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When my oldest was a baby, it was fairly easy to fly with him. I’d put him in our baby carrier and rock him to sleep. As he became a toddler, I just packed lots and lots of snacks to keep him occupied. Now my oldest is 3-years-old and he requires a bit more consideration when flying. That’s where busy bag activities come in. For our recent flight to Europe, I prepared Montessori-style busy bags to entertain him on the flight and in our hotels.

I had a lot of fun making them. We already had some of the materials, but I did make some runs to Target, Dollar Tree and Michael’s to pick up the rest of the supplies. Shopping for these items was as much fun for me as making them. I felt so accomplished!

I packed 3 busy bags for the flight to Europe. It was an evening flight and my son slept for most of the trip. We did break out the busy bags on the last leg of the flight. While we were in our first hotel, we just let him play with the same 3 busy bags. As our trip wrapped up and we packed for the flights home, we swapped out the old busy bags for several new ones. We got a lot of use out of them! (Contains affiliate links.)

Popsicle sticks with Velcro dots busy bag
I found these colored Popsicle sticks in my son’s art kit and bought the Velcro dots on Amazon.

Popsicle Sticks with Velcro

The colored popsicle sticks with Velcro dots on them were the biggest hit. My son used them to build “rainbows” while we were on the airplane. He also used them to make roads for his cars while we were in the hotel. My friends made similar ones using the tongue depressor size that their kids enjoyed. I think I will make a busy bag set using the Jumbo Colored Wood Craft Sticks for future trips.

Chopstick busy bag
The trainer chopsticks are from Uwajimaya, the ice cube tray is from IKEA and the beads are from Michael’s.

Chopsticks with Beads and Ice Cube Tray

I like to call this activity “feeding the fishies” and my son was thrilled to use his chopsticks. He’s currently obsessed with them and uses them at every opportunity. I thought the beads would be a good idea, but these ones were a bit small. I am going to get larger beads for next time. I’m also going to get those colorful pom-poms as they will be lightweight and easier to pick up using chopsticks. This busy bag activity is currently being used in our living room. My husband put the beads on a cookie sheet and my son has been using a baby spoon to scoop up the beads and put them in the ice cube tray. They sell the training chopsticks and ice cube tray on Amazon.

Dr. Seuss stickers and book
I found these Dr. Seuss stickers and little book in Target’s dollar section.

Dr. Seuss Stickers and Book

My son really enjoys Dr. Seuss books right now. We read them a lot before bedtime. I knew he’d be a fan of these stickers because he recognizes many of the characters from the books. This busy bag activity consisted on having him put the stickers on the blank pages of the little book. It was a hit! He filled a bunch of the pages with stickers and it occupied a bit of time on the airplane. When he was done doing this activity, he put it all back in the bag to work on it later.

Sponges and Straws busy bag
I bought the sponges at Dollar Tree and we already had the straws from IKEA.

Sponges and Straws

Right before we left for our trip, I saw and idea on Facebook from my friend who suggested a busy bag activity using cut up sponges. I figured I’d have my son thread the sponges on straws because it would be lightweight. The problem was that straws are flimsy and they kept bending when he tried to put the sponges on them. Next time, I’m going to put a chopstick in there or use a dull wooden kabob skewer. He ended up pretending the sponges were cars. He also used them as blocks.

Pipe cleaner busy bag
I got these sparkly pipe cleaners at Dollar Tree and the beads were from Michael’s.

Beads and Pipe Cleaners

This seems so simple, but it entertained my son for hours! I found some pipe cleaners at Dollar tree that had semi-stiff bristles. This was perfect because it kept the pony beads from sliding off. I originally thought I’d need to twist a bead on the end to keep them from falling off. My son made me several bracelets. I think next time, I will add in the Montessori element of sorting the beads by color and then he can put them on the pipe cleaner.

Busy Bag idea
I found these mini clothespins at Target last year and they are meant for hanging Christmas cards.

Hanging Clothes on Clothespins

When I went through a tub of random craft stuff, I ran across these mini clothespins on a long piece of twine. Target sold them around Christmas and marketed as a way to display holiday cards. I realized that they were a nice size for a busy bag. I already had printed felt from a felt Christmas tree activity I did last year, so I just cut little clothes out of it. This activity is super light and doesn’t take up much space. We didn’t end up bringing it out this flight and I’m actually glad because I’m saving it for our next flight! I found this clothes pins on twine on Amazon.

Target and TJ Maxx items
TJ Maxx and Target are great places to find ready-made busy bag items.

Coloring Activities

My friends and I are big fans of Melissa & Doug coloring products. They make Water Wow coloring books that just need a little bit of water. These are great for airplane rides and take zero artistic skill from your child. Now that my son is older, he’s interested in markers. I found some Melissa & Doug Magicolor Coloring Books. The pens only color on the paper and they snap back into the plastic case on the coloring book. Unfortunately, my son had an aisle seat and the markers kept sliding down the aisle, so they didn’t last long on the plane. They would be fabulous for in the airport and definitely in a hotel room. Target’s dollar section always has Play Packs featuring an array of animated characters. Dollar Tree usually has something similar, too. They consist of some crayons, stickers and coloring sheets. I like that they are fully contained and my son thinks of them like a surprise bag.

Busy Bag idea
I found this Art Felt-Folio in Target’s dollar section.

Art Felt-Folio

I had high hopes for this busy bag item. However it was a bit bulky for my carry on back pack. It’s basically just crayons and paper inside a felt fire truck. I think this would work out better for road trips. But I love that you can easily add stickers, markers, cards, etc to the felt-folio to change it up. I’m hanging onto this to try when my son is a bit older and more into coloring. I found a similar Art Felt-Folio on Amazon.

Busy bag items
I found these foam crowns and sparkle stickers at Dollar Tree.

Foam Crowns and Stickers

My son loves putting stickers on things so I thought this might be a fun busy bag activity. He likes to make presents for people. It lasted about 2 minutes. This activity bored him and he asked me for another project to do. Thankfully, this bag was super light and cost less than $2.

Busy Bags for Airplane Rides
I found this in Target’s dollar section.

Felt Play Book

Target’s dollar section is a dangerous place for me. I always find items I “need” for kids. But, when looking for busy bag items, it’s the perfect spot! This felt play book opens up to make a large felt mat and it comes with felt items like a submarine, airplane, and rocket ship. It was a bit cumbersome to use on the airplane. This is a great item for hotel rooms where kids can lay on the floor to use it.

IKEA finger puppets busy bag
I found these Animal Finger Puppet Set at IKEA.

Finger Puppets

We didn’t even get to this busy bag activity. I kept them in a sandwich baggie. I love how lightweight the puppets are. I’m probably going to stash these in my diaper bag to use at restaurants. Fortunately, they fit my fingers so I can even use them to entertain my baby.

DIY Busy Bag Tips

The first thing I suggest is to walk around your house and take inventory of what you have. We already had chopsticks, which sparked the idea for our “feed the fishies” game. I also raided my son’s art kit to see what items I could use, like the colored Popsicle sticks. Target’s dollar section is a great place to get ready-to-go items because they usually have coloring activities and craft kits. Dollar Tree is a really fun place to find inexpensive craft items and stickers.

Busy Bag Ideas for Preschoolers

My husband and I have each been to Paris separately and it’s a place we’ve both been eager to visit again. This Spring, we decided to head to Europe with our kids for our first trip as a family of four. We went with family friends to Madrid and Barcelona and enjoyed ourselves. Our last stop was Paris and it was the best way to end our trip! We were worried that Paris might not be the best city to visit with small children, but our fears were unfounded. See how we explored the city in just 3 days.

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Paris with a Baby and Preschooler 3 Day Itinerary

DAY 1: PARIS GREETERS WALKING TOUR & PARIS BY TUKTUK

Paris Greeters Walking Tour
Paris Greeters Walking Tour of Boulogne. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung
PARIS GREETERS:

We enjoyed a free 3-hour private walking tour of Boulogne (suburb of Paris) through Paris Greeters. This was a great way to see how real Parisians live. We put the baby in our Tula baby carrier and our 3-year-old rode in the stroller. Read more in my full blog review.

