Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

If you have ever had to bring your child into a public restroom that resembled something out of a horror movie, you'll love the Sit or Squat App by Charmin!  Sit or Squat allows you to search for clean public restrooms all over the country!  Better still, you can rate and share the restrooms you like (sit) or note if the bathroom could be better (squat) by adding them to the map!  Available for iPhone, iPod touch, and Android! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Great Travel Games for Kids!

This week we are pleased to feature a post by Logan Baker, a guest blogger who writes about traveling with pets and kids and jet charter services.  His idea of a great trip is to take the next international flight out of Teterboro no matter where it lands!  We are pleased to share his post below, highlighting some fun ways to occupy little travelers on the go! 

Best Travel Games For Kids - by Logan Baker

If you’ve been lucky enough to find the time for a vacation, congratulations! If you’re going to be bringing the kids along with you, take a word of advice: come up with a few ways to entertain the kids for the trip between home and your vacation destination. Anyone who has ever been stuck in a car with a restless kid or two or three or four can appreciate how valuable a few good travel games can be. Here are a few ideas to keep the little ones engaged and focused throughout the car ride. They’re all fun, and some are even educational!

DIY Vacation Map

Whether your traveling with a group of aspiring artists or not, kids love doodling. To keep the kids thinking (and quiet!) have them draw their own map of the vacation route you’re taking. They can decorate the route with drawings or pictures of the places they visit. For instance, a trip from New York to Florida to Texas and back to New York could start with a picture of the Statue of Liberty, move down the coast amongst trees and water to Florida and a big smiling sun. From there you could continue across the country to Texas and a big longhorn. This is a great way of giving the kids a long-term vacation project to focus on and when the trip is over, they’ll have a great souvenir to mark their journey!

Twenty Questions

This classic guessing game is a great way to kill time, especially while in a car. The constant talking might get a big tiresome for other passengers if you’re on a plane or train, but in the comfort of your own vehicle, this can be fun for the whole family. You can choose to limit the subjects to people and objects from the state you’re in or the destination state to give it a fun little twist.

Reading Contest

For trips when silence is extra valuable (trains, planes or other public transit) reading contests can be great ways to keep the kids engaged and thinking. Each time one of the kids finishes a book, let them choose a new one to buy from your e-reader or a bookstore. Offer a prize to whoever finishes the most by the end of the trip.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Summer can mean a lot of outdoor play for kids, but sadly, countless children suffer serious or fatal injury from accidental vehicle strikes every summer. With only a few moments investment you can help prevent such tragedies.  Here are a few simple guidelines:
  • keep all drivable surfaces free of toys, bikes, and other items that can entice children whenever a vehicle is in operation nearby. 
  • whenever backing out of driveways, cul-de-sacs, or parking lots, always walk around the rear of the vehicle to ensure that there are no children present.
  • if your vehicle has one, use the rear camera or alert system whenever backing up.
  • obey posted speed limits and other traffic signs.
  • be alert and mindful of children in neighborhoods and near playgrounds and schools.
Stay safe this summer!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Travel Products We Love!

This week we are very excited to share some of our favorite children's travel entertainment products!  The activity market for kids is filled with amazing products; from books to games to toys - the options seem endless! Below, we offer our Top Picks for activities that we feel will provide the most entertainment and distraction on the go (with minimal mess and chance of losing pieces!):

Dry Erase Wipeboard and Crayons by Crayola - tired of those dry erase markers drying out?  Crayola's got you covered with their new dry erase crayons!  Easy to store for stow and go play, just be sure not to leave the box in a car during the summer or you'll have a bit of a melty mess on your hands!

Mad Libs - the classic word game that creates a new story by changing a few selected words in the story. Children (and adults alike!) will be laughing as they concoct hilarious stories!  These fun fill-in-the-blank word games have been used for decades to teach children grammar, sentence structure, parts of speech, and even vocabulary; Mad Libs word games make learning more fun!

Spot It: On the Road! - a fun matching game that is easy to learn how to play, but challenging in its requirements of visual recognition and quick mental processing. The travel theme to this game and the compact storage canister make it easy to pack and play on the go!

Mom Maps - now available for Apple or Android!  While not really for kids, per se, this handy app helps you find kid friendly locations on the go! Search an extensive list of kid's parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums and indoor play areas. Search by category or zip code, and you're good to go!

Safe and happy travels!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

According to the American Cancer Society, over 2 million people are diagnosed every year with skin cancers.  So before you or your children head out for the day, be sure you apply sunscreen.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends you use a sunscreen that provides:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (from UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance.

In addition, the AAD strongly advises that you apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors, use lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Concerned about potentially hazardous chemicals that can be found in some sunscreens? The Environmental Working Group released its list of the best sunscreens in May 2012; check out their searchable list here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Water Safety and The Gift of Parental Presence

Summer is a great time to hit beaches, lakes, and pools; they're great places for kids to play, cool off, and make fun summer memories! But they are also places where children die. That may sound dramatic, it may even smack of hyperbole; but I hope it caught your attention, because it is tragically true.  Countless children drown or nearly drown every summer; often simply because their parents were distracted for a moment. 

If you haven't already, please take a moment to read the heart-wrenching tale of Jordan Page. Her account of almost losing her son because she was busy on her cell phone is a humbling and terrifying reminder that it only takes a moment for a young child to slip unnoticed beneath the surface of the water where death lays silently in wait. 

Her article is an unapologetic wake-up call to remind parents, not only that they need to make the safety and well-being of their children a priority, but that being truly present for your child can not only save them from potentially fatal accidents, but can help them know how loved, valued, and special they are.  Who among us thinks their child is any less than the most precious treasure with which they have ever been entrusted?  But how often do we convey that to them through our actions and words?  Read Jordan's story - you'll be glad you did (once you've stopped crying).

Below are water safety tips; and while they are all valuable, life-saving suggestions, none of them are as important as the first:

  • Practice vigilant parental supervision - Whenever your child is near water, be there with them, if possible.  If you cannot be in the water with them, keep them constantly in your line of sight (as unlikely as it may seem, even a  large bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler).
  • Have your child take child swim lessons - Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest returns on investment there is.  Children gain familiarity with the water and learn basics such as treading water and floating.  Lessons can save lives.
  • Use approved floatation devices - No matter how strong a swimmer your child may be, if your attention is divided or your child will be swimming more than an arm's length away from you, a floatation device is a good idea.  For children who are not strong swimmers or any young person going out in a boat, a Coast Guard approved floatation device should be mandatory.
  • Use caution around open water - Rivers, lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water can have dangerous currents or sudden drop-offs; swim only in areas with lifeguards where conditions have been determined to be reasonably safe.  Discourage diving in any body of water unless the area is designated as safe for diving. Swim only in posted areas and obey all posted signage.
  • Practice pool safety - Never allow children to swim unsupervised. Discourage diving. Keep all pools enclosed by a locked fence that cannot be climbed to prevent accidental access (hot-tubs should be covered and locked when not in use). Be sure there is a perimeter alarm to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • Be prepared - Learn infant and child CPR and keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
If you take only one thing away from this blog post, I hope it is this: that the opportunity to provide parental supervision is a precious gift, a gift that can be stolen from you forever in mere moments.  Choose to be, as Jordan puts it, truly present, not just "there;" it can make all the difference in the world.

Safe and happy travels.
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Planning a fun family hike this summer?  Here are a few tips to keep your little hikers safe and happy:

Dress for success.  Wear light-colored, lightweight clothing.  Bring bandannas to wet down and wear to help cool off.

Stay hydrated!  Pack plenty of water for all family members; make sure you take frequent breaks to drink and re-hydrate!

Prevent insect bites.  Use bug repellent (check here for safety tips!).  Once the hike is over, check everyone thoroughly for ticks and other insects.

Be weather savvy!  Check the forecast before heading out and plan accordingly (pack extra water on hot days, bring sunscreen, etc.).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tips to Help Your Baby to Sleep Well on Vacation!

image courtesy of Pint Size Pilot
This week we are thrilled to feature a fantastic guest post by Tara Cannon of Pint Size Pilot; Tara is a mother of two and avid family traveler.  Her amazing website includes helpful tips and advice, destination recommendations, product reviews, and even a baby gear rental directory, allowing parents to not only survive, but actually enjoy travel with babies, toddlers, and kids!

Tara's 10 Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep Well on Vacation

 I’ll fully admit that when my youngest was a baby and we took him on vacation, we did everything wrong.  My husband and I said foolish things to each other such as:

“He can just sleep on the go.”
“Why spend the extra for the 1 bedroom? Let’s just get the studio.”
“9pm is the only reservation left for dinner?  Let’s wing it. He’ll be fine.”
“Maybe we could just bring him to the concert.”

All this was just plain wrong and many of our nights were terrible. Although I would still begin each day as an optimist, by sundown I would be reduced to pathetically muttering into my cocktail “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”.

A few years, many sleepless nights, and another child later, we have made some adjustments to maintain our sanity.  That said, I would like to share with you some suggestions on how to get your baby or toddler to sleep better on vacation.

1. Consider alternatives to the traditional hotel room experience.  Spend the extra money on a suite with a separate bedroom where you can put your child to bed and not have to hide under the covers with your iPad or Kindle.   Alternatively, consider a vacation home rental.  Companies such as Airbnb.com offer roomier choices and have easy to use filters, allowing you to find something that will specifically meet your family’s needs.

2. Do not be shy about asking a reservation agent for the room that is most often requested by families.  All rooms/suites/apartments are not made equal.  Hotel review sites such as Tripadvisor can also be of some help (see the link on each review titled "see which rooms travelers prefer").

3. Go with a crib for your baby not a playpen whenever possible.  Imagine if you walked into a hotel room and found out that you would be sleeping on a double size futon.  I’m sure that is how a baby feels about sleeping in a playpen if they are not used to it.  Most full service hotels provide full cribs but if you are doing a vacation rental, you can always use a baby gear rental company.  Some will even arrange to have things set up before you arrive (see our North American Baby Gear Rental Directory).

4. Do what you can to create a comfortable sleeping environment for your baby by bringing along their favorite blanket or stuffy. If either of these is critically important to your child, bring a back up in case it gets lost. (Although I am very careful with our things on vacation “Mr. Seal” was picked up with the bed linens in Mexico recently and sadly,  never resurfaced.)

5. Bring along a few clothes pegs or some duct tape to allow you to create blackout blinds in a pinch with a spare blanket. This can be especially important if you are dealing with jet lag.

6. Bring a night light.  Not only may it comfort your child, but it will also help you navigate a strange room more easily.  If you are traveling abroad you may prefer one that uses batteries like the Mobi Glomate, rather than one that plugs in so you do not need to worry about a power adapter.

7. If your baby likes to soothe itself to sleep with a pacifier you can never bring too many! Stuff them in every pocket and bag.

8. If it will make you feel more at ease, bring a baby monitor.  Once again, if you are traveling abroad you may prefer to have one that is dual voltage such as the Philips Avent Monitor with DECT technology. (I blew a monitor up once because I incorrectly assumed it was dual voltage.)

9. If you are traveling to anywhere there may be mosquitoes, consider buying a crib mosquito net.  Put in on only after you child has fallen asleep or else the net will likely become part of a fun little game.

10.  If your child is noise sensitive you may want to consider a little background music (iPhone, CD etc.)  Also great is this cute little sleep sheep from Cloud B  that will lull your baby (or you) to sleep with 4 soothing sounds.

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip!

Summer is in full swing, and will be gone in the blink of an eye, so don't forget to carve out some time each day to play with your child(ren)!  Make it a priority to make a vacation memory every day!  As the long summer days wear on, it can be taxing to run from activity to activity, packing and unpacking, entertaining little minds and hands for hours on end; but this precious time together is what your child(ren) will remember best, so be sure to enjoy it with them!