locally produced beers with my fellow parents.

To be honest, sitting by the campfire roasting s’mores was definitely a highlight for everyone and we all vowed we would be back to Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs again in the future.

Eating smores by the campfire at Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs

And so finished our fist day of fun things to do with the family in Colorado Springs. Want to see more things to do in Colorado outside of Denver? Check out our post of fun things to do in Canon City Colorado as well.

Fun things to do with kids in Colorado Springs: Day 2

We had so much fun on our first day in Colorado Springs that the entire group was excited to see what was in store the second day. Luckily for us, it was a little slower than the first day but we all welcomed the relaxed pace and had a good opportunity to enjoy even more things to do with the kids in Colorado Springs.

Eat, drink and be merry at the Ivywild School in Colorado Springs

Ever had that dream where you’re walking through your old school but it’s not quite as you remember it? Even better, ever dream that your old school has turned into a happening place filled with delicious eateries, micro brewers, art spaces and a movie theater in the gym?

Well, the former students of Ivywild sure must when they walk through the revamped Ivywild School in Colorado City. This actual decommissioned school built back in 1916 was on the verge of being torn down in 2009 before an enterprising group of individuals decided that yeah, they could work with it.

So a dream became reality and the Ivywild School has been converted into a trendy boutique of shops, eateries and micro pubs with the expansive Bristol Pub headlining the site.

The interesting part? They left the majority of the old school in place. Nowhere is that more evident than when walking in and looking at the principals office or seeing the old style urinals and the crazy kids artwork in the boys washroom.

Even walking down the halls makes you feel like you should have a hall pass for skipping class, and the fact that you can order dozens of tasty micro brews in old classrooms just highlights the surreal feeling you get while walking through Ivywild School.

Kids will love that there’s no teaching at Ivywild School in Colorado City and it will definitely fuel a few daydreams of what their own classroom might look like if they put in a restaurant or a few vats of cider in the broom closet. It also doesn’t hurt that the food you can get at Ivywild School is much, much better than anything I ever got in my school canteen.

The hard fact is that the Ivywild’s Old School Bakery had some of the tastiest cinnamon buns I’ve had in some time. Even better, all the eateries in Ivywild School also practice the food to table approach with gardens planted throughout the old schoolyard and close ties with local farmers. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

One of the gardens at Ivywild School in Colorado Springs

Feed giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs

What has four legs, a blue tongue the length of a small child and has to be standing 10 feet below you to look you squarely in the eye? No, it’s not a giant lizard, it’s a giraffe and they’re just one of the many highlights we found while walking around the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

The coolest part about having these gentle giants at eye level is you can feed them lettuce right from your hands. It’s still a little unnerving to see those huge giraffe tongues come out but the look of happiness they have as they grab their lunch from you is undeniable. Who knew lettuce could taste so good?

As well as hand feeding giraffes from the largest giraffe herd in the Americas, at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo you can take a chairlift called the Sky Ride that will have you soaring above it all. Not only do you get some amusing bird’s eye views of the many animals below but you get some amazing views over Cheyenne Mountain and a good portion of the valley around Colorado Springs.

Love animals? The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has over 750 animals and 170 species from all over the the world. We thought we walked just about everywhere while we there but, as we left, we realized we still hadn’t seen everything.

From lions, tigers and snow leopards in the African and Asian exhibits to learning about and interacting with chickens and goats in My Big Backyard, there are tons of things for kids of all ages.

They also have some great wildlife encounter shows that get you up close to the animals and we both enjoyed the elephant exhibit and the hippo section. Their monkey and primate section were also quite extensive, especially the gorillas and orangutans.

Since the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is also the only mountain zoo in America, they also have an extensive collection of local wildlife like mountain lions, grizzly bears, moose, river otters, lynx and porcupines. Even though all these animals exist back home, it’s still nice to see them in an authentic mountain setting.

One of the kids favorite areas at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was their walk-through aviary in their Australia section, where you can have budgies and parakeets eating right from the palm of your hand. As you leave this area, you walk through the wallaby walkabout which has small wallabies hopping about freely everywhere around you. We had to usher the kids out of this area otherwise they would have spent all day following the little kangaroos around.

Ever dreamed of being a zookeeper? Who hasn’t? Well, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has an area called The Loft where you get to go behind the scenes and see what it takes to make it all happen. From training and weighing, to feeding and cleaning, The Loft is designed from the ground up especially for kids (and would be kids). It’s not only a great space for hands on training and learning, it also preps them for all the responsibilities that comes with taking care of animals themselves.

Relax in comfort at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs

Ever watch a summer movie of teens hanging on the beach, then playing a little beach volleyball before heading to one of a half dozen different swimming pools, tennis courts or basketball courts while the parents are off enjoying a round of golf or maybe spending the day being pampered at the spa? Well, the Cheyenne Mountain Resort is that place.

It turns out that this huge sprawling mountainside resort with their own private lake is the dream resort of my childhood. Before arcades, wave pools and fancy electronics were a thing, the Cheyenne Mountain Resort would have been my epitome of resort high life.

With their own private 35 acre lake complete with a sandy beach, volleyball courts, canoes, kayaks and SUP rentals, they have the outdoor enthusiast covered.

They also have an aquatics center complete with four outdoor swimming pools, including a huge 50 m Olympic sized pool with water slide, a splash pad and a kiddie pool as well as an adult only pool and spa. They also have another heated pool in the main complex.

If you’re a tennis fan, they do tennis with 17 covered and uncovered tennis courts including two outdoor clay courts. For the fitness buff, there’s an expansive 9000 sq. foot fitness center complete with yoga, spin and cross training group classes.

One of the coolest features of Cheyenne Mountain Resort is that the resort has its own championship grade golf course surrounding it that makes this mountain sided, lake adjacent course not only one of the most beautiful in Colorado but also one of the best. With over 300 days of sunshine in Colorado Springs, and separated by the Rocky Mountains from snow loving Denver, you can enjoy golf 365 days of the year here. For the kiddos, they even open the course at night with a mini putt glow golf course.

Not only were the grounds beautiful at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, the food was tasty as well. From their award winning Sunday brunches at Mountain View Restaurant, to tasty bites and local brews from Elevations Lounge, I always left the table satisfied.

Staying at Cheyenne Mountain Resort was a treat not only for adult me but also for 12 year old me who never got to go to a cool camp in summer. To say that I was a little jealous of my son Cole getting to stay here probably speaks more about the place than all those sentences I just wrote. It’s a lovely place and you and your kids will definitely enjoy it.

Some final words about Colorado Springs

Well, that about wraps up our time in Colorado Springs. We saw and experienced some amazing things and my son and I both had a great time checking out everything the area had to offer.

If it’s your first time heading to Colorado Springs in Colorado, USA, know that it borders the Rocky Mountains. It’s a gorgeous hilly area with beautiful vistas and stunning plateaus’s around every corner.

There are so many great things to do in Colorado Springs with kids that you might just need to come back more than once. That’s okay, I’m sure you’ll discover even more to do the second time. For even more ideas, make sure you check out my previous post on fun things to do in Canon City Colorado as well.

How to get to Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is about 70 miles due south of Denver down highway I-25 S. It’s just over an hour by car from the Denver International Airport (DEN) or you can fly directly into Colorado Springs (COS) from 15 cities across the USA.

What are you favorite family things to do in Colorado Springs? Let us know; we’d love to hear!

Many thanks to Colorado Tourism, who hosted us. We definitely had a great time in Colorado. You guys were the best!

Colorado springs kid at campfire, giraffes at zoo, mountain sunset

hiking with older kids in Colorado Springs

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A Locals Guide to the Great Okanagan Beer Festival GOBF in Kelowna BC Canada https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/a-locals-guide-to-the-great-okanagan-beer-festival-gobf-in-kelowna-bc-canada/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/canada/a-locals-guide-to-the-great-okanagan-beer-festival-gobf-in-kelowna-bc-canada/#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 17:30:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16510 Have you ever walked into a room and felt instantly at ease?

The Great Okanagan Beer Festival is that kind of party.

As I walked onto the grounds, the early summer sunshine warmed my shoulders, and a cooling breeze swept across the lake.

The kegs were tapped, the band was playing, and the smokies were sizzling on the grill. Charles and I had left the kids at home, and it was time to enjoy ourselves.

Cheers for beers GOBF

As I looked around at the hundreds of smiling faces around me, I was instantly at home. This was going to be a great day. It was our first year at the GOBF, and I was excited to take in all the fun (plus all that tasty food, beer and cider!).

Great Okanagan Beer Festival (GOBF)

Every year, the Great Okanagan Beer Festival puts on a heck of a great party in our beautiful home city of Kelowna, BC, Canada.

The GOBF takes place in early May. It’s hosted by the fun folks at Gibbons Whistler, founders of the insanely popular Whistler Village Beer Festival.

The GOBF features 70 breweries with over 120 varieties of craft beer and cider. No matter which way you calculate it, that’s a lot of delicious suds.

You’ll find some of our favorite local breweries and restaurants at the Okanagan Beer Festival, like the Train Station Pub, Grimm’s Fine Foods, BNA Brewing, Tree Brewing, Freddy’s Brewpub, Okanagan Spring, Boundary Brewing Company, BC Tree Fruits Cider Co. and Wards Hard Cider, plus plenty of other great craft beer and cider brewers from all across Canada.

pouring sample somersby cider at the GOBF

Plus, there’s great food with food trucks and vendors galore.

If you’re looking for something fun to do, there’s plenty of entertainment on site, including live bands up on the main stage. This year, there were four live bands for the main event, plus a DJ to keep the crowd going between sets.

Depending on the year you go, the lineup will be different, but we enjoyed Red Chair, Lucky Monkey, The Hip Replacements (a Tragically Hip tribute band), and Hot Knox.

Entertainment at the GOBF Kelowna stage

In among the beer and cider tents, we found that a lot of local businesses had also shown up. All of them had something fun to do and many offered everything from free meals at local restaurants to hats, shirts and Frisbees. The games ranged from blackjack, to beanbag toss games, to axe throwing.

Yep, you read that right… axe throwing. We had a blast trying a free round of axe throwing with Axe Monkeys, though I think we’re both going to need some coaching before we become axe throwing masters!

for the love of beer mug at the lake kelowna

All that axe throwing gave us an appetite, so we wandered over to the food trucks.

Given that this is a Canadian Festival, you’d better bet there’s a poutine truck (Smoke’s Poutinerie), and a lot more too, including The Keg Steakhouse, The Grub Truck, Surfside California (with tacos!) and Thai on the Fly.

Smoke's Poutine Food Truck Kelowna

Grimm’s Fine Foods BBQ made an especially tasty appearance, with mouthwatering smokies on a bun and ice cold drinks.

GOBF fun around town

There’s a lot going on in the days and weeks leading up to the GOBF, with everything from yoga to bowling to Kelowna Craft Brewery tours.

Lonetree Cider Great Okanagan Beer Festival Kelowna

Pregame Brunch at the Train Station Pub with Grimm’s Fine Foods

We were lucky enough to get a spot at one of our very favorite local pubs, the Train Station Pub for a Pregame Brunch presented by Grimm’s Fine Foods.

The Train Station Pub is in a restored 1926 railway station, and is just a hop, skip, and jump from Waterfront Park where the GOBF main event is held. As well as great food, the Train Station Pub features their own craft beer as well as rotating favorite brews from around the area.

Train station pub and Grimms Fine foods pregame lunch for the Great Okanagan Beer Festival Kelowna

Where’s the GOBF held?

Every year, the Great Okanagan Beer Festival takes place at Waterfront Park on the shores of Okanagan Lake. There’s plenty of lush green grass, meandering paved pathways, a beautiful wooden boardwalk along the lake, and big trees scattered about for shade.

Relaxing in the park at the Great Okanagan Beer Fest

Should you get General Admission or VIP Tickets to the Great Okanagan Beer Fest?

What’s included in the GOBF General Admission ticket:

  • Official 4 ounce GOBF sampling mug
  • 3 beer or cider tokens
  • Live music
  • Access to 70 breweries and 140 craft beers/cider
  • Access to food vendors and exhibitors
  • A fun time with thousands of festival-goers on the beautiful Okanagan Lake

chips for beer at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival Kelowna mug by okanagan Lake for the love of beer

What’s included in the GOBF VIP ticket:

  • Official 4 ounce GOBF sampling mug
  • 10 beer or cider tokens
  • VIP fast access express entry. We had VIP tickets and loved this feature, as it let us speed by the regular security entry line (shown below).
  • Live music
  • Access to 70 breweries and 140 craft beers/cider
  • Access to food vendors and exhibitors
  • A fun time with thousands of festival-goers on the beautiful Okanagan Lake
  • GOBF swag bag
  • Lunch from Grimm’s Fine Foods
  • Vouchers for savings around town

lineup at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival Kelowna

Love beer, cider, great food and awesome music? If you don’t have tickets, you can grab them here! 

Click here to see ticket prices and details.

Looking for a Great Okanagan Beer Festival promo code? Check out the Gibbons Whistler Facebook page – you may get lucky!

About Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley

Kelowna is a small city perched on the shores of Okanagan Lake, with a population of just under 200,000 very lucky people.

It is the largest city in the Okanagan Valley, which is a 200 kilometer (125 mile) valley surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, and with the deep, clear Okanagan Lake as its center.

Kelowna (and the Okanagan Valley) is becoming rapidly known for it’s 300+ world class wineries with hundreds of fun things to do around town. The past few years there’s been a boom of local craft breweries (thus the GOBF) and locally made spirits as well.

In the summer, the valley is home to apple, pear, peach and other fruit orchards, and sees an influx of tourists from Canada and all over the world.

To get here, you can fly directly into the Kelowna International Airport, but many visitors prefer the scenic four hour drive from Vancouver.

Great Okanagan Beer Festival Kelowna mug by okanagan Lake

mmm… cider by the lake at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival

the Great Okanagan Beer Fest one of the most fun things to do in the Okanagan (2) A locals guide to the Great Okanagan Beer Festival ]]>
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How I Manage Migraines on the Road https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/how-i-manage-migraines-on-the-road/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/how-i-manage-migraines-on-the-road/#comments Fri, 18 May 2018 18:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16577 Disclosure: I have partnered with both YMC and 1in8HaveIt and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Do you get migraines? I do. I’m one of the unlucky ones who suffer from migraines and I know I’m not alone. 1 in 8 people around the world get them regularly.

The simple fact is, migraines are awful and as bad as they are at home, I think they’re even worse when you travel. At least at home I can minimize my exposure to the world and retreat to the comfort and safety of my room. Out on the road, my surroundings are harder to control and sometimes it takes a little work to find solace.

In hindsight, I’ve spent more mornings than I like to admit lying in a hotel room, with the shades drawn, suffering through a migraine instead of having fun on vacation with the family.

Imagine this: It’s our fist night in Madrid. We arrive in Spain just after supper, haul our far too heavy suitcases up the three sets of stairs to our rented apartment, and collapse into bed as we make plans for breakfast and a full day of sightseeing the next day.

Then, boom. The next morning I wake up with a terrible migraine. No freshly baked croissants, no morning walks along charming cobblestone streets in the Centro, and no delicious churros con chocolate with the family. Instead, I’m holed up in our rented bedroom apartment with the shades drawn tightly.

If I try to sit up, I feel nauseous and light headed, and there’s an ice pick poking at my sinuses.

Maestro Churrero in Madrid

mmm… churros con chocolate in Madrid

Unfortunately, this happens more than I wish. Even more unfortunately, I’m not alone in suffering through migraines. It’s estimated that nearly 2.7 million Canadians report living with migraines. Due to the use of over-the-counter medications, many people never seek help for their symptoms so, in all likelihood, this number is likely even higher.

My migraine story in Madrid ended happily though. Charles and the kids ran out, grabbed me bottles of fruit juice and sports drinks, and after a few hours of rest, I was still shaky, but ready to explore the city.

I was lucky that day. Migraines aren’t always so easy to get rid of. I’ve had plenty of travel days ruined by a bad migraine that wouldn’t go away.

Want to see if your headaches might be a migraine? Take the quiz at www.1in8haveit.ca and share your results with a medical professional.

I’ve had migraines for years now, but luckily they’ve usually been pretty manageable, with a few ugly exceptions. Not everyone’s so lucky. If you suffer from them regularly, don’t suffer through it alone. Seek help, there might be an underlying cause to them or at least a plan to manage them better.

Maligne Lake in Jasper Alberta in winter

A wonderful, migraine free travel day in Jasper, Alberta.

How I manage migraines on the road

Over the years, I’ve figured out a few things that help me manage migraines on the road or while at home. The most important one being the second a migraine hits me, I load up on liquids. For me, staying hydrated helps a ton and that alone can sometimes prevent a full blown migraine from hitting me.

Unfortunately, standard over the counter medications aren’t much help. I may as well be taking candy for all the good they seem do when a full blown migraine hits me. At best, they take the edge off a little, but I can’t rely on them to get me back on my feet and exploring the world again.

I also avoid triggers like red wine, too little food and lack of sleep when I feel a migraine might be at hand. The sleep portion can sometimes be hard when we’re on the road and I feel a migraine coming, but we slow down our pace and that, coupled with tons of liquids, seems to help.

I also find a quiet, dark area to hide in free from all outside stimuli. That means putting down my phone, tablet or computer and turning the TV off. It might seem like non-productive time, but the sooner the migraine passes, the more quality time I can spend with the family seeing the sights while we travel or getting work done when we’re at home.

It seems the more I can block out the outside world, the faster my migraine goes away, but that’s just what works for me. It seems like everyone’s migraines are a bit different in how it hits them, what triggers them and how they cope with migraines while traveling.

Help from fellow migraine sufferers

A little while ago I felt a migraine coming on, and asked our Twitter community what works best for them. There were some great answers, including lavender scent, sports drinks, and getting the right medication.

But what happens when sports drinks, over the counter medications, and avoiding triggers just isn’t enough to kill a migraine? Every case is so different that seeking out the help of your doctor is crucial.

Take the test at www.1in8haveit.ca and learn more about migraines including common migraine triggers, early migraine warning signs and overall migraine awareness.

how to travel with migraines

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Eight Extraordinary Things To Do In Patagonia https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/south-america/things-to-do-in-patagonia/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/south-america/things-to-do-in-patagonia/#comments Tue, 15 May 2018 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16476 This guest post is brought to you by Anda Galffy of Travel Notes & Beyond, who shares her favorite things to do in Patagonia.

Stretching across Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is the southernmost region of South America. Patagonia is huge in every way and it is home to some of the most incredible landscapes on this planet, including snow-capped mountains, dense forests, massive glaciers, roaring waterfalls and unbelievable wildlife. For an outdoor lover, Patagonia is an inexhaustible source beauty and adventure. There is so much to see and do here that you could easily spend months in Patagonia and still not see it all!

Things To Do In Patagonia

With that in mind, here are my recommendations for places to visit in Patagonia, on both the Chilean and Argentinian sides.

Patagonia

Chilean Patagonia

Hike in Torres del Paine

There is a reason why Torres del Paine National Park is considered one the world’s best backpacking and trekking destinations. The park is a maze of hiking trails varying from easy, to moderate and more difficult. If you feel more adventurous, you can choose to do one of the multi-day circuits that last anywhere from 4-9 days and take you all around the mountains. But if walking for 8 hours a day and sleeping in tents is not your cup of tea, you can take shorter day hikes and experience the beauty of Torres del Paine just the same. The good news is that you don’t need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy this park.

Hiking in Torres del Paine

Hiking in Torres del Paine

Take a boat trip to Glacier Grey 

Located inside Torres del Paine National Park, Glacier Grey is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field –one of the largest continental stretches of ice on the planet. Getting up close and personal with Glacier Grey is one of the highlights to any trip to Patagonia. As the boat gets closer to the glacier, you begin to appreciate the 40-meter high river of ice that rises above you. The blue tones of the ice are astonishing. You are so close to it that you can see the cracks in the ice wall and feel the cold air that surrounds it.

Tour the Mylodon Cave

The Mylodon Cave (Cueva del Milodon) is located just a little outside Torres del Paine National Park. The cave was discovered in 1896 by the German explorer Eberhard Hermann who found inside the strange remains (fur and bones) of the extinct Mylodon sloth, hence the name of the cave. The cave is not very big, but it is really interesting to visit.

Cueva del Milodon

Cueva del Milodon

Try horseback riding

One of the best ways to view the scenery of Patagonia is by taking a guided tour on horseback. Many of the estancias (working farms) around Torres del Paine offer horseback riding excursions to the glaciers and in the foothills of the Cordillera Paine. You don’t need any particular skills to be able to ride one of these horses. The baqueanos(Patagonian cowboys) are excellent guides and will teach you a lot about horseback riding. Visiting one of these estancias is also a great opportunity to find out more about the culture and harsh realities of day by day life in Patagonia.

Horseback Riding in Patagonia

Argentinean Patagonia – Los Glaciares National Park

Visit Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno glacier is one of the biggest attractions in Argentinean Patagonia. Locate on the southern area of the Los Glaciares National Park, about 90 km away from El Calafate, this stunning 70-meters-thick slab of ice that spans over 121 square miles. Perito Moreno is famous for its dynamic changes. It grows in winter and recedes in summer, producing a cyclic phenomenon with spectacular ice falls from its front walls. If you only were to visit one glacier in your life, it should be Perito Moreno.

There are several ways to experience the glacier. You can get up close with a boat tour and hear the loud noise made by the cracking ice falling into the water below. Or you can walk on the viewing platform leading up to different viewpoints. The platform gets quite close to the glacier, to the point that you can basically feel the cold air that surrounds it. But if you’re feeling truly adventurous, you can take a tour out onto the glacier to do some ice trekking.

Perito Moreno

Perito Moreno

Drive (or bike) to Lago del Desierto

One of the nicest roads to drive in southern Patagonia is the one from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto. The road follows Rio de las Vueltas, passing spectacular waterfalls, pristine meadows and dense Lenga forests. The Fitz Roy peaks are in sight all along the way.

Despite its name (that suggests a desert area) Lago del Desierty is actually surrounded by acres and acres of beautiful Lenga forest. Besides enjoying the scenery, you can also take a boat out onto the blue-green waters of the lake. Catamarans leave from the pier and journey across the lake, making trips that last about 45 minutes.

Lago del Desierto

Lago del Desierto

Hike to Mirador Piedras Blancas

This is one of the most beautiful hikes you can do from the little village of El Chaltén. The trail head that starts at Hosteria El Pilar takes you to a beautiful mirador (vista point) that offers great views of the Piedras Blancas glacier. This is a moderate hike that goes mainly through a beautiful forest. If you to continue hiking past the mirador, the trail will take you to a gorgeous plain from where you can see the majestic peaks of the Fitz Roy mountain. This trail goes to the Campamento (campground) Poincenot and from there to the famous Laguna de Los Tres, but that is a difficult hike.

Mirador Piedras Blancas

Mirador Piedras Blancas

Take a boat trip to Viedma Glacier

This ride will take you across Lake Viedma, passing by Mount Huemul and approaching the front wall of the Viedma glacier. The boats leave from the picturesque Bahía Túnel harbor, located in a natural protected bay, a few hundred meters away from the delta formed by the Túnel River. The harbor is only 17 Km south of El Chaltén.

A Final Note

Visiting Patagonia was a dream come true. I still can’t get over it. The first sight of its gorgeous scenery literally took my breath away. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first glimpse of Patagonia. For no matter how many pictures you see or movies you watch, when you touch down in Patagonia you realize that no photo can do justice to this place.

About the Author

Anda Galffy is an award-winning travel writer and passionate photographer living in Southern California. She is the creator of Travel Notes & Beyond, a collection of travel stories from her wanderings around the world. Her posts focus primarily on the cultural aspect of a destination. She strives to inform, inspire and engage, by providing itinerary ideas and tips on exciting destinations.

You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

The best adventures in Patagonia to fuel your wanderlust Looking for the most amazing destinations in beautiful Patagonia? Helpful tips and stunning photos of the best of Patagoina, from hiking in Torres del Paine to visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier. Things to do in Patagonia Planning to travel in Patagonia? Read about the best things to do in Patagonia, whether you're on a hiking or national parks adventure in Argentina or Chile. ]]>
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The Best Things to do in Darwin https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/australia/the-best-things-to-do-in-darwin/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/australia/the-best-things-to-do-in-darwin/#comments Tue, 08 May 2018 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16445 This guest post is brought to you by Shandos of Travelnuity, who shares her top things to do in Darwin, Australia.

When most visitors to Australia consider what cities to visit, generally the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne firstly spring to mind. But up north, closer to the cities of South East Asia, is a very different Australian city: Darwin.

If you’re wanting to head out on a road trip to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, exploring their natural beauty and Aboriginal culture, Darwin will be your launching point. But it’s also worthwhile exploring its attractions for a couple of days.

Six of the Best Things to do in Darwin

Some of Darwin’s top attractions explore its short but turbulent history, from being bombed in World War II to being destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day, 1974. Other Darwin activities and attractions take advantage of its beautiful tropical weather and surroundings. These are my top picks for what to do in Darwin.

Head to Mindil Beach Sunset Market

One of the favorite experiences of both visitors and locals in Darwin is heading to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market.

It’s held at Mindil Beach, just outside of the city center, next to Darwin Casino. The market runs during the dry season (from late April to late October), and is held every Thursday (kicking off at 5 pm) and every Sunday (starting at 4 pm). There’s plenty of stalls selling everything from Aboriginal artifacts and handmade souvenirs to dresses and clothing from Thailand and Indonesia, but the real highlight are the food stalls.

Perhaps start with some fresh oysters, before continuing on to a variety of dishes reflecting Darwin’s multicultural population. Options usually include Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and Indian. Plus there’s distinctive Australian dishes on offer, such as kangaroo and crocodile. Enjoy your dinner on the beach, hopefully taking in a beautiful sunset over the harbor, before wrapping up with dessert.

Visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Located along Darwin’s long waterfront just outside the city centre is the impressive (and free) Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, one of Darwin Australia’s points of interest. Don’t miss the chance to explore their large collection of indigenous art, from bark parkings to ceremonial poles, perhaps catching the yearly National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.

Another highlight of the museum is the interactive display about Cyclone Tracy and the impact it had on the city, including a darkened room where you can listen to its monstrous sound. Don’t also miss the stuffed body of Sweetheart the crocodile. This mammoth 5 meter long, 780 kg beast was killed locally after it attacked several fishing boats. You can even see live crocodiles on a local jumping crocodile tour, though likely none as big as Sweetheart.

Visit the Darwin Aviation Heritage Centre

Just south of Darwin is the Aviation Heritage Centre. Due to Darwin’s isolation plus strategic military importance, aviation has always played a key role in Darwin’s history. The museum isn’t just for aviation buffs, but for anyone interested in history or just seeing an impressive collection of planes.

The stand-out attraction of the museum is its B52 bomber. It was predominantly based in Darwin by the US Airforce during the Vietnam War era and has since been donated on permanent loan to the people of Darwin. It’s one of only two such aircraft outside of the USA, and it’s huge bulk looms above everything else in the air hangar.

Other aircraft on display are a mixture of military and passenger craft, including Spitfire planes, Tiger Moth biplays and helicopters. There are also interesting displays on the Australian Royal Flying Doctors service and aircraft involved in WWII and Vietnam.

Explore the Impact of World War II

Darwin was on the front-line during World War II, particularly after the fall of Singapore and the Japanese invasion of what’s now Papua New Guinea. The city was bombed multiple times and there are a multitude of sites around Darwin and further south linked to WWII. Examples include old airfields, military installations, bombing sites and memorials.

For a good overview of the WWII history of Darwin, visit the Defence of Darwin Experience and Darwin Military Museum. Both are located at the East Point Military Precinct. The Defence of Darwin Experience features numerous interactive, multimedia displays, culminating in a 20-minute show.

Another important site located just over 100 km south of Darwin on the main highway is the Adelaide River War Cemetery. It’s the only war cemetery on Australian soil, and includes a poignant memorial.

Chill out at the Waterfront Lagoons

Despite its tropical weather and large harbor, unfortunately the beaches of Darwin are largely a no-go zone for swimming, due to the presence of salt-water crocodiles and many sharks.

If you’re wanting to cool off, head instead to the Wave Lagoon and Recreation Lagoon located on Darwin’s waterfront. The Wave Lagoon produces 10 different wave patterns, with a 10-minute rest in between each 20 minute session. The Recreation Lagoon meanwhile has a sandy beach and stinger-filtered seawater. Both are patrolled by lifeguards. Entry is free to the Recreation Lagoon, while a fee is charged at the Wave Lagoon.

Darwin Lagoon Waterfront

Go Wild at Berry Springs Nature Park

For a swim in more natural surroundings, consider heading to the Berry Springs Nature Park. It’s just over 50 km south of Darwin, located on the Cox Peninsula Road just off the main highway. Entry is free and there are multiple meandering pools to relax in, surrounded by natural forest. There’s also plenty of picnic tables and some short walking trails.

Before heading south during the wet season (from October to April), double check that the pools are open. They may be closed if conditions are deemed unsafe, including due to crocodiles (the rangers check for their presence each day).

Author Bio

Shandos Cleaver is an Australian blogger who is currently travelling around Europe with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel. She blogs about dog-friendly travel (mostly) on her blog, Travelnuity. She first visited Darwin while travelling around Australia at the age of nine, and is looking forward to returning to Australia soon and exploring more of the country, this time with her dog. Follow her adventures on Facebook or Instagram.

Do you have any favorites for what to see in Darwin? Let us know!

Plan to travel to Darwin? Here are some of the top things to do in Darwin Australia. Lots of fun for everyone. Great list of the very best things to do in Darwin ]]>
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Can You Volunteer Abroad Cheap or Free? The Real Cost of Volunteering Overseas https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/can-you-volunteer-abroad-cheap-or-free-the-real-cost-of-volunteering-overseas/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/can-you-volunteer-abroad-cheap-or-free-the-real-cost-of-volunteering-overseas/#respond Tue, 01 May 2018 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16366 This is a guest post from Nicoleta, who shares her best tips for how to manage the true cost of volunteer work abroad, whether you’re trying to volunteer abroad free or just cheaply as possible. While volunteering is a wonderful way to give and visit the world at the same time, there’s often a cost associated with volunteering overseas, and she shares her insight into how much it costs to volunteer abroad. This is part of our series on jobs you can do as you travel the world and teaching English overseas.

I truly believe that travel is one of the best things that anybody can do with their lives. Seeing amazing countries, learning about different cultures and having the freedom to explore whatever you want is a liberating and exhilarating experience like no other.

For those looking to add another dimension to their travel, spending some time as a volunteer can be an excellent option.

volunteering t shirt

Can you volunteer abroad cheap or for free? The real costs

As a volunteer, you not only get all the benefits of regular traveling, like seeing new places and meeting new people, but you also get a uniquely intimate insight into a culture and the chance to give something back.

If you’re considering becoming a volunteer, then you might be wondering how much it’s all going to cost. The truth is, there is no straight answer to this question, as different companies charge vastly different amounts.

However, there are some general common factors that can help you to know how much to budget. If you do it right, volunteering can actually save you money when compared with more traditional forms of travel, such as staying exclusively in hotels and moving around every day or two.

So, here are the basic costs of volunteering abroad, broken down for you to better understand and plan effectively.

How much does it cost to volunteer abroad?

The costs to volunteer overseas include the volunteer project fees, flights and transportation, meals, accommodation, visas and more!

The volunteer project itself

By this, I mean the fees that the volunteer organization charge, and it’s this that is likely to have the largest effect on your budget.

Project fees depend massively on the individual organization, as well as the location of the project, and various other factors. At the upper end of the scale, you may be expected to pay hundreds of dollars per day, and at the lower end, you may only need to cover a fraction of that.

It’s vital to look at what’s covered by the fees and whether there will be any additional costs. You should also check out things such as the quality of the accommodation as well as reviews by past volunteers, which are available through any good organization like uvolunteer.

The only way to accurately find out the cost of the project is to do some research and shop around.

what you need to know about flights and transportation when volunteering overseas

Flights and transportation for volunteering

The cost of your flights is likely to be another significant expense for any low cost volunteer abroad vacation. Obviously, the actual costs vary depending on how far you need to fly and the season, so this will be something you need to figure out before committing.

In terms of general transportation costs, many organizations will cover the most vital costs as part of the program fees. For example, good organizations will cover airport transfers, as well as any transport needed as part of the project.

Food and drink while volunteering

This can be another hidden cost, with some organizations failing to provide any food despite high fees.

If you don’t want to shell out for every meal, then try to look for a company that covers some of your meals as part of the program fees. For example, you may have lunch provided while you are working.

Drinks and alcohol are likely to be something you need to account for too. Volunteer placements are inherently social, and you can expect to be surrounded by other young volunteers who are up for having a good time, so you’ll probably end up going for a few drinks now and then.

volunteering overseas what you need to know about food and drink

Sightseeing and traveling after your volunteering

Volunteering is by no means all about work, and with the right organization you will have plenty of time to yourself. As you’re in a foreign country, it’s a good idea to use at least some of this time to explore the area.

So, if you’re wanting to travel to other areas and go sightseeing on your weekends, then you’ll have to factor in the costs.

As the countries with the most legitimate projects are usually in developing parts of the world, these costs are going to be lower than at home. For example, if you’re working as a volunteer in Thailand, then getting around, sightseeing and accommodation will all be very affordable.

volunteering Boti falls

Visas for volunteering

Visa costs for volunteering are rarely going to set you back a huge amount, but it’s still something that’s worth factoring into your budget.

For most countries that you are likely to go to, volunteering visas will generally not cost more than around $50 for a month or so, if anything. However, you will need to look carefully at the precise rules surrounding visas and volunteers, as some countries class volunteering as work. In these cases you may need to acquire a working visa, which can be a more complicated process and cost significantly more.

Plan ahead to avoid being hit with any surprise volunteering costs

The secret to accurately judging the costs for a volunteering trip is to plan ahead, so you don’t catch yourself asking why is volunteering abroad so expensive? Choose a good organization, figure out exactly where you want to go, for how long, and whether you want to continue traveling afterwards. Taking your time with this part of the process will help you to budget effectively, and save money in the long run.

Bio

Nicoleta Radoi is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.

Connect with her on InstagramTwitter

Do you want to volunteer abroad and travel, but you're worried about the cost? It is possible to volunteer for free or cheap, but our expert shares the real costs of volunteer work programs, including money to budget for airfare, meals, volunteer, fees and more. Is it possible to volunteer abroad and travel the world for free? Yes it is, but many work programs have real costs, and our volunteer expert tells you how to budget your money in volunteer destinations like Africa or Thailand or Costa Rica or South America. These tips can help with the real costs of volunteer programs like teaching English or conservation projects with turtles or elephants in Thailand. ]]>
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Enter to Win Two Tickets to the Great Okanagan Beer Festival in Kelowna British Columbia https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/contests/enter-to-win-two-tickets-to-the-great-okanagan-beer-festival-in-kelowna-british-columbia/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/contests/enter-to-win-two-tickets-to-the-great-okanagan-beer-festival-in-kelowna-british-columbia/#comments Sat, 28 Apr 2018 19:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16471  Enter to win 2 general admission tickets to the 2018 Great Okanagan Beer Festival

Love beer, cider, great food and awesome music?

Feel like hanging out by a beautiful mountain lake in British Columbia for a nice afternoon in May?

Then this is the contest for you!

The contest is closed! Congrats to Harmonie, who just won two general admission tickets to the Great Okanagan Beer Festival in sunny Kelowna!

If you don’t have tickets yet, hurry up, you can still grab them here! https://gibbonswhistler.com/festivals-events/great-okanagan-beer-festival/tickets/

The Great Okanagan Beer Festival is back in our gorgeous home base of Kelowna, BC, Canada from May 10th to 12th 2018! It’s hosted by the fun folks at Gibbons Whistler, founders of the insanely popular Whistler Village Beer Festival.

In addition to hundreds of world class wineries, Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are becoming a top notch destination for beer lovers as well. There’s already tons of fun things to do in Kelowna with the family but the Great Okanagan Spring Festival is a festival for the above majority age crowd.

You’ll find some of our local favorite breweries and restaurants at the Festival, like the Train Station Pub, Grimm’s Fine Foods, BNA Brewing, Tree Brewing, Freddy’s Brewpub, Okanagan Spring, Boundary Brewing Company, BC Tree Fruits Cider Co., Wards Hard Cider, plus plenty of other great craft beer and cider brewers from all across Canada.

The Great Okanagan Beer Festival main tasting event is on May 12th, and they’ve invited us to cover the main event at Waterfront Park, as well as some of the fun extracurricular events happening around town leading up to the main event.

It’s our first year at the GOBF, and we’re pretty excited to take in all the fun (plus all that tasty food, beer and cider!).

Love your beer? Do like us and check out a Kelowna Craft Brewery tour in the days leading up to the Festival, and follow along on Twitter and Instagram stories to check out our Pregame Brunch from Grimm’s Fine Foods starting at 11:00 am May 12th at the the Train Station Pub.

The GOBF features 70 breweries, plus 140 varieties of craft beer and cider, and plenty of tasty food trucks, games and more. There are also four live bands for the May 12 main event, plus a DJ.

We’re especially excited as they’ve given us two general admission tickets to give away!

Buy your GOBF tickets here now!

Want to learn more about the GOBF? Check out this article from Murissa at the Wanderful Traveler (another awesome Okanagan-based blogger), the FAQ for the GOBF, or the video below.

Enter now for your chance to win two general admission tickets to the May 12th main event!

The contest is open to legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, who have reached the age of majority in British Columbia, and ends May 05, 2018. See the entry form for terms and conditions. Absolutely no minors are permitted within the grounds.

So how do you enter? It’s easy.

See the contest widget below? To start, all you have to do is to enter your email or log in via Facebook!

Follow the Gibbons Whistler Facebook page for up to date announcements on all the GOBF fun!

What’s included in each ticket (remember you could win TWO tickets!):

  • Official GOBF sampling mug
  • 3 beer tokens
  • Live music
  • Access to 60 breweries and 120+ beer varieties
  • Access to food vendors and exhibitors
  • A rad time with thousands of festival-goers on the stunning Okanagan Lake

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Great Okanagan Beer Festival

The Barefoot Nomad is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

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10 Insanely Helpful Tips For Visiting Japan With Kids https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/family/10-insanely-helpful-tips-for-visiting-japan-with-kids/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/family/10-insanely-helpful-tips-for-visiting-japan-with-kids/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2018 23:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16357 This guest post is brought to you by Andrzej & Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers, who share what it’s like to travel to Japan with kids.

Japan is undoubtedly one of the best kid-friendly destinations in the world! There is a magnitude of things to do in Japan with kids and the number is constantly growing.

City streets may be narrow and crowded, but it’s well worth the adventure thanks to its interesting destinations, rich culture and unending attractions that would be rewarding both for you and the young ones.

Himeji Castle

 

10 Tips For Visiting Japan With Kids

Here are 10 helpful tips for travel to Japan with kids, including a list of fun things to do in Japan with kids.

What to Expect

While Japan is an extremely safe and busy country where everyone seems to mind his/her own business, it is still important to understand that it is a hierarchical society. In other words, everyone and everything has its place in the society.

Traditionally, children are expected to stay at home in care of their mothers. That is why strollers are very rare to spot on the streets. This doesn’t mean that kids do not go out with their parents. You will see parents out with their kids, but they’re expected to keep them in check always. Letting your kid yell or run around in restaurants or trains is unacceptable and will earn you lots of cold glares.

Flying In

It is often advisable to consider Japanese airlines such as All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airline when flying to Japan with kids. Why? Well, you may have to pay a little extra, but they’re astonishingly kid-friendly. Some of the services include special infant meals and cosy bassinets. These airlines also offer child seat rental service as well.

It will cost you a little extra for the seat, but it is well worth it. They also offer a special check-in counter for families, as well as free kids’ play areas at the Narita Airport in Tokyo where you’ll typically be let to cut in the security line.

JR Train Seats

Travel Light

It is strongly advisable for parents traveling with kids to any Japanese destination to always consider traveling light. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are pushing a giant stroller with your kid on it while pulling a large suitcase behind you whilst trying to master stairs.

That said, traveling to and around Japan with a stroller is a nightmare you would not wish to go through. Strollers are a rarity in Japanese cities and will have many pedestrians and travellers sneering at you because they’re an inconvenience not just to you, but also to others.

Trains are always overcrowded especially during rush hours, paths to shrines and temples are customarily made of gravel and to make it even worse, city sidewalks are narrow and ever busy. That is why we recommend for you to just leave your giant stroller at home.

Inari Shrine Family Things to do in Japan

Inari Shrine

You should instead, consider using baby carriers or umbrella strollers, which are fold-able and lightweight. You can also consider traveling with backpack diaper bag instead of a giant suitcase, which we use constantly. These backpacks have plenty of space for everything your little one will need, but also comes with heaps of space for your camera, water bottle and perhaps change of clothes. These are items that you can one-handedly or easily carry down or up the stairs, let alone the fact that they can fit just about anywhere in the trains or through normal ticket gates.

Using Public Transport

Japan has one of the best and safest transport systems in the world. Kids under 6 years old travel for free on all buses and trains. Children who are over the age of 6, but under the age of 12 are required to pay half the price. You can therefore, consider acquiring a kids’ version of JR (Japan Rail) Pass Suica Smart Card, which can be used just about anywhere.  We found that it was so much more affordable to use the Japan Rail Pass for the entire family, rather than purchasing the tickets separately.  You can read more about the benefits of the JR Rail Pass here.

Some of the public transport modes to consider include:

Local Trains

Local city train systems are very punctual, reasonably priced and very quick. Even when travelling from one side of the city to the other, it is fairly easy to navigate to your connecting trains. Once you get used to the sign system and following the coloured lines, you will be OK even in the largest of train stations. Your little ones might have a few stairs to go up and down on, but it is not a big issue here. It is our recommendation that you avoid the hectic rush hours. On weekdays, it peaks between 8-9am towards the city centres and again at 5 pm from the city centres.

Flying to Japan

Long-Distance Trains

Children aren’t entitled to their own seats in long-distance trains and can use any free seat if there’s any. It is strongly recommended to book your seats in advance, in order to avoid scenarios, when there are no more free seats available. Standing with your kids whilst on the train, is not the most fun adventure.

Super modern Shinkansen bullet trains are very much kid friendly! They are fitted with modern change tables and breastfeeding booths. On the other hand, bullet trains can be unsuitable for your kids as the high-speed vibrations can make some kids nauseous. Therefore, kt’s important to feed them lightly or wait for the modern bullet trains such as the N700, which plies the Tokyo-Osaka route. You can also consider using the Super View Odoriko express if you’re traveling to the Izu Peninsula since it has a wonderful kids’ play area.

Taxi

It is a requirement that kids below the age of 6 have a child car seat when traveling in cars. Taxis are, however, exempted from this law and are not required to have kid’s car seats. If that feels a bit uncomfortable for parents, then hiring a car or choosing public transport is a safer option.

Accommodation

As expected, the majority of the accommodation in Japan is pretty compact and most of the time you will be sleeping on a traditional Japanese futon. We recommend looking for a larger family size hotel rooms and (our favourite), Airbnb options. This way you can stay as close to the main areas of the cities for a fraction of the hotel-room price.

Avie in her Travel Bed

Bring Your Own Baby Supplies

Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world and you will have no problem finding anything for you little one. However, you need to be aware that the quality of diapers may vary from your country and the baby food can be slightly different to what your little one is used to. Saying that, you will have no problem finding baby supplies, should you run out.

Things to Do when Visiting Japan with Kids

As an utterly kid-friendly country, there are a lot of things to do and places to visit with kids in Japan. Some of them include:

Nara Park, Nara

Nara Deer Park is one place that your kids cannot miss out on. Nara is home to over 1500 wild deer that are very much accustomed to visitors hand-feeding them. So, make sure to grab a bag of local deer delicacies sold at any vendor and feed them till the heart is content.

Todaiji-at-Nara-Deer-Park

Todaiji at Nara Deer Park

Himeji Castle, Himeji

Dating back to the 17th century, Himeji Castle is the biggest castle in Japan and will surely intrigue both you and your kids with its winding maze-like alleys, gigantic towers and numerous secret rooms.

Tokyo Disneyland, Chiba

Perhaps the biggest American culture symbol in Japan, Tokyo Disneyland is inspired by Disneyland in the United States and is very popular particularly when celebrating western holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.

Miraikan, Tokyo

This is a futuristic national science museum, which showcases several scientific trends from around the world. Both you and your kids will get educated on matters such as deep sea, environment, biology, space, robotics and many more. Your kids will also be involved in several hands-on activities.

Other places include: Todaiji Temple in Nara, Skytree in Tokyo, Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka and Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto.

Kyoto

Kyoto

It’s pretty much easy to see that Japan is a modern and bustling country with cities that look almost like super-charged New York City. Whether you’re old or young, Japan is beautiful and has everything for everybody. It is also one of the safest, cleanest and most advanced countries in the world. Better still, it is one of the most kid-friendly nations in the world. Japanese people are very hospitable and English is widely and commonly used. With the above tips, a trip to Japan, “the Land of the Rising Sun” with kids is destined to be enjoyable and utterly memorable.

Author Bio:

This guest post is brought to you by Andrzej & Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers, a widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe.

Insanely helpful Japan travel tips with kids Things to do in Japan with kids

 

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