Friday, October 14, 2011

New Idea for Babies

I was always looking for something like this when I had tinies.  What a great idea!  It's a Hold it Baby and it is basically a bunch of straps that attach to one hub that keeps baby from dropping everything.  Super important when you're trying to scrounge around under airplane seats for that favorite toy...

Monday, October 10, 2011

America's Most Dangerous Airports

When I saw this headline over at Travel and Leisure, I thought it might be about pick-pockets or assaults, but it was in fact about the safety of the actual run-ways.  I was surprised to find three airports I have flown from on a regular basis on the list.  Are any of yours listed here?  Travel and Leisure's Most Dangerous US Airports.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday

If stress and high altitude give you a squicky stomach.  Try reeeeeally hard not to eat Mexican in the airport terminal.  Hello indigestion!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Helpful Link Day

Found this link on MSN today.  It's not necessarily about traveling with kids, but it's got some good advice anyway...

9 Travel Myths and Hoaxes

Happy Trails!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Haul Review

I promised a review of these toys when I bought them a few months ago, so here we go!  I bought all these things at a dollar store, so you're looking at 7 dollars worth here.  (The pinwheels were three on a card.) 

I didn't pack the Counting with the Count book because it wouldn't fit in ODS carry-on.  The other coloring book was completely ignored by YDS who much preferred to spend his time drawing his own pictures on blank paper.  Oh well... 

The red pin-wheel broke before we even got on the first plane, but the blue one became a bone of contention among other toddlers in the airport lobby.  A little squirrely to deal with because of the fragility, but a big hit.  

The basketball games were a great way to transport crayons and the boys loved playing the game.  But the very biggest hit was the keychain bracelets.  Major love from both kids, and Mr. Three wore his to bed a couple of times!

I reviewed this stuff mainly to show that you just never know... Sometimes they like the weirdest things...  That's part of what makes the searching fun!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday

My criteria for airline amusement is it has to be small, quiet, relatively inexpensive (read: replaceable), and something that will pass inspection (no toy guns, things filled with water or gel, etc.)  I love to shop educational toy stores because they usually have lots of small toys in bins for under $5 and small sticker books full of re-positionable stickers.  Another favorite is the dollar isle at Target.  You can find masks, crayons, wooden toys, all kinds of stuff if you keep your eye out.  But, my all time favorite place for this kind of shopping is the party store.  Talk about cheap!  20 plastic Slinkies for $2?  Sign me up!  It's also where I first found the best airplane toy of all time.  I've since found them at Wal-Mart, Target, and Oriental Trading Co. but you'll always find them at party stores.  Now, go forth and shop!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rookie Moves

We just got back from a trip to Hawai'i.  I was really excited about this one since I had picked up this blog recently and I got "the big head," as they say in the South.  Let's talk about all the rookie mistakes I made, shall we?

Rookie Move #1:
I didn't follow my list.  I had things like sandals for the boys, ultra mega super absorbent leak-locking mattresses for me (with wings), and my "sights to see" list on there.  None of these things made it into the bag.  I had packed the boys some flip-flops so they were OK, but it would have been nice for them to have had shoes a little easier to walk in.  Both of them had flip-flop related parking lot vs. knee interactions.  We had to run to the store for pads, and I asked my neighbor/catsitter to send me my list in an e-mail.  All things that were an inconvenience but not a big deal in the long run.

Rookie Move #2:
I didn't fully unpack in the hotel room. As a result, my husband didn't have a belt all week, and I forgot I'd packed dress shoes and wore flip-flops to a fancy dinner.

Rookie Move #3:
I didn't bring enough sunscreen. My youngest is allergic to most sunscreens and I didn't bring enough of the one he's not allergic to.  The company has changed formulas so though I could find the "same" thing almost everywhere we went, we couldn't use it.  I used something new on him and he ended up being itchy and swollen for three days.  So, we spent a fair amount of time researching sunscreen ingredients, brands, and places to get them on our island.  Poor little itchy kid... But I had packed Benadryl cream, so that was good.

And finally, Rookie Move #4 (it's a doozy):
I forgot the food bag.  I did pack my beautiful, awesome food bag.  I just didn't bring it.  I realized what had happened when we got to the airport.  I called our neighbors and gave them the perishable items.  We ended up spending gobs of money on breakfast in the airport and buying meals on the plane.  But over all, the boys did very well.  I'm glad I didn't forget it when they were younger, but at 3 and 5 they did great.

The Good News:
Even though I should have known better, all those mistakes were just minor inconveniences.  We still had a fantastic vacation!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is How We Roll (Part Four: What to Pack--Amusements)

And now the fun part:  Amusement Bags!

Oh, where to begin... This is my favorite part of packing.  More fun than the trip itself, sometimes... I try to pack at least one toy I know they love, and a whole bunch of new stuff they've never/rarely seen.  I keep the new toys for the next trip put a way in a closet so they're fresh for next time.

Ol' Standbys for Littles:
  • Crayola Color Wonder markers and paper
  • Aquadoodle travel pad
  • (1-5 years) books (i spy and waldo books take forever to finish)
  • (18 mos+) small cars
  • (2+) static cling sticker books
  • kaleidoscopes, binoculars (around 3 Little 1 went through a phase of wanting to look through things)
  • (18 mos+)spinning wands*
*Please allow me a moment here to discuss the greatest airline toy of all time.  It's called a spinning wand.  It has lights.  It spins around.  It vibrates a tiny bit.  When Little 1 saw it on the plane the first time, it was love at first sight.  They are super fun on a night flight or when you pull the shade.  Sometimes they do have sounds so make sure the one you get doesn't make annoying noises.  Also, try to test them in the store.  They're pretty fragile and often don't even make the trip to the store.  They're also cheap so when they spin themselves into oblivion, you can replace it easily.

And for Tinies:
  • (12-18 mos) two or three mega blocks to put together and take apart
  • (12-18 mos) an empty CD case or small bag to practice zippers
  • (6mos-5years) plastic slinky springs
  • (6-18 mos) empty mint boxes to open and close
  • (0-12 mos) rattles or other "noise makers" for distracting purposes
  • (0-5) party blow-outs that don't make noise
  • (3 mos-4 years) puppets
  • (0-3 years)toe games*
*I accidentally found out that Little 1 loved toe games as we were landing late one night.  We were coming down, he had to be put back in his car seat, and most of the cabin was fast asleep.  He was getting cranky and wasn't having any toy as a distraction.  Out of desperation, I grabbed his foot and bonked his nose with it.  It surprised him and he laughed.  He laughed the whole rest of landing.  It still works on Little 2 who's three! 

Surprise Favorites:
  • flapping fish (A little fish with a pull string meant for the bath.  Pull the string and the tail flaps.  Little 1 said it was his favorite toy that trip.)
  • I Spy Bag (A bag filled with plastic pellets and small shapes.  It's really meant for babies, but my then two year old loved it and still does at three.)
  • brush/mirror compact (They fought over these.  It's a little compact size mirror with a brush that pops out.  Good grief you never saw such a fuss!  Come to think of broke.  I'd better find a replacement quick!)

Disappointments, but might be great for your kids:
  • lacing cards
  • stencils
Trying this time:
  • card games (The Sandwich Game for both, Go Fish for Little 1)
  • regular coloring books/crayons
  • basketball game
  • pinwheels
  • felt book (Modified.  The book itself is too big, but I'm using some of the pieces and rolling them up in a piece of felt.  If I get super crafty and find the time I might make a little scene.)
  • dry erase puzzles

Stuff to stay away from:
  • Balls (They get thrown.  Like, across the plane.)
  • Things with lots of little parts
  • Gel clings (I learned this the hard way.  Little 1 eats them.)
  • Stickers
  • Markers that leave marks
  • Play doh (maybe, depends on the kid)

Here is a pic of most of the stuff in my amusement closet....

color wonder paper and markers, puppet, pinwheels, stencil, felt book, coloring/activity books, travel aquadoodle, spinning wand, lacing card, wipeable activity cards, no noise party blow out, playing cards, wooly willy, I spy bag, rainbow disk, sunglasses, kaleidoscopes, magna doodle, brush/mirror compact set, stretchy bracelet keyrings, ball maze, paper fan, Jacob's ladder, wind up toys, slinkys, carabiners, tiny keychain flashlight, matchbox cars.  (in the original display, but not in this picture: Mardi Gras beads, static-cling sticker books)


This has been really fun for me.  I hope I've given you some ideas you can use.  I'm always on the lookout for better ways to pack, new snack products, and quiet toys.  I'll be sure to update you with what I find!

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is How We Roll (Part Three: What to Pack--Food)

Now that I've covered what bags to bring, I thought I'd talk a little about what to pack in them.  The big suitcase is easy: clothes, shoes, and toiletries bag.  Whatevs.  But what to bring to eat?

Eating is a big part of my "Amusing the Kids" arsenal.  As such, the food bag is a big deal in my house.

If you haven't heard about Pirate's Booty yet, you have got to go right now and find some.  Buy it off the net if you have to.  It's really yummy.  My guys get it as a treat when they're on the plane.  I try to pack snacks they actually like that are relatively healthy, don't take up too much space, and will fill them up pretty well.  Pirate's Booty takes up a huge amount of space, is only remotely healthy, and isn't very filling, but they love it and it has gotten us out of some big, ugly jams when things were beginning to melt down.  You could say it saves our booties.  (Oh yes I did...)

Another of my favorite snacks for kids are applesauce pouches.  They come in a variety of flavors from different manufacturers, Trader Joe's has the cheapest that I've found.  (GoGoSqueez is pictured here). I've seen similar pouches full of baby food in Babies R Us, which I think is a fabulous idea.   I don't mind spending a little more money for something that's conveniently packaged for flights.  Sucking something from a pouch is a hundred times easier than dealing with spoons and cups with foil wrappers that explode all over your shirt (I'm looking at you, Gerber...).

Other ideas:
  • Dried fruit (I used to buy the boxes of Brother's freeze dried fruit from Costco, but it's all made in China and that's a little scary to me.  So now I buy Just Tomatoes brand products.  They're more expensive, but I feel they're safer plus, they also have some organic products.)
  • Trail mix (I almost always have a package or two for the adults just to keep us going.  Trader Joe's has great pre-packaged serving size portions of some nuts and trail mix, but if I don't have time to get there, I just baggie some bulk bin trail mix.)
  • Pretzels
  • Goldfish (the only time my boys get colored goldfish is on airplanes, they go nuts!)
  • Cheerios, rice puffs, or other dry cereal
  • Fruit bars/leather (Archer Farms, Target's generic, has some great fruit leather strips and bars that are just fruit juice.  They also have some little gummy "candies" made from fruit juice.  And apparently, they also have some organic versions, too.)  Oooh and LaraBars!
  • Yogurt tubes (pre-frozen, so by lunch time they're thawed but not too warm and also serve to cool the bag some)
  • Babybel cheese or string cheese  (Added benefit to Babybel is my two love to play with the wax!)
  • Fresh fruit, but try to think of some that don't have peels or cores to dispose of such as berries or pre-peeled oranges.  Nothing like packing up to come home and finding a week old banana peel in your luggage!
I have already sung the praises of the Sassy lunch sets.  I usually pack a lunch in addition to all the brib--- uh... snacks...

Little's Lunch:
  • Some sort of protein, usually left-over from dinner the night before maybe chicken, maybe beans
  • carrots or other veg
  • frozen peas (in the green compartment, obviously!)
  • juice or milk box (yes, they do make shelf stable milk, it's not horrible...)
These go directly out of the fridge into the food bag to stay as cold as possible.  The frozen pea container helps a lot with this, too.

I found a some inexpensive lunch boxes by bramli at Target a couple of years ago.  I don't think they sell them any more, but you can still find them online.  They are not watertight, so I pack accordingly.

Adult Lunch:
Usually hummus with carrots and pita bread on the way out, whatever I can scrounge together from leftovers from the trip on the way home, maybe a sandwich with some fruit and/or veg.  We drink whatever the airline is giving out free, though some airlines are even charging for water and soda now.  Some travelers have suggested bringing refillable water bottles and that's not a bad idea.  We also buy two big waters in the terminal if we have a chance.

Whatever it is, I don't pack the fork or knife because I don't want a hassle with the security team, so it's finger food.  Also, you can't bring ice packs or blocks on planes these days, so try to think of things that don't require refrigeration.

Also, a lot of people suggest nursing or giving your little one a drink to soothe ears during landing and take off.  Neither of my boys have ever seemed to actually notice.  But it doesn't hurt to have a little something ready just in case. 

Finally--now, I've never done this-- but some parents swear by it: Cookies.  A little bribe here and there won't kill anyone and it might keep some of the glaring to a minimum.  Cookies would never work with my kids, because as soon as they found out about them the whining would begin, followed by decent upon the cookies like ravenous beasts, followed by yet more whining because the cookies were all gone.  I prefer to pack treats they like, but aren't crazy for.  You know your own kids.  If you think you can handle it, go for it!

Next up: The Activities Bags!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is How We Roll (Part Two: Packing)

 I talked about seating in Part One of this series because where you sit directly effects how many carry-ons you have to pack.  And know...carry through a crowded airport while keeping track of one or more small, uncooperative humans.

Here is what most airlines allow: one carry-on per ticketed passenger plus one personal item (purse, laptop, diaper bag). My #1 tip for travel with Littles is: Pay the extra and get all your kids a seat, no matter what the age.  And it's my number one tip not for safety (which I suppose is a consideration) but for the carry-ons.  With this age, one more bag to shove diapers and spare clothes into is huge!

I pack one bag just for food.  One for amusement per kid, and a diaper bag (where I shove my small purse).  Hubby usually packs a backpack for a laptop, camera, etc, keeping both hands open for car seats and wrangling.  We can usually manage to pack our clothes into one large suitcase, though with Little 1 growing larger, we've moved his clothes into his carry-on.  It depends on the destination, too.  Heavy winter clothes take up more room than shorts and tees, obviously.

Here are a few more packing tips:
  • A thin blanket and a neck pillow are great additions for the kid's carry-ons to make naps a little more comfortable.  When they were babies, I used to cover them in those swaddling blankets from the hospital, but they've outgrown them now... sigh...
  • When packing, keep in mind spare hands for carrying car seats on board and wrangling monkeys.  Backpacks are great for this.  Mine started rolling/wearing their backpacks reliably around 2 1/2.  But don't count on little ones to pull their own weight.  Tired, overstimulated kids can be less than consistent with luggage duty.
  • Don't forget about luggage carts.  If you've got two car seats, two kids, four carry-ons and no more sanity, it might be worth the quarter to get from one end of the concourse to the other.  (We're usually running so late we don't have time to stop and load one up, but that's on us...)
  • Remember all the don'ts when you're packing your carry-ons. (Leave those throwing stars and hatchets in the checked bags, ladies.) Now that they're letting water on board again, it's gotten a lot easier to pack lunch.
  • And speaking of security, dress your kids in shoes that are easy to take on and off, no belts, no matchbox cars in the pockets, nothing you have to remember when you're busy trying to get everybody through the line.
  • Remember your 3-1-1.
 Next up in this series: Packing the Food!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    This is How We Roll (Part One: Seating Assignments)

    Over the years I have revised our travel strategy. We have tried a couple of different products for keeping the kids strapped into the airline seat (there will be reviews of these eventually) but for this series, I'm going to stick to packing the food and toys and the best seat assignment layout we've discovered.

    When we had just one child, it was pretty easy, Dad by the window, kid in the middle, Mama on the aisle. Until Little 2 came along, we never really thought about it. But as soon as he showed up, we realized we had no idea what we were doing.

    Once, we tried two kids, one Mom, Dad in a different row. Yield: 1 tired Mama.

    Then, we wised up and decided to put parents on the aisle, kids in the middle, stranger on the window. Yield: The stewardess informed us that unless the person at the window was related to the child, they don't want infant seats in the middle, particularly if they protrude past the edge of the airline seat. And we had two annoyed fellow passengers who had to give up their window seats.

