Travel Time Tips

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I don't know about anyone else, but for the longest time, my poor child would scream bloody murder anytime I took her near her car seat. She HATED being in the car with a passion. I honestly think it had more to do with being restrained than the actual ride itself. She doesn't easily fall asleep in the car like a lot of other mythical babies I've heard about and she would just generally be ticked off anytime she even looked at a vehicle she might have to get in. 

Now, Juston and I love to travel so you can see how this posed a bit of a problem for a while. Luckily, either she has outgrown that phase or we're just doing a better job of entertaining her, but with the holidays coming up we have a lot of travel on our agenda. So when Kendra, a former Director of Communications for Orbitz, offered some traveling with toddler tips, I was so excited to hear what she had to help this mama out. I wanted to share with anyone else who might be interested as well. Hopefully, this can make your holiday travel more enjoyable!

Fun Travel Tips for an Amazing Holiday Getaway

The holiday season is rapidly approaching! Don’t let this discourage you from taking the time to make a quick family getaway, though! Whether you are traveling nearby or to a far-distant locale, it is important to plan carefully any time you are traveling with children. Here are the top family travel tips to enjoy a stress-free holiday trip.

1. Make it a Surprise

Surprising your kids with a sudden trip is always a fun way to generate tons of excitement. If this seems a little bit too extreme, give your children little hints about where the destination is in the weeks leading up to the trip. This will peak their interest and have them routinely guessing where the vacation is. One important thing to note about this is that the destination has to be a place your children will actually be excited about, or they may end up disappointed.

2. Maintain Your Routine

One of the most important things you can do while traveling is stick to your regular eating and sleeping schedule. When away from home, you likely will be doing lots of walking, so also be sure to give your kids’ little legs a rest by taking occasional breaks. Also, schedule events around naps. While it may seem like your kids can skip the naps early in the week, the lack of sleep will quickly catch up with them.

3. Research Family-Friendly Hotels

Some hotels advertise a family-friendly atmosphere, only to fall short on their claims. For every individual though, there are certain amenities that one values over another. If you have a baby, check if the rooms in the hotel have refrigerators so you can store baby food and formula. Also, see if the hotels offer rollaway beds for free or if this is an added charge.  If you are traveling to a big city, like my hometown of Chicago, there are tons of family friendly options out there.  I have found that Gogobot, a travel-site offering user reviews of hotels, has a great list of hotels to stay in all over Chicago.

4. Cameras

Family vacations are full of opportunities to create memories. Before leaving, purchase disposable cameras to give to your children. Have your kids document favorite events by taking photographs! Your kids will love being able to take their own photos, and you will see their creative side come out in full force. Compile these photos into a special album once you return home.

5. Try New Foods in Advance

Traveling with a sick child is never fun, and food allergies can sometimes arise while on vacation. If you travel with a baby, bring your own baby food that you know your child likes. This will help guard against potential food reactions.

This holiday season, make the most out of it by surprising your kids with an exciting getaway. Be sure to select a family-friendly hotel and pack the essentials, and you’ll be on your way to a fantastic trip!

Kendra has you covered on the destination and fun experiences on vacation so I thought I'd add in a few things that have made the "getting there"specifically easier for us in the past few months since we've actually been able to start going again. I should note, I don't fly well, so we've only driven places since having Caroline.

1. Snacks

Puffs, bananas, raisins, dried apple chips, Cheerios and lots of juice have all been life savers.  Who doesn't love snacks on a road trip? And when the snacks loose their appeal and the meltdowns commence, our road motto for traveling this past summer was embarassingly enough "when in doubt, boobies out". I had to pull a Kourtney Kardashian more times that I can count and drape myself over Caroline's car seat so she could nurse. Thank God for tinted windows. In case you're interested in the logistics, I sit on the Boppy pillow, (still fastened in my belt, safety first), and hold on for dear life to the side of her carseat and the passenger seat headrest. Oh the things I'll do to get a vacation.

2. Bubble Guppies

Or really any dvd or download of a show your little one enjoys.  Discovering Bubble Guppies one fateful day in a Harlan Wal-Mart was a pure God-send. Caroline is mesmerized when it comes on, and I'm not going to lie, I always sing the "Line-Up" song. She's also a big fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Tiny Toons or Fraggle Rock (okay, those are my picks). Anything with music. Interestingly, she doesn't like the baby Mozart dvd's. 

3. Lots of Stops (if needed)

We try to scope out State Parks or other fun stops along the way on our long road trips. Places where Caroline will be able to get down and run around for a bit. No McDonald's for this fam. If that's your cup of tea, more power to ya but I just can't stand the food and since we usually pack a cooler, stopping at a State Park is perfect for all of us.

4. Books 

More so than the dvd's, Caroline enjoys books with flaps, pop-ups or the little buttons that make animal noises or play music. I'd say as far as entertainment, 75% on the road comes from these books and me making the most ridiculous barnyard noises you will ever hear.

5. Games

Nothing too intellectually stimulating here. Just a game of Pee-shoo sniffing the piggies, peek-a-boo, getting my hair tie off her wrists or ankles or Caroline's personal favorite, mama hitting herself for funsies and saying ouch.

We spent the last year of our lives pretty well home-bound because Caroline was literally that miserable when we'd try to go places, and with nursing, I felt tied to her since she wouldn't take a bottle, but after successful trips to Alabama, Louisiana and North Carolina in the books, we're hoping to resume our pre-baby travel schedule, plus one. Any tips we've missed that made your travel with baby or toddler easier? Do tell!

A Simple Baby Project

Monday, November 4, 2013

First things first, we had a wonderful Halloween. Our trick-or-treat was postponed to Friday since we had some pretty severe storms roll through on Thursday. It ended up working perfect since Friday's weather was warm and sunny and no one had to get up and go to school the next morning. Caroline was a lion and had a ball walking around my parents and sister's neighborhood with her cousins. 

My little lion with my sister's fisherman, Mike Wazowski and Sophia. 

I stole Caroline's witch hat...any guesses on the family theme yet??

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  One of my favorite books when I was younger and a pretty awesome movie now, too. I can't believe I got my husband to participate in this picture.  You better believe that as soon as everyone snapped their shot, he lost his costume. haha. He doesn't really like to participate in the dressing up portion of Halloween, but he was a good sport for Caroline :)

So on to a simple, cheap little activity for babies. My mom found this idea and started saving her water and milk gallon lids. Lids and an empty diaper wipe container are all you need! Just wash your lids after use and start saving them up until you have quite a few, maybe 10-15. 

Caroline started getting into using this around 11 months I'd say. She wasn't really all that interested in it before then, except as a noisemaker. But how cheap and easy is this?! Thanks Mama :)

Nothing keeps Caroline occupied for very long, but this entertains her as long as anything else does, so you may want to try it out for your little ones too.  They can either shake it around for a noisemaker, or once they get a bit older, dump out the lids and then put them all back in through the slit on the top where the diapers come out. Enjoy!