Visiting Stockholm, Sweden with kids: quick photo essay

I just returned from a summer trip to Sweden with my kids, and will be writing more in depth about some things to see, places to eat, and places to stay soon. Today, I'll just share some photos from our visit to Stockholm.

The weather was great and we had a very good time. Stockholm's Old Town and the zoo at Skansen were our main destinations, and I highly recommend both for anyone traveling to this fantastic city with kids!

In Kungsträdgården.

Molin's Fountain in Kungsträdgården.
Outside Stockholm Castle, in Gamla Stan/Old Town.

Stortorget in Old Town.
Admiring some Tintin items in Old Town.
The neighborhood Midsommarkransen, with hot-air ballon.
Near the ferry to Djurgården.
At Skansen, near Solliden restaurant.
Crazy drivers at Skansen.
The ceiling in our room at Hotell Kung Carl.

Fun with kids in Sweden - visiting Bjuröklubb

My kids and I are currently visiting family in Sweden. Since we've been here before, we have lots of favorite places we like to re-visit when we're here, and the area around the old lighthouse in Bjuröklubb is definitely one of those favorite places.

Visa större karta
Bjuröklubb is located on the coast near my Swedish hometown Skellefteå. It's a place with a long history. In the woods around the lighthouse are the remains of human habitation from many centuries ago. People lived here, fished here, hunted seal here, and pulled their boats up on the shores here, as early as the bronze age.

The lighthouse was built in 1859 and is still standing though it is no longer in operation. You can climb the hill up to the lighthouse and enjoy the spectacular view however.

Heading down towards the café from the lighthouse.

My kids love this place for the easy walk in the woods up from the parking lot, for the blueberries that grow here in July/August, and for the ice cream and other treats at the café, Café Fyren, below the lighthouse. They love running up the boardwalk to the top of the bluff where the lighthouse is, and they love visiting the sailboat in the harbor down the hill where the proprietor sells fresh and smoked fish, locally caught of course, and some other fishy Swedish specialties like surströmming.

Bjuröklubb is located about 60 km from Skellefteå and it's an easy drive. There's lots of free parking next to the road below the lighthouse, and even on a windy, stormy day the place is a spectacular destination: watching the waves and feeling that wind blow your hair around is pretty exciting!

Highly recommended, by me and my kids, if you happen to be in the area.

At the beach with kids: 5 simple things to bring

Going to the beach is, to me, the ultimate fun family-time. Easy, fun, outdoors, and relaxing (well, unless your kids are at the stage when they try to drown or eat sand every 2 minutes!)

Here are 5 things I always bring to the beach, to make a good time even better:

  1. Sunscreen - to reapply after sweating and swimming. The spray ones are nice because they eliminate the "rubbing into skin" step.
  2. Water - When it's hot and kids are playing, a bottle of water always comes in handy.
  3. Bandaids - Because you never know when someone will skin their knee!
  4. Hand-sanitizer - Always nice to have on hand before you have a snack or an ice-cream.
  5. Buckets - For the beach-treasures: rocks, sticks, shells.
And yes, I often bring a lot more than 5 items, but these are the things that always come along, whether we're going for a couple of hours or a full day.

    Flying with kids - staying healthy on board

    Long flights are tough on the body and the mind, especially if you're traveling in Economy class, and even more so if you're traveling with young children. Most people are aware that airplanes are a great place to catch any number of flus, colds and other ailments. Cramped quarters, recycled air, small bathrooms used by a multitude of people... it all adds up to germs, germs, and more germs.

    Also, it's very easy to start feeling poorly while you're in the air: sitting still for long periods of time at high altitude alone can make you feel sick.

    There are ways you can reduce your chances of feeling sick on board, and of catching colds and flus as well. Here are my top 5 tips for feeling better and staying healthier on board.

    1. Use a hand sanitizer
    This simple step has definitely made a difference for my family. Since I started using antibacterial hand-wipes and hand-sanitizing gel on my own hands and my kids' hands during flights and at the airport, we are not getting sick as frequently after our long-haul flights. I use it before any meal, and of course after every bathroom visit. I also use the wipes on the tray-table. Tip! Gels and sprays do count as liquids and will have to fit in your ziploc bag for liquids. Wet-wipes do not count as liquids, which makes them a good option on flights.

    2. Drink plenty of fluids on board
    Being on a plane dehydrates you. Drink water and juice to feel better and avoid some of the fatigue and headaches otherwise. Also make sure your children are getting enough to drink. I know some people enjoy having wine, beer or a drink on board, but I have to say that for myself, I find that those things just do not taste as good in the air as they do once I reach my destination!

    3. Move around
    Sitting still in a cramped airplane seat for hours and hours is very hard on the body. Get up and move around occasionally (traveling with kids is actually a plus, since they usually won't let you stay seated for an entire flight!), and do the exercises that are often suggested in the in-flight magazine.

    4. Relax (if you can!)
    It's very easy to tense up various muscles and parts of your body when you're seated on a plane for a long time. I used to get stomach aches and neck aches all the time when traveling by plane, until I figured out that I was actually causing these problems myself by being so darn tense. Now, I make a conscious effort to make sure my shoulders, neck and abdominal muscles are as relaxed as possible during the flight. Just pay attention to this every now and then during your flight: I've found it makes a world of difference. And yes, try to do this even if you're traveling with kids!

    5. Wear comfortable clothes
    Many people (me included) tend to feel tense and bloated on long flights. I think this has to do with the altitude, stress, and the less-than-ideal seating most of us get in Economy class. Wearing tight-fitting pants is not a good thing under these circumstances. Also, feet tend to swell on flights, so wear comfortable socks and shoes that won't pinch even if your feet get slightly bigger. If you and your kids dress comfortably for a flight, you will definitely feel better during your trip.

    Traveling with kids: vacation home rentals

    Finding good accommodation at a reasonable price is a big part of planning a family holiday. When you're traveling with kids, it's nice to have access to some amenities that make your life easier: dishwasher, a washing machine and dryer, and a kitchen equipped with fridge, microwave and stove can improve your quality of life if you have small children along.

    View from our rented condo in Maui, a couple of years ago.

    Hotels are one option of course, and there are some great family-oriented hotels all over the world. Another option is to rent a home, meaning a condo or house, as your vacation accommodation. I have had great experiences in hotels, but I still prefer the vacation home rental. There are three main reasons for this:
    • Size - A vacation home is usually roomier than a hotel room, and that's nice if you have one or more kids in tow. I know my kids can feel a bit confined in a hotel room, so more space is definitely a plus.
    • Amenities - Usually a vacation home has pretty much the same amenities you have at home, including TV, couches, more than one bedroom, a kitchen, washer and dryer, and so on. That makes the kids feel more at ease, and it helps make the vacation go smoother for the adults as well. When you have young kids especially, being able to cook a meal at home, even a simple one, can be a lot more relaxing than having go out for dinner every night.
    • Value - For the price you pay, I've found that you often get more for your money when renting a vacation home than when paying for hotel accommodation. A good family-oriented hotel definitely has its perks (as I found out when we went to Gran Canaria last year), but renting is often a better deal in my experience.
    There is a wealth of companies that can help you find a vacation rental home, wherever you're going in the world. Here are some of them. Check out my Pinterest page for more ideas and tips!
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