New Travel Products We Want For Our Families: Packing Gear

March 21st, 2014 by Guest Blogger 1 comment »

I’m all for any product which makes it easier to travel with my husband and two kids. Make the process faster, keep me organized, and add a little style on top of it all, and you have my business. Last month, while product scouting at the NY NOW trade show for home and lifestyle products, I found several new products I love, and I wanted to pass along my finds.

Today, it’s all about packing. Tomorrow, I’ll share travel accessories and “on the go” entertainment.

WHAT: “Free Like Birdie” Travel System
Perfect for: Uber-organized parents who still pack for their kids

To expedite packing for your kids, this set of various sizes of waterproof bags includes a diaper pouch with changing pad, a clothes bag, and a “weekender” travel bag with shoulder strap. You can refer to the chart on the inside to remember basics like socks and pajamas. Even better, there are two sections to separate clean and dirty items. I also love the “green” qualities of this reusable and eco-friendly product; the bags are free from phalates, PVC, lead and chlorine.

WHAT: Cargo luggage from Flight 001
Perfect for: A traveling family of four, or a family with four kids

With this stackable and virtually indestructible set, each member of the family can get their own color-coded piece of luggage. The candy-hued polypropylene exterior hard shells are available in yellow, blue, pink and charcoal. Each piece weighs less than 8 pounds, and is transported easily on two wheels with a retractable handle. Inside, mesh organization pockets make it easy for your kids to organize their own stuff.

WHAT: Bag Tags by Mudpuppy
Perfect for: Kids who want to express their personalities when traveling

These colorful I.D. tags give a utilitarian product expressive flair. Your kids can choose their favorite from the collection, which includes the airplane, taxi, robot, owl, cupcake, and the Madeline book series character. The tags are made of bright, durable felt with decorative contrast stitching, and the address slot includes a personal information card. A metal buckle and felt strap secures the tag to any backpack or suitcase, and the transparent backing protects the written information from the elements.

WHAT: “Mini Avery” accessory cases from Lolo
Perfect for: The tween or teen traveler in your family

To be honest, even my divatastic six-year old daughter would love this light blue vinyl zippered pouch with pink “OMG” letters stitched on the front. The diminutive dimensions — 3.5″ tall and 4.5″ wide — make it work perfectly as a mini make-up case or coin purse. Other fun styles sport a peace sign, the Eiffel Tower, an airplane, and the words “Surf” and “Beach.”

–Traci L. Suppa

Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.

Madava Farms: A Maple-Themed Getaway

March 20th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

For a unique getaway in the rolling hills of New York, consider a visit to Madava Farms, home of Crown Maple syrup. In honor of sap season, the farm is offering a number of family-friendly events, including weekend tours that showcase the maple production process from bark to barrel — with samples, of course!

The 45-minute tours are just one of the farm’s offerings this spring. This weekend marks the first of the farm’s Open House weekends, with self-guided tours, tapping demonstrations, cooking with maple demonstrations, tastings, and marshmallow roasts. Another Open House weekend takes place next weekend.

In April, visit on Sunday the 6th for the Barrel Tasting and Collection House Tour, which features the best of the barrels and a behind-the-scenes tour of the forest, collection house and sugar house that is more in-depth than traditional weekend tours. On Saturday the 12th, enjoy cooking demonstrations and discover how to use maple in salads, entrees, desserts and candies. Guests receive lunch and get to sample all the dishes.

–Lissa Poirot

Spring Breaking in Texas

March 19th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

Families looking for warm temperatures but something new and different for spring break may want to consider Texas, which has a host of family-friendly fun. Need reasons? Check out these fun-filed ideas:

Western Adventures
Texas is known for its cowboys, and kids can channel their inner cowboy or cowgirl at a dude ranch, where they may ride horses and enjoy western entertainment. Some towns even feature cowboy events, such as Bandera, where cowboys spend their Saturdays re-enacting gunfighter battles. The Cowboys on Main event also features chuck wagons, musicians, and more.

Water Fun
Who needs the Caribbean when you can head to Texas’ Gulf Coast. From Galveston to Padre Island to Corpus Christi, kids can hit the water and beaches for traditional water fun. When looking for something off the sandy shore, visit Moody Gardens in Galveston, which just opened National Geographic’s “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah” exhibit.

Wild Rides
Not all theme parks are found in Florida. Texas will provide thrills for your older kids at its three Six Flags theme parks: Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, which is opening a multi-lane water slide complex this season called the Wahoo Racer.

Wildlife Encounters
Many of Texas’ largest cities still provide ways for kids to connect with wildlife. In Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, visit the local zoos, or pop into an aquarium in Corpus Christi, Houston or Dallas.

–Lissa Poirot

28,000 Easter Egg Hunt in Georgia

March 18th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

If you’re looking for something different this Easter season, consider a visit to Cleveland, Ga., the home of the Cabbage Patch dolls, where the kids can participate in the 26th annual Easter Eggs-travaganza.

The yearly event takes place in the North Georgia Mountains at Babyland General Hospital on Saturday, April 12. The “hospital” is a 70,000-square-foot antebellum home, where the day’s activities begin with breakfast or cupcakes and carrots with the Easter Bunny, followed by arts, crafts, rides and photo ops with the Easter Bunny and Cabbage Patch kids. An Easter Parade through Cleveland’s town square takes place at 11 a.m., then make your way back to the hospital grounds for a free Easter Egg hunt featuring 28,000 eggs hidden at 2 p.m. Don your Easter bonnets for the contest at 3 p.m. At the end of the day, consider adopting a Cabbage Patch to take home.

Babyland General Hospital is located at 300 N.O.K. Drive in Cleveland, Ga. Reservations are required for breakfast, which is $10 for breakfast and $5 for cupcakes and carrots.

–Lissa Poirot

Kids Club They’ll Actually Enjoy

March 17th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

As you prepare to take spring break, seeking out a resort with kids’ programming, consider some of these resorts with great kids’ clubs:

CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, Mexico>
Located on one of the world’s brightest blue beaches, the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun is a haven of fun for the whole family. Here, parents can dig their toes in the powder-soft sand (frozen cocktail in hand suggested), while the little ones build sandcastles, make colorful pinatas and engage in some water balloon fun at the resort’s Kids Club.

Added touch: The program includes Spanish lessons so the kids can take home a little espanol as a souvenir.

Ft. Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, Florida
Ft. Lauderdale’s premier beachfront property, Marriott Harbor Beach is a sprawling oasis offering fun in the sun for the young and young at heart. Adjacent to the splash pool is the resort’s Surf Club Kid’s Club complete with custom-built surf simulator where the little ones virtually hang ten before hitting the South Florida waves.

Added touch: The resort serves complimentary cookies and lemonade poolside at 2 p.m. daily.

Sandpearl Resort, Florida
Surrounded by powder white sand and crystal blue waters, the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach is a luxury resort experience for the ultimate family vacation. Kids can play at the exclusive Camp Ridley club, watch dive-in movies at the resort’s pool, roast S’mores at sunset on the property’s beach or be a trainer for a day at Clearwater Marine Aquarium – home of Winter the Dolphin.

Added touch: Every evening, one lucky child is chosen by the Camp Mascot, Ridley the Sea Turtle, to ring the historic Sunset Bell in tribute to the day’s passing and the evening’s future.

The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Florida
Parents traveling to Longboat Key Club don’t have to compromise a kid-pleasing vacation – this 410-acre golf & tennis resort is a playground for all. From ice cream socials to PJ parties to nature walks, Camp Loggerhead (named after the native sea turtles that nest right on the resort’s beach) provides a fun and captivating kids-care where they can explore and create.

Added touch: Kids can take home a little Loggerhead memory in the form of a plush turtle.

Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Florida
With three miles of white sand beaches, Marco Island Marriott is a perfect spot to unwind with your family. Kids get the chance to become wildlife explorers with the resort’s Tiki Tribe discovery camp, which offers shell hunts on the beach, back house tours of the bakery (cookies & baking hat decorating included) and dine-in movies.

Added touch: Kids can cool off with free freeze pops daily by the pool.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
This Caribbean gem, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, provides a cultural seaside getaway for exploration & excitement. The resort’s Camp Arowok has teamed up with National Geographic Kids – offering eco-friendly activities, animal crafts and facts, photo safaris and locally-inspired activities.

Added touch: Kids can get up-close-and-personal with the island’s wildlife by feeding the resort’s resident iguana four days a week at 4 p.m.

Kid-Friendly Cabo

March 17th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

Spring break is coming soon and if you think Cabo is just for the party crowd, think again. Los Cabos, on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, is also great for families. The area has lots of kid-friendly activities with fun-in-the-sun along the Pacific Ocean. Resorts in the area are catering to families, providing offerings to make kids and mom and dad have a great spring vacation.

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
Children can indulge in some rest and relaxation at the property’s Cabo Kids Oasis. With offerings for children as young as 4 years old there is something for every member of the family, including retreats for parents and children to enjoy together. The resort is also providing a kids eat free program now though September 30.

One & Only Palmilla
Kids have the opportunity to explore the culinary arts with pizza and sushi making classes.

Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa
Children, ages 3 to 12, can enjoy the Explorer’s Club, a once a week camping adventure on the beach where little ones can enjoy dinner and nature-oriented activities while parents are able to unwind with a romantic dinner together.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
Hyatt’s first foray into all-inclusive resorts, is offering a special rate of $156 per night for travel through August 16 when booked by March 31.

–Lissa Poirot