Friday, March 29, 2013

Grandparents: 6 Surefire Ways to Make Memories that Last!

"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. "
-Alex Haley
Family is our past, present and future - and it is so important to bring the generations together to share the laughter and love that such closeness often evokes.  Whether your children's grandparents live close-by or half-way across the world, the relationships they have with your children can be very special!  Grandparents possess a breadth of experience and knowledge (not to mention some great childhood anecdotes about you or your spouse!) that can captivate the minds of children of all ages. 
No matter how often your children visit with their grandparents, try and make their time together as memorable and enjoyable as possible.  It may require a bit of work on your part, and maybe even a little flexibility, but watching your parents or in-laws truly connect with your children is priceless. Below are a few tips for making fond memories for both your children and their grandparents:
  1. Schedule time together - depending on your proximity to your children's grandparents, consider taking a vacation together; or taking a vacation to visit them!
  2. Play to your parent's (or in-law's) strengths - try to "casually arrange" opportunities for activities both they and your children will enjoy (i.e. games, picnics, fishing with grandpa, crafting with grandma, etc.).
  3. Be flexible - while your children's safety must always come first, allow for a few small concessions or departures from your usual routine (extra treats, missed naps, over-the-top silliness, etc.).
  4. Wax nostalgic - ask your parents or in-laws to share stories from their youth; share old photos, paper clippings, or letters.
  5. Share your heritage - have your children learn about their family's customs and traditions!  Arrange to have your children and their grandparents: make a favorite ethnic dish together, learn a favorite traditional song or dance, share a folk-tale or story.
  6. Alone time - if you, your children, and your parents (or in-laws) are comfortable with the idea, consider allowing your children to "sleep-over" at their grandparents.  If a sleep-over is out, try to plan some time when your kids and their grandparents can visit alone (without you hovering over them!) - sometimes it is easier for people to be themselves when they don't feel they have an audience.
Family is precious; and sharing time, experiences, and heritage across the generations is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime!  If possible, make it a point to capture some of those laughs and interactions on film and video, so you can all enjoy them for years to come!
Wishing you all safe, happy, and joyful memory making!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Sunscreen 411!

image courtesy of artur84/
Selecting the right sunscreen can be the difference between enjoying some fun in the sun and suffering a painful burn.  While no sunscreen protects you completely, when used properly, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more can significantly reduce your chance of burns. When selecting a product, keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the better the protection (thought the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes.) According to the American Academy of Dermatology, SPF 15 sunscreens filter out approximately 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out around 97%, and SPF 50 sunscreens filter 98%.  For a comprehensive sunscreen review, check out EWG's Sunscreen Guide (2013 will be available in May); their site also features an excellent page on Sun Safety Tips!

Great tip: attach a clippable timer to your beach bag and set it to give you a reminder when you need to reapply!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring Break: Play Ball!

Got a little sports fan in the family?  Or maybe you all have a favorite team! Either way, consider planning your family's spring break around bringing your Little Leaguers to see their favorite baseball team during spring training. The games are considerably less expensive than in-season games and your chances of scoring that autograph or two are slightly better! The two major locations for spring training are Arizona (the Cactus League) and Florida (the Grapefruit League); their websites feature stadium locations for each team, updated schedules and links to buy tickets.  For all things spring training (schedules, updates, tickets, vacation packages, etc.) check out MLB Spring Training Online.

Spring training locations offer more than just great baseball; there's the fantastic climate and big family fun at many local resorts!  You can check out the vacation packages at MLB Spring Training Online, or find your team's stadium and do a little legwork and choose your own adventure.  There are a number of spectacular resorts for Cactus League Teams (trip planner available on their website) and for Grapefruit League Teams has a fantastic listing of lodging options broken out by team!
So, batter up for a spring break filled with "fan"-tastic fun and best wishes for safe and happy travels and a glorious spring break!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3 Amazing On-line Travel Resources

Where to go?

Looking for a comprehensive site that features travel information for just about anywhere you can imagine going?  Lonely Planet has got you covered!  With an easily navigable site packed with comprehensive information on locations worldwide, Lonely Planet will prove helpful in planning your next trip and may even provide ideas for future trips!

Price tracking:

Airline, lodging, and car rental fares fluctuate daily... heck sometimes hourly!  That's why we love; available online or as a free app, Kayak helps your travel dollars go the distance by allowing you to search for the best prices on everything from airfares to hotel rooms and more!


Looking to experience the amazing world of cruising but not sure where to start? Cruise Critic offers a multitude of information on destinations, ports of departure, a wide variety of cruise lines, and even cruise reviews.  They even provide basic "cruise culture" tips and hints!

*All images are coprighted logos and are the property of the companies which they identify.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Voluntourism; Life Changing Family Travel

It's a growing trend; family vacations that are more than just a vacation.  Family getaways that not only offer the opportunity to create phenomenal memories, but truly life changing volunteering experiences that till the collective family consciousness and plant the seeds of gratitude, compassion, awe, generosity, and the responsibilities of global citizenship.  The phenomenon has been loosely dubbed "voluntourism" and it has become a more popular choice for many families in recent years.

We've all heard the stories of "that youth group that went to Central America to help impoverished communities establish schools" or "someone's cousin who took 6 months to go to Appalachia and build homes for needy families with Habitat for Humanity."  And now, with increasing frequency, we are hearing about families embarking on trips that mingle traditional tourist activities like sightseeing with the opportunity to volunteer their time helping improve the conditions or quality of life in the community they are visiting.

Sierra Club logo
Earthwatch logo
There are a number of reputable organizations that offer a wide range of different volunteering expedition opportunities; so whether your family has a passion for working to aid environmental causes, impoverished communities, or helping unearth civilizations past via archaeological adventures, there's something out there for everyone!  For excursions within the US, the Sierra Club is our favorite resource!  Their site features an entire section of excursions for families ranging from those traveling with infants/toddlers to those with tweens and teens.  Outside the US, we love, whose site provides a phenomenal amount of information as well as their excursions for this upcoming year.

It must be noted that before you consider embarking on a family adventure that gives you a chance to introduce your children to the "classroom all around them," you should plan to do some substantial research.  While both the Sierra Club and Earthwatch have outstanding, informative sites, for the most comprehensive guide to voluntouring you'll want to check out Travelanthropist.  Their website offers advice on everything from determining the best destination for your family to how to perform effective pre-trip due-diligence.

As with any trip, be sure to keep the proper perspective and to choose something that will give all the members of your family a chance to feel they have participated; encourage everyone's efforts and use the opportunity to bond in a deep and meaningful way.  Safe and happy travels wherever the road may take you!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2 Great Apps for Your Next Trip!

For you travel app lovers, here are two you won't want to leave home without!

Tripomatic - Currently free and available for iOS and Android, this app is one of the best for exploring new areas.  Simply enter your destination, how long you plan to stay for and the app plots out attractions and things to do on a map (which you can print out, save as a PDF, or share with friends on Facebook or Twitter).

Fuel Monitor - Available only on iOS for a mere $1.99, this fantastic app is essential for keeping track of what that road-trip really cost you!  Just input the make, model, and year of your car along with the fuel price and your local currency and units of measurement (kilometers, miles, gallons, liters etc).  Then hit the huge ‘Start’ button in the ‘Monitor’ section when you get in your car, and the ‘Stop’ button whenever your journey ends. As useful for tracking trips to the grocery store as it is for tracking cross-country road trips!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Destination: New York City!

New York City is a fantastic family destination, any time of year! The Big Apple is world-renowned for its wide array of attractions; from educational exhibits and first-rate theatrical performances to breathtaking skyline views and parkland, New Your City has something to offer every family member.  Below is our list of family-friendly must-see New York landmarks, including parks, museums, zoos and more; these attractions will appeal to children of all ages as well as their parents:

Got a dinosaur fan in the family? Or maybe a budding astronaut? The American Museum of Natural History offers visitors of all ages astonishing exhibits where they can explore science and nature up close. Expand your horizons and engage your childrens' imaginations!

The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo could occupy and enchant the family for an entire day. The Children's Zoo is great fun and feature a ton of hands on and close-up experiences. Visitors of all ages enjoy the Butterfly House, the World of Birds, and the Asia Monorail which offers amazing wildlife viewing (and a chance to rest your feet!). If you're a little tight on time or are looking for a smaller zoo experience, check out the beautiful Central Park Zoo!

Enjoy a birds-eye view of New York City from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Treat your family to a spectacular view of the Empire State Building and Central Park from its three floors of indoor and outdoor observation areas. Tip: purchase timed tickets in advance, it'll save you the hassle of the wait normally encountered when seeking a skyline view.

Central Park offers visitors of all ages acres of fun; with playgrounds galore and endless stretches of picnic-perfect lawn! Don't miss the Central Park Zoo, boat rides from Loeb Boathouse, and Central Park Carousel. In the summer the park offers storytelling at the Hans Christen Andersen statue.
With its ever-changing exhibits, this museum aims to offer an interactive and engaging experience for young visitors. During the summer, the museum hosts "City Splash," an outdoor water-play area exhibit (tip: bring extra clothes and a towel!).

What would a trip to NYC be without taking in a Broadway show?  While not a great choice for families traveling with infants and children under age 6, school-aged children are often mesmerized by the majesty of a Broadway production (right now top choices for families include: Lion King, Annie, Mary Poppins, and Wicked).  Tip: before bringing children to a show be sure they are familiar with the etiquette of the theater and can handle sitting still, paying attention, not being disruptive, etc..

The city that never sleeps has a little something for everyone, so plan your visit today!  Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

3 Great Reasons to Travel With Your Kids!

Need motivation to plan that family getaway?  Her are three fantastic reasons to hit the road with your family today:
  1. Traveling with your children gives you a chance to experience the world in a whole new way.  The magical perspective of a child's eyes allows you to find excitement in the simplest things and places! 
  2. Changing up the everyday routine keeps things fresh and offers children and their parents a chance to learn not only more about wherever you may all be together, but also about each other!  Travel just seems to bring out a special brand of giddy, giggly, silly fun that brings families closer together.
  3. Travel gives children of all ages a chance to learn new things. For young kids it can be as simple as exposure to new places, sights, sounds, and smells. For school age children, being immersed in historical places makes the experience more engaging and personally relevant than simply reading about it.

image courtesy of digitalart/

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top 5 Places to Use Your Travel-Tot Kit!

Seeking portable peace of mind for your next family getaway? You can easily provide a layer of protection from many common hazards in just minutes with a few simple items like those conveniently provided in the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit, including; outlet covers, doorknob protectors, corner guards, door pinch guards, multi-purpose straps, and safety latches.  All Kit components and adhesive are temporary, strong, yet non-damaging, so they are ideal for just about anywhere!  Here are five fantastic places you can use your Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit:

  1. Hotels, motels, and rental properties - make any lodging space instantly family friendly!
  2. Homes of family or friends - a great way to both create a safer play space and protect homeowners' valuable personal items from curious little explorers!
  3. Timeshares and rental properties- the perfect way to childproof your home-away-from-home;  the Kit provides the perfect tools to help keep those little fingers safe from pinches and other potential harm!
  4. RVs - great for keeping little travelers safe on the road and anywhere your adventures make take you!
  5. Cruise ships - make your cabin cozier by adding an extra layer of protection from common hazards such as exposed outlets, pinches from doors and drawers, and sharp corners!
Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom