30 December 2010

The (LOST?) Art of Letter Writing

The holidays have come and gone. Our kids are still having fun discovering all of the things they had so little time to look at during the actual 'unwrapping frenzy' that is Christmas morning. It's so fun to watch them build, play, and learn with thoughtful gifts from Santa, family and friends.

Now, however, before it becomes too far in the past, I want the boys to write their "thank you" cards, and to learn that the good 'old fashioned' (!?) tradition of letter writing (NOT email, NOT a form letter typed as a Word Doc etc...) can be as fun for the sender as well as the receiver.

At KidsTravelHappy.com we have a couple of kits that make this fun and easy for kids to do. (as shown above in the same order from left to right as listed below)
  • Little Letters from Klutz: comes with paper and envelopes to punch out, a template to make more folding envelopes, stickers, instructions on "how to write a note" and so much more, for those aged 4 and up
  • Hey Thanks from Chronicle Books: come with hundreds of stickers, fun instructions, cards & envelopes, address booklet - everything to make THANK YOU card writing fun, for ages 5 to 12 years
  • Hey Ugly from Chronicle Books and Pretty Ugly, LLC: a fold and mail stationery kit, 40 sheets with 5 different designs, simple write, moisten, fold and stamp - for all ages of Ugly fans
All of these sets will make THANK YOU writing fun and not a chore, and just imagine the thrill of the recipient to get a real, touchable piece of mail! These also make great kits for thanking a family member or friend for a fun visit!
The (LOST?) Art of Letter WritingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

20 November 2010

Kids first BACKPACKING Trip

Another way to have "kids travel happy"...... last weekend we hiked into a cabin near Jackson, NH, with our two boys, my Mom, and her partner, Lynn (and Moxy, our pup). It was what we like to think of as a perfect introduction to backpacking.
First of all, the cabin is a gem, it sleeps 8, and although uninsulated, has a wood stove, which made it toasty, even on a cool mid-November night.

We DID have to carry sleeping pads, sleeping bags, food, cook-stoves, cook pots, utensils & bowls, etc., but because the hike was less than 1.5 miles each way, we also carried a box of wine, our knitting (well, my mom and I) and enough food for more than the one night we stayed there.

The kids (4 and 7 years old) each had their own "packing list" and had to carry their spare clothes, toothbrush, hat, gloves, flashlight, book & one activity of their choice.

We enjoyed reading the journal entries of past visitors in the cabin,
as well as eating our "cabin made" tasty pesto, roasted red pepper, artichoke, black olive, parmesan cheese pasta! For dessert? Starbucks via decaf and biscotti from Trader Joe's! Oh yes, we were 'roughing' it!

It was a beautifully, clear night and we had fun with the Star Charts and studying the constellations. Dylan, our 7-year old was particularly into this!

The next morning we warmed up with Old Fashioned Oatmeal, and a loop hike to the summit of Black Mountain and a beautiful view of Mt Washington - the northeast's highest (and a little snowy!) peak at 6288' above sea level.
We knew the trip was a success as on the way down, our 4-year old said "my favorite thing to do outside is to hike, and to stay at THAT cabin".
Want more info about these Forest Service Cabins? At only $20 per night up to 8 people, they are a bargain! And, dogs allowed!!

Fun for all, nothing plugged in, and time for knitting and cribbage playing (by gas latern, of course)
Kids first BACKPACKING TripSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

13 November 2010

Giveaways... you could win

We're sponsoring a few giveaways in the upcoming weeks.

Currently, you can win a TRUNKI on Living My MoMent (contest #21)
And, you could win a Go Baggie Backpack or a Plan Toy Wooden Fruit and Veggie Set from Momma Told Me.
Good luck and stay tuned for more things to win!
Giveaways... you could winSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

06 November 2010

Go fly a kite with the WHOLE Family

It's nearing the holiday season, and if your family is like mine, as the shorter days of winter approach, you are looking for a way to keep the TV off and the brains growing! My kids LOVE puzzles (as do I), but we always run into the issue of which puzzle to do, seeing as 'my' puzzles are a bit too challenging and sometimes frustrating for my 4 and 7 year old boys, and 'their' puzzles, well, they don't really WANT my help!

To the rescue.... the Ravensburger FAMILY puzzle. It has 3 sections, with 3 different sized pieces, for variety of ages, starting at 4 years of age. These 3 sections all interlock, making it the PERFECT family puzzle. Fun, fun!! We love it, and everyone is happy!

