Cool family travel gadgets from Travel Age West

FlyeBaby. (Photo courtesy of the manufacturer.)

FlyeBaby. (Photo courtesy of the manufacturer.)

Holiday time is gift time, and there’s no better reason to go out and buy your favorite traveling family (or your own family) gear to make their lives on the road a little easier.

With this in mind, the folks at Travel Age West magazine recently published a story about the latest and greatest in family travel gear. The story is jam-packed with great suggestions. Heck, it might as well have been a gift guide.

My favorite mentions: the Indoor Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed, FlyeAway baby sling for airplanes, and the card game, Uno. Because I’m a huge fan of white noise on the road, I also support the mention of the app, Sleep Pillow. I sort of can’t believe the authors didn’t also include the mifold, which I spotlighted on the blog last month.

(I also am surprised the story didn’t at least give a nod to Poo & Pee.)

In terms of which of the feature products we use in our day-to-day lives, we purchased the Lotus Everywhere Crib when G was born but have not had the opportunity to use it yet. Guess it’s never too late for a review. (In other words, stay tuned.)

Check out the Travel Age West article here. Once you’ve read it, respond in the comments field with a list of other products you think the authors should have mentioned.

Tips for holiday air travel with kids

Enduring delays in mid-air.

Enduring delays in mid-air.

I dole out a ton of advice on this blog about traveling with kids. Sometimes, I like to spread the love. That explains my latest piece for the Expedia Viewfinder blog from Expedia—a story that lists five tips for holiday air travel with children. The piece went live earlier today.

The story culls advice and insight I’ve gleaned from six years as a family traveler. Some of the suggestions relate to ideas I’ve mentioned here before. Some of the suggestions are brand new.

The bottom line: We can’t just board a plane and expect our kids to entertain themselves.

Flying with kids at any of time of year requires effort on the part of us parents. Well during the holidays, when airplanes and airports are at their craziest and busiest, it’s even more important for us to stay cool, stay calm, be flexible and be ready to tackle any delay, cancelation, sickness or angry fellow passenger that comes our way.

My No. 1 tip (which you may have read previously in these pages): Bring art projects. Kids love making things at home, so why not put them in position to make the same sort of stuff at 35,000 feet? When we fly during holidays, I bring construction paper and Scotch tape so the kids can make paper chains. My job in the assembly line is to rip the paper into perfect rectangles; from there, L and R take turns making circles, taping circles and stringing the chains up around our seats.

Sometimes we leave the chains for the next passenger (or the cleaning crew). Other times we hand them to flight attendants, who love the thought. Whoever gets ‘em, the process usually kills at least 90 minutes. On a long flight—especially during holiday season—that’s practically a lifetime.

Soaking Up the Holiday Spirit

Little R, mesmerized by a window display at Selfie's.

Little R, mesmerized by a window display at Selfie’s.

You don’t need much of a sightseeing itinerary when traveling during holiday season; all you need is time to explore.

I’ve been reminded of this simple fact numerous times over the last week or so here in London. Every time I head into the city for a day of big plans with L and R, we are sidetracked by a bunch of decorations.

One day, we spent two hours watching a carousel in front of the Natural History Museum. Another day, we spent 75 minutes admiring the windows in front of Selfridges. Today, little R and I counted giant ornaments in St. Christopher’s Place (which, by the way, has the best shopping in the West End). I’ve already blogged about some of the fun we had with my folks at a decked-out Covent Garden Market.

Later this week, our plan includes dragging Grandma and Grandpa with us to South Kensington to marvel at decorations at Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

Throw in ice-skating rinks, Christmas trees, caroling extravaganzas and holiday lights pretty much anywhere around the city and I’d say we’ve got enough to keep us busy from now until we head home Dec. 23.

Oh, and unless we ride the carousels or do the ice skating, all of the stuff is free.

The lesson here, of course, is that especially when kids are young, it doesn’t take much to create a fun day of experiencing a new place during the holidays. I like to think the equation looks like this:

Spectacle + Snacks + Public Transit + Downtime (when necessary) = Smiles

I know this equation isn’t universal. And I’ve been doing this family travel thing too long to know that this equation isn’t going to work all the time. But with the right weather and the right attitude (and the right snacks, I guess, and no public transport delays), it sure puts family travelers in a good position for a day that everyone will remember for all the right reasons. And it hasn’t failed us Villanos yet.

What is your equation for a good family travel when traveling during the holidays?

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