14 December 2009

A great way to measure kids' growth

I just have to share these photos because they are so fun, and because although I can't recall where I initially saw the idea, I think it's worth passing on.

When your kids are young, buy a t-shirt that they someday will fit into. Each year take a photo of them in the shirt(s) and watch the changes, in the kids, especially relative to the shirt.

The year our youngest was born, 2006, I had a good friend raising money to climb Mt. Everest (our 2nd child's middle name as well!). As a fundraiser, he sold the shirts that our boys have in the photos below.
  • 1st photo from 2006
  • 2nd from 2007
  • 3rd from 2009 (yes, we missed 2008... where does the time go)
I think this would be a fun thing to start anytime with growing kids, and why not use a fun tshirt from your (their!) travels!
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27 November 2009

Getting Kids into the GIVING Spirit

As a online and brick & mortar store owner, I have my kids around LOTs of retail items, and mostly toys, no less. I will say, for the most part, they are very good about knowing what is OK to play with and what is for sale, and NOT OK to play with.

I do struggle, however, with how to teach my 3 and 6 year old boys the importance of giving back. So, I did what any good parent does, and researched to create my strategy.

A few of our ideas:
  • We like to give each kids a (very modest) budget for 'checking off' those on the list closest to them. We encourage them to either pool their money for that special item, or use it to buy craft/art supplies to make their gifts. Framed artwork, special school projects, handwritten poems or letters always mean so much more (and sentimentally worth more) than anything purchased for any amount of money.
  • Volunteer as a family for money collections, donate your time at a food bank or soup kitchen. Show kids that these can be fun and rewarding ways to 'give'.
  • Have kids help pick out a "Heifer International"(or similar organization) gift or other gift that keeps on giving (that is, donates a certain percentage to a good cause)
  • Have a discussion about all of the things (maybe some that we take for granted) you have as a family or as an individual, and help kids recognize that 'having' isn't only about material things.
Here are a few great articles that shine light on how to enlighten kids on the art and rewards of 'giving'. (and there are endless articles)
As adults I feel it's important to practice restraint and NOT to purchase everything on your child's 'wish list' whether you can afford to or not.

Getting Kids into the GIVING SpiritSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

20 November 2009

Visiting the National Parks... where to go (or NOT)

There are nearly 400 National Parks in the United States, and they provide a great way to save money and give the kids a great travel experience (yes even as the cold weather approaches).

Most popular - do you have a guess? Grand Canyon? Yellowstone? No, it's the Great Smokies National Park in TN/NC SEE MORE. With over 800 miles of hiking trails. however, you will still be able to get away from others if you choose!

Check out some of the less visited (but equally spectacular) in a pictoral Slide show (this is wehre we'd rather go, personally!)

Search ALL National Parks here: National Park Links

And, don't forget, KidsTravelHappy.com is always ready with suggestions to keep little (and NOT so little) ones busy on that next road trip.
Take your kids once a year (or more, of course) to this great network of protected lands, which the US can take credit for establishing. You'll find yourself enjoying it as much as the kids (and, perhaps more)
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13 November 2009

12 Days Of November Savings

Who wants to wait for the 12 days of Christmas? Or, the 8 nights of Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice etc..?

We have decided that starting November 14th we'll feature one of our 80+ brands and put it on sale for that one day. Everything from that manufacturer is 25% off (even includes items that may already be on sale, but note that a minimum purchase of $25 required to received discount).

HOW? Just enter 12daysNOV into the coupon code box at checkout, and if your items qualify, you will receive the discount. What brands are we going to feature? Even we aren't sure.
Check the home page each day!

Happy Shopping!

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06 November 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions, Travel, Kids

It's not so many weeks away, less than 3, when most of us will either be hosting or be 'hosted' (that is, the guest/customer) at some sort of Thanksgiving gathering. I, personally, always enjoy the festivities, or, more importantly, my kids love to get together with their cousins and be silly.

