Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Vacation is no time to get sick.  Help keep those germs at bay by bringing along anti-bacterial hand sanitizer for your trip.  Make sure everyone uses it immediately after coming in contact with doorknobs, public counter surfaces, children's play areas, restrooms, public transportation, etc.  It may sound germ-phobic and like a bit of overkill, but it can help ensure that your family spends a happy, healthy vacation together!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Consignment Shops: Bargains & Travel Tactics!

Recently I was catching up with a friend I grew up with in New Jersey, who now makes her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I was teasing her about having to pack cold-weather gear for when they come up to visit her parents for the holidays when she shared a secret with me: consignment shops!  Instead of paying for clothes that her family would get such limited use out of (not to mention the baggage fees associated with packing those bulky fall and winter items), she simply waits until she arrives here in New Jersey, hits her favorite local consignment shop to buy them each cold-weather gear to supplement their wardrobes for the duration of the visit, and then re-consigns the items before she travels back home!  Sheer genius!   

For those who have never shopped in one, a consignment store can seem intimidating at first glance.  But what it generally boils down to is this: for a fee, consignment shops accept items from consigners (people who sign an agreement authorizing the shop to sell their items and split the profit once items have sold) and then sell them at a fraction of their retail cost to customers. How profit sharing is conducted varies from shop to shop; often, the profit due to the consigner upon the sale of an item is paid in cash or in-store credit.  What can be a little tricky is determining what different shops accept for consignment; some stores specialize in high-end, designer label children's clothing, some only take certain sizes, etc. - but any consignment shop will be happy to explain their store policies if you inquire!

Take Two, Denville, NJ
On a related note, I, and everyone at Travel-Tot, wish to congratulate two friends of ours who recently opened a children's consignment boutique called Take Two in downtown Denville, NJ.  Take Two has a bright and inviting storefront and boasts a wide range of gently used, like new, and new children's clothing, shoes, outerwear, gear, and toys (as well as maternity clothes and prom dresses!)!  They feature everything from French designers to discount-store labels in sizes ranging from preemie to 14. 
Take Two Denville, NJ

Take Two is owned and operated by Jen Mahoney and Missy Prunty, dedicated mothers to four and three children, respectively; they understand the importance of making every dollar count in these tough economic times and are dedicated to providing their clients with an enjoyable shopping experience and beautiful, affordable merchandise.

We at Travel-Tot wish them all the best with their new venture and are thrilled to have our Travel Childproofing Kit be one of the many fantastic products on their shelves!  So if you find yourself in northern New Jersey, stop in and check out Take Two - it'll have you doing a double-take! 

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Wherever you go when you travel as a family, remember to get at least one photo of the whole family together; it doesn't whether you take it with a camera, cell phone, or video still shot - many years later those are the photos your children will laugh at and cherish most as memories of your trip together!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Destination: Dude Ranch!

image courtesy of cbenjasuwan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Looking for something different and fun that combines family time, the great outdoors, animals, history, and adventure?  Then consider a great American Dude Ranch family getaway; with ranches located across the US, there's something for everyone, no matter where you call home!

There's something magical about a dude ranch vacation. To start with, the adventure of horseback riding is a rich experience, whether you're seasoned equestrian or a never-even-seen-a-horse newbie! From trotting along woodsy pine-scented paths, to enjoying a relaxing, gentle ride through an open meadow, or exploring wildlife on a mountain trail, sharing the adventure of a horseback ride with your children is the perfect recipe for family fun. Add abundant fresh air, exposure to nature and animals, exercise disguised as fun, and that rustic country feel and you have an adventure that will create life-long memories for everyone!

Varying by location, Dude Ranches offer a variety of lodging types, from "sleep-away camp" style cabins to resort-style accommodations.  Below are a few of our picks for some of the country's most fantastic family-friendly dude ranches, east or west of the Mississippi:

Pinegrove (Kerhonkson, New York)

Located in picturesque Kerhonkson, New York (just two hours northwest of New York City!), Pinegrove is a beautifully appointed ranch property boasting 126 comfortable guest rooms, each with a private bath. Enjoy fishing, boating, hayrides, campfires and nature walks, spend some time at the pool, play a round of mini golf, challenge your kids to some Lazer Tag, or visit the petting zoo! In addition, they offer three full meals a day, including special kids' menus, an all-day snack bar, cocktail parties and more.  Check their website for some amazing special packages!

Vee Bar Guest Ranch (Laramie, Wyoming)

This 100 year-old landmark has been lovingly restored; its western heritage preserved. The cabins and lodge offer antique furnishings from the Vee Bar's rich and colorful past.  Enjoy horseback riding, hiking, fishing, hayrides, trap shooting, camping, herding cattle, and river tubing! Activities center around western horseback riding and the Vee Bar boasts one of the best horseback riding programs to be found at any guest ranch, with everything from meadow trails to mountain passes. In addition, scenic hiking is just minutes away with several well marked trail systems in the nearby Snowy Range mountains.  Click here for package details!

Rancho De Los Caballeros (Wickenburg, Arizona)

Situated in the flowering Sonoran Desert, Rancho de los Caballeros is a historic ranch resort with the soul of a bed and breakfast.  Explore and relax while the kids enjoy the Caballeros Kids Program (for kids 5-12); counselors meet the children at breakfast, accompany them to the corral for some riding, then take them swimming, hiking, on scavenger hunts, or to do crafts until it is time for lunch. After lunch the children return to enjoy more activities family-style (riding, jeep tours, skeet shooting, or even just fun poolside!). Evenings can be spent fire-side roasting marshmallows or even line dancing!  Great packages await here!

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (Jasper, Arkansas)

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers a true western experience with southern hospitality! Boasting rustic log cabins with wide porches, this gem of the Ozarks offers trail rides, zip-lines, boating, swimming, rock climbing, and more! And the fun doesn't end when the sun sets; whether you prefer campfires, moonlight rides, or barn games, visitors will be tempted to stay up just a little longer. Don't miss these great deals!

So saddle up and hit the dusty trail for a family adventure that will create memories that will last a lifetime!  Safe and happy travels, cowpokes!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Triangular crayons (such as Crayola's 8 or 16 count sets) can provide a great distraction for little travelers, while saving you infinite bending and hunting while in transit!  Throw a box in your handbag along with a small doodle pad for plane, car, or train trips!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Childproofing Tips for Visiting Childless Homes

Whether you are the first among your friends and family to have a child or the last, you will find that once your little bundle of joy is mobile, the world outside your home is not always the easiest or safest place for your young child to navigate. Visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. can pose a bit of a challenge; childless homes often contain hazards that keep you hopping up during visits to prevent your little love from breaking low lying treasures or from injuring him- or herself.

While vigilant supervision during any visit is irreplaceable as an injury deterrent, there are a few things you can do to make life a bit easier on yourself (and your child)!  Assuming you or those you are visiting are receptive to investing just 15 minutes, you could facilitate a more relaxed and enjoyable visit by creating a "safe zone" for your child to play in. Start by removing tiny, breakable, top-heavy, or sharp objects from reach (table tops, shelves, hearths, etc.), then try to arrange the furniture in the room such that you can see your child no matter where he or she may be. Be sure cords (electrical, blinds, decorative, etc.) are coiled up out of reach.  Also, keep doors to laundry rooms, stairways, kitchens, supply closets, and bathrooms closed or gated-off from access during the visit.

To help create an additional layer of protection, invest in a Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit; the kit components (foam corner guards, outlet covers, pinch guards, etc.) can help prevent injury from some of the most common hazards present in living spaces!  Best of all, the Kit's components go on with a strong, temporary, non-damaging adhesive that will not damage furniture or finishes; and Kit components can be reused!  It is a quick, easy solution you can store in your car for wherever you go; or consider picking one up as a gift for your parents, in-laws, or other friends or family you visit with regularly! 

Creating a safe play zone in a childless home may take a few minutes, but it will result in greater peace of mind for you and a more enjoyable visit for everyone! Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Place a label with critical information (your name, child's name, an emergency contact name and phone number for each) on your child's carseat (check out the free downloadable Emergency Contact Sticker for Infant Seats available on Travel-Tot's free downloads page!).  Having such information readily on-hand in the event of an emergency could save lives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Destination: Spring Break!

Spring may seem far off as temperatures drop and flurries fly - but it's closer than you think!  Planning ahead is key and this is the best time to try and score some deals by booking early!  One of the best ways to score even greater savings is by booking through a reputable discount travel site (i.e. Priceline, Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, or Kayak). By booking through a discount provider ahead of the travel rush you will not only save a few dollars, but you have a better chance of securing your first choice location than if you waited.

There are an infinite number of outstanding family-friendly Spring Break vacation spots; our list below highlights three of our favorites based on available activities, budget-friendliness, and weather!

Moody Gardens offers all-in-one family fun!  The resort includes a hotel, pristine beaches, and a three amazing pyramids enclosing an aquarium, discovery museum, and even a rain forest! March and April the resort offers one-day kids' camps with a variety of themes. Moody Gardens also features a kids' club, colossal pool, a spa, and the Schlitterbahn Water Park right next door. The downtown area offers the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum (a real oil rig!) and don't miss The Great Storm multimedia presentation about the infamous storm of 1900. Toward the end of April, Moody Gardens holds an Earth Day & Oleander Festival with crafts, gardening, floral design, a puppet show, and more. Fantastic fun for families with children of all ages awaits at Moody Gardens!  More on Galveston.

Those who are looking for a cooler family get-away may want to consider a ski getaway in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  March is one of the state's snowiest months, so think powder!  And with great Snowsaver Packages in late March and early April, think savings! Steamboat Springs features a wide variety of lodging options so there is something for every budget! They also have five kids-only lifts, a terrain park, and childcare for kids ages six months to six years. Spring break is a great time to hit the slopes, as temperatures are warmer and the daylight lasts longer. Steamboat Springs also features: tubing, Gondola Adventure Zone trampoline, Gyro Chair, free concerts, and sleigh rides! Whatever your pleasure, family fun awaits at Steamboat Springs!!!  More on Steamboat Springs.

Surf's up at this fantastic family spring-fling locale and you can get started by hitting the sun and sand!  The San Diego Surfing Academy offers year-round lessons for children (and adults!) of all ages. And don't miss Balboa Park, home to over 15 museums, as well as the San Diego Zoo! Glide through waterways on a real gondola or enjoy a sight-seeing tour with Old Town Trolley Tours (perfect for families with young children!); those with older kids won't want to miss GoCar Tours' mini "talking" cars that combine vehicle and tour guide. This hot spot is our pick for a warmer twist on a family Spring Break getaway!  More on San Diego.

Spring break is the perfect time to take a family vacation; the season offers a great diversity of travel destinations from sand and sun to snow packed fun!  And while spring is definitely peak season for some spots, there are still some great deals to be had as the peak seasons wind down (i.e. ski resorts) or begin to pick up (i.e. the beach scene).  So do your research, find your deals, and pack those bags - you're on the road to family fun!  And to add an extra layer of protection to your lodging accomodations, don't forget to order a Travel-Tot Travel Child-Proofing Kit; use promotional code SAFETRAVEL for 20% off!  Safe and happy travels! 

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Sometimes you have to improvise. If you're staying at a hotel that doesn't provide a bed rail, consider turning the sitting chair around and backing it against the bed. It's not ideal, but it works in a pinch!