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