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Road Trip Snacks That Won’t Make a Mess in Your Car (and the Snacks to Avoid)

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Keep fueled on your upcoming road trip with these relatively clean, easy-to-eat road trip snacks.

As the summer winds up, there might be a road trip somewhere in your future. Whether it’s just a couple of hours in the car on your way to grandma’s, a weekend away at a lakefront resort, or a week long cross-country journey, you’re surely going to need a backseat full of road trip snacks. And, unfortunately, good road trip snacks probably aren’t the first thing you’re thinking about when you’re planning for your trip—likely, they’re one of the last things you do before heading off, either stopping at the grocery store the night before you leave or, let’s be real, even when you’re already on your way!

But this year, we can all aim to do better and plan ahead to make sure you’ve packed the best road trip snacks possible. Thankfully, we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you (you’re the one that has to lug those heavy suitcases to the car, after all!). Here, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in regards to good road trip snacks (because who wants to come home with a sticky backseat to deal with?), healthy road trip snacks to make, and of course, the best road trip snacks to buy (because you’re probably not going to be all packed the night before). Read on for your road trip survival guide:

Good Road Trip Snacks, Dos and Don’ts

Do: Pack individually portioned treats. The fact that you’re strapped into a moving vehicle makes passing handfuls or ripping off portions a little tenuous. Make things easier for everyone by separating snacks into individual zip-lock baggies or buying pre-portioned snacks in bulk.
Do: Bring two bags. Bring a cooler bag for things that should be kept chilled like sliced cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, sandwiches, drinks, and more. Your pantry bag can be filled with trail mix, cookies, crackers, etc. Keeping the two separate make sure that the dry pantry foods don’t get soggy from condensation or spills.
Do: Focus on dry foods. While you might have the aspirational urge to become a health guru on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stick to self-contained fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges. Although they do leave waste, they’re relatively clean compared to melons and berries, which are prone to dripping and leave behind a wetness that can expand outside of its container.
Don’t: Pack anything that could melt or spoil. It may feel like a no-brainer, but many yummy pre-packaged foods won’t last long without refrigeration. Instead of packing chicken salad or milk for the kids, just plan to make stops to pick up along the way. And while chocolate may seem like a fun treat, it melts quicker than you’d think—so keep it to a rest stop treat unless you want to deal with a sticky mess in your backseat.
Don’t: Pack foods that need utensils. Avoid a last minute lunch meltdown when you realized you forgot to pack forks or spoons and just plan to have everything edible by hand and bite-sized. Since you’re likely to be eating out of the packaging, these foods are logistically easier to eat than those that would need forks and knifes.
Don’t: Pack messy foods. Unless you’re planning on a full car detailing post-trip, stay away from foods like crumbly granola bars, croissants, cheese puffs, and quinoa. “Foods that make you brush off your pants while eating are a no go,” says Food Director, Dawn Perry. Additionally, you might want to stay away from things that come with shells like pistachios or peanuts
Do: Pack food in mason jars. Just because you’re driving doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on the road trip snacks. Fill up a mason jar that easily fits into a cup holder so the person at the wheel (or the trusty, hungry copilot) can snack along too.

Healthy Road Trip Snacks to Make

Trying to stay away from processed foods? Load up your cooler with these homemade healthy road trip snacks. From DIY Kind bars to addictive party mixes, these snacks will help the time roll by.

Kamut-Banana-Walnut Muffins
Break and Bake Kitchen Sink Cookies
Pizza Pretzel Nuggets
Cookies and Cream Crispy Treats
Honey Mustard Snack Mix
Nutty Superfood Breakfast Bites
No-Bake Lemon-Chia Bars

Best Road Trip Snacks to Buy

Planning on taking the “There’s No Way I Can Get Snacks in Order Before I Leave” route? No worries at all! There are plenty of delicious, healthy, and fun snack options to be found at the warehouse club, grocery store, or even gas station! Pick a couple of options from this Real Simple-editor approved list.

Oreos
Nuts
Water
Granola or nut bars
Grapes
Beef jerky (We tested more than 100 and these were our favorite jerkies!)
Cheese and crackers
Popcorn

 

This article was written by Liz Steelman from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Family Traditions From Around the World Worth Trying

Celebrate the first day of school, the German way.

The kickoff to first grade is a big deal in Germany, as my American family learned while living in Berlin. The weekend before our daughter started first grade, we joined a celebration called Einschulung. Her school welcomed students with an assembly; afterward, families gave the children Schultüten—large paper or plastic cones filled with school supplies and sweets. When we moved back to the United States, we replicated Einschulung for my son. We invited our family over and asked them to bring a small school-related gift, like a notebook or pen. We made him a Schultüte, and the older kids put on a play about what school is like. It makes the children feel responsible, grown-up, and proud to be going to school.

