27 January 2009

Beyond the one-room hotel or motel

When we went to Hawaii last year, we knew someone who lived near where we were going. In fact, he owns a spectacular rental home RIGHT ON Sunset Beach, Oahu, however, it was (by a factor of 10) way more money than we could afford. He did suggest that we check out www.VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner) for some economical, larger than a hotel room, rental properties.

After a bit of searching, we narrowed our options down quite quickly, and were happy to have a 1-bedroom, 850 square foot home with a queen, kid bed, and a queen futon couch - plenty of room for our family of 4 and my mom. It also had a kitchen, full bath, beach toys, beach chairs, boogie boards, beach cruiser bikes (2) all included.
The added bonus was that the family we rented from lived on the top floor of their home (many have to rent out part of their house just to make the mortgage!), and they had kids the exact same ages as ours, which was great (except, that the kids often didn't want to leave!).

We found that having a 'home' for the kids for the 8 days we were there enabled us to more easily maintain a bedtime routine, and despite the many hours on a plane to get there (from Maine), we all adjusted quite quickly. The ability to cook some of our own meals (and spend the money on other activities, and a few really GREAT meals out), the room to spread ourselves out etc.. was so worth it. Not to mention, it only ended up costing us about $110 a night - much lower than what any hotel on Oahu with much less space would cost. If your budget is larger, there are even more options. As it were, we were only 2 blocks from the beach (and ALL beaches are public in Hawaii!), and we walked to pastries and coffee every morning!

A few websites to check out are: (and, there are hundreds)
And, of course, you can always check (in the U.S.) with the local Chamber of Commerce wherever you are looking to go, and find vacation rental options as well.

When traveling with kids, we feel it's important to make as many of the aspects of the trip feel like 'home' so they are more apt to enjoy the things that you are traveling to see!
Beyond the one-room hotel or motelSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

13 January 2009

What to do with all of those TRAVEL t-shirts?!

Have your kids collected t-shirts from far away lands, that just end up at second hand stores? In the homes of people that may not have any special memory or thought of that cool childhood trip? Or, maybe it's YOUR set of t-shirts you don't really want to part with, but don't know what to do with as they occupy more and more space from your globetrotting ways?! Well, personally I had this problem, and it was solved (well, my mother actually thought of the idea) by having 16 of them made into a really awesome keepsake - a QUILT of the t-shirts. Brilliant.

Not only do I have an extra toasty quilt for the Maine winters, but now I don't have to feel guilty for keeping a bunch of souvenir t-shirts that mostly did not fit well, but had cool logos and generate fun memories.

Here are a few sites online that do this. It's NOT cheap, but if you consider you are preserving a 'collection' AND getting a quilt out of the deal (or wall hanging), it's very economical. Think of it as a quilted scrapbook/collage. Plus, it's all handmade, that's pretty cool too!

This can be done for other themes too - Running races, graduation, animal tees, favorite annual fairs etc.

Here are a few sites that look great

- Patchwork Memories

Or go here for instructions (fee) to do it yourself!

What to do with all of those TRAVEL t-shirts?!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

05 January 2009

Elaborating on some practical 'traveling with kids' advice

I can honestly say I have no recollection of where I saw this (You Tube, linked from some other blog or forum? my apologies to the original idea 'generator'), but thought this bit of advice was hilarious...

It went something like this;

Before boarding a plane with a child (or children), purchase a variety of $10 gift cards. When you are settling your child and/or family into their seats, hand out gift cards to any other unsuspecting adult in a seat adjacent to yours. The idea being, now you, the parent/guardian of a potential meltdown, spiller, seat kicker, etc.. now have the upper hand in making peace with those around you. I thought that this idea was brilliant, along with the suggestion that one traveling with a family always boards a plane with a handful of foam ear plugs (they are MUCH cheaper than the gift card option), and similarly, hand them out to those seated around you.

The problem with this approach, however, is that it does nothing for the entertainment of your child or children. That's where Kids Travel Happy comes in.

Here are a few ideas really inexpensive ideas from our site that we are pretty confident you will get many miles out of (literally)! click on item to see more info on our site
Water Games $6.95: adults will remember these games. Best of all? They come empty, so bring them through airline security, and fill up once through!

- Fifteen Puzzle/Frog Slide Puzzle $9.95/$4.95 (respectively); the frog puzzle is designed for 4-5 and up, and the fifteen puzzle is great because it comes with a travel case and a booklet with 40 or so other games to play

- Magnetic Board (letters NOT included) $3.95 (9" x 11.5") or $7.49 (12" x 16") then add Magnetic Poetry and other magnetic games and save taking the fridge (check out this BLOG for more info)

- NAMiTs Flash Cards on a ring: $7.95 - Junior, Original, and Challenge Versions: compact and durable, these ringed flash cards provide over 150 categories for naming, and brainstorming, award winning and developed by a mom in Maine

Are we THERE yet? (Auto and/or Air editions) - cards in English and French to keep you bilingual and keep you and your family entertained for travels by car or plane. Many of the activities are "I Spy" themed - perfect for layovers, rest stops or en route.

FUN on the RUN: 324 Instant Family Activities (BOOK) $8.95: perfect for car rides, doctor's waiting rooms, restaurants - an 'essential travel tool'

Set of 2 Sandtimers: 1 minute and 2 minute times $3.50 for the set: we've had lots of fun with these, how many things can you spot in a minute, or, do you need the 2 minute timer?? Make up your own games and watch the time sift by!

Word Rally: a word Search Game, $1.95
A handy little game, self-contained, pair it with the sandtimers, and have a timed, fast-paced word search game!

- Caterpillar Spillers set of 7, $5.95 - stack, sort, nest, count, connect, NOT your ordinary stacking cups (AND great for the toddler bath!)

There are many other fun, inexpensive items on our site, you can search by 'under $10', or browse the entire range of items. Many fun and high quality products at all price ranges.
Elaborating on some practical 'traveling with kids' adviceSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend