Friday, September 27, 2013

Why You Should Never Ignore Product Recalls

This week we are thrilled to feature an infographic from Part Select (in conjunction with Ghergich & Co.) on the importance of heeding product recalls. Keep your family safe by staying abreast of product recalls and disposing of defective products.  For more important information on recalls and safety, check out this great page from Part Select.  Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

infographic used with the express written permission of Part Select

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Case of Emergency...

September is Child Safety Month!  Until you have a toddler, it is hard to understand how many facets there are to keeping your littlest family members safe; car seats, childproofing (at home and on the go!), infant/child CPR classes, baby monitors, identification tags, cribs, toys, strollers - and the list goes on and on! 

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

However, one of the most basic things you can do to keep your children safe is to create a comprehensive listing of all medical and emergency contact  information.  Print multiple copies so that you can post one on your refrigerator at home, pack one in your wallet for whenever you go out, and provide a copy to each of your children's caregivers (i.e. pre-school, after care, relatives, etc.).  Be sure to include:

Emergency Numbers:
  • Parent's cell phone numbers;
  • Parent's work phone numbers;
  • 911;
  • Non-emergency Police Department phone number;
  • Poison control phone number;
  • Fire department phone number;
  • Child's doctor's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Off-hours doctor's phone number;
  • Child's chart number;
  • Child's dentist's practice, name, and phone number;
  • Address, phone number, and directions to preferred hospital;
  • Emergency contact information for two people other than parents, including:
    • Name;
    • Phone number(s);
    • Relation.
Emergency Information:
  • Home address;
  • Mom's full name;
  • Dad's full name;
  • Child's full name;
  • Child's date of birth;
  • Any allergies, medications, or special conditions;
  • Insurance provider;
  • Insurance provider phone;
  • Insured name and ID;
  • Group ID;
  • Policy ID.
Travel-Tot is pleased to provide an easy-to-use Emergency Information Form here for our readers!  Having such information available all in one place in an easy-to-distribute format could be the difference between life and death, particularly when your child is under the care of someone who may not have all that information committed to memory!

Safe and happy September!
-Destination Mom

Friday, September 20, 2013

What To Know When Traveling To Australia

This week, we are very excited to feature a guest post from one of our mates in beautiful Australia!  His helpful tips and advice about visiting the land Down Under will make your transition to Australian culture smoother and could save you or your children from injury!

image courtesy of Pixabay
Going to Australia on a vacation can be the experience of a lifetime. The amazing scenery, uncorrupted with overpopulation, beautiful cities, and friendly people are among Australia’s most famous assets.  Although they are a former British colony (they still recognize the British monarch as the supreme sovereign), their mentality and disposition is very different from the British. The Australian society is considered to be an egalitarian one or, as they like to say, everyone should have a “fair go”.

Making A Good First Impression
Although famous for their open-mindedness, there are still some things the Aussies frown upon. They despise pompousness and self-boasting. It is common for them to downplay their own achievements. They are very hard-working and they don’t like people who are full of themselves.

Formal addressing is also not very common, especially insisting on titles when you meet new people. Aussies show their appreciation through respectful behavior rather than through formal speech. So put a smile on your face, be kind and friendly, and you'll be golden.

Understanding The Locals
Formal communication shouldn’t be a problem, obviously, but if you go out with your new Aussie mates, you will be dumbfounded by the slang they use. Try to learn the meaning of a few words at least, so you don’t spend the whole evening silently sitting in the background wondering what the conversation is about.  Though, being as friendly as they are, the locals will likely be happy to explain themselves and make a few jokes at your expense along the way!

Beware The Sun
You should never forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat when going to a beach in Australia. This is where the ozone hole is the biggest, so the UV radiation is worse than anywhere else in the world.

Considering their love for the beach, it is quite probable you will spend a lot of time there even if you are going on a business trip. So, never forget to protect yourself from the sun or you might end up looking like a lobster.

Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite
Although some believe that bed bugs only exist in children’s imaginations, bed bugs are a real danger in Australia.  Due to the humid climate and a constant “supply” of humans, entomological variety in Australia is unbelievable. So even if you are staying in a luxurious resort, make sure you check the bed and the rest of the furniture for hidden guests.  While this is not as important for downtown hotels in Sydney or Melbourne, if you are exploring the Australian Outback check your sheets thoroughly before you doze off. 