Sara Zaske is the author of Achtung Baby: An American Mom On The German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. She Lives in Moscow, Idaho.

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Honor your ancestors, the Japanese way.

Traditional Japanese homes have a small family altar, or butsudan, as a sign of respect for elders who have passed away. When I go back to my family’s home in Japan, I still feel a spiritual connection to my ancestors as I make offerings at the butsudan—a bowl of rice, flowers for my grandmother, a can of beer for my grandfather. It feels truly healing. To set up a memorial, pick a quiet spot, put out photos, flowers, and other offerings, and tell kids about their ancestors. If we don’t mark our history, we may lose an important part of who we are.

Candice Kumai is a chef and the author of Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art Of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Share your culture through stories, the Trinidadian way.

In Trinidad and Tobago, where I grew up, storytelling happens anytime, anywhere—not just at bedtime. We might be driving to the beach or walking to my grandmother’s house. People often tell folk stories about mythical creatures called jumbies to help explain things people don’t understand, such as a sudden illness. Regardless of where you come from, there is a benefit to telling traditional stories. At some point, I realized my kids, who were growing up in the U.S., had no idea what our folklore was, so I started telling them jumby stories. Telling these stories helps the children preserve their culture.

Tracey Baptiste is the author of Jumbies, part of a fantasy series for middle schoolers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she now lives in northern New Jersey.

Care for all animals, the Indian way.

To show gratitude to animals, families in southern India feed cows and birds during the annual Hindu harvest festival of Thai Pongal. Children learn that all species are interconnected and interdependent. I’ve followed this tradition in both India and the United States with my daughters. In Bangalore, I used to take my young daughters to a nearby shed to feed the cows. We also fed birds by placing fruits and grains on banana leaves and putting them out on our terrace—something we also did surreptitiously at our New York City apartment. Pick a day for an annual visit to a petting zoo, butterfly garden, family-friendly farm, or horse stable where you can feed the animals or help care for them. It’s a way to teach children about having compassion for all beings.

Shoba Narayan is the author of The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Exchange personal poetry, the Dutch way.

In the Netherlands, families exchange not only gifts but also poems during Sinterklaas, the Dutch winter holiday season. Older children and adults each draw a name and write a poem about the recipient. The poem usually has puns and is funny—the more mischievous and personal, the better. On “gift night,” people sit in a circle with hot drinks, and everyone reads the poem they receive out loud. I’ve learned that the real gift is the love that goes into the poem. You’re taking time to compose something special, letting someone know what they mean to you.

Rina Mae Acosta is a writer, photographer, and coauthor of The Happiest Kids In The World: Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way. She lives in Doorn, The Netherlands.

 

This article was written by Betsy Rubiner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Travel the Globe (Virtually)

Traveling is a great way to keep our little ones’ excitement with learning at an all-time high. Use a globe (any size) to decide where you will virtually travel. Each week, ask each of your children to spin the globe and place a finger somewhere on the globe to stop the spinning. Choose one of the countries where their fingers land as your destination.

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Spend the beginning of the week with your children researching the different cultures, food and clothing found in this country. Talk about the temperatures there and the wild animals that you can find there. Discuss how your culture differs from theirs. At the end of the week, dress up in clothes that are native to that country and plan a meal that originated in that country.

Where will you and your little ones travel to?

Five Benefits of Taking a Staycation

StaycationTaking a vacation with your family can be challenging, so try taking a staycation instead. Here are five benefits of enjoying time off at home.

  1. Give your wallet a break. The beauty of a staycation is that you don’t have to spend money on gas, air travel or hotels. An added bonus is that you can use some of that cash on day trips or activities, instead.
  2. Get to know your town. Taking a staycation gives you the chance to explore your community. Take your child to a local restaurant you haven’t tried yet, visit a nearby park or simply go for a stroll through your neighborhood.
  3. Reduce your stress. Staying at home means you and your child don’t have to sit in traffic, wait in line at the airport or adjust to different lodgings. You can simply relax.
  4. Enjoy the comfort of your own home. You and your child can sleep in your own beds, lounge on your own couch and cook up some treats in your own kitchen. The comforts of home are what make it “home, sweet home,” after all.
  5. Maximize your vacation time. Staycations reduce the amount of time spent traveling, checking into and out of hotels and planning an itinerary. The minute you’re home, you’re on vacation.

Family Vacations: Keeping Your Child Occupied While Traveling

For many of us, summer means family vacations, which often include long car rides.

When we talk about our destination and all the fun activities we have planned, everyone gets very excited and counts the Little Travelerdays until departure. Finally, the day arrives, and our whole family is finished packing and is getting ready to leave the house. The car is loaded and we pile inside. Half an hour later, we hear the inevitable: “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry” and “Are we there yet?”

It is normal for children to feel this way. Sitting in the back seat with little to do can make a long trip seem endless. If we, as adults, sometimes have a hard time sitting in the car for too long, how can we expect children to enjoy it? The answer is to plan fun activities that will help pass the time.

Keep your child occupied for the duration of the car ride by bringing headphones for music and movies, books, stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, pillows and blankets. Bring a variety of snacks and drinks. Depending on how long the ride will be, you should make a few rest stops along the way so your child can stretch and use the restroom. This breaks up the journey so the ride does not seem as long.

Interact with your child so she does not feel isolated in the back seat. Talk about how much fun she is going to have and what she is going to do when you arrive. Child-friendly podcasts can encourage conversations among all family members and help pass time quickly.

You can also practice the alphabet. Ask your child to point out signs with words that start with each letter of the alphabet in order, such as A for Applebee’s, B for bus stop and C for church. This game is fun and challenging, and it takes up a lot of time.

What are some ways you pass the time with your little ones on long car rides?

10 Tips for Traveling with Your Preschooler

Traveling can be stressful, but traveling with young children can be downright challenging. As you hit the road, keep these handy travel tips in mind.

  1. Take breaks. If you’re driving, try to make regular rest stops so your child can get some exercise, get some ChildHoldingHandexercise, use the bathroom or have a snack.
  2. Stock up. Bring a stash of toys, snacks, coloring books, crayons and other goodies to keep your little one from getting bored or hungry during the trip.
  3. Tire ’em out. Children often travel better when they’re tuckered out and sleepy. If you’re flying, have your child push a small suitcase around the waiting area or ride the escalators with you. If you’re driving, try to leave the house before dawn so you can scoop up your drowsy child, put her in the car seat and hit the road.
  4. Surprise them with treats. While good behavior doesn’t automatically warrant a reward, a piece of candy or a wrapped toy can certainly encourage your child to keep up particularly pleasant behavior.
  5. Engage them. When children are actively involved, they are less likely to misbehave. Talk to your child about the trip and ask her what she’s looking forward to seeing or doing. You can also give her a disposable camera and ask her to document the trip. This will encourage her to observe her surroundings and focus on her interests.
  6. Take a bus, a subway, a train or a boat. Children love the novelty of public transportation, so if it’s available at your destination, use it. Large cities, such as New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C., usually have public transportation systems that are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
  7. Keep tabs on your children electronically. You can use an electronic child locator to make sure you can find your child if you’re separated. Most locators cost around $30 online and include a transmitter your child wears and a locator unit you carry. If you get separated, you can press a button on the locator, and the transmitter will make a sound that you can follow to find your child.
  8. Check the weather. Make sure you pack for any weather conditions you might encounter. You don’t want your child to be too hot or too cold. Extra clothing may make your luggage bulkier, but you’ll be glad you’re prepared if the weather changes.
  9. Pass the time. Travel delays are almost inevitable, but games can make the wait more fun. Whether you’re playing 20 Questions, a travel version of a popular board game or a quick game of Go Fish, you and your child will appreciate the distraction.
  10. Sanitize. Traveling means coming into contact with more germs than usual, especially if you’re flying to your destination. Be sure to pack plenty of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer to disinfect your little ones’ hands, especially if they have touched the seat-back pockets of airplanes, which can be full of harmful bacteria.

Ten Things to Do During a Staycation

A staycation is a simple, cost-effective way of taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life without the stress of travel. Here are some fun things you can do during your staycation.

  1. Visit a museum. Walking around a museum can be a great way for you and your child to get some exercise while learning something new. The museum may also be less crowded during the week.Staycation
  2. Go to the zoo or aquarium. As with museums, a zoo or aquarium provides an excellent opportunity to learn about wildlife while enjoying a nice stroll with your child.
  3. Have a game day. Spend a day playing board games, word games or sports you and your children like. You could even keep track of who wins each game and award a prize or treat to the person who wins the most games.
  4. Create a vacation spot. Set up an umbrella in your sandbox to make a mini beach in your backyard and prepare crabs for dinner. Or set up a tent in your backyard and go camping. Just don’t forget the s’mores!
  5. See a movie. Visit your local movie theater to catch a flick with your child, or cuddle up with your child on the couch at home and watch a movie.
  6. Get together with relatives. If your child’s grandparents or cousins live nearby, make plans to have them visit for a day or meet up with them for lunch.
  7. Plan a day trip. Do you live close to the beach or a state park? Pack some snacks, water and any other supplies you might need, and enjoy the wonders of nature with your little one.
  8. Celebrate “pajama day.” Spend a day just lounging around in your pajamas with your child. You can also play games, read a few books or put on some music and have a pajama dance party. Do whatever you want…in your pajamas.
  9. Bake some goodies with your little one. Give your child a bunch of different treat options and ask him to pick one. Then work together to gather the ingredients, mix them together and cook something special.
  10. Go for a drive. Lay out a map and ask your child to choose a nearby destination to visit. You can also encourage her to keep an eye out for attractions along the way.

10 Tips for Traveling with Your Preschooler

Traveling can be stressful, period. Add some young children to the mix, and it can be downright challenging. As you hit the road this summer, keep these handy travel tips in mind:

  1. Take breaks. If you’re driving, try to make regular rest stops so your child can blow off some steam, get some exercise, use the bathroom and/or have a snack.
  2. Stock up. Bring a stash of toys, snacks, coloring books, crayons and other goodies to keep your little one from getting bored or hungry during the trip.
  3. Tire ‘em out. Children often travel better when they’re tuckered out and sleepy. If you’re flying, have your child push a small suitcase around the waiting area or ride the escalators with you. If you’re driving, try to leave the house before dawn so you can just scoop up your drowsy child, put her in the car seat and hit the road.
  4. Surprise them with treats. While good behavior doesn’t automatically warrant a reward, a piece of candy or a wrapped toy can certainly encourage your child to “keep it up” if he is being particularly pleasant.
  5. Engage them. When children are actively involved in something, they are less likely to act out. Talk to your child about the trip and ask her what she’s looking forward to. You can also give her a disposable camera and ask her to document the trip. This will encourage her to observe her surroundings and focus on her interests.
  6. Take a bus. Or the subway or a train or a boat. Children love the novelty of public transportation, so if it’s available at your destination, use it. Large cities, such as New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C., usually have public transportation systems that are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
  7. Keep tabs on your children electronically. You can use an electronic child locator (search online for stores) to make sure you can find your child if you’re separated. Most locators cost around $30 and include a transmitter your child wears and a locator unit you carry. If you get separated, you can press a button on the locator and the transmitter will make a sound that you can follow to find your child.
  8. Check the weather. Make sure you pack for any weather conditions you might encounter. You don’t want your child to be too hot or too cold. Extra clothing could add some extra bulk to your luggage but, if the weather changes, you’ll be glad you’re prepared.
  9. Pass the time. Travel delays are almost inevitable, but games are a fun way to make the time fly while you’re waiting. Whether it’s 20 Questions, a travel version of a popular board game or a quick game of Go Fish, your child (and you!) will appreciate the distraction.
  10. Sanitize. Traveling means coming into contact with more germs than usual, especially if you’re flying to your destination. Be sure to pack plenty of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer to disinfect your little ones’ hands, especially if they’ve come in to contact with the seat-back pockets of airplanes, which can be full of harmful bacteria.

Summer Survival Tips for Parents

 

We are now in the thickMom with Boy of summer, which means heat, packed summer schedules, vacations and road trips. Whether your children are continuing their summer at a Goddard School summer program, traveling with you or staying at home, these tips for summer survival can help keep things running smoothly.

Stock Up on Summer Staples

If you’re a member of a big warehouse store or have a local grocery where household staples are sold in bulk, then you may want to the take time to stock up on daily summer staples like sunscreen, bug spray, after sun lotion, anti-bacterial hand lotion or wipes, diapers, wipes, freezer-safe barbeque foods, condiments, road trip snacks, reusable water bottles, electrolyte-infused drinks, allergy medicine for adults and children, a first aid kit for each car, favorite summer treats like ice pops and any other items you may use on a daily basis throughout the summer.

Road Trip Readiness

To keep road trips fun and educational, pack a bag for each child with age-appropriate toys, books and activities.  Pack electronics in a separate bag and keep it with you so that you can charge any devices and monitor their use.  Have a cooler or cooler bag stocked with ice, water and chilled snacks ready for anyone who gets hungry or thirsty. If you are potty training your child, pack a travel potty or travel toilet seat and a change of clothes, and keep them handy.  Make sure your first aid kit is in the glove compartment, so you can put it in your backpack or beach bag during a hike, a visit to the beach or another family adventure.  For more information on traveling with children, click here.

Prepare for Take Off  

If your family is traveling by air this summer, keep certain items on hand to keep everyone calm and alleviate any fear of flying. To move swiftly through security, wear slip-on shoes, avoid wearing belts with metal buckles and keep items you typically put in your pockets in a plastic zip-top bag in your carry-on bag.  Bring a backpack or small carry-on for each child filled with age-appropriate toys and activities and an extra layer for everyone in case the airplane is chilly. Include summer reading and fun learning activities, like flash cards or a little dry erase board for writing numbers and letters, playing tic-tac-toe and doodling.  Bring gum so the children can pop their ears, pain relievers for you and your children and wipes for spills or messes. 

Keep Summer Safe, Fun and Educational

Craft a summer checklist with your older children and involve them in the planning, packing and preparation stages of your outings, whether you are gearing up for a day at the pool, a road trip, a plane ride to your vacation spot or a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.