Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Infographic: Explore China!

We love this infographic on China - works as well for families planning to visit as it does for those planning to send their children over for educational opportunities!  Thanks to Next Step China for sharing this amazing information!

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Perfect Spots for Travel-Tot!

image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/
Travel is one of life’s greatest joys! Paired with the natural curiosity of a child, it can be the recipe for a fantastic adventure; but, while sharing the travel experience with your child adds to the thrill of the journey, it can also be stressful. Investing just a bit of time to make your vacation accommodations safer for your child helps to ensure as restful, relaxing, and enjoyable a vacation as possible, no matter where you are!

You can easily provide a basic level of protection from many common hazards in just minute’s time with a few simple items, like those conveniently provided in the Travel-Tot Childproofing Kit, including; outlet covers, doorknob protectors, corner guards, door pinch guards, multi-purpose straps, and safety latches.  And the components and adhesive are temporary and non-damaging, so they are ideal for just about anywhere!  Here are five fantastic places you can use your Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit:
  1. Hotels, motels, and rental properties - make any lodging space instantly family friendly in mere moments!
  2. Homes of family or friends - a great way to both create a safer play space and protect homeowners' valuable personal items from curious little explorers!
  3. Private office spaces - lucky enough to be able to bring your children to work from time to time?  The Kit provides the perfect tools to help keep those little fingers safe from pinches and other potential harm!
  4. RVs - great for keeping little travelers safe on the road and anywhere your adventures make take you!
  5. Cruise ship cabins - make your cabin cozier by adding an extra layer of protection from common hazards such as exposed outlets, pinches from doors and drawers, and sharp corners!
Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blogs We Love: Life's Helmet - The McFarlane's Euro Bucket List!

courtesy of Life's Helmet/Mackenzie McFarlane

We just love this amazing pictorial memoir of one family's adventure abroad! Featured on Life's Helmet, a fantastic blog site run by Mackenzie McFarlane, this collection of captioned photos highlights the adventures of a family living abroad! A year ago, the McFarlane family relocated to Ireland for a temporary work assignment with Intel. In their first year in Ireland they traveled to 11 different countries, stayed in 40+ hotels, and saw some of the world's most amazing places... all with their 3 kids in tow! They made it a goal to not just see the traditional tourist attractions but to venture off the beaten path and create truly unique travel experiences for their children. 

As they have traveled, they compiled what they affectionately refer to as "McFs Euro Bucket List" (which can also be seen on Instagram under the hashtag #TheMcFsEuroBucketList). While they have seen much more than just the items included, the list highlights some of their most memorable moments; and with the whole world at their feet, the list will (doubtless!) continue to grow.

So whether you're thinking of moving overseas, planning a European vacation, or just want to dream about what your own family could do on such a  life-changing journey, check out the McFarlane's remarkable snapshots of their family's memory-making in Germany, Austria, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, and Scotland (among others!)!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Travel and Car Seat Safety

image courtesy of Keerati/
It's no secret that we at Travel-Tot feel strongly about childproofing hotel rooms and other away-from-home lodging accommodations; but what about keeping your child safe while you are in transit?  Often families get so caught up in the planning, packing, and preparations for a family getaway that they don't remember that their mode of transportation may not already be child-safe.  Airplanes, taxis, and loaner vehicles are rarely equipped with properly installed safety devices; so what is a parent to do?

Bringing your own car seat or booster is the best option!  Thankfully, there have been great strides made in developing safety seats that can be easily transported when not in use.  For example, The Car Seat Lady recommends several fabulous options ranging from infant carriers that easily snap to compact strollers to combination stroller car seat/booster options.  These are great because they not only offer a safer seating option for flights or other vehicular transport, but they can be rolled (with a child it in!) through expansive airports or along sidewalks to taxi or bus depots; freeing up parental hands, and saving backs and sanity! 

A last resort if you forget or cannot bring your own car seat or booster, is a rental car seat.  Because it is impossible to know for certain if a rental seat has sustained an impact in a crash, it is always best to bring your child's own car seat; but a rental is better than nothing at all!  If the taxi or rental car agency offers to provide a safety restraint seat for your child, be certain to check that it is appropriate for your child's age, weight, and height.  Also be certain it is properly installed and that it is in working order with no broken straps or latches.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website provides a fabulous page with age-appropriate safety seat guidelines if you are unsure of what type of seat to request.

The emergency-only option for families travelling with a child is to use whatever safety feature is available (usually a lap and/or shoulder belt).  While it is true that any restraint is better than no restraint at all, using a safety belt alone on a young child is a last resort option and should never be done if an appropriate car seat or booster seat can be obtained.  If you are in a situation where there is no option other than to use a standard seat belt, there are several important steps you can take to ensure that the restraint offers the best protection it can:
  • Never buckle more than one person into a car seat belt.  Buckling more than once person into a car seat presents the risk of the top person being fatally crushed in the event of a crash. 
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm of a passenger.
  • Be vigilant about seat belt use for everyone riding in the vehicle; studies have shown that restrained passengers are 4 times more likely to die if someone else in the car is not restrained.
Used properly, car seats and seat belts save lives... a little planning and research can provide you with the knowledge you need to determine which option will best suit your unique needs. Safe travels!

- Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Products We Love: The ConvertAHanger!

The ConvertAHanger -  Latest Travel Gadget For The Savvy Traveler

The patent pending ConvertAHanger makes it easy for the savvy traveler to now use those frustrating Anti-Theft (Hook-Less) Hotel hangers outside of the hotel room closet. According to the designers at convertahanger.com, many travelers interviewed by the team voiced a dislike for the hook-less anti-theft hotel hanger. Also, various travel blogs and websites have noted as a Pet Peeve or Source of Frustration, the fact that they wish hotels would provide hangers with real hooks. 

The ConvertAHanger now makes it easy for any traveler to turn those (hook-less) hotel hangers into ones that can be used anywhere in the hotel room. It will also work with the small 5/8 inch hook used internationally and on cruise ships.

  • Dirty kid's clothes need a quick rinse during the family vacation? 
  • Need to steam out those wrinkles from packing?
  • Need to hang your hand washed blouse, just stained during dinner?
  • Hate that metal on metal sound created when you hang your clothes? 
  • What about those wet swimsuits or rain-soaked clothes? 

It's all easy with the ConvertAHanger. Simply attach the ConvertAHanger to the end of the post on the (hook-less) hotel hanger and you are good to go. You've now turned that hotel hanger into one you can use anywhere in your hotel room.

The ConvertAHanger is made from durable and strong snow white Lustran ABS, and is completely designed and manufactured in the United States of America!

ConvertAHanger is the solution the savvy traveler has been in search of for over 50 years. For more details regarding the ConvertAHanger visit http://www.convertahanger.com

Available directly at www.convertahanger.com.  DEAL ALERT! For a limited time, get a 10% discount by using the promotional code: travel-tot.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pet-Friendly Family Getaways!

When our daughter was two, we adopted a lab-mix puppy from a rescue shelter; a decision that changed our lives forever in ways we could not (and had not!) imagined.  Prior to getting a pet, we had traveled freely and worried little about where we would stay, often making spontaneous trips for weekends or holidays. Having a child had added a bit of additional luggage, but we never went anywhere without her, so there was never any thought given to who would watch her when we traveled.  However, a puppy was an entirely different story.  Kipper, as she became known, was not terribly good in the car, would run away at every available chance, and was naturally curious, energetic, and friendly (which while admirable traits in a family pet, are not universally appreciated by people seeking tranquility and relaxation!).  

Now, we are blessed to have a number of family members who also love animals, and who were willing to take our dog in when we traveled, and we reciprocated happily when they vacationed (in a happy coincidence, all the dogs in the family played well together and it was a very comfortable, cost-effective solution for us all!).  But what if you want to travel with your beloved pet?  I'll admit, it was a question that hadn't crossed my mind until a girlfriend and her family did just that, bringing their new dog to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I asked her how she had located a pet-friendly resort, and she shared a most amazing resource with me: BringFido.com!

BringFido is a dog travel directory that provides unbiased reviews, detailed pet policy information, and online reservations at more than 25,000 pet friendly hotels through a partnership with Travelocity. Information is also available on thousands of bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds that welcome pets in 150 countries worldwide.

When making vacation plans, dog owners look to BringFido.com for the lowdown on both airlines and hotel pet policies, as well as recommendations on dog beaches, off-leash parks, outdoor restaurants, and other animal attractions in more than 10,000 cities around the world. Bring Fido even has a toll-free number (877-411-FIDO) dog owners can call if they need assistance locating a pet friendly hotel at the next exit on the highway, an animal hospital that's open at 4am, or the best restaurant in Little Italy that allows dogs to sit at its outdoor tables.

Since launching in April 2005, BringFido.com has helped more than half a million people take their dog on vacation. So if your family plans to hit the road and wants to bring the whole family, BringFido.com is the place to go for everything you need to know.

Safe, happy, and furry travels!  
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Passing The Time

image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"Are we there yet?"

"How much longer?"

"When will we be there?"

If you have resorted to tactics of distraction or misdirection when responding to these questions from your young child, whether at home or traveling, you may be missing a chance to introduce your child to understanding the basics of "telling time!"   Now, I am as guilty as the next parent of having brushed off the repeated questions about arrival from my young daughter on car trips, hikes, flights, etc., but recently, on a road trip with my cousins, I realized that these inquiries afforded an opportunity to make "time" fun and less abstract for little minds.  Below are five fun steps for introducing "time telling:" just remember to take it slowly and proceed at an age appropriate pace (most preschool aged children will really only grasp hours and half-hours at first).
  1. Start with hours. Use an analog clock to identify the "big numbers," explain that these are the hours. Show your child the hour hand and explain how when it moves from one number to the next, one hour has passed. Explain what you can you do in an hour (i.e., watch a movie, walk the dog, etc.)!
  2. Once this concept is clear, then introduce half hours. Give an example of what can be done in half an hour (i.e., time of a TV show, etc.)!
  3. Quarters are much more difficult, but can be introduced the same way as halves.   
  4. Then, once those concepts are clear, move on to the explanation of five minute intervals (i.e., the time it takes to get dressed, or to make a sandwich, etc.).
  5. Finally point to the minute hand. Explain that, just like with hours, when the minute hand moves from one tick mark to the next, one minute has passed. Provide examples activities that can be done in a minute. Have your child try to do something for one minute,like run in place, hold a ball overhead, etc..

Friday, September 5, 2014

September is Child Safety Month!

Until you have an infant or 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/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Activities For Fall Family Fun!

image courtesy of chrisroll/
For adults and kids alike, autumn can seem like the last chance to make a frantic dash to enjoy the great outdoors; as temperatures cool and daylight fades earlier, days seem shorter.  But  fall is also one of the best seasons for creating fantastic family fun!  Below are some of our favorite fall family activities to help inspire you and your family to enjoy all the season has to offer:

  • Outdoor Favorites: 
    • Hiking: From the stunning foliage to the interesting natural wonders your children find along the path, hiking offers families a great chance to connect to one another and the natural world around them!
    • Apple Picking: Orchards are bursting with apples in the fall and spending an afternoon collecting these delicious fruits can pay huge dividends; apples are great for everything from cooking and baking to arts and crafts!
    • Hayrides: Quintessential family fun; many hayrides offer families beautiful tours of farmland as well as a great chance to engage in sing-alongs or story telling together!
    • Pumpkin Picking: There is endless fun to be had in traipsing about fields filled with enormous pumpkins ripe for the picking; enjoy a few hours together selecting just the right pumpkin for your family's jack-o-lantern!
    • Corn Maze: If you or your children have never gotten lost in a corn maze, you are truly missing out on one of fall's most simple pleasures!
    • Bonfires: Whether you enjoy s'mores, hotdogs on a stick, or just sharing spooky ghost stories, a bonfire is a fun way to enjoy a brisk fall evening as a family!
    • Visiting Local Farms: Many farms offer visitors a number of fun fall activities; from hayrides and pumpkin picking to cider mills and fresh baked goodies, a farm is a great place to spend the day as a family!
    • Planting Bulbs and Fall Flowers: A great way to beautify your yard or terrace and enjoy some one-o-one time with your kids!
    • Raking Leaves: To adults it may seem like work, but to children raking leaves and playing in the piles can be an adventure!
    • Petting Zoos: Fall is a great time to hit local petting zoos; feeding and petting the animals offers families a chance to spend time together and to learn something new about the critters they are visiting!

  • Indoor Wins: 
    • Baking: Pumpkins and apples aren't the only great treats fall has to offer; spend an afternoon sharing the joy of baking and cooking delicious fall foods with your children (i.e., breads, muffins, pies, cookies, etc.)!
    • Farmer's Market: A family trip to your local farmer's market can be a great way to explore all the bounty that fall has to offer; from flowers to fruits and vegetables, it's a fun adventure for the whole family!
    • Crafting: There are literally an endless number of fall crafts for families with children of all ages!  Collect leaves, pine cones, and acorns and create a natural centerpiece or wreath; or check out your local craft store and select fall-themed items to create fun, decorative, seasonal pieces!
    • Making Scarecrows: What could be more fun than spending time together as a family stuffing old clothes with straw and creating a scarecrow?  If you have the time and resources, it can even be fun to do a whole scarecrow family!
    • Decorating for the Holiday Seasons: Pumpkins, chrysanthemums, hay bales, and other decorative accessories can dress up your home and give you and your kids a chance to work together to make your home truly "homey!"

So whether you have fifteen minutes or a whole afternoon to spend making fun fall family memories, embrace all the season has to offer; from crisp breezes to delicious treats, autumn is rife with opportunities for enjoying family togetherness! 

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom