Travel Packing Tips

October 2, 2008

It is advisable to be prepared if you must travel. There’s nothing worse than getting on the road, or arriving at your final destination, and realizing that you forgot something important. If your family is going on a trip during this holiday season, use this checklist to help you keep track of what to take:

1. Medications. Even if your children are healthy, be sure to bring along any and all medication that they could possibly need. You never know when a situation will arise that will require those medications for your kids.

2. Toothbrushes and toothpaste. Mom and Dad find it easy to remember to pack their own dental hygiene items. Younger kids may need reminding, though. Be sure everyone packs a toothbrush and toothpaste.

3. Sewing kit. Mishaps always happen. A button pops off. A skirt hem falls out. Pack a mini sewing kit in your suitcase to have on hand, just in case you need it.

4. Proper clothing. Call ahead of time and find out what the weather will be like where you are headed. Get specific temperatures if possible so that you will know what type of clothing to bring.

5. Bring extra clothes. Don’t forget to pack extra clothes as well, for everyone. Kids will need more clothing than adults, but it won’t hurt to throw in an extra outfit or two for you as well.

6. Shoes. Be sure you have matching shoes to wear with your outfits and don’t forget to bring the right shoes for the right weather.

7. Hair accessories. If you have daughters and they wear hair accessories, be sure to pack plenty to go along with their outfits.

8. Games for the kids. Kids get bored on road trips, especially if the trips are more than an hour or two. To save your sanity, be sure to bring along several fun games that they can play in the car. Puzzle books, audio cassette tapes (with a walkman), and printable games online are just a few ideas you can use.

9. Don’t forget the camera, you’ll definitely want to record all your family Christmas memories so don’t forget the camera and make sure it has batteries and film too.

10. And lastly don’t forget the presents! It’s a much too common scenario, you pack up the car, start your road trip to visit relatives for a relaxing family Christmas only to realize you’ve left the presents behind. Make a list of everything you’ve decided to take and check things off one by one.

We Recommend:

Snappy Travel: A Magnetic Fun Book

A great book for the car or plane ride because it’s all about travel and has magnetic pieces to move around as you flip the pages. This makes to book very interactive and keeps things interesting, since the story is slightly different each time. Very cute!

Rubberneckers- The Ultimate Car Game

The objective in this game is to look outside and find certain things to receive points. It’s a great way to keep older kids occupied, and younger kids interested and distracted from the travel time!

Lewis N. Clark Li’l Lewis Kid’s Travel Pillow

Finally, a travel pillow just for kids and it comes in 15 different animal shapes from alligator to hippo, so your little one will find his or her favorite animal and enjoy using it.

Don’t forget to take lots of picture and have them developed through Snapfish. Sign-up and get your first roll of film developed for FREE! Plus, your photos are placed online for FREE to share with family & friends.

Stress-Free Travel With Kids

October 1, 2008

You can travel with your kids and have a lot of fun as well as a relaxing time with these tips for stress-free travel with kids.
Bring the Kids! A Parent’s Guide to Stress-Free Travel

Traveling with “little ones” can be one of the most joyous events of all–it can also be one of the most stressful. While seeing the wonder in your children’s eyes as they gaze upon some historic or natural wonder may make your heart swell with pride, you must realize they’ll eventually get bored or tired, and you’ll have to revert back to your roles of referee, peace keeper, and entertainment chairperson.

My mother-in-law used to tell the story of traveling in the car with five children under the age of five. Someone was always asking “How much longer?” to which her husband routinely answered “Only 10 more minutes.” When she protested, he responded, “They just want an answer – any answer will do!” As a mother of five grown children, I’ve had better luck telling the truth, and then finding something creative to do.

In order to keep your sanity and actually enjoy some of the travel spots you take your children to, follow some simple pre- planning and travel organizing tips. Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to family travel–no matter how many children tag along.

1. Go to age appropriate locations. If you want your children to enjoy their travel experience, make sure you take them to places suited to their age. This doesn’t mean every trip has to involve a theme park or sports event; it simply means keep the trip’s educational value at a level they can comprehend and appreciate. If your children’s’ ages span a wide range, have at least one activity geared to each child. Picking a hotel with a pool can make a big difference!

2. Lay the ground rules early. Before you even leave the house, make sure your children know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior on the road. As elementary as this may seem, if you don’t tell your children what you expect, how can they oblige?

3. Let the children pack their own travel bag. Make sure the children’s bag is small enough that they can carry it. If they can read, a parent can make a packing list. Include things they can do on the road or in the air–a Walkman and tapes, comic books, handheld video games, etc. Decide ahead of time about seating arrangements and make contingency plans in case requested seats are not available.

4. Establish a meeting place. Nothing could be worse that having a child get lost in an unfamiliar environment. Whenever you visit a location, identify a spot the family can meet at if you happen to get separated. Equally important, have some current photos of your children available. That way others can help you locate your lost child. If your child can tell time, make sure they take a watch!

5. Make the children a part of the trip by letting them help plan. Your children will enjoy the trip more if they feel they have some say on the agenda. Get books from the library, or do an Internet search, on the area you plan to visit. Give them some options of what to do while away and actually use some of their suggestions. Who knows, you may enjoy their suggestions more than you think.

6. Keep a separate list for each child’s belongings. Keep a running list of everything your children need on the trip. If more than two children will be traveling with you, keep a separate list for each child. Otherwise the items begin to run together, and it’s difficult to determine if you really have enough supplies for each child. It’s amazing how many people forget to pack basic necessities for their children like toothbrushes, socks, and shoes.

7. Pack a first aid kit Face it. Kids will be kids. That means scraped knees, bug bites, and cuts and bruises. When traveling with children, always keep a first aid kit handy. It’ll help get rid of the tears and bring back the smiles and fun times.

8. Check for children travel specials. It’s amazing how many people spend more time planning what they’re going to have for breakfast than how they’re going to spend a week or two on the road. A fun, well-planned travel experience will create memories that can last a lifetime. Plus, pre-planning can save you lots of money. Many airlines, restaurants, and hotels offer discounts for children, whether it’s a “kids stay or eat free” deal or a “half off children’s rate.” If you’re a do-it-yourself-er, surf the Internet for travel web sites. You can usually find some great deals if you’re willing to take the time and look for them. Most important, bring the right attitude. Traveling with children will always present some challenges. Spend more time enjoying the precious memories you’ll be creating and less time fretting over what could go wrong. Keep your sense of humor in full swing and happy traveling.

© Barbara Hemphill is the author of Kiplinger’s Taming the Paper Tiger at Work and Taming the Paper Tiger at Home and co-author of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever. The mission of Hemphill Productivity Institute is to help individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so they can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives. We do this by organizing space, information, and time. We can be reached at 800-427-0237 or at

Car Travel Activities for Kids

September 9, 2008

by Laurel Smith

Potty Training Tips
Potty Training Advice and Tips From Moms & Dads Like You.

Time flies when you’re having fun – The miles fly by too! You can make a long family car trip seem a lot shorter if you have fun with your kids along the way. Plan ahead with a few car activities, and making the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Make a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook

Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs.

Get a Good Songbook With All the Lyrics

It surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don’t really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

Give Your Kids an Allowance for the Day

Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

Let Your Children Have a Map

Give your kids their own copy of a map of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time someone asks “How much further?” let them see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

Have Bubble Gum Blowing Contests

The weirder the gum the better. Get it at the rest areas and try all the different flavors.

The License Plate Game

Print a U.S. map off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one. See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can be a family project as you build your “collection” of license plates together.

Cats Cradle or String Loops

You just need a piece of string for this one. See if you can make “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Kitty Whiskers”, or play Cats Cradle!

Magnetic Board Games

Do your children know how to play classic board games like Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, or Chinese Checkers? What better time to learn than in the car to pass the time! The magnetic car versions of these games are nice because they are small and compact, and have easy ways to store the pieces so they don’t get lost.

Counting Cows

Count the cows you see on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows. The one with the most cows wins.

Read Out Loud

This passes the time quickly in the car for the reader and for the family members who are listening.

Lego Contest

Have a contest to see who can build the best item that relates to where you are going. Use a shoebox to store the Legos, or large zip lock bags.

Guess How Far Away That Is

Pick an object and have everyone guess how far away it is, then clock it on your odometer.

Play Favorites

Have everyone think of different “favorite” questions for the group. What’s your favorite… movie, flavor of ice cream, song, game, toy, place to visit, restaurant, book, animal, fish, etc. Be creative and don’t forget to ask the driver too!

Aluminum Art

Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headband, necklaces and masks. Be creative. It’s inexpensive fun and easy to clean up. Toddlers love this one too.

Remember that it’s sometimes nice to sit in the back of the van with your kids while Dad is doing the driving and play some games right along side them. You might be surprised at how much fun you have too. Happy travels!

Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. If you pass her on the highway, you might catch her singing loudly in her minivan while her three children sing backup. Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at

We Recommend:

Snappy Travel: A Magnetic Fun Book

Rubberneckers- The Ultimate Car Game

Lewis N. Clark Li’l Lewis Kid’s Travel Pillow

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