Tried-and-Tested Travel Tips

Summer is here and other than not having to make lunches for 6, 8 or 12 weeks (take your pick based on where you live), the best part of no school is going on family vacation. As we all know, bringing the home circus on the road is no small undertaking and can be fraught with kids being kids, parents being parents, and other people being other people.  

What’s Your Mode

Sometimes the very mode of travel we choose can add undue stress to kids or adults, depending on whether or not they have motion sickness or other physical reactions. We look after a lot of children who don’t like spending a significant amount of time in cars as they are not used to them. Whether swapping in for a car or plane ride, train travel is a great way to travel with children. The are roomier and provide more opportunity to walk around. You also don’t have to show up hours in advance, deal with security and stress about whether or not your luggage is over the allocated weight.  

Pod People

Particularly well suited to trips in the car, podcasts are a great shared experience (when listened to together) and cover pretty much any topic you can think of. Some of our kid-approved favorites include, Story Pirates, Wow in the World, Pants on Fire, Past and the Curious. Full of fun facts about history, science, politics and child-created content, podcasts spark a lot of interesting conversations and are good at drawing kids in as the medium is very personal. 

Go With the Phone

Don’t feel guilty if you let your children use devices on on the airplane, bus, train. Most of us limit screen time, but we approach travel as a do-whatever-it-takes to get through. After all, don’t we all enjoy watching movies, playing games, reading on Kindle or listening to music while en route somewhere? Our children are no different. But if you want to scratch the kids’ itch to have a phone in their hand, you can also make their time a bit more productive. For a creative, interactive phone experience, you can send them on a photo scavenger hunt: find a red door, yellow flower, etc. Give them a list of things they need to find and then take a picture of. When you are looking to have them take a break from the screens but still keep them occupied, Smart Games has a brilliant selection of one- and tw0-person logic games and puzzles that are well designed, colorful and engaging. 

Little Kids Do Cry

Of course you don’t want to be the person on the plane with the crying child, but if that does indeed happen try and not let it cause undue stress. Focus on your child and ignore any unhelpful or annoyed passengers. The situation may be trying but it is temporary and children are also paying customers, we were all young once, etc., etc. Bottom line is that you can’t control whether or not your baby or small child is going to get upset on the plane and introducing external stress into the situation is not going to make matters better. 

Relax, Have Fun

It’s vacation after all and supposed to be an opportunity to take a break and spend some quality time together as a family. So even if the kids, and you, are a bit out of sorts and out of routine, embrace the experience. And set realistic expectations that while everything may not work out as perfectly as you have it in your mind, the bumps and hiccups along the way usually result in the most fond shared memories. Safe travels! 

 

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Romancesterdam

Technicolor sunrises and sunsets. Warm cobblestone streets. Rows of ‘awwww’-inspiring houses reflected in mirror-like canals. Couples holding hands on bikes (guaranteed to grow the hearts of even the Grinchiest of Grinch). Charming, steeped in history, surprises around every corner, Amsterdam is an ideal backdrop for love and romance. And despite being recently named the most expensive European city in which to rent a hotel room, Amsterdam has loads of free and low-cost activities for couples looking for a romantic night out. So, book a sitter, grab your partner, and get out there and soak up all the love generously provided by the famed Dutch capital.  

Stroll Along Utrechtsestraat

A gorgeous street with loads of shops, bars and restaurants, Utrechtsestraat runs the length of Amsterdam center, passing over the canals and through Rembrandtplein. This iconic streets is one of the best paths to take in the city on foot. Grab the drink of your choice, get to strolling and see where you end up. And make sure to snap your pic for Instagram in front of the canal bridges.

Picnic in the Park (or by a Canal)

One of the greenest cities in Europe, Amsterdam has 30 parks, from small, tucked away, to medium, to the Vondelpark, which in addition to being likened to New York City’s ‘Central Park’, holds free concerts on Friday nights in the summer in its open air theater. But no matter which park you end up at, there are no shortage of picnic spotsbe it in the grass or alongside a canaland there are lots of shops and restaurants that cater to picnic makers with prepared foods and cold drinks.

Up on the Roof  

The largest terrace in Europe can be found on top of Nemo, the science museum that looks like a giant sinking ship. With its cafe, science experiments and games, Nemo’s terrace is a great way to while a few hours away, relaxing and enjoying the panoramic view of Amsterdam. And as the roof is separate from the museum, entrance is free.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Not surprising in a country of swimmers and water lovers, there are a fair number of beaches and lakes in and around Amsterdam that are perfect to reconnect with your loved one and enjoy pink-skied evenings. There are also incredibly cool and ‘gezellig’ spots along the Amstel and the canals, like De Ceuvel, where you can relax on a dock by the water and enjoy drinks and food from the organic cafe.

No matter what you choose to do on your evening or day out, pair it with drinks and dinner at one of Amsterdam’s thousands of bars and restaurants. Making a reservation is as easy as booking a Holiday Sitter.

