Friday, August 30, 2013

The Latest and Greatest Car Seats!

From two of our favorite manufacturers come these two amazing new child-seating options!  A special "thank you" to Carolyn Evert for providing us with the details on these fantastic new products!

image courtesy of Maxi-Cosi
From Maxi-Cosi - the new Maxi-Cosi Mico AP infant car seat.
The Mico AP infant car seat is the lightest infant car seat in its class* coming in at 8.6 pounds. It also features an ergonomic handle for extra comfort while carrying. Transferring from the stay-in-car base to a Maxi-Cosi or Quinny stroller is a breeze, making the Mico AP a great solution for parents looking for a complete travel system they can use from birth.  Rear-facing: 5-22lbs.

(*When compared to similarly priced infant car seats as of April 2013.)

What’s different about the MicoAP?

·         Revised base release handle located on shell
·         Superior Side Impact Performance: Featuring Air Protect® technology
·         Upgraded soft goods
·         Flip-out canopy visor for extra UV protection

image courtesy of Safety 1st
From Safety 1st - The new Safety 1st BoostAPak just hit Buy Buy Baby store shelves in time for those end of summer family trips and ‘Back to School’ car pools. 

The BoostAPak Belt Positing Booster is a travel car seat that also doubles as a back pack!  This backless booster is for 40-80 pounds and is great for car pools or travel as it moves easily from car to car and fits into an overhead aircraft bin.  It also has a unique, patented fold-out seat belt guides, and a durable plastic shell.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When in Rome!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Whether you're planning an exciting jaunt across Europe, an Asian adventure, or some other exotic excursion to a country where English is not the primary language; it can be a fun opportunity to try to learn a new language as a family!  There are tons of fantastic tools out there for people looking to develop a working knowledge of a foreign language (Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, etc.); but sometimes the easiest and most effective way to learn along with children is to buy or create flashcards of everyday objects and phrases and label things in your home.  By taking some time each day to practice using the words and testing one another, you'll all have a chance to learn together and enjoy the excitement of getting ready for an adventure in a whole new world!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Before the trip...

image courtesy of stockimages/
 Travel can be exciting, and sharing the adventure with your child(ren) can make it that much more fun!  But while adults generally have some idea of what will happen on a journey, to many young children travel may be a bit intimidating.  Preparing young travellers for an upcoming adventure can go a long way toward helping them get excited for the journey and enjoying the experience!

Air, water, or rail travel can be unnerving to a child who has never experienced the sounds, vibrations, and motions that adults can take for granted.  Take some time to show your child a model (or the real thing if it is locally available for viewing!) of whatever mode of transportation you will be using.  Discuss what they can expect, keeping things simple and offering them reassurance that you will be with them at all times and that there is nothing they need to be fearful of. 
A few weeks before you hit the road, try to get your little adventurers excited about the place you're about to visit. Check out documentaries, maps, books, newspapers, folk tales, advertisements, music; whatever is appropriate. Try not to make it seem like a chore, but rather a journey of it's own that will give them a chance to determine what they'd like to see or do when they actually arrive! 

Picture books or videos can offer a world of information about your vacation destination, as can magazine or Internet photos of local sights they may see! If your children are old enough you can even make a game of looking at the images - asking questions such as "what do you think you can hear (or see or smell) from this spot?" If you can acquire images of actual places you are visiting, it can be great fun to bring them and try to navigate to the exact spot to experience it as a family!

Finally, the journey doesn't have to end when the trip comes to its inevitable conclusion - memories and impressions from the adventure can last a lifetime!  Encourage older children to keep or create a travel journal chronicling their impressions of the places they visited - it doesn't have to be more than a sentence here or there, just something that will remind them of what they saw and experienced.  Young children can do likewise by capturing a favorite spot or activity in a drawing!

A little planning can truly make a big difference when it comes to travelling with children. The few extra minutes you devote to introducing them to what they will be experiencing can help prevent meltdowns, panic, and worry, and the time spent exploring your vacation destination beforehand can enrich the exploration upon arrival! 

Safe and happy travels!

- Destination Mom

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Make a Difference!

image courtesy of photomyheart/
It's just about back to school time again, and for many of us that means shopping for school supplies!  However, for many families across the country, the expense of buying basic back-to-school essentials is a real stretch.  Indeed, with the recent economic turmoil more and more families are reaching out for help.

Happily, in many communities there are drives to collect supplies for those individuals who would otherwise have to do without.   So, if you are able, get your kids into the spirit of back-to-school and community-service and encourage them to help select a few items for donation when you do your supply shopping!  Every little bit helps!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Which Flight? Which Seat?

This week we are thrilled to feature a guest post by Alan Day, Special Needs Family Vacation Expert, of ASD Vacations.  ASD Vacations specializes in helping families with planning trips to autism-friendly-resorts or  autism-friendly-cruises and will customize vacations around sensory issues, special interests, special dietary needs, and the dynamics of families traveling with individuals with autism.  His experts tips and advice are truly invaluable and we at Travel-Tot thank him for sharing the fantastic information below!

I recently posted some comments, for families traveling with autism, with some pointers about selecting flights and seating arrangements. That posting can be found at:
While those thoughts were for that specific audience, many of the thoughts hold true for anybody traveling with children, with or without disability. So here are some things to consider.
In praise of small airports. Local, small airports have some advantages. They are less crowded which makes for faster check-in and security.  Also, the low-cost airlines tend to use these smaller airports which may save you some money. This downside to the small airports is the limited number of places that you can fly non-stop from them.
In praise of non-stop flights.  When looking for the least expensive flights, check two ways. Check the regular search and then check again having selected “non-stop flights only” (most sites have this option but you may need to look under “advanced options” or “more options” or similar).
The non-stop flights are probably more expensive but the cheaper connecting flights may create a nightmare when traveling with children. If the first flight is delayed you may face (a) missing the second flight or (b) having to make a mad dash between the two gates with children and carry-on baggage or, worst of all, (c) you make the mad dash only to miss the second flight after all. You might end up spending hours and hours at the intermediate airport.
It’s even worth foregoing the advantages of the smaller airport if you can only find non-stop flights to your destination from a bigger one. There are only two reasons to take connecting flights.
Firstly, if you live so far from a big airport that driving to one is actually more inconvenient than taking connecting flights from a local airport. Secondly, as a means of breaking a very long flights into two more reasonable ones (e.g. Intercontinental flights).
In praise of the first flight of the day. If you can, take the first flight of the day. Your plane will have arrived the night before and already be at the airport. Later flights depend upon planes that have yet to arrive. If there is a delay to the inbound flight, your flight is automatically delayed.  Of course, if there is only one non-stop daily between your departure point and your destination, the choice is already made for you.
In praise of an app. When it comes to choice of seats, use Seat Guru as your best resource. It’s available online or as an app. You enter your flight # and date of flight and it comes back with a full seating map. There is more information than just window, middle or aisle. It will tell you which seats are “undesirable”, for instance too close to the bathrooms.
If you need to do so, call your airline, tour operator or travel agent to be sure about seating. Airlines are, generally, very helpful when you are trying to get children seated together with parents.
Once you’ve found the perfect seats on the perfectly timed non-stop flight, be sure to arrive at the airport in plenty of time. The airline has the right to reassign those seats if you check-in too late. This can and does happen on flights that are fully booked.
Plan well and enjoy your flight!

Alan Day is an experienced and accomplished travel agent. He began his agency career with Liberty Travel in 1999. He graduated top of his intake class with them. Even prior to becoming an agent he had travelled the world extensively both for business and leisure.  Upon moving to Connecticut in 2005, he formed his own travel agency. Although his principal markets were Domestic US, Mexico, Caribbean and Europe, he also arranged trips to many more exotic destinations.
Alan’s son has Autism Spectrum Disorder. When considering the impact that his son’s Autism had on their own family vacations, Alan decided to refocus his agency and to specialize in providing assistance and support for families impacted by Autism.  For this purpose, he founded ASD Vacations as a unique agency serving such families. By providing specialized, experienced aides to support the spectrum child, he creates abundant opportunity for the rest of the family to enjoy some real relaxation and respite.
Alan writes a once-weekly blog at with tips and resources for families traveling with Autism.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Ounce of Caution...

image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/
Traveling out of the country with children can be a fantastic adventure!  But losing a passport or birth certificate can create utter havoc... so plan ahead.  In addition to packing all your important ID documents (i.e. passports, photo IDs, birth certificates, documents authorizing you to travel with your child outside the country if there are custodial issues), make a copy of each form along with your itinerary and leave them behind with a close family member or friend who can be reached in case of emergency.  It may be the difference between a dream vacation and a real nightmare.  Safe and happy travels!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Perfect Spots for Travel-Tot!

Traveling is one of life’s greatest joys; pair that with the natural curiosity of a child and you have the recipe for a fantastic adventure! But, while sharing the traveling experience with your child can add to the thrill of the journey, it can also be stressful. Investing just a bit of time to make your vacation accommodations safer for your child helps to ensure as restful, relaxing, and enjoyable a vacation as possible, no matter where you are!

You can easily provide a basic level of protection from many common hazards in just minute’s time 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.  And the components and adhesive are temporary and non-damaging, so they are ideal for just about anywhere!  Here are four places that are a perfect fit for your Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit:
  1. Hotels, motels, and rental properties - make any lodging space instantly family friendly!
  2. Family and friends' homes - a great way to both create a safer play space and protect homeowners' valuable personal items from curious little explorers!
  3. Recreational vehicles - great for keeping little travelers safe on the road and anywhere your adventures make take you!
  4. 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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

3 Tips for Back-to-School Success!

It's that time of year again... summer is drawing to a close and soon it will be time to get back into the school-groove.  Savvy parents know that preparation is the name of the game for back-to-school success, so below are three of our favorite tips for shifting back into the school-year-gear:
  1. Get your kids and yourself back into a normal sleep routine before school starts (especially for those students who have an early rising time); the transition will be much far less painful for all of you if you can ease into it over a week or so! 
  2. Keep plenty of healthy and fun snack and lunch items on hand to pack for those little learners; its easier to learn when you're not distracted by a grumbling tummy!
  3. Re-visit safety basics; whether your children ride the bus or walk to school, remind them of all transportation safety procedures and rules

image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

6 Less-Common Tips for Surviving the Family Road Trip

The family road trip is supposed to be a time for relaxation, bonding, and enjoying an adventure alongside the people you care most about. Unfortunately, the truth is often much more grueling. Late starts, automobile trouble, wrong turns, fights, and car-sick children are just a few of the realities associated with packing up the wagon and hitting the highway. But you took time off from work for this, and you’ve been looking forward to it all year; you’re going to make it work, darn it! You have the will, and with a little help, you can also have the way. Here are some less-common tips to help you survive (and maybe even enjoy) your family road trip.

1.      Be organized. Few things ruin a road trip like forgetting to pack something (on either end). Fight this by making a detailed packing list for each member of the family. Compile these on a computer so that they can be easily altered. When you’re ready to start filling suitcases, print off your lists and have everyone be responsible for their own items. Once the packing is done, use a master list to verify that everything you need is packed up. Use the same list at the end of your trip so that you don’t leave anything behind. Also, make sure to get your car inspected by a mechanic before you set out.

2.      Get excited. Attitude is a huge factor in how much enjoyment you and your family are going to have. As such, don’t allow any of your negative feelings to show in front of your children, or else they’ll reciprocate them. You may not like driving for hours on end, but as far as your kids are concerned, they should think that you’ve never been more excited for anything in all your life. Don’t let stress ruin your trip before it even starts; get excited about the trip and your kids will be excited too (and far less likely to complain once they’re on the road).

3.      Break some rules. We’re not talking about traffic laws, we’re talking about house rules. Is there a snack that you don’t usually permit your children to have? Bring it along. Are there other minor rules that you could set aside for the sake of enjoyment? The point is that if children see the road trip as a time when they can enjoy things that are normally forbidden, they’ll always look forward to it.

4.      Pack some entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with using modern technology to keep the kids entertained while you’re on the road, and a portable DVD player can be a godsend in a pinch. But remember, this is supposed to be a family outing. Most entertainment technology isolates people rather than brings them together. If each of your kids are listening to their own MP3 players or playing games on tablets or smartphones, then you all might as well have stayed at home and saved yourself the price of gasoline. Instead, plan some car games that everyone can enjoy together, and secretly bring some fun prizes that you can award to the winners. Some of the kids may not be too interested in the first game, but once they see that they could win something, they’ll definitely be invested in the second one.

5.      Choose a fun destination. A tour of the country’s historical sites are great for some, but not for everyone. Figure out what kind of things interest your family, and plan your trip accordingly. Do they enjoy camping in the great outdoors? Then plan your trip to swing through someplace like Zion National Park (and if they don’t like camping but want to enjoy the sites, book a room instead at some hotel fun like Zion Lodge). Or would your family prefer to see the ocean? Head to the coast and find some great beaches for tanning and sandcastle building. The journey is important, but so is the destination; so choose wisely.

6.      Relax. Remember, the trip exists for the benefit of the family, not the other way around. To make that point a little clearer, never put the schedule ahead of the fun. Are you concerned that the family is spending too much time at one stop when you should be on the road? Don’t be. If everyone is having a good time, let them. It’ll make your whole trip better.

Author Bio: Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler.  He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations.  You can also connect with Vincent on G+ or twitter (@TravelingGlobal).