Friday, July 31, 2015

Paying It Forward: Back-to-School

image courtesy of photomyheart/
I am one of those people who eagerly anticipates shopping for school supplies. It's not that I am desperate to see my daughter return to school, there's just something about brand new notebooks, pencils, and folders that has always set my heart aflutter. So now that I have confessed secret love of stationery, I can also admit that my daughter and I finished her back-to-school supply shopping... in July.  Seems like maybe my affinity for binder clips and post-its is inherited, but I digress.  The point is, we scored some amazing deals by shopping at the beginning of school supply season; deals that allow even me to donate without breaking my rather modest budget!  

In our town (as in most, I imagine), we have an annual drive for school supplies that are distributed to children's charities; items are collected and provided to children who may otherwise have done without, or sometimes to classrooms where they are provided to children in need. It's a fantastic way to make certain all our students get off to a good start by feeling prepared and equipped to take on a new school year! It's a cause that's near and dear to my heart as a parent, and I encourage everyone to participate if you can.  It can be as inexpensive as a 50-cent package of index cards, or as generous as a $50 giftcard - every little bit helps. If you are a fan of coupons, many times you can even score items for free!

If you wish to help, but are uncertain what to get, a gift card is always a good choice.  Generally speaking, however, if you walk into any office supply, pharmacy, food, or bog box store during the months of July, August, or September, you can't miss the school supply sales.  They may even have a list of items that are needed, or a collection box for donated supplies!  Providing even one item can truly make a difference for a child in need. So this year, when you head out to go supply shopping, pay it forward with an extra notebook, or folder, or box of crayons - your donation could inspire a child and help pave the road to a love of learning!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Products We Love: Tiny Love Fan Favorites For On-The-Go!

As any parent can attest, making a journey enjoyable with a young child or infant in tow can be challenging, that's why we are thrilled to feature a "not-to-be-missed" deal on some of our favorite distractions from one of our favorite companies, Tiny Love, below! 

Summer is peak travel time for families and it’s not always easy to carry all of baby’s gear and toys to make them feel at home while on the go. Now through August 3rd, Tiny Love, the leading developmental toy brand, is offering fans 20% off on-the-go products from mobiles to toys at

A sampling of available products on offer include:
  • Tiny Love’s Sunny Stroll attaches to baby’s car seat and stroller while providing 6 different baby-activated toys for fun on-the-go. The flexible arch bends forwards, backwards, up and down leaving baby with a sunny smile.
  • Tiny Love’s easy to attach Jittering Giraffe clips right onto baby’s stroller or car seat and encourages hand eye coordination.
  • Tiny Love’s Woodland Take Along Arch amuses and engages baby while on-the-go.

So head on over to Tiny Love and take advantage of these amazing deals - but remember, you only have until August 3rd, so hurry!!!!

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pet-Friendly Travels:!

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 imagine.  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. However, having a puppy added a new wrinkle to the 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 on vacation!).  

Fortunately, we are blessed to have a number of family members who also love animals, and who happily take Kipper in when we travel, and we reciprocate when they vacationed (in a happy coincidence, all the dogs in the family play 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 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 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, 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, is the place to go for everything you need to know.

Safe, happy, and furry travels!  
-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bites and Stings: Helpful Tips!

image courtesy of SweetCrisis/
With summer in full swing, families and, especially, children are spending more time outside, but we're not the only ones enjoying the warmer weather; spiders, bees, and a variety of other bugs are out in swarms!  Most bug bites simply result in general discomfort and anxiety, but it is important to remember that some bites and stings can lead to infections or trigger serious allergic reactions. Below is information on how to treat simple bites and stings, as well as the signs that a serious reaction may be occurring.

Spider Bites

Know your spiders: The majority of spiders found in the U.S. are harmless, except brown recluse and black widow spiders.

The brown recluse spider (a small brown spider with a small violin-shaped mark on its back - see here) is found primarily in the midwest and south. Their bites can cause swelling and changes in skin color and blistering. Rarely, brown recluse bites can result in sunken ulcerated sores at the bite site, which can become infected if not treated properly.

The black widow spider (a shiny black spider with an orange hourglass shaped mark on its underside - see here) is found all over North America. Black widow bites can result in painful cramps within a few short hours of the bite; the cramps generally radiate from the bite location outward. In addition, black widow bites can also cause nausea, tremors, paralysis, vomiting, chills, fever, and muscle pain. If your child experiences any of these symptoms (or if you suspect the bite may have been caused by a black widow) go to the emergency room IMMEDIATELY.
For other spider bites:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • To help prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment.

Stinging Insects

Know your stings: When a bee stings, it leaves behind its stinger and venom sac. If the stinger is still in the skin, try to extract it as quickly as possible with sterilized tweezers.  Wasps do not lose their stingers when they attack (that is why they can sting repeatedly).  Should your child experience a sting:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • For itching, give an over-the-counter oral antihistamine (with your doctor's approval); follow dosing instructions for your child's age and weight. You could also apply calamine lotion to the sting area.
  • Seek medical attention if:
    • the sting is in the mouth, throat, or lips - such stings can quickly result in severe swelling that can block airways.
    • a rash or swelling develops around the sting site.
  • Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention if you notice any of the following signs, which may indicate a serious or potentially life-threatening allergic reaction:
    • wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing,
    • tightness in throat/chest,
    • swelling of the lips, tongue, or face,
    • dizziness or loss of consciousness, or
    • nausea or vomiting.

Tick Bites

Know your ticks: The most common types of disease carrying ticks are dog ticks, deer ticks, and lone star ticks; deer ticks are the most common carriers of Lyme disease, and dog ticks and lone star ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Fever. Particularly during summer months, it is imperative that parents routinely check kids and pets for ticks, especially if they've been in or around wooded areas.
If you find a tick on your child:
  • Contact your pediatrician immediately.
  • Use sterilized tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it releases (avoid twisting or yanking the tick). If possible save the tick for identification purposes.
  • Clean the bite site with alcohol.
  • NEVER use petroleum jelly or a lit match to try to kill or remove a tick. Using either may cause the insect to burrow deeper which makes extraction more difficult and increases the possibility of disease transmission.

Other Biting Insects

There are countless other insects that can impart bites that may result in discomfort, itching, and even possible infection.  Mosquitoes, black flies, midges, fleas, and biting flies have all been associated with transmitting diseases that can be devastating to humans and animals.  If your child is bitten by any insect (whether you witness the bite or not) and develops any of the following symptoms, seek medical help IMMEDIATELY:
  • rash,
  • fever,
  • swelling or discoloration at the bite location or surrounding areas,
  • any oozing discharge from the bite location, or
  • severe cramping or vomiting.
If your child experiences an insect bite with no apparent allergic or toxic reaction, simply:
  • Clean the area carefully with soap and water.
  • Apply cool compresses.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.
  • For itching, apply calamine lotion to the bite area.
Safe, happy, and healthy travels!
-Destination Mom

Friday, July 17, 2015

Know the Signs: Dry and Delayed Drowning

Summer is here, and with it, the fun of swimming!  While every parent knows the necessity of vigilant supervision whenever children are near water, there are some dangers that can go undetected simply because they are not well-enough known.  It is common knowledge that drowning is a leading cause of death among children, but how many of us know that children can suffer the effects of drowning hours after having been swimming  due to water inhalation?  Or that a sudden inrush of water into one's mouth can cause the larynx to spasm and snap shut resulting in asphyxiation?  Or that jumping into extremely cold water can result in cardiac arrest?  There is growing concern surrounding these incidences and knowing how to prevent such tragedies starts with understanding what to look for.

Recently there have been well-publicized, terrifying reports of children who have "drown" hours after returning home from a day spent swimming.  It bears clarifying that while these are often reported as "dry" drownings because the child was not physically in the water at the time of death, such incidences would more accurately be described as "delayed (or secondary)" drownings.  That said, while there is a difference between "dry" and "delayed" drowning, both can lead to respiratory arrest and can culminate in cardiac arrest and brain death.

The main difference between "dry" drowning and "delayed" drowning is the presence or absence of water in the victim's lungs. True "dry" drowning deaths do not involve the presence of any liquid in the lungs.  Conversely, "delayed" drownings are marked by the presence of some (usually small) amount of liquid in the lungs.


Dry Drowning

Though not completely understood, "dry" drownings are thought to be caused by: 1. a sudden rush of water into the throat that causes the airway to snap shut (a condition known as a laryngospasm), resulting in asphyxiation, and/or 2. the shock of sudden entry into extremely cold water that causes the heart to stop.

While the incidence of "delayed" drowning (where liquid is present in the lungs) is relatively rare, true "dry" drownings account for ten to fifteen percent of all drowning deaths. Considering that approximately 4,000 people drown in the U.S. each year, that means "dry" drowning kills approximately 400-600 U.S. victims annually. "Dry" drowning poses a significant enough mortality risk that those who swim (or supervise swimmers) should know what can be done to decrease the chance of its happening to them or their loved ones.

To help prevent "dry" drowning, swimmers should keep their mouths closed when jumping or diving into water, thereby protecting the larynx from a sudden inrush of water that could cause it to spasm and cut off the airway. Also, do not dive or jump into extremely cold water; instead enter cold water gradually. Those who have a history of heart or respiratory problems should avoid entering very cold water at all, even if they plan to go slowly.


Delayed Drowning

Unlike "dry" drowning, "delayed" drowning takes longer to occur and can be treated if caught early.  A "delayed" drowning episode (where blood is not being properly oxygenated within the body due to a respiratory intake of liquid) is marked by the following indicators: persistent coughing, shortness of breath, painful or shallow breathing, pain in chest, change in mood, change in mental status, and/or lethargy. Other signs of poorly oxygenated blood include increased agitation when lying flat, sweaty skin, or skin color changes such as paleness or blue/grayish cast.

Remember, children's bodies cannot compensate for very long without proper oxygenation and "crash" rapidly once these signs are present, so quick action is imperative. "Delayed" drowning usually occurs within 1 to 24 hours after an incident of respiratory intake of liquid. If it is caught early, it can be treated by supplying oxygen to the lungs. Call 911 or rush immediately to the emergency room if there are signs or symptoms indicating risk of a "delayed" drowning episode.

Safe and happy summer.

-Destination Mom

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sunscreens: What to Look For!

image courtesy of artur84/

According to the American Cancer Society, over 2 million people are diagnosed every year with skin cancers.  So before you or your children head out for the day, be sure you apply sunscreen.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends you use a sunscreen that provides:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (from UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance.

In addition, the AAD strongly advises that you apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors, use lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Concerned about potentially hazardous chemicals that can be found in some sunscreens? The Environmental Working Group released its list of the best sunscreens in May 2015; check out their searchable list here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Comprehensive Campsite: Courtesy of

It's summer and, for many families, that means camping time!!! Whether you're a veteran camper or planning your first family adventure, preparation is key and we have just the resource for you! The article below is reprinted with permission from and was written by Amy Whitley - we simply love the thoroughness of the lists and the fantastic infographic featured at the end! So get camping and make some magical memories!

Camping Packing Lists and Tips
Everything You Need to Bring to the Campsite

Family camping trips are an excellent way to spend time together in the outdoors and enjoy a vacation on a budget, provided you have some camping tips and hacks up your sleeve. Otherwise, it can take as long to prepare and pack for a camping trip as the trip itself! To ensure that you’re ready for that next weekend trip to the woods, use the following camping packing lists and tips.

The Camp Kitchen

Organizing and packing your camp kitchen is often the most complicated part of preparing for a camping trip. The workaround is having dedicated camping pots and pans, utensils, and kitchen gadgets stored apart from your home kitchen, which will save you time and effort in packing and unpacking daily supplies. Here’s what you need:

Kitchen Packing List:

  • Camp stove: Opt for a lightweight backpacking stove or traditional car camping stove.
  • Fuel: Make sure you have the correct propane fuel for your stove.
  • Plates, cups, and eating utensils (1 per family member): Use paper products or opt for reusable mess kits, which are available in outdoor stores.
  • Tablecloth: Buy a cheap one at a dollar store.
  • Dishwashing tub: Opt for a plastic tub or nylon, sealed, collapsible tub.
  • Dishwashing supplies: Paper or cloth towels or dishrags; dish soap; and sponge.
  • Matches
  • Fire starter
  • Ice
  • Cooler
  • Tarp
  • Grill (optional): Most campsites provide a grill over the fire pit.
  • Camp table (optional): Helpful for organization, but not necessary.
  • Kitchen tools/utensils: Spatula, all-purpose knife, potholders, serving ladle, butter knife, tongs, long skewers for s'mores or meat-on-a-stick, and tin foil.
Try this kitchen packing hack: Store your kitchen tools and utensils in a toiletry bag or other small bag to keep them organized and clean between uses at a dusty campground. It will be easy to hang them from a tree branch for easy use when you’re at your site.

The Camp Sleeping Quarters

Everyone wants to be warm and cozy at night! Whether you’re camping in warm or colder climates, everyone in your family will need the essentials to ensure that they’re safe at night. Store tents and sleeping pads in a second large tote, making it easy to pack up the car and head to the campsite at any time.

Sleeping Packing List:

  • Tent(s): Opt for one large family tent or 2–3 smaller tents. Larger tents have the advantage of space, but small tents fit in cozier campsites.
  • Sleeping bags: Buy sleeping bags rated at 20 degrees F, unless you know you’ll be camping in colder climates. A 20–40 degrees F bag works for most camping experiences. Down or down-alternative bags pack down smaller and are lighter and warmer than cotton or nylon/polyester bags.
  • Sleeping pads: Opt for thick blow-up mattresses for car camping, or save space with backpacking pads that inflate with just a few breaths of air.
  • Ground tarp: Don’t skip the ground tarps. They protect your tent floor and keep the dew and cold at bay.
  • Towels and personal hygiene items: One per family member!
  • Flashlights or headlamps: One per family member. Everyone should have their own light source for safety and convenience.
  • Lantern: One per family will do. Ideally, your lantern can transition from kitchen area to tent and back.

Try this sleeping quarters hack: Buy a ground tarp one size larger than your tent, and use the overhanging space as a place to take off shoes and wipe off feet before entering the tent.

The Campfire Area

Camping just isn’t camping without a comforting campfire, right? The campfire area is important, but there’s good news: it’s easy to pack for!

Campfire area packing list:

  • Firewood: Buy on-site, or save money by buying it at a local grocery store.
  • Matches and fire starter: You’ll already have these in your camp kitchen supplies. The type of fire starter you use is up to you; we like fire disks or fire cubes.
  • Axe or hatchet: Useful for breaking down firewood. Store away from children.
  • Camp chairs: Some campsites include a bench around the fire ring, but for most, you’ll want collapsible camp chairs. To save space in the car, opt for the smaller, lighter versions sold in backpacking stores.
  • S’mores: Be sure to bring the ingredients for this tasty campfire treat!
  • Deck of cards or board game: Everyone enjoys playing a game around the fire.
  • Lantern: This item is already with your sleeping supplies!

Try this campfire area hack: Never bring firewood all the way from home. It takes up lots of room in your car or truck, which could otherwise be used for other items, and it could be banned from your campground if you’re driving any distance. Campgrounds often require local wood to be burned in an effort to reduce foreign insect species from invading new areas.

Miscellaneous Items Campers Love

Think you have everything you need? Probably not! Read the list of extras below and decide what you can’t live without!

  • Insect repellent or wristbands
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper and shovel (if you don’t have a campground restroom)
  • Inflatable wading pool for small children to play in
  • Playpen for babies to stay off the dirt (sometimes)
  • Clothespins and a clothesline to hang wet clothing
  • Extra sheet or towel to hang in the tent to create “rooms”
  • Hammock
  • Baby wipes to clean hands and faces
  • Camera
  • Water/wading shoes
  • Small net and bucket to use in streams
  • Small toys for kids to use in camp
  • Bikes or scooters for larger campgrounds

When you get settled in at the campsite, don't forget to pack a list of camp rules and games for kids. Kids and campgrounds go together perfectly, as long as a few safety rules are in place. Make sure kids know the following in the camp kitchen, sleeping, and campfire areas:

  1. Never run around the campfire.
  2. Ask before using any kitchen knives or hatchets.
  3. Turn off flashlights and headlamps after using to save batteries.
  4. Ask a parent before exploring a campground.

Once you’re set up at your campground, entertain kids at the campsite by encouraging them to collect natural objects like sticks, moss, leaves, or bark to make into art pieces. Kids also love having scavenger hunts around the campground (bring a list of items to collect) or riding bikes or scooters around the camp loops. If you have a cell phone with you, encourage kids to look for geocache treasures. There are caches at almost every campground across the United States.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Feeding Little Travelers On-The-Go!

Feeding your little traveller on the go can be challenging at times! Depending on your child's age, there are a myriad of considerations to take into account for your young traveller, from allergies to maintaining your regular feeding schedule. Below are a few quick tips for keeping your little explorer satisfied and safe!


Your child is never too young to suffer an allergic reaction, so before you embark on any trip you should be aware of any possible food allergies your child may have and pack any possible medication he or she may require if an allergen is encountered. Stow the appropriate medicines, prescriptions and portable epinephrine injector (“epi pens”) in your carry-on luggage, where you can access them easily in case of an emergency. If you are travelling by air, it’s a good idea to carry a note from your doctor authorizing the possession of an epi pen.

  • For train or air travel, pack a few extra bottles of formula in case of delays. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the TSA's limitations on carry-on liquids.
  • If your infant has started on jar foods or cereals, be sure to pack items he or she has already tried and has not had an adverse reaction to - vacation is no time to discover a new allergy.
  • Never attempt to bottlefeed or breastfeed an infant in a moving vehicle. Infants should always be strapped into an age-, weight-, and size-appropriate carseat when a vehicle is in operation.
  • When bottle feeding, hold the bottle at all times and control the angle to moderate the flow to suit your baby.
  • If baby is with you at the table, be sure to keep sharp or pointy items, hot liquids or dishes, and pills and other small items out of the his or her reach.
  • Also, avoid drinking hot drinks when breastfeeding.
  • Young children should always be closely supervised during feedings, and that can present some difficulty depending on your mode of transportation. Consider packing a portable feeding seat to stabilize and immobilize him or her during mealtimes.
  • To reduce the risk of choking, keep hard round foods, such as nuts and hard candy, out of very young children’s reach.  Cut your toddler’s food into very small bites.
  • Always make sure children eat while sitting down.
  • Keep all pills and medications separate from food items to avoid accidental ingestion by children. Also, watch carefully for loose magnets. If more than one is swallowed, they can attract each other in the body and cause serious injury or even death.
  • Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect that medication or poison may have been accidentally ingested by your child. This number will connect you to emergency help in your area. Keep the number in your cell phone.
  • Packing familiar items such as sippy cups, small spoons, straws, and bottles will help your child eat the way they have become accustomed to and can help prevent little mouths from overstuffing. 
  • Also, following your child's normal feeding schedule will help keep you child from experiencing the discomfort of extreme hunger which can lead to crankiness and tantrums.
A little knowledge and planning go a long way toward making on-the-go feeding safe, comfortable, and hassle-free; so spend a few extra minutes on packing and planning, because enjoying the journey is as important as enjoying the destination!
- Destination Mom

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hot Cars: Heatstroke Alert

image courtesy of blackzheep/

Awareness Can Save a Life:

Sadly, heatstroke is a leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for young children. The warning signs of heatstroke can include: 
  • Hot or red skin (dry or moist)
  • No sweating
  • Strong, rapid pulse (or slow, weak pulse)
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or strange behavior
Unfortunately, even the best parents or caregivers can forget a child in the back seat, particularly if their routine suddenly changes or the child falls asleep during the drive.

Regardless of whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or bystander, if you see a child left in a car during the summer, it’s imperative that you act immediately. Children are far more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults; in fact, they can overheat up to five times more quickly than an adult. Children should NEVER be left alone in a car, they can suffer heatstroke even with the windows open, and on overcast days, or days where temperatures don't exceed 75 degrees.

If you notice a child alone in a car, don’t hesitate to get involved; protecting children is everyone’s business, and “Good Samaritan” laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency. Should you see an unattended child in a vehicle, do not wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return. If the child is unresponsive or in distress, immediately call 911 and take whatever steps are necessary to remove the child from the car and gently spray him or her with cool water. If the child is responsive, stay there until help arrives. Ask someone to search for the driver or have the facility page the vehicle's owner.

Preventing Tragedy:

Constant vigilance and awareness can help parents and caregivers remember when a child is traveling in their car. These great suggestions can help prevent accidental abandonment which could result in severe injury or even fatality: 
  • Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
  • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
  • If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
  • Place your purse or briefcase in the back seat so that you look there before exiting the vehicle.
Remember, heatstroke in a hot car can happen very quickly, in only 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees. Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a closed vehicle could potentially reach up to 110 degrees; to offer prospective, a child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees. So, if you see a child in a car, swift action can truly be the difference between life and death.

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom