Make the Most Out of Your Winter Family Vacation

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label. 

I don't know about you, but this time of the year makes me dream of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and Pina Coladas. There's some serious wander-lusting going on over here, and sadly, the warmth of the pool at Morley's swimming lessons just isn’t cutting it.

Traveling with your children is an unforgettable experience, no matter where you go. It is the chance to introduce your children to new cultures and environments, and to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

A well-deserved break from school for the kiddos is the perfect time for a family vacation, but make sure you’re prepared before you rush out the door this winter. Don’t waste a minute of your precious family time on common (and avoidable) vacation fails. 

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Whether you’re hitting the slopes or a water slide, make the most of your time off with these simple winter family vacation tips. 

Prepare yourself for the entire journey.

When heading on vacation, most are looking forward to the destination itself. But remember, before you can lay on that white sandy beach, you must first get there (and sadly, when it’s all over, you must also get home). Whether you are road tripping or flying, don’t forget about the way there and the way back. If you have young children, remember to pack lots of activities, snacks, changes of clothes and other necessities to limit the number of potential meltdowns so you can get there and start enjoying your well-deserved break.

Tag that bag.

There’s nothing worse than arriving to your destination in one piece only to find out your bags have not. You can’t prevent luggage from getting lost or damaged, but you can make the return process much easier. Make sure you purchase luggage tags with a durable covering to protect your information. Look for a strong clasp that can withstand being tossed around from plane to carousel. And if you’re locking your luggage, be sure to use a TSA-approved lock only.

In case of lost luggage, remember to always pack an extra pair of clothes (i.e. sandals, bathing suit, etc.) in your carryon, just in case. The same goes with extra diapers and an extra change of clothes, or two, for your little ones.

If you are travelling with a car seat or stroller, and checking either at the luggage drop or gate-side, take photos of the items beforehand. That way, if there is any damage to the item, these photos can easily be sent to the airline for comparison and compensation. As I can speak from recent experience, it is not a good feeling to put your carseat (and trust) in the airline’s hands, only to have it come our damaged on the other end.

Don’t underestimate the sun.  

Whether you’re in the snow, sand or water, UV rays reach the Earth year-round and surfaces like these can reflect 85 per cent of the sun's rays back at you! To protect your face, try using Coppertone ClearlySheer Lotion for Face (SF50). ClearlySheer sunscreens deliver trusted broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection in a light, refreshing formula that barely leaves a trace on the skin. Water resistant for up to 80 minutes, it absorbs quickly, feels clean and light and won’t clog pores or cause breakouts. This lightweight sunscreen formula feels clean and light, and is also great to use daily under makeup!

If your kids love the water, but are not big fans of standing still for sunscreen, try Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray. This hypo-allergenic sunscreen provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection at the touch of a button, no pumping required. The easy, full coverage application will keep your children protected from harmful UV rays while making sunscreen time fun.

Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses for all family members, including the little ones.

Restore your body’s rhythm.

One of the best parts of vacationing is indulging in delicious foods, but travel might have your digestive tract feeling no bueno! Almost 40 percent of people experience vacation constipation as gut bacteria reacts and adjusts to the change in setting. Bathroom trouble can put a damper on your otherwise relaxing time off. Be prepared and bring along some pre-measured, single-dose RestoraLAX NeatPAX for convenient occasional constipation relief.  RestoraLAX dissolves easily in any non-alcoholic beverage with no taste and no grit.  It helps restore your body’s natural rhythm by working with water to hydrate and soften stools.

What are some of your vacation preparation tricks that ensure your family getaway its nothing short of amazing?  I’d love to hear!

*This post is sponsored by Bayer®. To make sure Bayer® products are right for you, always read and follow the label. 

Why I #ChooseScience

If there’s one thing to know about me, it is that I am very passionate about the environment.

Not in an extreme chain yourself to a tree kind of way. More in the practical sense that I strongly believe that everyone is responsible for doing their part to protect our natural world for future generations.

And that is exactly why I choose science.

Mother and daughter at Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a strong affinity to the outdoors. Particularly, the water. Like many, as a young girl I had big dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Movies like Free Willy and The Little Mermaid to thank for that one. Except, unlike many others, I was bound and determined to make it happen.

In university, I focused my studies on marine and freshwater biology, with a dabble into ecosystem restoration. As a naive 20-year-old, I saw myself living this glamorous life on the beach down south, diving with the sharks and protecting our coral reefs. 

But, it was during those years in university that my interests took a bit of a shift. After a research project I did down in the Bahamas made an impact on the local community, I was offered a Master’s position at an Ontario university. But truth is, I didn’t want it. Research just wasn’t for me. My summers were dedicated to educating others about taking care of what Mother Nature has given us. I had found my calling in environment education, and turns out, I was pretty good at it. Educating others about aquatic and terrestrial biology and ecology was more my thing.

It was because of this shift that I quickly abandoned the idea of becoming a marine biologist and instead began focusing my attention on becoming an environmental educator.

And so, that is where I stand today. Working in environmental education, teaching others about our aquatic ecosystems. While I may not have the title or “marine biologist”, I instead the best of both worlds – working in a somewhat aquatic environment and combining numerous streams of science  while doing so, from biology to ecology, chemistry and more. 

I choose science so that I can inspire my future generation to help protect our planet.

Toddler at Potter Marsh, Anchorage, Alaska

>> You might also be interested in: A Girl with Big Dreams 

Sure it is a passion of mine, but there is also another reason why I continue choosing science every single day. And that my friends, is my daughter.

I want her to grow up in a world similar to ours – where she can snorkel the coral reefs, see a polar bear in the wild and not have to worry about a lack of food or access to safe, clean drinking water.

I choose science so that I can help build that connection between my daughter and the plants and animals that the call this planet home. Because if she doesn’t have a connection with it, she sure as hell isn’t going to want to protect it.

Toddler with American Toad

Why introduce science at such a young age? Truth is, it’s never too early to start.

I’m often asked by parents what advice I can give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice: get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson 

Toddlers are natural scientists - they ask (many, many) questions, pick up sticks and bugs outside, aren’t afraid to get dirty and are curious about the world around them. But as they get older, they may gradually lose this interest. Science may become just another thing they learn in school. Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Science is so much more than just looking through a microscope or mixing things together. Teaching children about science from a young age encourages them to ask questions, think critically, experiment, solve problems, and so much more. 

Toddler in Ripley's Aquarium of Canada's Dangerous Lagoon Tunnel

Don’t know much about the science behind, well, science? No worries. Science isn’t so much about answers as it is the journey to find them. Share your curiosity with your child - wonder out loud why something is the way it is, and then take the time to learn about it. Remind your child that they use science every single day. Baking is a lesson in chemistry, building with blocks involves physics, watching a bird fly is biology and asking questions is exactly what leads to scientific breakthroughs. Science is responsible for the clothes we wear, the food we eat, how we get around and many other facets of our daily lives. 

Like myself, an interest in science at a young age can also lead to a career as an adult. However, while studies show that about as many girls as boys have a positive attitude toward science in elementary school, boys are twice as likely to be interested in technology, science, and math by eighth grade. And, the gender bias just doesn’t stop there. According to a study conducted in 14 countries, the probability of female students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in a science-related field is 18%, compared to 37% for their male peers.

Girls continue to face stereotypes and social and cultural restrictions, limiting access to education and funding for research, preventing them from scientific careers and reaching their full potential. Women remain a minority in science research and decision-making. 

February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science - an opportunity for all to take a stand for girls and women in science. Together, on this day and every day, we can work together to create a world where women and girls design, shape and benefit from the scientific innovations changing our world.

While the decision on what career path she chooses ultimately lies in her hands, I can’t help but try to peak her interest and curiosity in my passions along the way, including choosing science. 

What is your connection to science? I'd love to hear your story!