Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Infant Swim Resource: What Do You Think?

If you haven't already seen it on Facebook or another social media site, below is a promotional video for Infant Swim Resource (ISR), a company that offers what they describe as "survival swimming lessons for infants and young children."  The video is compelling and demonstrates real-life instances of young children falling into water and using the skills they learned via this method to keep afloat and call for help. But while some parents swear by the technique, others call the method too harsh and aggressive and suggest that it may lull parents into believing that their children are "drown-proof."  We want to know: what do you think?

Disclaimer: Travel-Tot, LLC does not endorse Infant Swim Resource's techniques and has not been compensated in any way for mentioning Infant Swim Resources.  The video contained herein is the property of Swim Resources.

Friday, April 26, 2013

4 Great Travel Distractions!

Summer is almost upon us and with it, for many families, will come the quintessential family getaway; the road trip!  While hitting the road can be a budget-friendly way to take a family trip, it can also be a lot of "togetherness" depending on the duration of your journey.  If your ears are still ringing from last year's choruses of "are we there yet?" from the backseat, you may want to consider bringing along some of these fantastic travel distractions; they'll doubtless buy you at least a few moments of gleeful giggles and precious silence!

1. Magnetic Curious George - Give your child (over age 3) the chance to create his or her own fun adventures with Curious George and the man with the yellow hat with this ingenious travel magnetic set featuring scenes, characters and accessories!

2. Play Visions Lego Cinch Buckets - Legos are a favorite for many children (over age 3); now they can be easily transported in this fantastic little storage container. Perfect for everything from road trips to visiting friends or even grandma!

3. Spot It! - Beloved by children as young as 5 (though recommended for those 7 and up), this fun, fast moving card game challenges kids to match symbols between cards (and they even have a road-trip friendly version, Spot It: On the Road!)!

4. And finally, our favorite travel apps for kids:
iStoryBooks (Android App): These books offer pictures, text, and audio that will keep your child entertained for hours at a clip!
Mad Libs (Apple):  As entertaining and easy to use as the original paper version where ad libbed nouns and verbs are used in a story to produce hilarious results (LOL Libs is its Android equivalent).

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tips for Street Safety Abroad

image courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of State
We're always on the hunt for invaluable travel resources, and one of our favorites is the travel page hosted by the U.S. Department of State.  It is a comprehensive website featuring a wealth of information for travellers, including an outstanding page boasting a wide array of safety tips for U.S. citizens travelling internationally; below is an excerpt from their page entitled A Safe Trip Abroad.  It contains a valuable list of tips for helping keep you and your family safe when exploring a foreign locale on foot! 

Safety on the Street

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.
    • Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
    • Try not to travel alone at night.
    • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
    • Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.
    • Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
    • Avoid scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.
    • Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will:
      • jostle you,
      • ask you for directions or the time,
      • point to something spilled on your clothing,
      • distract you by creating a disturbance.
    • Beware of groups of vagrant children who could create a distraction to pick your pocket.
    • Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
    • Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.
    • Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.
    • Learn a few phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.
    • Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
    • If you are confronted, don't fight back -- give up your valuables.


Friday, April 19, 2013

5 Fantastic National Parks to See With Your Kids!

Some of the most memorable trips of my youth were the simplest, yet most extraordinary, and what could fit that description better than a visit to one of our country's beautiful National Parks?  We are so fortunate to live in a country with such a diversity of natural wonders; lush forests, geysers, astounding rock formations, even volcanoes! Below is just a sampling of what our National Parks have to offer to visitors of all ages - from coast to coast, whether desert or tropical climate, there are memories waiting to be made in one of our nation's greatest treasures!

1. Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Grand Canyon is one of the most celebrated National Parks in the U.S.; but it's easy to make the mistake of driving to one of its many overlooks, gazing out upon its majestic scenery, and then leaving. Why not etch the grandeur of the park into your family's collective memory by truly experiencing the Grand Canyon? Consider taking a hike or even a guided tour (by land, water, or air!) to get a closer look at the canyon; there's the family friendly Bright Angel Trail for hikers or the pricier, but truly extraordinary, "flightseeing" option!  Quick word of warning, because of excessively high temperatures in the summer months, autumn is the best season to visit; also, visitors should always pack adequate water.

2. Arches (Utah)

Arches is one of the smallest and most inviting National Parks; as well as one of the most breathtaking. Along a variety of trails you’ll find astounding stone arches and rock formations, each more spectacular than the last (it is estimated that the park contains upwards of 1,500 arches!). Families travelling with young children should take the easy walks along Balanced Rock path or stop and wander at the overlook point for Delicate Arch.  The park also plays host to a wide variety of flora and fauna, and many trails are paved for accessibility!  Added bonus: Arches National Park is conveniently situated only five miles from Moab, one of the nation’s premier camping, hiking, and mountain biking destinations.

3. Hawaii Volcanoes (Hawaii)

The Big Island offers visitors a chance to experience active volcanoes close-up at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park! This hot spot finds fiery lava flowing from the mouth of one of the world’s most active volcanoes; Kilauea regularly spews molten lava that reshapes the landscape as it flows down into the Pacific. Mauna Loa (the world's largest volcano) is also found here. The parks are accessible by car or foot and feature a multitude of some of the greatest sights vulcanism has to offer, including the Thurston Lava Tube! The park also offers several don't-miss favorites for kids, including: Echo Crater and Pu'uloa Petroglyphs!

4. Yellowstone (Wyoming and Montana)

Located on the border of Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone is the country's first, and arguably best, National Park. Visitors of all ages marvel at the eruption of Old Faithful's towering geyser, the prolific wildlife, and the majestic scenery. With guided tours via bike or horseback, hiking, boating, and fishing, Yellowstone offers plenty of activities for families with children of any age!  Don't miss The National Geographic Society's map that highlights historical, environmental, and cultural points of interest in the region!

5. Acadia (Maine)

Situated just outside of Bar Harbor on the eastern seaboard of Maine, Acadia National Park is considered the jewel of the northeast. From the mystifying forests of Mount Desert Island to the amazing views of the Atlantic from the peak of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia is an outdoor adventure to be savored!  With miles of hiking trails, beautiful overlooks, and tidepool-laden beaches, Acadia has something to offer visitors of any age!  Best in the autumn (when blackflies and mosquitoes are absent and the foliage is spectacular!), Acadia offers a number of activities for kids of all ages, including: Ranger-Narrated Boat Tours and a variety of Children's Programs. After a day outdoors, be sure to recharge with some of the fantastic local cuisine (we recommend the Maine lobsterbake at Stewman's Lobster Pound complete with  lobster, steamers, corn on the cob, New England clam chowder, and fresh blueberry pie to top it all off!).

From coast to coast, America's National Parks offer a chance to share the phenomenal natural gifts of our country with its next generation of caretakers!  So get on out into the open air and enjoy all the National Parks have to offer!  Happy Travels!

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Great Camping Tips from 4Nannies.com!

With summer vacation only a few weeks away, its time to start thinking about how to spend some of that precious family togetherness time.  A family camp out (whether in your backyard or halfway across the world!) can be a frugal way to make fantastic family memories.  Before you go though, its important to be prepared; that's why we love this article by Erin of 4Nannies.com on How to Survive Your First Camping Trip With Kids!  Don't miss her great tips on everything from packing and managing expectations to safety!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Travel Safety Series: Pool and Water Safety

image courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every day in the United States, two dozen children die from an accidental injury.  Accidents are the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 19 years, representing nearly 40 percent of all deaths in this age group. Each year, approximately 8.7 million children and teens from birth to age 19 are treated in emergency departments for unintentional injuries and more than 9,000 die as a result of their injuries - that's one every hour (or about 25 children per day). The most common causes of fatal and non-fatal unintentional childhood injuries include: drowning, falls, fires or burns, poisoning, suffocation, and transportation-related injuries.  Death rates for drowning exceed those from falls, fires, pedal cycle injuries, pedestrian injuries, and poisoning.

Summer and water play go hand in hand; but where there is water there are always hazards, especially for young children. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years*. Children can drown in as little as an inch of water, and it takes only a few seconds to happen.  And drowning isn't the hysterical, screaming, splashing, loud, drawn-out event we've all been trained to expect by TV; as this must read article clearly demonstrates, drowning is actually very quiet, quick, and difficult to identify to the untrained observer. 

In addition to the helpful article referred to above, the following water safety tips may help prevent a drowning tragedy:
  • Vigilant supervision - a MUST whenever your child is near any water (as unlikely as it may seem, even a  simple bucket of water can pose a drowning hazard to a toddler).  Constant awareness also means preventing access to ungated or open bodies of water when traveling away from home (hotels, rental condos, etc.); guest accommodations are best secured with childproofing devices, such as those found in the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit, which can help prevent accidental entry to accessible bodies of water.
  • Swim lessons - without a doubt one of the greatest returns on investment there is.  Children gain familiarity with the water and learn basics such as treading water and floating.
  • 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.
  • 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 posted signage. 
  • 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.
Have a safe, happy, and healthy summer.
-Destination Mom

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Get the "411" On Safety Deals!

image courtesy of Zulily
We love a good deal, and what's better than a great deal on items that can help keep your family safe!  One of our favorite deal sites for everything family, Zulily, is holding a Safety Event starting today, 4/11,  featuring a variety of products (including our Kit!) that can help protect your little explorers (you'll need to create an account if you don't already have one to view the event, but it only takes a moment and the site has tons to offer)! So surf on over there today and don't miss these great deals on fantastic safety items for your family!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Destination: Chicago!

This week we are very excited to feature a guest post by Lindsay T., a travel blogger who writes for Allstate Motor Club and who was generous enough to share her favorite 5 family-friendly sites in Chicago!  So whether you call it the Windy City, Chi-town, or Second City, don't miss these fantastic sites in America's third most populous city!

5 Fun Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
Chicago may be known for its cold, snowy winters, but people often overlook the fact that Chicago is a beautiful city in spring. Now that warm weather is on its way, it’s the perfect time to make a trip to the “windy city.” Located right on Lake Michigan, Chicago combines a unique blend of sea and sand with urban architecture and culture. There’s always something to do, especially when you’re visiting with kids! Here are a few favorite Chicago activities that you and your kids will love.
Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
This boat cruise along the Chicago River is led by a trained guide. He or she will point out all of the noteworthy architecture, right as you pass by. You’ll hear some of Chicago’s history and fun facts about the buildings and architects. Your kids will love going on the boat, sailing down the river, and taking in all of Chicago’s skyscrapers.
Navy Pier
Especially if this is your kids’ first trip to Chicago, Navy Pier is a must! This is the most well-known tourist site in the Midwest, and it boasts countless restaurants, shows, and amusement rides. Navy Pier is recognizable by its iconic Ferris wheel, which can be seen from numerous points along the lakefront. And the fantastic view of the Chicago skyline isn’t even the best part – Navy Pier has free fireworks in the summertime, beginning around Memorial Day weekend! 
Millennium Park
This park is one of Chicago’s major landmarks. Not your typical playground, Millennium Park offers multiple displays of public art. This includes Cloud Gate, commonly known as “the bean,” which is a large, reflective, bean-shaped sculpture in which visitors love to take pictures of their reflections. The Crown Fountain is another sculpture to see. It is made of two glass walls that display images of human faces and spout water, making it perfect for your kids to interact with in spring.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Just north of downtown Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, a quaint residential area. Adults and kids alike are frequenters of this zoo. For a little break from the bustle of the city, this zoo provides a bit of an oasis. Your kids will love the wildlife, and you’ll enjoy a more relaxing atmosphere. 
Located in the Willis Tower (originally called the Sears Tower), the Skydeck is a balcony attached to the tower that visitors can step into for breathtaking views of Chicago. Made entirely of glass, this balcony will make you feel like you’re floating over the city. One of the more unique activities in Chicago, this is something your kids will really enjoy!
Author Bio: Lindsay T. writes about travel on behalf of Allstate Motor Club, an auto club that provides travel deals and other travel services. Visit Allstate Motor Club for more on driving resources, roadside assistance programs, and membership information.
Images courtesy of porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Sources: 36 Sites on Keeping Healthy When Traveling!

image courtesy of Summernanny
This week's health and safety tips come from our fantastic friends at Summernanny.com! Featuring tips on everything from pre-travel preparation to avoiding food and beverage borne sickness and other common travel illnesses, this article by Summernanny provides a comprehensive compendium of information that can help keep any traveler safe and healthy!