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Posts Tagged ‘Traveling with children’

“Mom. Are we there yet?”   Summer traveling have you stumped on how you will entertain your children on long car rides? They can be miserable when your children are bored. Here are a few games to help pass the time and keep your sanity on these hot days and long family car trips! This familiar question of “how much longggeerrr?” is heard by moms and dads everywhere and fills them with dread as it is usually a signal their little ones are getting bored. Make it a stress-free car journey!

I Spy
“I spy with my little eye, something red.” This easy-to-learn game is perfect for preschoolers, and can keep them entertained for unbelievably long periods of time.  Choosing an object that they can see and giving them the first letter also helps with their spelling and encourages them to look around and take in the sights.

I’m Going on a Picnic
This alphabet-based memory game is great for kids 5 and up. You don’t need a game board or any materials. The game can be played with as few as two players, but it’s more fun when the whole family joins in. The first player says “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” followed by something that begins with A, such as apples. The second player repeats what the first person said, but adds something that begins with B. So she might say “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples and bananas.” And so on with C, D, and the rest of the alphabet. If someone forgets an item, she is out. To be fair, feel free to be lenient and give hints to younger players. The last player to be able to recite all the items on the list wins.

20 Questions
This easy-peasy game is great for younger kids, thanks to its straightforward rules. Player One thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each answer, the questioner gets one guess. Play continues until a player guesses correctly.

Telephone
This is great if there are a large number of people in the car, school trips being perfect. One person starts by whispering a sentence into their friend’s ear and it then goes all around the car with the last to hear required to repeat it to everyone else. It is very fun and shows how “rumors” can change very easily from one person to the next!

Treasure Hunt
This game is great fun for the kids and requires minimal interaction from you while on the journey, so you can concentrate on driving. Before leaving give each child a list of objects such as cow, sheep, red car, church, castle and ask them to mark each one off as and when they see it along the way. Of course, there will be a prize for each of them at the end of the journey if they have all succeeded in the task and it will keep them quiet for hours as their eyes will be glued to the window!

iPad or Kindle or Tablet
With the explosion of tablets on the market in the last few years many parents have invested in the new technology, some of which cost as little as $100. They are great to hand over to the kids before embarking on a long journey because they are packed full of games that will keep the kids busy. Most have an app store from which you can download several games beforehand with the kids, so they can simply access these on the go.

License Plate Game
When we were kids, everyone seemed to play the license plate game on family road trips. Armed with a pad of paper, we would write down the name of each state as we spotted it. The goal, of course, was to nab all 50 states. If we were lucky, we’d bag the Canadian provinces, too.

The game of silence
This one really works a treat and gives parents a few minutes of peace and quiet. Simply put, the child who can stay quiet the longest wins a treat. The longer they are quiet, the better the treat becomes. It could be considered bribery but, in a car full of screaming kids, anything goes!

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Every time my niece and nephew go anywhere in my car, they have to bring a toy with them.  It doesn’t matter if we’re driving to grandma’s house an hour away, or if we’re only going a few miles to the grocery store.  They have to have something to play with in the backseat.  Sometimes the tradition of picking out a travel buddy is a fun little activity, but when I’m in a rush, it’s really hard to help them decide which stuffed animal buddy is least likely to get “car sick” or “bored” on the drive.

The worst part though, is when I’m hurrying to get somewhere on time and make them leave the toys in the car because “we’re just going to rush right in” and get/do whatever we need, but when we get inside, we have to sit and wait on something.  (Like picking up a prescription—Why are prescriptions never ready when the pharmacy calls me to tell me that they are?)  If it’s only a few minutes of waiting, it’s not that bad.  But when it drags on and the kids starting getting really bored, it’s rough.  I want to go out to the car and let them grab whatever car buddy they brought with them, but then I have to weigh how long it takes to get back out to the car, get the toy, and come back in verses how much longer my estimated wait time is.  It’s all very frustrating for me and for the kids.

Here’s my solution:  Tiny Toy Travel Totes.  (I like alliteration, can you tell?)

Buy three identical sets of small toy collections, like the Dino Toob or Ponies Toob from Safari Ltd (http://www.safariltd.com/), and two small zippered pouches (like a large pen bag or a small toiletries bag).  Put one set of the toys in each of the zippered bags and keep the third set separate.  Keep one pouch in your purse/backpack, one pouch in your car, and keep the third, loose set at home.  That way the kids will already be familiar with the car toys; when you’re in a rush to get out of the house, the kids will already have something to play with in the car; and if you get stuck in the lobby of a doctor’s office or in the waiting area of restaurant, you’ll have the tiny toys they love in your bag, ready at a moment’s notice. 

You won’t have to worry about losing the toys in the journey between the house and the car or the car and your destination because each set will stay at its predetermined location.  You also have less chance of losing individual toys from each bag since you and your kids will quickly become familiar with the set and will know exactly how many pieces go in the bag. (Bonus:  Practice counting or addition/subtraction with your kids while putting the toys back in their totes.)

Tiny Toy Travel Totes are a BIG time and energy saver for me when I’m trying to get the kids back and forth from the car.  They say good things come in small packages—in this case, the good thing stuffed in those pouches with the tiny dinosaurs and ponies is my sanity.

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Planning a road trip for the Labor Day holiday? Traveling with kids and family? I know it’s not always easy keeping your children preoccupied in the car and trying to avoid the infamous question of “are we there yet?” I remember as a child, I would ask my mom where we were going and she would respond, “CRAZY!”

Here is a fun game for your pre-schoolers or toddlers on the road….

Travel/Car Scavenger Hunt 
Give each child a list of items to watch for while driving. Check off each item when they find it.  Think ahead about where you are travelling – its great to pick items that match the scenery or you can even make it a learning lesson! Just make the list ahead of time. For younger children who can’t yet read, it is sometimes easier if you draw a picture on a piece of paper with the words right next to the image so that he or she knows what to look for.

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My sister always gets stressed about flying with her kids. I get it – it’s tough lugging multiple suitcases, car seats, toys, books, snacks and more.  I learned some tips to make a flight with your baby or child less turbulent and more smooth sailing.

1)      Visit the TSA website. Give a quick glance to the TSA website that gives tips on air travel with children – this way you know all the rules.  http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm

2)      Contact your airline ahead of time. Find out the airline’s policies on checking strollers and car seats, and how much extra baby-related baggage you are allowed to bring. For example, some airlines let you bring big diaper bags, but they don’t count it as part of your carry-ons.

3)      Slip-Ons. Slip-on shoes are great for travel – you don’t feel the pressure as a mom to tie your shoes while your baby is crying or you’re trying to collect all of your multiple family bags. This was a savior tip for my sister! Plus a new reason to buy cute shoes!

4)      Combine. Try to pack anything that can have dual-purposes such as a car seat that turns into a stroller

5)      A sling or carrier is great for going through security. You always have to put the stroller through the x-ray conveyor belt, and sometimes it helps to have a sling to put your baby through security to have two hands free. This can make travel much easier – especially when you are trying to collect your bags and put your shoes back on.

6)     Take your stroller all the way down the jetway. Make sure it has an airline tag and leave it just outside the door of the plane. When you disembark, the airline will have it waiting in the jetway on the other side.

7)     Reconsider boarding early. Typically, airlines allow you to board the plane early if you’re traveling with small children. However, in my opinion, it typically takes at least 30+ minutes for the rest of the plane to board and that just means extra time for your child to be contained in a plane and get antsy.  It is your choice, but I would rather be in an open area inside the airport and try to carry light so that you don’t have to worry about room for your carry-on baggage.

8)     Window, window! I love the aisle, but with a baby on your lap or playing with a child, it can be best to sit next to the window for squirmy legs that might stick out into the aisle and get bumped by the drink cart. Plus the passenger next to you doesn’t have to worry about crawling over you and your child to go to the bathroom.

9)     Bottle or food for take-off and landing. We have all experienced the changes in pressure on an airplane and man, it hurts as a baby or child, especially your ears.   It is a good idea to nurse or bottle-feed your baby during the ascent and descent. This forces them to swallow and helps keep the ears open – this really works! 



10)     Bring activities.  All kids love to pull on the seat in front of them, kick it incessantly out of boredom or play with the seat tray (ha, ha! You know what I am talking about). Bring books and toys to keep a babies’ attention. If you are an iPad lover like me, download books and children’s game to entertain.

11)     Plan ahead. Traveling with kids can be stressful, but make a list and check it twice and it will help relieve any stress.  If you need to, make a packing list and tape it on the front door or your bathroom mirror so that you remember everything.

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Please tell me everyone has “guilty pleasures,” right?  A few weeks ago I was lying in bed watching Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.  Yup, I admit it; I do watch Tori & Dean!  The celebrity parents were headed up to Vancouver, BC because Tori was guest starring in an episode of Smallville (filmed in gorgeous British Columbia.) On their much documented plane ride with their children (Stella’s first!) she was dressed in our very comfy and appropriate for traveling rabbitmoon orchid tracksuit!  I jumped out of bed and started screaming “THAT’S OUR TRACKSUIT, THAT’S OUR TRACKSUIT!”  My husband thought I had gone berserk as he ran in the room and asked what on earth I was screaming about!  I, with some exasperation regarding his lack of knowledge regarding all things “celebrity” told him why I was so excited.  He started jumping up and down with me…just kidding, he didn’t really do that, but he was excited for us!  I contemplated calling Chris, but then thought better of it as it was 10:30 ++ at night!  Here is a great clip from Tori and Dean’s plane ride…just fast forward to 2:59 minutes to see the outfit… CLICK HERE

I have never been one to stop at one of anything… so I then searched the Oxygen network website and found Stella wearing one of our darling swimsuits from the le•top Tropical Paradise collection!  Check out this cutie.

Photo from Oxygen.com. Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.

Photo from Oxygen.com. Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. Click on photo to link to the site.

 LOVE THE STAR ATTITUDE…WOO HOO!

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cinco1Karen sent this photo from her family trip to Mexico from a few years back. At first I thought the iguanas were fake, but…um, nope…!

Hope everyone’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations and activities are happy and fun, but maybe not as authentically decorative! 😉

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bigsiscryLast weekend we drove down to Los Angeles (from the Bay Area) for my cousin’s baby shower. The drive there was a piece of cake. It took us about 8 hours with only 2 stops. Amazing, considering we had a newborn. Meanwhile, my 4-year old was her usual self asking us what number to count to before we get to LA, and repeatedly asking, “Are we there yet?” (Click here to read about our memorable trip to San Diego.)

The drive home was a completely different story. It took us almost 12 hours with so many stops that I vowed never to drive a long trip like that ever again! For some reason, my 3-week old was hungry EVERY HOUR. “Didn’t I just feed you?” And other times he would howl and cry, and we couldn’t figure out why. He wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t wet. He wasn’t hurt or sick. He just wanted to be on Daddy’s lap or in Mommy’s embrace. I guess I’d rather have that, too. But after so many stops for no reason other than to take him out of his car seat, we’d had enough. Our so-called “solution” was to let him scream in agony — while we listened in agony! Then, miraculously, Big Sis saved the day. Miranda sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and Paulo stopped crying! The first time it happened, we thought it was just luck. But it happened a couple more times, and it worked every time. One time she even sang a different song (some song from “High School Musical”), but it didn’t work. So we asked her to stick to his usual request because that’s what Paulo liked. She gladly complied.

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