Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a very safe, happy, and healthy 2015!  
Best wishes for a New Year filled with love and laughter! - The Travel-Tot Team

image courtesy of satit_srihin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Four Fun Outdoor Activities for Winter!


image courtesy of TinaPhillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Remember the magic of the first big snowfall from childhood? Heck, remember the excitement of any decent snow accumulation?! What is it that makes a cold, snowy day so uniquely exciting? Maybe it's all the fun things you can do in the cold, snowy weather that can't be done any other time during the year! After all, the snow and biting cold definitely provide an opportunity to create fabulous sweet treats and a rare opportunity to seemingly "freeze time!" So gear up and get ready to head out into the cold snowy weather and make some fun with these ideas that we love:



Embrace Your Inner Candyman!  If your kids are familiar with the Little House on the Prairie series (or even if they're not) making candy from snow and maple syrup is a must try!  The best recipe I've found for this particular activity can be found here.

Create Frozen Sweet Creaminess!  If you haven't tried Snow Ice Cream, you haven't lived!  Simple recipe below: 

You will need:

8-10 cups of fresh, clean, snow (no yellow snow!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Scoop snow into a large bowl. 
2. Pour condensed milk and vanilla over snow and mix well.
3. Serve immediately!

Freeze Time!  Think bubbles are the domain of Spring and Summer?  Think again! Grab that bubble solution and a bubble wand and head out on those bitter cold days (try to avoid windy days!) and blow some bubbles that will blow your kids' minds!  Watch in awe as the bubbles harden and solidify before they hit the ground - seemingly defying the passage of time!


Colorful, Chilly Scavenger Hunt: Freeze food-colored water in several colors (in ice cube molds or in balloons!) and hide in the snow - send kids on a scavenger hunt - the one who finds the most colored cubes or globes wins!

So next time the forecast calls for snow, bundle up and head on out for some magic that can only be made with the help of Mother Nature's snowy, cold goodness!

Safe and happy adventuring!
-Destination Mom

Friday, December 19, 2014

Great Holiday Getaways:Hotel del Coronado!

image courtesy of Hotel del Coronado
It’s a little known fact that in 1905, 28 years before there was the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting, it was Hotel del Coronado who strung the first set of outdoor tree lights, setting a widespread precedent of tradition across the nation. Since that time, The Del has become a holiday centerpiece of the West Coast for it’s annual, family-friendly activities and programming found nowhere else in the country. After recent polar vortexes, it’s time to pack your bags for a warm weather winter wonderland holiday excursion and check out some of these one-of-a-kind experiences. 
  • Skating by the Sea - Named the top ice skating rink in the US by Travel Channel, The Del’s outdoor and oceanfront ice skating rink is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this year! To mark the decade, Hotel del Coronado is expanding the ice rink surface to now accommodate up to 200 skaters at one time. Guests and visitors can inquire about private lessons or enjoy a picturesque sunset over the Pacific Ocean while on the ice. East Coaster’s and our friends up north will appreciate the 66-degree weather and not having to bundle up like an abominable snowman before stepping on the ice. [Cost: $25 per person, all ages, for 90 minutes of skating time]

  • Elf Tuck Ins - As bedtime approaches for your little ones, have an elf visit your room to read a few classic stories to the kids before lights out. “The Night Before Christmas” is the classic book of choice for it’s detailed illustrations, holiday spirit and calm, relaxing storyline.

  • Jingle S’mores - You and your family can cozy up to your own private beach bonfire, tuck your toes in the sand and toast some marshmallows for an evening of sweet treats. Enjoy seasonal smores with beach bonfire experience including Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Ghirardelli Mint Chocolate, Marshmallows, and a holiday hat for all! 

  • Brunch with Santa - Every Sunday from November 30 through December 21, families can enjoy The Del’s famous and festive Sunday Brunch in the legendary crown room with visits from jolly ol’ St. Nick. Take pictures and review Christmas lists with Santa himself all while enjoying a seemingly endless array of classic holiday and international foods perfect for every palate. 

  • Kidtopia At Kidtopia activity center, the new DelVenture program offers children ages 4-12 exciting and seasonal activities and adventures such as safaris, ocean learning, mosaics, junior photographers, beach Olympics and more. Kids ages 4-12 will also receive an adventure pack at check-in [overnight guests only], complete with a treasure map and compass. They can explore the resort and uncover the hidden clues, leading them to a “treasure” at the end.


As you begin to deck the halls and plan for online holiday family travel roundups, keep Hotel del Coronado in mind - it's the perfect spot for holiday family fun!

Safe and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Safe Sleep: Important Reminder and Brilliant Solution!

image property of Vusee
Sometimes preventing a tragedy is impossible; so many dangers are unpredictable and fundamentally unavoidable.  But often, simply knowing about a hazard and making an easy modification can, quite literally, be lifesaving.  One of the leading causes of injury in crib-bound children is strangulation from cords and wires pulled in by curious little hands and unwittingly coiled around the neck, and the items most commonly located within reach are baby monitors.  Preventing this kind of tragedy is as easy as relocating these items to areas in the room where they are safely out of reach - and one of our favorite products, the Vusee, does just that by providing a shelf mount, which offers greater visibility into the crib and safer out-of-reach location!  At only $15.00, it makes a great stocking stuffer for your favorite family!

Safe and Happy Holidays!
-Destination Mom

Friday, December 12, 2014

Books We Love: PJ's Backyard Adventures!

image courtesy of Rebecca P. Cohen
This week, I am privileged to have the opportunity to share with you my review of the new children's book, "PJ’s Backyard Adventures - Who is PJ?."  This book is the first in a series from Rebecca P. Cohen, the author of "15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids""Who is PJ?" is an interactive adventure book for ages 2-8 that engages children’s imaginations and joy of learning through coloring, reading, hidden sight words, creative play, and geography. It even features a "cut-out PJ" on the back for children to remove and take on their own adventures!

I am thrilled to report that the children I shared this story with enjoyed it as much as I did!  This adorable, accessible tale instantly captivated my "test subjects" (two 5-year old children, one boy and one girl).  They not only enjoyed reading the story, but on each page they raced to see who would be first to find the hidden word, then had a blast coloring in the pages!  But, perhaps most exciting of all, they both asked several questions about the spots PJ visited; guessing what a desert was, and trying to figure out what continent we lived on! 

This story, while simple, leaves an enormous amount of room for children to use their imaginations, and encourages active outdoor play by stirring curiosity about the world outside their own backyards.  I would absolutely recommend this book for pre-readers and beginning readers. Parents will love how it spurs their children's love of the great outdoors, and helps them explore their own creativity; not to mention how it fosters basic reading skills through word recognition, vocabulary building, and writing!  A fun twist on traditional first-readers, "Who is PJ?" will open up a whole world of exciting adventures for your little explorer!  Get your copy today on Amazon!

For more information about worldwide distribution of PJ's Backyard Adventures, visit http://www.BeOutsideAndGrow.com.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was compensated for my review with a free copy of this book. 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter's Here: Safety and Sledding!

image courtesy of Ventrilock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Temperatures are dropping and snow is on the way!  As any parent can tell you, nothing says winter quite like watching your child, bundled up, squealing with joy as he goes flying down a pile of snow! Unfortunately, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, serious sledding injuries, most of which include children under the age of 15 who suffer a head injury, are increasingly common during snowy winter months. Preventing tragedies such as these starts with awareness and planning ahead. Following the 4 basic tips below can help avoid such injuries and help prevent sledding-related emergency room visits this winter.

  1. Adult supervision:  An adult should always be present while children are sledding. They can help guide children to make good decisions about sledding and can be there (with a cell phone and first-aid kit) in case of injury or emergency.
  2. Dress for success:  Children don’t always recognize that they are getting too cold or too damp for the conditions outside, so be vigilant about making sure that they are well protected (set time limits based on weather conditions, monitor how damp their clothing becomes, etc.).  Staying warm is an essential part of outdoor winter play; have your child dress in layers that can be removed and added back as necessary. It is also advisable to dress children in bright colors so that they are easily visible at all times.  Finally, wearing a helmet will help prevent head injuries in the unfortunate event of an accident while sledding, so insist on properly fitted head gear.
  3. Equipment and technique: Sleds should be inspected for safety; they should be free from damage and should have handles that children can hold.  Children should be instructed to sled sitting upright with their feet facing forward; allowing better visibility and control.  If they fall off while sledding, make sure they know to roll to the side and get out of the way of the sled and other oncoming traffic. Also, if they find themselves on an out-of-control sled, they should roll off to the side to safety.
  4. Location: Always know the terrain before allowing children to start downhill; make sure that the path is free from obstacles and other children who are sledding and make sure hills are appropriate for the child's age and ability (i.e, not too steep, free of trees and bodies of open water, etc.).
Safe and happy sledding!

-Destination Mom

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gear Up for Winter Safety!

image courtesy of  Evgeni Dinev/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Winter is here, and that means more time hunkering down indoors and trying to stay warm. But snuggling up with a warm mug of hot chocolate is not always going to be enough! According to the CDC, young children and the elderly are disproportionately affected by hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter months. Often this results from failure to prepare for weather-related emergencies or improper maintenance of heating systems. The checklist below contains a few crucial steps that you can take now to help prepare your family for whatever this winter may bring.



Check your home’s heating systems:
  • Make sure that all heating systems are clean, working properly, and vented to the outside.
  • Inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys.
  • Install smoke detectors and test batteries monthly.
  • Have a safe back-up heating source and fuel.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies by:
    • installing a carbon monoxide detector,
    • being aware of and alert for the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and
    • keeping generators and grills out of the house.
 Prepare for weather-related emergencies and power outages:
  • Stow a broom and a shovel in a handy spot (to clear leaves and snow from walkways, driveways, and low lying vents).
  • Consider investing in a generator; the upfront cost may seem high, but it can save you money in the long run by making your home habitable in case of long-term power loss, and preventing the loss of perishables.
  • Stock a supply of food that does not require cooking or refrigeration and water.
  • Keep an up-to-date emergency kit, including:
    • battery-operated flashlights, radios, and lamps;
    • spare batteries;
    • a stocked first-aid kit and extra medicine;
    • baby items (i.e. jar foods, powdered formula, etc.); and
    • rock salt, cat litter, or sand for icy walkways.
You'll all enjoy snuggling up together indoors a little more if you know you've done everything you can to plan ahead for the safety and comfort of your family, should an emergency arise!
- Destination Mom

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An Elf Away From Home!

It's the holiday season again; time to be heading over the rivers and through the woods to visit far flung family members and friends. It's also the time of year when the Elf on the Shelf makes his (or her!) great return! So if you spend time away from home, chances are, your Elf will follow, and no self-respecting Elf would leave home without the basics for some hilarious hi-jinks... (see material list below for ideas)! 

Luggage: an Altoid's mint tin or small matchbox painted and given a handle is the perfect suitcase for your Elf as you begin your journey!

Pre-printed Joke Cards: Kids love jokes, so why not let your Elf bring some back to share from the North Pole!

Skis: A pair of candy canes and two fancy toothpicks and your Elf is ready to hit the slopes!

Bowling: Set up gumdrops and let your Elf take aim with a gumball!

TicTacs: Brilliant as Elf poop; after all, an Elf in a strange new place may have trouble finding the restroom! Also great for spelling out messages!

Planning ahead for any non-sense is imperative - be sure you have all necessary materials before you go to keep things fun!  If you're looking for ideas for more crazy capers, check out these outstanding videos of Elves caught in action on YouTube!

Safe and happy Elfing!
-Destination Mom

Friday, November 28, 2014

Healthy Family Getaway Ideas!

This week we are very excited to share a guest post by travel guru, Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel.  If your family is looking for an exotic getaway that combines wellness, activity, and relaxation, you need look no further than the amazing suggestions below!  Safe, happy, and healthy travels!
-Destination Mom

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10 of the Best Activity and Sporting Holidays for all the Family


Keep up with the kids and return a youthful lease of life to your body on an action-packed family holiday with Health and Fitness Travel that guarantees fun for the whole family. From surfing in Morocco, to tennis in the Caribbean and skiing in Switzerland, get ready to be inspired with 10 of the best activity and sporting holidays for all the family.

Make the most of family time with activities from horse riding to mountain biking, or take five and indulge in therapeutic treatments at the luxury spa, whilst the little ones are entertained at the kids club. So, why not take a break from your usual routine and jet off on a family holiday which promises fun-filled memories and a healthy active break.

Best for Sport with Swimming: Thailand Thanyapura

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Escape to tropical Thailand for a luxury activity holiday where there’s guaranteed fun for all the family. Keep the kids active in the children’s Tree Club, and watch them excel in the sport they love with a variety of training camps and activities. After a tough day of running, swimming, tennis, rugby and circuit training, scoop up the kids and hear all about their wonderful day with new friends. Great for an all-round family fitness holiday, improve your swimming technique with lessons from the qualified instructors in the 50m Olympic swimming pool, before heading to the beach for a family game of volleyball.



Best for Horse Riding: Portugal The Oitavos Horse Riding

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Learn to ride on a healthy family activity holiday in Portugal, boasting an Equestrian Centre with 230 stables, complete with an outdoor and indoor riding school. With professional instructors, all levels can enjoy lessons on this healthy break, so while the kids are learning the basics you can ride off with the experts. There are also large areas for hacking, enabling beginners to get more used to their surroundings while those more advanced can enjoy a leisurely ride around. After a morning ride, sample some of the other activities on offer, from tennis to biking and golf to surfing, on your healthy family holiday.


