Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eat Wisely During a Trip

Food poisoning is one of the top vacation "ruiners". There are loads of attractive food to eat when we travel domestically or overseas, however some countries don't require as much regulation to restaurants as the US.
Poorly washed raw fruits and vegetables as well as undercooked meats can carry a host of pathogens, such as E. coli and salmonella. The National Geographic provided a good list of tips to eat wisely:
  • Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics: www.tufts.edu
  • Stick to cooked foods served hot to your table; only eat street-vendor food prepared in front of you. Avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, undercooked meats and unpasteurized dairy. Wash fruits with boiled, bottled or filtered water and remove peels.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar meats. "Anytime that you are served something you can't identify, ask questions, and in all cases stay away from eating primates," suggests Natalie Bailey, assistant director of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force.
  • Where sanitation is iffy, rely on bottled water or canned beverages, or disinfect by boiling for up to three minutes, filtering or treating with chlorine or iodine pills. Look for water carrying the International Bottled Water Association seal, and be cautious of bottles that may have been opened and re-sealed. When showering, keep water out of your mouth, nose and open wounds.
  • Bring portable water purifiers that treat for bacteria, protozoa and viruses, such as General Ecology's First Need XL Water Purifier or HydroPhoton's ultraviolet Steri-Pen Adventurer purifiers, both available at REI ($100-$140; http://www.rei.com/, 800-426-4840).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Latest BS from BA

British Airways has just announced a fee to assign seats in advance. So, if you want to be assured that your 3-year-old child will be sitting next to you during your flight, a fee ranging from £10 to £60 will apply.

Looking from another angle, this could be an opportunity to have free babysitting on board! Whoever is randomly selected to sit next to your child will take the burden! Note that the fee applies to international flights as well. I can't wait...

Here is BA's version: "Customers frequently request specific seats, but in the past we've only been able to confirm them 24 hours in advance or on the day. We know people want to secure them in advance and have real control over their flying experience. This will allow them to do that."

On BBC News today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gate Check Bags

Gate check bags for strollers and car seats can be one of your best tools when boarding a flight with kids.
Having an umbrella stroller through the airport, and at the gate, is very helpful. It holds not only your kid but also some of your bags too. Unfortunately it is necessary to check it at the gate. This is when having a check bag is an important accessory.

Protecting these items from dust, dirt and mold from the airline cargo compartment is a very wise idea. It will also prolong the life of your gear. Airline carriers can be pretty rough on luggage!

Most brands offer bags that fold compactly to fit in a purse or diaper bag. These ones can be found at Amazon and many other retail stores, and are a lot cheaper than branded versions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vacation Hangover

Sometimes we need a vacation from a vacation. Not because it was stressful or bad, but simply great and intense! And, if the vacation location was far east or west, the time adjustment definitely adds up to the "hangover".

Besides feeling tired, there is that sense of boredom. Even if the days back to your routine are full and busy, it never compares to the intensity and freshness of being in a different place, experiencing new fun things. Kids feel like that too!

The transition back is physically and psychologically difficult, and the longer the vacation the worse it is. That is the only advantage of short holidays...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

From the Streets of Barcelona

Barcelona is a great destination to take kids. It is very stroller friendly, from sidewalks to mass transportation, you can easily take your kids everywhere!
Having a car is totally unnecessary if you are planning to stay in the city. For your airport ride, cabs are allowed to take babies and toddlers in the back seat, without a child seat.

Having a small child with you is actually very useful in public areas such as crowded airports, museums, etc. Adults with small children can enjoy faster waiting time. You can skip most lines, including airport security and airline boarding crowds. Seriously, it can save you hours in the high season!

Just a fair warning, like in most European countries, you won't find convenient diaper change stations in every bathroom. This is when a portable changer is a huge help!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We Wish We Had a Harness....

Our latest international trip with our toddler was a great success. We had everything planned and organized to keep him entertained throughout both 10 hour-flights! Unfortunately we didn't realize that, as a "new walker", he wouldn't be happy confined for a couple of hours in a stroller at airports, parks, etc. We were so jealous when we saw this couple with a toddler in a cute monkey harness. The kid was happy walking around the crowded Charles De Gaulle airport, while we were chasing our little one.

I've just bought a harness, and after a bit of research I realized that although stuffed animal harnesses are cuter, the backpack version is more useful! Lukas now can carry his own Cheerios.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Preparation and Improvisation

As we pack for our trip to Spain in two days, I'm thinking about ways to entertain our kid during all flights and connections. We didn't book a direct flight, and to make things worse our original one-hour layover has been changed to a five-hour challenge. And that is before the long international leg. Big mistake! We were so excited booking our flights and forgot how uncertain airline schedules are until the actual take off!

Our kid is almost 2 years old, so we packed several books featuring a variety of entertainment: "flip a flap", puzzles, noises (not loud ones!), buttons, textures, etc.
A friend of mine gave me this great idea today, wrapping each book with a couple of layers of cheap paper. That will bring more excitement, and our son will be able to play with wrapping paper and bows as well!

Feedings, unwrapping, books, Cheerios, long stroller rides and loads of patience should make it! Preparation and improvisation always go a long way...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Enough Packing for a Trip

Both my husband and I have traveled the world, for business and leisure. Having a baby required some adjustments into our schedules, but not enough to stop us from enjoying new international experiences! Our son Lukas went to Australia with us when he was 8 months old, and then to Brazil at 11 months. We have also taken him to several domestic trips. Soon we are heading to Europe, and Brazil again.

The trips definitely required some serious preparation, and a lot more equipment! Good times when we used to travel with carry on luggage only. No more….well, it is really not that difficult. Gotta be organized!

Having an umbrella stroller has been very helpful to navigate through airports and destinations. Also, bringing some comfort food items, such as cereal or Cheerios, can be a huge plus while the little one is getting acquainted with different food. Lukas eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, which generally can be found anywhere. The food preparation is really the main difference.

IMG_0751 (2)

Another item that has been very valuable is a diaper changing mat. I bought a large piece of fabric that is water proof on one side, and cushioned on the other. It has allowed us to change his diapers pretty much anywhere (see picture at a park in Sydney). Many countries lack the convenience of public restrooms’ changing tables. Sometimes the stalls are so small that you can barely fit yourself in there.

Through our trips I have compiled a helpful check list of items to pack for carry on and checked luggage. Some of my world traveler friends help me add to this list with their personal experiences too. You can find the check list posted on the section “Useful Links” in this website.

I think that exposing your kids to other cultures is one of the best experiences you can provide. Even though they might not remember the actual trip in the future, some key learnings will stay with them forever.

Relax, be flexible, and enjoy the trip!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pack and Travel

When my son completes sixteen months his passport will be stamped in three continents, having visited Europe, Australia and South America. Not bad for an American toddler!

One very useful gear that we have carried all over the world is the Travel Crib. It has been not only useful at home, in the US, but also in hotels and friends' homes. Everywhere we spend the night! It is a portable bassinet and crib.
Lukas is used to its mattress, and the sheets smell familiar to him, helping with the adjustment to the foreign environment.

At home, we leave it in the family room. It served as a bassinet in early stages, and as a contained space when we need a break to go to the bathroom!

There are several brands available in the market; Graco's Pack&Play is what we have at home. Baby Bjorn also manufactures a very good but pricey version. It claims to be the most portable of all brands. In my experience, both products are very light and easy to carry around.

One of our Top 5 travel products!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Travel Packing: Check List for Babies and Toddlers

Bringing a baby or a toddler to a domestic or international trip is fun but requires some serious preparation, and additional equipment. Having an umbrella stroller is very helpful to navigate through airports, and at destinations. Also, bringing some comfort food items, such as cereal or Cheerios, can be a huge plus while the little one gets acquainted with different food. Depending on where you are staying, bringing a portable crib, such as the Pack & Play can be very useful, and is usually light enough to carry around.

Another very valuable item is a large diaper changing mat. You can buy a piece of fabric that is water proof on one side, and cushioned on the other. That allows you to change diapers anywhere. Many countries lack the convenience of public restrooms' changing tables. Now for the small items:

Minimum carry on luggage: diaper bag with diaper, rash cream, wipes, extra pants, t-shirts (for mom and dad too, in case of an accident) and sweater, blanket, socks, pacifier, toys and books, bib, spoon, bowl, enough food for the flight or road trip hours, sippy cup and water for taking off and landing (the cabin pressure can be painful for those little ears).

Minimum checked luggage: baby monitor, washcloth, body wash, thermometer, Mylicol, sunscreen, cotton balls and swabs, nail clipper, diaper, rash cream, brush (tooth and hair), changing mat, nasal aspirator, Tylenol, nasal saline solution, bottles, sippy cups, spoon, bowl, bibs, cereal, enough food such as cheerios, organic jarred food for a couple of days, pacifier, toys and books, bug repellent, and enough clothing.

Checkout my posting for additional travel packing tips.