Family, Travel, When in

How to Travel with Pets

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be visiting relatives that live near by. Your getting yourself organized and ready to go….you’ve made a list of road trip essentials (check out our list here) or your preparing to take a short flight. But what about your pets??? Pets need a vacation too and make great companions when your traveling. Whether your traveling by car, train or air, I’ve put together a travel guide to help navigate the “getting there” part of you trip with your pet in tow.

Before You Em-bark!

  1. Fit for Travel: Make sure your pet is fit for travel; your veterinarian can help with this! Talk to them about your destination and how your getting there so they can advise if your pet is ready.
  2. Pet Identification: Make sure your pet has an ID tag for their collar with a phone number where you can reached. Also, microchipping is another great option for identification.
  3. Travel Accessories: A pet crate or carrier is a must when traveling; make sure it is well ventilated and big enough for them to sit, turn around or lie down. Introduce your pet to a new carrier at home before your trip. You don’t want them freaking out when its time to leave.

Travelling By Car

  1. Buckle Up or Carrier: Pets should wear their seat belt – yes, pet seat belts do exist. If your not comfortable with that, put them in their carrier. Also, don’t let pets sit in your lap while driving. Major distraction!
  2. Paws In: Make sure you pet keeps their heads and paws inside a moving vehicle. You can crack a window for them to feel the breeze; just make sure they can’t get their full head out.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip and don’t feed them in the car. The last thing you want is a motion sick pet…..
  4. Pit Stops: Don’t forget to stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks and exercise (for both you!).

Travelling by Air

  1. In Cabin: Currently not allowed due to COVID-19 but if your pet is an emotional support animal they are allowed. Pets must be small and less than 20 lbs to accompany you in the cabin. NOTE: Check with your airline first!
  2. Arrive Early: Get to the airport early to allow you pet a little exercise before your flight.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip. Pets can be prone to air sickness so keep things on the light side.
  4. No Sedation: Don’t sedate your pet during air travel because sedation medication can increase heart rate and aggravate respiratory issues. Additionally, sedatives interfere with their balance and equilibrium!

Travelling by Train

  1. Small pets: Amtrak, the nations largest passenger train carrier, allows pets 20 lbs and under to travel by train on trips up to 7 hours. NOTE: Be sure to check their policies before you book your trip.
  2. Carry on Luggage: A pet in their carrier is counted as 1 carry-on luggage so pack wisely.
  3. Food & Drink: Bring collapsible food and drink bowls to feed your pet on the train. Remember, a light meal a couple of hours before your journey.
  4. Utilize Scheduled Stops: Take advantage of scheduled stop(s) by taking a brisk walk on the platform and a quick potty break. Your pet will thank you!

No matter how you travel, your pet can be a welcome companion on your journey. They enjoy getting out as much as you do and probably love all the sights, sounds and smells they encounter. Just be sure you have everything you need to make your trip successful and stress-free.

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Twin Lakes Park, Texas

Twin Lakes Park, Cedar Park, TX

Twin Lakes is a 50-acre tract of land that features hike and bike trails and beautiful native Texas flora and fauna. There is plenty of space to social distancing and the perfect outing for families who love to be out in nature. The park offers plenty of additional amenities such as pavilions, a swimming pool/water playscape, multi-purpose sports fields, an archery range, a beach/swimming area, and so much more! This is another great way to tour your own city; not sure how to do that? Check our my post here for some creative ideas to get you started.

On our trip, our kids loved stopping and reading all the nature facts and plant identification signs throughout the trail. They made sure they didn’t miss any so we ended up being at the park for longer than expected. The best part was seeing the GIANT red headed centipede crossing one of the trails to get to the creek on the other side. And of course my son started with his “Did you know…” facts for the rest of our trip and all the way home.

The Texas landscape was beautiful and you can’t beat that water fall! We saw so many natural creeks within the park and even a moss covered waterfall. Of course our kids said it reminded them of the smurfs…go figure! On our way out, we stopped by the lake and visited the ducks who were very friendly. I’m sure they were looking for food but alas, we didn’t have any. Mental note for next time. Also, don’t forget your camera as there are lots of photo opportunities within the park.

Surviving Chaos

In order to make the most of you time at the park and prevent kid meltdowns, I’ve provided some surviving chaos tips. Have fun exploring at the park!

  • Sunblock: Be sure to put on lots of sunblock to prevent sunburn. This is the first rule of thumb for any outdoor activity.
  • Early Morning: Best time to visit the park is early morning. It’s cooler, less crowded and your kids will have energy to burn. A fun filled morning at the park makes for a well rested and relaxed afternoon (I hope)
  • Backpack: This is the perfect place to keep water, first aid kits, sunblock, snacks, portable potty seat, etc. What ever creature comforts you need. Remember to keep it light weight since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and/or biking.
  • Snacks: Don’t forget the snacks! Apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, granola/protein bars, goldfish or whatever your kids like. You don’t want food meltdowns and HAN-gry kids in the middle of your hiking journey

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Old Settlers Park, Texas

Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, TX

Round Rock’s Old Settlers Park is one of the best parks in the state of Texas and known as the best sports destination in the youth and amateur sports leagues. The park’s 640 acres provides lots of options for hike and bike trails and plenty of ample space for recreational pursuits such as disc golf, cricket, baseball, softball, soccer facilities, and more. You will never run out of things to do and there is lots of space for social distancing. This is a great idea to tour your own city; not sure how to get started? Check out my post here for some creative ways to tour your own city.

We decided to take the trail closest to the disc jokey and cricket fields. It must have been disc jockey tournament day because there were lots of teams playing and making their rounds through the park. I would call this the scenic route as there were some great photo opportunities and lots of native Texas landscape to see. Of course the first things our kids spotted was the el chupacabra sign which led to lots of questions. Which some how turned into a Bigfoot conversation….needless to say their imaginations got the best of them! Old Settlers Park is also a great place to congregate outside, BBQ and have a game of horseshoes at one of the two pavilions available.

Brushy Creek that runs throughout the park and even has a mini waterfall that you can look over from the bridge. Our kids had some many questions and enjoyed the sound of the rushing water. Plus there are so many beautiful flowers to see and plenty of trees to provide lots of shade on hot days. Don’t forget your fitness tracker, you can easily walk a mile or more on the trails, just look for the mile markers along the way. We explored one of many trails at Old Settlers park so we will definitely be going back. Parks are a great opportunity to spend time with your family, experience nature first hand and spark your kids curiosity!

Surviving Chaos

In order to make the most of you time at the park and prevent kid meltdowns, I’ve provided some surviving chaos tips. Have fun exploring at the park.

  • Sunblock: Be sure to put on lots of sunblock to prevent sunburn. This is the first rule of thumb for any outdoor activity.
  • Early Morning: Best time to visit the park is early morning. It’s cooler, less crowded and your kids will have energy to burn. A fun filled morning at the park makes for a well rested and relaxed afternoon (I hope).
  • Backpack: This is the perfect place to keep water, first aid kits, sunblock, snacks, portable potty seat, etc. What ever creature comforts you need. Remember to keep it light weight since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and/or biking.
  • Snacks: Don’t forget the snacks! Apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, granola/protein bars, goldfish or whatever your kids like. You don’t want food meltdowns and HAN-gry kids in the middle of your hiking journey

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Brushy Creek Lake Park, Texas

Brushy Creek Lake Park, Texas

If your looking for place with fresh air, wide open spaces and supports social distancing, then look no further than your local park. Our most recent adventure brought us to Brushy Creek Lake Park in Cedar Park, Texas. This park is absolutely beautiful! There are a ton of hike and bike trails to follow in this 90 acre park and plenty of picturesque landscape views. You’ll definitely need a map to make sure you don’t get lost. Our kids pretended to be wildlife rangers and loved discovering and exploring all the different flora and fauna withing the park. They had a ton of questions, of which we had to consult Google for answers, about all the things they saw. They even created their own sketch book of the flowers they discovered. If you want to get wet, you can rent a kayak and/or canoe to explore they lake or visit the splash pad to cool off. This by far is the most popular activity at the park. If your looking for more fun, check out the volleyball courts, playscape, fishing pier, exercise stations and much more. If your looking for more ways to tour your own city, check out my blog post here for more ideas.

Surviving Chaos

In order to make the most of you time at the park and prevent kid meltdowns, I’ve provided some surviving chaos tips. Have fun exploring at the park.

  • Sunblock: Be sure to put on lots of sunblock to prevent sunburn. This is the first rule of thumb for any outdoor activity.
  • Early Morning: Best time to visit the park is early morning. It’s cooler, less crowded and your kids will have energy to burn. A fun filled morning at the park makes for a well rested and relaxed afternoon (I hope).
  • Backpack: This is the perfect place to keep water, first aid kits, sunblock, snacks, portable potty seat, etc. What ever creature comforts you need. Remember to keep it light weight since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and/or biking.
  • Snacks: Don’t forget the snacks! Apple slices, carrot and celery sticks, granola/protein bars, goldfish or whatever your kids like. You don’t want food meltdowns and HAN-gry kids in the middle of your hiking journey

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3 Reasons You Should Rent A Boat

Lake Travis Austin, TX

Since we’ve been under quarantine for the last 3 months due to COVID-19 and the orders were finally lifted, we were ready to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air. But we still had to follow social distancing rules while outside. So, we all put our heads together to find an activity that was fun, inexpensive and still allowed for social distancing. Renting a boat was the perfect activity! This was a new adventure for us but we were up to the challenge. We rented a pontoon boat, perfect for families, from Just for Fun Watercraft Rental for a half day. Once we received our driving course at the marina (yes, its literally is like driving a car) we were on our way to the open waters. If you love the outdoors and are looking for a great family vacation, boating is right up your alley. I’ve listed 3 reasons why boating is a great family and/or solo activity to do and some surviving chaos tips to help you navigate the waters.

  1. Social Distancing Safe: Whats between you, your boat and the lake……nothing! Absolutely nothing…..there is no one standing next to you and the closest boat or ski-do is zooming past you miles away. This meant it was just us, the boat and the water. We didn’t have to worry about maintaining 6 feet of social distance because we were totally isolated. Additionally, you can find your own private beach or alcove hang out spot for your family. There are tons of alcoves on Lake Travis to choose; you can spread out your blanket and toys and have a good time. Boating is another way of getting away without going too far.
  2. Advance Your Skills: So previously, I mentioned that driving a boat is like driving a car…..but that’s AFTER you figure it out! A boat is like a moving target! You are steering one way but the current of the lake wants to take you in a completely different direction. Nautical terminology is also something you’ll pick up quickly along with water safety rules. Also, you’re also trying to find your balance while driving which is no small feet! By the time you’ve learn how to drive, balance yourself using muscles you’ve never used before, kept the kids from going overheard due to a big wave and learned how to navigate a lake using Google Maps you’ll be exhausted…..but skilled! You’ll definitely come out of the trip with some MAD skills and an imaginary gold medal. Did I mention….that I parallel parked our boat? Yep, I did that. Score 1 for mom!!!
  3. Family Time: We had so much fun on our boat! But for me, the best thing was seeing the kids faces light up as we speed through the lake. Hearing their giggles and full laughter every time our captain (my husband) hit a big wave. Our son educating us on the geography, animals he saw and other nature facts was wonderful. His binoculars definitely got a work out! Watching grandma and the kids have their own concert and sing-a-long to the Trolls 2 soundtrack was quite entertaining. Seeing my husband steering our boat with an air of confidence like a true captain but look of nervousness on his face was priceless. This was by far one of our funnest activities we did as a family and we created a TON of memories.

Surviving Chaos

  • B.Y.O.F – Bring your own food: Pack some sandwiches, chips, fruit, juice and water and you’ll be all set. With your own meal you stop literally anywhere and have lunch. Plus you’ll save money as some of the restaurants can be expensive. And don’t forget the snacks, nothing worse than h-angry kids!!
  • Beach toys: Bring some beach toys or stop by your local dollar store for some inexpensive items. This will keep the kids entertained while on the beach our while on the boat while your traveling around the lake.
  • Sunscreen: I can’t stress how important to slather everyone down in sunscreen. When we started our boating trip it was cloudy but it quickly heated up once the sun came out. Please protect your skin during all your outdoor activities sunscreen and remember to re-apply.
  • Reserve Early: Beat the rush and reserve your boat early at the beginning of summer. Boat rental reservations start the first warm day here and companies get booked all the way to late summer. The best boat for families are pontoon boats which seat up to 16 people.

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