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