Making summer travel easier for parents…some tips!

Let the kids help plan travel

It’s certainly one way to avoid problems – let the kids plan the family vacation. Have them decide where they would like to go and what to see. Maybe they would like to stay in a tree house, or see the world’s largest ball of twine. If you provide a map and a little information, you can let them have some input into planning a road trip. If you’re thinking of a beach vacation, most all-inclusive resorts have kids’ programs where they can learn to surf, snorkel or sail. This gives parents a little time to themselves.You can use a travel booking website to find deals and have the kids look through ideas with you online!

Time is key

When it comes to summer travel with family, time is your most valuable asset. If you’ve traveled 10-plus hours and only have a few days to explore, don’t try to do it all on your own via google, especially when you have kids. You’ll most likely end up in touristy areas, waiting in long lines or even worse: a big red bus with 85 other tourists doing the same thing. Instead, pay a little extra and find a local agency who can create experiences that save you time.

Choose easier destinations with a bit of everything

Look at destinations that aren’t as ‘wild’ but respectively have a bit of something for everyone; consider a resort or resort style city like San Diego (zoos, beaches, bars.) Choose places and are easily accessible from the USA or even within it. Less is sometimes more; Instead of trying to see the top 20 best sites in a city, focus on strolling the streets and picnicking in a park. Over plan meals and under plan the schedule.

Get Finances Straight

Plan well ahead, sometimes 9 to 12 months in advance to get the best rates and availability. Airline companies will run flash sales months in advance. Taking advantage of these sales will expand your budget for hotels and tours. Also, be clear about budgets especially when traveling as an extended family with different budgets. Work with a tour company or travel agent and ask to pre-pay for as much of your trip as possible. This will allow everyone to relax and be on vacation with no worries about compounding expenses.

Prep well and pack smart

Pack the bare minimum when you travel with kids because you can always buy what you need in your destination. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills. Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pajamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents

What being a NICU mom is really like – as featured in Parents Magazine

I delivered my baby girl two and a half months before her due date. The NICU became my everyday reality for six weeks. It was odd, surreal, and completely out of my control.

“You have a fever of 105!” the doctor exclaimed. I was sicker than I realized. And yet, all I could think about was seeing my newborn baby, who was born two and a half months before her due date. That was my first taste of motherhood, that moment I realized I wasn’t thinking only about myself anymore.
Almost two weeks earlier, I had gone to the hospital with what I thought was a backache. The pain turned out to be early contractions—I was 27.5 weeks. Doctors worried I had placental abruption, a rare but serious complication where the placenta detaches from the uterus. I was put on hospital bed rest and waited to see if I would stop bleeding and contracting, or if my little girl would have to be delivered.

They were some of the longest days of my life, essentially going into labor every night and fighting through each day to keep my baby inside me. But I tried to focus on the positives and block out the negatives. Every day, I was greeted by nurses who checked on me almost every two hours. I made friends, I had things from Amazon and Seamless delivered to my room, and I even participated in crafts. I also made daily walks down my one corridor, gripping onto my IV pole, to see the new babies, all the while knowing my little girl would not make it to full term.

My thoughtful younger sister even surprised me with an impromptu pregnancy shoot in the hospital, dragging a light reflector, a bag of wardrobe changes, a photographer, and even my dog in tow, to capture my pregnancy. She knew I would likely not be able to go home until after delivery.

After 10 days, a myriad of drugs, IV drips, magnesium, and steroids, the fight came to an end and my little girl decided enough was enough—as did my body. Within a day, I dilated past the point of no return, and at 6:10 a.m. delivered my 2.9-pound baby. The doctor said my placenta had completely fallen apart inside me.
I remember when my daughter came out, she cried and was breathing on her own, which was an incredible relief. But all I had was a quick glance; I didn’t get to hold her. She was quickly whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and I was left to process everything for the first time.

The NICU became my everyday reality for six weeks. It felt almost like I was working as a nurse even though that wasn’t my job. It was odd, surreal, and completely out of my control. But I was not alone. Each day, I watched mothers walk in dazed, confused, crying, laughing, smiling, or sleeping slumped in a chair, as their babies sat in little boxes.

A strange part about having a NICU baby is how people react. The corridors of the postpartum area are usually filled with visiting families, balloons, and baby giggles, but when I arrived, that wasn’t quite the case. No one really knew what to do, bring, or even if they should be happy for me or feel bad.

See Parents.com for full article.


Art Bar, Boston

Set on Cambridge’s Charles River – Art Bar is a hidden hotspot for an al-fresco brunch, bar-bite and cocktail, or even a romantic dinner. Attached to the Royal Sonesta, Boston, you might be suprised to find this little gem. ArtBar’s creative, seasonal, American cuisine includes ingredients that are native to the region and New England area. Dishes such as their (jumbo lump) Crab Cakes with spicy remoulade or their Lobster Roll with lemon aioli – set the tone for the best of Boston. 

Dishes are beautifully composed using both seasonal and regional ingredients, perfectly accommodating everything from a quick bite to a happy hour repast, a romantic dinner or a communal feast with friends. Surf and turf are both on the menu, but not to miss are the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with sunchoke puree, shaved radish, snap peas, pancetta crumbs and micro herbs. And did I mention they also have a vegan menu? Yup, serving everything from vegan tacos to burgers and desert (their Coconut Milk Ice Cream – with vegan peanut butter cups – is to die for!)

Prefer to visit for brunch? No problem; brunch is served Saturday & Sunday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, where you can find everything from Eggs Benedict to Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast. 

ArtBar is proud to be named one of BostInno’s 50 Best Patios in Boston and was included in NECN’s Boston’s Best Patios segment. ArtBar was also named one of the best for outdoor dining in Cambridge by Zagat. It’s certainly worth a try if you are in the area!

Traveling with children; keeping safe amongst the measles comeback

As a new mother, even as a travel expert, traveling with my baby can be a scary proposition. Generally speaking one can base travel risk on vaccinations but occasionally something slips through.

As of April 25, the number of measles cases reported in the United States hit 695 — the highest number in a year since the disease was eliminated in the country in 2000, the CDC said. Worldwide, the number of cases in the first three months of 2019 were triple the amount recorded in the first three months of 2018, according to the World Health Organization.

So what does this mean for babies and young children traveling? In a normal scenario, children first receive the MMR vaccine when they are between 12 and 15 months old. A booster is given when the child is between 4 and 6 years old. The CDC recommends that babies between 6 months and 11 months receive the vaccination before international travel or if they are in a community that is affected by an outbreak.

Infants younger than 6 months are not given the MMR vaccine, because it is believed there are still antibodies present that have been passed on from the vaccinated mother in the third trimester. Because the MMR shot contains a live virus, the antibodies would make the vaccine ineffective.

What can you do as a parent?

1) If a child has not been vaccinated, is older than 12 months and international travel is planned, the initial MMR shot and a booster can be given within 28 days of each other. Traces of immunity are detectable within a few days, according to the CDC, and a person can be fully protected within two to three weeks.

2) If a child cannot be vaccinated due to an immunosuppression, the CDC says, travel should be delayed because the child is more likely to experience severe complications if they get the measles.

3) If the baby is too young to receive the vaccination or wasn’t able to as an infant, you can help minimize the risk of infection by – washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoiding crowded places, keeping your child away from people who are visibly sick and putting a cover on an infant car seat and putting surgical masks on older children.

4) Mothers who are nursing should consider continuing to do so through the trip, because breast milk contains antibodies.

No matter where you are traveling or the age of your child, be sure to double check with your pediatrician before embarking on any lengthy or long distance trips. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

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Starter Mommy Kit

I have finally landed back on my feet at home with my 2 month old and, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of a few very trusty products, which have been getting my through the ‘starter’ mommy days. Below I share some stand outs!

Sleep sacks Gunamuna Sleep Sacks are great and are a lifesaver both for chillier nights and for stroller rides. Acting as a baby sleeping blanket, these zip up around the baby but only to the chest, leaving a safe space for the baby to breath and move their arms. Soft, warm and easy to use – these will make your life easy when it comes to having the baby safely snugged.

Dress up clothing – It may be hard to imagine that you will have an excuse to dress up while your slumping around the house in milk stained jeans and diaper cream, but there will most likely be at least one opportunity to dress up your baby in the early months, even if just to take pictures. Feltman Brothers does a beautiful job of vintage-style baby clothes that are elegant and classic, and can be passed down through generations.

Baby bath – When it comes to bathing baby, the task can seem somewhat overwhelming to new parents. Stokke makes it easy, creating pieces like their flexi bath – a foldable baby bath suitable from birth to four years. The space saving design makes it easy to store and convenient to use at home or when traveling, and has features like the  heat sensitive drain plug. The plug works by turning colors, giving parents a visual cue, letting them know that the water temperature is getting warmer and needs to be checked.

Vitamins Wellements range of products provide supplemental vitamins and minerals, all while easing parents’ worried minds. All products are certified-organic and preservative-free, providing clean products for your little one and piece of mind for you.

Bottles – Even if you eventually decide to breastfeed, you will likely still need bottles at some stage and Dr Browns range really do the best job a bottle can do. Thier natural Flow® Options+™ Anti-colic Baby Bottles work best with the vent system in place but also provide an option when baby’s feeding develops to remove the vent. The best part is that their bottle nipples feature their own venting system that offers a feeding experience similar to most nipple-vented bottles.

Mommy makeup – If you’re anything like me, you love kissing your little one as much as possible…. but for affectionate and breastfeeding moms alike, you want to be careful what allergens could affect your baby. During my pregnancy I did some research into clean makeup brands and found ILIA Beauty. From concealers to tinted lip conditioners and multi sticks (one stick that does cheeks, lips and even eyes) they have you covered, both in convenience and organic clean ingredients that are safe for you and baby.

Swaddles and wraps – If you are considering purchasing these, Solly Baby wraps give you and your little one unparalleled closeness and comfort. The easiest babywrap for the coziest babywearing experience, their products are made from sustainable fabrics, environmentally-friendly dyes and Certified Lenzing Modal. Their wraps, swaddles and even sleep sacks, look and feel the part of a conscious yet comfortable mother.

Making the most of the 2019 holiday weekends – MLK, Presidents Day & beyond….

Winter is in full force and there is nothing like travel to brighten the longest, darkest days of the year. It may be time to take advantage of the upcoming vacation days around Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day.

According to flights tracking apps like Hopper, most Americans tend to take two to three trips each year, often around holiday weekends – but holiday weekends can also be the most expensive times to book flights. However, if you’re thinking about a winter getaway around the upcoming MLK Day weekend, you’re in luck – flight prices are low this month, with domestic roundtrip prices averaging $220 throughout January, according to the app. So where should we look?

  1. Sunny Destinations – Right now, you can still score average roundtrip airfares (originating within the U.S.) during MLK and Presidents Day Weekend weekend to sunny destinations such as Los Angeles, Dallas or Fort Lauderdale, for under $300, according to Hopper. Consider LA – with something to do for everyone, from hiking to biking to surfing and site-seeing. Even there where the sun shines nearly 300 days per year, summer is technically high season which means travelers visiting January – April get both sunshine AND lower hotel prices!
  • International Spots – Some international flights to London, Paris or even Vienna are also seeing good deals, with round-trip airfares running as low as $500. Austria makes a great affordable winter vacation spot to hit the slopes, especially with Euro tour operators like Contiki (running weeklong ski trip starting at $685 – including accommodations, day trips, and most meals.) Explore Christmas Markets, ice skating rinks and more in their genuine setting.
  • Winter Destinations – There are places where winter is still in full force, but that offer the best of it. Nevada (flying into Las Vegas can still be found for holiday weekends for under $300) is an affordable winter vacation spot that sees mild weather and offers a variety of activities, from casino-going to outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. And according to Kayak, traveling and staying in destinations like Denver in 2019 may also be up to 55 percent less expensive than the average trip cost in 2018.

But prices like this won’t stick around since jet fuel prices are expected to rise. 7 percent in February (to $235) on average and will continue to gradually rise through May. So get booking!

Pregnant paradise at home; creating your ultimate ‘zen’ retreat….

As much as I love getting away, it isn’t always possible for moms-to-be (especially towards the end of your pregnancy.) However, using some of my favorite products, I have found a way to create a personal retreat right in my home…..

Candles – There is no better atmosphere setter than a candle, and not just any candle. I am very particular about scent and aesthetic in my home. Alixx Candles candles artisanal craftsmanship, European elegance, and a refined sense of calm. Hand poured with delicate and refined French parfums, each scent transcends to the most beautiful and fragrant places in France. The artisanal glass vases in which the candles sit are mouth-blown in Europe and are in themselves pieces of beautiful art that smell and look wonderful.

Natural oils – Everyone has their own version of what oils or creams prevent stretch marks, and while there is no real sure answer, you can help your skin by keeping it supple and hydrated. Opt for the natural route (for you and baby) and pick up some products from Skinny and Company’s chemical free Raw Beauty Line. Raw Beauty will give you everything you need to moisturize, repair, and protect your skin naturally, and leave you smelling better than a tropical vacation!  All of their raw beauty products contain 5 ingredients or less, Chemical Free, and contain 100% virgin Skinny coconut oil.  

Pregnancy pillow – This one I could not live (or rather sleep) without. The Snoogle by LeachCo retails for less than $70 and will literally transform the way you sleep, sit back or relax. If you are like most people, one pillow throughout the night is just not enough. There’s the pillow that goes behind your back for support, the one between your knees for temperature control, the one for your head, and (if you’re pregnant) one more for tummy support. The Snoogle was uniquely designed to support your body from head to toe and make the pillow situation less complicated, and makes sleeping, sitting or curling up to read a book while pregnant, a million times more comfortable.

Essential oils/vaporiser – We do know that many mums-to-be find aromatherapy helpful in easing pregnancy niggles, and calming nerves… especially at a time when your sense of smell is so acute. A vaporizer is a great way to benefit from the affects of aromatherapy in a safe way when pregnant. Oils like lavender and lemongrass are a few of my favorites to set the ‘spa’ mood at home but only use a couple drops of essential oil at a time (they are strong) in your choice of vaporizer….And if you do use them in a bath, dilute the essential oil by mixing the drop with at least a teaspoon (5ml) of a base oil like Grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil.

A prenatal massage – It’s worth treating yourself to at least one of these while your pregnant, as your body and your mind will thank you. Massages are like mini-vacations in themselves but when your pregnant it’s crucial you have one catered to prenatal care, for safety reasons. My local massage spot, Earth and Sky Healing Arts, is the picture of ‘zen’ – not only evoking relaxation and wellness, but also catering specifically to pregnancy needs. Their prenatal catered massages are specifically designed with a focus on the hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders – to help cultivate a centered balanced state in preparation for labor, mentally and physically. Look for a spa location with WELL trained prenatal masseuses, where you can unwind in safe hands.

‘Momma’s to be’ On The Go – tips and tools to aid expectant mothers

As many of you may not know, I am expecting!
Five months into pregnancy, all the comforts become important, especially if you are like me, and always on the go. Many women work and travel right up until they are not medically allowed to, which can start to get tough as you stomach swells and your body changes. There are of course, tips and tools you can use to make any travel experience more comfortable, from your daily commute to jetting off on your ‘baby-moon.’ Below I share a few:

Give yourself time  – It’s not so bad being at the airport early anymore because they’re basically like big malls. Just do a little bit of shopping and go grab a light meal. Then (if you can) plan to take a nap on the flight, which is when comfort is key. GoTravel’s Ultimate Memory Pillow ($34.95) is well worth it and far cheaper than a flight upgrade. 

Create a spa experience – Whether you are arriving home after a long commute or arriving at your travel destination, creating a calm environment is essential when you are pregnant. Scent is particularly important so I suggest taking along some naturally scented travel candles. GoodLight makes a gorgeous range of natural travel size candle Apothecary Jars that you can light by your bedside, starting at just $8.99. Hatch’s Pocket Spa Trio for $68 is also a great way to carry a mini spa of ‘mama to be’ blended oils (ginger, eucalyptus and lavender) that do everything from energize to relax or aid morning sickness.

Bring a book/ download an app – Take along a book or download a meditation app that helps you zone out a little. There are a magnitude of books, e-book and apps on the market for expectant moms but you don’t want anything that causes you any more ‘expectant anxiety’ while you are in transit. One of my favorite books is Deepak Chopra’s Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives, which takes a soothing approach to pregnancy, focusing on the wondrous process of bringing new life into the world, as derived from the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda – with an emphasis on body, mind, and spirit.

Comfort wear – Wanting to be stylish and yet comfortable when you travel is tough for the average person, never-mind pregnant. Luckily Hatch is well ahead of the curve with their maternity wear. One of my favorite travel essentials is their Slouch Dress which not only looks gorgeous but also weighs less than nothing, and takes up no suitcase space. Maybe get one in every color?!

Hydrate your skin – This is super key when you are traveling. The skin around your breasts and belly are especially susceptible as they stretch so be sure to keep these areas supple and hydrated. I love the $12 Belly Mask by Hatch – an all-natural hydrating sheet mask, made to help minimize stretch marks during pregnancy and help soften inflamed scar tissue postpartum. I am also now obsessed with coming home to the the Jua Essentials line of washes and cremes, which not only smell incredible but are free from harsh chemicals, petroleum, parabens, damaging sulfates.

Foot care – All this new baby weight is standing on one thing…. your feet. Aside of getting that regular pedicures and foot rubs there are other ways to make sure your tootsies are cared for. Compression socks are key for pregnant women traveling to prevent blood clots and aid circulation, and luckily Dr Motion makes a gorgeous range to choose from. I am also a big fan of  Down Girl Soothing Leg and Foot Relief $42 by Hatch – an anti-inflammatory gel-based cream that helps reduce swelling and invigorate tired feet and legs (perfect after a long journey or day on your feet.)

Take care of ‘down there’ – Over your pregnancy there is a lot going on ‘down there’ which can be more than uncomfortable, especially when on the go. Love Wellness does PH balancing, perfectly packaged ‘Do It All Wipes’  that fit right in your purse to keep you feeling feeling fresh and healthy wherever you are.

Record Breaking Holiday Travel – tips to survive!

I probably say it every year, but this year holiday travel is actually set to break some records!

Numbers released last week by AAA show that 112.5 million people are expected to be traveling in the air and on the roads; that’ s a  4.4 percent increase over last year’s number. Broken down by transport, 102.1 million people are expected to travel by car, 6.7 million people will travel by air and 3.7 million will travel by trains, buses and cruise ships.

So what’s the best way to beat the madness?

Timing is everything; the earlier you leave the better. That goes for every kind of transport. If your flying be sure to get to the airport at least two hours ahead of time. Drivers should note that data released by AAA shows that Thursday, Dec. 20 from 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. will be the worst time for travel in New York City. 

Get some handy apps stocked up on your phone, like WAZE, that use real time traffic data and also show alternate routes for you to consider based on traffic and time. 

3  Consider traveling on the actual holiday itself when there is usually the least amount of traffic and (for the risk takers who haven’t booked already) flights, trains and such can have price drops. Re flights in particular, be sure to download tracking apps like Hopper which will let you know when those deals strike.

4 Drivers, never hit the road with less than a full tank of gas, especially if you’re driving an extended distance. Its also smart to pack a driving kit with blankets and gloves, drinking water and flashlight with extra batteries, and healthy snacks for the journey. 

5  Keep update on weather reports, as this time of year weather can cause mayhem to travel plans. If you are driving, make sure you check weather conditions, have a working radio and your vehicle is prepared for any circumstances that may arise. If flying, be sure to keep an eye out for ‘winter storm warnings’ or severe delays,. This is particularly important if you have a connection somewhere that may be subject to temperamental weather you would not otherwise be. 

6  Stay calm, as he holidays can be stressful enough. Try and make the best of  journey ahead, no matter what it may bring (and know that a little extra preparation goes a long way.)

Saving money with holiday travel is possible!

Saving money with holiday travel is possible!

It’s not too late to save some money when it comes to traveling over the coming holidays. Here are some great money saving tips to help you save both on booking and on getting from A to B….

Sign Up For Flight Alerts and use your miles

Use flight tracking apps like Hopper and sign up for flight alerts which will email or ping you notifications as prices drop or when deals become available and ultimately let you know the best time to book. Also It’s never too late to become a frequent flyer. Take advantage of your unused points to get flights or hotel stays for the holidays. Some credit cards will even get you special rates on rooms and upgrades, and a points-purchased business class flight could even be a gift to yourself for the holidays.Posted On:By: misstravelguru

Don’t Fly Straight To Your Final Destination 

While a straight shot to your destination may seem like your best bet, you may be surprised to find out that it might be cheaper to create your own layovers using one-way flights. Consider building your own itinerary which can be cheaper than basic roundtrip fares and also consider surrounding airports. (Added bonus – if you cancel or change one leg of the trip you’re only dealing with the one way ticket!)

Be Mindful When You Rent A Car

Use rental sites to compare prices and book the cheapest car available, then try to negotiate for a free upgrade when checking in at the car rental counter. And you can skip the rental car insurance to save even more money. Many credit cards cover the cost of car rental insurance. Depending on your destination, this could save you hundreds of dollars.

Consider your travel days and return home

A big way to cut costs when traveling over the holidays is to fly on the holiday itself. Also don’t be in a rush to get back especially if you are looking to come back over a weekend (when flights typically run higher.) Consider as well taking your holiday days AFTER the holiday rather than before which will not only will it save you some money, but you could opt for slower travel options, like taking the train or going on a road trip.

Pack light

An easy way to save money on holiday travel is by not checking bags. You’ve likely seen swarms of people with stacks of suitcases and bags waiting to check into their flights. Instead, ask yourself a critical question before you start to pack – do I really need to bring all this stuff? Get smart with your luggage too (in every sense) and look at brands like Dagne Dover which create bags that are both stylish and perfectly practical for travel – like their Landon Carryall made of durable and light weight 365 neoprene.

The Best Flight Tips

The Best Flight Tips

This summer, many of you will be doing your fare share of flying. While flying doesn’t come however without its fare share of stresses and strifes, there are great ways to make the most of your transport time, and hey, even enjoy it! So here are some tips to help you get from A to B at your best.

DRINK BEFORE YOU GO

The humidity on planes is only around 10% and this dry air can cause headaches and groggyness, so down at least 10 ounces of H20 preflight. In flight consider some seltzer water with a splash of ginger ale to keep you hydrated and and travel sickness at bay.Posted OnBy: misstrave

CREATE A CATNIP KIT

Stow in your carry on a neck pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, and eye mask and a (lightweight) microfibre blanket. You will use them all at one stage, trust me.

EXERSIZE

Flying can cause feet to swell and the body to ache, so every hour walk the length of the cabin to rev circulation. Once at your destination, see what your hotel/accommodation has to offer fitness wise, rent a city bike to explore or utilize a national gym chain if applicable. Keeping healthy and fit when traveling keeps your immune system going and your mood positive.

SNACK SMART

Cut out the carbs which can make you bloated during pressure changes, and instead opt for nuts, dried fruits or cheese. If you do get a sandwich, pull out the meat and veggies for energizing protein without the drowsy causing refined carbs. Equally when drinking steer clear of the sugary drinks that will leave you tired on arrival.

MEDITATE

It can be tempting to watch your favorite series re-runs but flying can provide you time to do what you might normally put off or don’t have time for at home. Jot in your journal, go over your monthly calendar, or take some time to meditate (download tranquil music and from toes to head imagine each part of your body relaxing one by one.)

STAY COOL

Yes flying can be stressful but have perspective. Cancellations and delays can happen, but the most important thing is that you are SAFELY. Focus on extending love to other travelers even in the midst of small agitations or annoyances and offer assistance; it will leave both you and them with a smile and good sense of well being.