Friday, February 28, 2014

Autism Friendly Cruising!

image courtesy of Michal Marcol/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If, as a parent of a special-needs child you've always dreamt of a vacation on the high seas, but were afraid of the hyper-sensory experience of cruising, we have some amazing news for you! Autism on the Seas (AotS), an organization committed to helping special needs families find suitable cruises, has certified the entire Royal Caribbean International fleet as "autism-friendly!"  This classification denotes that Royal Caribbean goes to special lengths to help its guests with autistic family members enjoy their cruise. 

Since 2007, Autism on the Seas has been working with Royal Caribbean in developing cruise vacation services to accommodate adults and families living with children with special needs, including, but not limited to, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and all Cognitive, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to qualify for a Bronze Certification as Autism Friendly, though services are quickly expanding to other cruise lines as well. 

Here's how it works: Autism on the Seas provides Special Staff (selected from regular cruises throughout the year) that assist adults and families in adapting the typical cruise services, as well as providing specialized Respite and Private Activities/Sessions that allow guests the use of the ships entertainment venues in an accommodated and assisted manner. Their professional Staff is educated, experienced, background checked, and sanctioned by the cruise lines.  AotS Staff are available to accompany passengers on their cruise to provide these amazing vacation and travel experiences onboard Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines. They also provide a "Cruise Assistance Package" (a no-charge service for cruising without AotS Staff) on all of the major cruise lines to help accommodate guests who wish to cruise on their own.  For more information on each of these options, check out their What's Included page! 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great News for Lego Lovers!

Got a LEGO®-loving little one at home? Well break out your 2015 calendars because that is the formally-anounced date for the opening of the long-awaited LEGOLAND Florida Hotel!  Opened in October 2011, LEGOLAND Florida has been charming and enthralling families for years with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, a waterpark, and their latest feature, the LEGO World of Chima.

Per the official website;
"Welcoming guests with a multicolored exterior and entrance, the four-story LEGOLAND Hotel will immerse families with young children in the world of LEGO®, as an extension of the vibrant and interactive theme park experience. Created to bring children’s imaginations to life, the LEGO-themed hotel will feature 152 brightly colored and highly themed rooms and suites, LEGO d├ęcor; interactive play areas; a pool, and a restaurant."

For more details on LEGOLAND Florida, the hotel, and upcoming events, don't miss their website!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Take Your Family's Taste Buds on Vacation!

image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sometimes physically getting away as a family is simply not convenient.  Sometimes it's just plain impossible.  No matter what stands between your family and an exciting adventure, there is always a way to build family worldliness into your itinerary!  One of our family's favorite ways to take "a virtual trip" is by taking a small-scale culinary tour of our dream destination of the moment!  

Long for the American Southwest?  Think Latin-American inspired favorites like chili con carne, enchiladas, tacos, or tamales.  Dreaming of New England?  Whip up some creamy clam chowder, old-world style pot roast, or lobster if you're feeling lavish!  Thinking about New Orleans?  Sample some Creole favorites like gumbo, po-boys, or jambalaya!  Got a hankerin' for some Southern favorites?  Break out the grill and smoke up some amazing ribs, pulled pork bbq, or brisket... or embrace comfort food and cook up some fried chicken and biscuits! 

Dreaming of destinations outside the US?  The possibilities are endless:

France: Think amazing cheeses, roasted meats, fresh crusty bread, and beautiful fresh, ripe fruits!
Greece: Try leg of lamb, spanakopita, feta cheese, kalamata olives, or pita bread with tzatziki sauce!
Italy:  Savor some pasta, arancini (rice balls), bruschetta, cheeses, and amazing desserts like cannoli!
India: Indulge in basmati rice, decadent curries, delicate naan, samosas, and tandoori meats!
Japan: Explore rice, noodles, maki-sushi, sashimi, edamame, tempura, and dumplings!

And the list goes on criss-crossing the entire planet!  "Culinary tours" are a hands-on way to connect to exotic places and peoples; and whether you whip something up at home or seek out an ethnic restaurant to treat your taste buds, you'll be sharing a love of adventure and culture with your children!  The same idea of sharing cuisine from different cultures can be a great way to share your own family's heritage; or even to help prepare for an actual trip.  Wishing you safe and happy travels, wherever your kitchen may take you!
-Destination Mom

Friday, February 14, 2014

Product Recalls: Knowledge Is Power!


image courtesy of winnond/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This week saw one of the largest recalls ever issued by a major manufacturer; Graco issued a massive recall for car seats up to five years old because of potential problems with the harness buckle.  Travel-Tot believes knowledge is one of the most valuable tools for keeping your children safe; to that end, we'd like to share information about the quintessential online resource for finding out about product recalls; the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 

According to their own website, the CPSC is "charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction...  [they are] committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children." The page further reports that the CPSC's work has contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

The CPSC hosts a fantastic website, featuring a homepage where the most current recalls can be found. In addition, the homepage offers a link to report unsafe products, and a search feature to locate products that may have been recalled less recently. There are also links to a Consumer Opinion Forum (where users can sign-up, at no cost, to join a panel of consumers that the CPSC consults on matters of product usage and phrasing of warning messages), an Education section (with great safety information and kid-friendly safety tips), and a variety of sub-classified safety information with links to specific resources on ATVs, Cribs, Pool/Spas, Drywall, MagnetsSmoke Alarms, and Resale/Thrift Stores.

The site is truly an invaluable resource for safety information.  So next time you find yourself online, give the CPSC's site a visit; the information you find there just might save a life. 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

16 Items To Keep In Your Car That Could Save Your Life


image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Winter driving emergencies can present a hazard for families, particularly those with young children.  In freezing temperatures even just a few hours can lead to life-threatening hypothermia if you’re not prepared.  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), duct tape, a flashlight, a shovel, and a multitool, remember to pack:

- blankets,
- glow sticks, 
- food,
- formula,
- water,
- diapers and wipes, and
- several changes of clothing for each child. 

Also, join a roadside assistance program and always travel with your cell phone (and charger) so you can call for help in an emergency. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Top 5 Best Places for Your Family Vacation This Winter

This week we are thrilled to feature a guest post by Brady Johnson of the C Lazy U Ranch and Resort in Colorado.  A lover of the great outdoors, he shares a few of his top picks for family fun!  Whether you are a fan of winter or just counting the days until summer, Brady's got the perfect destination for your family!  Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom
**********************************************************************************************************************************

When the weather outside is frightful, cabin fever may cause your family to feel a little stir crazy. Winter is an excellent time to take your family on a vacation. From snow to sun, there’s a vacation that can fit every individual’s needs. Why not take advantage of the cold by taking your family somewhere they can experience fun in the sun or snow, discovering both what is familiar and brand new. To have a new family adventure this winter, here are the top destinations.




Vermont Wildflower Inn
For many, winter isn’t the same without snow. Whether or not you have snow where you live, travel north to find it on your winter vacation. One beautiful destination for a traditional winter experience is the Vermont Wildflower Inn, located three hours from Boston. The Inn offers a wide range of winter activities, including old traditions like sledding, ice skating, and horse-drawn sleigh rides as well as modern fun like snowmobiling and snowboarding.


Mohonk Mountain House

For a northern winter vacation on a different scale, visit Mohonk Mountain House in upstate New York, a Victorian-style resort castle, which is an easy drive from New York City. Located beside Lake Mohonk on the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains, Mohonk Mountain House provides a lovely year-round blend of outdoor activities and indoor elegance. Winter activities include ice skating and Victorian "skating chairs," snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow tubing. The indoor amenities include a heated pool for kids, and a spa for parents.

C Lazy U Ranch

To experience a western take on the winter vacations, visit C Lazy U Ranch in Colorado, a dude ranch that provides a full range of activities for kids so the whole family gets to enjoy the experience. All-inclusive vacation packages include luxury lodging and gourmet cooking combined with winter activities including cross-country and downhill skiing, playing hockey on a frozen pond, and indoor or outdoor horseback riding. Adults will enjoy soaking away stress in the hot tub or getting a massage.

Sedona

Instead of a snowy winter, some people want a break from the cold for their winter vacation. And what better place is there to go for a sunny break than Sedona. Sedona is a scenic, year-round destination for enjoying the outdoors or for a luxurious getaway, and winter is a great time to soak up some rays and enjoy comfortable temperatures. Sedona's climate means many nontraditional winter activities such as hot air ballooning, jeep or horseback tours, or golf are available. There are many hiking trails in the area, and cooler winter temperatures make for a more pleasant hiking experience than summer's typical heat. You may even see a little snow on the peaks of Sedona's red rocks, but don't worry. It tends to melt away fast.

Disney World

Many would argue that there's never a bad time of year to visit Disney World, but a winter trip to see Mickey in Orlando is special. Winter is an excellent time to visit Disney, with less lines and more opportunities to spend quality time with your family. Disney World offers winter enticements and deals that make it an appealing place for everyone. Disney World recently opened their FantasyLand expansion in Magic Kingdom, which allows more opportunity for princess meet and greets and character sightings. In addition, parks like Animal Kingdom and Epcot provide a cultural and worldly view through fun activities. Be sure to book a Disney hotel, and make reservations for a character breakfast. The opportunities for magic and excitement are endless.
No matter if you want to have a snowy traditional winter vacation or escape the cold, either to experience the great outdoors or tuck into luxurious surroundings, these top five winter vacation destinations offer something magical for you and your family this season.


About the Author
Brady Johnson works as the Sales and Marketing Director at C Lazy U. Brady handles all marketing and advertising efforts for the ranch along with booking group events and retreats. Since Brady is an avid outdoorsman he will often also take guests on guided mountain bike rides and ski trips on Ranch’s private ski hill or the lead a ropes course session in the summer.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tip for Occupying Your Kids On the Go!

image courtesy of sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Travel trays are a great tool for keeping your little adventurer occupied while in transit; keeping toys, writing utensils, and food easily accessible and safe from dropping on the ground or out of reach!  Many models fold for storage, so they're easy to store when not in use too.  There are trays for all price points and ages, so do some research and snap one up before your next family trip!