Wandering Pod Surfaces on Another Major Site

A peek at the Smart Family Travel site.

A peek at the Smart Family Travel site.

Another month, another new content partnership for Wandering Pod.

This time, the partnership is with Smart Family Travel, a new family travel site published in conjunction with Scholastic’s Parent & Child magazine. The site debuted in June but didn’t really go live until this past week.

My inaugural piece serves up five stress-free tips for traveling with a toddler. To report the story, I pulled insights from this blog, my now-stagnant “Are We There Yet??” blog from Parenting magazine, and (of course) our own experiences on recent long-haul trips to Hawaii and other locales.

I’m excited to be working with other contributors to the site, many of whom are bloggers I’ve admired for years (especially Rainer Jenss and Mara Gorman).

I’m also delighted to have the opportunity to write more original content for the site on a recurring basis over the next few months. You can stay tuned for updates or follow @WanderingPod on Twitter for all of the latest news.

Why Stop at Breast Pumps?

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

The new set-up at Hard Rock Chicago.

It’s about time.

That’s pretty much exactly what I thought earlier this week when I read about a new program at the Hard Rock Chicago through which nursing moms can request (for a tax-deductible fee) hospital-grade Medela breast pumps to use during their stays.

A breast pump! From the hotel! To save moms the hassle of bringing theirs from home! In a word, it’s GENIUS.

I know my wife would have loved this kind of amenity during our first few trips with (and the first few trips without) L and R. I’m sure thousands of other traveling mommas feel the same way.

Still, I’ve got to ask: Why stop at breast pumps?

If hotels as big and popular as the Hard Rock see some value in a family oriented amenity like this one, why aren’t more brands following suit? In a world where families comprise a growing part of the traveling public, this kind of program should be vying with offerings from other hotels through which family guests can reserve everything from jogging strollers and car seats to bottle warmers and baby food processors, all for similarly nominal fees.

Heck, at the very least, more properties should add formula sleeves (like these) to minibar menus.

(It’s not like it’s that much of a stretch; most minibars sell condoms as part of “Intimacy Kits” these days anyway.)

Please don’t misconstrue my plea; I’m not writing this as a dad pining for equal treatment. Instead, I’m responding to the situation as a parent—an equal part of a traveling unit.

At the end of the day, the easier hotels make it for all of us family folk to travel, the more we’ll want to take the kids and hit the road.

Let’s hope other brands learn from the Hard Rock and copy the approach. Sure, these types of amenities help the big hotel chains build loyalty. But in the end, we families benefit most of all.

What family friendly amenity would you like to see hotel chains adopt in widespread fashion?

Aloha Mickey, Here We Come!

R getting ready for the flora of the Islands

R prepping for the flora of the Islands

I mentioned in my last post that we leave Sunday for two weeks on Oahu. We’re spending the first part of the trip at Aulani, a two-year-old resort that represents Disney’s foray into the Hawaiian market.

No-one in our family has visited Aulani yet, but a number of reviews have helped me get a sense of the place from afar.

This piece, for instance, from Babble, offers a good overview. And this one, by my friend and fellow Expedia Viewfinder contributor, Kara Williams, is particularly good for budget-conscious travelers. Finally, this one, from Inside the Magic, does a great job of walking would-be visitors through portions of the resort.

We’re headed to Aulani for three main reasons.

  • Together, my wife and I have visited Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island a total of 13 times since we got married on Maui in 2004, but we’ve only been to Oahu once.
  • L and R (and Powerwoman, for that matter) are big fans of Disney Parks and Resorts, and since our last Hawaiian vacation comprised a lengthy stint on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, we figured the girls would appreciate a completely different type of experience.
  • I’m under contract to write a few pieces about Aulani, and I also am updating the Hawaii 2014 guidebook for Insight Guides.

As it turns out, this Wednesday (June 12), I’m also hosting a Google+ Hangout on Air from Aulani. I’m hosting the event on behalf of Expedia. The subject: Disney Parks and Resorts. During the 45-minute event, I’ll be interviewing three Disney ambassadors about three resorts:  Aulani, Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

For more information about the Hangout on Air, click here. To participate in the event, simply go to Expedia’s Google+ page on Wednesday from 1 p.m. until 1:45 PDT; there, you’ll be able to watch the event live and comment to ask questions.

Meanwhile, stay tuned throughout the next two weeks for dispatches and insights from the field!

Making a Splash

I’m proud to announce my involvement with a new travel blog from Expedia.

The blog, dubbed Expedia Viewfinder, launched today, and aims to give readers extensive coverage from around the world, as well as insights for travelers across a variety of categories. One of those categories is family travel; I’ll be covering it from a dad’s perspective.

(Of course I’ll be covering other stuff too—adventure travel, gambling, and more. For an archive of stories I already have written for the blog, click here.)

You’ll notice a box down in the “Partners” section of this page advertising the program. Please feel free to click through and check things out. Also, please help spread the word by telling your friends and family members about it. I’m excited to be a part of the Expedia Viewfinder team, and look forward to bringing you with me on this adventure.