Tag: Travelling Articles

A Golden Adventure

Imagine packing up and going on a travel adventure from Canada to Central America and back in a motorhome for six months with your family. Sounds like an impossible dream?

Well, it is a true reality for The Golden Family. The Baby Spot first featured this cool family to their global audience back in July to tell their amazing story. After reading their story and the Golden Family being big fans of Momma Braga, we just had to collaborate and get more details on their great adventure for all of you.

1. Tell me a little about your family.

B and I have been married for six amazing years. We were married on a beach in Hawaii where my mom’s ashes are spread. Hawaii is a spot we will always hold close to our hearts for many reasons. We have a five year old daughter, ‘Anela. ‘Anela means Angel in Hawaiian and she is named in memory of my mom. ‘Anela is so keen to learn, help and have fun. She loves swimming, gymnastics, dancing, and expressing herself through music and singing. She definitely takes after her dad, B in the artsy aspect.

B plays guitar, drums and writes his own music. This is something that has been slightly neglected since having kids, so we are excited to take a guitar, an ukulele, shakers and a tambourine on the road to play music as a family. B is a full time paramedic and is kept busy in different locations. He is so passionate about his work and helping others.

Our son, Felix, will be three in October as we commence our trip. He is a busy, fun loving little boy. He loves all things airplanes and helicopters! He also enjoys swimming, gymnastics and banging on the drums. He loves climbing and exploring and runs everywhere he goes.

I, too, am passionate about my job as an RN in Emergency, but my greatest joy is being a mom and wife. I love to travel both nationally and internationally. We often fill free days with stay-cations by going to the beach, on rides, to the water park, or meeting up with friends for a play and visit. Our family time is the most important thing to us!

What is your adventure plan?

Our adventure plan…well it’s to have the time of our lives, teach our kids, and see Mexico and Central America! We are driving from Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) to Costa Rica and back. We bought a 23-foot motorhome that is perfect for our family. The beds are always set up, and we have a bathroom and even a fridge in our small kitchenette.

On September 30, 2017 we will leave Edmonton and start our trek south. The first big stop in the United States is Billings, Montana where we will celebrate Felix’s third birthday. From there we’ll continue southbound to Six Flags over Texas in Arlington for some fun before crossing into Mexico. The kids and I just love all things rides so we thought we’d have a fun day after 3200 kilometers of driving through the USA. B will put up with vertigo from the rides to share in our fun.

Halloween should find us deep into Mexico for “El Dia de los Muertos” national festival. Throughout our travels we plan to scour Mayan ruins, study Spanish and surf. We’ll seek out hot springs, waterfalls, pristine beaches for snorkeling and the occasional scuba dive. There are also many volcanoes and lakes to hike and explore. We are taking our mountain bikes with both a bike trailer and bike seats for kids, which will allow us to cover more ground than walking or driving.

What inspired you to take on this adventure?

We have always talked about taking the kids on a long trip. I thought it would be a backpacking trip (which is how this plan started), but it quickly transformed into a driving adventure. This way we can maximize what we see. We will be able to interact more with the locals and learn the language and culture.

Going back a year, though, we were house shopping in order to move closer to our work. At the time I was driving 1 hour 20 min to get to work and B was driving 1 hour. This seemed like so much wasted time and we wanted to maximize our family time. Therefore, moving closer to work seemed like a reasonable option. The only problem was the inspection for the two houses we loved uncovered big red flags. We walked away from buying either of them.

Once we had put the offer in on the second house, however, we had already found renters for our house in Red Deer. We were essentially homeless with two kids. Yes, we did still own the house in Red Deer but it didn’t seem right to cancel to our renters when they had already given notice to their landlords. As always, we made a new plan A. We decided to rent a house that is only a one minute drive from my work! And because we were now renting, and our house was rented out, we figured there is no better time than the present to go on the trip of a lifetime!