I wonder, however, although the family aspect of the gathering is always recognized, how do we teach children, at their age appropriate level, the meaning for the holiday? As my 6-year old son understands, it is a gathering to commemorate the celebration of the success of the first settler's survival of their first winter, and the harvest that following fall. He knows that Pilgrims and native Indians were involved, but that's about where it ends. And, for 6-years old, that's pretty good. Curious about what we could do as a family to add a bit more appreciate to the holiday, I started thinking about a few things we could begin this year.

Here are my suggestions (pre-thanksgiving)
  1. have kids make seating tags, this is a fun, easy craft, and helps kids learn/know names of everyone attending: Try to get a 'headshot' of each attendee and make a label with the person on it. This is especially fun if the photos are 'not quite perfect'.
  2. check out these sites for other ideas:
For Thanksgiving Day
  1. have kids make up the 'kid table' with seating assignments
  2. kids can do the 'adult' table too, as they have fun making everyone sit wherever they want.
  3. start dinner with a brief reminder of why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day (it's good to let kids know this is not JUST about food & football, but have a basic understanding about the reason for the food)
  4. then, go around the table and have each person name one thing they are thankful for (our rule, cannot re-state what someone before you has said!)
  5. eat up and enjoy the company
For those who go out to eat, and may need quiet activities for the kids to enjoy at the table, here are our top picks. Also be sure to check out our new category "Restaurant Fun", with 100's of ideas. Here are some of our faves!
  • Doodles to Go: Just in time for any type of travel or vacation, this book of doodles will keep young travelers busy. Whether they're waiting at the airport, stuck in the backseat of the family car, or just taking some downtime on a camping trip, young artists will find endless hours of creative fun in this how-to book. For ages 9 and up
  • Scramble Squares: the 9 piece brainteaser puzzle - They're Not Just For Kids! Challenging educational puzzles with powerful graphics keep boys, girls, and adults captivated for hours! Perfect for all of your travel delay passing needs (or rainy day, or restaurant table/food waiting and more!)
  • Dinner Games: Keep your little ones focused on the family meal with this collection of 51 dinner games to play while you eat! These quick, simple games, like Fruity Feeling, Rainbow Dinner and Magic Spoon, break up dinnertime routine and add fun to family meals. No game board or game pieces required - just food and family. Kids learn expressive language, the five senses, creative thinking, social skills and more. The games even encourage kids to eat their veggies and finish their milk! Beginner version is for families with kids ages 3 to 6, ORIGINAL is for families with older kids.
  • Find-It Games: This is a brightly colored contained adventure. It contains 48 hidden items for you to find, conveniently listed on the top of the game. The items found in this sealed container are geared toward kids. SPIN IT, TWIST IT, SHAKE IT! Be the first to find the hidden Penny, Marble, Balloon, Letters of the Alphabet, or …? This game is enjoyed by adults as well as children. It is great travel game, terrific learning center activity, or is fun played as a timed game with others. The Kids version comes with red plastic ends, giving the games an exciting, colorful look. The game comes boxed and contains a tear off tally pad to check off as you find each item. Skills used: deductive reasoning, object identification, early reading/ letter recognition, as well as patience!
  • 3D Slide Puzzles: The perfect take anywhere puzzle! Within each 4" x 4" tray are eight puzzle pieces that glide into place - with a bit of finesse - to form a colorful raised image of the EARTH. Challenging enough to entertain for hours. Be sure to check out all of the designs. Kids young and old will enjoy these puzzles.
  • Bananagrams: The multi-award winning game that will drive you BANANAS! Described as the "Best Travel Game Out There". Fast and Fun, requires NO pencil, paper or board. Educational and great family game. Appropriate for beginning spellers or New York Times crossword regulars! Comes in funky Banana 'bag' ready to go anywhere.
The bottom line? We find that if we engage the kids in one way or another, we're all happier!
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30 October 2009

Need some Travel Inspiration?

Yes, the economy. It keeps me THINKING about travel (or, sometimes not, as it can get depressing!), but my family is not DOING it as much these days. When I get feeling a bit 'trapped' in my surroundings I know it's time to pick up a book, and take an 'imaginary' journey. I LOVE this book - just to read about places that I should go (or, realize, maybe I can skip!).

Technically, I have not made that 'life list' as I truly enjoy any sort of adventure near or far, but must admit, there are a few places that stand out in my mind... BUT, I have kids, and some of the places I need to wait until they are older (yet make sure I am not TOO old. A fine line!) With so many choices and information in this one book, it is easy to find any type of trip imaginable.

1000 Places To See Before You Die takes you 'all over the world' and opens with the quote "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away". Search the book by continent, activity, theme, mode of travel and more. I'm thinking focusing on the "Festivals & Events" section could take me a lifetime or two (and those tiny 'check boxes' beside each item in the index are calling at me to check them off!!).

We read parts of the book to our kids. Our 6-year old is especially curious and enjoys hearing snip-its about the Taj Mahal, the Lesser Antilles, or the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

So, when in doubt, get some books out. Take those imaginary journeys or plan for the next REAL journey. You may learn something, and it'll get you excited to explore (and motivated to start saving!).

Need some Travel Inspiration?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

22 October 2009

You could use these in a pinch (but, we recommend the KTH Alternatives!)

NOTE: To follow, we give you some FREE activity suggestions, BUT also see end of this blog post on how to save 20% off everything on our site thru the end of October (sale items included), in honor of the 1st year anniversary of www.KidsTravelHappy.com~!
We've all been there. We've packed everything we needed for the trip, but somehow neglected the most important items. Things to keep the kids entertained. Bummer.

We thought we'd let you in on a few activities to do with items you probably brought (by default) but then we'll also suggest somet
hing that would have made the activity easier, and perhaps more fun & exciting for the child(ren).

One-two-buckle (tie) my shoe... Have a young one that needs practice with shoe-tying. Have them take off a shoe, or better yet, give them an adult shoe, and let the practicing begin. It's helpful if one adult (or older sibling) can demonstrate this task while the younger one attempts it.
The KTH alternative: check out the Tie-Up Shoe from Plan Toy. It's wooden, colorful, and easy to use on a lap or travel tray. Child not quite ready for tying? Use it a
s a lacing activity.

2) Along the same theme as #1, preschoolers can practice such tasks as zipping, snapping, buttons etc. depending on what they and family members are wearing.
alternative: We think that the Award Winning Dress-Up Princess is a much more fun way to teach all those skills, as the buttons are large (better for small hands, less frustrating that tiny 'adult' shirt buttons), the zippers have 'big' teeth, the snaps are manageable, and the doll makes a perfect, colorful, huggabl
e travel companion!

3) Perhaps your kids are a bit older and have the 'snapping, tying, buttoning' tasks
down. There are always the pad of paper (or scrap, or bank deposit slip, or receipt...) and pen(cil) games. Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, draw a scribble and then have the child try to make it into something.
The KTH alternative: Go Games from Magnetic Poetry make all of the classic paper and pen games a cinch, and don't waste all of that paper! One of our favorites is the Magnetic Hangman. For
the scribble and draw, we like the guided, independent nature of Squiggles on-the-go with a range of themes from colors & shapes to Squiggles On-the-Go Outdoor.

4) You ball up your jacket, sweater, extra shirt and hand it to your sleepy child. Or, perhaps (if you are at all like me), use it to prop up the infant's head who's neck seems to get in an ergonomically inappropriate way, even in the carseat. This is definitely the economical choice.
The KTH Alternative: Uglydolls. What you say? Well, they are so Ugly, they really are quite CUTE, and the original sized Uglydoll is not only a kid favorite take-along stuffed friend, but makes a fine, soft, crushable pillow.
OR, perhaps a ladybug or a frog is more appealing to you and your child? Check out our kid-sized neck pillows (they are even on SALE!_ - a friend and a pillow. Very cute (and, not ugly at all!)

Lastly, here's a game that admittedly, could be played in my handbag. "Find-It", meaning, can you find the penny? the lip balm? the keys? a pen? In the bag?
The KTH alternative: The (real) Find It Games, "a contained adventure" that will have your kids (and you) shaking, manipulating, searching and checking them off the list. Make up games with it, time each other, challenge each other to find something within a certain period of time. Comes in Kid Version, Original and Beach themed. For those a bit younger (3 and up), the I Spy Bags are just the ticket , as they are more malleable, made of fleece, and easier to find the items on the sewn-in list on the back. Either choice doesn't have any loose parts, and lots of fun packed into a safe 'container.

Well, we can't give away all of our secrets in one month, but thanks for reading!

We also want to note that we are celebrating ONE YEAR of KidsTravelHappy.com, as we launched October 20th, 2009. We are not hosting a giveaway on this BLOG this month, but we want EVERYONE to win by saving 20% off any order now through the end of the month (and, with our FREE shipping deal for the month of September, this is a GREAT deal). Just use Coupon Code
"Celebrate1" (that's a number ONE at the end, and please do NOT include the quotations), in the coupon code spot at checkout. Thank you for your support!
You could use these in a pinch (but, we recommend the KTH Alternatives!)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

13 October 2009

Take your "band" on the Road

At the KidsTravelHappy.com storefront (and, online of course) we recently received a shipment of items from Hohner Kids. Hohner is a musical instrument company, focused on quality, affordable, fun items for kids, mostly 3 years and up, with some fun options safe for those as young as 3 months!

Who wants to bring music on a trip you may ask? Well, we find that music on our trips (and the
instruments!) focuses our kids energy productively, and allows them to be 'loud' (within limits!) without completely driving us (the parents) crazy.

Why do we like Hohner products? As Hohner states so well "Music helps shape your mind". They go on to say: "Scientific research has proven active music making stimulates every area of the brain and impacts intellectual development in children. Studies suggest actively playing music helps children focus on the str
ucture of sounds, an important aspect of language development (source: National Association of Music Educators).

More reasons to pack a few Hohner products in your child's next travel Activity bag
  • each instrument includes suggestions for songs and activities specific to that instrument
  • activities are age appropriate
  • it's so much fun, kids won't know they are learning!
  • requires little or no musical experience
  • easily learned
  • some are all wood, some are sturdy, colorful plastic construction
  • hours of fun, educational music making for everyone
  • adults will enjoy playing as much as kids
Do you have a whole group of budding musicians? You may want to check out the "Rhythm Music 6-piece Instrument Kit" and keep everyone 'in the band'.

And, don't forget, instruments make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Check back often as we continue to add to the more than 25 musical selections we already offer from Hohner Kids. You never know, you could be fostering the next folk singer, jazz musician, classical genius, or rock star!

Take your "band" on the RoadSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

06 October 2009

Where to go when it's RAINING....

...... without leaving where you are.

It's raining, you're on a wonderful trip to a tropical setting (or, maybe you are JUST at home!), with the beach in mind
, but the weather is NOT cooperating. A couple of young children (but mostly YOU) are bummed about being inside. What to do?

Of course, you can do things like go to a movie, find a Children's Museum, or other activities that cost money. BUT, we find this is the best time to take those "imaginary journeys", make the best of it, and hope the weather is perfect (or at least adequate) soon.

How? We have a few suggestions.

First of all, we recommend taking along Sarah's Silks Play Silks, which have MANY uses.
  • for infants/toddlers: peek-a-boo
  • preschoolers: 'super-heroes', wizards or princesses, as the silks can be tied as a cape or as a headdress
  • for school-age: dress up is still a great activity, or use the silks to make forts with chairs; we also like to use silks for play surfaces; green for magic forests, blue for mythical oceans
One of our favorite school-age (and up) 'imaginary' journey activities is the Think-ets Storytelling Game. Why you may ask? It's a simple concept - a small mesh bag with at least 10 little random trinkets in it. There are many variations, but basically, the idea is for someone to pick one, begin a story, the next person then picks one, continues, and so on. One could also pick multiple 'trinkets' to start the story. Never the same story twice, and you can even add your own little treasure 'trinket' pieces to expand the options. OR, get multiple sets!

Want to go all out? Don't want to sacrifice the
furniture to the 'hideout' or 'fort' building? Try a Crazy Fort Construction Kit, and make a castle, an igloo, or just a cube and throw any old sheet on top. Better yet, take an old sheet and let the kids draw details on their creation. Packs easily back in the box it comes in, and simple to take along for emergency 'bad weather', especially for road trips, or visits to Grandma/pa's house!

Where were all of these innovative things when I was a kid??

Before you know it, the weather will improve (or at least everyone's mood will!) and you'll wonder where the time went.

For more 'Rainy Day' or 'At the Destination' ideas check this LINK.
And, remember, sometimes the best journeys go no where at all except in the mind.
Where to go when it's RAINING....SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

01 October 2009

And the WINNER IS.....

Thanks to Random.org - #7 AMWEEKS.

Congratulations, and thanks to all of you for your comments and tweets! Much appreciated. Join us again for October's giveaway later this month, and for another BLOG entry this week!

And the WINNER IS.....SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

21 September 2009

MAP themed Giveaway

On the theme of MAPS (see blog post below), we're going to give some away (check out links for even more info).

It's Easy to WIN, first choose one of the preferred (but NOT mandatory) methods (or BOTH) of entry (worth one each)
  1. become a follower of the BLOG (on the right-hand column) OR follow KidsTravelHappy on Twitter OR both for 2 entries (if you already follow, just comment below to get credit)
ADDITIONAL Entries (feel free to participate in any or all of these!)
  1. Tweet about this contest by copying this " I just entered to win a 'Set of Maps for Kids' from @KidsTravelHappy http://tinyurl.com/c6ptco "
  2. Become a Facebook Fan
  3. go to our home page and join our newsletter (sign up is lower LEFT of screen, you may have to scroll down)
  4. Visit the USA & World section of our site and let us know what other Map related item you like
  5. leave a comment about where you would go if budgeting wasn't an issue
  6. BLOG about this giveaway - this is worth FIVE entries
REMEMBER: make sure that you comment ONCE for any of the above that you do, and FIVE times for Blogging about the giveaway. Good Luck!

Entry for Giveaway ends 11:59PM on September 30th, 2009.

MAP themed GiveawaySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

18 September 2009

MAPS tell you so much about an Area

We love maps, all kinds, as they provide a huge range of easy to look at information about an area. And, we're NOT talking about maps that highlight 'attractions', 'top restaurants' or the nearest 'rest area' (although, admittedly the latter can be very important!)

We feel that when we are planning a trip it's important to learn about topography, culture, geology, climate and historical landmarks, you know, all that 'educational' stuff. BUT, it's all so interesting. Have your doubts? We find kids really like the interaction, and pictorial depiction of information on a map. It's visual.

Here's a quick list of 5 basic map types, sites we like to use, and a couple of suggestions of what to do with them.... (each type is a
'blog topic' in itself, and may still become one, but we are going 'light' for now!)
  • Road Maps: we're all probably most familiar with these. These are the ones with various quality roads, from major highways to minor dirt roads. They also have cities, towns, railways, airports, and some places of interest. We like to go to Google Maps or Expedia and print out simple maps for our kids to follow along when we drive somewhere. Doesn't even have to be that far (their attention spans don't usually last hours on end for 'navigation' anyway). Also, AAA is a great resource for these types of maps
  • Climate Maps: these types of maps tell about weather, rain/snow etc., making them extremely useful when planning a trip! You may be headed to a warm place, but did you realize it may also be monsoon season?
  • Resource Maps (also included in this map group is 'Economic'): this type of map features natural resources of an area, which often reflects the economy of a region. We like to use these maps to teach kids about where things they may use everyday come from. Although we love to buy local, sometimes (and some seasons) things must come from far away. It's also good for kids to understand where major things come from, such as oil, or lumber.
  • Political Maps: these maps show state and/or national boundaries, and usually include capital cities. We like to make quiz each other (even as an adult, I must sadly admit, my country capital knowledge is NOT as good as I wish it were), and in doing so, we learn as much as the kids do. Want to make it simpler? Just teach the capitals of the states you will take your next road trip through, or the next country you fly to.
  • Physical Maps (and this could include Topographic - one of our favorites, and Geologic): this type of map shows the physical features of an area, such as bodies of water and mountains. Plan a hike, and use the map to 'predict' the topography, or the "ups & downs" you may encounter along the way. Will it be steep? Is there a river crossing? You can even do this in your own back yard. Print out your own topo maps for FREE HERE.
Some of the best maps we've found for kids that show a combination of the map types listed above including animals that live in certain areas are from eeBoo.

* This Land is Your Land (map of USA at top)
* Laminated World Map

A few MAP Resources we like
Hope we can convince you (or better yet, your kids!) that maps are FUN tools to visually learn about an area.
MAPS tell you so much about an AreaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

10 September 2009

Lots of Outdoor fun had by all

Thinking back to the "Island Canoe Camping", it surely went without a hitch, thanks to great weather, friends, food and fun. I think many people would be surprised about the ease of entertaining kids with no real toys at all.

At 'maximum' capacity we had 7 kids ranging from 3 to 8 years of age, and they ALL played together with stuff they found on the island the majority of the time.

The (simple) highlights
  • stick collection
  • fairy searches
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • paddling (canoeing)
  • rock throwing (this was NOT the best activity, but entertaining nonetheless!)
  • fishing
  • cooking
  • marshmallow roasting
The other great thing, is that by the time darkness arrived (by 7:30-8PM), the kids were tired and ready to go to sleep. This was awesome as I often forget how fun it is to have some uninterrupted adult conversation around the campfire!

We spent 2 nights at Student's Island on Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Western Maine. A nice map of the sites can be found HERE. It's primitive camping (bring your own water, or boil lake water, purify it etc.), with outhouses (which, frankly, cracked me us as they had air fresheners in them that were "NEW CAR SCENT" ?! NOT exactly an 'outdoorsy' smell!). Which reminds me, always have a good hand washing station set up, with biodegradable soap, and a towel for the kids (and adults, of course).

Every time we take our kids in the Outdoors (which, thankfully is quite often) I am reminded what a fine experience it is for them - to learn about the stars, collect rocks, live without luxury, and play (so important to their learning). I find it hard to believe that most would NOT 'travel happy' with any family that takes the time and planning to give them outdoor experiences. To to
p it all off, they are relatively inexpensive endeavors. Don't have a canoe? Camping gear? Contact a spot you are interested in going to, and you'll likely be able to rent all that you need, and not even have to schlep it to your destination. Easy for mom & dad as well!!

Rental Gear Ideas
  • REI rents gear HERE
  • GITTO - get into the outdoors is a great site
  • check local outdoor shops near your home or your destination
  • where we were, the campsite rental location had boats, wood, water containers etc. right there at the shoreside
Lastly, a great book for kids and adults as well is CAMP OUT: The Ultimate Kid's Guide - tons of outdoor games, things to discover, menu ideas, star charts, animal prints guide, tree identification, clouds, weather, build a sun dial and much more!

As we left the Preserve, we made our reservation for 2010 (can't wait!) - a family tradition in the making.
Lots of Outdoor fun had by allSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

03 September 2009

Enjoying the Preparation as much as the Trip?!

I've just sent my oldest off to 1st grade this week, and with Labor Day on the horizon, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of a 2-night camping trip we have planned with friends. Not that camping is too big of a deal, but when we add the element of 'island' and canoeing to that island, it gets a bit more complicated.

My first reaction is that it's a LOT of work for a couple of days, 3 other families, kids, meal planning, bugs (yes, our screwed up climate has brought Maine the seemingly longest bug season ever), gear, gear, gear. Don't get me wrong, I am an outdoors person, and in fact, LOVE that my husband and I have collected over the years, piles of fine gear. I am excited to use it. But, with the start of school, moving across town to a new home, my business, etc. it seems like another thing to add to the list.

So, I pause. Deep breath. (another few deep breaths...)

Now, preparation aside, it's going to be great. Unplugged, beach play, paddling, good conversation, great food (we always eat well, and thankfully, I've been fortunate to have equally skilled cooks as friends!), and for all the reasons in a previous paragraph, the PERFECT time to get away from it all. It's like anything else, make a bunch of excuses, don't go, regret it vs. commit to it, enjoy the planning and anticipation, NO regrets.

One thing I have realized is that when packing for these sort of 'trips', even though we are only driving a couple of hours, then paddling a canoe 1/2-mile or so, with everything else going on, I have NO time to really think about what I need to pack. Thankfully (yes, I'm anal this way), I have an excel workbook full of packing lists, and each sheet is a different type of trip, which I faithfully update post-trip with all those things I should have brought. These lists are a little work, but in the end, prevent re-writing, and remembering everything, every time.

As a revel in my overwhelming list from the last camping trip, I have added a 'menu' section, so as not to overpack food for less than 48 total hours. This has become especially helpful for pre-trip grocery shopping, condiment packing, etc.

As a group, we have picked 2 themes, one for Saturday's dinner (Caribbean) and one for Sunday's dinner (Asian), so, we are bringing a pot of properly themed 'stew', and Sushi for Sunday.

Anyone want to join us? Next post will be a follow up to what we did, how we entertained the kids, what we discovered, learned, and won't do again!!

Enjoying the Preparation as much as the Trip?!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

01 September 2009

WINNER announced!

And the winner is..... from random.org #2. "CC"

You have been emailed and please respond within 3 days.

Congratulations and thanks for playing. Stay tuned for a new kids travel themed blog post, and a new giveaway later this month.
WINNER announced!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

23 August 2009

Back to School Laptop Lunch GIVEAWAY! - CLOSED

If you are like me, it's back to school time (well, in a couple of weeks, but it'll all be here too soon). I know some kids are already back, but up here in Maine, we still have a few precious days!

Anyway, I wanted to get a little info out there about some of the fun Back to Schoo
l items we have at KidsTravelHappy.com - for lunch packing, recess, after school, and things in between.

We've made a new category to make these easy to searchback to school", on
e category of which is "lunch & drink holders". We've got some fun ones. Make sure to check out Crocodile Creeks adorable Stainless Steel water bottles for just $9.99.

We love the Laptop Lunch systems from Obentec. They are an excellent way to save plastic bags, and other 'disposables'. I shutter to think about all of the waste generated by pre-packed snacks, and drinks for kids' lunches - convenient, but not so friendly to the landfills.

Laptop Lunch Bento Boxes come with an outside Main container, 5 smaller container, 2 lids, a Laptop Lunch User Manual/Recipe Idea book, and a stainless steel fork and spoon set. Upgrade this to the Complete Lunch Kit and get the insulated 'laptop' case that easily contains the boxes, as well as the additional BPA-free water bottle. The insulated case also has a mesh pocket for an ice pack (note: ice pack is NOT included).

