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Sleepless in Seattle? Or Philadelphia? Or New York?

January 23, 2019 by  
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By Nilong Vyas, MD

Here’s how to solve sleep problems while traveling.

Insomnia can be a critical issue when traveling, when you need to be somewhere important and need to be rested; or mentally prepared for a meeting at work the next day. Most people reach for the quick fix of an over the counter pill such as melatonin, ZzzQuil, or prescription medications like Ambien. These remedies work, but they have many negative side effects, including dependence on these meds in order to be capable of falling asleep.

Melatonin works well. It’s useful when traveling across time zones to help you increase the amount of natural melatonin that is released in the body based on its circadian rhythm that may be out of sync since landing in a new time zone. It helps with sleep initiation (as one is falling asleep) but not the continuation of sleep (keeping one sleeping through the night). That is when a medicine such as ZzzQuil can be beneficial because it can help with the initiation of sleep and also maintenance of sleep. Like melatonin, Ambien helps you get to sleep but not necessarily stay asleep if awoken in the middle of the night.

The active ingredient in ZzzQuil is diphenhydramine HCl, an antihistamine whose side effect is to cause sleepiness. But there are multiple inactive ingredients such as various artificial color combinations, high fructose corn syrup, and alcohol. Melatonin pills mostly have melatonin unless it is a flavored tablet with other additives such as lavender or mint. Ambien (active substance zolpidem tartrate), however, has lots of additional additives such as colloidal silicon dioxide, hypromellose, microcrystalline cellulose, and polyethylene glycol, to name a few. These may cause sensitivity or reaction in some in addition to not fully assisting in fixing the insomnia.

My preference, as a sleep consultant, is to advise the use of non-consumable sleep aids that don’t have a risk of dependency such as blackout curtains, sound machines, blue-light restriction devices, and a soothing sleep environment. These tools can be used anywhere and everywhere to allow one to fall asleep easier by creating a proper environment for sleep. If there are situations in which these tools are not available or accessible, it is fine to use a medicinal sleep aid as long as it is used for a very short period of time (over the course of a weekend of travel). Also, if having a bout of insomnia that is atypical, using one of the medicinal sleep aids described above is acceptable, again for a short period of time.

When good sleep habits are not used and one comes to rely on medicinal sleep aids, the dependency grows and it is then hard to go back to simple sleep aids such as good sleep hygiene.

About the author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is the president and CEO of Sleepless in NOLA, in New Orleans.

Catching up on Sleep, Can it be Done?

January 16, 2019 by  
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By Nilong Vyas, MD

There is controversy on whether sleep debt can be repaid or not by ‘catching up on sleep.’ Some believe that one cannot catch up on sleep, once it’s lost, it’s lost. Others believe it’s possible to regain those lost hours if done correctly.

Sleep is oftentimes seen as a luxury that can be fulfilled if and when time allows as there is generally ‘more important things to do.’ However, we are learning from ongoing sleep research that sleep is as essential as eating, breathing, and exercise. It is during sleep that the body, mostly the brain, cleans itself and rids itself of toxins and waste byproducts. When sleep is put on the backburner and cut short, those processes don’t reach completion and can cause serious medical problems down the road.

Many people probably stayed up way past their normal bedtime for NYE. Most of those people, including myself, slept-in the following morning. Although it feels good to do this because one feels better rested, the potential downside is created when bedtime rolls around that night. If one slept-in till noon after a night of partying, it will be more difficult for the body to go to sleep at the normal bedtime that night thus causing the body to stay awake a little later than usual. The next day, when having to set that alarm for 6 a.m. in order to go to work, it will prove to be difficult and again the body will be forced to wake before it is ready to do so. That night, it may be easier for the body to go to sleep secondary to the irregular schedule from the last couple of days. However, it is when those signals are not listened to or responded to and the body is kept awake that the sleep debt can no longer be made up. In order to make up that sleep debt, it is advised to go to bed at an earlier time the night after partying, wake at the normal time of waking and again get to bed at an earlier time than usual or on time. The hours of lost sleep may not entirely be ‘made up’ but the benefits will prevail because of the routine that will be established. When the body catches up on sleep, it can resume its normal functions of cleaning and maintaining homeostasis.

The three things that can happen to one’s body when catching up on sleep can be positive or negative: 1. The body rejuvenates itself and cleans up the waste byproducts thus having a more efficient working system because it repays the debt that was acquired during the week; 2. The body gets put into an irregular daily schedule that causes a misfiring of the chemical and hormonal cycles that becomes hard to recover from leading to more fatigue secondary to acquiring sleep debt during the week and sleeping in on the weekend; 3: there is an increase in memory function and elasticity of the brain once the sleep debt is caught up. The key to not having to make up the sleep is to not create the sleep debt, to begin with. Of course, there will be those moments like New Year’s Eve that will call for a break in the normal sleep routine, but if those nights of sleep deprivation are kept to a minimum, ‘sleeping-in’ won’t have to be called in to recover from that loss.


Surviving a Road Trip with Kids

January 16, 2019 by  
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By Jennifer Bright

I’ve taken my sons on many road trips. Wish I had seen this terrific article before! We’re super grateful here at Momosa Publishing for featuring our two children’s book series: Come Travel with Me and The Adventures of the Real Animals in the Most Magical Place on Earth.


Weird Things that Happen While You Sleep

November 26, 2018 by  
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By Nilong Vyas,  MD

During sleep, the body goes through multiple transitions and ‘duties’ while it extricates cells which have gone rogue and ‘cleans house.’ While the body may seem to be ‘sleeping,’ a term that is synonymous with lying still and resting, the actual body has other things on its mind! 

Some people, as they are falling asleep, experience an involuntary jerking motion (hypnagogic jerk or sleep myoclonus, medically speaking). There are multiple theories as to why this occurs in 70-80% of people as they are falling asleep and all of them are completely normal and not worrisome unless it creates anxiety or prevents one from sleeping deeply. Myoclonus may be a symptom in more complex sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and may require treatment by a medical professional. However, the predominant occurrences are completely normal and of no concern. One theory states that the jerks are due to a primate reflex that is still present to this day as a protective measure in case the body (in its primate state) needs to be protected from falling out of a tree as it’s falling asleep. Another theory exists that as the body is transitioning from alertness to sleep, the nerves can ‘misfire’ and cause the body to jerk. Sometimes this causes wakefulness for its host but most of the time, sleep surpasses it.

For others, their teeth grind while they are sleeping. This is medically termed bruxism. It is estimated that 8% of adults and 33% of kids grind their teeth at night. More often than not, bruxism is not harmful and can be considered normal but it can eventually lead to dental damage, facial pain, and disturbed sleep if it occurs on a regular basis. If this occurs, a teeth guard made by a dentist is helpful. Also, decreasing stress in one’s life and improving sleep hygiene (getting adequate and good quality sleep by improving the sleep environment) is also helpful in eliminating or decreasing episodes of bruxism. 

Sleep paralysis is a ‘condition’ that can occur when one is waking up. When sleeping, the muscles relax in a paralytic type state. However, upon waking, it is required to come out of that state and move freely. If experiencing sleep paralysis, it causes an inability to move arms, legs, body, and head even though you are awake and aware of what’s happening. It can be quite frightening until it ends in a few minutes or seconds. Sleep paralysis can appear in the teen years or in the 20s and 30s. It is not a serious medical risk unless it occurs so frequently and creates anxiety around sleep and thus diminishes the quality of sleep. 

So much is being discovered about sleep on a daily basis as more research is being conducted. If you experience some of these ‘conditions,’ although they can be normal if they are affecting the quality of your sleep, the length or restfulness of sleep, then it is worth discussing it with your health care provider. One thing that can be done before seeking medical help is to improve your sleep hygiene. This specifically means getting to sleep at an appropriate time that is almost the same every night, waking up at a similar time every morning, setting up a proper environment for sleep that is relaxing and comfortable, and decreasing substances used to get to sleep or eliminating substances that prohibit sleep (alcohol). 

Of course, if you need personalized information for your specific issue or condition, contact us at www.sleeplessinnola.com for a free 20-minute consultation.

About the author: Dr. Vyas is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, LA.

Does Students’ Sleep Suffer

October 18, 2018 by  
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Student SleepBy Nilong Vyas, MD

Students have so much on their plates these days and a lot more distractions that keep them occupied. So what is the thing that gets put on the back burner after school work, social ‘work’ and social media? SLEEP!! They ‘borrow’ from sleep to ‘pay’ the fun things in their lives. Plus, because they are off at college, they no longer have the nagging effects of their parent’s voices saying, ‘GO TO BED!!”.

There is plenty of research showing the importance of good sleep and sleep hygiene and a direct negative relation to bad habits in these areas and their grades. Without adequate sleep, not only are their grades affected and thus potential future success but it also affects their long-term (and short-term memory), their physical health and wellbeing as well as their ability to concentrate and focus.

Now that they are adults, whatever habits they create now since they are self-sufficient, they will keep through adulthood. In order to avoid the need for sleep aids in their 40’s, it’s best to establish those good sleep habits now.

Since students were used to having someone dictate when they have to go to sleep, now in college, it is imperative for them to figure to how to force those parameters onto themselves. They must make sleep a priority. One way to do this is to set timers for themselves (on their smart devices) that remind them when it should be time to wind down and start thinking about sleep. They can set a timer to remind them they have 20 min or so to finish up whatever they are working on. Then another timer to get themselves ready for bed (self-care—brushing teeth and washing face, changing into PJs, etc). And another timer for when they should get into bed and be trying to fall asleep (after reading a book, etc). They should have all electronic devices on night mode at this point (at the first timer) so as not to disturb their overnight sleep waves and hormones.

Putting this regimen into practice will allow them to improve their sleep quality and duration and allow them to be more efficient as well as earn better grades and be potentially more successful in life. #winning.


About the author: Dr. Vyas is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, LA.

Why Are Hobbies Important in Children’s Learning and Development?

September 11, 2018 by  
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by guest blogger Annabelle Short

Almost all children have some sort of hobby. This might be crafting, sewing, or playing the piano, for example. They might even personalize these crafts to make them their own. These hobbies usually give your child some joy and help to take up some of their free time.

There is more to hobbies than just fun and games, though. These activities are also important to your child’s learning and development. So, there is more than just a cursory reason to cultivate your child’s hobbies and interests – there is far more to it than that.

Build Self-Esteem

When treated correctly, hobbies can help to build a child’s self-esteem. After all, they are creating something whether it’s an end product of a craft, music, or a collection. This ability to create will help a child feel more like they have special skills and contribute to the world around them, even if it is only in minute way.

Part of this comes down to you as a parent, though. When a child starts to find their hobbies and interests, you need to foster it in them. They need to know that they are supported in what they do. You can teach them this by helping them foster their love of their hobby and anything else they do in their lives.

Improve Problem-Solving Skills

Many hobbies also teach children how to handle problems. For instance, if a child is learning to play guitar and they are trying to learn a lick that their hands aren’t large enough to play, they have to adapt to learn to play that lick differently than an adult guitarist would.

A huge part of this comes down to the fact that hobbies, especially more creative hobbies, teach children to think creatively. If they have to learn to create something then they are learning to be creative. Even if they are simply reading as their hobby, they are absorbing information every time they crack open a book.

Learn to Set and Achieve Goals

As your child gets deeper into a hobby, they will want to be better at it. As an answer to this, they will need to set goals that they want to reach. Maybe they want to learn a new song or make their own clothing, each of these goals requires them to plan and learn new steps along the way. This lesson will help them in life as the concept of making and reaching goals is transferred.

This will also help children to develop a feeling of satisfaction as they reach a goal. This feeling will not only encourage them to reach that specific goal but to strive towards all their goals in the future.

The concept of goal setting will also help children develop organizational skills and an eye for detail. This is because to reach the goals they have in mind, they will need to create a method for reaching these goals and execute it which takes organization and implementation.

Provide Future Opportunities

Finally, hobbies might help children find out what they want to do in the future. None of this has to be rushed or permanent but it can help.

If a child loves to read, for instance, this might lead them to develop their reading skills as they go through school. One day, they might even decide they want to get an English degree or become a school teacher to share their passion.

The important part of this is that if these hobbies are going to be cultivated into a child’s passion and goals, it needs to happen naturally. While you want to support them, you don’t want to push them too hard. If a child feels forced into a hobby, they may think of it more as a responsibility than a true enjoyment and it might feel more burdening than genuinely entertaining. This will only temper their interest rather than encouraging it to grow. In other words, you have to let your child develop their passions at their own pace.

Facts About Fertility You Might Not Know

September 4, 2018 by  
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husband kissing his pregnant wife belly on black background

by guest blogger Josef Samuels

If you are thinking or even if you have decided to get pregnant congratulations. Becoming a parent is one of the most important and fulfilling things any person can do. By this stage, you words like ovulation and trimester should be very familiar to you, as you have most probably done some research on what the best and most effective ways to get pregnant are. Today we will be discussing the F word. Fertility. While you may have a general understanding of how it all works, there may be some facts about fertility that could surprise you. You can read more about motherhood and pregnancy on Mommy Authority.

Now let’s take a look at some interesting fertility facts you might not know:

Is Ovulation A Myth?

While most people believe that a woman’s ovulation period is the best time to conceive, recent studies have shown that this may not be completely accurate. Sperm can remain active in the female reproductive tract for multiple days after sex. This means that you don’t necessarily have to have intercourse on your ovulation day. According to some findings, instead of focusing on when you are ovulating you should concentrate on the days you are most fertile. In total, a woman is fertile for approximately six days. The ovulation day (the day that the egg is released)  itself and the five days leading up to it. Therefore it is suggested that in order to increase your chances of conception, you should have intercourse two days before ovulation.

Fertility Is Not Only Determined By Health

If you lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle and look after your overall well being – it does not mean for certain that you or even your partner is fertile. Studies have found that roughly 10% of all healthy couples will experience fertility issues while trying to conceive. While there are many contributing factors and variables that account for infertility, it is believed that it is equally the male, female and unknown causes that can be attributed with bringing about fertility problems. Unfortunately, the main contributor to these types of complications is age.

The Role Age Plays

A healthy and normal female’s fertility will generally peak during their mid-20’s and start to decline closer to the age of 30-years, declining even faster as she moves towards 40. This means that if you are in your thirties and are trying to conceive, you should take the proper measures and have intercourse at your most fertile times of the month. If you are over the age of thirty-five it could be advisable to consult a fertility specialist.

Although it has been widely regarded that a woman’s age is the only contributor, recent data has displayed that age-related fertility issues also apply to men. While there is still more research to do in this field, it has been proven that paternal age does play a role as well.

Weight Is A Factor

Statistics show that at least 12 out of a 100 infertility cases are caused by some sort of weight problem. When your body does not receive the proper nourishment, if you are malnourished or have an eating disorder – often times menstruation is not possible. As a body fat index of at least 22% is needed for normal fertility function, women who are underweight can struggle to fall pregnant. The same goes for women that are overweight. As excess body fat has the ability to change and interfere with several chemical reactions and hormones responsible for ovulation. And while shifting your weight up and down with a few pounds could resolve related fertility problems, overeating and crash diets can do more harm than good. It is also important to note that your weight also contributes to your overall health while pregnant.

While getting pregnant may be your first and only concern at the moment, it is crucial to properly educate yourself on your fertility and how you can conceive healthily and happily. With so many factors affecting fertility levels, ensure that you take the appropriate measures to increase your chances of conception.







Making the Skies Kid-Friendly: How to stay grounded while flying with your kids

July 13, 2018 by  
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by Michele Fisher

Let’s face it: With TSA regulations, delays, and cramped conditions, air travel these days can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. But when you add children—and especially babies—to the mix, it can be downright daunting. If your family’s summer vacation plans include travel by plane, read on to make the skies a little more kid-friendly.

  • Book your flight for as early in the day as possible. That’s your best chance to avoid delays at takeoff and landing.
  • The temperature in airports and on planes can vary significantly, so dress yourself and your kids in layers. Also, if you have more than one child, consider dressing them in the same clothes, or at least the same color. This makes it so much easier to keep track of them.
  • Have your kids wear shoes with Velcro, not laces.
  • Make your diaper bag your carry-on. In addition to diapers, pack it with baby wipes, tissues, pacifiers, sippy cups, a change of clothes (for baby and you!), plastic bags (for diapers and dirty clothes), headphones, small toys and surprises (more on these later!), extra batteries or power packs, and a tablet/DVD player. If there’s still room, squeeze in a small pillow.
  • Seat your kids in the window seat or middle—away from the aisle. This means there’s less of a chance that their little hands and feet will get pinched by aisle traffic and beverage carts—and less chance that they’ll escape should you actually get a chance to nap.
  • For older kids, bring a lollipop or some gum. They help kids’ ears adjust to the pressure change during takeoff and landing.
  • At regular intervals during the flight (or when your kids start to show signs of an impending meltdown), pass out small toys and surprises you’ve hidden in your carry-on. These don’t need to be expensive or elaborate; it’s the novelty that’s appealing to kids. Options include fidget spinners and other small toys, crayons and coloring books, activity and word search books, stickers, and small Lego sets.
  • Food can keep kids occupied for an amazingly long time, so pack plenty of snacks in individual resealable plastic bags. To avoid spills, ask the flight attendant to pour whatever beverage your children will be having directly into their empty sippy cups.
  • When the plane finally lands, take your time disembarking. No doubt most passengers will jump up, grab their bags, and start crowding the aisle. Why join the chaos? Sit back, let everyone rush around you, and when the aisle finally starts to clear, slowly and calmly gather up your bags and your children and head for the exit ready to start your vacation with your sanity intact!


About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Family Fun and the City

July 4, 2018 by  
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Michele Fisher

Planning a family vacation this summer? Just because you’re traveling with kids doesn’t mean that your destination has to be a theme park. For a vacation that everyone in the family can enjoy (and that just might be educational, too!), consider a trip to one of our country’s amazing cities.

Cities offer a huge variety of activities for every member of the family, so chances are your biggest problem won’t be finding something to do, but figuring out how to fit in everything you want to do in the time you have. Here are some things to consider:

History. If you’re traveling to Philadelphia, for example, you’ll want to explore the city’s colonial history and role in the American Revolution. Check out Independence Hall, where America’s Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. And don’t forget a visit to see the Liberty Bell or a stop at Betsy Ross’s home. Each American city has a unique history and story to tell, and most museums these days offer interactive, kid-friendly exhibits that will keep your children engaged and excited.

Hands-on fun. Just because you’re surrounded by sidewalks doesn’t mean your family can’t get outside for some fun combined with fitness. Many cities offer guided bike tours that will introduce you to sites you might have otherwise missed. Or, if you’re in Chicago, for example, you can rent Segways for your family and take a unique spin around the city. And speaking of Chicago, you can combine exercise and sightseeing by rollerblading—or walking or jogging—on the Lakefront Trail, which offers amazing views of Lake Michigan. Most cities have similar trail and park systems.

Food! If you really want to discover the “flavor” of a city, try its most famous cuisine. In Philly? You gotta have a soft pretzel and a cheesesteak. Chicago? It’s deep dish pizza time! Visiting Cincinnati? Try their own style of chili (served over spaghetti). Dallas? Hit the BBQ and queso. Boston? Try some of their iconic clam chowder and lobster. Okay, you get the picture. And I’m getting hungry.…

Tourist destinations. Sure, they’ll be crowded. And yes, they might be expensive. But they’re called destinations for a reason: Some city attractions offer such a unique experience that the memories your kids will take away from them are worth the hassle and expense. If you’re in Chicago, your trip won’t be complete without a spin on the Centennial Wheel and a visit to the Sky Deck of the Willis Tower. Going to NYC? Of course you need to see the Statue of Liberty and maybe take in a show on Broadway (depending on your kids’ ages). In LA? Get your pictures taken on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rodeo Drive, or stroll along Santa Monica Pier. In Seattle? Time to visit the Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

Sports. If your family loves sports, take some time to support the local team. Some stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago, offer behind-the-scenes daily tours. Then relax and unwind spending an evening taking in a baseball game or soccer match as the sun sets.

About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Pack Your Bags – It’s Time for Summer Vacation! The Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

June 20, 2018 by  
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By Michele Fisher

Summer is finally here, and for many families, that means it’s time for a family vacation! If the thought of traveling with your kids is both exciting and—let’s face it—a little nerve-racking, you’re not alone. But with the following tips, you can have a safe, smooth trip that every member of your family will enjoy.

1. Include your kids in the planning. Children will be more excited about a trip if they know what to expect and get to have a eoay in what they’ll be doing. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, share books and online information about your destination. Let each person in the family choose an activity or specific attraction they’d like to visit during the trip, and then be sure to include each in your itinerary.

2. Break up travel boredom with small surprises. Let’s face it, a long car ride or cramped trip in a plane can get boring for kids (and adults). To fend off the grouchy cries of “Are we there yet?” pack some small, inexpensive surprises in your travel bag. Think small toys, fidget spinners, Thinking Putty, coloring books, word search books, stickers, and more. Then ration out each surprise as boredom hits.

3. Have a plan, but be willing to change it. It’s tempting to try to fit as much as possible into each day of your vacation. But if your kids are feeling grumpy or tired, take a cue from them and slow down. Even a 20-minute ice cream break in the middle of the day or deciding to head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap while the sun is at its hottest could make the difference between cranky kids and happy ones.

4. Let your kids be amateur photographers. Pack a sturdy, child-friendly camera and then allow your kids to snap away at anything that interests them. This encourages them to be more observant, and you just might end up with an amazing pic from a brand-new (knee-high) perspective!

5. Pack plenty of baby wipes. Kids out of diapers? Baby wipes are still a godsend for cleaning off the surface of nearly anything you and your kids are going to touch. And, of course, hand sanitizer is a must-have.

6. Snack smart. Avoid the high prices charged at tourist destinations and pack your own snacks. But choose wisely. To avoid crashes following sugary snacks, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein, but low in sugar. Think whole grain crackers, low-sugar granola bars and (dry) cereal, string cheese, and fresh fruit.

7. Play “Who Gets Home First?” You can pick up postcards at nearly any tourist destination and turn them into a fun and easy game. Have your child choose one, write a short note on the back, and mail it to your home address. Then see if you or the postcard makes it home first!

8. Consider a wearable GPS tracker. Got a kid who tends to wander? GPS trackers come in many different models, from bracelets to watches to small units that you can attach to a child’s belt or shoe.

9. Or go low-tech. You could also simply write your name and phone number on your child’s arm, in case you get separated. For older kids, start teaching them your cell phone number a few weeks before your vacation. Finally, it’s wise to choose a spot at each new attraction you visit where everyone agrees to meet if you get separated.

10. Preserve those memories! When you get back home, no doubt you’ll be busy unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up on work emails. But you don’t want to forget all the amazing things you did as a family on your trip. The solution? Let the kids take care of this task by creating their own scrapbooks filled with souvenirs, photos, ticket stubs, postcards, and more. This is also a great way to keep them busy on a rainy day!


About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.