What started out as a South America backpacking trip for two to three months has transpired to be an overlanding trip to Central America and back for six months. We have always known we were going to road school our children in order to show them the world. And this is the perfect opportunity to do so as ‘Anela starts kindergarten this year!

When does your adventure start and when are you anticipating it to complete?

We leave on September 30th, which is rapidly approaching! We depart Edmonton, Alberta and are taking six months to complete a round trip to Costa Rica. We will not be venturing into Panama this go around. In order to travel from Panama back into countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala, you must have proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. We opted out because it’s a higher risk vaccine, and we wouldn’t be far enough south to be exposed. We’ll save Panama for another time.

How do you think your children will adapt to this great adventure?

‘Anela, now five, has been travelling since she was three weeks old. She did her first trip into the USA at only four weeks. She has been to Hawaii three times, Costa Rica five times, Vancouver Island and Manitoba countless times.

Felix has also been travelling since quite young. Because he had some health issues needing surgery at three months old, we did not travel farther than Manitoba until he was over one year. He has now been to Costa Rica four times.

Our kids are amazing travelers. They love the adventures and getting to be with mom and dad. Of course they get sick of the car seats after a few hours, but we always stop at a playground, spray park, or beach and make meals while they can play and be kids! I anticipate them being great overlanding travelers and will definitely update you as our trip progresses. We have never spent six months in a motorhome before, so this will be a new learning experience for us all.

What do you hope your children and yourselves are going to learn from your adventure?

We hope our children will learn more than they would by sitting at home in a conventional classroom. We will be learning language. ‘Anela was already in Spanish immersion preschool and has progressively learned more each trip to Costa Rica. She now teaches Felix and us words in Spanish. B and I have studied the language, so we are aiming to be fluent by the end of our trip.

We are going to learn about the people of each country we travel through, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize. Each of these Latin American countries have their own traditions, festivities and cultures. Needless to say, we will be learning from the locals, and from the tourist attractions.

For Kindergarten, the kids will use money to learn about math. This will also allow them to practice their Spanish! We will teach them how to be street smart, and the dangers of wildlife, insects and spiders. B and I lived in Australia before having kids, ad so spiders and the like are not a foreign idea of something to watch out for. Overall, we want our kids (and us) to be wordly, compassionate and empathetic humans. We want them to understand how people can be happy with very little, and to be thankful for all that we have in our lives.

What advice can you give to other parents who may want to embark on a similar adventure?

This type of trip is a big deal, yes! But…it is absolutely doable if you are interested. My big tip is RESEARCH!!! We have never done so much research on a trip before. This is a whole new kind of traveling. We have bought books on overland travel to learn about vehicle preparation, border crossings and questionable situations. We have travel and camping books that cover each country at various depths. We even have a book written by a middle aged couple who traveled “99 days to Panama.” The research has actually put our minds at ease. Before starting preparation for this trip, I was super nervous about our safety. Now, I still have my moments of being nervous, but overall feel confident that we are well prepared to start our journey!

People don’t give their kids enough credit. Kids are great little beings that will go along with mom and dad on most adventures quite happily if you frame it the right way. ‘Anela has moments when she says she doesn’t want to go, mostly because she will miss her friends and family. But, we tell her we can ‘Facetime’ whenever she needs to see a familiar face. Grandparents we meet while traveling miss their grandchildren. This works well for both parties. This is also the first trip she will bring her favorite blanket and stuffie, and that’s so exciting for her. We have saved a bunch of new books and toys that can sporadically be pulled out for entertainment if the kids are feeling a bit homesick. Because let’s be honest, it’s going to happen. Those are the times we will distract them with exciting tours or a new book or game.

For anyone who is considering a trip, you are always welcome to contact us for more information, tips and tricks, and books that we found helpful!

How do you prepare yourself as parents on this journey?

As parents, we are “go with the flow” kind of people. Our kids have adopted this mentality and are flourishing and developing absolutely “normally.” We have our few routines we stick to, no matter what time it is and where we are. We will maintain our bedtime routine, whether it is in our motorhome, a hotel, a hostel or someone’s house. That way it is still their normal and is comfortable for them.

Aside from keeping some normalcy with our routine, safety has been our biggest concern. This comes back to doing research and being prepared. I am not sure it is possible to be 100% prepared because there is uncertainty with traveling. But that goes for life as well, doesn’t it? We have never lived in a motorhome for six months…all of us in less than 200 sq feet! There will be bumps along the road, for sure. But with these we will be able to inform future travelers of some hiccups that could possibly be avoided.

There are so many things to think about, plan and research. But if your dreams involve traveling, we say go for it!

Now that is a “Golden Adventure” to say the least and it sounds like the Golden Family is ready to embrace it like a family. What I personally find inspiring by the Golden Family’s story is the time they are going to spend with one another and how they are teaching such valuable lessons to their children along the way that most of us forget in this hectic world; being a compassionate and empathetic human being.

Another lesson that lifted my heart hearing is how the Golden Family want their children to understand how people can be happy with very little, and to be thankful for all that one has in their lives and I think this lesson is priceless.

I truly admire this family on the adventure that they are embarking on and I wish them safe travels. Special thank  you to The Golden Family for their time and for being fans!

Looking forward to possibly collaborating some more with The Golden Family and share tips and stories from their BIG adventure.

To follow the Golden Family on their journey, check them out on The Golden Life, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


10 Tips on Visiting Canada’s Wonderland with a Toddler

Canada’s Wonderland is a 330-acre theme park located in Vaughan, Ontario, which is north of the popular city of Toronto, Ontario. The park first opened in 1981 as the first major theme park in Canada and remains as the country’s largest.

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Living in Ontario, it is always a perk to have this amusement park near by as new attractions are added every year. This year we took our daughter, Nikki and it sparked the idea that I should put some tips together to help other families who are planning their first trip with their toddlers or even older children.

Here are my top ten tips to make your trip more enjoyable and possibly save you some money 🙂

1. Purchase Tickets in Advance

By purchasing tickets in advance will save you time and money at the front gate. There are many ticket options available such as Daily Pass, 3 Day Advance, Good Any Day, 2-Day Ticket, Admission & Fast Lane and of course there is the Season Pass which is usually recommended if you are planning to go more than twice in the season. With the online ticket purchasing you can add other additions such as parking, meals, fast lane (gives you the ability to speed pass the lines on some rides), Dinos and FunPix. Please keep in mind that when a purchase is made online there is a processing fee added to the end.

Momma Braga Tip: If you have a Costco membership then I would recommend to purchase an Admission Pass from them as it is $38.49 CDN + tax which saves you some money. This admission works for ages 3 to 59. According to Canada’s Wonderland’s website a Junior ticket is $36.99 + a processing fee + tax. It appears that Costco could be the best method for the whole family if you have a membership. Children under the age of 3 do not have to pay.

2. Plan Ahead

Canada’s Wonderland has a lot to do and see, it could become overwhelming for a family with young children. By planning ahead of time, you can ease this feeling and help your family enjoy everything that you want to do. Visit the website to see what special events they may have and view the map to see what areas you want to visit. By having a ride map or plan can really help your family enjoy the day to the fullest. Also saves time on wondering where or what to do next.

Momma Braga Tip: The park has Baby Care Centres, Diaper changing areas and/or family restrooms, these can be located on their park map. See where they are as it can help you locate them quickly when you need them. Most of the restaurants inside of the park are also able to warm up baby bottles.

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3. Arrive Early

The amusement park opens at 10 AM and if you would like a close parking to the front gate without paying extra for premium parking, I would recommend to arrive before 10 AM. The later you arrive, the further you need to park and with little ones we all know how tough the walk can be.

4. Visit the Height Check Station

For the safety of all park guests, all rides have rider height requirements based on the manufacturers’ recommendations. To view the height requirements, you can click here. This is why I recommend to visit the Height Check Stations to have your children measured to know which rides they can go on and it will save you time on getting them checked at each ride. The Height Check Stations are located on either side of International Street. Colour-coded wristbands are provided at these locations and they correspond to the colour found on the Rules and Regulations signs located at the entrance of each ride.

5. Picnic Outside or Splurge on Delicious Meals

This one truly depends on your own family’s preference and budget. The park does not allow outside food or drinks but food is allowed to stay in your cars and eaten outside of the park. However, baby food and formula are permitted as is plastic bottled water.

There are grass areas outside of the park that you can have a picnic on. To leave the park to eat, just make sure to get your hands stamped in order to get back in. Parking closer to the gates will help greatly if you decided to picnic outside. There is also the option to eat inside the park as they have many delicious meal choices. Of course it can add up but if you have budgeted to splurge then this is a great option. To learn more about the dining experience at Canada’s Wonderland, click here.

Momma Braga Tip: A must try at Canada’s Wonderland is the famous Funnel Cake.

6. Prepare to Walk

The park is on 330-acres so you can say that there is a lot of walking to do to get around. Make sure that you all have comfy shoes and a stroller will be great for young children. The park does offer single and double strollers for a one day rental. Rentals are on a first come basis and may not be reserved in advance. The rental fee for a single stroller is $15 CDN (+ $5 deposit) and for a double stroller is $25 CDN (+ $5 deposit). The deposit is refunded upon the satisfactory return of the stroller.

Mommy Braga Tip: Bring only necessities with you inside the park such as extra clothing for your toddler as we know back up clothes are always needed. My recommendation is to travel light. You may bring in a bag and there is a search of bags before entering the park. There is the option of putting your stuff in a locker for a rental fee (from $15 CDN to $30 CDN) but I do think it is a bit pricey for families.

7. Download the Free Canada’s Wonderland Mobile App

I thought this was neat and really wished I used it while I was there. There is a free mobile app that is available for your Apple or Android. The App can be used with the parks free Wi-Fi and there are some neat features on it such as: get wait times on your favourite rides; enjoy special offers and discounts inside the park; easy-to-use interactive map; carry your season pass on your mobile phone; updates on special events and promotions; find your favourite rides, shows, and restaurants; buy tickets and season passes quickly and easily; and use car finder to mark your parking spot and let the app remember for you. Seems like they thought of it all with this app!

8. Sing Songs or Play I Spy to Entertain the Little Ones in the Ride Line Ups

Some ride lines can be long and of course for our little ones it feels even longer. I recommend to make standing in line fun by singing your favourite songs and even playing a fun game of “I Spy with my little eye.” It makes the time go by faster and keeps your little ones entertained. It worked for us!

9. Plant Snoopy, Kidzville, Splash Works, and Dinosaurs Alive….Oh My!

There is just so much to do! Planet Snoopy and Kidzville are areas that I recommend for families as there are a lot for our little ones to do there such as rides, daily character meet-and-greets and live entertainment. Planet Snoopy features Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus. Kidzville is filled with brightly coloured buildings, rides and restaurants. If it is a hot summer day then take advantage of Splash Works which is Canada Wonderland’s Premier Water Park and something to check out if you have time. There is an area that is great for toddlers to splash around. Then there is Dinosaurs Alive where you can find more than 40 moving and practically breathing life-sized dinosaurs, including several you can control. This experience is designed to thrill guests for all ages but it is not included in your admission ticket. To try this it costs $5 CDN (+processing fee+tax) for each person.

Momma Braga Tip: The restaurant line ups appeared to be a lot shorter than in other areas in the park.

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10. Take Lots of Pictures and Have Fun

Of course take lots of photos and remember to have family fun! I think this is the most important tip of all! I know we had a great time and my daughter had the time of her life!

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Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

Eight Travel Tips for Tots (and the Parents that Drag them Places)

*Special Guest Post by O. Michele Giacomini

It’s that time of year when parents stress out over planning and packing for a vacation, for which they will attempt to bundle up the entire house, including their kiddos, to take on their awesome adventure. Much of that stress comes from worrying about what to do with the kids WHILE travelling. But there’s no need to worry. Follow my tips and you can be sure to have a pleasant and memorable journey of joy!

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Before we begin with fun tips, let me share a little logistics tip that has served me very well over the many, many years of travelling with my children:

Book flights, train travel, etc. during your child’s natural nap time times. If your children sleep through the night well, then truly consider booking an overnighter redeye flight, or train travel. You may be a little grumpy the next day from lack of a good night’s sleep, but your child won’t be, so that makes everything better. Remember, a cranky kid makes a cranky family.

IT’S ALL FUN & GAMES…

Tip #1 Safety in Numbers Sit near other families in airports and train stations. I recommend camping out in a corner space where you can corral the kids so they can play until their heart’s delight. If you’re next to some other families, you might even make a new friend or two in the process!  (BONUS TIP: Pack a lightweight tablecloth to spread on the ground to play on, and bring a small pack of baby wipes—they really come in handy for all sorts of uses)!

Tip #2 Video Games

While I am not a proponent of these handheld devices on a regular basis, they are great for children while travelling. Keep those devices muted, and everyone around will think you have the best behaved children in the universe! I recommend the old devices. The only drawback is, you might find yourself fighting over these games with your child if you long to play Donkey Kong. Remember to be a good sharer!

Tip #3 Carry-on Chaps

One carry-on that your family brings should be dedicated to travel games, books, crayons, notebooks to draw in, and be sure to throw some stickers. Please remember to pack snacks, lots and lots and lots of snacks! (You will thank me for this).

Tip # 4 Smart Phones or Tablets

Download a lot of your child’s favorite books. Many local libraries allow you to download up to two weeks, FREE!  I know one parent who takes photos during story time each night of their children reading favorite books, (for a week before they travel). She uses these photos as “extra stories” on hand that she doesn’t have to pack. Her child simply re-tells the story from the picture, (which is a great learning skill, by-the-way). It’s fun and a lot lighter on the load!

Tip #5 Travelling is in The Cards

My favorite tip is to bring along a deck of cards. It’s small and lightweight, plus you can do so much with them! You can make up games: math games, sorting games, etc. You can also build houses out of cards. Kids love this stuff! If you learn a magic trick or two with those cards, you are sure to be a hit with your child and probably a whole lot of other people!

Tip #6 Yoga! Yoga!

Take photos or make flash cards for fun and kid-friendly yoga poses. They are another great way to get the body moving, stretching and a fun boredom buster (especially if you join in too). Who cares about doing these in public? Chances are you’ll never meet any of these people watching you again…so yoga like nobody’s watching!

Tip #7 Mother May I?

Airport terminals and train stations make for a great places to create a little fun. The classic game of Mother May I, and others like it, gives your child a chance to get some wiggles and giggles out before departure or during those long dreaded layovers.

Tip #8 Take Your Children for a Walk

This works really well if you have two grown-ups travelling with your child(ren), because one person can stay behind with everyone’s travel gear, while the other walks the terminal with the kiddo(s). My husband and I always played Tag Team, so the second one of us got back, the other would take the children for another round.  (Now that our children are grown, we continue to do it, just to sneak in that extra exercise)!

One variation of this is one parent can stay behind with the child and play, while the other parent takes a stroll alone…parents need a break too, so they don’t become grumpy travellers!

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Using these suggested travel tips should have you relaxing and enjoying your family vacation from take-off to return.

Bon voyage, baby!

OMG #2

Michele “Miss OMG” Giacomini is a Lifestyles Writer and the author of Looking for B.O.B. (Brightsides of Bull$#!+). She writes about everything chocolate, wine, food, travel and shoes…for everything else, she just makes fun of it. You may follow her on her blog at OMGmissOMG.blogspot.com or Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/OMGMissOMG/