The Wild, Wild, Wildlife
The unique wildlife is one of the trademarks of Australia, but the cute animals you see in the pictures may not be so cute in reality.  Australia is beaming with exotic endemic species but only a select few of them are sweet and cuddly as you imagine them to be. Most of them are actually poisonous snakes and scorpions, and let’s not forget to mention the crocodiles.

Even the cuties like koalas and wombats bite when they feel threatened. The kangaroos are something to watch out for, especially when driving through wilderness at night. If you hit one, the impact can seriously damage your car and injure the passengers. Never try to get closer and pet one because their kick is so strong it can kill a person instantly.  As if the terrestrial beasts weren’t enough, the coastal area of the sea is swarming with poisonous jellyfish and octopuses, sting rays, and even sharks.

In other words, remember to wear adequate clothes and tough footwear if you are hiking through the wilderness, and don't forget to stay clear of exotic colorful fish when you go for a swim. A smart thing to do is to carry a bottle of white vinegar to the beach, especially from October to April. It is great for soothing irritated skin if you have been stung by a jellyfish.

Tipping The Waiter
This is one of the biggest differences between American and Australian culture. The Aussies consider tipping to be unnecessary since the people working as bartenders, waiters etc. have decent paychecks. This is a lot different from the States where workers in service sector have minimum wages and depend on the tips to earn a decent salary. In Australia, the “tips” are included in the price of the service and you usually make an exception only if you are overjoyed with the service. Of course, in some Australian restaurants it is normal to leave a tip, especially if it is one that is frequented by tourists.

I hope this glimpse into The Land Down Under has shown you that Australia is likely not what you imagine it to be, and that this is precisely the reason you should come, visit it, and get a glimpse of a lifestyle that will change your perception of the world, and, in the end, of yourself. That is what traveling is all about anyway, right?

Written by Mark Tomich, an Aussie living a dream life with two kids, a lovely wife and a couple of huge surfing boards.  They often travel together, and are very happy that they can recieve family travel benefits, for example those given by

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

National Seat Check Saturday!

This Saturday, September 21st, is National Seat Check Saturday!  Use this fantastic tool, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to find a local child car seat inspection station near you!
image courtesy of the Child Passenger Safety Week Campaign (property of TSM and NHTSA)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Child Passenger Safety Week: Give-Away and Safety Tips!

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 1 through 12 years old.  Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the goal of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 15th-21st) is to make sure all parents and caregivers are properly securing their children (ages 0-12) in the best car restraint (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, seat belt) for their age and size.  This week, we at Travel-Tot, are thrilled to team up with the experts at Safety 1st to help promote Child Passenger Safety Week with a car seat give-away (see details at the bottom of this article!) and life-saving car seat safety tips (see below)! 

Car Seat Safety Tips From Julie Vallese, Safety 1st Consumer Safety Expert:

Importance of Rear Facing
In March of 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their car seat recommendations advising that children should remain rear facing until the age of two, or until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements allowed by their car seat. According to a study in the Journal of Injury Prevention children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in the event of a car crash if they are rear facing. When a child is rear facing their head, neck and spine are better supported and in the event of an accident, crash forces are distributed over the child’s entire body.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 75% of car seats are installed incorrectly.  Every car and car seat has different requirements for the safest installation so before you get started it is important to read both the car seat and car manual. 

Typically the center rear seat is the safest place for a car seat, and never install a car seat in the front seat.  If your car does not have a latch connector for the middle seat, you can use the middle seat belt to properly secure the base.  When installing, make sure the base of the car seat moves no more than an inch from side to side. An easy way to test this is to hold at the belt path.

New parents and grandparents are encouraged to attend a car seat check before the baby is born.  However, don’t just rely on the experts. You’re likely going to be taking the car seat out and installing it somewhere else at some point, so make sure you’re comfortable with the process too.  

Car Seat Expiration
Never use used or old car seats.  Car seats do have an expiration date and it is to understand the risks associated with using an expired or old car seat.  The reason for an expiration date is because plastic can warp and materials can fray, which can make car seats less safe to use.  Car seat technology and state and federal car seat regulations change.  A car seat deemed safe more than six years ago may no longer meet federal testing regulations.  Important warning labels may wear out and instruction books may get lost, which can lead to improper use of the car seat.


Car Seat Give-Away

image courtesy of Safety 1st

To help promote Child Passenger Safety Week, Travel-Tot, LLC, in conjunction with Safety 1st, is offering a car seat give-away; follow the instructions below to enter to win a free, life-saving  Safety 1st Elite 80 3-in-1 car seat!  The Elite 80 works in rear-facing mode for babies up to 40 pounds, then converts to forward-facing with harness, but features an extended weight range to keep children safely in harness all the way to 80 pounds.  In its 3rd mode, the Elite 80 goes beyond the traditional convertible seat to convert into a belt-positioning booster car seat for children up to 100 pounds.  Additionally Air Protect + combines the advanced protection of our Air Protect® cushion system with patented GCell HX™ foam designed with hexagonal shapes for 100% full body production. For more details and specifications, click here.

To enter to win a free Safety 1st Elite 80 3-in-1 car seat, simply "like" Travel-Tot's Facebook Page and "like" and leave a comment below the mention of this blog post on Travel-Tot's Facebook feed (note: commenting on this article below will NOT enter you to win a free car seat).  Entries must be received by Saturday, September 21st, Midnight Pacific Standard Time (PST) to be eligible for drawing.  Eligible for US residents only. 

image courtesy of the Child Passenger Safety Week Campaign (property of TSM and NHTSA)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cutting Down on Back-to-School Anxiety

To help ease back-to-school apprehension, ease kids into a consistent school night routine and be sure they:
  • get enough sleep and eat a healthy breakfast (set a reasonable bedtime to ensure they are well-rested, and help keep them alert with a balanced, low-sugar breakfast)
  • make a list of need-to-know information to help them remember important details (i.e., class schedule, classroom numbers, teachers' names, bus drivers' names, and bus number, etc.)
  • keep organized with a calendar - record all assignment and project due dates, test dates, extracurricular activities, gym days, etc.
  • get organized and encourage them to set out everything they need the night before (completed homework and books should be placed in backpacks and clothes should be laid out for the next morning)
image courtest of stockimages/

Friday, September 6, 2013

Great Fall Getaways: PA State Parks

With school starting up again next week, my husband, daughter and I decided to have one last family adventure this past week by renting a cabin in one of Pennsylvania's most beautiful state parks, Ricketts Glen.  Renown for its spectacular lake, Lake Jean, and amazing hiking trails featuring a series of majestic waterfalls, Ricketts Glen is a nature lover's dream.  We were very fortunate to be there just as the first hints of autumn color were beginning to appear on the trees, and to experience beautiful weather conditions during our stay that allowed for some fantastic night-sky viewing!

If you've never camped in a cabin, you're really missing out!  We usually camp in the more traditional sense, (tent, lanterns, coolers, etc.); but spending a few days living in a cabin appointed with simple furnishings (including bunk beds that thrilled my daughter!), basic appliances (stove, refrigerator), heat (temperatures dropped to the high 40s at night), and water (I can't begin to explain how luxurious it was to have a bathroom on site!), was exciting, relaxing, and comfortable! 

images courtesy of the Winsch family
We took advantage of the beautiful beach the day we arrived, though it was a bit cool for swimming, and spent most of the next day hiking the 4-mile trail that highlights the park's 22 breath-taking waterfalls.  It was a rather strenuous hike, and I don't recommend it for families with very young children, but most school-aged children would really enjoy it, though caution is necessary given the nature of the trail (slippery in spots, steep descents and ascents, rustic terrain).  Our favorites were the stacked falls, Shawnee and Huron (combined over 70 feet in height!), and the park's highest falls, Ganoga, at a height of 94 feet!  The park boasted a number of other scenic trails, but with only two full days to explore, we didn't get the chance to experience them all!

Boulder Field at Hickory Run
So if you're looking for an amazing autumn getaway, check out state parks in your area - they are full of opportunities to spend family time together enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing nature's most spectacular wonders!  And if you're lucky enough to live in the northeast U.S., I highly recommend looking into Ricketts Glen State Park and the surrounding areas (on our trip home we explored another local natural wonder, Boulder Field, at Hickory Run State Park).

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom