Summer Travel & Creativity

Summer time is all about having fun! Sometimes the fun happens while traveling and going on great adventures, while other times the fun happens right at home using creativity. Here is a round up of some delightfully fun and functional items that are ideal for families’ summer activities and vacations.

TRAVEL

SuperMe Backpacks   hoodie_banner

What kid doesn’t love to be a superhero? I thought boys were the only ones that were into it, but my four year old daughter has started embracing the superhero role! It is so cute to see a child grab acapebanner blanket and ask you to make a cape, although this is not something that can be easily worn to school or any other outing. SuperMe is a collection of superhero-inspired products that combine functionality and fun with backpacks, lunch boxes, masks and pouches. They have cape and hoodie backpacks that are awesome. They are made out of high quality, durable, water-resistant, naturally insulating EVA. The hoodie backpacks are loaded with every feature a kid could ever need (MP3 pocket with cord hole, inner sleeve for a laptop or tablet, snack pocket, reflective buckles for safety, adjustable chest strap for weight distribution, plastic pocket for name tag) and a super convenient rain hood that stows away into its own pocket. The cape backpack doesn’t have as many pockets, but it is still totally fun and comes with a matching mask to complete any superhero look! This line of gear is so creative and taps into the superhero mentality of all little ones, both boys and girls, with great color and pattern options (solid, camo, zebra). Backpacks from $39.90 at www.supermehero.com.

safetytatSafetyTat

SafetyTat is a wonderful safety tool that any family with young children needs. They are fun and functional temporary tattoos that detail emergency info.  SafetyTats read ‘If Lost, Please Call’ and list a parent or guardian’s mobile phone number. Designed to be worn on a child’s arm or hand, SafetyTats are easy to apply and are perfect for amusement parks, water parks, shopping at a crowded mall, or even while traveling through a busy airport. It is a great solution for small children that cannot carry around an ID card and cannot remember this important information. www.SafetyTat.com

CARES Child Aviation Restraint SystemCARES Child Aviation Restraint System

Between diaper bags and strollers, traveling with young children is anything but easy, especially when trying to pack light for plane rides. This innovative solution allows parents to check their bulky car seat for a safer – and smaller – option. CARES Child Aviation Restraint System is a quick and easy harness designed specifically for young children while flying. The belt-and-buckle device works in conjunction with standard airplane seatbelt, and is the only alternative to a car seat approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). What’s more, CARES only weighs one pound and fits into a six-inch stuff sack, which can easily slip into a purse or carry-on. $74.95 at www.kidsflysafe.com

mobile-clean-and-goMobile Clean & Go

With all the time you spend in the car or airplane, kids are sure to spend plenty of time on your smart phone or tablet. And what child doesn’t feel the need to snack the whole time they are traveling? Their sticky little fingers can leave smudges galore all over your mobile devices. Mobile Clean & Go is a fabulous, safe mobile device cleaner that is pocket sized and does not create any trash (like disposable wipes). It features a compact, flat bottle and a microfiber cleaning cloth, which is smaller than a smart phone. It is TSA approved for air travel and fits easily in any purse or diaper bag. It is insanely effective on all kinds of filth and I love how smooth and clean it makes your device feel. It does not leave any streaks or residue and it dries almost instantly. Mobile Clean & Go starter kits cost $12.99 and value packs cost $19.99 at www.mobilecleanandgo.com.

finders key purseFinders Key Purse

Say it fast, Finders Key Purse–sounds like “finders keepers”! Clever! Our purses and diaper bags always seem to get stuffed with too much stuff and unorganized, no matter how hard you try to keep it clean. When you are traveling it is even worse because your whole life is on the go. Keys fall victim to the lack of organization by being tossed into the great unknown inside. Then when the time comes to find your keys…good luck. Finder Key Purse is a nifty little hook that attaches to any kind of bag or purse with a snap on the end for your keys. Just hang your keys over an edge on your bag and you will always be able to find them. They have over 100 designs so you can easily find you like or that matches your bag. From $5.95 at www.isntthisclever.com.

ATMpacks-kids luggageATM Packs

Kids love having their own adult-like items and luggage is definitely one of those things. Every time we pack up for a trip my girls fight over pulling around the suitcase. Even my 1 year old wants to drag it around! Kids luggage is so nice to have when you vacation with your children. It is great to keep their clothing together and organized in one place and even more importantly, it helps them get excited about the packing process! Kids luggage is usually cute, but ATM Packs cool new collection is the most adorable we have seen for little travelers. It calls upon Spanish culture coupled with colorful, creative designs. Kids will have fun expressing their creative side and learning about Spanish artwork and themes with the new HALBLANDO SOLA collection consisting of school supplies, accessories, luggage, umbrellas and more.  The darling little girl adorned with patches from her worldly travels is too cute. The 24” rolling hard sided suitcase features 360 degree wheels and a retractable handle. From $13-$149 at www.atmpacks.com.

CREATIVITY

rolli stampsRolli Stamps

Art projects are always fun with stamps and every child I know loves stamping. But with stamping comes multiple pieces to keep organized, stamp pads to keep lids on and fingers to keep out of the stamp pads and off furniture. Rolli stamps are a great product for crafty families. These dynamic little rollers can create up to 100ft of continuous fun and creative patterns and colors on almost any surface. Rolli™ is a patented system with no messy ink pad, making it ideal for little kids. Just take off the lid and you are ready to go stamping. Warning: your child might become obsessed with the rolling action and stamp everything in sight! These are just too fun! With patterns ranging from shoes, French bulldogs, hearts and lace, to unique house designs, to tumbling hedgehogs and playful pugs, anyone can find the perfect Rolli™ stamp for their upcoming project or personal use. $11.99 at www.funnybonetoys.com.

fodeezFodeez

All the time spent at home over summer break usually means a lot of artwork is created by your little ones. And, summer may mean no school, but it doesn’t mean you can’t practice some school work, like writing! Displaying kids’ artwork can be tricky for parents who don’t want to resort to magnets, tape, pushpins or clunky frames. Fodeez Frames is a line of reusable picture frames and dry erase boards in one. This new type of “skin” can stick to any smooth surface (refrigerator, cabinet, laptop, locker, walls, desks, windows, etc.), allows you to change the image you display and can be reused hundreds of times. Fodeez’s utilize a clear film to protect photos, which are also dry marker friendly. We love to use Fodeez as a dry erase board! We create letter-writing activities with them for our preschooler to practice her letters (something she enjoys doing). We simply use a piece of paper to create the activity, slide it under the Fodeez frame and stick it to her desk. It really is limited to just what you can come up with to put on paper! Fodeez also has a calendar. It really is a wonderful solution for many different things in a busy family’s life. From $3.49 at www.fodeez.com.

lumi doughLumi Dough

Kids love Play Doh. I love almost everything about Play Doh—the creativity, the colors, the imagination, the get-your-hands-in-something and all the fun tools you can play with it. I do not, however, like the crumbly mess it leaves all over the place and I do not like how it dries up or when it gets really tough for little hands to mold. I found an incredible alternative to Play Doh, that solves both of my dislikes and has a few added features that kids enjoy. Lumi Dough is new moldable dough that glows in the dark ! The unique silicon material stretches like rubber but molds like clay without leaving a mess, mark or ever drying out. You can bake your creations to create a permanent piece of art. It is so much fun to play with and my kids are obsessed with it. My oldest daughter made a blue bunny and stuck it on the bunk bed above her so it glows with her every night. It hasn’t dried out or fallen off, and we had no problem removing the alien buddy that she made before. If your kids love Play-Doh but you just don’t like to have it in your house, Lumi-Dough is absolutely for you! You can buy it for $19.99 at www.lumidough.com.

Travel Must Haves

Most of you have probably already taken your family vacations before school starts and have had to deal with some of the annoyances that come along with traveling. We tested out some awesome products on our recent vacation and wanted to share them so you could add them to your travel must have list for your next trip. These will come in handy for long vacations, weekend road trips and even around home!

PsiBands   PSI Bands: I have always suffered from motion sickness and have used other wrist bands with success. I definitely have found them to be helpful. The problem with the wrist bands that I used before finding the PSI Bands, is that they can get stretched out and lose elasticity over time, especially if they are shared with other people who have bigger wrists than you. The PSI Bands are much better because they are made of a soft plastic and are adjustable to fit most people. To top off their excellent performance they come in more stylish designs so it looks more like you are wearing watches or bracelets than sweat bands. These are a must have to anyone that suffers from motion sickness nausea. $15-$20 (depending on retailer), www.psibands.com

ScrubbaScrubba Wash Bag: This is the perfect solution for campers or those who travel to places where a washing machine is not available. This is a laundry system inside of a knapsack! In less than five minutes you can wash your clothes. When folded up and not in use it is small and compact enough to toss in a backpack or tote bag, but it can expand to hold up to around 2 days worth of clothes for washing. Here’s how it works: 1) Fill the bag with clothes water and detergent, 2) Roll and clip closed, 3)Deflate, 4) Rub the clothes along the interior wash board for 30 seconds-3 minutes, 5) Rinse with clean water, 6) Dry your clothes on a clothesline. Another perfect fit for this product is a baby blowout in an outfit you don’t want stained. Quickly give the clothes a wash in the Scrubba and save them! $65, www.thescrubba.com

stinger insect zapper lanternStinger Insect Zapper Lantern: Bugs are everywhere and they are so good at ruining warm weather outdoor activities! We found a great product to use anywhere, indoors our out-no outlet required! This battery operated bug zapper is portable, cordless and rechargeable, uses black UV light and a mosquito lure to draw in all kinds of pesky insects. It effectively covers a 25’x25’ area with a 3.5 hour battery run time (3 hour charge time). A bonus feature is that it can be used as a lantern only as well (without using the UV bulb). The Stinger Insect Zapper Lantern is obviously the perfect item to bring on camping trips but it is also great to bring along to all those tropical (and heavily mosquito infested) locations with great patios and porches where your family will spend lots of time. Don’t let the bugs get in the way of your family’s vacation relaxation and outdoor fun! $29.99, available at Wal-Mart and Home Depot

sunburntSunburnt: It happens to all of us. We end up getting too much sun. In my family it’s always because either, 1) we use sunscreen but it wears off before we realize it and apply more or 2) we miss one little spot with the sunscreen and that spot ends up red.  We found a nice homeopathic product by Welmedix to use for those times when the sunburn creeps up on you. It is appropriately called Sunburnt. It is formulated specifically to address the key symptoms of sunburn: overheating and dryness of skin, peeling, pain and redness. Perhaps one of the best things about Sunburnt is that it is not sticky, but it still contains aloe. The homeopathic ingredients are: Calendula Officinalis Q for burns, Cantharis Vesicatoria 3x for sunburns, and Echinacea Angustifolia Q for dryness, itching, & burning. Sunburnt quickly and effectively soothes sunburn without the sticky feeling that you can’t sit/lay on furniture or put clothes on over it, which is nice because a sunburn alone is inhibiting enough! Be sure to pack this on any beach vacations you take. $4.99, www.sunburnt.com

bubblebumBubbleBum: Any time you travel with kids, the amount of stuff you have to bring is outrageous! We found an ideal product for when you travel by air and need booster seats to use in your destination vehicle. BubbleBum is an inflatable booster seat that weighs less than one pound, inflates in minutes, and fits three across the back seat of any car. When not in use, you can simply deflate the booster seat, roll it up, and stow it away in your backpack or suitcase for the next use. It even comes with a belt positioning clip for added safety and comfort. How nice is that?! It can be used on kids over age 4, from 40-100 pounds. We bet you will find times at home when you will find them convenient to use too! $39.99, www.bubblebum.co

Summer Safety for Teen Travel

Make Sure Your Teen Travels Safely

travel safetyWhether you are sending your child to a traditional overnight camp, on a school field trip or half way around the world, safety is always paramount in a parent’s mind.  For 20 years a Chicago-based service adventure travel company called The Road Less Traveled has been providing teens and young adults the chance to embark upon unique, life-changing experiences in some of the world’s most incredible locations. Whether participants are hiking the Andes Mountains in Ecuador or scuba diving and replanting underwater reefs in the Florida Keys, the programs’ first priority is always safety.

To ensure the best and safest journey possible, here are some safety tips for teens and parents from the staff of The Road Less Traveled:

For Parents…

Choose A Credible Company: With so many teen tours, adventure trips and service-focused programs available to teens these days it can be hard to know which one to go with.  Select a program that has a great track record and an established reputation.  Don’t be afraid to ask for references or testimonials from previous participants.  Another consideration is to choose a program that is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA).

Check The State Department’s Website: http://travel.state.gov Here you can find the most up-to-date information on country-specific travel warnings.

Check Your Family’s Overseas Medical Insurance Coverage: Make sure your policy applies to overseas and will cover emergency transportation expenses. If it doesn’t, you want to consider supplementary coverage for your child.

Check to see what minimum first aid certification level the leaders are required to have
. If your child will ever be more than 2 hours away from a hospital, the best training is Wilderness First Responder (WFR). Standard first aid, and wilderness first aid are not sufficient certifications in remote settings.

Talk to the directors of the program
. If they are inaccessible when you are making a decision, they will be inaccessible during the summer. Talk to the directors, learn about what their mission is as well what are the values they embrace as a program and their mission. Make sure it aligns with your own personal values.

For Teens…

Leave a Detailed Itinerary & Duplicate Documents At Home: Before leaving, make copies of your itinerary, passport and credit cards and leave them with your parents. Make sure the itinerary includes addresses, phone numbers and any other relevant information about where you will be traveling.

For those traveling in another country, register your trip on Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.  STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.

Locate the American Embassy in the country you are traveling to. Take their phone number and address with you and keep it in a safe place. Should an emergency arise, you may well need to contact them for help.

Stick Together: Avoid walking around alone, especially at night.  Stay away from isolated areas and always take a friend or staff member with you if you need to venture away from the group.

Know The Laws of Your Travel Destination: While in a foreign country you are subject to its laws.  Be aware of local conditions and cognizant of respecting the local culture.


About The Road Less Traveled:
The Road Less Traveled offers unparalleled service and adventure trips for teens and young adults to some of the world’s most incredible locations including Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, Tanzania, India, Nepal and Norway, in addition to the United States and Canada.  Each summer, The Road Less Traveled introduces hundreds of teens to some of the most fascinating places, cultures and experiences while simultaneously helping them develop their sense of self and transforming their outlook on the world.  The majority of programs offered by The Road Less Traveled programs feature a service-focused component in which kids have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and broaden their horizons while making a meaningful societal contribution.  The Road Less Traveled was founded by Jim and Donna Stein in 1991 and is headquartered at 2331 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago, IL. For more information, please visit www.theroadlesstraveled.com or call 1.800.939.983