“Vacations are so relaxing and easy!”—said no parent of young kids. Ever. We recently spent four days in Newport, Oregon, which was lovely but not restful in the least. On top of all the prepping and packing and passing back of 18 varieties of snacks on the drive to the central Oregon coast, neither kid sleeps that well away from home. Somehow, though, despite feeling a bit run down on vacation, my creativity remained intact, and I am now obsessed with the parenting hack I pulled off to make my kids sleep on vacation.
Like on most vacations we take, I couldn’t make my kids sleep on the first night. Although I had brought noise machines and loveys and special blankets, we didn’t have the blackout curtains we rely on at home. Once morning dawned, with both kids wide awake, I knew I had to try something different.
My protests of “it’s too early” didn’t cut it.
Peeper opened the blinds and begged to differ. “Look mama, it’s sunny!” She said. “It’s not too early!” So we spent the early-early morning semi-conscious on the couch, praising the geniuses who invented Saturday morning cartoons.
Then on my way to the drive-through coffee shop (OMG CAFFEINE THANK YOU), I stopped at the dollar store down the street. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I dropped $2 on aluminum tin foil and pulled off one of my best parenting hacks yet—which not only helped make my kids sleep on vacation but also stopped me from swearing off family vacations entirely. (Win!)
Having a bunch of blogger friends is the best. They’re like a combination of the hive mind, Yelp, google and a travel agent, except with really awesome photo skills. When I need recommendations on where to eat or what to do in Portland, Oregon, I ask my Portland bloggers buds first; ditto where to stay at the coast, or what to cook for an upcoming BBQ. So when I wanted to collect a bunch of must-do family and kids activities in Portland, I knew who to ask.
I posed this question in a handful of Portland bloggers groups I belong to:
When friends and their family visit Portland from out of town, where do you send them?
Lucky for me (and you!) they sent a bunch of responses. Read on for insider tips, recommendations and curated travel plans for the best Portland family-friendly spots and kids activities!
While visiting the Central Oregon Coast, I never plan activities ahead of time—I figure we’ll stay on the beach nearly every waking moment, since the coast is my (and my family’s) happy place. But on our most recent trip to Newport, OR, I found myself looking for a family friendly outing that didn’t involve throwing sand or chasing toddlers who were splashing in the freezing Pacific. My dad and I ended up going to Yaquina Head Lighthouse with the kids—an incredibly scenic stop just a few minutes north of Newport, OR.
The last time I flew with the girls, I was by myself. So I schlepped two kids, a couple of carry-ons, Peeper’s lovey and a whole bunch of anxiety onto a plane. I was, understandably, worried about flying with kids solo.
How do you keep your kids busy on the plane—especially when you only have two hands? I wondered.
With luck, and the kindness of a few understanding strangers, we survived that flight. I learned a few lessons, though, that I want to share here: tips on building travel activity kits we’ll be using when we’re doing road trips and flying with kids over the holidays. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and the busiest travel days of the year staring us down, we could all use some ideas to travel as a family.
Looking for ways to keep your kids busy on the plane, too? Want to limit their screen time? Want to survive the flight without the rest of the passengers threatening to throw your family out an air lock?
Learn from my experience—and be prepared. You’ll stress less at 30,000 feet in the air when your kids are happy with these travel activity kits!
In the late spring, my younger sister had a beautiful baby girl. I tried to be all level-headed about giving her new family space, not crowding her with visitors, etc etc etc but on the inside I was all, OMG LET ME AT THAT BABY!
We planned a road trip to Spokane to visit just as soon as we could. I booked an AirBnB and sent an exclamation-point heavy series of texts to my sister. Then—I realized I’d have to drive nearly six hours from Portland to Spokane. With two kids.
All my googling found, well, not a whole lot between here and there. But if you happen to make that road trip, here’s what to do between Portland and Spokane, especially if you have kids.
What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than a family camping trip? That was my thought when I booked a campsite at Stub Stewart Park, an Oregon state park less than 45 minutes west of Portland.
As soon as I committed us, though, I had flashbacks to the last time we went camping. (I wrote about my sleepless nights in the tent for PDX Parents’ Happy Campers, a guide to family camping in the Northwest.)
This trip—made slightly more complicated by the addition of a second kid who, btw, wakes every few hours even in the controlled, sound-machined environment of home—didn’t disappoint in the Lack of Sleep Department. But the memories we made camping as a family of four at Stub Stewart more than made up for the dark circles under my eyes.
If you’re looking for kid-friendly camping spots near Portland, here’s the lowdown on family camping at Stub Stewart State Park. Read more
Not long ago I traveled up to Seattle for my younger sister’s baby shower. We spent just one night in the emerald city to the north and stayed in the Alexis, a boutique hotel blocks from Pike Place Market with gorgeous, spacious rooms and a fantastic restaurant downstairs. I wish I’d known a tad bit more about how to do the family travel thing right and plan a hotel stay with a baby.
Hotel stays used to excite me—a night away, new and luxurious toiletries, someone else to make my bed. But now? Not so much.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling a wee bit anxious bringing a baby to a hotel. Will the guests next door call the front desk if my little cries? Will the guests next door throw a raging party and prompt me to call the front desk?
You can take some of the uncertainty out of family travel—and even enjoy a hotel stay with a baby. Seriously.
(This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and buy, I’ll earn a few pennies. Thanks for supporting this mom blogger!) Read more