Tag Archives: travel

When looking out to the open road, here are tips to planning a road trip with the kids.

8 Tips For Planning an Awesome Road Trip with the Kids

Road tripping may be the preferred American mode of transportation, but it became ten times less enjoyable when you had kids. Your children may fill your heart with love, but they fill your backseat with loud, sticky messes. But you’re in luck! With just a little extra planning, you can stave off the whining and set your family up for an enjoyable road trip with the kids. Whether you’re heading into the wilderness for a few days of camping, or over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s, here are some useful road trip tips to help you and your children enjoy the journey AND the destination.

  1. Make a road trip kit for each of your kids.  If you’re driving a long distance, you can plan ahead to make the journey as seamless as possible. Here’s how: Each hour of the trip, let the kids open a new gift or activity which you keep concealed in the front seat with you. For each hour, have a new toy (small, inexpensive toys you can find at a dollar store), an activity, stickers, a CD, a snack, etc. This helps the time go by quickly, keeps your little ones occupied and distracted from that nagging “are we there yet?” feeling.
  2. Get your kids to look out the window by planning a scavenger hunt.  Create a simple worksheet to check the boxes as they find each item. This can be as simple as finding road signs for each letter of the alphabet, license plates from each state, or color-based items such as a blue building, a red barn, a cow, etc.
  3. Although you might want to avoid buying every toy a child spots at a roadside rest stop, it can be a fun idea to allow your child to pick out one souvenir that is representative of the trip. A great way for them to remember the trip you took together, it can also be an item to schedule in the road trip kit – plan it at a strategic time when they need a good distraction.
  4. No matter what your mother may have told you, it is okay to pack in laundry baskets. Though you may feel awkward arriving at a hotel with baskets in lieu of suitcases, it will pay off when you arrive back at home with neatly sorted baskets of clean and dirty clothes.
  5. This one’s a no-brainer.  Bring trash bags for the car.  Empty your trash ritually at each gas station – a clean car will help maintain your sanity. Don’t forget a plastic baggy of paper towels, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a small pocket knife for slicing fruit, cheese, or bread.
  6. Have picnics instead of fast food.  You might have to invest a little time driving around to find perfect picnic spot, but it will be worth it.  Whether you pack food from home or stop at the grocery on the way, you’ll save money, have a healthier lunch, and enjoy a great view. Picnics can quickly become a cherished family tradition.
  7. Even if your toddler is borderline potty-trained, don’t risk it.  Opt for the pull-up and eliminate even the marginal risk of road trip pant-wetting.
  8. Build up the anticipation and eliminate any arguments by selecting a movie ahead of time.  Save the movie for after dark to allow some quiet time before the little ones (fingers crossed!) drift off to sleep.


Taking an 8 hour road trip with my man child and two babies. Any advice?

We have a 5 hour road trip planned at Christmas. My daughter will almost be 7 months. She is bottle fed formula. Anyone have suggestions on how to heat/keep her bottles warm?

My lo is 5wks. Has anyone taken baby on a road trip? How far? Was it hard? I’m anxious to get out.

Any advice or opinions on how a 11 month old baby would do on a 22 hour road trip? I know craziness but it’s kind of for an emergency…

My husband and I are considering a road trip from Toronto Canada to Florida in January during his 2 weeks off. We figured by driving we can bring everything we need which will amount to quite a bit for twins who will be 6 months old at the time. Do you think the drive will be too much for the babies?

Need to keep breast milk frozen 3 day road trip any ideas? Total about 225oz.

My friend is going to be about 10 weeks pregnant when they will do a cross-country road trip. It will be about 5-7 days that they will be traveling. What are the things that would make this trip a bit easier for her?

Best snacks for a 16mo for an 8 hour road trip?

How soon would you take your LO on a 5 hour road trip to see family? My MIL wants me to take my LO up to her dads house that is 5 hours away after the baby is born in July. He’s dying and he really wants to see my LO before he passes.

Preparing for our first 9 hour road trip with LO (4.5 months) from Ontario to Quebec City. Debating at the point if we should drive through the day or overnight. Anyone else make this far of a trip with little one?

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Tips for Planning a Kid Friendly vacation - SmartMom

Tips for Planning a Kid Friendly Vacation

Planning a kid friendly vacation that everyone will enjoy can be tricky when you have young children. Taking children to do certain activities before they’re old enough to enjoy them can be disastrous. When you’re trying to decide if your child is old enough to visit certain landmarks, conduct some research ahead of time to help you make the best decision about whether or not your child is really old enjoy the sights.

How Much Walking is Involved?

Whether you’re itching to see the Grand Canyon or you want to check out Yellowstone National Park, find out how much walking is involved. Some attractions allow you to drive right up to landmarks to view them, while others require a lengthy walk.

Once kids are too heavy to be carried in a backpack and too big to ride in a stroller, there aren’t too many options left. The last thing you want to do is have to carry your child long distances because the area is impossible for little legs to navigate safely.

Can My Child Carry His Belongings?

Think ahead about how much stuff your child is likely going to need. If your child is old to carry his own backpack, it’s likely that he may be able to tote some spare clothes or his own water bottle. That can free the adults up to carry the snacks, camera, and extra food and water.

Are There Other Kid-Friendly Activities Available?

If you’re heading somewhere that may not captivate your child’s attention for an extended period of time, like Mt. Rushmore, it’s important to research other activities that may be in the area that can supplement your trip. Look for other kid-friendly activities in the area and remember to have a backup plan for days when the weather may not cooperate with your outdoor plans.

What are the Sleeping Arrangements?

Think ahead about the sleeping arrangements as well. Make sure your child is going to be able to handle sleeping a different place or in a strange bed before you plan an overnight trip. Staying up all night with a crying or scared child can sour a vacation quickly.

Will My Child Need a Break During the Day?

If you’ve got a toddler or a preschooler who needs a nap, you’ll need to be able to plan accordingly. If you can plan it so your child can sleep during the day or you can duck back to the hotel for a quick nap, you may be okay. The last thing you want is a tired, cranky child who isn’t interested in seeing any of the sights.

What are the Potential Safety Issues?

Before you head out on any new adventures, make sure to consider your child’s ability to follow safety rules. Keep in mind that many parks, mountains, and beaches don’t have safety railings or gates to keep kids safe. Taking a hyperactive 4-year-old to look at a beautiful waterfall could be disastrous. Make sure your child can safely follow the rules before you head out.

Will My Child be Excited About it?

One of the best parts about many family vacations is the ability to build excitement about it. If your child is old enough to learn about landmarks ahead of time, it’s a sign that your child may be old enough to enjoy the trip. Read books about your trip, look at pictures, and have frequent conversations to build excitement. If your child gets excited, it can reassure you that he’s ready for a vacation.

Making Your Decision

There isn’t a single age that all children are ready for certain trips. Instead, base your decision on your child’s maturity and development. Be flexible throughout your trip and focus on building life-long family memories.

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SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

What I’ve Learned: Heather Arthur, Stuntwoman

Heather Arthur is stuntwoman and mother of two young children.  She currently resides in the Los Angeles area but is originally from Colorado.  You can view her stunt reel here and her IMDB page here

“I became a stuntwoman about 8 years ago now.  I have a 2 year old son and a 3 month old girl.  My husband is stuntman, too.  We were working corporate jobs in Colorado when we got a call about an opportunity to work on the set of Lost.  We both quit our jobs and moved to Hawaii in less than a week.

My husband Jon and I met in college and were married after dating for just 2 years.  Before we decided to become full time stunt actors we were working corporate jobs in Colorado, but we hated our jobs.  We just weren’t cut out for corporate life.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Heather and Jon and their son in Hong Kong

I guess it isn’t uncommon for stunt actors to date and marry each other.  I think you just find someone that is willing to be adventurous with you for the rest of your life.  We both love the adventure of it all.  We always knew there would be a challenge, and that this lifestyle would definitely be much more difficult.  But there is always going to be the option to stay home or to travel.  Sometimes the thing that is more challenging ends up being so much more rewarding.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Heather doubling Actress Lily Collins on Priest

People always told us things would change when we had kids.  We would disagree and say “nothing will change” and they would just say, “Oh, we’ll see…” But things didn’t really change.  I think we traveled even more after our first kid.  And then when we got pregnant with our second, those same people continued to say, “oh, your lifestyle is going to change…” but it still hasn’t.  Everyone has said it would be impossible, but we do it.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Heather and Jon at the Emmy’s in 2008

My dad was a stuntman and then became a stunt coordinator.  He is the one who told us about the opportunity in Hawaii.  I suppose it runs in the family; I remember him standing in the kitchen watching me jump off the refrigerator when I was a toddler.  My dad always encouraged me to do stunts like that.

We travel a lot.  Most people think we have a crazy lifestyle.  But we enjoy it.  We really like traveling, so that’s been a great aspect of this job.  When we travel we always book one-way tickets, because we never know when we’ll get a call and have to leave and fly someplace else.  Even though it can add extra stress, we really love it.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Heather on the set of Lost with actress Evangeline Lilly

In our profession, things are always done last minute.  I am constantly needing to fly somewhere for a job with very little notice.  I’ve been to Asia and Australia like 10 times.  My 2 year old has been to 17 different states.  My 3 month old has already flown to Florida, Colorado, and Hawaii. She’ll have been on 5 different round trip flights before she turns 4 months.

Our kids have already traveled a lot considering their ages.  We always joke that our daughter is fancy traveler: she’d rather fly than drive.  She never cries on a plane, but she cries when she’s in the car.  When my son was a baby his nickname was “carry-on”.

My husband and I have always put family first.  If its important, you just make it happen.  When my son was 8 months old I was in Hawaii.  I would be out on boats in the middle of the ocean and I had to bring a breast pump with me.  Just a few weeks ago I was working on the set of Fast and the Furious 7 in Colorado.  My kids were on set with me, and I nursed my youngest between cuts.  Our nanny was there with me and I would nurse whenever I could.  We didn’t hire a nanny until we had our second child, but she’s been a huge help lately.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur StuntwomanRight now I’m kind of part-time back to work.  For now, we recruit my mother-in-law if I’m out of town on location.  The nice thing is that I get to choose when I want to work. That’s the really nice thing about doing this job and being a mom.  I get to pick and choose the jobs that I take.  I remember my dad doing the same thing when I was a kid.  When he was gone he’d be out of town for a while, but when he was home he got to spend a lot of time with us.

We thought a lot about the decision to do private school or homeschool our kids.  So, for example, we could spend $20,000 a year on private school or we could take them to China to see the great wall.  We feel like traveling fits into our lifestyle, so we want to do it.  We are going to either Thailand or France in January for a vacation.  My 3 month old already has her passport.  So we don’t travel just for work – we like to travel when we have time off, too.

Being a stunt actor comes with a lot of risks, so I didn’t work when I was pregnant.  Even if they say it’s an easy stunt, it’s definitely not worth the risk.  The day I found out I was pregnant I stopped working.

I would say most stuntwoman either don’t have kids or have only 1 kid.  When I found out I was pregnant with my son I was training really hard to do X Men.  I was supposed to double January Jones and she’s quite skinny so I was training a lot.  When I found out I was pregnant I had to back out.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Just a regular day at the office for a stunt actress

It’s been hard after both my pregnancies to maintain a balance between getting enough calories for breastfeeding and staying skinny for some of my roles.  Being in stunt shape is different than just getting in regular shape or staying thin.  You have to be really really fit.  About 6 months [after my first pregnancy] I felt like I could do a job, but I would say it took around 9 or 10 months to get back into stunt shape.  Right now my youngest is 3 months old so I have a ways to go, I probably have about 10 pounds left to lose.

I do martial arts and probably train between 5 and 10 hours a week.  It’s no less than an hour a day.  On Tuesdays I do 2 and a half hours.  Sometimes I go for a run with the kids in the double stroller.  Having the kids is a challenge in regards to working out.  Sometimes I’ll strap on the baby pouch and go for a hike.  I have to find creative ways to exercise.  Right now my youngest isn’t old enough to take to the gym.  Sometimes I do leg exercises while wearing her.  I can put my son on my shoulders and do squats or have him sit on my back when I do push ups.  He actually likes to work out with me.

I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to be able to go back to work.  Being a stunt actor is a very performance based job.  If we don’t do a good job, we don’t work again.  So I’m thankful I still have the opportunity to work. It’s been very demanding, but it’s possible, and my husband and I have always said that family is more important.   

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur StuntwomanI don’t know if I’ll let my kids do stunts.  My girlfriend’s daughter doubled Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds.  That’s something my kids could definitely get into.  It’s not that I’m worried about their safety, I’m more worried about Hollywood when I was younger.

I’m glad my dad protected me from Hollywood.  It’s a very adult business, and I think you need to be careful.  I guess I lean on the side of wanting to protect them as long as I can.  I think a day here and there is fine, but its a business I’m very apprehensive about getting them into at such a young age.

Women tend to have a much shorter lifespan with stunt acting, mostly because actresses are a lot more vain.  They like having young people double them.  They’re very particular about those things. A lot of women don’t continue to do stunts after they become a mom.

Stunt acting is definitely a male dominated industry.  If stunt acting is the equivalent of an “entry level” position, then stunt directing is like the next step up.  That’s what my dad did.  So there are hardly any female stunt coordinators.  The next step up would be Second Unit Directing.

SmartMom What I Learned Heather Arthur Stuntwoman

Jon and Heather with Heather’s dad and their son, Chase at his 1st Birthday party.

The funny thing about my dad and I both being stunt actors is that we’re both terrified of heights.  But one of the reasons I do stunts is because I like the feeling of being afraid and then conquering it.  Just because you’re afraid of something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.  There is no such thing as an easy stunt.  We take calculated risks. Nearly every day I come home bruised and scraped with scratches all over.  But there’s a difference between getting hurt and getting injured.  I do worry about death, but I worry more about Hollywood.  I don’t want to let that affect me, that’s more what worries me.

My dad passed away six months ago.  I remember back on the set of Lost in Hawaii I had this one scene where I had to fall down a cliff.  Probably to this day that was one of the most challenging stunts I’ve ever done.  At the bottom I was all scratched up, adrenaline pumping, and I looked up at my dad who was there at the bottom.  I remember him looking at me and saying, “I’m so proud of you.”  It was like that first moment he realized that his daughter had followed in his footsteps.  I’ll always remember that.”

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