Best for Tennis: Antigua Carlisle Bay  

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Escape to the Caribbean for a fun-filled family sports holiday where everyone can improve their tennis technique on one of nine available courts. Whether you’re a budding beginner or an expert on the court, enjoy six private tennis lessons with a professional instructor on this healthy break and while the children are busy at the kids club, unleash your competitive side in the hotel’s round robins competition. After a morning playing tennis, add a splash of variety to your tennis holiday and head to the water to enjoy complimentary water sports, ranging from windsurfing to snorkeling and water skiing to paddle boarding.






Best for Surfing: Morocco Paradis Plage

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Ride the waves in Morocco on a family water sports holiday where everyone can hit the water and learn to surf. Whether your family have never surfed before or are experienced water babies, there are lessons available for all ages and abilities so that everyone can get the most out of this active break. While the kids try their hand at sports and arts activities with the kids club, mix up your healthy holiday with a beachside yoga class or beach circuit training. Make time for family holiday fun with mountain biking, paddle boarding and kayaking before unwinding at the luxury spa.


Best for Multi-Activity: St Lucia The BodyHoliday WellFit Families

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Enjoy action-packed days in the Caribbean on a five star all-inclusive luxury family holiday where all the family can enjoy a host of activities. Raise the stakes and compete against each other in the parent vs children competitions, including volleyball and beach-a-thons, or cook up a storm together in the healthy family cooking classes. With activities ranging from snorkeling to scuba diving, windsurfing to water skiing and cycling to sailing; everyone will be able to try something new and find an activity they enjoy on this family active holiday.





Best for Golf: Cyprus Aphrodite Hills

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Discover this award-winning holiday in Portugal, where there’s loads to do for all the family, including learning to play golf. Experienced players can head straight for the 18 hole championship golf course, while those less experienced can learn everything about golf from the three PGA instructors at the academy. With lessons available for all ages and abilities, you can enjoy group sessions with the whole family on this activity holiday, or one-to-one lessons for something more private. After a day on the course and the little ones at the kids club, make the most of this luxury spa retreat and unwind with a choice of holistic treatments.


Best for Skiing: Switzerland The Alpina Gstaad

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Hit the slopes in Switzerland on a luxury skiing holiday and enjoy new ways to keep the family fit and healthy. Whether the kids are beginners or experienced slope sliders, there are on-site instructors available to help them improve, and while they’re learning a new skill mum and dad can have fun flying down the mountains. For alternative ways to enjoy the scenery on this wellness holiday, get the family together and go rock climbing or hiking. Once the children are at the kids club, head to one of the group classes with activities ranging from Tai Chi to Pilates.



Best for Football: St Vincent Buccament Bay  

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Pack your boots and jet off to the Caribbean for an active family holiday that includes a Liverpool Football Club soccer school, available all year round. Featuring master classes from professionals (with John Barnes and Ronnie Whelan having previously visited) the whole family can enjoy personalized training sessions and group matches to keep active on this healthy sports holiday.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, let the kids enjoy a kick about while you indulge in the holistic spa therapies, including bath rituals and ESPA body massages to help aid relaxation.


Best for Land & Water Sports: Bali: Grand Mirage

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
The perfect spot for a fun-filled activity holiday, it doesn't get much better than Bali for a family friendly healthy escape. With an idyllic beach front setting and wide array of water sports available, hit the beach and try out your water skills with paddle boating, boogie boarding, kayaking and windsurfing. Keep active on dry land with activities from tennis to basketball and billiards to archery for a fitness holiday everyone can participate in. While your mini-me hunts for treasure and plays mini soccer at the Bamboo kids club, enhance your well-being with daily group yoga classes and lifestyle classes from cooking to painting.


Best for Mountain Biking & Windsurfing: Portugal:  Martinhal Luxury Beach Resort

image courtesy of Health and Fitness Travel
Discover the best of Portugal with mountain biking and windsurfing on an active family adventure holiday, suitable for all ages. Make the most of this healthy retreat’s award-winning and highly popular windsurfing academy, with lessons available for all ages and abilities. Meanwhile, with a varied selection of TREK bikes, keen mountain bikers of all sizes can kick up the dust, allowing you to reach new heights as a family and explore your beautiful surroundings in style. After an active day, indulge in the luxury spa treatments while the children have fun at one of the seven kids clubs and five sports academies.






For advice, guidance and booking visit www.healthandfitnesstravel.com/family-holidays or call 0203 397 8891


About Paul Joseph:
Paul Joseph is co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, the leading experts in tailor-made healthy holidays worldwide. He searches for the rare and hidden gems around the world and puts together exclusive and trend-setting holidays for those who would like to improve or maintain their health and fitness whilst on holiday. As well as a love of all things travel, Paul’s other love is exercise, cycling and yoga. Paul also contributes to the travel pages of various high-profile newspapers and magazines where he offers his expert advice on wellness holidays.

About Health and Fitness Travel
Health and Fitness Travel is a global luxury wellness travel company that originated in the UK in 2010 and is committed to providing healthy holidays that enhance and change lives. Created by Paul Joseph and Adam Heathcote as a result of their passion for health and fitness travel and offering bespoke holidays to improve people’s well-being to lead happier and healthier lives.

Health and Fitness Travel offers clients a tailor-made seamless service with the very best health and fitness holidays, handpicked by its expert team, together with exclusive and added value packages with the best deals. As leading specialists, Health and Fitness Travel has also created their own collection of trademark healthy holidays in various destinations which include Fusion Fitness™ BodyBreaks™ and Discover Recover, offering clients the best value and holiday experience. For more information visit: www.healthandfitnesstravel.com


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let Us Be Truly Thankful!

With Thanksgiving mere days away, and the onslaught of holiday scrambling lurking just around the corner, what better time to take a deep breath and reflect on the blessings in your life?  Sure, there are things that make holidays stressful, but grab a quiet moment before all the craziness starts to truly consider what makes the holidays special.  Because despite what we are fed by media and merchandising, the most important gifts we can give our family and friends are our time and love; those magical, intangible, immeasurably important elements that bind our hearts and lives together in strange and beautiful ways.  So give your blessings a quick count before you down that turkey and skip out  to the mall... or maybe skip the mall and spend a little more time with those you love, because memories are gifts that last a lifetime!  

Wishing you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, November 21, 2014

Products We Love: Technological Treats for Traveling Families!

The holidays are just about to swing into full-gear, and gift-giving season is fast approaching! If your gift list includes any traveling families, or family members who love to travel, you'll want to check out these two awesome products:

Kinivo's Mini Portable Speaker: Take your music with you, wherever you go! 

Perfect for everyone from teens to families with young kids! The ideal product for picnics, hotel stays, camping, etc. This speaker has some seriously full-bodied sound, is rechargeable, fits in the palm of your hand, comes in s myriad of colors, and is compatible with just about anything that plays music and has an earphone port. Best of all, it's under $20 and ships for free with amazon prime. Makes the perfect stocking stuffer!  





iStabilizer Flex: Don't just capture the moment - be a part of it!

A brilliant little device that combines the iStabilizer Mount, a universal clamp that holds a wide variety of smartphones (up to 2.75 inches wide; and an XL version is available for larger devices) and a lightweight tripod with foam-covered bendable legs. We love that the mount has standard 1/4-inch tripod threads, so if you have a bigger tripod or monopod, you can use it with that, too!  Another score at just under $20 on Amazon!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Travel-Tot's Top 10 Road Safety Tips!

As a parent, safety is always a top priority, whether at home or on the road!  Experiencing a breakdown with children in tow can be frightening and stressful. So before you head out on your next family road trip, check out these ten road safety tips to help give you some peace of mind and pave the road ahead for fun!

image courtesy of stockimage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Road Trip Safety Tips: Travel-Tot's Top 10!

1. Before you leave, give your car a quick once-over: check tires to ensure tread and pressure are optimal, check windshield wiper blades and change if necessary, check and top off water level, engine coolant, and washer fluid, check oil level and change if necessary, and check brake lights, headlights, flashers, and blinkers.
2. Discuss road safety with your children and impress upon them how important it is not to distract the driver.
3. Inspect the back seat and ensure that it is clear of hazardous materials or anything your child can choke on. Remove all possible projectiles and store heavy, sharp, or poisonous items in the trunk or in sealed containers out of the reach of children.
4. Acquire some sort of roadside assistance or auto club plan.
5. Always bring along identification and medical information for all passengers in case there is an emergency; the time saved by having this information handy could be the difference between life and death. Ensure that license, insurance, and registration are up to date as well.
6. Ensure your car has an emergency kit, including;
  • a spare tire, jack, and tire iron 
  • jumper cables
  • a flashlight 
  • warm blankets
  • water and snacks
  • a fully charged cell phone (and a car charger)
  • flares 
  • a first aid kit
7. If possible, share the driving with someone to prevent exhaustion behind the wheel.  Pull over if you feel yourself becoming tired.
8. Take frequent breaks. Get out and let everyone stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat, and have a quick pick-me-up (i.e. coffee, tea, other caffeinated beverage) every two to three hours.
9. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle and always obey all traffic regulations.  Help prevent accidents by letting the navigator handle the GPS, cell phone, and music or other entertainment.
10. Keep an eye on your fuel situation; refuel as often as necessary.

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, November 14, 2014

Safe and Happy Travels This Thanksgiving!

The holidays are upon us, and for many families that means traveling to share in joyous celebrations with far-flung friends and family members! As a parent of a toddler or young child, visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, etc. can often pose a bit of a challenge; childless homes frequently contain hazards that keep you hopping up during visits to prevent your little love from breaking low lying treasures or from injuring him- or herself (i.e. candles, decorative breakables, hot serving dishes, and beautiful table linens just begging to be yanked by little hands!).

While vigilant supervision during any visit is irreplaceable as an injury deterrent, there are a few things you can do to make life a bit easier on yourself (and your child!) during holiday visits.  Investing just 15 minutes to create a "safe zone" for your child to play in could facilitate a more relaxed and enjoyable visit.

Start by visually inspecting each room thoroughly from the vantage point of your child.  Get down low: look beneath and behind furniture, drapes, sinks, toilets, and heaters for loose pills, pins, or other overlooked items that could pose a choking or poisoning hazard - you may be surprised what you find. Also, remove tiny, fragile, top-heavy, burning, hot, or sharp objects from reach (table tops, shelves, hearths, etc.). Finally, be sure cords (electrical, blinds, decorative, etc.) are coiled up out of reach and keep doors to laundry rooms, stairways, kitchens, supply closets, and bathrooms closed or gated-off from access during the visit.

To help create an additional layer of protection, invest in a Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit; the kit components (foam corner guards, outlet covers, pinch guards, etc.) can help prevent injury from some of the most common hazards present in living spaces!  Best of all, the Kit's components go on with a strong, temporary, non-damaging adhesive that will not damage furniture or finishes; and Kit components can be reused!  It is a quick, easy solution you can store in your car for wherever you go; or consider picking one up as a gift for your parents, in-laws, or other friends or family you visit during the holidays! 

Creating a safe play zone in a childless home may take a few minutes, but it will result in greater peace of mind for you and a more enjoyable visit for everyone! Safe and happy travels and best wishes from all of us at Travel-Tot for a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving!

-Destination Mom 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

Did you know that falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death? Not many people do. Since Family Safety is a major focus in November, the amazing team at American Recall Center has made it their mission to educate and encourage safe behavior in order to help prevent slips, trips, and falls. To that end, they’ve created the helpful graphic below that outlines how to prevent falls that may cause traumatic injuries. For even more information, visit American Recall Center's webpage at http://www.recallcenter.com/prevent-slips-trips-falls/.
image courtesy of American Recall Center

Friday, November 7, 2014

Destination: Riviera Maya!

This week we are thrilled to present a guest post by Amber Kingsley on beautiful Riviera Maya, Mexico! Amber is a writer who lives in Southern California when she's not exploring the world. After traveling extensively throughout North America, she hopes to see more of Europe and Asia in the near future. Happy reading!

Beyond Cancun

While a trip to a Cancun resort is a great relaxation option for parents, it might not be the exact type of getaway you want when the entire family is along. When it comes to traveling with your family, you may want a location that has a little more activity and a little less relaxation … but only a little less. After all, you still need some relaxation time.

You can maintain the feel of your favorite Cancun resort while adding to the activity level with a visit to the Riviera Maya. As shown by the attached infographic, this Mexican resort provides many of the same relaxing benefits of Cancun, while adding the option of exploring nearby historical ruins and enjoying water sports. (You don’t have to tell the kids that the historical ruins of this vacation spot might provide some educational benefits too.)

First, the Relaxing

The Riviera Maya has much of what you’d expect to find at a resort in the Cancun area, offering swimming, sailing, golf, and other resort amenities. The weather in this Mexican region is great as well.

The evenings provide a mixture of relaxation and shopping options in this area. Many areas offer live music, for example, including a local jazz festival called Playa Del Carmen. The most popular shops and restaurants are found in this area along Fifth Avenue.

Then the Exploring

Archaeological sites are found in the area of Riviera Maya, giving you a chance to explore. The entire family will get a good workout while visiting the sites, while still having the ability to return to relaxation mode at any time! Two sites you’ll be sure to want to visit when at the Riviera Maya include:
  • Tulum. This archaeological site was created in the 13th century, and it is likely the largest draw of any of the ruins in the area of Riviera Maya. Guided tours are available at this attraction, which may provide even more educational benefits. 
  • Xcaret. This site opened to the public in 1990, and it provides a combination of ruins to explore as well as natural attractions. The cave system found at Xcaret is 51 miles long with 28 different entrances, and a Guinness World Record was set in 2010 when a swimmer traveled 490 feet with one breath of air.
Finally, the Water Sports

If an archeological site doesn’t interest your family, Riviera Maya has additional activities beyond exploration. Many of the activities in this area are centered on water sports, such as:
  • Sea life. The area has the world’s largest population of manatees, numbering about 1,500. You’ll also have the option of seeing dolphins, turtles, and a large variety of tropical fish.
  • Snorkeling. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is available for snorkelers and scuba divers to find some amazing natural formations. This reef is 600 miles long. 
  • Fishing. Numerous types of fishing are available in the area, including deep-sea fishing with a charter boat. You even can find tour guides who can help you learn how to perform another type of fishing, such as sport fishing. Visit the area during May and June for the best fishing.

Even if you’re traveling without the entire family, Riviera Maya can provide a nice change-up to Cancun. No matter what type of activity you want to enjoy – even if it’s an educational type of activity – this area has it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get Out The Vote!

image courtesy of taoty/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Today is Election Day, so remember to get out and vote!  

Need to find your polling location?  Check out Vote411!

Your vote counts, so get informed and make your voice heard!

Friday, October 31, 2014

November is Child Safety and Protection Month!


image courtesy of greenphile/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Parents know that the struggle to keep our children safe is an on-going, ever-changing battle.  As children grow and change, so do the types of protection they require; Child Safety and Protection Month is a great opportunity to re-evaluate the safety measures you already have in place, and to look forward to make sure you are prepared for the next developmental stage!  After all, whether your child is taking his first steps or preparing to take her first spin in the car with her new license, parents always strive to keep their kids safe from harm!  To that end, we would like to offer the following tips with links for keeping your child safe:




Childproof:  Whether you are home or travelling, childproofing is critical, particularly for infants and toddlers who are more likely to encounter hazards that could result in choking, pinches, strangulation, poisoning, or other injury.

Use car/booster seats: While laws differ by state, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following guidelines: rear-facing car seats for all children under 2 years of age (or maximum height and weight requirements for the seat), forward facing car seats until children reach the maximum height and weight requirements, and booster seats for children between the ages of 8 and 12 until they have reached a minimum height of 4 feet 9 inches.

Emergency preparedness: The keys to staving off panic in an emergency are proper preparation and planning.  FEMA offers numerous fantastic publications for specific different types of natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.).  In addition, having your emergency information centrally located can help reduce the response time in the event of an emergency where you may be separated from other members of your family.

Vigilantly supervise children around water: Drowning is one of the most common hazards for children, whether around open water (lakes, rivers, oceans) or pools.  Vigilant supervision goes a long way toward preventing injury, as does adhering to proper water safety practices (i.e. fences, life-jackets, swimming lessons, approved floatation devices, etc.).

Insist on helmets for bike-riding school-aged kids:  Again, laws vary by state, but all children should wear properly-fitted, protective headgear when riding bikes, scooters, skateboards or other wheeled vehicles.  For more details and statistics, visit the Children's Safety Network.  

Educate high-schoolers about safe driving practices: While our kids wait their whole lives to get that coveted driver's license, we (their parents) are filled with equal parts joy and panic when the big day finally arrives.  In addition to the many dangers that any seasoned driver faces when they get behind the wheel, new, young drivers (whose judgement and experience are less well-developed) face an increased risk of injury from a growing number of distractions.  From over-loud music that can drown out emergency sirens, to cell phones, to intoxication,  new drivers need to know how dangerous distracted driving is, and parents are the key.

Parenting is a constantly morphing landscape of hurdles; by taking time to evaluate what you are doing, you may be able to put better practices into effect and plan ahead for whatever waits around the next corner.

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Products We Love: SoundSpa On-The-Go!

The mybaby HoMedics SoundSpa On-The-Go is one of our must-have travel products for families on the go! This brilliant noise machine features an integrated clip that attaches to strollers, diaper bags, cribs, car seats and more, and offers four soothing sounds to lull your little one to sleep: heartbeat, white noise, ocean, and lullaby. The Sound Spa On-The-Go also features an auto-off timer, and requires only three AAA batteries, (not included).  Perfect for flights, car trips, cruises, or even just sleepovers away from home!  Best of all, it's available though Amazon, and (as of the date this post was published) is on sale for $9.99!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nature Preserves: Perfect Spots for Amazing Adventures!

This past week, my family and I had the good fortune to visit the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ.  It is a beautiful wildlife preserve located on a dedicated parcel of land owned by the Camp Taylor Campground.  At present, 17 wolves of varying species, several foxes, and a few bobcats reside in vast, separated, fenced enclosures where they have plenty of room to roam and socialize.  

I just couldn't wait to share this gem; not only because it is such an outstanding preserve, but also to draw attention to the many charitable organizations dedicated to truly helping to endangered species and abandoned domesticated wild creatures. Locations like these are perfect spots for families to see endangered species and talk about preserving habitat and wildlife; and they are often self-supporting, relying on visitors and benefactors for income enough to ensure they can continue to provide for these beautiful animals.

The facility is owned and operated by Jim Stein and Becky Mace, who raise and care for all the animals at the preserve. Each day (except Mondays!), they lead two Wolf Tours (for details on booking, check their website!). During their presentations, you learn about the social structure of wolf packs, their eating habits, their interaction with man, and many other interesting facts. They make every effort to educate visitors about the true behavior of wolves and field any and all questions with infinite patience and good-humor! 

While in the observation area you can watch the wolves play, interact with each other, and (if you're lucky!) maybe even hear them howl! A visit is truly an experience of a lifetime. Just down a ways from the wolves' areas you will be treated to an informative presentation as well as views, and adorable antics of the preserve's other residents; foxes and bobcats. Visitors are permitted to take photos on the wolf watch tour and they have some fantastic fund-raising items (zip-up hoodies), and opportunities (donations and the Lakota Wolf Dinner and Night Howl event), and well as sponsorship programs for patrons wishing to become more involved.

So if you live in the area, do yourself a favor and visit the Lakota Wolf Preserve; and if you don't live nearby, do a little research and look for preserves in your area!  Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Handprints!

Crafting can be a great way to enjoy time with your kids, and what says 'love' more than capturing your child(ren)'s handprint(s) to create truly personal mementos?  But how do you decide what method is most appropriate for your child(ren)'s age range and abilities?  Here are two of our favorite ideas that can work for any age:

image courtesy of Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stepping Stones:  There are many stepping stone kits that can be used to capture handprints or footprints; they're perfect for the yard or garden and make beautiful gifts!  All instructions are included and the craft does not require a long attention span, though some kits offer mosaic tiles that the child can place onto the stone along with their print, if desired.

Paint Print Stack: Using white card stock and several different color acrylic paints, capture your whole family's handprints, one inside the other!  Start with a dark color paint for the family member with the largest hand, allow that print to dry. Then, use a light color paint and the next size down hand and carefully align that print with the first print.  Continue alternating dark and light paint until all prints are captured (works best with five or fewer prints).  Makes a beautiful wall-
hanging and keepsake framed with a simple matte!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloween: Spook-tacular Safety Reminders!

image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Halloween is traditionally a time for costumes, parties, parades, and treats; as parents, however, safety is never far from our minds! Sadly, CDC data shows that almost four times as many children (age 5-14) are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared to other evenings of the year.  In addition, many children are injured every Halloween; particularly by slips and falls. The good news is that most Halloween-related injuries are preventable if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treating and remember these basic tips adapted from the National Safety Council:

Remind your children that they should:

  • Go only to well-lit houses and never enter houses.
  • Travel in small groups, with an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach a parent and call 911.
  • Have their name & phone number printed on their costume (or use a SafetyTat).
  • Bring treats home prior to eating so they can be inspected for tainting/spoilage.
  • Wear well-fitting, reflective, flame-retardant clothing and shoes.
  • Use face paint instead of masks.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes. 
  • Avoid carrying sharp or rigid costume knives or swords.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks, and avoid crossing between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Always look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Keeps Germs at Bay This Cold and Flu Season!

image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
With the scary uptick of incidences of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), and the onset of cold and flu season, dodging germs is a major priority for many families!  While it's impossible to completely "virus-proof" the world around you, this fall, stay vigilant about avoiding germs with these tips:

Avoid "germy" hot-spots: We can't keep kids home from school or in a hermetically-sealed bubble, but avoiding unnecessary places where germs are more common (i.e. playgrounds and play areas, public restrooms, shopping centers, restaurants) can help limit exposure.  If you do go out to one of these venues, come prepared; bring disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, urge children to keep their hands away from their noses and mouths, and encourage frequent hand-washing.

Vaccinate: Keeping your children's vaccinations up-to-date is critical.  Ideally, the vast majority of people over 6 months of age would also receive a flu vaccination each season to limit outbreaks, but at a minimum the following populations should receive an annual flu vaccination:
  • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women
  • People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease
  • Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old
  • Health care personnel
The flu shot is NOT approved for infants under 6 months or people with a severe allergy to the vaccine; also, people who have a moderate to severe illness and those with GBS should consult their physicians for information regarding vaccination.

Embrace healthy habits: Ensure that all household members get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and get plenty of exercise; all of these healthy habits can help boost your immune system and give you an edge this cold and flu season!

Safe and healthy travels!
-Destination Mom