Things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

Things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

Are you ready to start planning the perfect summer family vacations and adventures? A lot of times I start planning much earlier in the year, but when spring hits I allow myself to really dig into the details and begin to daydream about summer days on the lake. We love to find new things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado, our absolute favorite lake retreat!

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Did you know Grand Lake is the largest natural lake (meaning not man-made) in Colorado? Also, it’s on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park so can be a great base to avoid the crowds of Estes Park and explore not only the Grand Lake area but the Park as well. There are just so many things to love about Grand Lake, from the historic boardwalk to the burger and ice cream shop on the beach, to the spectacular hikes nearby.

So let’s dig in. What are some of the best things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado as a family?

Things to do in Grand Lake Colorado

Awesome things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

Why do I love Grand Lake so much? For me, it’s the perfect little mountain town on the lake with charm and old-time character. It’s not pretentious, and nearly everyone’s friendly and ready to enjoy themselves on the lake. In addition, it’s super kid-friendly. Did I mention it’s also the most beautiful idyllic spot?? So, if you get tired of reading a book in your beach chair by the lake or your kids drag you away, here are some fun and entertaining things to do.

Trail Ridge Road

To get to Grand Lake, we like to head west from Estes Park, through Rocky Mountain National Park. The highlight of this route is the awesome Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in the United States. Let me tell you, there are some amazing views to be had, and I highly recommend taking your time. Stop to take pictures, explore the visitor’s center, and take the Alpine Ridge trail hike at the top. It’s not a long hike, only .6 miles roundtrip; however, you gain 200 feet so can be a bit of a climb. Slow down and breathe in the views. You won’t regret it!

Trail Ridge Road, Things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

Play on the beach

Shoveling sand in Grand Lake

Here’s a great way to stay relax and enjoy the view as you read a book and drink your coffee next to the lake. There are a couple of sand beach locations, one in town and open to the public between Grand Lake Marina and Headwaters Marina. We like to stay in one of the cabins in Lemmon Lodge with its own beach and kids’ play structure. Grab a floaty and some sand castle supplies, and the kids are set for the afternoon!

My morning coffee spot Grand Lake, Colorado

Get some hiking on!

There are some awesome hikes around Grand Lake, at many different levels depending on who’s going. I can’t think of many better things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado than some good hikes. Try one out with your family!

Adam’s Falls – easy

Adam's Falls, Things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

From the East Inlet Trailhead, Adam’s Falls is a great short hike with an impressive reward at the end. I like this hike because it’s accessible to nearly everyone, and kids feel a good sense of accomplishment when they reach the falls. When I was little I remember my father hanging off the side taking pictures, and I was scared to death he was going to fall in. I think he enjoyed that. However! Since then they’ve added more stone walls to block off dangerous areas and make it more kid and family friendly. Also, it doesn’t take very long if you need an activity because it’s only .9 miles roundtrip.

Cascade Falls – medium

Grand Lake wildflowers

If you start at the North Inlet Trailhead, Cascade Falls is a good 6.8-mile roundtrip hike with amazing views and falls. I like it because there’s only a 430-foot elevation gain and doable with older kids. In this area, we’ve seen moose and deer and other wildlife so be on the lookout! It’s also a good trail to spot wildflowers along the trail.

Shadow Mountain Lookout – hard

Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout

I’m classifying this hike as hard because it’s difficult for me, and at the ages of 5 and 9 my kids would not get very far. However, it’s a beautiful hike with far-reaching views from the lookout point at the top, and I do recommend it for adults or older, experienced kids. The hike begins at the East Shore Trailhead and is about 9.6 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,635 feet. Good luck!

View from Shadow Mountain

There are many more hikes around, and it’s always good to ask in one of the local hiking shops which hike is good at the moment. For people who are on them all the time, they can generally tell you which ones are in good shape or difficult to navigate because of snow or mud. I also like to hear which area is their current favorite. You can get some good recommendations!

Are you also headed to Estes Park, Colorado?

Estes Park hikes for kids, mountain with golden aspens

Fishing things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

Fishing is my husband’s favorite activity when we get to Grand Lake. There are great opportunities to catch trout, especially rainbow, brown, and lake trout. I’ve been advised the best time is early morning and the best spot where the river runs into the lake. Of course, there are many great fishing spots from land or even from a boat on the lake. If you forget to purchase a Colorado fishing license, most marinas, fishing tackle shops, and even some gas stations sell them. Currently, kids and seniors fish for free, although seniors must still obtain a license. When you get your license be sure to also grab the year’s Colorado Fishing Brochure containing regulations and information on the area.

Fishing things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

My son told me recently he’s planning to catch a lot of seaweed and sticks because he doesn’t want to put a hook in the fish. A kind soul.

Get out on the lake

There are many options to get you and your family out floating on Grand Lake. Truly, there are so many things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado. As a family, we like to sometimes take the tour boat from the Headwater’s Marina next to the public beach. We like to take it around the lake because the drivers give you the history of the area, lake facts like depths and fishing, and they also point out all the cabins and the famous people who’ve lived there. You’ll also get random facts about which ones are accessible by road or only by boat or snowmobile.

Swimming in Grand Lake Colorado

At several of the marinas, you can rent a canoe, paddleboat, motorboat, pontoon boat, kayak or the newest fad – a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). Have you tried out a stand-up paddleboard? They’re those things that look like big surfboards you stand on with a paddle. I’ve even seen people doing yoga on them, but so far I’ve been a chicken to try one. Therefore, this summer’s the time! I will get out on an SUP, and it’s really not the end of the world if you fall in, right? 😉

Nature hunt

Momma and baby moose, things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado

My kids always love to go out on what we call a “nature hunt”. This is one of their favorite things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado. You can do this on a hike, around town, or just as you wander around your cabin. Be on the lookout for animals such as hummingbirds, deer, elk, moose, coyotes. We try to take pictures when we can, and my daughter likes to draw a picture of each animal spotted in your journal. There are also some beautiful wildflowers and plants to see around, and we always love seeing the Colorado state flower, the Columbine.

Kauffman House Museum

I’m a complete history geek and love to check out local museums when we travel. The Kauffman House Museum is conveniently located near the lake just up from the public beach. It was built in 1892 and run as a hotel by the Kauffman family until 1946. Now it’s run by the Grand Lake Area Historical Society as a museum and open most days from 11 am to 5 pm. Check their website here for more information and hours.

The museum is a fun activity for history buffs like myself and for older kids interested in how people lived in the area over 100 years ago.

Holzwarth Historic Site

Another interesting hike and interactive historic site for the family to visit is the Holzwarth Historic Site, also sometimes called Never Summer Ranch. The trailhead and parking area to visit the ranch is located a little over 7 miles north of the Grand Lake Entrance on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s about 1.3 miles roundtrip from the parking lot to visit the site and historic structures.

Holzwarth Historic Site

During the summer, volunteers help visitors connect to the Holzwarth’s story, the German family who immigrated to Colorado and settle the original homestead and began the ranch. They also teach the homestead way of life and what early dude ranches were like on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park. You might even get to have your picture taken in a period giant bearskin coat!

Grand Lake boardwalk and shopping

Another fun activity is to wander up and down visiting the shops along the historic Grand Lake boardwalk. You may be on a mission to find your perfect cabin style souvenir or just window shop, but it’s a must-do activity for our family. There’s also a conveniently located park and play area for kids about midway down the boardwalk, so a good resting place.

There are so many other things you can find to do if you want such as putt-putt golf, bowling, making s’mores, card games, and fun restaurants to try.

Our favorite restaurant – The Fat Cat Cafe

I’ll do another post later on restaurants and food in Grand Lake, but I have to point out the Fat Cat Cafe here too. Of all the wonderful things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado, of course, you have to eat. Do NOT miss the Fat Cat! We absolutely love the food and the people who run this place. Truly, I don’t know how she does it, but the sausage, yes I said breakfast sausage, is to die for. I love pretty much any of the food, but I’d also recommend especially any of the homemade pies. Like the banana cream. The last time I was there I bought a whole one on our way out of town to take home with me it was so good.


Yesterday I walked around my backyard with my son, just sort of to survey the yard work we need to get done. I was also trying to get him to burn some energy because he’d been going crazy being inside so much lately. Did you know that children actually grow faster in spring than other times of the year? So says the book Spring: A Spiritual Biography of the Season by Schmidt and Felch, and I really believe it to be so. Kids have been cooped up more all winter and are ready to run and grow!

Back to our explorations, we discovered some tulip and crocus leaves starting to peak out through the old leftover fall leaves we planned to clean out. I LOVE spring flowers, lilac bushes starting to bloom, and the sun warming off the chill in the air. It’s spring, and do you know what that means? Yes, indeed, it’s time to plan a trip to Grand Lake, Colorado!

At least, that’s what it means to me. Flowers coming up through the snow are the clear signal I’m allowed to begin dreaming of our June trip to Grand Lake. It’s truly one of my favorite spots on this earth, and I hope you get to visit one day. Try out any or all of these activities, and if you discover something else awesome I’ve left out please give a shout-out in the comments below!

Things to do in Grand Lake Colorado, Mount Baldy

Things to do in Grand Lake, Colorado.

Paris Travel Tips: Let’s Plan a Trip to Paris

Paris Travel Tips: Let’s Plan a Trip to Paris

Ah-ah-ah-AH-achoo! It’s flu season, and it seems like half of my daughter’s school is sick. Literally. We haven’t had the flu but our own personal set of viruses that keep the child out of school and in bed or on the couch. Unfortunately, most of these will keep a kid out of action for at least a week, and believe me they go crazy with boredom. Oh, yes. There’s only so much crafting, TV watching, reading, and homework ignoring one can do! Of course, there are also those days the patient is so sick and out of it they can’t really do anything, but what I’m talking about is that time when they’re almost well but still aren’t allowed back at school because of a fever or other factors. Then it’s time to plan a trip to Paris!

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So what do you do when you run out of things to do for the sick child on the couch? I’m tempted to say let them be bored and figure it out, which is not a terrible suggestion. However, when you’re sick I think a little humoring and encouragement is due! Therefore, what better thing is there to do than plan a trip to Paris??

“Plan a trip to Paris?” you may say, “I’m not going to Paris! Why would I plan a trip there?”

Why?! Well, why not? Paris is ALWAYS a good idea, and basic organizing, trip planning, and budgeting are great skills for kids to learn. You may not actually go on your trip, although I highly suggest it, simply planning and learning about an awesome place like Paris is really a lot of fun.

Let's plan a trip to Paris, Eiffel Tower pin

What exactly do you need to plan?

Airplane Tickets

As far as airplane tickets go, you can book through any number of sources. There are the traditional type websites. You can go through a travel agent. Or you can go to the individual airline’s website such as British Airways.

Arc de Triomphe, Let's Plan a Trip to Paris

Where to stay?

There are so many options for places to stay in Paris! Part of the fun of this exercise is to search online for the best Paris hotels or B&Bs.

Hotel Websites

Of course, you could always plan to stay at the Ritz Paris. If money is not an issue there are all sorts of fun websites to explore accommodations in Paris.


Look for good locations on Airbnb. I’ve used Airbnb internationally and nationally and had great experiences with the hosts. If you use my link, and it’s your first time to sign up you’ll even get a $40 travel credit, and who couldn’t use that?! Click here to sign up and get your credit.

If you do choose to book through Airbnb I always suggest selecting a place with many good reviews, not something newly listed. Also, as far as location goes, try to be close to a metro station or within good walking distance to the monuments and places you’d like to see.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Take some time to search

Another option is to simply Google “best hotels for families in Paris” or specifically the style of accommodation you’re looking for. Go to your favorite travel website or look at several such as or or whatever you’ve had success with yourself in the past. As an exercise, it’s fun to look at several and get a variety of options.

Are you going on a road trip soon?

Road trip activities, in the car with feet on the dash

Read all about the Ultimate Road Trip Activities For Kids. Let’s keep them happy and occupied!

What monuments or places would you like to see?

Do some searches. What are you interested in? The history of Paris? Art? Food? Sports? Do you want to see some of the amazing churches in Paris such as Notre-Dame or the dazzling stained glass in Saint Chapelle? Maybe you were a fan of Highlander back in the day (or another show set in Paris 😉 ) and want to see all the places around the city where it was filmed. If nothing else you can plan to have a sword fight with baguettes under a certain bridge with the Eiffel Tower in view.

Sainte Chapelle stained glass windows

There are so many amazing places to see in Paris, famous cafes and restaurants, and ways to grow and learn. Plan to take your time with meals in France and do as the French do. Enjoy each other’s company and delight in the food. Relax and breathe in the culture. It’ll be good for you.

What will your trip cost?

Fill out your free printable Let’s Plan a Trip to Paris! worksheet. Add everything up and see how much your trip will cost. If you wish, add in a budget for food as that’s not included in the basic plan.

It’s not that much now, is it? Make a plan and jump on that airplane. I’ve never regretted traveling to a new place and the amazing new experiences to be had. Take a risk and act on it today! Or simply enjoy a sick day diversion to lift your spirits.

Download the free Let’s Plan a Trip to Paris! worksheet

Let's Plan a Trip to Paris printable preview


So, will you plan a trip to Paris?

Are you inspired yet to plan a trip to Paris? Maybe even act on that plan and do some bookings? I love Paris, and there’s nothing like a sick day to make me long to be able to travel. So, step 1, if you’re sick, get better! Step 2, download your Let’s Plan a Trip to Paris printable. Step 3, explore the internet using your printable as a guide, and plan a trip to Paris! Step 4, go to Paris!

Have you and your family visited Paris? What are your favorite monuments or places to see? I was lucky enough to first make the trip in high school with our high school French club. I loved it so much I’ve studied the French language and have been back many times. However, it’s been too long! I really need to start planning…

Let's plan a trip to Paris, the Eiffel Tower and Deux Magots

The Ultimate Road Trip Activities For Kids

The Ultimate Road Trip Activities For Kids

Are you planning a road trip for spring break or summer? We’re planning for a LOT of time in the car this spring break, and I’m already searching for tips and ideas to pass the time for the kids. I’d like to help you out too so I’m sharing what I think are the ultimate road trip activities for kids.

When I was young, we moved across the country a couple times for my dad’s job. The first of those moves was when I was in fourth grade, and we moved from Colorado to Illinois, which was completely across the world as far as I was concerned. I still remember being heartbroken at having to leave my best friend, school, and everything that I knew. Now I look back, and I think it probably was good for me to experience a new place and get out of my comfort zone a bit.

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Pin it here!

Ultimate road trip activities for kids

Road trip activities for kids

My best friend and her parents were always very creative, and before we left to drive cross-country they gave me a mysterious bag. Inside was a bunch of wrapped items as well as a set of directions about where in the trip I could un-wrap each one. It was a sad goodbye but the activity bag was fascinating!

Kids love little gifts, activities, and knick-knacks. While I don’t remember exactly what was in the packages, I do remember how excited I was to get to each place to open the package. “Only 10 miles to Lincoln!!! We can make it!”

It passed the time and made me look forward to seeing new towns along the way. Also, I got to know the road atlas maps really well so it was a great geography lesson. Do any of you remember having the good old State Farm Road Atlas? We ALWAYS had one in our car.

Since then, I’ve made several such bags for friends going on long drives and for road trips with kids. Depending on who it’s for, I’ve included games, CDs for a specific place on the drive, a Rubik’s cube, books, a journal, history of places along the way, and lots of other fun items. Kids absolutely love it.

How to make your own road trip bag

If you’d like to combine a bunch of awesome road trip activities for kids into one, you’ll want to make your own road trip bag or tote for the journey.

First of all, map out your trip, which you’ll check into anyway.

Second, select cities or towns along the way about an hour apart, or 60-80 miles works well. Fill out the free printable you can download below with your list of cities or towns in the order of your trip (or just use your own piece of paper).

Third, the cities or towns you selected will be where the kids get to open their wrapped items. Count up how many gifts/activities you will need and obtain that many items to wrap. You can see my examples below. Also, if you have more than one child I find it best to make each kid their own bag to avoid squabbling.

Fourth, wrap the items and number them from one to however many cities you’ve chosen as destination gift opening spots. I usually just write the number on the package, but you can make a fancy tag if you like.

Fifth, place a filled out copy of your free printable ultimate road trip activities for kids in each child’s bag and load it in the car. Make sure that place is easily accessible during the trip.

Sixth, when you get to each city written down on the paper, the kids get to open their package with the corresponding number. Yes! Joy! Finally! Ahh! Love!

Voila! With so many road trip activities for kids to anticipate and the trip will go by like the snap of your fingers. Well, maybe not quite that fast, but close. It may sound like a lot, but it really doesn’t take that long to put together. If you use items from dollar store type places, it’s not going to break the bank either and will be worth every penny for everyone’s happy sanity during the drive.

What do you need?

To begin, you’ll want to gather all the supplies you’ll need to complete your awesome road trip activities for kids. 

Road Atlas

I like to include a map or road atlas showing our entire journey that’s not on a screen. When there are wrapped surprises at stake kids get to know the route really well. Also, they can page through and look at the different states or countries and plan out their own trips. As my favorite heroine says, “There’s so much more scope for the imagination!”


Dollar store prizes

I find the dollar-type store and the Target $1 section to be awesome areas to find fun items to unwrap. It’s best to get something that’s a puzzle, game, or something meaningful to you both to occupy them as long as possible. Kids think these are fabulous especially when they’re wrapped up and they anticipate opening them. In addition, they have to stare at the packages in the car, and you will get squeals of joy when it’s time to open them up! You may never again see someone so excited to get to Dumas, Texas (no offense intended to our Dumas friends!).

Wrapping materials

When you create your road trip bag, you plan to have an item to open about 60-80 miles or so. This averages out to about one item to open for every hour you’re on the road. Therefore you’ll be needing some fun wrapping paper or even newspaper comics. You’ll also need scissors and tape.


Activities and Games

Coloring Books

Sometimes it’s fun to include a task or a game with the wrapped prize or gift. For example, you could put a sticky note on the coloring book that says, “Color three different pages in the coloring book before you can open your next destination package.”

Activity books

My daughter absolutely loves activity books and games like Mad Libs. They’re great for in the car because we all contribute words and get to laugh hysterically when the story’s read.



 These National Geographic sticker activity books are a big hit with my son. He’s majorly into dinosaurs, science, space, and all that fun stuff. So, of course, you know best what will amuse your child. Find the perfect activity book for them.

Auto Bingo

On family road trips as a kid, I always played Auto, Interstate, Car Bingo or whatever you would like to call it. This is a fun surprise to wrap up that will take some time to play.


Rubik’s Cube

It’s always fun to throw in a Rubik’s Cube as one of the items especially if the kids haven’t seen one before or at least not in a long time.



Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game

I tend to DIY a lot of scavenger hunt type activities for my kids as we travel, but when in a hurry this is a great option. This scavenger hunt game has kids searching all over for things like license plates, stop signs, a red car, etc. To check it out on Amazon click here.


Free kids' travel journal printableKids’ Travel Journal

Whenever we go on vacation I also love for my kids to keep a travel journal. You can use just a blank notebook or journal or take advantage of my free printable. To read about it and download, click here.

Games are road trip activities for kids and the whole family

The ABC Game

In the car, one of our most popular games to play is the ABC game. To make it an item in your road trip tote bag you can write it on a sticky note and stick it to a rock or put it in a small box. Then wrap it up and you all have to play when it’s destination is reached!

To play is fairly simple, but it takes a little time and is fun. The players take turns stating three things starting with the letter they get on their turn. First, you say your name. Then, you say where you’re from. Lastly, you say what you are taking. All of these need to start with the letter of your turn.

So for example, I say: My name is Amy. I’m going to Antarctica, and I’m taking apples. You go clockwise around the car, and the next person says: My name is Bertha. I’m going to Bermuda, and I’m taking belly button lint. Go through the entire alphabet that way. Silly items are always popular so have fun with it!

I Spy

This is another easy fun game to play to pass time. First, someone is named the spy. That person says, “I spy with my little eye something red!”

Then you go around the car giving everyone a chance to guess what that red thing is. Whoever guesses correctly get to be the next spy. We usually limit the things you can spy to inside the car because half the time you pass by them before someone guesses if they’re outside.

The License Plate Game

This is a good game for a little bit older kids. My 9-year-old loves it until we get to the middle of nowhere and don’t see cars from other states. First, have the child list all 50 states on a piece of paper. It’s good for them. Once that’s done, every time someone sees a different state’s license plate you put a checkmark by it. This can last throughout the entire trip, but there’s something extremely satisfying about checking off all 50.

Who else love books?!

A couple of books to read are fun to throw in the road trip tote bag. They are simple educational road trip activities for kids. If you can find a good book associated with your destination, even better!

Alligators and Crocodiles

by Laura Marsh

Are you going to Florida? Learn all about Florida animals like Alligators and Crocodiles!


The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a Newberry Award Winner, and one of my favorite books! Learn about colonial Connecticut and some interesting history of the area. Also, it has great characters and a storyline you won’t want to put down.

Alamo All-Stars (Hazardous Tales #6)

by Nathan Hale

My daughter loves Nathan Hale’s graphic novel series, Hazardous Tales. She’s been reading Alamo All-Stars of late. Can you guess where we might be going soon?

Download the printable to use with road trip activities for kids

Road trip bag free printable preview


Are you traveling by airplane?

Give our kids’ free printable Airplane BINGO a try! Print it out and you’re good to go with an extra activity for the flight.

Airplane BINGO, kids airplane activities preview

So what are your road trip activities for kids?

We love a good road trip as a family. So many funny memories are made, and you want everyone in the best mood possible. These road trip activities for kids have worked for us. I hope you take some time to prep your own road trip tote bag! Let me know how it goes.

Now, what else do you do to occupy kids on the road? I’m always on the look-out for suggestions!

Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO

Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO

Are you a list-maker and planner or a throw everything together at the last minute spontaneously and hope it works out type of person? Personally, I love my lists and planning, but hey sometimes with kids, life, work, etc. it just doesn’t get done. I have my go-tos for kids airplane activities, but sometimes you need to mix it up and do something new not involving a screen. This free printable is meant to do exactly that, offer something new and fun to do on the airplane that’s super easy for mom. All you have to do is print it out and throw it in a surprise folder for the trip.

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Kids airplane activities airplane BINGO printout on desk

What do you need?

Thanks to all of you out there who’ve reached out to me lately and responded to our newsletter and emails! If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up to get updates, tips, and news from I’ve heard from several of you that you’re loving the travel journal printable and are looking for other activities to keep the kids engaged and busy on trips, but don’t involve a tablet or other screen.

I totally get it. Currently, at our house, we’re having some major struggles with tablets, tv, and screen time. Everyone has their different ideas on the subject, but I’m struggling with the 5-year-old at setting limits and transitioning to our next activity. Let’s just say there’s been a lot of screaming and fits involved for a usually laid-back kid. Sound familiar? Work in progress.

How to prepare for a plane ride with kids

First of all, there is planning for the quick hour and a half airplane trip, and then there is planning for the long-haul, multiple flight trip. Although generally, we pack similar stuff to prepare, it’s just the amount of items that change for me. I consider all flights and airports as a potential for melt-down, although my kids are getting older and past some of those stages. Still, the question is, how to avoid the child, then you, losing it?

There are so many things that help if you allow yourself time to plan correctly. We start off with a well-stocked carry-on bag for each kid, and they’re responsible for it the entire way. If you’re interested, take a look at my posts on The Complete Kids’ Carry-On Packing List, 30 Nut-Free Snacks for a Long-Haul Flight, or 8 Ways to Survive a Long Layover With Kids.

The Complete Kids’ Carry-On Packing List

The Complete Kids' Carry-On with pictures of carry-on items

Travel entertainment

As a kid, I always loved the car trip scavenger hunt type games that made me look for things as we drove. For a while I even made books of Iowa Signs, Kansas Signs, Texas Signs, etc. and drew all the signs I saw because there was not a lot else to look at on some of those drives. No offense of course to example states! Also, I especially loved when we played a game as a family. I Spy, the ABC game (you know: A – My name is Andrew, I’m going to Alabama, and I’m taking Apples), and so on.

Naturally, when thinking about non-screen activities my thoughts went to okay, what can a family do together on an airplane? Well, we can’t make a lot of noise, but it should be entertaining and possibly even include prizes for the winners. Small erasers or toys work well for this, or a Dum-dum style sucker to help kids’ ears pop and adjust to the altitude.

Sunset view out airplane window

Airplane BINGO how-to

That train of thought gave me the idea for Airplane BINGO. What kid doesn’t like BINGO?! In this version, it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt as well. Hand out the free printable cards, and you’re ready to begin.

Tear up pieces of paper for markers. Actually, I always travel with Post-its and ripping the little ones in half with the sticky on them works amazingly well for airplanes because they don’t fall off and into the abyss of the airplane floor. In Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO, I’ve included 4 different BINGO cards. Although they do list many of the same items, they are not in the same locations on the cards.

Once you hear or see one of the items on the card, for example, you hear the woman in the next row discussing the weather, you place your sticky note or marker on that square. The center space with the airplane is the “FREE” space so it can help out when trying for a BINGO. We always play allowing a BINGO when you get five spaces in a row or all four corners.

Airplane BINGO, kids airplane activities printable close-up

You won!

When you win you say, “BINGO!” and go through your five squares and explain where you saw each. If indeed a winner, that person will receive a fabulous prize such as a pencil, exciting highlighter, or new dinosaur figure (depends on your kids). At that point, you can then start a new game.

This printable is made for kids who can already read, but an adult could easily pair up with a younger child. Or similarly, you could have everyone color their BINGO cards and draw pictures of what they’re searching for in the rectangles. Really, you can make it work for just about anyone.

Download Kids Airplane Activities: Airplane BINGO below

Airplane BINGO, kids airplane activities preview

What are your kids airplane activities?

So what do you do to keep kids happy and occupied on an airplane? Especially on those long and multiple-flight trips, once the novelty has worn off it can be difficult to keep up the positivity. As I said, we have our tried and true kids’ airplane activities, but what do you do to mix things up?

Also, if you download the Kids Airplane Activities: BINGO Cards let me know in the comments how it worked for you. This is an activity that could last a long time or a relatively short time depending on the family. Do you have any other ideas to make it better?

Thanks so much and have an amazing trip!

View out airplane window at sunset, airplane BINGO

Georgian Language Phrases For Travelers

Georgian Language Phrases For Travelers

When you travel to other countries do you try to learn the basics in the native language? Even if it’s just a few words as an introduction, I’ve found it paves the way for a richer, fuller visit. In addition, it helps to ingratiate you with the local people and gives you a whole other view of the place and culture.

I’ve had many people ask me how in the world I learned Georgian, even after living there for several years. How? I studied. I interacted with people all over the country (and that done with me being an introvert). Was it always comfortable? No, of course not, and language learning is never perfect, but little by little you begin to understand and feel a part. Georgian language phrases

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Useful Georgian language phrases for travelers, free printable over Trinity Cathedral Tbilisi

Luckily for you, if you’re traveling to Tbilisi or any other part of Georgia soon, I’ve put together a handy printable list of useful Georgian language phrases for travelers.

Speaking foreign languages while traveling

I vividly remember the reaction of a woman I met in Baku, Azerbaijan when I attempted to speak to her in Azeri. This was a while ago now, but she was taking money for tickets or a tour at the Maiden Tower, an old Zoroastrian tower in Baku that’s now a local history museum. At first glance, she bore the no-nonsense, expressionless face I associate with former Soviet countries. They all feel Americans smile too much at strangers, as do many other countries. To me, she looked put out at having to be bothered with doing her job and giving out tickets.

Slowly, I stepped up and asked for the tickets in what I thought was correct Azeri. She did a little double-take and really looked at my face, and I was able to respond to whatever she asked me in return. Her face lit up, smiled, and she yelled over to her friend that these girls were actually trying to speak Azeri and NOT Russian. At least I think she said something to that effect. We ended up getting more attention, and a bit of a special tour.

Metekhi Church entrance

My foreign language teacher lecture

Indeed, it’s all about being polite and respectful when you go to someone else’s country, to speak their language. Even if you don’t get very far, or they speak English and cater to tourists, they will generally appreciate your attempt. Don’t be afraid of not getting everything perfect either! I do pretty well in Latin languages and Georgian; however, my German, Russian, Azeri, etc. are pretty horrendous. But don’t fear! Most of the time they don’t expect you to have perfect grammar and pronunciation. The point is to communicate and learn from your hosts.

Georgians are some of the most hospitable and welcoming people I’ve ever met. They take great pride in their hospitality and love to have guests. They, like the Azeri woman I mentioned, are super-excited when foreigners speak Georgian to them and not Russian or another language.


I first fell in love with the Georgian language through traditional Georgian music before I could speak a single word. Music so often communicates the history and passions of a place so I like to listen to what I can before and during my visit. Also, I encourage my kids to do the same thing and so makes travel a huge living lesson for us.

You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.

Geoffrey Willans

English Author and Journalist

Need some ideas about things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia?

Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi

In my recent blog post, you can read all about awesome activities to do with kids in Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s an amazing city and so much fun to explore!

Georgian language phrases

The Georgian language is a beautiful language rich in history. What’s it related to? This is generally one of the first questions I get asked when speaking to someone about how I know it. Georgian is in its own family and branch, and therefore it’s not Slavic, Latin, Germanic or others. In addition, it has its own alphabet with 33 letters always pronounced the same way when read, similar to Spanish. Right now I’m not going to go into the alphabet but for our purposes use Latin letters to make it easier for travelers to get some words out!

When you speak in Georgian, do not stress syllables as in English, but read through them with the same level of stress throughout, if that makes sense.

Here are a few examples I’ve mentioned before:

gamarjoba (gah-mar-joh-bah) This means hello!

me lareni var (may lahren-ee var) My name is Lauren.

Tip here: You’ll want to insert your name instead of mine. 😉 In Georgian, you add an ee (long e) sound to the end of your name if it ends in a consonant sound, in this case. I’ll not trouble you with a bunch of grammar right now.

sasiamovnoa (sah-see-ah-mohv-noh-ah) It’s nice to meet you. (I love saying this word so had to add it in.)

didi madloba (dee-dee mahd-loh-bah) Thank you very much.

kargat (kar-gaht) Good-bye! (informal)

nakhvamdis (nahkh-vahm-dees) Good-bye!

Do you want some more? Get the free PDF printable, and practice to your heart’s content. Most Georgians are thrilled to help you with pronunciation and language so if you know someone who’s Georgian enlist their help.

Download your free Georgian language phrases for travelers printable below!

Georgian language phrases preview

Free Printable

A different language is a different vision of life.

Federico Fellini

Italian Film Director and Screenwriter

Travel and languages

Do you tremble with excitement when you learn a new word or piece of language? Well, maybe we won’t go that far, but it’s exciting! Just imagine how much you can learn about a culture with a few simple words, some good food and company, and a lot of observation.

I said it before, but let me stress again, don’t worry about getting it perfect! We are communicating, and a couple words are better than none to get a point across. Language is such an amazing part of a culture and helps form the identity of the people.

Good luck on your travels. I hope you enjoy learning a bit of Georgian today and have the opportunity to travel there someday!

Narikala Fortress and the Mother of Georgia overlooking Tbilisi

Long Layover With Kids: 8 Ways to Survive

Long Layover With Kids: 8 Ways to Survive

This post contains affiliate links. Layover with kids

When you hear the words, long layover with kids, do you just cringe? For those of you who’ve experienced a layover between flights at an airport, think about how tired you are and what you do. Now imagine that same level of fatigue after an eight-hour or longer flight while you wait five hours for your next three-hour flight, and add in two grouchy kids. Doesn’t that sound like fun?! Not so much.

Today I’m going to give you 8 things to do to survive a long layover with kids. In addition, you are going to feel super-awesome because you planned beforehand and won’t have a breakdown in the middle of the Toronto Airport (or wherever you’ll be). This is truly a win-win!

Recently, my family of four traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia by air. This lengthy trip involved two layovers each way, and it’s stressful enough on your own, much less while you’re trying to help your kids get through it! First, we stopped in Toronto, Canada for five hours, and then in Warsaw, Poland for fourteen. Bragging moment, I was super-proud of my kids and how they handled it. Now, I’m going to give you ideas for both the long and short layovers. Here we go!

Long layover with kids pin

8 Ways To Survive A Long Layover With Kids

1. A well-packed carry-on bag the child can carry or pull

This is so important! You will all be tired so don’t overpack the 4-year-old’s bag so you have to carry it all the time. Admittedly, I carried my son’s bag now and then, but he could carry it himself, and he used everything in it at some time or another. For more detail on what to pack, see my post on ‘The Complete Kids’ Carry-On Packing List’.

2. Find a home base

Next, as soon as your plane lands and you’ve taken care of the essentials like finding the restroom, you’ll look for a home base. No, you’re not going to be hauling around a tent, but find your own space not too far from your next gate. Also, this should be an area with several chairs where you can park your carry-on bags, and the kids can spread out.

This spot will become your home base if one parent needs to take one child to go do something. One adult should always be at the base to watch the bags, but then you can otherwise come and go as you please. Moreover, the kids can spread out coloring books, crayons, snacks, whatever, without feeling smushed and without bothering anyone.

I even like to get food and bring it back to base for everyone so we don’t have to cart our bags (and kids) around.

3. Change of clothes and pajamas

A change of clothes for everyone and a set of pajamas are imperative to make the kids, and you, more comfortable. Maybe a child got sick on you on the last flight and you need to change. Don’t just think the kids will be the only ones whose clothes might need replacing.

If it’s night time, pajamas are a great thing to have for the kids. Pajamas are familiar and comforting, and hey! They might even get some much-needed rest and take a nap!

4. Take frequent walks 

If you’re not napping, walking around frequently, with the adults taking turns, is a great idea. You’ve been smushed up on an airplane for so many hours without moving and will just be getting on another. Kids don’t ever sit still and in one place any longer than they have to so why expect they will while traveling? Walk around, find the nearest bathroom and your favorite snack store, but get moving!

5. Airport scavenger hunt

Kids love to play games so try out this Airport Scavenger Hunt printable (scroll to the end to download) or other activity books. The scavenger hunt is awesome because it gets you moving around intent on finding the listed objects on the list. Work it as a family or individually, but make sure to emphasize the rules about staying with an adult.

Layover with kids: Airport Scavenger Hunt pin

6. Tablet with earphones for each child

I normally limit screen time at home but not while traveling! If it will entertain the child and let us rest, it’s completely worth it on the airplane or at the airport. My children were actually tired of the tablets by the time we got to the layovers and didn’t use them as much as I expected. Get everyone moving around and doing other things, but when they’re tired of that and sitting around waiting, a new movie or game will pass the time.

Long layover with kids and iPad

7. Food! 

Make sure you have or can buy snacks (see ‘30 Nut-Free Snacks For A Long-Haul Flight‘) and meals in between flights. We love to try out local foods, and even at an airport, we try to get something different. (That is unless we’re on the last leg and my four-year-old snaps and only agrees to eat Oreos or the snacks I’ve brought because they’re familiar). For example, it may sound odd, but my daughter loves sausage. She was so excited she got to have a sausage sandwich at the little cafe at the Warsaw Airport. “It was so good Mommy! That’s why they call it POLISH sausage at home, hahaha!”

8. Book a hotel room in the airport or nearby

This is a big one that can make a huge difference in your travels. If you have an 8 or more hour layover, and you’re not trying to run into town to do some sight-seeing, I strongly suggest getting a hotel room at the airport or near-by if available. This made such a difference in how we arrived at our destination and was super-easy. Before we left, I made a reservation at the Courtyard Marriott across the street from the Warsaw Airport, and we simply walked over and checked in.

Courtyard Marriott Warsaw

We all got to shower or take baths, sleep in our own space, and just relax and get ready for our vacation. This meant we (even the kids) were refreshed and ready to go get on that last flight to our destination. The jet lag was easier to handle, and it made for a much happier family.

Be Prepared

If you’re going on a long trip anytime soon with kids, I think the lesson is to be prepared. You’ll want to prepare your carry-ons and the kids’ favorite items. Then, plan your layovers and if you can get a hotel or not, and be sure there are options for everyone in the family. No one wants a grouchy goose, so make your travels go as smoothly as possible.

Helpful hint: it takes some effort and planning!

Don’t neglect your packing list and then wonder why the kids scream and complain and drive you crazy the entire trip. It can still happen, but you can plan, be prepared, be flexible, and enjoy your travels as a family. You can more than survive your layover with kids, you’ll make it a fun adventure exploring a new place!

Download your Airport Scavenger Hunt PDF today

Layover with kids: Airport Scavenger Hunt preview

Travel Journal For Kids

Need more airport activities? Have your kids complete their own travel journal! I love to look back and read old journals, and my daughter is the same. Later she even inserts pictures and mementos from the trip. You can use a regular blank journal or get my free printable here.

Travel Journal preview showing 6 pages

Share in the comments below, what’s the worst or best experience you’ve had on a long layover with kids?

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