Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2 Tips For Space-Saving Packing!

Two great tactics for leaving room in your luggage for souveniers and other purchases:
  1. Pack older, disposable clothes that you can discard after wearing to free up room for purchases on the way home!
  2. Instead of packing all the guide books you have for your destination, copy or rip out the pages and take only those for the cities that you will be visiting!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

7 Must-See Sights for Families Traveling in New Zealand

image courtesy of Transfercar
This week, we are thrilled to introduce our guest blogger, Robert Reeve of Transfercar a car rental service in Australia and New Zealand.  Many tourists that visit Australia and New Zealand know that by investing in a car rental either location can be explored in its entirety simply by driving between sights; Transfercar offers cost-effective car rental options that appeal to families and other travelers on a budget!  Robert has generously offered to share the article below which highlights some of the best family attractions of New Zealand!   Our thanks to Robert for his insightful list of must-see sights!

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world; one that continues to attract millions of visitors from around the globe year after year.  When traveling to New Zealand with your family, there are a seven sights you won't want to miss:
This amazing gondola will allow you to see the entire skyline from the comfort of a scenic gondola ride. If you are afraid of heights, however, do not worry. There are still plenty of sights to see throughout New Zealand while you are still on the ground!
If you enjoy living life on the edge and getting involved with extreme sports, then you have come to the right place. Bungee jumping and free falling are all possible at this widely popular tourist attraction. Located in the Mokai Canyon with the Rangtkei River below, it is also a spectacular sight to see even if you do not plan on jumping off of any cliffs while you are there.
You may have already heard about The Champagne Pool in New Zealand. Here is where you will be able to find it and many other popular sights that are awaiting your presence. Explore the captivating natural springs that have been bubbling up for many millenniums over time.
If you are a lover of history, then you do not want to miss out on the opportunity to experience a walk in the past with this mission that provides help with creating Maori language books and created some amazing gardens that are still kept up and maintained even today.
For those that would rather enjoy the beautiful sights throughout New Zealand from the sea, you will have the chance to explore many captivating sights from the docks of these amazing cruise lines. You will even discover wildlife as well and eat some of the best food that you have ever tasted while you are still on board for any of the day cruises that are sailing throughout New Zealand.
If the cruise ship is not as speedy and private as you would like for your tourist experience to be, then you should invest in any of the available jet boat options that will allow you to experience Lake Rotorua in a way that you have never thought possible. Along with the amazing sights, you will get a high adrenaline rush just from the speed of the boat itself!
Take a day off of travelling in this 5-star holiday park. Rated as one of the best locations in New Zealand, you will have the opportunity to get so much more than just the ordinary spa pampering. You will also get to take in all of the beautiful vistas that surround the resort.

About the author: Robert Reeve works at Transfercar, a car rental Australia service, providing travellers free transport for major cities in Australia and New Zealand.  When it comes to car rental in Australia and New Zealand, tourists invest in this cost-effective option in order to explore all of the sights there without spending more money than necessary; check it out for your next trip! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tip of the Week: Keep Rollin'!

Many a seasoned traveler will agree, to maximize your packing potential, roll your clothes rather than fold them!  Tightly rolled clothes take up less space than folded ones. Plus, particularly if you roll each item in tissue paper, they're less prone to getting wrinkled!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Autism & Sensory Disorders and Family Travel

This week we are excited to share an article by Adam, a guest blogger who worked closely with Bonnie Arnwine, a specialist in the field of Autism and Sensory Disorders to provide the outstanding article below that offers valuable insight and information for parents traveling with children who may struggle with these issues. 
Surviving Long Car Rides with Autism & Sensory Disorders

It’s bad enough to have kids asking when you will get to your destination when they are just being impatient, but what if that child has a sensory disorder or something that can turn a boring ride into a sensory nightmare?  Here are a few ways you can help to prevent, soothe and avoid a meltdown on long road trips by turning your car into a mini calm down room. 

Tactile Issues

Seatbelts can rub against your skin and stitching can be scratchy.  Although the scratchy feeling can be annoying for a child without Autism, one who has sensory disorders with touch won’t be able to find a way to relax because of the sensation.  For them a small thread can feel like a giant nail scraping against them and stop them from being able to relax.  One thing you can do is to place a simple sheep skin cover over the offending area.  You can also try a weighted compression vest for your child.  The vest will help your child feel calmer like they are getting a big hug and offset the specific pressure points of the seat belt. 

Sound Issues

Normal outside sounds might not bug you to the point where you cannot sleep, but even two people talking in the front or the next row over on an airplane can be extremely annoying for kids with Autism and sensory disorders.  Most family members will want to talk or listen to music during a drive.  To give your child with autism a sound break you can bring along noise cancelling earmuffs or bring some headphones with a meditation or relaxation cd.  If you combine this with some comfortable dark sunglasses or a soft, seamless and smooth eye mask, your child may be able to calm down and fall asleep with no outside noises or light to bother them. 

Smells and Scent Issues

When you are driving through the country or by farms, scents can come into your vehicle which could be upsetting.  If you combine them with noises or other things that can cause meltdowns, your child could go from mildly agitated to a full blown tantrum.  Two options you can use are to test which scents can help to calm your child and see if you can find a light and matching scent with an air freshener that plugs into the air vent.  This way when you need to add the calming scent like Vanilla or Lavender to the car, you can attach the scent to the vents and create a calming atmosphere.  When the tantrum has ended, you can then remove the scent and return back to normal.  Two other options are to find a scented toy or pillow like lavender scented Slumber Friends and as your child cuddles with it they’ll have the relaxing smell that helps them feel calm.  Lastly you can find calming scents and place one in the back of the car that will slowly release so you have a constant flow of calming scents for your child during the entire trip. 

Just like you would create a calm down room at home for your child that they know they can use to relax, you can try to create this same atmosphere for your child for long car rides to help soothe and calm tantrums before they start.  Think about how to incorporate calming scents, sounds and feelings into the trip and also how you can help to prevent any scratching or other feelings that may affect your child. You may also want to find a pair of kids pajamas without seams, tags or anything that could irritate your child’s skin. By turning their seat into a mini version of a calm down room, surviving the long car ride can become much easier and everyone can enjoy getting to your destination. 

About the Author: Adam has been blogging for roughly a decade. He loves to help people find everything from great deals on travel, to party planning as well as how to find easy ways to prepare hard to cook meals!

This article was fact-checked by Bonnie Arnwine of National Autism Resources Bonnie, is the founder of National Autism Resources, a leading place for parents, family and friends of people with Autism to find affordable, hand selected products for education, play and therapy as well as articles from experts on Autism, ADHD and Sensory Disorders.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Boutique of the Week: Small Fryz!

Small Fryz of West Hampton, CT, offers shoppers a fantastic online boutique experience!  In business since 1997, they successfully strive to provide the very best in quality products and customer service.  They demonstrate great pride in their company, their commitment to customer service, and the products they sell.  Their adorable online store provides customers with an easily navigable, safe, and secure environment in which to browse their extensive line of merchandise.  Travel-Tot is thrilled to recognize Small Fryz as our Boutique of the Week!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Intimacy and Travel with Children in Tow

photo credit: seanmcgrath via photopin cc
Thinking of taking a romantic jaunt this Valentine's Day, but worried that having the kids in tow could kill the mood?  We've got 5 great tips for building time for intimacy into your itinerary!

1. Stay and Play: Do your research and find accommodations that offer children's day camps, kids nights out, or babysitting.  Build some "couple" time around these activities; share some time alone together during the day (try the spa, the beach, a jacuzzi, or just enjoy an amorous afternoon together in the privacy of your room!), enjoy a dinner alone together, a nightcap, a romantic walk (or, enjoy the evening together in privacy of your room!).

2. Go Cruisin': Many cruise lines cater to families with children of all ages!  Most provide supervised activities and programs for children from pre-schoolers to teens, and many provide daycare/nursery facilities, freeing up a few hours for the two for you to enjoy one another's company and the romantic ambiance of the ship!

3. Do Not Disturb: Instead of staying in a hotel, consider renting a house or condo that offers separate bedrooms!  Having separate sleeping quarters has obvious advantages and provides a relaxed atmosphere that fosters romance; pop the kids in bed and share a bottle of wine before heading to the boudoir! 

4. Bring Along Babysitters: Whether you have an au pair, a nanny, a favorite babysitter, or grandparents, aunts or uncles who would enjoy sharing a trip, having an extra set of hands when traveling can come in handy!  Not only will your child enjoy spending some time with a trusted caregiver other than his or her parents; but it can free up time for the two of you to sneak off for a romantic interlude!

5. Make the Time: If all else fails, create a schedule and stick to it.  Establish and enforce a bedtime for the children that affords two hours just for the two of you at the end of the day.  Make time to spend together as a couple and enjoy it!  With a two-hour head start, your children should drift off to sleep soundly enough for the two of you to enjoy a little sleepy snuggling!

Wishing you all safe, happy, and romantic travels this Valentine's Day!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Family Road-Trip: Prep for Winter!

image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Winter driving emergencies can present a hazard for families, particularly those with young children.  Be prepared for any road-travel emergency by keeping a winter safety kit in the trunk of your car.  In addition to: jumper cables, flares, flags, an ice scraper, sand (or kitty litter), and a shovel,  remember to pack: blankets, snacks, formula, water, diapers, wipes and several changes of clothing for each child. Consider enrolling in a roadside assistance program and always travel with your cell phone (and charger) so you can call for help in an emergency. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Early Childhood Development and Travel

Images courtesy of Kids Develop
This week we are pleased to feature a guest post from the co-creators of Kids Develop, an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between medically trained individuals and caregivers with a common goal of promoting normal development in the children of the future.  Don't miss their new book, Your Child's Early Development Made Simple; a labor of their passion for parenting and a valuable resource for all parents of young children!

What is development? A simple question asked by so many parents. A broad definition of development is the learning and mastering of skills that continue to build upon each other over time. These skills or developmental milestones are age specific achievements that the majority of children accomplish by a certain age range. Every developing child is unique and will achieve these milestones at different times within an associated age range.

During the early years, the brain is like an incomplete drawing. The nerves and materials in the brain that carry information and allow children to progress in their development are not completely formed at birth. It is through the child’s experiences in their environment that allows these connections to start forming and growing in number. What we show and expose them to early on, largely predicts what kind and quality of connections will form in the brain. With proper monitoring, exposure, and intervention a child’s brain has the potential to “draw out” a masterpiece. Another way to think of these connections of nerves and growth of brain tissue is as a map being drawn out over time. With the proper exposure, a well-organized map develops allowing the child to easily follow it. This leads to the successful mastery of acquired skills.

There are different types of development that professionals like to look at. We like to take a comprehensive approach and look at six main areas to be thorough.  Additionally we also like to look at how these areas relate to each other because everything in the body is connected including the areas of development. These six areas of development are as follows: cognition (play skills), language, self-help/adaptive, social/emotional, perceptual/ fine motor, and gross motor. It is crucial as children are developing that they achieve and build upon the smaller skills or milestones before other more complicated skills are learned. This helps create a solid foundation from which to grow from. Now that we have a basic understanding of development, we can consider different developmental stages while traveling to make decisions regarding toys, safety, schedules, etc.

Children like to have and do well with predictable routines and schedules. It provides a sense of order and security, which is important for them as their bodies are so rapidly changing. When making travel arrangements, consider your daily schedules and routines especially sleeping and feeding times. If feasible, take these times into consideration when making travel arrangements. For example, if you are traveling in the middle of nap or lunchtime is it possible to accommodate their needs at that time? Your travel arrangements of course may not always coincide with your child’s sleep and feeding schedule, but the more often you consider those needs when making your plans, the more likely you will have a happy child. Happy children make happy parents and great vacations!

Certain partial accommodations can include making sure to bring along food (keep in mind you may not be able to warm it up) both for eating during a long road trip in the car and at times to offer in restaurants when your child may be picky about unfamiliar food. Something familiar from their sleep routine is great to bring along as well. This can be as simple as their favorite blankie. Do you think your child will tolerate morning trips or afternoon trips better? If traveling by airplane offer the bottle or breast to younger babies during take off and landing to help their ears with changes in pressure. For the older kids, have them drink from their sippy cups.

Consider as well your final destination and whether you will need car seats. We always travel with a compact stroller and car seat that we check in when flying. To move around the airport we suggest babywearing (love the Moby Wrap)1 for the younger ones under a year and a compact stroller for toddlers. The strollers can be checked in at the gate. 

Plan ahead for your accommodations. Where will your baby sleep? Most hotels have cribs for the younger babies. When they get to the toddler stage and older, sometimes those cribs are too small. We found handy inflatable bed rails to use when sleeping on a regular bed. If using these bed rails, make sure to not leave your baby unattended and follow the products instructions. The one we like is from One Step Ahead called Stay Put Inflatable Bed Rail Set2. When considering room safety when traveling, Travel-Tot has a comprehensive travel childproofing kit3 with all the bells and whistles to convert your destination room into a child safe room.

Another thing that has to be considered is how to clean bottles, spoons, sippy cups, etc. if in a hotel. With a little soap and hot water the OXO on the go drying rack4 is very handy as it includes the brush and drying rack, which is compact for easy packing. 

What happens if your baby gets sick? Make sure to pack your standard pain and fever medications such as Tylenol and Motrin. Also know where your closest Emergency Room is in case of an emergency. In our travel bags we bring an extra change of clothes, food, water/formula/milk, toys, diapers, wipes, Tylenol/Motrin, and a small blanket. Now that we have covered the basics lets quickly mention a few things about toys.

In the first year of life, babies are really interested in exploring everything by mouth. This oral stage is a normal part of their learning and it typically continues until 18 months or so. Taking this into consideration you will need to bring along toys that are safe to explore by mouth and not choke on. For children 0-6 months: pacifiers, rattles, blankets, and teething toys are good options. At 6-12 months of age children begin using both hands together and enjoy making noise and seeing the reaction from a toy when they push it or shake it. This is called cause and effect. Good choices for this stage include blocks, soft books, sensory balls, play phones, and stuffed animals that have music when they are squeezed. 1-2 year olds are now more mobile and interested in movement. Good options for this age range are nesting cups, simple puzzles, books, crayons, balls, dolls, and cars. The older children will be able to help you choose and pack their toys. Give them a little bag to store their toys and watch their little faces light up as you give them the job of carrying their toys.

For more detailed information regarding early childhood development please check out our simple to read newly published book at http://www.amazon.com/Your-Childs-Early-Development-Simple/dp/0615699634. You can also follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/kidsdevelop  for weekly tips and great articles!

 About the authors:

Arielle Rigaud-Riveira, M.D. Dr. Arielle Rigaud is a mother of two children currently living in South Florida with her family. She grew up mostly in South Florida but also has spent some time living in California. She received her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Miami with a major in Psychobiology. She went on to achieve her medical degree at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Her residency was completed at Jackson Memorial Hospital where she specialized in Pediatrics. She practiced as a Pediatrician in a private practice setting for five years and then began practicing Developmental Pediatrics. She always had a special interest in Early Childhood Development and it is through her practice that she realized the need to further educate parents on their children's developmental health. 

Nathalie McNeil, PT, DPT, CEIM. Dr. Nathalie McNeil is a mother of two children who currently lives in South Florida with her family. She received her Bachelors of Science degree from Florida International University with a major in Health Education, her Masters degree in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University, and after practicing for some years went on to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Additionally, she is a Certified Educator of Infant Massage and has a passionate interest in educating parents about early childhood development. She has been working with children since 1999 and has been involved with early intervention evaluation and treatment since the beginning of her career.