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Posts Tagged ‘Summer travel’

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.

Beach Scavenger Hunt

The beach is a perfect stage for playful learning. You can develop a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy at the beach. You may decide to see how many items you can each check off in one day or consider extending the hunt for the length of your trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started:Beach Girl

  • a blue beach towel
  • pink sandals
  • a kite
  • a beach ball
  • a sand castle
  • a sail boat
  • a jet ski
  • a seagull
  • a green bathing suit
  • a dog
  • seaweed
  • a striped beach towel
  • a beach umbrella
  • a blimp
  • an airplane
  • a shell

You can alter your list depending on where you are vacationing and what items are age appropriate for your child. The possibilities are endless!

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. 

Travel Quick Tips

  • Assemble a travel kit in a small, easy-to-grab bag—this can make unexpected situations like emergent dashes to the rest stop or airplane bathroom, and other daunting places, that much easier to deal with. Include items like potty seat covers, a small pack of wipes, small trash bag, mini first aid kit, child-friendly hand sanitizer, mini coloring book and a few crayons and some age-appropriate snacks.
  • If traveling by car, leave room in your itinerary for “zoomie” breaks. It can be difficult for a young child (and parents, too!) to sit in a car for hours on end. Take a 15-minute break now and then at a family-friendly rest stop or park to stretch, run off a little energy or make silly noises.
  • Try to maintain some likeness to your child’s typical schedule. A child with a general sense of what to expect and when is generally a happier child!

Getting Ready to Fly: Airline Safety for Young Children

These days, many airlines still allow children under the age of two to travel on their parent’s lap. But, did you know that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recommends otherwise?

The FAA says that “the safest place for your little one during turbulence or an emergency is in an approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap” and “strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size. Keeping a child in a CRS or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do.”

Focus On: Traveling with Children

Whether traveling via plane, train or car, the following here are some traveling tips for your next family vacation:

INFANT TO ONE YEAR

  • Plan for an active stretch. A rest stop break or a playground – let them walk or toddle for twenty or so minutes before climbing back in the car.
  • Bring music, mobiles, bubbles and books.
  • Pre-measure formula into bottles and carry a room temperature bottle of water to mix on the go.
  • Be prepared for a mess – snacks, diapers, spit-up, etc. – small trash bag, wipes, hand sanitizer (for the adults), spare water, tissues, bib and a blanket.
  • Even if you are traveling by plane, a car seat can double as a feeding chair or nap location. Call ahead for a crib to be added to your hotel room.
  • Be prepared and do not overload yourself. If time allows, buy what you can when you get to your destination.

FIRST STEPS (12-18 MONTHS)

  • Many of the Infant travel tips apply here.
  • Use “links” to keep toys within your child’s reach.
  • Even in the cool weather, crack a window for fresh air. Stale air may make your little one grumpy. Remove heavy jackets and shoes for comfort.
  • Bring music, books, stuffed animal, play mirror and foam shapes that will “stick” to the car seat. In an airplane – bring/purchase headphones for music and rest it on your child’s shoulders instead of over their ears.
  • Have some active playtime just before leaving and plan for frequent stops. In an airplane, let children walk down the aisle periodically at their own pace.
  • Airports can be a bustling place. This may be the one time you check your luggage at the curb. This way you can focus on your little one’s needs without the hassle of luggage in tow.

TODDLER AND GET SET (18-36 MONTHS)

  • Many of the First Steps travel tips apply here.
  • Play window games – count the silos, trucks or red lights.
  • Attach a mirror to the front passenger visor so you can see and interact with your toddler without having to spin around.
  • Buckle up a toy bin right next to the children so they can help themselves – books, links, stuffed animals and puppets.
  • Have your child help you pack a picnic lunch or snack and then serve it to everyone.
  • A blanket can make a quick play space in any lobby, airport, etc.

PRESCHOOL TO PRE-K (36 MONTHS +)

  • ‘I Spy’ a blue car, a white truck and other objects you can see while moving.
  • Laptop desk for drawing with paper and crayons.
  • Car-Ride Checklist – make a picture itinerary of landmarks you will see along the way.
  • Ask your child to keep score – gas prices, mileage or count out toll money.
  • Play “I’m thinking of an animal.” Provide age-appropriate hints to help your child guess a particular animal.
  • If you’re using a hotel babysitter: 1– Check the sitter’s credentials, including criminal and/or child abuse clearances. 2 – Check the room and the equipment in the room. 3 – Carry your phone and check your phone service when you arrive at your destination.

Planning a Mini Vacation

Planning a child-friendly mini vacation can be a difficult task; you will want to choose a destination that will be memorable, safe and fun. With young and energetic children, families should choose destinations that offer a wide array of activities. Comprehensive research, via the Internet or your local travel agent, is integral to a safe and smart mini vacation for your family. Consider the following tips when arranging your next family trip:

Zoo or Aquarium

Zoos and aquariums introduce children to thousands of new animals and species. The majority of zoos and aquariums use creative ways to involve young children in what is usually considered a ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ environment.

  • Opportunities to pet and feed the animals will allow your child to explore and discover in a hands-on way. Children may or may not recall something that is told to them, but if you allow them to do it and touch it, it will make a lasting impression.
  • Make sure the zoo or aquarium offers educational programs that target young children.
  • Ensure that the zoo or aquarium has a strong commitment to safety, including several first aid stations and ample security.
  • Visit the zoo or aquarium Web site before finalizing your trip to make sure that it will be an appropriate fit for your young child.
  • If your child is a journal writer, encourage them to journal their experiences and feelings.

TIP Read a book about animals/aquatic life with your child before your zoo or aquarium visit – this helps build excitement about the upcoming trip. Providing children with a little background regarding animals they may experience may produce a higher probability of knowledge and experiential retention.

Beach or Lake

If you are near a beach or lake, make it a day! Children love to explore sand and water–let them play in it!

  • Bring a plastic magnifying glass so your little trekker can become a geologist, analyzing the sand and shells.
  • If the beach you are planning to visit has a bay area, or if you are visiting a lake, rent a canoe for an afternoon and take your child for an aquatic adventure. This is a great opportunity to teach your child the importance of water safety and aquatic life – always wear life jackets.
  • It is imperative to re-apply your child’s sunscreen every two hours. Shade your child from extra rays and use an umbrella and hats.
  • Maintain eye contact on your child at all times, regardless of the presence of lifeguards.
  • Consider painting your seashell treasures when you get home. These personalized memories are wonderful gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.

TIP Bring a large make-up or powder brush (with talc) for an easy, pain-free way to remove sand before sunscreen application or at the end of the day.

Museum

Museums are a great attraction for family trips.  Children’s museums focus on learning through play, where children are encouraged to explore with their senses.

  • Museums generally allow your little explorers to participate in activities such as working with fossils, climbing tree houses and even performing on a TV set or an opera house stage.
  • Exploration centers, imagination factories, sensory stations and education-based play spaces are common attributes in many museums. Even your infant will enjoy learning.
  • If it looks like a mini-supermarket, understand that to your toddler or preschooler it is a supermarket. Allow you little one to explore this environment as if it was a ‘research and development’ project.
  • Does your museum display art? If it does, ask your child open-ended questions: What do you see? What colors did the artist use? How would you change this painting/sculpture?
  • After your museum adventure, take a few moments with your child and draw or sculpt (with dough or clay) a memory.

TIP Allow your child to explore every facet of the museum. The museum’s design is based upon research in child development; even the ‘silliest’ activity may improve a developmental skill.

Fun in the Sun – How to Protect Your Family

Babies under 6 months:

The two main recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure, and dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For All Other Children:

  • The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • On both sunny and cloudy days use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater that protects against UVB and UVA rays.
  • Be sure to apply enough sunscreen – about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Use extra caution near water and sand (and even snow!) as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

Source:  http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/summertips.cfm

Prepare for Summer Fun

Are you planning a summer vacation with your children?  Young children are natural explorers and typically adore adventures. But they love them even more when they have been prepared for new experiences.  Better-prepared kids are kids who cope better.  Here are some suggestions to prepare your children – to get the most educationally and emotionally out of your adventures.

  • Talk about where you are going and why.
  • Discuss how long you will be there and a few things they can expect.
  • Ask them what they think they will see or want to do.
  • Suggest some “I Spy” targets to look for at your destination. This makes them better travelers and learners.
  • Wrap-up the experience on the way home by discussing the surprises and the discoveries.

When you do this right, it feels like a shared family adventure in which everyone’s experience matters and contributes to its success. It also helps parents feel less like travel agents or teachers, and more like moms and dads who know what their children need. Enjoy first – learn second – remember always.