Keep your eyes on Ravensburger Puzzles at Kids Travel Happy! Soon to come are 'puzzle balls' for fun, holiday decor, even a functional globe (over 500 pieces!!)
Go fly a kite with the WHOLE FamilySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

30 October 2010

We've got 'em, your kids will love 'em

After a LOOOOOOONG wait, the NEW and improved (USA made!) Trunkis have arrived and they are colorful, fun, and a great new price (only $39.99 each!)
What is this TRUNKI you may ask? It's a piece of luggage, a tow-behind ride on toy, or a self-propelled 'time user-upper' in the airport.
Other features include:
  • a comfortable saddle (especially if you buy the Saddle Bag Accessory! in blue or pink)
  • integrated wheels and 'horn grips'
  • interior straps to organize contents
  • extra wide wheel base for cornering and stability
  • airline approved for carry-on (NOT recommended for checked luggage)
  • great for storing toys, snacks and other kid-travel essentials
  • safe, strong and durable (used for my boys up to 7 years of age!)
  • child can ride on OR be pulled
  • eliminates airport boredom and fatigue from child walking (you WILL get looks of envy from other adults AND kids!!!!)
  • for ages 3 to 6 (depending on child's size)
  • the ultimate way to make sure your "KIDS TRAVEL HAPPY" :-)
We think this is a really cool item, now manufactured in the USA by Melissa & Doug. Would look perfect for the holidays, or for that holiday trip! Worth every penny, in our opinion!

We've got 'em, your kids will love 'emSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

20 October 2010

We're TWO Years Old....

Today (the 20th of October) marks TWO YEARS since we launched our website (and I realize how much my boys have grown!) . We are thankful as a business to have weathered this economy and look forward to continued growth.

In celebration, we are putting all PLAN TOYS 25% OFF now through October 31st. Plan Toys is one of our favorite companies for so many reasons, fro
m the quality of their products to the support they offer their retailers! Just in, Road & Rail Sets that will look great under the holiday tree! Start your shopping now, and we think you'll agree with why we like these products so much.

Also check out new PreSchool items such as Bee Hive, Fruit & Veggie Set,
and Shape & Sort It Out.

And, don't forget all those cute little things,
just the right size for stockings, like the wooden mushroom kaleidoscope.
Too small for you? Well, there are BIG trucks too
We're TWO Years Old....SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

14 October 2010

Take your SHOW on the Road

Here's the situation, you have a tween, who insists on plugging their earbuds in, and passing the multi-hour road trip in his/her own head.... well, we think all minds grow better with creativity, learning and performance. Just in - many books & activities from KLUTZ to pass the time and open the mind (and do NOT take batteries, just a little brain power). With this Klutz Book of Magic, think of the fun your kid will have upon the return of their road trip, showing off all of their new 'tricks' (pun intended).
Highlights of this Book:
  • it's the best-selling magic book in print!
  • comes with 5 props including chrome ring, nylon cord, silk scarf (and two they don't let us mention!?)
  • 34 tricks with detailed instructions
  • spiral bound book
  • for ages 8 and up (fun for adults too!)
Check this and many other sets for older kids for travel or holiday giving!
Take your SHOW on the RoadSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

06 October 2010

Card Capsules To Go

We LOVE these card sets for kids. Not only are they many of the classics (Spit, Go Fish, Old Maid, Slap Dragon) or "Tastes Like Chicken" a game of funny animals, they each come in a 'click' case, ready to go anywhere.
The fact that these (aside from TASTES LIKE CHICKEN) have an oval/unique shape, make them much easier for young hands to hold. Your kids still having trouble? Try our handy card holder it works like a 'charm'.

All of these sets are great for the whole family, and start a lifelong love for unplugged games. They also pack easily and safely in any purse (or jacket pocket) for that unexpected LONG wait at a restaurant, airport or doctor's office.
Card Capsules To GoSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

29 September 2010

GO.... with Go Baggie Backpacks

The ultimate travel backpack that opens & attaches to a car seat ... ingenious! We feel as though this item was made especially for our site. It's a perfect combination of functional backpack that then attaches to the back of a car seat, opening up to an activity center.

Key features include:
  • fastex buckles on shoulder straps release to secure to back of seat
  • includes a dry erase board (in the sleeve that unzips to come forward), with a dry erase pen with eraser cap
  • many pockets for supplies as well as pockets with crayon/marker/pencil slots to keep things organized
  • insulated lunch bag section
  • grab loop at top
  • adorable patterns and colors
  • 8 specialized compartments
  • padded and adjustable strap for better fit
  • comfortable size (11" L x 13" H x 7" W)
  • Easy to clean lining
  • made of high quality polyester
  • Phthalate-free
  • adjusts to fit most kids 5 - 12 years of age
  • 15 pounds suggested weight

Mention "I read it in your blog" in the order comments and we'll take $5 off any Go Baggie Backpack purchase thru the end of the month of OCTOBER!
GO.... with Go Baggie BackpacksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

15 September 2010

Custom Activity Kits make 'gifting' Easy

We love telling about our travel adventures (near and far) and we like to think that these journeys have helped us learn how to make the trip more fun and interesting for kids.

Do you have a child or grandchild going on a trip? A niece? Nephew? Friend's family? With the holidays coming up (and inevitably holiday travel, whether it's on a plane or off to grandma's), gift giving can get overwhelming.

Not sure what to get? We'd like to think that we have the answer to this dilemma!

We have designed our exclusive Custom Travel Activity Kits - in our own cinch sack
which start at $49. All you have to do as the purchaser is answer a few questions to give us some ideas on what to pack, including: gender, age, type of travel, categories to include (or NOT to include), any items you definitely want included, and a couple other questions. It just takes a moment and then we do the rest of the work. (and, if you are NOT sure how to answer the questions, let the child do so buy purchasing a KTH Gift Certificate!)

These kits always ship no later than the next business day as we make them from in-stock items. An added bonus is for kits $99 and up they ship FREE (U.S. addresses), and for kits $149 and up you receive a FREE KTH Essentials Kit (more INFO HERE
on that)Don't want to spend a minimum of $49? Well, we also have 'mini' kits that start at $9.99. We can pack this category of custom kits with a fun, economical set of 'classic' toys & games for the budding 'globe trotter' - these also make a great alternative to traditional "Party Favor" bags. (photo is a sample of $9.99 contents)

We've all been in the situation where we hear "I'm bored", "When are we going to get there" etc... These kits are sure to keep these statements to a minimum and will be something to play with LONG after the trip is over. Remember, when "kids travel happy" adults can too!! :-)
Custom Activity Kits make 'gifting' EasySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

07 September 2010

Keep it Simple... you'll be amazed

After a weekend on an island (this sounds like a bigger story than it actually was....) with 10 adults and 11 kids, we realized how excellent it is NOT to have much for toys and to see what the kids come up with for entertainment. Of course I'd love for KidsTravelHappy to be able to take credit for supplying all (or at least SOME) of the unplugged entertainment for the kids, but nature and seemingly mundane tasks did that for us.

We were amazed at the kids dedication and focus on sawing wood for the fire (with adult supervision of course) - not only was this entertaining, but very purposeful, as the weather was chilly and we used the fire to cook and to gather for warmth and conversation.
A little background.... we were on an island on a lake in Western Maine called Mooselookmeguntic (after some research, we find that the interesting name "Mooselookmeguntic" is said to have come from an ancient Abanaki word, meaning 'portage to the moose feeding place, or moose feeding among the trees.") Ironically, we did see a moose just before we arrived at the lake. The moose had nearly missed a fatal crash with a pickup truck one vehicle ahead of us!

In order to camp on Students Island, one has to paddle a canoe (or other craft) to the island, and transport all the stuff one might want for the extent of time one is there, in our case this was 3 days/2 nights. For us it meant two trips "from the mainland" (an adventure in itself), one with some things, and the kids, the second with the dog and the rest of the supplies, very little of which was toys.
What else did we do? Hike, swim (despite the chilly days), nature walks (older kids guided the younger teaching about trees, mushrooms and more), roast dinner on the fire, run (run, run), play games with 'sticks and stones' (and NO broken bones!).... It makes me happy to see kids do SO much with so little - no beeps, electronics, battery toys, etc. just plain old fun; more like what I remember doing with my friends growing up. Best of all, I'd like to think that the kids will take these memories with them into adulthood. And, with 3 dogs in our group, even they wore each other out (note photo of our black lab mix above, asleep....)

Keep it Simple... you'll be amazedSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

28 August 2010

Another reason to have kids travel(ing) happy!

Have you seen the latest controversy? Kid-Free flights? Family Sections? What do you think? I personally, having kids myself, have mixed feelings about it. In my mind is bordering on 'discriminating' due to age/size.

I agree, no one likes the obnoxious kid (and/or the obnoxious parent who has made it clear they have not mastered control of their child), but I also know, my normally well-behaved boys can get tired, hungry, bored, cranky, or just plain wake up on the wrong side of the bed....

However, here is some interesting recently from the press recently, and in years past.
My 2 cents (did anyone ask?)... I feel a full-on kids-only zone in an aircrat would cause increased chaos, as I believe parents would tend to be (and feel they could be) more lax about controlling their kids' behavior and 'volume'.

OK, and lastly, my point? It comes back to the statement above if you can keep your child from being hungry, tired, and/or BORED (that's where "KidsTravelHappy" comes in handy!), then you have improved your chances of being talked about by those less tolerant kid-free travelers. I surely have more understanding now that I'm a parent!

Before you head on your next flight (with kids, although we have fun stuff for adults too!), give us a try!

Another reason to have kids travel(ing) happy!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

19 August 2010

RVing with a Shuttle Service

Acadia National Park in Maine is in the top 10 most visited National Parks, but despite this fact, we ventured there nonetheless! It was our 'last hurrah' before prepping for back to school, and it'd been SO long since I'd been there (and never with my husband or with my kids), that we looked forward to discovering it together.

We have a 1990 21' Class C (which just means there is a bed above the front cab of the vehicle, and it's built on a van body of some sort) RV, and thus researched campgrounds in and near the park itself. Settling on a place just outside of the park, Hadley's Point Campground, we drove the 4+ hours there from our home in Bethel. We chose the campground as it seemed a good price, and just as importantly, it was a stop along the island's shuttle bus network. This is especially great as it reduces the amount of cars driving around (imagine all the vehicles needed to get the 2+ million people around there annually!), and it allow
s us to park our RV and leave it.

The Shuttle Bus Network (the ISLAND EXPLORER) was convenient and easy to use. One could even bring a bike and put it in one of the 6 bike carriers on each of the buses. "Well-behaved" dogs were allowed, and we took
advantage of taking our pup along to go to the park's many miles of hiking trails and carless carriage roads (GREAT fun to mountain bike!).

Some of the other highlights of our 3-n
ight visit to Acadia, which is a VERY family friendly place
fishing (catch and release at a small pond along one of the carriage roads)
- exploring Bar Harbor
- mountain biking
- hiking
- Thunder Hole
- Sand Beach
- taking the kids rock climbing
(phew, and that was only 3 nights at the Park!)

We were able to take our pup to "Steve" the dog sitter one day, which gave us a bit of freedom, and supported a local business. He was great with "Moxy" and we'd totally recommend him!

Lastly, my mom came along, which was great fun and allowed my husband and I to get a few bike rides in without the kids. She also got each of my boys started in knitting. The photo here shows Dylan knitting my mom's project while we were on the Shuttle Bus!

Where will we go next??

RVing with a Shuttle ServiceSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

08 August 2010

Saddleback Mtn Bluegrass Festival a Family Event

Yes, last weekend allowed us another opportunity to explore a nearby area, feel like we'd "gotten away" and do something fun for the entire family.We attended the 1st Annual Saddleback Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, August 7th, a family oriented event, with 7 bands (and one for FREE the night before), for $35 per adult and kids 12 and under FREE. Such a great deal with head-lining bands such as David Grisman, and Del McCoury Band worth that much on their own.
We took advantage of the primitive camping in our RV (yes, sort of an oxymoron, the point being however, there were no hookups or electricity), which was free for anyone with a ticket to the show. Festival-goers could also walk their camping equipment mountain-side and take advantage of the beautiful views, and grassy slopes. (we may go that route next year, for something different).

The festival started at 11am, making it a good ti
me for those choosing to come for the day. We took advantage of being there the night before and hiked Saturday morning before meeting friends for the show. We also wanted to scope out the Trail Run course, which I competed in on Sunday Morning.

We feel this is another perfect way to get away without having to spend much on gas, or lodging. We ate all of our meals out of our RV, and as long as we didn't bring alcohol or glass items, we could pack food so the kids stayed fed and happy.

The other great thing about this festival (and my general feel for Saddleback Mountain) is that it is really accommodating, and wants to make families come there together. We chose to put our 'stuff' toward the back of the crowd which allowed the kids to play with frisbees, balls and other toys without disturbing those really concentrating on the performers.

We find that when we participate in activities that have something for everyone, we are all 'traveling happy'. Just google "festivals" in your area (or maybe a little outside of your 'normal' area), and make a trip out of one of them. You are sure to have fun as a family!

Oh, only downside of the festival (although we totally understand why) was that there were no dogs allowed, which, if you own one is a good thing to clarify before you pack up the pooch to come along!

Saddleback Mtn Bluegrass Festival a Family EventSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend