Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Link time!

Mother slaps child on flight: Flight attendant steps in.

Three Teens hop a flight to Dollywood: And freak out their parents!

Vollyball Star travels with baby and balls bounce: This is how celebs do it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Italy is three weeks away!

We have planning a trip to Italy for months now and it's almost here. The scope of the trip is to travel to Rome for four days and then to Tuscany for 12 days. The latter half of the Tuscany portion will be spent with my husband's family in an 18 person villa.

Traveling to Italy with a 3.5 year old and being 6 months pregnant will be interesting. But not impossible. My attitude is to take things in stride. Here is the list of hotels/villas we'll be staying at:

Rome- 4 days

Hotel Capo d-Africa
via Capo d'Africa 54, 00184 Rome, Italy

The reason we chose this hotel is that it is right near the Colesuem and the blurb they had about child guests:
We pamper children providing a welcome gift
upon arrival, babysitting with 24 hour
notice, child-size bathrobes, children’s
amenities, colouring books and
crayons, bedtime milk & cookies,
assistance for family oriented activities
and much more!

Tuscany- 4 days
Hotel Tenuta di Ricavo
I 53011 Castellina in Chianti
Siena - Toscana - Italy

The reason we went with this spot was, well...the pictures were amazing. And it has two pools!

Finally we'll be at this amazing villa for 7 days.

Sole del Chianti
Via Bonazza, 8
50028 Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (Firenze) Tuscany

Just look at the picture. I think it says it all.

We are excited. I was explaining to Maddox about gelato yesterday. I don't believe he got that it is ice cream, but he will.

More to come!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Disney bans kids from resort restaurant

Seems strange right? That a kid-centric mega resort would ban kids? Well it's true.

From Orlando Sentinel:

In a move to create at least one intimate, adult dining establishment on its property, Walt Disney World has banned young children from its swankiest restaurant, Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian Spa and Resort.

Effective Jan. 1, children under the age of 10 are not permitted in the AAA five-diamond restaurant known for its Iranian caviar and Muscovy duck (a couple of items cited in Kevin Yee's book, The Unofficial Dining Guide to Walt Disney World.)

Not counting the adult-only policies at nightclubs at Downtown Disney's Pleasure Island, the move is the first time Disney World has set restrictions against young children for a dining or entertainment establishment.

Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said the move is being made because of guests' requests. Victoria & Albert's has long been cool toward young children, offering a fixed-price menu and no children's dishes.

"We find that our guests are really looking for an intimate experience and an adult-oriented atmosphere, and we want to make sure we meet those expectations," Prunty said.

Needless to say, people are in an uproar. I personally don't think it's that big a deal. I wouldn't take my kids there anyhow. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lonely Planet's tips for traveling with children

From Reuters:
SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - They're probably the most high-maintenance companions any traveler will ever have, but a new guide aims to take the pain out of vacationing with children and giving their parents a break, too.

Lonely Planet has completely revised its "Travel with Children" guidebook, which was first published in 1985, reissuing it this month with a list of kid-friendly destinations and activities, as well as tips to ensure parents stay sane.

Coordinating author Brigitte Barta told Reuters that while people may not be traveling as much, or as far, as they used to due to the global economic crisis, families still need holidays, which, with some planning, can be a great bonding experience.

"There's no doubt that traveling with kids is very different from traveling without them. It's a lot more tiring and demanding, and holidays can be harder work than staying at home. But the benefits of family travel are enormous," Barta said.

"We're all more mobile and more prepared to travel to the other side of the world, even for a couple of weeks' vacation. Seasoned travelers, of which there are now so many, see no reason to stop just because they've had children."

The book features guides to what Lonely Planet believes are the world's 35 most child-friendly countries ranging from the obvious -- Australia and the United States for example -- to places many people wouldn't really consider, such as Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

There is a comprehensive section on how to decide where to go, the types of holidays that would suit different families as well as a games you can play with children on the road.

"Putting lots of effort into planning really helps," Barta says. "But it's also important to approach it all with the spirit of adventure and to build in flexibility so that when things do go wrong, as they inevitably will, you can problem-solve."

Barta predicted that for many families, overseas travel may fall out of favor for now, due to the expenses involved, adding that many people will probably vacation closer to home, if not at home in the next couple of years.

"It's likely that, for the next few years at least, families will spend their holidays exploring their own backyard, so to speak -- camping seems to be the new black. Perhaps there will be a revival of campervans and caravans," she said.

Barta's first trip was at the age of six months, when she traveled with her parents from New Zealand to Naples on an ocean liner and has been on countless vacations with her daughter.