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Profiles in Encouragement

Profiles in Encouragement

One of the best perks of our job is coming into contact on a daily basis with interesting, adventurous people from all over the world. Whether visiting the Netherlands for work or for pleasure, every one of our clients has a story to tell. Stories that inspire, that connect, that say we can do anything we want when we know our children are being well cared for.

Crystal Pite is one such story. A well-known choreographer and dancer whose work has been performed around the world, Crystal was asked to create a new dance for Netherlands Dans Theater. A great opportunity for sure, but one that needed a good deal of logistical support to make it happen as Crystal is based in Vancouver with her partner and son. The length of the job required that she would live in Amsterdam for one month. Fortunately, Crystal works with her partner so he would join her. As would their son Nico, of course. Crystal’s primary concern was for Nico, who is school age, to keep up with his work. In addition to the home school support, Crystal was looking for a caregiver with a lot of experience and who is creative, dynamic, playful and proactive.

“We needed someone to help our son with his schoolwork since we were away from home for a month,” says Crystal. “We wanted some consistency for him, too. Each of the sitters was lovely, and we felt relaxed knowing our son was in good hands.”

In the past, Crystal found childcare on jobs away from home through the institutions with whom she worked. As this trip was a bit longer than the norm, she needed regular help that would span more hours. After a Google search, Crystal found Holiday Sitters online. “I liked the tone and clarity of the site and I was happy that Galit responded to my questions right away,” says Crystal. “My communication with the agency itself was clear and uncomplicated. It was important to be able to plan ahead, but also I also appreciated the flexibility and spontaneity when we needed it. ”

You’ve heard the old chestnut, ‘behind every great man there’s a great woman.” But we think that behind every great working mother there’s a great childcare provider. Women who have taken a pause from work or reduced their hours to have children, make up the bulk of the untapped employment community. With access to trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced childcare, women are empowered with the flexibility and confidence to pursue their careers in a way that works best for them and their families, while knowing their children are in capable hands.  

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Top 11 Things to Do in Rotterdam with Kids

When you think of Dutch cities that end in “dam”, Rotterdam may not be the first to pop to mind, but this indomitable port city has a lot to offer for family travelers. So come and explore this wonderfully modern, hip city, so hip, in fact, Vogue recently named it a Dutch Brooklyn.  

Hotel Boatel

If you want to literally stay on the water, SS Rotterdam is the place for you. One of the best hotels in Rotterdam, the SS Rotterdam houses 250+ rooms on a moored steamship. But you don’t have to be a guest to check out the hotel. Tours are available and you can eat in one of the many restaurants or try your hand at getting out of the escape room. 

Zoo Experiences

Named the best zoo in Benelux and widely regarded as one of the best in Europe, Diergaarde Blijdorp is well worth a visit. Kids can float through the gorgeous butterfly house and then burn off some energy on the inviting playground. When you tire of land animals, visit the amazing aquarium, Oceanium. Check the schedule to watch the animals being fed and to meet with the zookeepers to learn more about their care and feeding.    

All Aboard

Ever wondered how many pancakes you can eat in 2.5 hours? Hop aboard the Pannenkoekenboot (pancake boat) and find out the answer to that question. The pancake cruise takes you through Rotterdam’s waterways while you eat all of the Dutch food staple as you dare during the tour.

It’s a Small World After All

Similar to Maudoram in Den Haag, Miniworld features towns and buildings of interest in Rotterdam and the Netherlands done in painstakingly detailed miniature. Days in Miniworld lasts only 24 minutes so you can watch the lights come on (again and again) as darkness falls. Continue the experience by going and finding your child’s favorite sight in full scale.

Park & Play

A destination for locals and visitors alike, Plaswijck Park is a family park with an adventure playground where you can take a boat or train trip and visit monkeys and wallabies at the zoo. And you can bring the family dog as well (for a fee).

Play Softly

If your kids know about Ballebak Omoord, they may do a rain dance to bring on the wet weather so they can spend the day at this popular indoor play place where fun reigns supreme. An invitation to run, jump and do, Ballebak Omood features a large soft play area, go-karts, a sledding hill, ball pits, 

It’s a Bus, It’s a Boat … It’s Both!

When in Rotterdam … there are going to be a lot of water-related activities. The fun-filled splash tour takes you from dry land to wetall in the same vehicle that transforms from a bus into a boat.

Jump Around

For those bouncy kids in your life, Freestyle Motion is a trampoline park for all skill levels. Great for a family jump session in a safe space. 

Captain Kid

At kids marina, your child can be the captain of her own shipor rather, a police, tug or tour boat, and cruise through a miniature port in an old canal of Rotterdam. While piloting the waters, kids can take part in an exciting treasure hunt and learn all there is to know about the Rotterdam Port.

Have a Maritime

One of the oldest and largest museums in the Netherlands, the Maritime Museum houses historic vessels and cranes and details how Rotterdam became the world’s leading port. You will also learn all about the impact shipping has on day to day life. Check the agenda to see what special activities are on during your visit. 

Do You

After a full, memory-making day with your kids, treat yourself, and your partner, to a fab night out in this sparkling city. Book a babysitter with Holiday Sitters before you go and experience the best of all holidays.

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