After the walk, we enjoyed coffee at a cafe in Boulogne before heading pack to our flat via Metro. This gave us time to use the bathroom, change a diaper, and reload our backpack. Then, we grabbed sandwiches on baguettes from the shop next to our flat and waited for our TukTuk driver to pick us up.

TukTuk in Paris
Paris by TukTuk is a great way to explore the city with children. Photo Credit: Darren Cheung
PARIS BY TUKTUK TOUR OF REAL LIFE OF PARIS:

Our Paris by TukTuk driver Arnaud was very knowledgeable about the city and our 3-year-old had fun waving at motorists and pedestrians from the back of the TukTuk. We were also able to drive on the sidewalks to avoid major traffic jams! Read more in my full blog review.

We stopped at a scenic lookout where my husband showed our 3-year-old how to take photos of the Eiffel Tower. We hopped back in and finished our tour driving on major streets in the heart of Paris. Arnaud dropped us at Saint Germaine neighborhood where we grabbed an early dinner of beef bourgignon and steamed mussels.

DAY 2: PHOTO SHOOT, ARC DE TRIOMPHE, SHOPPING & EIFFEL TOWER

Flytographer in Paris
We spent an hour roaming the streets of Paris with Olga from Flytographer and she captured amazing family photos. Photo credit: Olga in Paris for Flytographer
FLYTOGRAPHER PHOTO SHOOT:

We had arranged for a Flytographer photo shoot at 7:30am. It was insanely cold for April and we didn’t pack warm enough clothing. We layered clothing on the kids and my husband and I wore souvenir jackets we picked up. Not exactly what I had in mind but the photo shoot itself was a good experience and our photographer Olga was so sweet and personable! We got family photos at the Eiffel Tower, inside a warm cafe (which perked the kids up) and at the École Militaire.

After our photo shoot, we had breakfast at a very pricey cafe near École Militaire (hint: if you only see businessmen eating somewhere, you might look for a different cafe.) But, our kids were freezing and we needed to thaw everyone out before heading back to the flat.
Then, we walked along the Seine river while our 3-year-old slept in the stroller and our baby slept in the Tula until we got to our flat. This almost felt like a mini-date as my husband and I could just enjoy Paris and chat uninterrupted. We got back to the flat and layered more clothes on everyone and packed up our backpack.

Terrace of Arc de Triomphe
Our 3-year-old enjoyed the wind in his face as he soaked in the awe-inspiring view atop the Arc de Triomphe. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
ARC DE TRIOMPHE:

From our flat, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe. They had a spot to park our stroller and invited us to use the elevator since we had a baby (in our Tula) and a preschooler. We still had to walk 42 steps in a narrow staircase to get to the observation deck, but our 3-year-old managed easily. The observation area felt very safe for our 3-year-old and we were able to let him explore. My husband helped our preschooler look through the telescope to see the Eiffel Tower better. There was also an elevated spot for selfies. We headed back down to the base of the Arc de Triomphe and my husband took photos while my 3-year-old ran circles around me to get out some energy.

We started to get hungry, so we strolled down the Champs-Élysées to find food. This is one of the busiest tourist areas, but we had a hungry preschooler with us. We enjoyed crepes at a place right off the Champs-Élysées. We also used this time to plan the rest of our day.

SHOPPING IN PARIS:

We decided to go shopping so we wouldn’t have to worry about it on our last day. I had a long list of items to get at Monoprix and Monop’ and we had shopping lists from family members for specific items and specific stores. We ended up shopping for a few hours while the boys slept. We packed everyone on and in the stroller and realized we had to take a taxi back to the flat just to transport everything.

Eiffel Tower with Kids
Yes, I dressed my boys in little red berets for a photo at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
EIFFEL TOWER:

My husband was on the lookout for Duck Confit so we headed back out in search of this dish. He had checked Yelp and found a few places near our flat that were supposed to offer it, but none of them ended up having it. So, we started walking toward the Eiffel Tower hoping to find somewhere along the way. We didn’t find anywhere.

We arrived at the Eiffel Tower around 8:30pm and explored the base. The line for the elevator was 45 minutes long and we were all getting cold. Our 3-year-old spotted the carousel across the street and had his heart set on riding it. We decided that would be a better memory for him that standing in the cold. So we crossed the street and our son thoroughly enjoyed the carousel ride. We were hoping to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle but we weren’t sure when it happened. We saw it sparkle about 1 minute after we got in our taxi to head back to our neighborhood. While my 3-year-old and I were mesmerized, my husband was lamenting the fact that he could have photographed it had we stayed just 5 more minutes! C’est la vie!

We had the taxi drop us off at a restaurant who had a line out the door the first night we arrived. It was an awesome restaurant that only served steak with an amazing sauce and french fries. We sat down and the waitress asked us how we like our steak. She then wrote it on the table and came back with freshly cooked steak and fries! She just kept coming around refilling everyone’s plates with steak and fries and it was amazing! When we couldn’t eat any more, we wobbled back to our flat.

DAY 3: NOTRE DAME, SAINTE-CHAPPELLE, SACRE-COEUR, JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG

Notre Dame with a Baby
Our baby was happy to people watch as we walked around Notre Dame. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
NOTRE DAME & SAINTE-CHAPPELLE:

On our third day, we slept in a bit and then took the Metro to Notre Dame de Paris. We looked at it from the outside and debated waiting in line to look inside. I’d already seen the inside, but the rest of the family had not. We decided since it was our last day to just enjoy it from the outside and continue on.

We walked a few blocks to Sainte-Chappelle. I remembered being in awe of this church on my first visit to Paris and my husband had never been. There was hardly a line and we were able to park the stroller on the first level of the church. It was just as gorgeous as I remembered and our 3-year-old kept saying “wow!” and our baby just kept staring at the beautiful stained glass. There were chairs available so I sat with the kids while my husband took photos.

We were all getting a bit hungry so we walked across the street to a cafe for an early lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed my Croque Madame sandwich and shared it with our preschooler. Spirits were good, so we planned the rest of our day.

Montmartre train
This little train was a bit hit with our 3-year-old as we explored Montmartre and Pigalle. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
SACRE-COEUR, MONTMARTRE

We took the Metro to Sacre-Coeur and walked up the back streets to get there. That’s when our son spotted the little train that tours around and he decided we HAD to ride it. When we got to the front of Sacre-Coeur, we found out that the next train would leave in 35 minutes, so we had plenty of time to look inside the church. We were also able to see a beautiful panoramic view of Paris. Had we not been so tired, we would have climbed up to the Dome to get an even better look. At this point, our 3-year-old was worried that the train would leave without us, so we decided to get on board.

The little Montmartrain toured us around Sacre-Coeur and throughout the artsy area of Montmartre and the burlesque area of Pigalle. We saw the famous Moulin Rouge and many stores featuring lingerie, etc. Our 3-year-old was fully passed out at this point. The train ride was about 35 minutes long.

We got tickets to ride a little gondola down to the base of Sacre-Coeur. It was a quick ride but saved us many steps. At the base, we decided to grab some crepes and drinks and headed to the little park on site.

It was late afternoon and the park was filled with French children who were nibbling on sweet treats before playing. After awhile, our son noticed the carousel and was eager to take a spin. I thought it’d be a good opportunity to let our baby ride his first carousel, too!

Toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg
One of our favorite memories of our trip was getting to play with the vintage toy boats at Jardin du Luxembourg. Photo credit: Darren Cheung
JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG:

Next up was Jardin du Luxumbourg. We tried to take the Metro there but at the connecting station, there was an issue with the train and it wasn’t moving. It was insanely crowded and my husband almost had his wallet stolen. But, we got out of the station and looked for a taxi. We were at Gare du Nord and things felt sketchy to us, so we quickly walked a few blocks and then grabbed a taxi to take us to Jardin du Luxembourg.

This was one of my favorite stops in Paris! My son had been thumbing through a guidebook for Paris with children for the past 2 months and every time he came across the Jardin du Luxembourg, he told me he wanted to “do the boats.” As we entered the garden, he spotted the boats in the little pond and gleefully shouted “Mommy! They have the little boats here!” For just 3.5 Euro, we were able to rent a vintage toy boat for 30 minutes. We got there just before they closed and our son was in pure heaven for those 30 minutes! We also hit the sandbox area after and our 3-year-old played with French children who were so kind to share their sand toys.

For our last dinner in Paris, we were determined to find Duck Confit and we found a place near Jardin du Luxumbourg. We enjoyed our last dinner in Paris and grabbed a taxi to take us back to the flat so we could pack.

Parks in Paris
We found the parks to be a great place for our preschooler to interact with local children. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Paris with a Baby and Preschooler Tips

  1. Accommodations: We rented a flat through AirBnB that was a 10 minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. It was much cheaper than any hotel I could find that was near a Metro stop and near attractions. We were on the 6th floor and while there was an elevator, we were only able to fit 3 people total (with no bags.) My husband usually sent me up with the kids first and then he’d take the stroller and backpack with him second. I liked that there was a microwave and fridge so we could eat a bit in the flat. It was also near a taxi stand, which was helpful when we headed to the airport with all our luggage.
  2. Food: We found that almost every restaurant we went to assumed we’d want a hamburger and french fries for our 3-year-old. This was a bit frustrating as our son usually tries new foods and doesn’t really eat hamburgers at home. But, once it was offered, he seemed to think that was his only choice and he primarily just ate french fries. I’d recommend just sharing whatever you order with your preschooler, if they are interested in tasting new foods. And we found freshly squeezed orange juice (at a range of prices) at almost every cafe and restaurant and our 3-year-old LOVED it. You can squeeze it yourself at Monoprix for a fraction of the price and drink it at your flat.
  3. Nursing: I wasn’t sure about the reaction I’d get nursing my 6-month-old son in public. I had heard that it’s unusual to see French women nursing their babies (and I never saw anyone else breastfeeding in Paris.) I’m usually pretty discrete and wore nursing tops but didn’t use a nursing cover. I didn’t get any weird looks and felt comfortable nursing on the Metro, in cafes/restaurants, and at parks.
  4. Formula/Baby Food: My youngest son is breast-fed but I ended up getting the stomach flu early in the trip and my milk supply dropped. Thankfully, I had brought some formula with me to help supplement. When we ran out, we checked the supermarket for more and were surprised to only find flavored formula (chocolate or vanilla.) I was also shocked to find baby food pouches that were 5x more expensive than the U.S. I had been hoping to try French baby food, but at those prices, I refrained. I’d recommend packing your own formula and baby food.
  5. Bring a Lightweight Stroller: We were really 50/50 on whether to bring a stroller to Paris. We usually wear our baby in a carrier and our 3-year-old has no problem walking around all day. However, my husband and I both were glad to have it. After walking all over Madrid and Barcelona, our 3-year-old was tired and needed breaks in the stroller. Plus, he was able to nap while we were out and about. It was a bit cumbersome to carry it up and down the Metro stairs but we made sure to keep the stroller storage area empty so we could quickly fold it up. And when we went shopping, it was great to load our bags on the stroller and then just taxi back to our flat. Many restaurants also held our stroller at the front or advised us where we could store it while we ate.
  6. Souvenirs: We found that many attractions had a machine of souvenir medallions available for 2 Euro each. Our 3-year-old loved these. He not only enjoyed the process of actually buying the medallion, but he loved holding them and looking at the pictures on them. He started looking for the machines everywhere we went and it was kind of like a fun scavenger hunt. I’d also recommend visiting Monoprix for affordable food souvenirs (like cookies, dijon mustard, chocolate, etc) and Monop’ for fantastic beauty/health items and the cutest baby/children’s clothing.
  7. Potty Training: We ended up having our 3-year-old wear Pull-Ups when we were touring around Paris. There were often lines at the bathrooms at attractions (expected) and most of the restrooms at restaurants seemed to be down spiral staircases that took awhile to get to with a preschooler. By wearing the Pull-Ups, we saved ourselves from having multiple changes of clothes for each outing. We didn’t use Pull-Ups for the first half of our trip and we went through almost all the pants we had brought and didn’t have an opportunity to wash/dry them.

I definitely recommend Paris as a great destination for families with babies and preschoolers. We found the French people to be so nice to us! Three days is just not enough to really explore. If we had a few more days, we would have spent half a day at Jardin d’Acclimation in Boulogne, got tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, eaten ice cream at Berthilon at Ile Saint Louis, rode The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde  and done a Seine boat cruise. We specifically didn’t go to any museums this trip because we’re hoping to come back when the kids are older. This will give us a good excuse!

3 Days in Paris Tips + Itinerary

Paris by TukTuk offered us a complimentary tour for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Photo Credit: Britnae Sanelli Photography
My family loves to travel, whether it’s internationally or closer to home. This means we pack a lot of bags and have to think smartly about our clothing choices. Gone are the days where I could pack twice as many outfits for myself and fancy clothing for “just in case.” Now that we have two kiddos, it’s all about streamlining and getting the most bang out of our suitcase space, especially when I’m traveling with them on my own. This is where Zutano is a great fit for my family and our lifestyle.

Zutano booties for babies

Photo Credit: Britnae Sanelli Photography
Ever since my oldest was born, my Mommy friends have been raving about Zutano’s booties. They claim they are the only booties that actually stay on their baby’s feet. With my oldest, his socks never seemed to come off of his feet. By the time he started pulling them off, the weather was getting warmer and he ended up barefoot a lot. However, this time around, my youngest was born in early Fall and I really wanted to make sure that he stayed warm as we were out and about much earlier and more often than with my oldest.

Zutano clothing for babies and toddlers

Photo Credit: Britnae Sanelli Photography

Zutano sent us a package with outfits for both of my kiddos. My toddler was excited to open the box and then as he pulled out his clothing, he kept exclaiming “Is this for me?” He was instantly in love with the rocket ship shirt because he’s obsessed with space things and insisted on wearing it immediately. I was obsessed with the orange pants because I knew he’d be easy to spot at the airport or even our neighborhood park. We both loved the jacket because it was so soft (yes, my toddler petted it) and it was reversible, which is the best thing ever for a messy toddler.

My youngest was not as enthusiastic about the clothing, but that’s to be expected from a newborn. I loved the kimono-style shirt because it’s a bit easier to get on than pulling something over his head. This is especially helpful when we are doing a clothing change in a public restroom or on an airplane. The booties are fabulous because they do actually stay on his feet. They are perfect for chilly airplane rides and touring around town. I especially appreciate how bright they are so I can easily find them!

Zutano clothing for toddlers

Photo Credit: Britnae Sanelli Photography

Zutano clothing is great for travel because it’s easy to mix and match pieces. They use the same color palette for all their clothing/booties/accessories so the clothes are easily interchangeable. This includes mixing prints because they all just seem to coordinate. This is especially awesome if you need to have your child re-wear a shirt or pants that are semi-clean because you run out of clothes or haven’t had time to wash them on vacation.

I also really like how happy the colors and prints are. The clothing is good quality and washes up well. The pieces are super soft and both my kids are happy to wear them.

What’s also cool about Zutano is that they are involved with programs that support educational enrichment for children, fighting childhood hunger, children’s rights, reproductive rights for women, improved healthcare programs, regional scholarship funds, breastfeeding educational programs and clothing drives.

I’ve enjoyed Zutano products so much that I went out and bought a couple of pairs of the next size of Zutano booties just to make sure I had them for when my son outgrows the ones Zutano provided.

Zutano booties and clothing for newborns, babies and toddlers

This Zutano beanie, kimono-style shirt, pants and booties are adorable and easy to put on my son when he was 3 weeks old.

Picture

Zutano sent us products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own

Guest Post by the Happy Film Company for Marcie in Mommyland

When traveling with kids there’s a big pressure to come home with gorgeous photos but my oh my is it stressful to keep smiles on those little faces. At the Happy Film Company, we specialize in keeping kids happy in front of the camera. These are our top tips for capturing happy vacation memories with beautiful photography.

Pike Place Market in Seattle

By focusing on our family, the Happy Film Company avoided a lot of the crowd (and boy was it crowded that day!) Photo courtesy of the Happy Film Company.

#1 Crowds 

Learn to Avoid to people in your pictures by squatting down low, climbing up high or tilting your camera at an angle. Change the angle of your photo can creatively crop out the people and put the focus just on your kids and the cool background you want to capture. You can also use the crowds to your advantage and use people’s bodies to redirect the focus of the photo on your kids. You can shoot through gaps in the crowd to create a frame around your kids/family. You can also shoot behind/over people’s shoulders so a portion of your photo is blurry (creating ‘negative space’) so the other half of the photo is just featuring the kids.

Rachel the piggybank at Pike Place Market in Seattle

My toddler Owen was obsessed with Rachel the Piggybank and had a blast hearing the money clink and we loved that the money is used for social services at the Market. Photo courtesy of the Happy Film Company.

#2 Kids are Squirmy and Not Smiling

When kids are traveling and they feel tired and grumpy, their smiles disappear and they lose interest in the camera, looking or running away. Instead of pouring energy into forcing them to smile, focus on helping them have fun. The smiles come naturally when they’re having a good time. When you force them to smile at the camera they probably feel like you’re not listening to them and what they feel like doing. We always let kids take the lead. Try asking your kids which pictures they would like to take, which backgrounds they think are they coolest, what kind of pose they think would look best. Get them involved in the creative process behind taking photos. You know how powerful your child’s creative imagination is – let THEM help you take better pictures.

Picture

After exploring the Market, Owen really just wanted to run around in the big grassy area outside! Photo courtesy of the Happy Film Company.

#3 Photos are Becoming Stressful & Boring

If your kids are bored being photographed, you’re probably taking boring pictures. Remember, you’re adventuring through the world to create happy memories NOT to create happy-looking photos of stressful memories (that’s just silly!). Let go of the belief that you need to smile perfectly in every photo and welcome in the possibility that photography might be the most powerful tool for boosting up the level of fun that your family has when travel! I recommend playing photography games and having photography themes and challenges when you travel. This will turn your vacation into a photography project that keeps everyone interested (even the people back home who will look at your photos). These are my 3 favorite family photography games:

Animals
Have your kids choose a different animal they want to be at each attraction. The whole time you’re exploring that monument they get to pretend to be that animal and when you take pictures they can pose like the animal and make the animal sounds. When you get home, you’ll have a photo book full of the cool tourist attractions featuring all your little animals.

Where’s Waldo
Take pictures from far away (with lots of scenery and people) and have your kids go hide somewhere in the photo so people will have to search for them. Of course, play safe – make sure you can see them or have one parent hiding with the kids. 

How Many Faces
Challenge your kids to do a different face at every location. It’s like playing the license plate game when you’re on a road trip. How many different states license plates can you count? How many different faces can you collect and bring home?

Pike Place Market in Seattle

We were so lucky to get this shot in between tourists walking in this very busy area. Photo courtesy of the Happy Film Company.

#4 Hire a Local Professional Photographer

When traveling, take some pressure off your shoulders and get a pro to follow you around for a couple hours so you can be totally present and have fun with your family, all the while knowing that your memories are being captured in a gorgeous way!

Pike Place Market in Seattle

Doing a professional photo shoot was a great way to get photos of Grandma who was visiting from Kauai! Photo courtesy of the Happy Film Company.
The Happy Film Company is a Pacific Northwest family portrait photography and videography business located in Seattle, but happily working with families across the Pacific Northwest and down the West Coast. Our studio is located in Renton, WA and we love photographing and filming families all across Washington, sometimes even venturing to Oregon, California and Hawaii. Our goal is to create bright natural photos and videos that capture each family’s love and celebrate the happiness they’re feeling at this moment in their lives. Whether we’re behind the computers in our studio, wandering with our cameras through the streets of Seattle, or out exploring in the wilderness of the Washington, we are a playful down-to-earth team of creative women who love connecting with people, playing with kids, and creating meaningful artwork that brings a smile to people’s faces. Click here to book your shoot with us!
How to take great photos at tourist attractions