Her tips for families traveling with children include:

-- Travel really light

-- Choose accommodation with a balcony or lounge where parents can hang out once the kids are in bed and also somewhere with a garden where the kids can let off steam

-- Involve children in the planning of the trip, encourage them to research the destination and also to keep a record of their travels and collect souvenirs

-- Most importantly, take it easy. Kids are useless at getting ready in a hurry and they hate rushing. Travel with children needs to be slow travel.

Original Article

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tips for taking the kids to Mexico


Whether your ideal Mexican vacation is a succession of frosty margaritas delivered to your beach palapa by white-shirted waiters or busing at whim from village to village with your backpacks in the overhead rack, those days are gone once you have children in tow. With a little forethought, though, traveling with kids in Mexico can be a joy for parents and offspring alike. Mexico's reverence for children and its captivating traditions provide a world of fascination for kids, and locals will open up to you like never before, regarding you as a fellow parent rather than a stranger.

Forethought, inevitably, turns to swine flu. Media reports on the waning of the epidemic in Mexico have been just as subdued as reports of the outbreak in Mexico City were overwrought. The fact is, the World Health Organization reports this week that the United States has more than three times as many H1N1 flu cases as Mexico and has now logged more flu-related deaths as well; kids are more at risk of catching the flu in their own schools in September than in Mexico this summer. Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director, said during a summit of health ministers and representatives from more than 50 countries in Cancún last week that "Mexico is safe and a beautifully warm, friendly and inviting destination to visit," and declared her intention to do just that.

Here are 10 ways to make the most of a kid-centric trip to Mexico:

Getting ready

1. Involve your kids in planning. Present some of the sights and activities available, and let them pick two or three things that will get top billing on the itinerary. Maybe one is dying to swim with dolphins; another wants to buy silver jewelry; another wants to go parasailing. Make it clear ahead of time that everyone gets to pick their "musts." Then leave plenty of time to follow whims.

2. Match your destination to your family. Mexico's tourist meccas, from Cancún on the Caribbean to Los Cabos in the west, are among Mexico's safest destinations. But less expensive, less crowded and more authentic destinations are equally safe, such as Loreto, Zihuatanejo, Mérida, and central highland towns such as San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato. Unless you're married to sun, sand and all-inclusive convenience, don't be afraid to venture beyond the obvious. Rafting river rapids in Veracruz, taking language lessons in Cuernavaca, watching weavers at work around Oaxaca or kayaking along the Costa Maya might better fit your children's style.

3. Hotels are just one option. It's tempting to settle into an all-inclusive resort, with its kid-pleasing buffets and organized activities. But if you lock yourself away from the outside world — except for the overpriced day tours — you might as well be in San Diego. To break out of the package experience without breaking the bank, consider renting a house or a condo, where you can spread out and cook some of your own meals. Or rent a couple of rooms in a small, family-owned hotel. Many kids are often just as enchanted with the parrot in the courtyard, a hammock to swing in and the owner's kids to play with as they are with organized crafts or movie nights in a resort.

4. Prepare kids for what they'll see. The colorful dress, strange wildlife, exuberant music, and foreign language make Mexico an exotic place, especially for children visiting for the first time. But make sure they know that life in Mexico is also different from home in less picturesque ways. Mangy stray dogs, for example, can be deeply disturbing to children, as can the impoverished living conditions in many craft villages. Whole animal carcasses hanging from hooks in the otherwise delightful markets can be downright horrifying. Make sure kids know what to expect — and perhaps take the opportunity to educate them on the realities of the world.

5. Pack your arsenal. You've already got the routine down — snacks, favorite books and toys for younger kids, electronic devices for older ones (bring extra batteries). Also bring pencils, stickers or small toys to give the children that you meet. A portable snapshot printer will allow you to give local children a copy of that photo you just snapped. When choosing snacks, know that yogurt, fruit and sometimes cheese will be confiscated at the border, but cereal bars, crackers and nuts travel well. And pack a stash of zip-top baggies and a roll of toilet paper; they will come in handy in ways you've never thought of.

While you're there

6. Don't try to fight the short attention span. If you want to visit a cathedral, make sure a stop at the playground or a piñata store is part of the excursion. Don't try to make a seven-hour road trip in one day; it just isn't worth it. Resign yourself to abbreviated museum visits (but don't avoid them altogether). Unless you're staying entirely in one city, consider spending the extra money to fly into one city and returning home from your last destination to eliminate one drive or bus ride.

7. New tastes are best in small doses. Kids are notoriously wary of new foods. Major tourist areas are well supplied with familiar chain restaurants, but you can do better. Many local restaurants that serve local fare for more adventurous adult palates also offer hamburgers (hamburguesas), roast chicken (pollo asado) and french fries (papas fritas). Breakfast is easy; American-style breakfasts, yogurt and cereal are ubiquitous. Italian food is popular in Mexico, so pizza or spaghetti are an option. Introduce kids to Mexican food gradually — maybe try a quesadilla instead of a grilled cheese sandwich — and preferably not when they're famished at the end of a long and tiring day. Don't let them get overly hungry (see No. 5). For kids with delicate stomachs, yogurt, cereal bars (available in every mercado) and licuados (cousin to a smoothie) are good bets. And the predominance of fresh-squeezed juice will be a sweet treat for kids accustomed to frozen concentrate at home.

8. Go where Mexicans go. Mexico has a multitude of theme parks, zoos and other attractions designed with kids in mind. Tourist favorites like Xcaret, Xel-há and Chankanaab National Park on the Riviera Maya do include local culture, wildlife and underwater worlds as part of the package, but for Mexico unfiltered, go where Mexican families go. Instead of Chankanaab, which is beautiful but rather manicured and overpriced, try the Punta Sur Ecological Park, a vast complex of dunes, mangroves, lagoons, reefs, and beaches with dozens of protected animal species, including crocodiles that you can spot from an observation tower. Go to public beaches popular with local families, such as Playa Tortugas in Cancún or Las Gatas in Zihuatanejo, instead of sequestered hotel beaches. Most Mexican cities have a Casa de la Cultura ("House of Culture") offering a variety of events and classes, many for children and teens; while oriented toward locals, visitors are quite welcome. Shop for snacks (or groceries, if you have a kitchen) at the mercado. And by all means, hang out at the zócalo, or main square, the fulcrum of life in every Mexican city and town.

9. Culture is OK. Kids are often delighted by ruins, whether it's the multitude of iguanas and other local wildlife, or the awe-inspiring architecture and pyramids to climb to top-of-the-world views; the key is to stay only as long as it's fun. One of the most kid-friendly is Tulum, standing on an ocean bluff and small enough to cover in about an hour. Just get there at opening time, before the tour buses arrive. Uxmal, tranquil, uncrowded and elaborately carved, is a better choice than Chichén Itzá, for all its fame. Even museums can be captivating, with their mummified kings, jade-encrusted skulls and replica Maya temples. The mask collection of the Rufino Tamayo Prehispanic Art Museum in Oaxaca and La Casa del Arte Popular Mexicano in Cancún, with its toy room and a chapel scene populated by expressive life-size wax figures modeled after real people throughout Mexico, are just a two of many museums suited for kids.

10. Encourage kids to habla español. At one end of the spectrum, your whole vacation could revolve around attending a Spanish language school that offers lessons in the mornings and activities in the afternoon; most also offer stays with local families to bolster the learning process. At the other end, encourage kids to exchange a "Buenos días" (morning) or "Buenas tardes" (afternoon) with local people, who are profligate with their greetings. As a middle ground, let your kids summon the waiter at the end of a meal and request the check ("La cuenta, por favor"), which will never come until you ask, or ask another child his or her name ("Cómo te llamas?"). A little goes a long way toward connecting with the people you meet and giving your child a feel for another culture.

Go to Original Article

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Handmade Child Travel Pillow

Here's a cute travel pillow just for kids. If you're the crafty type you can even make it yourself.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CNN article : Should kids be banned from first class?

From CNN:

The most embarrassing moment of my life? That's easy.

One poll showed an overwhelming majority of air travelers want families with kids put in a separate section.

Our son, Aren, had just turned one and we were flying from New York to London on an airline whose name I've promised never to mention.

We'd managed to score an upgrade -- seats 1A and 1B -- and to ensure Aren had a pleasant trip, we offered him a nip of Benadryl. Most kids fall asleep when they're given an antihistamine.

Not mine.

The medication had the exact opposite effect: Aren turned hyper, tearing down the aisle of the first-class cabin, shrieking and bumping other passengers. He woke up the person sitting next to us and drooled on the passenger behind us.

All of which brings me to the issue at hand: Kids in first class. Should we or shouldn't we? And if so, when?

Allow me to state my completely unbiased opinion right up front. No. We should not. At least not mine. I downgraded myself on the flight home, that's how badly I felt for the other London-bound passengers that day.

What was I thinking, trying to bring a toddler into first class?

I'm not alone.

An overwhelming majority of air travelers to a recent survey by Skytrax -- 9 in 10 respondents -- said families with children should be seated in a separate section on flights, presumably not in first class.

Another poll by corporate travel agency Carlson Wagonlit found that business travelers, who are most frequently found in the business- and first-class cabins, believe crying babies are the second-most annoying aspect of air travel. The first? Air travelers who carry too much luggage on board.

Several years ago, a United Airlines flight attendant just came out and said it: no children in first class. A passenger disagreed, sued the airline -- and lost.

In my last column, we argued about whether kids belong on planes, and resolved that although many of us would like to keep the little ones from flying, it's just not practical. Now, we're having a more nuanced and civil discussion about children in the good seats.

Well, sort of. I asked some of my readers for their opinions of kids in first and got an earful.

"No, no, no, no, no," says Mona Palmer, an administrative assistant from Friendswood, Texas. "First-class tickets are too expensive to have the investment destroyed by an unruly kid whose parents think they've paid for the privilege of ignoring their kids' rotten behavior."

The other side of this argument is equally vehement.

"Give me a break," says Jennifer Thomas, a mom who describes herself as the owner of a public relations firm. "These questions about kids and flying are frankly disrespectful. Let's see, kids in first class or terrorists allowed to fly on planes? Or how about just plain rude adults who take to the friendly skies? I would take a child any day over previously mentioned. Why not ask questions about those two audiences?"

Kids! Kids! Can't we just get along?

Instead of spending the rest of this story fighting (as entertaining as that might be to some of you, dear readers) let's instead focus on three solutions to this problem.

No children in first class

One of the most persuasive arguments for limiting first class to adults is that the premium cabin is essentially an adult product. Which is to say, it's difficult for a youngster to appreciate a wine list or a gourmet meal. It's just no place for kids. Plus, it's pricey -- even if you're using miles to upgrade.

Rosanne Skopp, a grandmother who says she "really loves kids," puts it this way: "If I'm going to be sitting next to a screaming baby, at least let me feel good that I haven't paid for a first-class ticket, only to be tortured."

No airline that I'm aware of has banned children from first class or business class, but it wouldn't be accurate to say any of them have opened their arms wide to their junior passengers, either. Like a five-star restaurant or a luxury resort, the first-class cabin is not particularly welcoming to young fliers. Or, for that matter, their parents.

Age limit for premium seats

Here's another suggestion: If we can't ban minors, then let's at least prevent the littlest passengers from sitting "up front." Babies and toddlers are too disruptive to the other passengers, who are paying a premium for their seats.

"No one under 12 should be in first class," says Richard French, an anesthesiologist from Christchurch, New Zealand, who by way of full disclosure, is himself a father.

"I pick that age because kids are essentially self-caring by that age and that is the age that airlines start charging an adult fare. It is really depressing when you have treated yourself to a very expensive fare, to have a 3-year-old running up and down the aisle."

I can't argue with that. During my research for this story, I heard whispers that several international airlines had informal age-limit policies for first-class passengers, but they were difficult to confirm.

Let the kids fly

The overwhelming number of travelers I spoke with said kids should be able to fly in first class if their parents could afford to pay the freight. But they were quick to add that they expected the children to behave.

"Of course children should be allowed in business- or first class," says Frank Nowicki, a retiree from Winter Haven, Florida. "As long as the parents have raised their children properly -- as far as behavior goes -- there should never be a problem on a flight."

Still, Nowicki admits that's not always possible, and has seen "many occasions" when parents have allowed their offspring to run wild on a flight. "Don't blame the children," he says. "Blame the adults for their permissive ways and their lack of parenting skills."

But how do you mandate good parenting on a plane? A multiple-choice quiz? Social references? Even peer pressure -- dirty looks and all -- isn't always enough to stop these indulgent parents from boarding a flight, or buying an upgrade for their brood.

I'm afraid this is one of those instances when new rules and regulations, even with the best of intentions, would not end the problem of disruptive kids in first class. This is ultimately a parent's decision that the entire first-class cabin must live with.

But before buying a premium ticket, here are a few useful questions to answer: Can my child behave like a first-class passenger? If not, do I have the parenting skills to contain a meltdown? Is it really worth the hassle -- not to mention the money?

I've already answered those questions. My son Aren, who today is a reasonably well-mannered first-grader, now has two siblings: a 4-year-old brother with a penchant for practical jokes and a slightly hyperactive 2-year-old sister. Even if I could, I would never inflict them on another first-class passenger. Ever.

But if you think your kids can do better, I have just four words for you: Welcome to first class!

Link to article: