Friday, October 26, 2012

4 Fantastic Family Road Trips!

photo credit: Tony J Case via

There is nothing more American than a family road trip!  No matter where you live, there is an adventure awaiting your family; with a little research, route planning, and flexibility, your family could hit the road and find any number of wonders to build amazing family vacation memories on!  Below are some of our favorite trips and sights; feel free to add some of your family's favorites in our comments section!

1. The Western Front - California and the Desert Southwest

Topping many a bucket-list are our first two spectacular excursions, which make fantastic trips individually or combined: California's Coast and the Desert Southwest!
2. The Cradle of Modern America - the Mid-Atlantic

Introduce your children to the history of their country in a way that truly brings it to life!  The I-95 corridor connects many of the most historic locations in the Mid-Atlantic that date back to our nation's Colonial days; New York, NYPhiladelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, D.C.. Along the way, don't miss these family-friendly spots: the Empire State Building, the 9-11 Memorial, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, the Jersey Shore, Liberty Bell in Independence Hall, George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Museums, and Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg

3. A Little Southern Charm - the Southeast

Slow down and savor the laid-back pace of a road-trip tour of the Old South; relax and savor the gentle breezes while sipping on some sweet tea. The I-95 corridor heading south offers visitors a chance to explore some of the nations most beautiful coastal areas in the US; including the barrier islands along the Outer Banks, NC, Hilton Head, SC, Savannah, GA, and St. Augustine, FL. Play and swim at one of many sandy, sun-drenched beaches, kayak through preserved wetlands, crab and fish along beaches covered in rolling dunes or stroll through the the South's historic landmarks.  Don't-miss stops along the way include: the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh, NC, and the charming architecture and historical landmarks in  Charleston, S.C., Savannah, GA, and St. Augustine, FL.

4. The Great American Breadbasket: the Midwest 

With its wholesome, all-American feel, the Midwest is the perfect place to take a family road trip!  Home to some of America's most beautiful prairies, lakes, and forests, as well as amazing architecture and world-class attractions, the Midwest has tons to offer!  From St. Louis, MO home of the spectacular Gateway Arch, head north to Chicago, IL and Wisconsin Dells, then follow the shoreline of Lake Michigan north and east from Milwaukee, WI  along endless miles of lighthouse-dotted sandy beaches and craggy cliffs to reach beautiful Mackinac Island, home to historic, revolution-era Fort Mackinac, but leave your car behind, because travel on the island is limited to foot, bike, or horse and buggy!  Along the way, be sure not to miss: the Willis Tower (a.k.a. Sears Tower), Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Harley Davidson Museum, and Jelly Belly's Visitor Center.

The US has the distinction of being one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world; what better way to celebrate that than to get out there and share it with your family!  Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Planned Bailouts!

When road tripping with kids in tow, it can be helpful to stop often at parks, playgrounds, or even fast food spots with a kids play area!  Periodic "planned bailouts" can not only help keep the trip interesting for young travelers, but can offer parents a few precious moments to decompress between choruses of "are we there yet?".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

15 Safety Tips for Your Little Trick-or-Treaters!

We at Travel-Tot know that Halloween is traditionally a time for costumes, parties, parades, and treats; however, safety is never far from our minds! Sadly, CDC data shows that almost four times as many children (age 5-14) are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared to other evenings of the year.  In addition, numerous children are injured every Halloween; particularly by slips and falls. The good news is that most Halloween-related injuries are preventable if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treating and remember a few basic tips. 

The following 15 safety tips are offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Safety Council:

Remind your children that they should:

  • Go only to well-lit houses.
  • Never enter houses.
  • Travel in small groups, with an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach a parent and call 911.
  • Have their name & phone number printed on their costume (or use a SafetyTat).
  • Bring treats home prior to eating so they can be inspected for tainting/spoilage.
  • Wear reflective, flame-retardant clothing.
  • Use face paint instead of masks.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes. 
  • Avoid long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes.
  • Avoid carrying sharp or rigid costume knives or swords.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (when available), and avoid crossing between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Always look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
 Have a safe and happy Halloween!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Tracking Treats!

This was a tip I knew I just had to pass along; it's a money, space, and calorie saver!  The other day I was lamenting with my friend how every year, we get stuck with bags and bags of extra candy left over from Halloween, and she shared a brilliant secret she has been using for the past few years to avoid that same fate.  She told me that she saves the empty bags from the candy they hand out and then records it so that she can buy the same amount the next year (a little more or less depending on the weather).  Simple and brilliant!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

8 Awesome Family Travel Blogs!

Family travel blogs are as unique as the families whose adventures they chronicle. Some offer  valuable expertise, some, motivation to start your family's trip, and some, heart-warming (and sometimes heart-breaking) tales of the lives of those who have chosen to explore the world as a family!  This week, I've chosen eight of my personal favorites to share; check out these inspiring sites created by families who have generously chosen to share their experiences in globe-trotting:

  1. Traveling with Bender - Fantastic blog about an Australian family (two parents, two children under age 4) who have embarked on an adventure to see the world... starting in Asia!
  2. Pint Sized Pilot - An easy-to-navigate wealth of knowledge on everything from packing and prep to great family destinations!
  3. One Year Sabbatical - Join this fun-loving family of four (two parents, two sons) as they spend a year together in Indonesia and Southeast Asia!
  4. Snaps and Blabs - Amazing blog about "two vagabonds and their three children" who are seeing the world, on a shoe-string budget! 
  5. Escape Artists - A single Mom tackles the world with her (now 11-year-old) son; recording their adventures in this brilliant collection of posts about "the apparent mundanity of leading a life less ordinary."
  6. Soul Travelers 3 - The soul-searching chronicle of a family of three (two parents, one child) living a nomadic lifestyle and exploring the global community!
  7. The Great Family Escape - The ponderings and wanderings of a family of four (two parents, two children) who has chosen to explore the world to get a little slice of everything and give their children the opportunity to choose for themselves who it is that they want to be!
  8. It's a Creekmore World - A heart-wrenchingly real blog about a family of four (two parents, two children) from the Washington, D.C. area chronicling their travels abroad together, as well as the mother's struggle with cancer.  A real reminder to live every day as though it were your last and to take nothing for granted.
Each of these amazing blogs offers invaluable information, inspiration, and perspective; so if you are dreaming of a life less ordinary, take advantage of the wit and wisdom of these bloggers and get inspired to set your family travel plans into action!  Wherever the road may take you, may you always enjoy safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: Get Carded!

During a recent Girls Night Out, my girlfriend introduced this great Mom tip: have cards printed with your full name and contact information (and, if you wish, your pediatrician's number and a list of your child's allergies on the opposite side). That way, any time you leave your child(ren) with someone, you can easily provide them with all the information they'll need in case of emergency.  Easy to carry and infinitely helpful to caregivers!
image courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fire Safety: Guest Post from

October is Fire Safety Month and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the following post, which was originally featured in September of this year on's blog.  The highly informative article underscores the importance of making sure your home is prepared and having a well-rehearsed evacuation plan in the event of a fire or other emergency; the five minutes you spend reading it could just save a life.  Our thanks to for sharing their excellent article!

Planning a Fire Evacuation Route for Your Home

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 3,500 Americans die in fires each year, with another 18,300 sustaining injuries as the result of a fire. Because the majority of these fires occur in the home, it’s of vital importance that every family has a fire evacuation plan in place. While no homeowner wants to consider the possibility of losing everything they’ve worked so hard to acquire, ensuring that you and your children are armed with the information you need to survive a house fire could mean the difference between an unfortunate event and a truly tragic one.

Making sure that you have taken the proper precautionary measures as a matter of routine maintenance can make a huge difference in situations where every moment matters. Making sure that your home is stocked with the proper equipment is the first step to planning your evacuation route and fire safety plan.
  • Smoke Alarms –Your home should be equipped with smoke alarms on every floor and outside of every bedroom to ensure that each member of the family can hear the alarm clearly enough to awaken from a sound sleep, should it go off. The batteries in your smoke alarms should be changed when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time, or more frequently if they begin to emit the chirping noise that indicates low battery power.
  • Fire Extinguishers – You should place a fire extinguisher on every floor, including one in the kitchen where cooking fires can quickly get out of control. Upstairs extinguishers should be kept in central locations for ease of access. As an extra precaution, keeping a fire extinguisher near any sources of heat, such as a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, is wise.
  • Emergency Escape Ladders – Houses with more than one level and bedrooms on upper floors should be equipped with an emergency escape ladder in each of those bedrooms. Children should be instructed on the proper use of such ladders when they’re old enough to manage them without assistance.
Making a plan of action for your family to adhere to in the event of a fire can be a difficult task for many reasons, not least of which is a simple reluctance to consider the possibility of losing everything you own in a blaze. Making that plan, however, could very well mean the difference between your family making it out of a burning home intact, or suffering a devastating loss.
  • Pick a Meeting Point – For any disaster, natural or otherwise, your family should have a designated meeting point for everyone to converge, should you become separated. Make sure that your children know where to go after they escape from a house fire or other catastrophe, and how to reach that point on their own.
  • Choose an Emergency Contact – Choosing an emergency contact, such as a close friend or a member of your extended family, for your children and spouse to call in the event of a fire that leaves you separated can help each member of your family determine that everyone made a successful escape if you’re unable to reach the designated meeting point.
  • Determine the Quickest Exit from Each Bedroom – Because older members of the family will almost certainly attempt to assist the younger ones, it’s important that everyone in your family knows the quickest and safest exit from each bedroom in the house.
  • Teach Kids More Than One Route – Ideally, your children will be accompanied by an adult as they escape a burning house. Unforeseen events, however, can leave them to make the trek alone. Because of this, it’s imperative that you teach your children how to safely evacuate your home by themselves, and how to choose the best route to do so.
After your evacuation route is decided upon and memorized by everyone in the family, it’s wise to periodically practice your fire evacuation plan by staging regular drills. During these drills, covering the basics of concepts such as “Stop, Drop, and Roll” is advised. Kids should learn how to stay low on the ground to avoid excessive smoke inhalation, to test doorknobs for blistering heat before grasping them, and to close doors behind them as they move from room to room to slow the spread of fire.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Travel-Tot Tip: The Perks of Off-Peak Travel!

Fall is a fantastic time to get away as a family; with older kids in school, not only will you dodge crowds and long waits, but many venues offer discounts to attract visitors, so you just might save a few bucks too!  Consider locations that are normally crowded during summer months, such as: theme parks, tropical islands, and cities.  Safe and happy travels!