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We’re traveling to Europe with my 1-year-old grandson. Can you recommend a portable crib and backpack/stroller carrier

Hi Alicia,

Traveling with a baby is not always easy. I should know as I’m new to traveling with one! The problem is all their stuff can make things unwieldy and then of course you add into the mix a baby and… it can feel overwhelming at just the thought. Planning ahead and packing smart are more important than ever. Both you and your baby will get better with experience so I suggest making a few “test” trips before your big vacation.

Flying and Crying

With so many teary Oscar acceptance speeches this week, I thought I’d examine another emotional spectacle: Crying at 30,000 feet. For some people, it just comes easier. It’s even an expected part of the sounds of take-off: engines roar, wheels retract, bins shuffle, and babies cry. And cry and cry and cry. It’s the ear pressure, the strange environment, and probably a little of mommy or daddy’s nervousness, but, for the most part, when babies cry most passengers accept the noise without too much aggravation.

But, as you might have noticed, babies aren’t the only ones crying on the plane.

Getting Crafty With Vacation Photos

I don’t know about you, but in the day of the digital camera, I’m a prolific and perfectly undisciplined photographer on my vacations, snapping random pictures of every flower, tree, rock, and seascape that catches my eye. Funny-looking bird? I take a picture. Pink sunset clouds? Shutter-click. Friends laughing at some inane joke we’ll never remember later while posing in front of a very serious statue? Smile for the camera.

When I return from my trips, I always look forward to downloading my camera’s memory card and seeing the pictures in their full pixellated glory. At most, I might then download these photos from my computer onto a public gallery site, to share with my friends and family, but I admit that beyond that, I haven’t made an actual physical photo album in years.

But, there are a few ways to parlay pictures into practical day-to-day items. Here are a few crafty, non-album ways to put your favorite vacation photos to use:

Weird Amusement Parks in America

I grew up in Florida so it’s only natural that I was born with an innate love of bone-chilling, heart-pounding, hair-raising amusement-park thrills. But like most junkies, I eventually tired of the same old thing and went in search of new kicks. This is how I became obsessed with America’s weirdest theme parks. Check out my top five picks below.

5) The Holy Land Experience - This theme park is a Vegas-style miniature version of certain sights in Israel. It boasts Judeo-Christian “thrills” such as the world’s largest indoor model of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls cave, and a faux-Jerusalem street market. But there are no rides, making this park lower on my list.

4) Dollywood – America’s favorite buxom blonde has her own amusement park and it’s a knee-slappin’, foot stompin’ good time. Only at Dollywood could you enjoy a sawmill-themed roller coaster, watch an “artisan” make soap, and then top off the day with some delicious meat on a stick. Dollywood is jolly good, y’all.

Family Fun, A Natural Thing?

Richard Louv coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder in his book LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS and ever since I read about it, I’ve been thinking about how the majority of us are nature deprived; and as a result, in some way, suffering. How many times are you outside walking about but barely taking in the world around you? Have we forgotten how to truly see? Louv claims that in really seeing, and more importantly in experiencing and interacting with, nature we are more able to deal with the troubles that life hurls our way. He links ADD and ADHD among other symptoms that can be healed through more interaction with nature.

I got to thinking about how our vacations are our time (especially as adults) to stop and sniff the roses. It’s how we recharge. But how many of us return from vacations exhausted? So my question is, are we getting that time? And Louv would contend that this issue is critical when we look at how families vacation because we must teach our children to embrace nature. For if we don’t, they will never develop an appreciation for and a commitment to nature. Without that, our environmental stewards will die off within just a few generations and the outlook for the world will be bleak.

I polled Travelocity’s travelers and asked them about how they spend time on family vacations to see what has changed over the past several generations. Here are the highlights of what I found.

Photo thanks to IgoUgo member Caromeow