Friday, April 27, 2012

Pack Your Car Like a Pro!

Love road trips but hate packing for them?  We've got you covered!  These helpful guidelines will help you streamline the whole packing process and speed you on your way!
  • Pre-pack purge and prep: Before you start packing, remove everything from your car (including the trunk!). While the vehicle is empty, check that you have a jack and spare tire, and that both are accessible and in good working order.  Give the whole interior a quick wipe down and vacuum!
  • Insist on the list:  A list is a great way to ensure you have packed everything you need, without over-packing; it will also serve as a great tool when you pack up for the return trip, potentially saving you from inadvertently leaving something behind - so make one up before you start throwing stuff in bags!
  • Bottom's up: Pack what you will use last on the bottom or in less easily accessible areas, then work upward and forward, making sure the items you pack on top or toward the front are the ones you will need while en route (i.e. snacks, games, first-aid kit, medicines, wipes, extra outfits in case of emergency, maps, etc.). 
  • Change up: Always keep cash handy; and it never hurts to bring along a few rolls of quarters in case you have to stop and do a quick load of laundry on the way!
  • Chill out: Consider packing a cooler for items that need to be refrigerated;  use frozen water bottles, juice packs,or GoGurts® as ice packs.
  • Prescription for success: If you are packing medicines be sure to bring a copy of each prescription and follow storage directions (i.e. keep out of sunlight, refrigerate, etc.); also, be sure to carry a list of any allergies or medical conditions for all family members.
  • Safety first: Don't forget to bring along emergency preparedness items, such as: a basic first aid kit, a roadside emergency repair kit, bottled water, a cell phone, your motor club membership card, and a travel childproofing kit for overnight stop-offs along the way!
  • Think outside the box: Free up precious car space by using vacuum storage bags instead of traditional luggage. Vacuum storage bags are perfect for packing clothes, pillows, jackets, and other bulky items more compactly! Smaller size slide lock baggies are also great space savers; store everything from toiletries to snacks!  Best of all, once the contents have been used or removed, the slide lock baggies can be re-purposed for storing wet items until they can be dried or disposed of (bathing suits, wet diapers, wipes, trash, etc.).

    image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Want your older child to be a wiz at US geography? Try the Stack the States App or Dr. Toy's 100 best product winner, Scrambled States of America. Both products received two thumbs up for Travel-Tot's first-grade and up crowd!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Separation Anxiety: Out and About!

According to the Center to Prevent Lost Children, 90% of parents will experience losing a child in a public place, yet fewer than 1 in 10 parents put some form of identification on their child. As any parent can tell you, it takes no more than a few seconds for a child to wander out of eyesight and potentially into danger. Before the age of three many children do not know their full names, their parent’s names, phone numbers, addresses, medical conditions, or allergies. If they were to become separated from their parent, they would have no way to communicate this information in an emergency or to help locate their mother, father or other caregiver.

Thankfully, there are some terrific products that can help ease your worries and ensure that your child is carrying identification and contact information if you happen to become separated. We at Travel-Tot simply love the following products:

The Kids Travel Card: Child Safety ID Cards help authorities easily and quickly establish positive identification of your child. The KidsTravelCard contains your name and contact telephone numbers, an additional emergency contact with relationship and phone number, your child's specific personal information, as well as any vital personal or medical information you feel might be important to include. The card can even be customized with "trip specific" information! Four removable adhesive labels come with the Photo ID badge where you can write information for a specific event and then remove the label afterwards. Each KidsTravelCard comes with a soft cloth "break-away" lanyard for comfort and safety. For more information click here.

Wearable ID Products by My Precious Kid: This company carries a wide variety of wearable identification products (everything from bracelets and shoe tags to dog tags). They also feature a number of electronic child locator devices. For more information click here.

Wearable ID Products and Parking Pal Magnet by Chicks and Cubs: This company carries an extensive line of wearable identification products (everything from bracelets and shoe tags to dog tags). They also feature The Parking Pal Magnet, which works great to keep kid's safer in parking lots. Telling a child to keep his or her hand on the magnetic hand can give you the chance to get things out of the car or put things in without them running into the roadway. For more information go to their website.

BrickHouse Child Locator by BrickHouse Security: The BrickHouse Child Locator gives parents piece of mind in a way that simply has not been possible before. The instant your loved one wanders too far, the hand-held locator will instantly notify you with loud beeping, vibration and directional guidance all at once. Perfect for younger or special-needs children, helps take the weight of worry off your shoulders by alerting you the second they wander - not a moment too late. As an added precaution, a Panic Tag with new "click" technology is included for your child to press alerting you they feel in danger.

Safety Tattoos by Safety Tat: SafetyTat is a fun and colorful kids temporary safety tattoo. When applied to the arm of your child or loved one, SafetyTat provides a highly visible form of identification that stays in place even when wet! Check out their website for more information.

Travel-Tot also loves these tips submitted by a longtime friend and nurse:

  • Put a blank label with emergency contact info on the back of bucket car seats in case you are ever in an accident with your infant. That way a loved one can be called to take care of your child rather than social services in the event that you are incapacitated. Travel-Tot offers a free downloadable label designed specifically for this purpose or you can check out the website of the W.H.A.L.E. Program (which features a map so you can find a W.H.A.L.E. program in your area!). For a nominal fee, you can order a W.H.A.L.E. Kit which features a set of emergency contact stickers, as well as stickers for the sides of the car seat and the rear or side window of the vehicle instructing first responders where to look for the sticker containing emergency contact information.
  • Also, consider registering yourself and your family members with “Next of Kin Registry” (NOKR), a fast, free, secure, international, centralized database – in the event of emergency this is one of the first resources emergency agencies check to locate family members.

All of these products, services, and suggestions give your child a “voice” in the event that you become separated or incapacitated. Empowering your child with the ability to communicate critical information quickly will not only help facilitate a quick and safe return, but can help ease anxiety in the even of an emergency. Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

For a fantastic lodging option for your next family trip to Boston, check out CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort
With amazing deals and packages, CoCo Key is a fun, affordable place to relax after an exciting day of sightseeing and adventuring in scenic Boston!  Located twenty minutes north of the heart of Boston, CoCo Key combines the relaxation and enchantment of a tropical paradise with the wild excitement of over 65,000-sq. ft. of indoor waterpark fun, including a wide variety of signature attractions for visitors of all ages!  Make a great Boston vacation even better - book a stay at CoCo Key!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Destination: Boston!

"The Cradle of Modern America," Boston is a city teeming with history, culture, beautiful architecture, and fun!  Families with children of all ages will find adventure and entertainment at every turn, like these attractions and activities:

Faneuil Hall Marketplace at twilight
Photo Courtesy of Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Swan Boats of Boston at the Boston Public Garden - scheduled to open on April 14 for the 2012 season, this fun-filled, family-friendly 15-minute cruise around the scenic Boston Public Garden lagoon area has been a Beantown tradition for over 100 years! Admission is currently $2.75 for adults, $1.50 for children (ages 2-15) and $2.00 for seniors . Check out the Swan Boats Web Site for hours and updates! 

The New England Aquarium - situated along the recently rejuvenated waterfront, the Aquarium offers a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Enjoy a family romp up and down the spiral staircase to see the unique five-story aquarium filled with giant sea turtles, barracuda, and sharks! Admission is currently $22.95 for adults, $20.95 for seniors over 60, $15.95 for children (ages 3-11), and kids under 3 are free. Check their website for hours and combo ticket prices!

The Boston Children's Museum - the premier place for children (and their parents!) to experience the fun of learning. The museum boasts three floors of exciting exhibits and activities, and features a  three-story climb, light-up dance floor, science playground, and art studio. The museum also holds a number of cultural, scientific, and environmental special events throughout the year. Admission is $12.00 for adults, seniors, and children (children under 1 year old are free); check the museum's website for hours and information on becoming a member!

Freedom Trail - a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that takes you throughout the town to 16 nationally significant historic sites; including such favorites as the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument! The trail offers visitors the opportunity to explore a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond!  Check out their website for specific tour details and pricing.

Fenway Park - visit the park where today's stars thrill the Red Sox Nation!  The park where Babe Ruth pitched, The Kid hit, and Yaz dazzled is a "don't miss" for baseball fans! Don't fret if you can't get game tickets (which are nearly impossible to come by!); try the Fenway Park Tour - a 50 minute historic walking tour of the ballpark, guided by an official Fenway Park Tour Guide. Tour rates for 2012 (beginning April 9th) are $16.00 for adults, $14.00 for seniors, and $12.00 for children ages 3-15, military personnel, and students.  For more tour info check their website!

Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market/Haymarket - these nearby sites offer some of the best and most colorful shopping to be found in Boston!  Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market combine the glories of the past and the vitality of the present with over 50 shops, 14 restaurants, 40 food court stops and regular street performances (think clowns, magicians, contortionists, and musicians!).  Haymarket is Boston's great outdoor market held most Fridays and Saturdays, where you can buy everything form produce to fish just off the boat at prices so low you'll do a double take (and check out Haymarket out on Facebook)!

Got a bit of extra time for sightseeing?  Don't miss these fun spots:
  • The Hood Milk Bottle - this giant milk bottle sits next to the Boston Children’s Museum. Built in 1930 by Hood Dairy, the structure was moved to its current spot in 1977. The bottle hosts an ice cream stand and snack bar during the summer!
  • Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge - hailed by the Discovery Channel as one of the world’s top 10 best bridges, it's the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world and the only asymmetrical bridge in the US! The concrete towers resemble the Bunker Hill Monument, and the cables are lit with ethereal blue lights after sunset.
  • The Boston University Bridge - perhaps the only place in the US where, simultaneously, a plane can fly over a car driving over a train traveling over a boat!
  • Larry Bird's Bronze Sneakers - check out the bronze casts of this Boston Celtics legend and NBA superstar at Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace,also features a list of Bird’s career accolades!
  • The "Skinny House" - measuring a mere 10 feet wide and 30 feet deep, this four-story house is rumored to have been built out of spite to block the light from reaching the neighbors living behind it!
With so much to see and do, Boston is one of the best US cities for a family getaway.  No matter how you decide to spend your time exploring the city, there is something to captivate the minds and hearts of every visitor.  Stay tuned for the Travel-Tot "Tip of the Week" next Tuesday for an amazing family-friendly lodging option for your Boston adventure!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Need to keep school-aged kids occupied on a trip? Try giving each child an inexpensive single-use camera to capture the trip from their own perspective. My 7 year-old daughter absolutely loves doing this; once the photos are developed, she uses them (and other mementos) to create a memory book of her adventure!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Recalls: Lifesaving Information

As parents and members of the Travel-Tot team, we believe knowledge is one of the most valuable tools for keeping your children safe! That's why this week, we'd like to share information about the quintessential online resource for finding out about product recalls; the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 

According to their own website, the CPSC is "charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction...  [they are] committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children." The page further reports that the CPSC's work has contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

The CPSC hosts a fantastic website, featuring a homepage where the most current recalls can be found.  In addition, the homepage offers a link to report unsafe products, and a search feature to locate products that may have been recalled less recently. There are also links to a Consumer Opinion Forum (where users can sign-up at no cost to join a panel of consumers that the CPSC consults on matters of product usage and phrasing of warning messages), an Especially for Kids section (with great safety games and kid-friendly safety tips), and a variety of sub-classified safety information with links to specific resources on ATVs, Cribs, Pool/Spas, CO, Drywall, MagnetsSmoke Alarms, and Resale/Thrift Stores.

The site is truly an invaluable resource for safety information.  So next time you find yourself online, give the CPSC's site a visit; the information you find there just might save a life. 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

URGENT PRODUCT NOTICE: Due to the recently reported tragic infant death associated with the PeaPod travel crib, parents who own a PeaPod are being urged to discontinue using it until there is more information about the safety of this product. If you are considering buying one, please consider an alternative travel sleeper option.