All posts in “family”

Boost Your Child’s Education: Walk or Bike to School

Guest post by Anne Taylor Hartzell, Hip Travel Mama blogger

Families bikingEveryone knows the benefits of exercise–but did you know that your child’s exercise regimen actually impacts how well they perform in class? In a recent study by Professor Niels Egelund of Aarhus University in Denmark, it was discovered that children who walk or bike to school concentrate far better and longer than their carpooling counterparts.

The study of 19,527 school children ages 5-19 found that there is a strong connection between diet and exercise and a child’s ability to concentrate. It also showed that children who exercise more than two hours a week outside of school have an advantage over other students during the school day.

That advantage has garnered the attention of parents all over the United States, and in response, several different programs are now being implemented in communities across the nation, hoping to inspire young children to ditch the daily car commute to the classroom.

One program, Safe Routes to School, contributes to this cause nationally. They help communities build safe routes to schools so that parents and their children can feel comfortable heading to school on bikes or on foot. Safe Routes also provides school and community groups with funding for training, awareness, and strategies to encourage children to walk and bike to school.

Inspired to get your kid on the road to better health and a better education? Here are a few tips to get moving:

  • Find Your Walk Score: First, do a search to get your Walk Score and map out your neighborhood’s walk/bike to school routes.
  • Form a Community Walk Group: Safe Routes suggests forming a community group with families in your neighborhood and working together to begin the process of making transportation without a car a great option.
  • Engage Your School: Speak with your child’s school about the possibility of joining a program like Safe Routes to make sure that all aspects of your child’s life support trying a new commute—and reaping the rewards.
  • Join International Walk to School Month in October and commit to walk/bike with your child to school throughout the month.

What are ways you are making walking or biking to school a priority? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Wisconsin Bike Fed

Take a Family Walk, Stroll and Shop Local this Holiday Season

In the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and our busy holiday to do lists, we can lose sight of what matters most during the holiday season. The holidays are a time to reconnect with loved ones, spend precious time together and celebrate the magic of the season.

I love to shop, but I am not a big fan of the mall. The older I get, the less interested I am in receiving gifts other than the time with family. Gifts I do give, I want to have meaning. That is why we end up giving the gift of travel, or shopping at small local boutiques for that perfect hand-picked gift.

One of our family’s favorite things to do is to spend an evening strolling a walkable downtown core, exploring little shops along the way. Most cities have neighborhoods, main streets or a pocket of shops where local, small business owners work hard to showcase unique gifts for that special someone on your holiday gift list.

In Seattle where we live, there are so many great neighborhoods to explore and shop local, small shops. Here are just four of my favorite Seattle area neighborhoods. What places do you love to explore with your family to shop local and celebrate the holiday season?


Ballard Neighborhood: An eclectic charm all its own, downtown Ballard has become a super hip place to shop, eat and play. Browse Ballard’s Walk Score and neighborhood tours, or create your own.

Madison Park Neighborhood: Filled with fun, high-end shops, take the family for a hot chocolate and peruse the boutiques and businesses of the Madison Park neighborhood. Browse Madison Park’s Walk Score and neighborhood tours, or create your own.

East Side:

Main Street, Downtown Bellevue: While downtown Bellevue is filled with many large stores, there are also many great small businesses around the downtown core that welcome your business. Shop old Main Street in Bellevue, visit small independent restaurants and go ice skating while enjoying the Snowflake Lane celebration each night at 7pm from Nov 23 to December 31, 2012 near Bellevue Square. Browse downtown Bellevue’s Walk Score and neighborhood tours, or create your own.

Downtown Kirkland: Downtown Kirkland is super walkable, with a ton of shops and restaurants just steps away from the scenic shores of Lake Washington. Browse Downtown Kirkland’s Walk Score and neighborhood tours or create your own.

Stroll, Snap and Share for Chance to Win $500 for Holiday Shopping

Do you have a favorite neighborhood to shop local for the holidays? Add your favorite place to stroll and shop local for the holidays on Walk Score for a chance to win $500 gift card to shop locally. From small-town, main-street shopping hubs to walkable urban streets, share boutiques, tiny retail shops, bookstores, yoga studios, garden stores, bike shops, toy stores, cafes, restaurants, walkable retail hubs—you name it.

5 Tips: Spend Less Time in Car, More Time as a Family

Guest post by Anne Taylor Hartzell, mother of 2 and Hip Travel Mama blogger

Simplifying our daily routines can create more space for critical family connection.

Imagine your life before kids. Did you ever think you would be spending so much time in your car, running little people to various activities, watching NFL RedZone, games and lessons? Maybe you live in a walkable city or neighborhood, so this does not apply to you and your family. But chances are if you are a parent, you spend a lot of time in your car chauffeuring your kids from this activity to that, running errands to everyday places—grocery store, local coffee shop and restaurants. If all this running around has you plotting your next pit stop at the Starbucks drive through, you are not alone.

One in three parents spend 2 days a year in the car waiting for their kids. Did you also know that for every 10 extra minutes you spend in your car per day, you spend 10% less time in your community?

Having a strong sense of community is key to thriving families like ours and I’ve experienced the pull of simplifying our daily routine first-hand. It’s not easy and it may take time to get there. Here are 5 tips to help get you spend less time driving and more time living and connecting as a family:

  1. Outline Your Current Routine. How far are work and school from your home? How long is your commute today? What places do you frequent? Tally up estimates of how much time you spend in your car on a daily basis. Does this feel good? You should be able to answer this yes or no pretty quickly.
  2. Prioritize Daily Places. What do you like/dislike about where you live? Your kids’ school? Is your job something you could do at home, or could it be time for a job change? Rank the places that matter most to you and the distance between them.
  3. Map Out Pros and Cons. Would you consider moving homes, jobs or schools to make more time for the places and people that matter most in your life? List pros and cons of each move based on priorities above.
  4. Commit to Change. Capitulating won’t buy you more time. Once you’ve sat down and mapped it out, you must commit to taking that next step. It won’t be easy, but over time you will start to see the benefits in your family’s overall sense of connection and sense of relief.
  5. Make Small Adjustments Over Time. Recognize there are trade-offs to every change and what works for your family now, may not work for you five years from now. Be prepared to make tweaks and evolve your plan as you go.

Photo: ridemetro

Join Kids Walk to School Movement

Parents walk children to schoolHave you done it yet? Ever? Walking your kids to school has a myriad of benefits for families, their health, the environment and local communities. Kids learn from their parents the value of a feet-first mindset. Who knows? When your kids grow up and commute to work someday, perhaps they’ll recall school morning and/or afternoon walks and opt out of being a daily single-car driver. With fast, nationwide broadband internet spreading across the country these days, maybe they’ll just be walking to a coffee shop to work remotely!

October is International Walk to School Month. Oct. 3, 2012 is Walk to School Day with some neighborhoods creating a “walking school bus” to pick up kids en route to school. Join thousands of parents and kids who take a foot-friendly commute to school this fall. One day can make an impact.

Seattle-area mom, Anne, shares why her family values walking to school and shifting their suburban lifestyle to live more locally and drive less:

“As parents, we all want the very best for our kids. Best education. Best neighborhood. Best community. As moms, we spend a considerable amount of time in the car, running kids to school, to soccer and a host of other activities. Not only does driving around get expensive, but it can also take away precious family time and feel like you are living in the car.

“After spending three years commuting 30 minutes each way to school and activities, our family made a commitment to localize – schools, activities and daily routine – in an effort to drive less. Kids grow quickly and we want to spend quality time connecting face to face with our kids and not looking at them in the rear view mirror.”

Dad finds quality time on walks to school

Ed, a Seattle dad, has walked to school for years: “The daily walk to and from school with my daughter is one of the greatest treasures of being a parent. For 10 or 15 minutes each way, we’re completely free from the day’s distractions of work, homework, chores, music, TV, web–whatever. It’s just the two of us and whatever is on our minds. Quality time of the highest degree.”

Join the movement to get kids walking or biking to school. Why? Safe Routes to School stats show a 20th-century US trend away from kids walking to school.

  • In 1969, 48 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school
  • In 2009, 13 % of kids 5 to 14 years of age walked or biked to school

Let’s reverse that trend in the 21st century.

Walkable Schools on

In 1969, 42% of children walked or biked to school.

In 2001, 16% of children walked or biked to school1.

During a similar time period childhood obesity increased from 6.5% to 17%2.

These stats are striking: about 2.5 times fewer children walk to school and about 2.5 times more children are obese.

Walk Scores for Schools

Wouldn’t you want your child’s school to be a walkers’ paradise? We’re excited to announce that is now showing Walk Scores for schools!

School Data on Walk Score

We’re also showing’s school data on all Walk Scores in the United States:

We’ll be doing more with walkable schools in the future—and we’re excited about this first step!