Family Fun on California’s Channel Islands Cruise

 

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise pin

The state of California with its beaches, forests, mountains, farmlands and deserts has some very well-known iconic landmarks from north to south. These include Hollywood, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills to name a few. With wineries, museums, theme parks and so much more, one could never get bored. However, for some children who are on the autism spectrum, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise boat

Parents wishing to expose their kids to a less stimulating; yet still enjoyable experience should consider taking a  day trip to Oxnard.The city just north of Los Angeles is a fun place to explore with ethnic restaurants and clean beaches.Furthermore, families who love exploring the outdoors should consider taking a Channel Islands Cruise.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise ship

Last month we had the time for just such an outing, and it was with the Island Packers touring company. We took their Vanguard single-hull trip on a three-hour tour around the five islands that have made up the Channel Islands National Park since 1980 – San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise walk

What You Will See

We set sail with twenty other passengers from the Oxnard Marina. The boat had a covered indoor area as well as an outside uncovered one on the top. As it was a sunny day, we chose to sit on the upper part.Our guide gave us a thorough explanation of the national park and its important role in the preservation of wildlife in this remote part of the world.
Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise water
Not long after we left the harbor, we were joined by dozens of dolphins who were swimming alongside us in pods. They gave beautiful displays of jumps, pirouettes, splashes, and dives.Our fellow passengers enthusiastically snapped photos and recorded video clips of these delightful creatures enjoying their swim

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise side

The islands are made up of unique rock formations with arches and caves. As they rise out of the sea, they have an otherworldly feel. Even though “California’s Galapagos” is only a few nautical miles off the mainland coast, it has remained untouched for centuries. Therefore, one can find unique fauna and flora from what is found on the continent and anywhere else on earth.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise wave

We managed to see beautiful island birds, seals, and even sea lions. It was a real treat. For people who like ancient geography, archeology, birdwatching, hiking and being in nature, there are unique options for landing and spending nights camping, but our tour was a non-landing one. The sights were beautiful, and the tour was educational. We learned so much as we sailed past the lighthouse on Anacapa Island on our return journey after circling the islands.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise rock

 

Location, Hours, and Admission

The Island Packers touring company is based at 1691 Spinnaker Dr. Ventura, CA. One can find Channel Islands National Park itself at 1901 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise sea

While one can access the guest services centers on the mainland by car, visitors can only access the islands via park concessionaire boats, planes, or a private boat.
Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise sky

One can access the park between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Parts of the islands can close due to weather conditions.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise blue

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Since these tours book fast, parents need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
  • Parents of kids with autism need to stay in communication with the cruise line if any unfavorable weather might cause a delay or cancellation of the tour.
  • The cruise line recommends bringing jackets as sometimes the wind comes up over the water and it can get chilly.
  • It is critical to listen to the safety announcements given at the start of the tour. The rules are there for the protection of the passengers as well as the preservation of the wildlife.
  • Parents should ensure children are seated and that they hold on tightly to the railings as the waves can cause a rough ride.
  • Those who suspect their child will need something to eat or drink during the three-hour journey should bring snacks. Crackers or small sandwiches are the best options. Under no circumstances should one throw food overboard.
  • Those with children who suffer from motion sickness should make sure everyone takes medication beforehand.
  • Bicycles are banned on the islands.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal pin

Lisbon is Portugal’s capital, and an excellent city itself. Here, travelers can practically step into a fairy tale with its castles, rolling hills, and beautiful coastlines. The following are some of the best spots in Lisbon to take kids, particularly with autism.

 

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Oceanario Oceanarium

The Oceanario Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in all of Europe.
Designed by Peter Chernayeff, the aquarium is known for its distinctive building that resembles an aircraft carrier is built into the pier. The venue holds a vast collection of marine species ranging from penguins to jellyfish as well as many aquatic and terrestrial plants.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal arch

The main exhibit; a 1,000-meter tank boasts four large acrylic windows on its sides and smaller focus windows strategically placed to ensure that it is a constant component throughout the exhibit. Visitors can watch sharks and rays swim by or get a good view of unique sunfish and sea dragons.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal street

Belem Tower

Next stop would be the Belem Tower also known as the Tower of St. Vincent.
This historic landmark is known as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. It is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of St. Maria de Belem. The tower played a significant role in Portuguese maritime discoveries of the time. Commissioned by King John II, the tower was to be a part of the defense system located in the mouth of the Tagus River and act as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. Inside, visitors can see the tower’s gargoyles, dungeons, and cannons as well as the former royal bedrooms. Kids will delight in the story of the rhino’s carved image in one of the ramparts.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal floor

Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos

This impressive UNESCO World Heritage site in Belem was built in 1502. The construction was commissioned by King Manuel the first. Families can see  Vasco da Gama’s tomb or stop by the museum detailing the building’s history.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal sky

Gulbenkian Museum

The Gulbenkian Museum is mainly oriented towards ancient art, but it does house some modern pieces as well. The permanent exhibition galleries are distributed in chronological and geographical order to create two individual circuits in the overall tour.
Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal alley

The first course highlights Greco-Roman art from classical antiquity and art from ancient eastern lands including Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Persian, and Armenian.
The second covers European art with particular sections dedicated to sculpture, painting and decorative arts, particularly the eighteenth century and works of Lalique. This circuit holds a vast range of pieces that reflect various European artistic trends from the eleventh century to the twentieth century.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal tree

Electrico 28

Lisbon is famous for its construction on seven hills. While visitors can enjoy the beautiful views here, travelers can tire while exploring the city on foot. The Electrico 28 tram is the perfect solution for families, looping through many of the city’s famous locations. Kids with autism can enjoy the sights and the ride with its many ups and downs.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal tram

What is unique about this tram is that it is a Remodelado tram, originally commissioned in the 1930’s and technically museum worthy. People still ride this tram because the unique design is the only one that can handle the steep inclines of the tracks. Therefore, this tram serves as an integral part of Lisbon public transportation network as well as a tourist gem.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal piazza

Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is considered to be Lisbon’s cultural and bohemian heart and a shopping mecca. Originally Bairro Alto was the place for artists and writers to come and live while working on their craft, but gradually it became culturally diverse and a vibrant place to party for locals and visitors.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal statue

Families should visit at least one Fado Houses and listen to the traditional styles of Fado music. Fado music is a genre dating back to the 1820’s and is characterized by its mournful tunes and often sad lyrics.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal street

Elevado de Santa Justa

The neo-gothic Elevado de Santa Justa in downtown Lisbon is one of the most notable landmarks in the Portuguese capital and is famous for looking like the Eiffel Tower. The resemblance lies in the fact that its designer, Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, was Gustave Eiffel ‘s apprentice and was quite influenced by his work.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal art

The elevator was originally designed to connect the Baixa with the Largo do Carmo in Bairro Alto. Today it is more of a tourist spot than anything else where tourist can take the elevator to the top and either cross the bridge into Bairro Alto or climb to the terrace for a fantastic view.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal building

Castelo de Sao Jorge

This castle sits atop a hill near Alfama overlooking the Portuguese Capital. One can visit the battlements and also the museum. However, what this castle is known for is the observation terrace. Up here, visitors get a panorama view of the entire city. Kids can run through the ramparts or sit on a giant cannon in a picture-perfect, fairytale castle. Visitors can also see the ruins of the former royal Alcáçova palace here.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal elevator

 

Lisbon Daytrips

Those looking for lovely day trips near Lisbon should visit Sintra and the beach towns of  Cascais and Estoril.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal sintra

 

Sintra

This quaint UNESCO World Heritage town is only half an hour from Lisbon by train. Here, travelers can visit palaces and castles at the foot of the Sintra mountains. This prime location housed Roman, Portuguese, and Moorish royalty in the past. Families can enjoy the town’s many ice cream shops and restaurants. One can also see the city’s two palaces, Palacio de Pena and Palacio Nacional, both steeped in history and open to the public.

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal cones

 

Cascais and Estoril

These resort towns are also just a short train ride from Lisbon. Estoril features a famous casino said to have inspired the James Bond novels. Cascais is a lovely town with plenty of natural coves and fascinating medieval inspired architecture. Both places have plenty of restaurants and fishing shops for travelers to enjoy.

 

Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal sea

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Drinks and snacks inside and around the Castelo de Sao Jorge are rather pricey.
  • Parents visiting the Castelo de Sao Jorge should take the family to the Tower of Ulysses to see a 360-degree view of the city.
  • The Tram 28 a favorite place for pickpocketing. Parents should keep their belongings in safe places where they can see them.
  • Near the Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos is the Pastéis de Belém pastry shop, where families can enjoy pasteis de nata, or custard tarts.
  • The Belem Tower has lots of narrow, steep steps. This fact can prove challenging for some kids.
  • The lines at the Oceanario Oceanarium can be long during successful seasons. Parents should save time by booking online.
  • Families can book sleepovers among the sharks at the aquarium.
  • Taking Kids with Autism to Lisbon Portugal up

 

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague pin

 

As is the case with many European capitals, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has a rich, multi-layered history. Any traveling family will want to bring the kids to Prague for the experience. As the list below indicates, there are many remarkable sites in Prague that are open year round.

Old-New Synagogue (Staronova Synagoga)

This place is one of the oldest functioning synagogues in Europe. One can find the building located beneath street level because the surrounding road was raised to help control flooding in the past. Items of interest here include the restored seventeenth-century scriptures on the walls and the old wrought iron grill near the pulpit area. In keeping with the tenants of the Jewish faith, men will need to wear a head covering of some sort if they plan on visiting the site. However, paper caps are provided for visitors.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague hall

Tram 17 is the best way to get to the church using the public transportation.

Old Jewish Cemetery

As far as graveyards go, this one allows for little space. In fact, the deceased buried here could find themselves in graves up to ten people deep. The cemetery houses over 12,000 surviving tombstones that date from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Unfortunately, these markers remain in varying states of disrepair. Although people have not been buried here for some time, the site is still historically significant as one of the world’s oldest Jewish burial grounds in existence today. This space is a good place for a stroll if the weather is nice.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague graves

Tickets to the cemetery are included with the Jewish Museum pass, which also includes entry to several synagogues in town. A combined ticket that includes admission to the New-Old Synagogue is additionally available to help travelers save a little money on their visit.

Jerusalem Synagogue

This hundred-year-old building was constructed just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the emperor’s reign and was subsequently nicknamed the Jubilee Synagogue. Regardless of what it is called, the building has been recently opened up for regular public viewings.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague sky

The structure features brightly hued, decorative elements from both the Art Nouveau and Moorish styles of design. Exhibits on Jewish history and architecture can also be found inside the synagogue as well. It is also worth trying to catch the monthly organ concerts for those who happen to be in town at the time they play. The building is open from eleven am to five pm every day except Saturday.

Prague Castle

This edifice, the world’s largest castle, is home to the usual historical artifacts, artworks, and other items that city visitors are sure to find intriguing. All of the monarchs that ruled here added their touches, and the result is a charming mélange of styles.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague glass

While entering the castle costs money, only visiting the grounds is free. The park area is open from very early in the morning to very late at night. However, the buildings can only be visited from 9 am to 5 pm, and they close an hour earlier from November to March. Prague Castle can be reached easily by public transportation. Travelers taking the metro will want to get off at the Malostranská stop, and those taking a tram should use number 22.

St. Vitus Cathedral

Although it contains several old elements, a large number of renovations were performed just in time for church’s 1929 consecration ceremony. Gothic architecture, ancient mosaics, and modern stain glass can all be found here, but the overall effect is quite pleasing to the eye. Meanwhile, the ever-popular Saint Vitus himself rests in the Wenceslas Chapel. He is the one devout Catholics call on for assistance if they wish to avoid dog bites, lightning, or the more common oversleeping. Fortune visitors may also get to see the Czech crown jewels, which are only placed on display once every eight years.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague art

Admission to the site is included along with the Prague Castle tour. The church opens from nine am to four pm most days of the week and holds Mass daily at seven am.

Astronomical Clock

From nine am to nine pm, the world’s oldest working clock gives a short performance at the turn of the hour. This spectacle is much loved by city visitors and remains one of the most popular activities in Prague. First, a bell rings. Then, a spectral figure of death flips an hourglass and the twelve apostles saunter past. Finally, a rooster crows to bring an end to the event.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague tower

Travelers who are waiting to watch the tableau should note the four representative statues that flank the clock. These individuals represent the problems of invasion, greed, death, and vanity, all which were of primary concern to Czech citizens during the Middle Ages.

Those that want to watch the show should get off the metro at the Staroměstská stop.

St. Charles Bridge

With the destruction of the Judith Bridge by floods around the year 1342, the king commissioned a replacement known for years as the ‘stone bridge’ which now bears his name. At one time, cars could legally cross the structure, but that practice has since been banned. These days, St. Charles Bridge is filled with statues and street performers. Noteworthy views of the river can be found by climbing either one of the bridge towers.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague market

Travelers will want to check out the Bearded Man, a carved stone head, which helped locals determine if the river was going to overrun its’ banks in the old days. One can find him in the downstream parapet on the Staré Město side of the river. A new flood gauge located nearby serves as a distinct contrast to this historical figure, showing the progression of technology since then.

Skoda Auto Museum and Factory Tour

Located in a village outside Prague (Mlada Boleslav), this small museum holds a lot of vintage automobiles made by the locally owned Skoda Company. The museum arranges the cars in chronological order from the earliest models to those released about twenty years ago. Guests should check out the depository section of the museum to see the less-than-pristine cars. International can read the displays in English, Czech, and German.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague gate

Those wanting the tour need to book tickets weeks in advance to get a spot.

Cafe Imperial

This classy and affordable restaurant features elegant Art Nouveau-style decor. Many travelers comment on the beauty of the building as they dine here. Of course, the primary focus at any eating establishment is the food. The attentive wait staff serves up a variety of traditional Czech dishes for breakfast and lunch. Previous diners recommend the Café Imperial’s dill soup, veal cheeks, and Black Forrest cake.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague small

Guests are welcome here every day of the week from seven am to eleven pm.

Kutna Hora

This former silver mining town is now a UNESCO World Heritage site that makes a perfect day trip from Prague. The journey takes a little over an hour each way. One of the local churches (Saint Barbra’s) dates back to 1388, created by the same person responsible for much of the work on St. Vitus Cathedral. However, most travelers come here for the unusual Sedlec Ossuary, located only a short walk from the center of town.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague building

Sedlec Ossuary

Thanks to an enterprising abbot who obtained some dirt from Golgotha and sprinkled it around the adjacent abbey cemetery, Christians clamored to get buried here in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, bodies started piling up due to some wars and plague epidemics in the area. In 1870, a creative woodcarver decided to transform the skeletons that remained into a decorative element for the local church. The result is nothing short of striking, albeit a trifle macabre. The bones of thousands now adorn the building’s walls and ceilings in various artistic patterns. Even the chandelier is made from the bits and pieces that people left behind when they departed for the afterlife.

Taking Your Kids with Autism to Prague tomb

One can usually visit the site between nine am and five pm, but it is open longer in the summer and closes earlier in the winter. Travelers to the village may also want to take advantage of a local bus that runs between the church, the ossuary, and the train station.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Due to the city’s temperate climate, the weather is pleasant year-round. Even so, travelers that hate the heat might want to avoid visiting in the summer months. Those who dislike the cold should wait until spring or summer.
  • Travelers that come to Prague in December should be sure to stop by the city’s famous Christmas Market. Holiday items are the primary focus of this shopping extravaganza, but there are also plenty of traditional food and drink options on hand for those who prefer to browse through the offerings rather than purchase anything.
  • Visitors to the St Charles Bridge should keep a close eye on their belongings for pickpockets.

Taking the Family to Stockholm’s Vasa Museum

 

 

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum pin
Lots of people have heard the story of the Titanic. But stories of massive ships sinking tragically on their maiden voyage have happened throughout history. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm Sweden displays the sixty-four gun warship Vasa, a well-preserved ship that sank in 1628 on its first journey. Today, this is Scandinavia’s most visited museum. Families who love maritime history will enjoy this museum.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum art

History

The Vasa was built during a war between Sweden and Poland-Lithuania. In August of 1628, the ship set sail from Älvsnabben on a calm day. The ship passed under the bluffs of modern day Södermalm and was taken by a sudden gust of wind. These blasts continued as the ship traveled and pushed the gun ports under the sea’s surface, causing water to fill the lower deck. The water kept pouring in until the ship sank. Despite the efforts of rescue boats, thirty people died in the accident. Hundreds of Stockholm residents who had come to see the ship sail witnessed the Vasa as it sank.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum people

After archeologists unearthed it, Vasa was stored in Wasavarvet (“The Vasa Shipyard”) from 1961 to 1988. Here, conservationists treated the ship with polyethylene glycol. In 1981, the Swedish Government held a competition to design the museum building for the ship. 384 architects sent in ideas, and Marianne Dahlbäck and Göran Månsson won the contest. The museum officially opened June fifteenth in 1990. Today, four other ships in the nearby harbor have transformed into museums – the icebreaker Sankt Erik, the light vessel Finngrundet, the torpedo boat Spica, and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson.

Over three hundred and fifty ideas were submitted, and Marianne Dahlbäck and Göran Månsson won the contest. The museum officially opened June fifteenth in 1990. Today, four other ships in the nearby harbor have transformed into museums – the icebreaker Sankt Erik, the light vessel Finngrundet, the torpedo boat Spica, and the rescue boat Bernhard Ingelsson.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum detail

What You Will See  

Visitors can take a twenty-five minute guided tour around the ship to learn about its history from the construction and maiden voyage to the salvage and preservation. Guided tours are included in the price of the admission.

All in all, the museum features fourteen exhibits for visitors to explore and learn about the ship and the period. Through paintings, photos, films and the artifacts themselves, visitors learn about the hard work put into restoring and preserving this ship and the memory of those that were aboard.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum bones

The museum also includes over 40,000 items discovered on the ship. Everything from weapons to utensils to chests from aboard the ship is on display. Even after 50 years of going through the items and learning about the ship, discoveries are still being made!

Parents and kids can also enjoy the “Family Trail” tour designed for children six years and older. Kids will also enjoy the Sailing Ship exhibit on the sixth floor. This exhibit is interactive and visitors can equip and sail their own Vasa, attempting to keep it from capsizing.

Also in this exhibit is a replica of the platform on the Vasa that was 17 meters (about 55 feet) above the deck for visitors to get a feel for what it would have been like to stand up there above the ship!

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum shoes

Families should not miss the Vasa Museum Garden, filled with flowers, vegetables, and medicinal herbs that the crew of the Vasa might have taken with them, or that one might have found in the farms and towns at that time.

Location, Hours, Admission 

The Vasa Museum is located on Galärvarvsvägen 14, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden. It is open daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Admission is 130 SEK ($13.81) for adults and 100 SEK ($10.62) for students. Children younger than eighteen get in for free.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum ship

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This location is a very popular museum, so families should try to get there early because it will likely be quite busy. It can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours to go through.
  • Luggage is not permitted in the museum, and there is limited luggage storage space, but there is a coat check.
  • There are toilets at the entrance and on the third floor, and there is space for baby care at the bathroom at the entrance.
  • People who may need assistance in reading the exhibit text may bring an additional person for no extra fee. There is also a model of the ship for those who might be visually impaired.
  • Braille information is available in English and Swedish.
  • The museum is wheelchair accessible, and there are elevators on all floors.
  • There is a café on-site that can accommodate those with gluten or lactose-free diets.

Taking the Family to Stockholm's Vasa Museum words

 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain

 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain pin

Madrid is a popular travel destination for international travelers. It’s high standard of living, and thriving economy attracts many visitors year round and the culture that is prevalent throughout the city keeps them coming back for more. There are dozens of attractions throughout the city that attract all ages. Here are our favorite spots in Madrid for families who have children with autism. 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain church

Theme Parks

Warner Brothers Movie World (Parque Warner)

Parque Warner, just south of Madrid, is a booming amusement park full of well-known and beloved movie characters. From Superman and Batman to Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo, visitors can find the park littered with rides and shows that feature all Warner cartoon characters.

There are many different rollercoaster rides perfect for all visitors, from children to thrill seekers. The park also features water rides for hot summer days. For those who are not interested in rides, the live shows, performances, and food attractions are the best in the area.

Teleferico

The Teleferico cable car runs a fifteen-minute track from Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo. Here, travelers can get a fantastic view of the Parque del Oeste, the Egyptian Deborde temple, the Manzanares River, and the Royal Palace.The cable car runs noon to nine PM, and rides are free for Madrid card holders.

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain color

Parque de Atracciones

Parque de Atracciones is Madrid’s main amusement park. This park is open every day May to mid-September and weekends for the rest of the year. Young children can enjoy a special area of the park, and there’s plenty of thrilling rides for older kids. Families can enjoy the park’s bars, restaurants, and outdoor shows.

Faunia

Faunia is a zoo theme park that features miniature versions of different ecosystems in several domes. Travelers can see the Amazon jungle filled with exotic birds and a recreated tropical storm as well as a Penguin World with an artificial Antarctic in the same park.
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Outdoor Areas

El Retiro

El Retiro is a must-visit spot for anyone visiting Madrid. This beautiful park is home to over 15,000 trees. The lush landscape makes El Retiro the best location to lounge around, take a break, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Kids can enjoy activities like biking and roller blades or take a boat ride over the pond.

Guests here can find several gardens with classical themes, a lake where visitors can go for a boat ride, and monuments and fountains dedicated to historical figures. Located in the center of Madrid, El Retiro is easy to get to, so there is no excuse to pass up stopping by this beautiful park.

Burrolandia Donkey Refuge

This Donkey Refuge is only a fifteen-minute drive outside of Madrid. Kids can pet or feed the over twenty-six donkey residents. While entry is free, any donations will go to the center’s upkeep. The center is open Sundays from 11 AM to 1:30 PM.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain building

Real Madrid Stadium

The Real Madrid Stadium hold over 85,000 spectators and is home to numerous football games throughout the year. Even the FIFA World Cup has taken place at the Real Madrid Stadium. The stadium was first constructed during the 1940’s and has since become an even larger venue. Tours offered throughout the stadium. This place gives sports fans a chance to see some behind the scenes action right up until the game begins.

Historical/Art Museums

The Prado

Located in the center of Madrid, the Prado is the national art museum. It is home to many historical art pieces from throughout Europe. There are pieces dated from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries. The beautiful old building holds 7,600 paintings and thousands of sculptures, drawings, and historical documents. The entire collection at the Prado is based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Within the Prado, one can find numerous pieces from famous artists such as Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Titian, and Peter Paul Rubens.

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Museo del Arte de Reina Sofia

The Reina Sofia is one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums. The museum used to be a hospital. Today, it houses the works of several famous artists such as Dali and Picasso as well as more modern artists in temporary exhibits. Parents can let kids enjoy various workshops and tours, and children will likely find the exterior glass lifts fun to travel inside.

Caixa Forum

The Caixa Forum in Madrid features numerous exhibitions on history, art, political debates, and social events. Here, families can observe Spain’s first vertical garden, boasting 15,000 plants. They often host great workshops for parents and kids.The Forum is open daily from ten AM to eight PM, and admission is free, though some events may charge.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain street

Palacio Real de Madrid

This palace originally held the local royalty, though now it is mainly used for ceremonies. Today, visitors can see the Palacio Real de Madrid’s beautiful gardens and architecture. For free, guests can explore the King and Queen’s quarters as well as the palace’s pharmacy with hundreds of bottles for herbal remedies. Art from different famous Spanish artists decorate the walls throughout the palace.Travelers should check out the Changing of the Guard, a popular event every Wednesday from eleven AM to two PM.

Shopping

El Rastro

The El Rastro flea market happens every Sunday morning all along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores. Here, visitors can find many interesting artistic items that one can’t find anywhere else. It is certainly the best place for a unique souvenir.

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain play

El Corte Ingles

The El Corte Ingles is a famous shopping center on Gran Via. This center is made up of several buildings and features a vast collection of Spanish designer clothing. Brands here include Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Hugo Bos, and Bulgari. Those looking for some high-end fashion directly from Spain should come here.

Fuencarral Market

At the Fuencarral Market, one can find interesting and offbeat items. This market was originally made as an alternative to department stores and has grown to feature the art of some of Madrid’s most skilled artisans and designers. Family members into alternative items like piercings, tattoos, and extreme hairdressing will love this market, though it is certainly for older kids. At the market, travelers can also listen to the on-site DJs playing music.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain tree

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Faunia is not a cheap day out. Guests are not allowed to bring in food from outside, and queues can be long.
  • In Palacio Real de Madrid, one can rent a locker for coats and cameras since photos are not allowed inside the buildings.
  • Caixa Forum’s workshops are great to bring flighty kids to since the admission is free and one can leave at any time without wasting money.
  • Some artwork in Reina Sofia is extreme in their content, which is either violent or sexual. Parents should make sure to avoid particular areas that might be too much for younger kids.
  • Those with the seventy-two-hour version of the Madrid card gets free entry to the Parque de Atracciones. There are no accommodations in the parks.
  • There might be long queues to enter the Prado in the summer so parents should consider purchasing tickets online.

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families

 

 

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families pin

When traveling to a new country, there is so much to see and take in, not to mention taste!
Israel with its different cuisines and cultures is a Hodge podge of sensory culinary experiences waiting to be discovered. However, families who aren’t planning a visit in the near future to the Middle East can still enjoy some of the iconic snacks by exploring their local Israeli markets and try out some of the following snacks.

Chocolate Halva

Made with sesame seeds and ground into a paste, traditional halva adds sugar, honey, or a combination of both to make a sweet, nutty treat. Add chocolate for a delicious snack full of flavor and the mix becomes irresistible. It comes packaged in bars, fingers or snack-sized blocks but samplers can even have wedges cut off a wheel.

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families halva

White Cheeses

Once tagged as the Land of Milk and Honey, it is no surprise that Israel has a large variety of dairy products from goats, sheep, and cows. Not to be confused with the Philadelphia-like cheeses boasting 28% fat or higher, the Isreali kinds are spreadable white cheeses that come in 3%, 5%, and  9% making much healthier The cheeses feature flavors like olive, garlic, dill, and onion. A kids’ favorite is the smooth cottage cheese that can be eaten directly from the little tubs with a spoon.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Vanilla Like Yogurt

Cold Chocolate

Colloquially known as “Choco,” from the Hebrew word for chocolate, this liquid goodness is a cup measurement of chocolate milk in a sealed plastic bag or bottle that is comfortable to hold. After shopping with children in the neighborhood market, it is customary to buy them a Choco. Traditionally kids used to bite through the corner of the plastic bag and drink in the flavor that is just the right sweetness. But nowadays they can sip it with a straw from the bottle.

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families drinks

Bissli

Back in the day, the first Bissli looked like deep-fried pasta corkscrews.
However, this wheat-based snack now comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors from square-shaped pizza to onion hoops and BBQ tubes. There are even falafel, taco, and hamburger flavors! Bissli gets its name from a Yiddish word meaning “bite” and a Hebrew word meaning “for me.” It has been on the Israeli market since 1970 and is the 2nd most popular junk-food snack.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Bissli

Bamba

Like Bissli, Bamba is unique to Israel and makes up a quarter of the Israeli snack food market.
Maize-based, it is almost like the American equivalent of Cheez Doodles, but peanut flavored. It is the most popular meal served at children’s parties, taken on road trips and picnics! Since the first Bamba was made in the early 1960’s, a few other flavors and shapes have been added – like halva filled or strawberry coated. It is said that peanut allergies in Israel are far less common because of the early exposure to peanuts in the form of the Bamba snack.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Bamba Peanut Snack

Cocoa Spread

Since the early 1950’s this has been a customary snack for child and adults alike.
Served spread on bread, inside pita pockets, on crackers and matzo, it fills the gap when someone wants a pseudo-chocolate, sweet treat or a filling for a layer cake. The dark chocolate spread was convenient to travel with, did not need refrigeration, and was dairy-free and therefore suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It soon became part of modern Israel’s history. Today it has nostalgic value with older generation Israelis who remember having it for breakfast or dessert. The ingredients are kept secret. However, the original company HaShachar Ha’ole – translated Rising Dawn – maintain that even the newer white chocolate spread and milk chocolate spreads are nuts and trans-fat free.

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Cocoa Spread

Milki

One of our favorites and a popular dessert-snack in Israel since 1980 is this dairy pudding topped with a gelatin-based whipped cream. The original is a decadent the chocolate one, but there are now other flavors like vanilla, banana and even one with sprinkles.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Chocolate Dessert milki

Dried Fruit

With perfect weather conditions almost all year round, it is no surprise that the dried fruit selection in this desert Mediterranean country is varied and of high quality. Once a year at the Tu b’Shevat celebration in February, it is traditional to eat, cook, and gift dried fruits. During the rest of the year, whether it is dates, apricots, figs, or the more exotic papaya, these easily portable treats make a great healthy snack.

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Light and Dried fruit

Green Olives

From far back in history, there is evidence that olives have played a vital role in the lives of the locals.
Dotted all over the Israeli landscape are groves of olive trees. There is even a mountain in Jerusalem named for them. The most common cultivar of this little green fruit is the Manzanillo, introduced to Israel in 1930 from the United States.

One cannot eat olives directly from the tree. Therefore, after harvesting, they are preserved in many ways before they are fit for consumption. Served alongside pickles, one can buy green olives from vats in open-air markets. One can also purchase olives in cans from almost any and every grocery store and vendor. They come in different brines and an assortment of pickling herbs and spices. They often accompany cucumbers and white cheeses in a lunch box or to a picnic.

 

 

 

Ten Must Try Israeli Snacks for Families olives

Krembo

Translated as ‘Cream inside, this snack treat created back in the early 1800s is loved by the locals The confectionery traditionally found in the stores during the late fall and winter months consists of a biscuit base topped with marshmallow-like foam coated in dark chocolate. The most popular flavors are vanilla and mocha.How to eat is has been quite the debate though most eat the top first a few prefer to start with the biscuit.

 

 

10 Must-try Israeli foods:Israeli krembo

Have you tried any Isreali snacks? Which one is your favorite?

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism

 

 

 

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism pin

Madrid‘s central location makes it an ideal base to stay in for families wishing to explore Spain‘s nearby cities of Avila, Segovia, and Toledo. In fact, families can explore a variety of medieval castles, religious shrines, and local culinary delicacies while staying comfortably in one place and driving less than two hours at a time. For parents wishing to explore the famous spots here are our best Madrid Day trips for all families including those with autism.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism avila view

Avila

Our personal favorite is Avila, the City of Stones and Saints. Only an hour’s drive away from Madrid, a magnificent medieval wall surrounds the city. To this day, Avila is still the highest town in Spain. It is a World Heritage site, founded in the Celtic-Iberian era of the fourth century. It is today considered the best-preserved medieval walled city in the world.

Sightseeing

City Walls

The walls built in 1090 remain one of Spain’s most famous attractions today. Visitors can experience the City Walls tour where they can even see re-enactments of historical battles. For a special treat, travelers should stay after dark and walk along the ramparts when the walls become illuminated.

Cathedral

The Cathedral of Avila is another iconic location in this city. This church is the oldest cathedral in Spain built in the thirteenth century. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Avila for its mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance styles. Visitors can enter the church to see alabaster sculptures and centuries old tapestries. Furthermore, those interested can stop by the Cathedral Museum to see a display of coins and paintings.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism ramparts

Convent of Saint Theresa

Avila is also the birthplace of Saint Theresa. Travelers can visit the Convent of Saint Theresa and view the room where Saint Theresa was born as well as the alter created by Gregorio Fernandez that displays Saint Theresa’s vision of the Cross.

Unique experience for kids

Visitors can rent bikes for a tour of the surrounding area or rent horses to ride outside of the town for a real Medieval experience.

 Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism aquaduct

Segovia

Families looking for a longer day trip to take should put Segovia on their list. The city has been home to the Celts, the Romans, Islamists and Christians and is teeming with history.

Sightseeing

Plaza del Azoguejo (Roman Aqueduct)

The city’s most iconic feature is its aqueduct located in Plaza del Azoguejo. The aqueduct is a prime example of Roman engineering in Spain and spans 818 meters with over 170 arches. Emperor Trajan’s engineers built it around the second century to carry water from the Frio River into the city, a Roman military base at the time. It was an impressive piece of architectural genius back then and continues to wow visitors to this day.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism alcazar

Segovia Cathedral

Adorned in gold and curvy spires,  Segovia Cathedral is a beautiful church to visit. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral was completed in 1768 and is considered the last Spanish Gothic cathedral built.

Alcazar of Segovia

Originally built by King Alfonso VIII in the 12th century, the Alcazar of Segovia features a moat, drawbridge, and towers. Many members of the Spanish royalty have used this palace as their home, adding personal touches to the castle.Over the years, it has served as the wedding location for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as well as a military academy.

Today, the palace is a museum featuring multiple armory rooms filled with weapons, swords, crossbows, and cannons. For antsy kids, there is a maze ready to be explored on the side of the palace.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism tower

Unique experiences for kids

Garden of La Merced

Segovia has parks and gardens throughout the city where travelers can take a break from the hustle and bustle. The Garden of La Merced is the first public garden opened in Segovia and is also considered to be the most beautiful.

 Shopping and dining in Plaza Mayor

Travelers looking for something to eat after visiting the city’s sites should head to the Plaza Mayor. There are a few souvenir shops including an old fashioned toy shop.Whether it is for lunch or dinner, travelers shouldn’t leave without trying the city’s roasted suckling pig, a local delicacy.

 

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism toledo

Toledo

Another fantastic city to visit for the day is Toledo known for its well-preserved medieval architecture.In 711BC, Arabs moved into Toledo which already housed Christians and Jews, and their harmonious coexistence helped the city become a culturally vibrant spot.

Sightseeing

Medieval Gates and Bridges

The city boasts several old gates.The Old Bisagra gate, the original main entrance of the city and the Puerta de Nueva Bisagra, marked by Charles V’s coat of arms. Further up the hill, travelers can see the Puerta de Sol or Gate of the Sun a beautiful Moorish Style gate built in the fourteenth century.

Toledo also features several impressive bridges, since the Tagus River surrounds it on three sides. The Puente de Alcantara, Arabic for Bridge, located on the eastern side of Toledo as the oldest bridge in the city. The Punte de San Martin over 130 feet long with five arches of solid stone on the western side of Toledo was hailed as an engineering feat for its time back in the fourteenth century.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism cathedral

Cathedral of Toledo

Those wishing to learn about the city’s reputation as a religious and cultural melting pot should visit the Cathedral of Toledo. This cathedral frequently compared to Notre Dame for its beauty is also one of the biggest Gothic cathedrals in the world.Built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries it features sculptures, paintings, gold and silver altar pieces, and 750 stained glass windows.

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter occupied a large area in the city back in the Middle Ages. After the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, it nearly disappeared, and the synagogues converted to Christian churches.

Today, there are two Jewish synagogues that travelers can still visit.
The Synagogue Maria la Blanca, a beautiful pristine white decorated building, and the Synagogue El Transito, built by Samuel Levi, lavishly decorated with lattice windows and hand carved ceilings.

Avid history buffs will get a kick out of walking the narrow alleys in the quarters and envisioning how neighbors in such proximity got along with the absence of basic sanitation.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism synagogue

Unique experiences for kids

Damascening

Many stores throughout the city sell jewelry, plates, swords, boxes and various other objects that feature the famous Toledo damascening. Children will be fascinated to watch the artisans demonstrate the delicate and intricate inlay process.

Unique Sweets

No one should leave Toledo without trying the Toledo almond paste marzipan. This dessert inspired by the Moors is a marzipan cupcake with powdered sugar. For parents wishing to give their kids an extra dose of sugar, the ponche toledanas, which are shortcakes filled with quince jam and topped with almonds are perfect.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism souvenirs

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those wishing to visit Segovia should print a map with English names online before arriving since it might be challenging to find one in the city
  • Segovia ‘s narrow cobblestone roads can get crowded during the summer weekends which may be hard for travelers with autism. Also, pedestrians share the streets with cars and scooters, which can be daunting.
  • Toledo features lots of stairs and steep street to navigate. This fact can be difficult for travelers with wheelchairs or sedentary kids.The ZocoTren (mini train) is a great option to explore the city without getting tired.
  • Temperatures during the summer can be as high as 111 degrees Fahrenheit in all the cities. Therefore, parents should bring a mini fan and plenty of water for temperature sensitive kids.
  • Parents tempted to purchase their kid an authentic sword as a souvenir should remember the weapon needs to fit in luggage and go through customs.
  • Kids should wear close toe shoes since there is a lot of walking and climbing involved.

Our Family Excursion with Belmont Shore’s Gondola Getaway

Our Family Excursion with Belmont Shores' Gondola Getaway pin

Many people know Venice, Italy for its romantic gondolas. But many don’t know that they can get the gondola experience in Southern California! Gondola Getaway is a gondola experience through the canals of Long Beach around Belmont Shore. Families and children alike will have a wonderful, relaxing time at this unique venue.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway top

History

Back in the 1920s, the canals used by the company today were built to resemble the iconic Venetian canals and staffed with gondolas. The gondolas back then helped show the local properties in a unique and fun way. In 1981, company founder Mike O’Toole was a USC student who knew of the history of the Long Beach gondolas and canals and started working out the details of his own business. After he graduated the following year, he decided to initiate the business, and thirty-four years later Gondola Getaway is still going strong. Currently, the company runs the first and largest American gondola fleet of twelve gondolas.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway water

What You Will See

We had a great experience and considered this to be a hidden gem of Long Beach. The water was smooth the day we went, and our gondolier was Fabio, a Sicilian young man who talked to us a lot as he practiced his English.

Fabio detailed how the gondolas can quickly tilt at faster speeds and how it takes a lot of skill and technique to row a gondola properly.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway gondolier

We saw several interesting sights as we journeyed through the canal.
First, we saw a hydro bar/peddle bar, a floating bar where patrons could peddle as they drank to move around the canal.
Fabio pointed out the oldest house on the block, a home formerly owned by the Hersey family.

Surprisingly,Belmont Shore had lots of people doing various sports like kayaking, surfing, and swimming the day we visited. Everyone we passed by was incredibly friendly. We even saw a lab catching a toy in the water while wearing a life jacket!

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway canal

After the trip, Mike gave us a picture of us in the gondola. The owner also told us a fun fact! Every year, for the past 31 years, O’Toole has taken his team of gondoliers from CA to Venice, Italy to participate in the twenty-mile-long Vogalonga race, usually early in summer. This way, the gondoliers can see where the practice started, learning how it is done in Italy so they can bring back authentic techniques to the states.

Other Unique Features

Guests can request the Message in a Bottle service for an additional $20.
This service means the gondolier will take any given message, put in in a wine bottle, and “find” it during the trip to read aloud. While advertised to couples, this can be a fun event for parents and kids as well.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway boat

Visitors can also request the Brunch on a Boat service for $40 per person. Guests ride the gondola as they dine on various Italian foods such as meats, cheeses, and pasta salads. Those interested need at least eight people in their party to request the brunch, with a maximum of twelve.

For those who love pizza, Gondola Getaway also offers a pizza cruise for $40 per person. Travelers get to ride a private gondola set up with a table, plates, and table cloth. Kids and parents can enjoy fresh pizza from Domenico’s Ristorante as well as salad and garlic bread. Like the Brunch of a Boat, this option is available to parties between eight and twelve people.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway boats

Location, Cost, and Hours

The Gondola Getaway is located near the resort area of Belmont Shore in Long Beach, California. The boats run from eleven AM to eleven PM, seven days a week. Visitors can pay $130 for a four-person gondola, paying $20 for each additional person. They can also reserve the large “Carolina” gondola for $413 which seats seven to fourteen guests.

Our Family Excursion with Gondola Getaway rowing

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If one’s trip ends later in the day, the staff offers guests blankets. This option is useful for kids who deal with temperature sensitivities.
  • Guests should arrive fifteen minutes before their departure time.
  • Parents should make sure kids don’t lean over the side of the gondola.If kids don’t know how to swim parents should ask for a life jacket for them.
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  • The ride typically lasts about an hour. Families can request a shorter route if their kid is antsy.
  • Space on the gondola is tight, so parents of children who might have a problem with this should prepare their kid.

Exploring LA’s Grand Central Market with Family

 Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family pin

Los Angeles is a mixture of cultures, and one of the best places to highlight this fact is Grand Central Market. At Grand Central Market, visitors can enjoy all sorts of different cuisines in one location. There’s something for everyone in this busy marketplace.

History

For almost a century, Grand Central Market has provided for Los Angeles. The market opened in 1917, supported by the popularity of Broadway and the residents of Bunker Hill. The market has evolved with the times and has always featured a wide variety of vendors. Developer Ira Yellin bought the market in 1984, and today his wife, Adele Yellin, continues his dream of a bustling, attractive downtown.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family red

What You Will See

The Market has lots of various vendors selling wares, mostly foods. We saw an ATM near the entrance, though all the vendors do take credit card. We also saw plenty of places to sit along the way.

The Market has lots of places to get a bite to each. One of our favorite places is Eggslut, where diners can get breakfast or lunch of egg on a brioche. There’s plenty of places to get a slice of pizza, and one of the best is Pizzaria, where they make the food fresh in front of guests and even offer fried bananas. Of course, there are plenty of places to get a good burger, like Bel Campo Burgers, a famous restaurant in LA.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family sign

While there are lots of restaurants, most people will recognize in the Market, the real draw of this location is the vendors featuring fantastic foods one can’t easily find elsewhere. There are lots of places featuring Mexican, Salvadorian, Jewish, Thai, and Japanese cuisines. Tacos Tomas, for example, was the most favorite restaurant at this location, and the only one with a sign for corralling the line. Ramen Hood featured vegan ramen and pho. At Sticky Rice, one could get pineapple fried rice and other Thai foods. Bento Ya served Japanese bento boxes for their diners. Roast to Go served Mexican-based roasts. One vendor was just called German Sausages and served what was expected.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family food

Another draw of the Market is the fact that one can buy groceries here as well as to go meals. Chiles Secos and Valeria’s both sell specialty spices and chilis for Mexican and Salvadorian dishes. Most people probably don’t know how many types of chilis there are, and there are so many different kinds sold at these two vendors. Many of the vendors also sell veggies, fruits, meats, fish, and cheeses. For example, Bombo, which sells fish dishes and refreshing flavored lemonade, sells many different types of fresh fish to take home and cook. Wexler’s Deli offers all sorts of various meats.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family mound

For sweeter foods, snacks, and drinks, this Market delivers. We passed by the PressBrother’s Juicery, which sells organic pressed fruits and vegetables. Valerie Confections sells different baked delicious baked goods and puddings right on the counter. Valeria’s offers Mexican candies and candied fruits along with their other Latin products. We also passed by a row of fridges with different cold drinks. Finally, we saw Courage and Craft, a vendor for spirits and alcoholic beverages selling some drinks by companies not available in most other places.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family chrome

When we went, we talked to some of the people working at Knead & Co. pasta bar. At Knead & Co., guests could buy unusually shaped pasta and fresh sauces. When we went, we got to watch them making the fresh pasta as they do every day.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family knead

Location, Hours, and Admission

The Grand Central Market is open from eight AM to ten PM for all seven days of the week. It is located in downtown LA near Port Street, on 317 Broadway. The nearest parking garage entrance is on 308 S Hill Street.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family pasta

Access to the market itself is free, but of course enjoying anything the vendors have to offer costs a variable amount of money.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The market does play music which can be loud in parts. Also, areas of the market can also get noisy with people talking and vendors calling out orders. Parents of noise sensitive kids should be aware of this fact. This is an open space venue so smells from different cooking areas mix.Parents to smell sensitive kids should be aware of this.
  • It wasn’t incredibly crowded when we went. However, the market can become crowded and claustrophobic in the tighter halls.
  • Most of the vendors are indoors, and there are plenty of places to sit.
  • There are some small stairs to climb to get to some areas.
  • The Market does have their bathroom downstairs.

 

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family pin

South America is a fascinating continent to visit especially for families from Europe and the States. Although most of the South American population originates from Europe and has similar traditions like the United States and European countries, we as Americans did notice some things that were surprisingly different. Here are six main things we suggest those traveling to South America should watch out for when visiting with family.

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Recycled Plastic Water Bottles

Some countries like Uruguay recycle bottles multiple times. This fact is great for the environment but less for the customers since after a while the bottles don’t open well. When we bought a bottle and could not pry it open even after hitting it against a tree, the vendor did not want to replace it. We ended up throwing it in the trash. Parents should open any water bottles they plan to buy in the store before they finalize payment to avoid paying for a faulty product.

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family bottles

“Weeds” Everywhere

Many places in South America do not garden the same way as in European or North American locations. Plants in many areas are allowed to grow freely and untrimmed, even in city parks and urban areas. As a result, travelers need to be aware of cracked sidewalks due to tree roots and weeds everywhere. There is also a risk of allergies, especially during the spring season. Parents should pack plenty of allergy medication, especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies to plant pollen.
Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family weeds

Cabs

Cab drivers in many countries often overcharge their customers when they realize they are tourists. Cabbies can take passengers for a long unnecessary ride to beef up the meter cost, as many tourists don’t know the area. They will also use the tourist’s ignorance to their advantage by switching between the Argentinian and Uruguay dollar. Parents should negotiate a fixed price for their taxi, especially if their driver either doesn’t have a meter or refuses to turn it on during the trip.

 

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family cabs

Pickpocketing

Old-fashioned pickpocketing has taken a different turn in places like the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires. There, thieves work their act in pairs. One person spills some form of liquid on the victim while the second jumps to help them wipe it off. In all that hoopla, the victim’s wallet magically disappears.

The best thing is for parents to wear a money belt under their clothes. This way, the money is not readily available to quick hands. They should also bring along another set of clothes to change into on a day trip, so they don’t have to stay in dirty clothes for the rest of the day. Also, travel vests like scottevest can be helpful and safe and offer hidden inside pockets to keep passports and wallets or cash.

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family train

Peddlers Walking on Freeways

The first time we visited Rio de Janeiro, it shocked us to see sellers walking freely along the freeways, sometimes in the middle of the highway, selling merchandise. Especially during rush hour time when the roads get congested and the traffic stalls, this can be quite unnerving. According to a friend of ours, this is pretty much standard practice.

Those planning to drive in certain countries in South America should prepare themselves to not only see things like that but to make sure that all doors are locked, and the family remains safe in the car with valuables out of sight. They should also be careful when driving to make sure they don’t accidentally hit a pedestrian on the freeway, a risk that travelers from the United States often don’t need to consider.

Six Tips for Traveling in South America with Family peddlars

Torn Banknotes

Most tourists travel nowadays using a combination of credit cards and cash since the era of traveler’s checks is coming to a close. Unfortunately, the majority of visitors don’t know that torn bills of any sort, especially American dollars, will not be accepted in most stores. Parents need to take only crisp and untattered bills and make sure that they lay flat in the money belt.

 

Have you visited any of the South American countries lately? Do you have any tips to share with our readers?

 

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