Top Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with an Infant

April 15th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

My little family has been on about two road trips a year along with countless daytrips involving multi-hour drives since my son was born almost two years ago. My husband and I go stir-crazy if we can’t hit the road every few months. So when we became a family of three, we knew that our baby would have to get used to traveling from a young age, and for the most part he’s done brilliantly. In fact, he started sleeping 10-hour stretches at night the week we got back from his second road trip, when he was about eight weeks old! So what are our tips for getting through a road trip with an infant unscathed, relaxed and rested even? Check them out below:

Be Realistic. Traveling with a baby will not be the same as traveling solo or as a couple. Before you even start planning, you should come to terms with that. But, you should try to be as laid-back as possible. A positive outlook can go a long way in the success of your trip.

Start Early. Don’t wait until your child is already deeply entrenched in an at-home routine before you start traveling. Hit the road early on in his life and with frequency. Traveling will become a part of the norm, and not have a significant effect on your baby’s behavior.

Be Consistent. Make sure your child is sleeping and eating at consistent and regular intervals at home 90 percent of the time. Travel can add to the cumulative effect of overstimulation and overtiredness that babies who don’t have a level of predictability at home may be dealing with.

Allow Extra Time. You will have to stop at least every three hours and maybe even more frequently during your drive in order to accommodate diaper changes and feedings. Plus, you want your baby to have a chance to expend some energy having fun so that he’ll be ready for a nice long nap in the car. This means it may take you twice as long to reach your destination than anticipated.

Be Prepared. If you have a newborn, make sure you have a nursing cover and/or a plentiful supply of formula in the car with you at all times. If your baby has started on solids, you should also have snacks in the car and at the ready. Small toys and books can also be useful if your baby wakes before you reach a good stopping point.

Pack Smart. Keep a bag of essentials and emergency supplies in the passenger seat with you. This will include the aforementioned snacks, milk and toys, but you should also have infant pain reliever, a few burp cloths, diapers, lots of wipes, a favorite blanket and your baby’s lovey. An empty plastic grocery bag is also a good idea in case of blowouts or motion sickness.

Get to a Grocery. Hit up a grocery store along the way to pick up a few necessities to keep in the hotel room for the duration of your trip. It’s always a good idea to offer your baby something to eat while you get ready for the day, but before you head out for breakfast since you will likely be eating later than usual. Plus, you will have to pack less formula or milk if you plan to go to a grocery store.

For more tips, see Traveling with Infants.

–Shayne Rodriguez Thompson

Shayne is an adventurous 20-something mom to a toddler, freelance travel writer and part-time mommy blogger at Mamas Latinas.

Destination Hotels & Resorts Launches Family Escapes

April 14th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

More and more hotels and resorts are starting to cater to family travelers, and we love that Destination Hotels & Resorts recently launched its new Destination Family Escapes.

Families can select from a number of experiences, from Adventure to Celebrations and Art to even Culinary and see a number of the resort’s properties display with special family packages.

For example, Adventure seekers can find a Santa Fe Treasure Hunting Family Package at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, which promises to be an Indiana Jones-style adventure. The Mix Up Family Game Night Getaway Package at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa and Mini-Monet Family Vacation in Washington, D.C., at the Embassy Row Hotel are more clever packages kids will love.

Destination Hotels & Resorts can be found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North and South Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Learn more about Destination Family Escapes.

–Lissa Poirot

Dinosaur Day Returns to Newark

April 13th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

The seventh annual Dinosaur Day returns to the Newark Museum on May 3. The special day provides hands-on activities, exhibits, games and presentations for children, including a meet-and-greet with the 15-foot mechanical Mighty T-Rex, provided by Field Station.

Other activities include making fossil rubbings, digging for fossils, hunting for GEO treasures, creating dinosaur origami and sluicing for gemstones. There will also be a meet and greet with Dora the Explorer, the Nickelodeon action-adventure hero; a display of life-size dinosaur fossils; an earthquake simulator; a fossil touch table; and a Tsunami Tank. (Admission to a Hurricane Simulator with winds up to 80 mph is offered for an additional fee.) Kids can also see live animal shows, such as “Bill Boesenberg’s Snakes-n-Scales and Turtle Tales.”

As the event is presented in collaboration with Rutgers University – Newark, geologists from Rutgers, as well as the State University of New Jersey, the New Jersey Paleontological Society and the New Jersey State Museum, will offer programs about dinosaurs and the history of the Earth.

Most Dinosaur Day activities are free with suggested Museum admission, which is $12.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, children and students.

–Lissa Poirot

Dominion Riverrock Festival Returns in May

April 12th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

For fun-loving, adventure-seeking teens, Richmond, Va.’s Dominion Riverrock outdoor sports and music festival may be an ideal weekend getaway. The festival, which takes place May 16 to 18, will be held on Brown’s Island.

Sporting events include an Adventure Race, mountain and freestylee biking, bouldering, kayaking, stand up paddling, a mud run and a river trail run. Free concerts take place Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, with local and international acts performing.

On Thursday, May 15, the free 5Point Film Festival presents “Walkabout Outfitter” at the Byrd Theater, which takes a look at adventurous sports.

While in Richmond, families can also enjoy the Richmond Zoo, the Science Museum of Virginia or Kings Dominion amusement park.

–Lissa Poirot

Charleston, S.C., Opening Adventure Ropes Course

April 11th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

This May, Charleston, S.C., welcomes a new family attraction, the open-air adventure ropes course, Wild Blue. The new park will be located on James Island’s Folly Road.

Rising to 35 feet, the attraction provides two different ropes courses and appeals to beginners to expert levels. Explorer’s Gateway, Big Sky Challenge, Holy City Heights and Wild Blue Yonder courses are a combination of 22 tower poles and nearly 70 course elements that create a maze of suspended steps, ladders, bridges and more. Courses spa the length of 25 feet and participants will be safely harnessed during the adventure.

The attraction opens May 1.

–Lissa Poirot

Was Family Rescued at Sea Irresponsible?

April 10th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

Like many who watched the recent story of the Kaufman family who was rescued at sea after a failed attempt to circumnavigate the globe with their two daughters, ages 3 and 1, I was intrigued. I worried for the family and the infant, and was happy to hear they were rescued and that the little girl will be okay.

What has now followed is a storm of parents crying out that the family was foolish and irresponsible, and how could they possibly think to travel the world aboard a sailboat with their children. And I find it disheartening. Would I sail around the world with my two children? No. I would never want to be in the middle of the ocean so far from land and help if I needed it, and actually said so to my partner when the news of the rescue broke. But I followed that with, I’d just sail not too far off of coastlines.

I’ve known people who have taken a year off, having scrimped and saved to do so, and taken their children on world trips, including those who have done it on sailboats. And I’m envious of them for having the chance to do so. Some say it’s easiest when the kids are as young the Kaufman’s because they are not yet in school. Others say taking the kids when they are older means they are easier to travel with and benefit even more from the trip because they are able to learn and retain much about the different cultures and sites they have visited. It is uncommon for families to travel like this, but it is not irresponsible or “crazy.”

Traveling with our children is one of the best gifts we can give to them. Recent studies have shown that traveling with our children strengthens family bonds and actually leads to higher education and better-paying careers for the children. Seeing new places and learning about the world around us ignites a passion to learn more and seek out more knowledge. I know, personally, that once I started to travel, I became more aware of how small the world can be, discovering that people everywhere are similar in that they love their families and work hard to provide the best for their children. I became eager to see more because with every new place I visited, I learned so much.

Do I think the Kaufman family was irresponsible? No, I don’t. They were very experienced sailors and planned their trip in great detail. Like any parent knows, the best laid plans can mean nothing when traveling with our kids. The Kaufman’s infant was sick from salmonella. I’m sure the family was prepared for their children to get a cold or cough, or cuts and bruises. But she wasn’t recovering, and the family called for help, just as any family would do. Granted they were out at sea, but luckily, they were able to get the help they needed. Those who rescued them are not charging them for the rescue, because they also believe the parents were experienced and prepared.

I hope their bad luck does not deter families from traveling with their kids. I’ve been saddened to read comments by parents saying they would never travel abroad with their children because they do not see the value in it. There is value, as the studies show. And after I show my kids America, I look forward to showing them more of the world and traveling with them as much as I can before they grow up and settle down and become restricted to their own family schedules.

What do you think? Was the Kaufman family wrong to take their young children on such a large sailing adventure? Do you feel infants and young toddlers should travel abroad? I’d love to hear from you!

–Lissa Poirot