New Plum video series about family travel

Note the emoji

Note the emoji

Over the years I’ve made no secret of my love for Plum Organics.

My kids—all three of them, if you can believe it—are addicted to the puffs, and Baby G guzzles at least one (if not two) pouches every day. Little R was a maniac about Shredz, Plum’s nod to Big League Chew. And every now and again, L likes to devour some Mighty Snack Bars, which basically are Plum’s answer to granola bars.

I’ve written about Plum. I’ve visited their offices. I’ve interviewed their founder and (former) CEO. In short, I’m a Plum fanboy, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

But even if I weren’t such a zealot, I’d *still* love the company’s new online video campaign.

Dubbed #TeamParent, the social media campaign uses texting as a way to show how two spouses rely on Plum to make family travel easier. The latest video focuses on having enough snacks to survive a plane trip with a baby. Another video in the series focuses on leveraging snacks to overcome a cranky toddler during a road trip. A third video revolves around snacks as a way to avoid a park meltdown—something to which every parent can relate (even those who don’t travel that much).

While the videos themselves represent a brilliant perspective on how real-world parents interact about their kids, the comments on the videos offer an entirely different kind of education, providing insight to how those same real-world parents feel about the way the campaign represents them.

Even if you don’t travel with your kids, you’ll appreciate the new campaign. But for those of you who do travel with your little ones, the videos take on even more significance.

Don’t take my word for it; see for yourself. I dare you to watch without smiling.

Polling kids’ perspectives on family travel

I’ve got great colleagues on the Expedia Viewfinder blog, and two of them recently published a video worth watching.

The video, dubbed “Kids Talk Travel,” is two minutes of bliss in which Rick Griffin and Sandi McKenna (the duo behind Midlife Road Trip) interview a number of kids on the subject of what the kiddos like best about traveling.

Of course the video is adorable; anything that culls insight from kids is bound to be that. But some of the responses also are profound. Like when the interview subjects talk about their favorite trips. And when they list the things that make them most excited about traveling again.

(My favorite of all might be the line where one kid says he plans to stop peeing in his Pull-Ups so he can go to Disney.)

I could tell you more but I don’t want to ruin it for you. Check out the video below. And if you’re not already following Midlife Road Trip, do so here (and thank me later).

When crying babies mean free flights

Crying baby, from the video.

Crying baby, from the video.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 (maybe 20?) years, here’s a news flash: A whole lot of people hate flying on airplanes with crying babies.

I’ve been on flights where other passengers have thrown me dirty looks for simply boarding with one of my babies. I’ve seen fellow flyers accost parents about their babies before the babies even make a peep: “You’re going to keep that child quiet on this flight, right?” they ask pre-emptively. I’ve even heard travelers tell flight attendants that they “WILL NOT SIT NEXT TO THAT BABY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.” (FWIW, most of the people who do and say this heinous stuff are straight men.)

And this is what makes this week’s new campaign from JetBlue so frieking brilliant.

The campaign, released in conjunction with Mother’s Day, comprises a 3-minute mini-documentary video about a recent JetBlue flight from New York to Long Beach—a flight on which the airline gave people significant discounts on a future flight every time a baby cried.

As the film explains, the first cry netted passengers a 25 percent discount, the second cry 50 percent, the third cry 75 percent, and the fourth cry a free flight. Of course all passengers aboard the flight in question received free tickets for a future flight. And interestingly, the babies on board actually managed to last more than four hours into the 5.5-hour flight before notching that fourth and final cry.

But, really, the stunt wasn’t about crying babies or free flights. It was about changing public perception, about incenting passengers to cheer for crying babies instead of passively encouraging them to mock and jeer the all-too-familiar condition of tots being tots. As a whole, the campaign takes a look at current thinking about babies on planes, turns that thinking on its head, and tells the haters to suck it—ALL IN THE NAME OF A DAY CELEBRATING MOMS.

I can’t think of a better message to jolt people into transforming their POVs. Even if the impact is minimal, the statement needs to be heard (and heard and heard and heard again). On behalf of family travel gurus and parents with babies everywhere, thank you, JetBlue. The next time Baby G cries on a plane, I’ll laugh and think of this.

When pictures and video take over

One of the few pix from our recent trip to the San Juans.

One of the few pix from our recent trip to the San Juans.

How many pictures do you take on your family trips? How much video? According to a story in this weekend’s edition of The New York Times, it might be too much.

The piece, which appeared in the Style section (technically it’s Fashion & Style, but I’m old-school), was titled, “That’s a Wrap. What Did I miss?” It investigated the current phenomenon through which traveling families—including kids themselves—feel such a need to document vacations that they run the risk of failing to experience the trip without the help of a lens and screen.

Though the story was a bit superficial (most Style pieces are), it raised some interesting questions. IMHO, the most important one is this: In today’s age of Smartphones and GoPros, how many pictures and/or videos are too much?

It’s a question I ask myself on every trip. My wife is a bit of a Luddite, which means all of the documentation falls on me. I embrace this role because I’m a journalist (and because I’m always thinking about what will make good shots for this blog). At the same time, I shun the role because I’m a huge proponent of living in the moment and I can’t stand having to experience stuff with a device in my face.

(This, of course, is separate from our annual tech-free trip, about which I blogged earlier this month.)

What usually ends up happening is what I like to call the “hunt-and-peck” method of photography. We go places. I keep my phone (a Samsung Galaxy S5) in a manpurse (yes, I carry a manpurse). I whip it out to snap individual photos every now and again. I usually get one or two decent shots. And that’s it.

Because I’m such a spaz about privacy, most of the pictures I do take have nothing but the backs of the girls’ heads. Also, at no point on our family vacations do we do video. And I don’t let the kids use my GoPro (I use it mostly for adventure travel assignments such as this one).

The result? We rarely capture that many images from our trips.

Most of the time, Powerwoman and I are fine with this reality—as parents we share the belief that experiences are the most important part of traveling together as a family (for more on our philosophy, read this and this). When we come home, however, we usually lament the fact that we don’t have pictures of Adventure X or Beach Day Y to print out, frame, and toss on the mantle.

Where does this leave us? Ahead of the game but behind the curve, I guess. I encourage everyone to take fewer pictures, record less video and just BE with your kids on vacation. At the same time, don’t give it up cold turkey. Every now and then a memento or two can be nice and can make you smile.

What’s your approach to pictures and video on vacation and why?

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