The Boxes and the Complete Kits come in various colors, and we are giving away a COMPLETE Laptop Lunch System in Pink this week in honor of Back to School. (and, if the winner REALLY doesn't want pink, we're flexible!)
It's easy to WIN. There are several ways to earn entries, and we welcome as many or few as you care to
  1. become a follower of the BLOG (on the right-hand column)
  2. follow KidsTravelHappy on twitter
  3. Tweet about this contest by copying this " I just entered to win a Complete Laptop Lunch System from @KidsTravelHappy http://tinyurl.com/c6ptco "
  4. Become a Facebook Fan
  5. go to our home page and join our newsletter (sign up is lower LEFT of screen, you may have to scroll down)
  6. Visit the Back to School section of our site and let us know what else you like
  7. leave a comment about what your kid's (or your) favorite pack-at-home-for-travel-snacks are
  8. BLOG about this giveaway - this is worth FIVE entries
REMEMBER: make sure that you comment once for any of 1-7 you do, and FIVE times for Blogging about the giveaway.

Good Luck, and please pack your child's lunch in an environmentally friendly way!

Back to School Laptop Lunch GIVEAWAY! - CLOSEDSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

18 August 2009

$20 GC from KidsTravelHappy.com could be yours!

We're sponsoring a giveaway for a travel photo contest at Travel Mamas. More details on their site (scroll down to bottom left, and click email link there)
Check it out, and you could be shopping with us soon!! Contest ends August 29th.
$20 GC from KidsTravelHappy.com could be yours!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

14 August 2009

Packing with 'Multi-Purpose' in Mind (so there's room for the FUN stuff!)

My husband and I used to compete in Adventure Races (long story), where we usually had to carry everything we needed for a certain period of time(a few hours to more than a week at a time). The lighter our backpacks (see my tiny pack in photo for a race in the mountains of Switzerland), the faster we could travel. Thus, we analyzed every piece of gear we had, and we would do our best to bring things that had multiple uses – for example, we would plan to use the pad in our backpack as our emergency sleeping pad, or we would cut the handle off a toothbrush to save weight.

Well, we realized with kids that these measures don’t ALWAYS apply, and are NOT always practical, but the philosophy itself IS
very practical.

When packing for a trip (a few examples of multi-use items)
  • do your items have as many uses as possible?
  • could you use the vinyl travel play mat as a changing pad in a pinch?
  • the child soft carrier could make a great pillow if necessary.
When going on a trip (especially by air), we will lay out all of the items, then try to assess the need and uses for each item. Yes, sounds a bit overkill, but with all of the charges for luggage these days, it’s worth the savings. We also make sure each child has a reasonable carry-on bag that can be filled with (pretty much) whatever they want. A critical thing to think about with a child’s carry-on is that inevitably, the adults are going to have to carry it at some point (note in picture, my husband with 2 rolling bags, plus kids' Trunkis, and our then, 2-year old boy!). So, we recommend taking that into account when having a child choose a bag for the trip. Some kid-sized products ARE adorable, but when filled, too heavy for the child and too tiny for an adult to carry, thus becoming cumbersome during any layover, plane change, or even loading into and out of a vehicle. (we are all about making sure "adults travel happy too"!)

Why go thru all of this trouble? Well, in the end, it's the toys, games, and activities that are going to make the kids happy - they don't care about how many outfits they have (in fact, left to his own, my 6-yr old would wear the same thing day after day, clean or not). Plus, if you stay somewhere with laundry facilities be it a hotel, campground, any town will have one, etc.. you can just WASH the clothes and save the space! A little laundry detergent and a roll of quarters is MUCH cheaper than an additional bag, and take in the experience. Laundromats are alway a fun mix of experiences, and a good way to force some slow down time (go find a nice cafe while you're waiting....)

OK, so that's really just my opinion, here are a few links to other sites and specific ideas for packing LIGHT to travel with children.
The above links will surely lead you to even more info, and once you've 'packed small' don't forget to visit us for to keep you children busy and 'traveling happy'.
Packing with 'Multi-Purpose' in Mind (so there's room for the FUN stuff!)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend