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This week (December 2018) we visited The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. There was a foot of fresh snow covering everything and it was beautiful. Biltmore was very thorough to clear and salt the estate roads. It was very safe but quite the site to see the grounds blanketed with beautiful white snow. It was particularly unusual to see the massive bamboo forests bent over with the tops touching the ground under the weight of the snow. We wondered if it was the right decision to take the Kids to The Biltmore Estate. 

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is fun for the kids.

Gift Shopping

First, we visited the shops in the stable right by the Biltmore House entrance. The Carriage House Shop had lots of tasty dips, salad dressings, Biltmore Wines, and juice available for sampling throughout. With a mix of Biltmore souvenirs, Christmas decorations, jewelry, and clothing it was a nice place to gather up a few gifts. Travel Tip: The powdered dips are super light and small for packing. They are a great souvenir or holiday gifts to take home. We also checked out the Toymaker’s shop. The Confectionery tested my willpower. A Christmas Past, and the Bookbinder’s shop were both neat as well. Then we grabbed an early lunch at the Stable Café in order to beat the rush and to fuel the kids for a few hours in the house.

Tour of the Biltmore House

We queued up in a short line to enter the Biltmore House and it moved rather quickly. Once in it is a self-guided tour so you can move as quickly or as slowly as you need to take it all in. The house was stunning with all the Christmas Décor. You could tell there was so much work that went into the decorations and such attention to detail. The kids loved some of the trees and how fancy they were. The attendants stationed in many of the areas are quite knowledgeable and are very willing to answer any questions they can.

Biltmore Secrets

Biltmore Estate Library hold magic secrets that intrigue the kids.

In the library the attendant engaged our kids by asking if they could pick out the Beauty and the Beast book. Of course, they could not but she showed them right where it was. She also let us know to look out for a staircase in the South Wing just outside of the gorgeous Louis XV Room. The staircase lead down to the balcony of the library just behind the tapestry. It was used to pop down into the library for an evening read or to take a book back to your room before bed.

Imaginations Run Wild

Our 7-year-old thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Toddlers/preschoolers would probably get restless rather quickly. She was enthralled in her imagination with what it would be like if she lived there. It was very sweet! The whole tour through the house is about 1.5 – 2 hours. This was a good length as there are no restrooms inside the house. Make sure everyone has been to the bathroom before starting the tour. 

Visit to the Winery

Biltmore Estate Winery is still fun for the kids.

It was so cold out and the grounds were all Winter Wonderland, so we decided to spend some time at Antler Village. We finished out our day at the Winery for wine tasting. We were a bit weary and did not know how that was going to work out with the kiddos. They offer some coloring sheets and coloring pencils with a cup of grape juice to finish off. I must say the littles were quite content while we tasted the wines. The only drawback was there was no hard surface where the kids could draw. Mine ended up laying on the concrete floor which was not ideal. Some clipboards or lap trays would be a perfect fix and more comfortable.

Fun for the Kids

BE Family fun at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

All in all, it was a wonderful day out and you could easily spend several days visiting Biltmore if the weather were warmer. It was great fun and good exercise for the kids; and equally fun, informative and fascinating for the adults as well. If you’re considering a visit to Asheville, North Carolina, The Biltmore Estate should be high on the list of family activities. Don’t be afraid to take the kids to The Biltmore Estate. 

 

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Children's Safety on Vacation

We all look forward to our upcoming family vacation. The next road trip with our kids, or holiday travels with a new baby. Any getaway where we will make lasting memories with our children. It’s a given we will load our social media with the joys of a well-deserved break from it all. We are not always planning how to keep your children safe.

Of course, as parents we know all too well with all that fun comes new and potential dangers. Activities that are not typically part of our normal day. Traveling brings new surroundings with different routines.

Sometimes meeting new people that are not in our normal trust zone. A lot of times where we go is busy. We can easily be distracted with the new sights and sounds. And of course being focused in on our GPS or map working out our next corner to turn. All these factors together can make it hard to keep our children safe.

We never want to dwell on all the bad or negative things that can happen. A bit of awareness and some thoughtful preparation can go a long ways toward a relaxing vacation with your kids.

With that in mind, below are 5 quick wins. They will help you relax and feel comfortable on your next family vacation. If it is across town, across the country, or across the ocean we can help simplify your family adventures.

5 ways to keep your children safe on a family vacation:

Use the contents to skip to any section below that you wish. We would love for you to read the whole article. It is short but full of lots of helpful tidbits.

1. Picture Perfect

First thing I always do is before we leave, and you can do this every morning of your trip before you head out, is to take a clear straight on photo with your phone of all your children in the clothes they are wearing that day. This way if…[sigh] if… something happens. You will have a picture that’s worth a thousand words.

Keep your kids safe on a family vacation with your phone

Finding them quickly will help keep your children safe. You may think, I’ll remember what they are wearing. In the heat of the moment maybe you’re wrong or under the stress of worry could you forget? We typically snap 100 pictures a day of our little’s. Just one more never hurts, to aid if the unthinkable actually happened. Definitely worth it!

2. Use a safety leash

I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a huge fan of them either. In fact, we use the kind with a soft plush animal as a backpack and call it a love latch. They can truly be a lifesaver in a super busy airport, on a city street with cars zipping by. Of course in a hectic marketplace or festival — really any place that you may get distracted and your speedy toddler may bolt. Also curious children may be prone to wandering off unexpectedly. We save our Monkey Backpack with long tail for special occasions like I’ve described above so it does not become something bad but a special privilege to get to wear the monkey backpack. Check it out here.

cute monkey backpack with leash

We don’t use it every time we go out, but has it EVER been a blessing in a few situations. The kids love it because it has a roomy pocket for their own special things, and they “get to give” the monkey a “piggyback ride”. Oh, the things we will do to keep our children safe. The picture shows our monkey love latch in action on our youngest daughter while in a busy shopping area in new surroundings.

She loves her monkey love latch!

3. Wristband your child for safety

Get a pack of the paper wristbands like you get at a carnival or fair. The ones that are hard to tear off and cut it down a bit smaller for a little wrist or ankle. Put it over long sleeves or pant legs so it’s easy to see. Normally they are neon colored so they stand out. Write your phone number on that bracelet, we don’t write our names just our cell phone number. That way when a helpful person sees your scared, lost, little toddler they can give you a quick ring on the phone. It’s not perfect but helps ease some of the anguish when you lose sight of them for a split second.

I picked up a pack of the wristbands here and keep a few in my diaper bag for unforeseen times when they may be needed. You can get custom printed ones like these, but the basic ones with a sharpie works fine too.

4. Slip a Tile

Another idea my husband has used to keep our children safe is to slip one of these little TILE Mate’s into her pocket. You can also attach with a key ring to the hole in the corner of the Tile to make it more secure. It will be much harder for your child or someone with malintent to remove the device. With the Tile on our daughter he can sound a loud, little beeper or track her from his phone if heaven forbid, she really got far away. He will also pop TILE Mate’s into our girls’ carry-on bags or personal items in case they lay their bags down somewhere. I’m not so big on the tech stuff but Doug LOVES these things!

5. Teach your kids about strangers

Teach your kids about strangers. We don’t teach our kids the way we were taught. This may be controversial but we don’t teach Stranger Danger. Rather we teach “tricky people trick people”. Therefore we don’t see all strangers as threats, but rather some strangers can be a lifeline.

What if your child got lost in an unfamiliar place? You don’t want them to be terrified of all adults that can get them help. Here is a list of a few ways to remind your kids about “tricky people” from Safely Ever After. Go over these as a reminder just before you head out on a family vacation, overseas travel, road trip with the kids, or a holiday away from it all.

Safety Ever After – Prevention Tips

  • Replace the word “stranger” with “tricky person” It’s not what someone looks like, it’s what they say or want to do with a child that makes them unsafe or “tricky”.
  • A “tricky person” can be someone you know well, don’t know at all, or maybe just know a little bit. Anyone who tries to get a child to break their safety rules or hurt their body is not okay.
  • Practice personal safety strategies with your children. What would they do if they were lost or separated from you? What would they say if someone asked them for directions or assistance?

Our oldest daughter has never met a stranger, she loves to make friends with everyone. So the concept of a “safe person or a tricky person” was very good for her. A “tricky person” we explain is a person who asks you to disobey a rule that we have put in place. Or it could be an adult that asks you help them with something. We say, “adults should never have to ask kids for help period, unless one of us is around”. These are a few but you can add your own, just keep it simple for a younger child.

Please let me know in the comments if you have thoughts, experiences, or ideas to expand on any of these tips. We love to learn and to always be updating our families safety practices that help keep all of our kids safe while traveling.

Share this with any friends or family that might be travelling or just share in your social media world. You just never know who this might help.

Until next time, let’s BE Family and BE Safe. Enjoy the journey.

Doug

BE Family Travel

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