27 December 2008

With the holidays behind you, time to plan that trip!

Phew.. the presents have been mostly unwrapped, put away, enjoyed, or put into the 'return/regift' pile. As the dust settles, we all start to feel like we need a vacation! Why not?? It's fun to plan one at least, and we think that the 'journey' is as much fun as the destination. At Kids Travel Happy, we have a few tools that make planning a trip an educational and fun experience for kids.

Here are a few picks from our site to get you and your kids thinking and learning about places to visit near and far.
1) This Land is Your Land - Laminated Wall Map of USA, by eeBoo

  • grommets for hanging on wall with string or nails, or thumb tacks
  • laminated for long time use
  • colorful with states and capitals labeled
  • shows unique features (plant, animal etc) for each state
  • comes with stickers so kids can label where they live, where grandma lives, where uncle lives, etc...
  • makes a great decoration in kids room, play room, for homeschooling and more
2) Traveling out of the country? Try eeBoo's Laminated Map of the World

  • similar features (colors, laminated, grommets) as above
  • has a separate legend explaining the world's landmarks, agriculture, natural resources, wildlife, industry
  • one corner dedicated to Biomes
  • one corner dedicated to the 7 wonders of the world
  • one corner dedicated to the solar system
  • one corner dedicated to the parts of the atmosphere
  • all of the world's countries listed around the edge of the map as well as on the map itself
  • great way to teach kids their 'place' in the world
3) Noom & Raj Start a Business - a kit to help children learn about Money
this tool kit includes

  • 3 MONEY BOXES - one each for Spending, Sharing, Saving
  • Moonjar band to hold the boxes together
  • a Passbook to keep track of where the money is going
  • a guide to teach how to save, and how to keep a passbook
  • a book with the story of Noom & Raj starting a business
  • This is an excellent way to have a child save their spending money for a trip, and to teach them the value of spending, sharing and saving

Please visit our website for more details, and other ideas (such as a book about 1000 Places to see before you Die) for trips and products to make it more enjoyable for everyone

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14 December 2008

We now have a Bethel, Maine Storefront!


It isn't EXACTLY how I written my business plan, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to give it a shot at a location shared with a well-established local Outdoor Business, TRUE NORTH Adventureware, on Route 26 just outside of downtown Bethel, Maine.

If you are in the area please stop in for last minute holiday gifts, get your hands on so
me of the things we carry online. We have a good selection of our online offerings, and several toys and games to try out. Or, you can shop the FULL selection ANYTIME at our website . If you are local (or know you will be passing through) you can save ALL shipping costs by selecting “Bethel Pickup” at checkout and pick up your order at our shop(196 Walkers Mills Rd) **our entrance is at the left side of the parking lot as you enter the lot – look for the yellow Kids Travel Happy banner over the door!

For now, I am trying to work out my 'one person operation' hours.
Currently, they are:

December 14th Sunday 12noon – 4:30PM
December 15th Monday CLOSED (OPEN by chance)
December 16th Tuesday CLOSED (OPEN by chance)
December 17th Wednesday 10AM-2PM
December 18th Thursday 10AM-2PM
December 19th Friday 12noon-2PM, 4PM-6PM
December 20th Saturday 12noon-6PM
December 21st Sunday 12noon-6PM
December 22nd Monday 12noon-6PM
December 23rd Tuesday 12noon-6PM
December 24th Wednesday 10AM – 1PM

The above are hours I can pretty much 'guarantee'. Please understand that I am trying to balance time between filling online orders and staffing a brand new storefront (and at present, these things are accomplished at different locations, which in time may change!). This is all a little over-whelming, exciting, a little scary, but mostly fun and challenging! Daily the store will have new things, and a new look.

Look for the OPEN flag at our entrance at other times, or call 207-357-1442 to confirm.


please visit the
website for post-Christmas Shop Hours and more info as the store develops and establishes itself in our community. Thank you for your support, and hope to see you online or in person!
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06 December 2008

Isn't this the coolest, craziest thing?


