Friday, June 24, 2011

Tips for Travelling Alone with Young Children!

As any parent who travels solo with their children can attest, you need a plan!  This week, our resident travel-mommy extraordinaire, Amy, was kind enough to share some of her secrets for a successful and minimally stressful trip; as a parent who routinely travels solo cross-country by plane with her two children (ages 4-years and 21-months), she knows the tricks of the trade! Check out her pointers below!

My Survival Bag for Travelling Alone with Young Children:

We try to be local and organic most of the time so a plane ride for my kids is a HUGE treat. Once or twice a year makes a little junk food, TV, and toys okay in my mind, and it makes the travelling part of the trip something they really look forward to! Below is a list of the items I won't leave home without:
  • 2 empty sippy cups.
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks snacks. Salty snacks to load up the kids before takeoff so the younger one wants to drink – helping his ears equalize. Each snack comes out once, until they’re bored with it then goes away. When you’re desperate, pull out the big guns – tootsie pops.
    • Veggie snacks for some nutrition.
    • Treat snacks for the last couple of hours.
  • Change of clothes for both kids.
  • 2 backpacks (so each has something to dig in and pull items from).
  • Paper back books – hit a scholastic book fair – gold mine! Most are too old for my son, but I just make up the words and he loves it. 
  • Hole puncher and card stock and shoelaces for the 4 year old - she makes her own threading cards. Best part is is that she loves to make them and he loves to undo them!
  • Triangle crayons – God’s gift to plane flights. THEY DON’T ROLL!!
  • ITouch – there are so many great books, movies, and apps for the ITouch. Just make sure to get child friendly earphones. Adult ones aren't regulated and kids can hurt their sensitive ears.
  • For my 21-month old son I’ve wrapped items in a bag (like little presents); little cars wrapped in way too much paper that take a while to open are great for keeping little hands and minds occupied!
  • Sticker books – look for movie promotions – the Cars2 movie is coming out and our local supermarket had them on sale for 1.99.
  • Baby Magna doodle.
  • Small ringed notebooks.
And for more great ideas for how to keep your sanity when you get there, click here

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, June 17, 2011

Special Guest: Candyce H. Stapen of FamilyiTrips!

This week, I am pleased to welcome Candyce H. Stapen, Ph.D., author and publisher of FamilyiTrips, creator of the travel app DC with Kids, and award winning travel journalist with 30 books and over 2000 family travel articles to her credit!  As the authority on all things family and Washington DC, she was kind enough to offer Travel-Tot a slice of her wisdom to share with our readers!

We are thrilled to present these terrific recommendations for Three Great Places in DC for Young Kids, from the DC With Kids,, travel app by Candyce H. Stapen:

National Museum of American History

The Spark! Lab, Lemelson Center, offers a nice hands-on play space for toddlers. Its "Under 5 Zone" is ideal for exploring activities that foster creativity, such as: building with different kinds of blocks, using simple scientific tools, solving puzzles, and exploring and using inventions of the past!

Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium

The not-too-big planetarium offers night sky shows geared to young kids. With the distinction of being the only planetarium in the National Park Pystem, Rock Creek Park Planetarium holds regular shows on weekends at 1:00 p.m. for children age five and up. Shows focus on identifying major constellations and the movement of heavenly bodies through the night sky!

Puppet Company

Located just outside DC in Glen Echo, MD, in a kid-friendly art park with a carousel, the Puppet Company offers engaging puppet theater. This charming theater has kept the crowds coming back for more for over 25 years! Offering everything from Tiny Tots programming (children under age 4) to Adult Puppetry Slams, the Puppet Company truly offers a show like no other!

So if DC is your family's vacation destination, check out DC with Kids - the most comprehensive app for parents travelling in the DC area! And for even more great info, check out one of Candace H. Stapen's phenomenal travel guides and join her loyal followings on Facebook and Twitter (@FamilyiTrips).

Thanks so much to Candyce for her generous contribution this week, and safe and happy travels to you all!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fantastic Finds for Family Travel!

With summer almost upon us, many families are beginning to think about vacation!  And where better than the sprawling majesty of the world-wide-web to find the latest and greatest in high- and low-tech innovations to make the trip easier?  With several long car trips looming in our future, I have been eagerly seeking some solutions to some of our most common dilemmas: motion sickness, boredom, and (the always elusive) emergency bathroom facilities!  Below are the products that made my "don't leave home without 'em" list this year:

The name says it all folks; these tough, lockable bags are invaluable for providing a  hygienic solution to the effects of stomach upset.  Designed with a "can't miss" hard-plastic opening and anti-spill lock, these bags can virtually eliminate the days of time-consuming cost and clean-up resulting from travel sick children!   Sold in convenient 3-packs, a variety of quantities is available for order (from 6 3-packs to 18 3-packs). Chuckie's compact packages fit easily in handbags, glove compartments, and carry-on bags.  Interestingly, the site also advocates their use for travelers great and small whose bladders may require draining!

"Are we there yet?"  "I'm bored."  Sound familiar?  And often this is before we've even cleared the driveway!  But with Tales2Go, all you'll hear is the giggling and chitter-chatter of children engrossed in one of the over 1400 stories available from leading publishers and storytellers!  This amazing new app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, plays an unlimited number of children’s stories and songs; with content broken up by length (anywhere from 2 minutes to 6 hours), age, rating, and popularity, Tales2Go makes it a cinch to find the perfect distraction for your crew! Available now as a free 30-day trial, you can opt to subscribe for anywhere from 3-months to a year.  Great for car trips long or short, Tales2Go will spark your child's interest and keep them learning as they laugh!

Without fail there is never a bathroom when you need one on the road!  So why not just bring one with you?  For the very best in portability, compact size, adaptability, and price, you just can't beat the Kalencom 2 In 1.  When folded up, this potty seat fits easily in a diaper bag, yet opens up to create a low potty, or with the legs fully-extended, forms a perfect trainer seat for use on public toilets (legs serve as handles to allow children in training to balance themselves without touching a public toilet)!  Sold with three lightly scented liners and a hygienic carry bag, the Kalencom 2 in 1 Portable Kids Potty Seat is a must-have for any long car trip, particularly if your little traveller is in the throes of potty training!

So relax and enjoy the trip with these fantastic finds - because getting there is half the fun!  Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Destination: Cedar Point, OH

Hailed by many fans as the best and largest seasonal amusement park in the United States, Cedar Point offers families rides, shows, and attractions for visitors of all ages!

Situated squarely on the beautiful peninsula between Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie; Cedar Point serves a six-state region in the Midwest, including Ohio and Michigan, western Pennsylvania and New York, northern West Virginia, and Indiana!

For those travelling with toddlers or young children, there are four children's areas filled with everything from pint-sized bumper cars, coasters, and circling helicopters to a Tilt-a-Whirl and a Roto Whip: Camp Snoopy, Jr. Gemini, Kiddie Kingdom, and Planet Snoopy!

In addition to the four children's areas, Cedar Point has a collection of rides the family can enjoy together! Marvel at the 360-degree views of the park on Space Spiral, cruise around the scenic lagoon on Paddlewheel Excursions, drive an Antique Car and much more!  All family rides have height restrictions that may be waived if a responsible adult accompanies the child.

Cedar Park also plays host to the Peanuts Gang; so don't miss the characters for some fun photo ops and memorable shows! The park has three live shows featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, including an ice show called "Everyone Loves Snoopy". Young families will also enjoy the park's nighttime shows; parents and kids alike will be amazed by "American Portrait" and the "Starlight Experience!"

Cedar Point also has a great feature for Mom and Dad; with their amazing Parent Swap program, one parent waits in line to ride on of the park's famous scream machines then they give their Parent Swap pass to the operator and the other parent/guardian can walk up the exit to get right on the ride!

Also worth checking out, adjacent to Cedar Park, but separately gated and at an additional charge, are Soak City, a water park, and Challenge Park, featuring rides like the terrifying "Rip Cord," "Skyscraper," go-kart tracks and more! Cedar Point is a recreation wonderland nestled in a beautiful setting with something for everyone - don't miss it! Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom