The Fail-Proof Travel List When Travelling with Kids

My name is Antonia Cetin. I am an educator and the author of “You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World.” Having travelled with my son to at least 17 countries from the age of 3 to 12, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. In this blog, you will find my fail-proof travel list of things you absolutely have to have, things I would recommend, and a few things that will make your experience that much better.

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Here are the things you absolutely need to travel with your kids:

  • Passports - yours and theirs! Make sure they are valid for 6 months after travel.

  • Child Travel Consent letter if only one parent is travelling. You can get a downloadable form provided by Global Affairs Canada on-line.

  • Tickets

  • Money - credit card and some cash. Find out ahead of time how useful the credit card will be, what kind of ATMs there are, and if it’s better to get cash here or there.

  • If you are travelling with a baby, you will need to have a fully equipped diaper bag with all of the goodies you never leave home without: bottles, diapers, cleaners, extra clothes. You need to bring at least enough to get you to the first store at your destination. Be prepared that the products at your destination will not be exactly the same as back home and decide ahead of time if you are going to just make do with what you find or if you really need to bring enough for the whole trip and how much that would be.

Things I would highly recommend to bring in case you need them while you are there:

  • Certified pure essential oils - You have no idea how many times my Home Essential kit of the basic 10 essential oils has come in handy on a trip! Clean those airplane surfaces with On Guard. Infection? Melaleuca. Strep throat? On Guard and “flu bomb.” Gastritis or Montezuma’s? Digestzen. Cold? Breathe. Rash? Lavender. And, the list goes on. When you are in a place far from home and you don’t know how the medical facilities work, and you really don’t want to have to try them out no matter how good you hear they are, essential oils are a godsend! They fit right into your carry-on and away you go. At airport security, being in 15 ml bottles and fitting into one of the little plastic baggies provided, they pass no problem. In all of my travels, no airport official has done more than give them a cursory look. (For more information about essential oils, you can contact me at or on my facebook page: @youvegotthismom)

If you forget anything else for your trip, you will most likely be able to find what you need at your travel destination, even if it is more costly than back home.

What you should try to remember for each traveller:

  • At least one change of clothes and enough socks and underwear so you don’t have to wash it every day.

  • One very warm sweater or jacket for those cooler evenings.

  • A second pair of good walking shoes so you don’t have to wear the same pair every day - wearing the same shoes day after day can be hard on your feet and back.

  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant. All liquids in quantities of less than 100ml.

A few extras that make travel so much easier and more fun!

  • At least one device for Facetime which you can use anywhere there is free WiFi to stay in touch with people back home; and for facebook to share the joys of your travels. If you bring your own device, check with your provider ahead of time how your data works. Charges can be crazy expensive for the shortest communications or searches. Find out how to use your device at no cost! (Maybe this can be another blog!)

  • Downloaded books from the public library for your kids and yourself - right onto your device. No need to lug around books! While travelling is the one time when I appreciate not having the paper copy in my hand.

  • A favourite stuffy, blankie or toy. Definitely a compact game and a deck of cards for the long waits at the airport and for other transportation.

As an experienced traveller, I would also recommend leaving some space for those souvenirs your child will just have to have and then that you will just have to carry around for the remainder of your trip!

Everything else is gravy!

Do you have other ideas for the best ever travel list? Let me know on my website or on my Facebook Page: @youvegotthismom.

My child's been bitten by a tick: now what?

It was after a swim in the pool when Christine Karpinski found the tick embedded in the back of her son's neck. During the long drive from Toronto earlier that day, the family had made a pit stop at the Odessa ONroute service centre. Looking for an opportunity to stretch their legs, they headed out to play a bit of geocaching in the treed area behind the highway stop. This is where Christine's five year-old son picked up the black-legged tick, which is the species that can carry the Lyme bacteria.


"It's been a stressful few days," says Christine. Once they had removed the tick (using a tick key,) they headed over to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) emergency department to inquire about potential treatment and testing.

According to Dr. Manisha Kulkarni, 1 in 3 ticks in the west end of Ottawa is carrying the Lyme disease bacteria. There has been a 145% increase in the tick population in this city between 2016 and 2017 and this number is expected to rise. In the Odessa area where Christine's son got the tick bite, there is a 40-45% chance that the bug is carrying the Lyme.

By now, most folks have learned about ways to protect themselves against tick bites, but it's always helpful to review the proper methods for removal (tick keys are best, but in a pinch you can use flat-edged tweezers.) It's important not to stress the tick, so no dousing it in oils or other substances, and no squeezing or twisting the body. Grip firmly at the base and pull.

Once the tick was removed, Christine's journey into the murky world of ticks and Lyme disease began. Upon arrival at CHEO, Christine learned that not only would her son not be a good candidate for preventative antibiotics, but that the tick itself could not be sent away for testing.

"There is a role for preventative antibiotics (which is different from treatment,) in older kids," says Dr. Gina Neto, head of Emergency Medicine at CHEO. In kids under eight years of age, it’s still controversial as to whether or not there’s a benefit in doing preventative antibiotics, mainly because it's not been well studied and carries potential risks.

Preventative antibiotics need to be administered within 72 hours to be effective. This means that many tick bites could be treated by a primary care physician, as long as the patient has access to timely care.

However, CHEO knows that sometimes seeing your family doctor is not practical. "We understand if families come to the emergency department," says Dr. Neto. "We accept that and we know that they’re worried."

When antibiotics within 72 hours are not advisable (as in Christine's case) or when the window has been missed, then the next step is to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease. These typically include flu-like symptoms, such as body aches, fever and lack of energy. Symptoms generally present between 7 - 14 days, but parents should be vigilant up to 30 days after the bite. Also, the typical "bulls eye" rash that is a possible sign/symptom doesn't show up in all cases - when it does, it usually pops up several days after the bite (a bullseye rash that occurs immediately is not a tick - it's probably another insect!)

The treatment for Lyme disease is similar to the treatment a child would receive for an ear infection - a course of amoxicillin, as well as rest and recovery. "[Early stage] Lyme disease isn’t something that makes you really, really sick," says Dr. Neto.

With prompt treatment, patients can avoid more severe symptoms that may arise with second or third-stage Lyme disease. Dr. Neto is quick to point out how rare it is to struggle with long-term Lyme disease symptoms. "It gets portrayed a lot in the media and that’s where people get scared," she says.


And what about testing the tick that has bitten your child? As Christine discovered, that's not so easy. "CHEO doesn't send ticks for testing, nor does OTTAWA Public Health; but our pediatrician was able to send it through a lab requisition to ONTARIO Public Health (sent via gammacare) and then it's being sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg," says Christine. Ottawa Public Health does test ticks, but only for surveillance on Lyme disease.

In the end, given the age of Christine's son and the fact that the tick was not engorged (it had been attached for about 4-5 hours,) testing is rather pointless - even if the tick is found to have Lyme disease, the chance of Christine's son developing Lyme is extremely low. This is because of how tick biology works. They need to have been feeding for a certain length of time (all guidelines point to 24-36 hours) before they start to pass the Lyme bacteria on to the host. 

Speculation is that individuals who find a tick and claim to have gotten Lyme disease after it was attached for less than 24 hours probably had another nymph attached to them somewhere that they never discovered. Nymphs are the "baby" ticks, and can be as small as a blackhead. A good reason why a nice warm shower and a thorough "tick check" is a great idea before bedtime!

To recap, the following are some of the things to do/watch for if you discover your child has been bitten by a tick:

  • Remove the tick with a tick key
  • Think back and try to figure out when your child could have gotten the tick (if you're camping, this will be easy!)
  • Assess whether the tick is "engorged" (see picture below.) This means the body will be fat and round, and not flat. An engorged tick has most likely been feeding for a while.
  • If your family doctor is accessible, make that your first point of contact. If you do not have a family doctor or think you're running out of time for preventative antibiotics, consider heading to the local emergency department.
  • Remember - children under 8 are usually not given preventative antibiotics. In these cases, you will need to watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease.
  • Your physician will be able to best guide you in your decision about preventative antibiotics OR a course of antibiotics for treatment if signs/symptoms of Lyme have occurred.
  • You CAN send your tick for testing, but it's not necessary for diagnosis or treatment


Has your child been bitten by a tick? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

A Surprise Staycation at Bookstreet Hotel

The last-minute planning for a staycation started when a pre-planned long weekend trip to Washington was cancelled and my entire family was disappointed. All of us were looking forward to getting away.

My husband and I scoured the internet for ideas on what we could do that were not too far away and that wouldn’t cost a lot of money (we’re still counting on a trip away-away sometime soon!). I then remembered the Brookstreet Hotel. Located in Kanata North, my daughter had taken swim lessons there through Aqua Life Swim Academy and absolutely adores the place (especially the outdoor musical instruments located outside the hotel’s front door). So, I went online and took a look at what they had to offer.

Brookstreet Hotel

Without hesitation, I booked the “Summer Family Package” – the perfect family getaway package!

We didn’t tell my daughter what we were doing. Instead, my husband and I secretly packed our overnight bags (including our swimsuits!) and late Friday afternoon, I told her she and I had to run out and pick something up for her dad at the Brookstreet Hotel. As I mentioned, she adores the place and was eager to go back, even if it was just to pick up a package for her dad. When we got there, I told her we had to go to a certain floor to get the package. When we arrived at the room, my husband was already there and left the door a bit ajar, so I just walked in and said, “Hi! How are you?” My daughter was confused and initially did not want to leave the hallway, but then slowly made her way in when she heard her dad’s voice.

She was still confused, but then noticed the suitcase and a Brookstreet backpack on a bed and excitedly asked, “Are we staying here? REALLY?! YAY!” And then jumped up on her bed to take a look at her complimentary backpack that included a Brookstreet water bottle (which is valid for free soft drinks when dining in Options, Perspectives or Ironstone Grill) and tokens for the hotel’s Zone 525 Games Room. The games room features an interactive floor game, arcade games, video games and a movie theatre!

Golf course view

My daughter could hardly wait to change into her swimsuit and head to the Brookstreet’s outdoor AND indoor salt water pools. We spent a long-time swimming that evening – the water in both the indoor and outdoor pools is so warm, you won’t want to leave!

Brookstreet Hotel Pools

Once we were done swimming, we headed back to our room, but not before my daughter was greeted by Buzz, the hotel’s mascot. At nine, she was trying not to be excited, but she had a hard time not smiling when she saw him. Buzz can be found buzzing around between the hotel’s lobby and the Flex Fitness Studio a few times during weekends, which is a fun addition to any family’s stay!

Brookstreet Hotel Indoor Pool

After a quiet and comfortable night’s sleep we enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet at Perspectives. This breakfast is not your typical hotel breakfast – think smoked salmon, waffles, fresh fruit salad, gourmet cheeses, yogurts, pastries, bagels, and so, so much more!

After breakfast we headed to Blackbird Falls Mini Putt for a fun 18-hole game. My daughter liked this course because it looks easy, but it is actually challenging (she also loves that there is so many ‘water holes’).  

Black Falls Mini Putt Brookstreet

We then went to the games room where my daughter used her tokens to play the “grabby thingy” and won three stuffies – much to my chagrin. Afterward, we headed back to the pools, well, I sat in the whirlpool tubs… and then in the sauna.

We also took a look at the outdoor ping pong table, outdoor chess and chequers tables near the outdoor pool area, as well as the kids play rockers. Needless to say, a family with kids of all ages could easily spend a weekend – if not more at the Brookstreet Hotel.

Families can also look into various activities that take place during the weekend. The weekend we stayed, there was a movie night being hosted on Friday night in Zone 525 (the games room) as well as an ice cream inspired “B Creative” craft Saturday morning. The hotel also offers complimentary bicycles, helmets, locks and cycling trail maps for all guests!

Zone 525 Brookstreet

The Summer Family Hotel Package includes so much, it is truly unlike any other hotel I have stayed at and it really felt like we got away – even if we live just minutes down the road. The package includes:

  • One night’s accommodation
  • Family Pass for Blackbird Falls Mini Putt
  • A ‘Brookstreet Backpack’ for each child including:
    • A Water Bottle (Free soft drinks when dining in Options, Perspectives or Ironstone Grill)
    • A Surprise Kids Activity
    • Tokens for the Zone 525 Games Room
    • 15% discount in in Perspectives Restaurant, Options Jazz Lounge or Ironstone Grill (a voucher is given at check in that can be used throughout your stay)
    • A Freezie or Popsicle for each child (a voucher is given at check in to pick up the treat from the B café)
  • Access to their indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, including a kid’s wading pool
  • High-speed WiFi
  • Parking in their secure underground garage

We will definitely return to the Brookstreet for another staycation – my husband and I are also looking into indulging in the Couples Getaway package!

Have you stayed at the Brookstreet Hotel before? What was your favourite part?  

Marshes Golf Course BrookStreet Hotel

A family night out with the Ottawa Fury

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Certain summer nights are almost perfect.  We experienced one of those moments at a recent Ottawa Fury FC match.  

Ottawa Fury

The first element was the weather.  As all Ottawans know, our spring has been less than stellar. The night we attended the Fury game, there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was a perfect twenty-two degrees celsius.   

The second factor was the game day experience.  Our son, David, had been picked to be part of the pre-game ceremonies. We arrived at TD Place  stadium and met up with someone from the Fury staff. We were soon down on field level. David had the opportunity to watch the players practicing. He enthusiastically gave them high-fives at the end of their practice.

Ottawa Fury Game

David was given instructions for what would come next.  He was given a Fury flag along with a number of other children. I must admit to feeling chills as the players walked out accompanied by the booming voice of the stadium announcer. David got an up-close view as the players passed through the tunnel of Fury flags.

Soon enough, both national anthems were complete and it was time to make our way back to our seats. The Fury were playing against the Charlotte Independence. Both teams were evenly matched and the soccer was high quality. I liked the fact Fury fans represented all different ages and demographics. There were families enjoying an evening out along with more hardcore supporters who probably knew the history of each player.   

Ottawa Fury Player

After forty-five minutes of action, the score was 0-0. It was the perfect time to stretch our legs so we made a beeline to the family fun zone. This area features a variety of activities including inflatables, face-painting and Jenga blocks. Basically, it is the ideal place to take your younger Fury fan if they want a break from the game. David took a few shots on net and scored a goal. David was craving a hotdog so we headed to the concessions area where he ate almost all the dog leaving me a small bite-sized portion to enjoy!

It was time for the second half to begin. The major excitement for us was when the Fury promo team threw  t-shirts into the crowd. A shirt landed close to our seats but was just out of reach.  An older fan grabbed the child-sized t-shirt and did the kind thing giving it to David.

Unfortunately for the Fury, even though they carried much of the play, Charlotte scored a late goal marking a 1-0 victory. To be honest, the score did not really matter to us. We had a great night out and plan to attend at least another game this summer.  

Ottawa Fury Soccer Game

There is something of a Canadian invasion going on with the Fury lately as many of the starting players are from Canada. There are even several home-grown players from Ottawa that you can cheer. For more information about the Fury schedule and tickets, visit,

Special thanks to the Ottawa Fury for providing David with tickets for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.

Canada Day 2018 in Canada’s Capital Region

Looking for information on the official Canada Day 2018 festivities? Canada Day celebrations start June 30th at Major’s Hill Park and on July 1st at three official sites: Parliament Hill and Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa, and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.

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Parliament Hill

Known as the place to see on Canada Day, this year won’t disappoint with Canadian musical performances, a musical workshop, fun-filled activities, and more! Guests can enjoy Canada day on the Hill starting at 8 a.m.

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Hosted by Lisa Charleyboy and Marième, the Canada Day Noon Show will include remarks from dignitaries, a fly past by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and performances by Canadian artists: Arkells, Lights, Brigitte Boisjoli, Iskwé, Jean-Marc Couture, Rose Cousins, Martina Ortiz Luis and Queen Ka.

At 5:30 p.m., there will be an aerial show by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

The Canada Day Evening Show will feature artists: Arkells, Lights, Brigitte Boisjoli, Iskwé, Jean-Marc Couture, Ruth B, Klô Pelgag, The Dead South, Rose Cousins, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, DJ Shub and Boogát.

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The evening will end with a dazzling 15-minute President’s Choice pyro-musical show at 10 p.m.

New this year on the Hill: the main entrance to the Hill is at the Supreme Court of Canada (corner of Wellington and Kent). To ensure a quick security screening process, only pack light and bring your Canada Day essentials, such as a hat, sunscreen and a reusable water bottle.

Major’s Hill Park

Canada Day celebrations start Saturday, June 30th on Major's Hill Park with all day activities for the whole family, including circus performances, games and a community culinary experience.

Kids can enjoy a ride around the park aboard a VIA Rail Miniature Train or get a unique musical ride aboard a bicycle made out of recycled material. 

You can also cheer on top Canadian artists at the Art Battle Canada live painting tournament (11 to 11:30 am) that celebrates creativity, courage and community in the visual arts. Their masterpiece is created before your eyes in only 20 minutes as you vote to help decide the winner!

Then enjoy local musical talent, including: Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine; MEGAPHONO Showcase featuring LeFLOFRANCO, SeiiizMikk and Jah’kota; and in the evening, Andréanne A. Malette and River Town Saints.

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Then, on Canada Day itself, the activities and performances continue!

Jump up to 30 feet in the air on the Jumpaï (“jump high”). It's made up of four separate trampolines. Adults and kids over 36 inches tall can do an unlimited number of jumps—a mix of trapeze, bungee and acrobatics with a guaranteed wow factor!

There will also be performances by Charlotte Cardin, the Noubi Trio, The Beaches, Logan Staats, Jacobus and La Bronze, and so much more!

Canadian Museum of History

Head to the Canadian Museum of History on July 1st and enjoy free family-friendly programming and activities and then stay well into the evening to watch the pyro-musical show as it lights up the night sky over Ottawa–Gatineau.

Canada Day Fireworks

During the day, activities include Hinterland's Who's Who where guests can find out about Canadian wildlife and meet a few wild critters in person; a nature-art workshop with Mélodie Coutou, La Ressourcière, where guests are invited to co-create a forest made from the interbreeding of different tree species; free airbrush tattoos, games and much more!

Canada Day celebrations in Canada’s Capital Region are made possible thanks to official sponsors President’s Choice, Manulife and Tim Hortons, as well as the valuable support of more than 500 dedicated volunteers.

To stay up to date regarding any changes or cancellations to the Canada Day schedule, click here.

This Canada Day post was sponsored by Canadian Heritage/Patrimoine canadien.