I recently ran across this on the web (another blog?), and couldn't resist contacting the company (Mommysentials) to be able to provide this on my site as a 'travel gear' option.

as mentioned in previous posts is foucused on providing high quality games, books, activities and toys for kids of all ages for travel, home, and gift-giving, but when we come across strikingly unique 'gear' products like this one, well, we can't resist.

What is this thing?? It's called the Mommysentials Babykeeper Basic. What does it do? Isn't it obvious? It allows Mom (or whoever is on 'solo' duty with the babe) to use a bathroom, grocery cart etc. in a way that keeps the young one safe, nearby and clean! We just feel this is brilliant. And, with highest regards for the creators, we must say this looks hilarious (the baby 'model' upper right is particularly adorable!).

From the Manufacturer "Finally, the answer for when the Mom (or Dad) on the go...
HAS GOTTA GO! The Babykeeper is the only portable, safe and sanitary
solution for what to do with your infant or toddler while
using public restrooms and fitting rooms."

The Babykeeper Basic® is a patent pending infant carrier style seat, that hangs from the stall wall in most public restrooms, and can also be used in many public fitting rooms.
- For babies 6-18 months, who can sit unassisted
- Simple to use harness system keeps baby securely in the carrier
- Made with only the finest materials, to ensure your child's safety
- 2 large metal hooks encased in safety webbing, each lined with non-slip material for added security
Durable and easy to clean nylon fabric
- Easy to use, and small enough to take everywhere you go

The Babykeeper® also provides you with a safer and more reliable means of restraining your child in a shopping cart. By using The Babykeeper® as a harness, you are making it practically impossible for your little one to climb out of their seat, thus preventing a fall

Visit our site to purchase, and pay only $6 flat rate shipping!

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26 November 2008

Family Lines at Airport Security

As of the 20th of November (LAST WEEK!), airports around the U.S. are supposed to offer 'family' lines for Airport Security. The thought is that the business traveler (or many other travelers in a hurry) will not sigh at the sight of the family ahead of them. Instead, families will line up at their own area, and hopefully avoid the stares and frustrations of those who may not understand the 'family travel' process (or have forgotten!).

Personally, we have not experienced this convenience, but are curious to know what others who have, think about it.
Seems like a great thing.

When we traveled to Hawaii last April, it was chaotic - shoes, clothes, belts, kids, and carry-ons everywhere. I remember apologizing to a man whose laptop we had inadvertantly buried within our stuff (which, honestly, really wasn't that much 'stuff', it just seemed to 'explode and multiply' at the security check!)....

A few things that have made navigating airports with our kids a bit smoother
  • make sure they are fed, and have gone to the bathroom (or diaper!) before embarking upon any airport 'line' activity
  • have a few simple toys, or games as a distraction for long lines (we've bought a lot of time with a slide puzzle, NAMiTs Cards, or tell me a story activities)
  • put kids (and yourself!) in shoes that are easy to slip on and off, better yet, something an older child can do on his/her own
  • try to avoid belts, this will just save that extra step of taking it off and putting it back on
  • if you have several children, varying in age, put an older one in charge of a younger one, to help with the adult's responsibilities
  • make sure the adult carry-on is the only one carrying electronics that need to be removed
  • make sure water bottles are empty before heading through security
  • explain to children old enough to understand what is going on. We found that our now 5 year old is a sponge for information, and was content just chatting about the happenings around us - while we wait for our ticket, our turn at security, or in line to actually board the plane (no additional props necessary!)
  • if you are traveling with young ones, we found it most helpful to make sure each child could be carried (not in just 'arms') or pushed in some shape or from . This allows for the adults to have one or two hands free - try a soft backpack, a simple umbrella stroller, or a Trunki (ride-on-top luggage!) they will save you many headaches, and increase your family's overall travel speed through an airport!
Check out these articles if you are heading out for travel this Holiday Season for more information on the family security check lines.

I'd be curious to hear what people have to say about it! Safe Travels, and may your kids travel happy!

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19 November 2008

I Spy Bags by Those Greathouse Women

Today I received my shipment from Those Greathouse Women, the makers of the innovative, adorable, soft, irresistible I Spy Bags.

I must say, I loved them when I saw them online, but when I saw them first-hand, I couldn't believe they were even CUTER in person!

What is the I Spy Bag? Basically, the I Spy Bag is a fleece bean bag with a clear window. Instead of beans, there are BPA/DEHP free polypropylene pellets. Various trinkets are hidden among the pellets for children to “discover.” All items are printed on a fabric label securely sewn to the back.

It is a great children’s toy that cannot be opened, and keeps most children quietly occupied during long waits (doctor, travel, grocery). Parents of special needs children find this game to be beneficial for coordination and tactile development. Adults also enjoy playing with this simple game.

The products are completely handmade in Those Greathouse Women's studio in Michigan. Attention to detail and safety is of utmost importance. All seams are double stitched and glued for added security. They take every precaution to ensure that each bag will stay sealed under normal conditions.

We think you won't be able to resist either! Please visit our site to see the range of price offerings of I Spy Bags in a variety of styles. A child will thank you for it! They make great travel activities, as well as the perfect item for a child's holiday gift swap at school. Adults will have fun with them TOO!

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13 November 2008

Second-hand Stores Provide Great Spare Travel Clothes

We love to shop consignment or second-hand stores prior to travel to outfit our kids. We don't sell clothing on our site www.kidstravelhappy.com, mainly because we focus on travel activities, books, games and toys, but we do think that easily accessible spare clothing should never be overlooked. There are 'cute' (and often pricey) spare travel clothing options (for kids and adults), but we find that travel tends to test even the toughest stain-proof items!

As a result, we have found that second-hand stores (garage/yard sales, exchanges etc.) are great ways to acquire clothes to pack for kids. Children tend to get less upset about clothes that are NOT their 'favorite" when encountered by a snack stain, or other activity disaster remnant that permanently adheres to them.

We've also used a layering technique (obviously NOT great for warm weather travel). Have your child wear a t-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt over it, and maybe even a fleece vest (or similar). If something spills, there is still a layer or two to call to duty!

And, don't think the kids are the only ones who need the spares. That spilled drink (on a plane especially), or that soaked through diaper (if you haven't purchased that under 2-year old a seat!) could end up on the ADULT's lap (bummer!). Despite the decreasing allotments for traveling on a plane, we've always felt even just a pair of shorts as spares (no matter the destination) can be a life saver.

Other quick tips/links

- dress kids in the 'second-hand' clothes, and put the 'first-hand' clothes on at the destination
- remember a recloseable bag or some other waterproof container for those soiled items. It is NO fun putting all of the nasty things into the ADULT's bag of dry things!
- check out this link
http://www.resaleshopping.com/ - "where the Internet meets local resale shop owners" for shops near you or near your destination (for US and Canada)
- another fun site for all those thrifters
- you can also try outfitting the family in 'synthetic' clothes (NOT cotton). Synthetic fabrics make for easy cleaning and wearing, as they tend to dry quickly. We often rely on this type of clothing for the 'big people'
- if you are traveling by vehicle, have a small 'spare clothes bag' (with at least one thing per traveler) that is easily accessible. This is much easier to find than to pull out each individual's luggage bag (as it's bound to be the one most deeply packed that you'll need first!)
- if you are local to the Bethel, Maine area, please visit Little Bits Consignment, located at 85 Main Street 207-824-4008

d kids we have realized that packing to go anywhere is NO easy task, but we've also realized that cutting corners in the wrong places can bring disaster.
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03 November 2008

Should you buy your under 2-year old a seat on a plane?

(photo above is NOT a great example of child restraint!)

A friend of mine is travelling with her nearly 2 year old girl next week and we were having a discussion about flying without a reserved seat for an under (barely) 2-year old. They had already made the decision NOT to buy her a ticket, but I thought I'd first touch base on this topic before moving on to her other questions that prompted more investigation.

First of all, we have had this debate in my household, as we have flown many times with our boys, who are now 2.5 and 5. Most recently, we have travelled from Maine to Oahu, Hawaii and our youngest son, Izaac, turned 2 on the trip. We debated changing the trip to save the over $800 for his ticket, and come home before he turned 2. After about an hour into our first flight, we were SO thankful that we'd spent the money. First of all, it gave us room for him and his travel activities, and it also gave the adults their room. It made Izaac feel like a 'big boy' and it made it easier to get him to settle into the seat belt, for meals etc. By half-way through the flight, we would have paid thousands of dollars for his own seat if we didn't already have one.

My opinion is that once a child is mobile (crawling, standing, walking) it's worth every penny to get that seat for them, but infants and pre-crawlers are mostly going to be held anyway (and they are smaller!), so the seat isn't as essential. Also, if the plane is NOT full, I have been given an extra empty seat (unpaid) for my traveling lap child, but obviously, this is not a fool-proof strategy, as more and more flights are filling up these days!

Another thing to think about however, is that some airlines discount a seat for a child under 2. This was the case when our boys were under 2, but not sure with all of the changes in travel regulations these days. The ticket price (even at full fare) may be worth the extra luggage allowance your small travelling companion now has - we always made good use of it, checking car seats (although, usually these are NOT counted as part of the allowance), kid carrying backpacks or other things we would not PAY to take along.

Our investigation shows that some airlines require any child (even under 2) have a seat for international or similarly long flights.

A link on the FAA you may find useful (in reference to child restraint safety)

SO, now it brings us to the question of what can one bring for the UNticketed passenger?

As far as we can tell, a lap child is considered part of an adult's ticket, and thus is NOT allowed any luggage. Note that airlines will usually check a stroller at the gate, and a diaper bag is usually NOT counted as one of your carry-on bags. It is best, however, to check with your specific airlines. Airline's websites usually have this information in a not-so-hard-to-find place.

One other last tidbit worth mentioning when flying with an 'under 2' child. The bathrooms are equipped with a changing table, but if you've never used one, successful use of one is based on practice, and preparation. The space is tiny, and if you have unexpected turbulence (YIKES) it's a bit scary. Board the plane with your own self contained system you may be able to use on the floor (discretely), and all will be happier!

Make sure you pack proper activities to keep the young traveler busy. One cool activity is a set of hand puppets from Manhattan toy, where one is sized for a 'big' hand, and one for a 'small'.

Or, get a set of finger puppets and entertain with storytelling!

Enjoy your trip!

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29 October 2008

The GRABBER saves a Sock!

(Ok, this isn't my kid - it's a Toysmith stock photo, but gives you an idea of what I'm about to write about!)

This is one of those pieces of 'travel' gear that one may never think of - a Grabber (or the Grabbit, which I'll touch on later!). Thankfully, I took some of my own advice, and carry one of these in the car for when one of my boys drops something in the backseat, and can't reach it.

Well, the other day I was at the Laundromat with my 2.5 year old son, and all was going fine (we were washing a bunch of bedding due to a suspected cat hair allergy... but that's another story). Then, when it came time to get all of the clothes out of the dryer, my son decided he was going to help put it in the little wheelie cart. With the aim of a child just spun to pin the tail on the donkey, he hucked a sock farther than I'd ever seen him do. Low and behold, the sock found it's way behind a washing machine, into the black hole of dust bunnies, plumbing, and other unreachables!

Sighing at the thought of losing a high dollar Smartwool sock (I wouldn't have cared about a cotton sock, we have plenty of miss-matches of those!), I told my son to stop throwing, as he looked a little frightened and said in a cute 2-year old lisping voice "shorry mommy, shorry".

Just then, I remembered the 18"grabber we had in the car. Without pause, I ran out to the car, got the grabber, and far-from-gracefully laid myself down on top of 2 washing machines. I extended my now nearly 5-ft long arm into the 'sock' trap. Two squeezes of the handle and I accomplished my mission! Saved.

What does this all have to do with travel? I'm not sure exactly, except to note that the best items for travel are those that have other uses as well. The 18" grabber is a great car 'accessory' during long road trips. Not only can toys and other items be retrieved, you can make 'grabbing-games-of-skill' as well. For a more packable tool, I recommend the 12" Grabbit. The Grabbit fits in a standard sized kids backpack, and is more practical for anything but vehicle travel. Also, see our Essential Travel Kit for more things you didn't know you needed!
The GRABBER saves a Sock!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

25 October 2008

Leave the Fridge at home?!

First of all, for those of you hoping for a 'food/snack' oriented entry (surely one of those will come later), sorry, but this one is about the stuff you put ON your fridge.

Don't you love magnets? Do your kids have letters, numbers, photo frames, and other stuff (we even have a marble 'run' on ours)? Well, why not pack some of that stuff in a reclosable bag and bring it with you? Of course, you need a place to put it all, and we've found that there are very inexpensive options, much lighter the refridgerator door!

Magnetic Boards provide a fun way to create one's 'Magnetic Poetry' on-the-go. Our site has collected a bunch of fun, kid-oriented magnetic activities to do on a packable 9" x 12" magnetic board, or upgrade to the Jumbo version at 12" x 16". Magnetic Poetry even provides a 'journal'-type board that opens to nearly 17" x 11" (AND, comes with a 100 word starter 'kit' to get the stories 'flowing').

Our kids love their magnetic animals, dinosaurs, and words to take along a trip and make up stories (pictoral and literary).
Magnetic activities provide a new and exciting option for travel, just make sure you have a bag, container or tray to contain the spare 'parts' while the masterpieces are being created.

There are also magnetic dry erase boards, but we've found that they tend to have weaker 'magnetic pull' than the non-dry erase versions, and the dry erase markers can get a bit messy 'on-the-go'.
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22 October 2008

Is YOUR cell phone a Travel Toy??

OK, we’ve all done it, gotten desperate during a long travel day, and handed a child the cell phone, on and ready to go, and let him/her push buttons for as long as it remained effective. Then, mysteriously, next billing cycle you’ve realized that you are now signed up for all kinds of new (and expensive) cell phone services. (well, this didn't happen to my phone, but to my mom's, one time when she was entertaining my kids....oops, I probably owe her!)

Or, maybe it was your wallet, purse, your secret stash of M&M’s? All of those things that are totally off limits in any other situation, but somehow free game during travel.

Through my travels with my husband, and 2 young boys (2.5, and 5 years old) we have found that providing them with brain-engaging activities makes us all much happier, and 'saves' the adult's phone, handbag, and other items. We also have found that the kids have much more fun when there is a 'play surface' for their activities.

This concept has developed into our website called
http://www.kidstravelhappy.com/, where we offer 7 different lap tray and lap desk options, and then hundreds of toys, games, books and activities that are indexed according to the type of tray, age, brand, mode of travel and more. There are even options for layovers, rest stops, rainy days and things to do at the destination.

Most items on the site are not traditionally categorized as travel activities, which is what makes them all that much more exciting. The incorporation of a tray opens the travel activity options to a wide selection of unplugged, creativity inspiring, educational activities, toys, books, and games for the young traveler (and some cool stuff for the adults too!). We hope you are able to use the site and have your “kids travel happy”. Heck, you may even get to read that book you always bring along!

So, please join us here weekly for in depth information on some of the products we carry (and why we think they are great for travel), as well as tips from things we've learned from travel pre- and post-kids.

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