    Then, we tried kids on the window, parents in the middle,stranger on the aisle. Yield: A lot of extra bags packed with the same stuff so we didn't have to pass things over the middle of the row. And two kids who were missing the absent parent. But we made it and didn't have to inconvenience anybody so we flew like this for a while.

    Then, one glorious, fateful trip, we had a travel planner book a flight for us. The "duh" bulb went on when I noticed she had us in rows behind each other. Kids on the windows, parents in the middle one in front of the other. So much easier! Though she did have us booked the row behind the exit row. Yield: We still had to move and displace two people and we learned that kids in car seats not only can't be in the exit row, they also can't be in the rows behind or in front of the exit row.

    These days, my boys climb underneath the seats to get back and forth to each other, which keeps them occupied and gets out some of the willies.  Not sure how safe it is but we haven't been yelled at by an attendant yet...  It also makes it easier to hand out snacks and share toys.

    I've read other advice saying you should try to book seats near the bathrooms because the extra traffic will keep the boogers entertained.  This is certainly good advice for those traveling with potty trainers, but as far as the entertainment factor is concerned it's hit or miss.  If you're the last row before the bathrooms, the kids don't have anybody to look at when they look behind them.  We have gotten a lot of mileage out of the people in the seats behind us interacting with our little monkeys.  When our oldest was about 2 he learned how to make a new face from a passenger behind him.  He thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen and kept making the face our entire vacation.  Now that's quality entertainment!

    Once we had the seats ironed out, it really streamlined our carry-on baggage situation.  Stay tuned for Part Two: Packing!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Quick Tip Tuesday

    If you're unsure if a new toy will keep your child's interest on the plane, bring it with you to for a trail run!  Grocery shopping, put the kid in the cart and let him test it.  Waiting for a sibling in swim class, let her give it a whirl.  Waiting in line at the library, waiting for food at a restaurant, church, in the car...anywhere you've got a little time to fill while you are not entirely enclosed in a tiny tube located thousands of feet off the ground speeding along at 500 MPH.  If your little one really likes it, hide it till your flight.  If not, put it in with the regular toy rotation.  You never know, it might become a favorite down the road!

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    New Haul!

    Every time we go on a trip I try to bring the boys a mix of new toys and old favorites.  We're going on a trip at the end of the month and I've been scouring the shops.  I love to find quiet toys in the dollar bin at Target or, as in the case with these toys, at the dollar store.  The gumball containers have a basketball game in the lid.  I think I'm going to empty out the gumballs and use the tube to hold crayons or maybe some trail mix.  I might give the boys gum as a reward, but they're not getting it on the plane! I'm working on a short series of posts about seat selection and packing, but I wanted to share these, I'm geeked!  I'll let you know what the boys think when we get back...

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Dropping the Ball and Picking it Back Up Again.

    I started this blog at the end of 2009 because I felt I had something to offer the world of harried travelers.  I wrote a couple of posts and took a few pictures and then showed it to my Mom.  She was usually very supportive of anything I did with my writing (after all she paid for my college education, she enjoyed seeing the fruits of her labors.)  But she didn't really get it. 

    I was disappointed, but I knew that when I was trying to pack stuff up for my monkeys I often wished I had a resource out there somewhere with advice.  Plus, I have a tendency to stop strangers in stores when I overhear they're on a trip and drone on and on about packing tips.  So rather than dispense unwanted advice to strangers in the grocery store, I knew I wanted to dispense wanted advice to strangers on the Internet! 

    At any rate, I was steeling myself to forge ahead and then my Mom suddenly died.  I got punched in the gut.  I dropped the ball.  I spent last year trying to figure out who I was again.  I still haven't figured it out all the way.  My cellphone still has my parent's number listed under "Mom and Dad".  My brother and Dad spent a week looking for her Christmas candy recipe just so I could make it.  Every day I wish she could give me advice about my boys. 

    And yet still, I think about this little baby blog I started.  I still accost unwary Moms in the luggage department looking at travel bags.  I think I'm ready to bend over and pick up the ball.  Just please don't look at my butt...there's probably applesauce on it.