Donna is a married mum of 3, currently living in Melbourne Australia. After growing up in the beautiful Hunter Valley, New South Wales, she moved to Newcastle - working for a large resources company. This career found her moving to Melbourne where she; travelled, fell in love and completed her Bachelor of Business. Little Gulliver was born in between her first and second child - after finding she couldn't purchase the CARES Harness in Australia. Donna's three kids were born in a space of 2.5 years, so when she's not being "mum" she loves her work, reading and travel!
As a kids travel store, it is always exciting to discover a new product which fills a gap in our offering. Mudpuppy bring us some of our favourite kids travel journals, but we have recently expanded our range to include the ‘Puzzle to go – airplane’.
Such a cute puzzle, it would be perfect if the only travel it did was from the bedroom to the family room…however, it comes complete with its own drawstring bag and is destined for travel further afield!
It depicts a happy animals travel scene. The red aeroplane is piloted by a bird, with other furry passengers enjoying the view. Don’t forget to send the included postcard to a friend or maybe even post it home to greet you when you get back from your trip!
I read an article this morning on an American consumer affairs blog ‘Consumerist‘. A family have described their recent experience (not) using the CARES Harness on American Airlines with their 2.5 year old. (Local Australian families may also have experience with American Airlines due to their links with Qantas and the Oneworld alliance of airlines).
The article explains that the child was safely secured in their CARES restraint, when support crew decided it was a problem. The family emphasised its FAA approval and noted they had used it on their 11 previous flight legs. Unhelpful crew informed them “the pilot refuses to take off while the child is restrained”. With the only other option of leaving the aircraft, the family felt pressured to hold their child as a lap child during take off and landing.
This story reminds me of the early days with CARES back in 2007, where we were still trying to inform the airlines of the existence of CARES (yes, even though it was approved for use on airlines internationally). Airlines at the time explained to us that the product was being discussed and demonstrated to crew members in their training updates. Slowly, during travel with our kids (we had 3 under 2.5), we were questioned by crew less and less. Back then, we would carry the local CASA certification with us and in those early days, even provided a photocopy with all CARES sales on Little Gulliver. With our youngest now 7 we no longer use the device. However, we are proud of our efforts to inform the airlines of the CARES certifications and can boast that most Australian airlines now mention the CARES directly or mention it as an “FAA approved device” on their websites. We rarely (not in the last few years) hear of any airline push-back from our customers.
Here’s the link to the article which inspired today’s rant;
We have always found persistence pays with the big airlines, parents know best. I’ve always said a concerned parent is one of the best researchers on the planet – we know what is safe/approved for our children! And just for good measure -here’s the American Airlines policy for travelling with children (note the reference to FAA approved devices, which includes the CARES).
American Airlines are “continuing to review these allegations.”
For those of us who live away from where we grew up, visiting family back “home” with your children is a wonderful thing. All of you get to experience new things, while your extended family get to see a sneak peak into your daily life. It can be crazy tiring though, because often your partner isn’t making the trip with you.
Help at hand?
Your family will want to help out though, but you’ll find yourself the go to person for everything from lunches to bath-time schedules. For those who live quite a distance from family, you have all the packing and organising to do beforehand and generally can’t rest during the trip because you may be sleeping with one eye open or catering to various needs.
On the other hand, you may have to completely relinquish all control over your little ones to someone who “knows best” and thinks you need a break. In all these scenarios, just be honest. You have the right to let people know how you wish your children to be tended to – especially when you are a new mum with your first children.
Getting to know the extended family
I love this blog post, it has some great ideas. I love the ‘family book’ idea – a book with pictures of the people you are taking your children to visit – worth a read http://www.ahaparenting.com/ask-the-doctor-1/visiting-family-at-holidays. For toddlers, it could be lots of fun to have a little photo album to look at while they are travelling. Maybe use a little masking tape below each picture and write the name of the family member.
Recently, my whole extended family got together and my children got to be part of their group of 13 cousins for the first time ever. (It made for an absolutely beautiful photo to see all the ‘kids’ aged from 6 to 34). Even though we spend a lot of time talking about Aunty’s and Uncles etc, one of the cousins wrote down all the names for my kids and who was part of who’s family. They were amazed. A partner thought it was quite cute when our youngest asked him “are you a cousin too?” They were able to check their list.
Making the journey
For me, travelling with babies was fun. I saw it as a great chance just to sit and cuddle – before they need solids its fairly simple. It can be difficult to comfort them sometimes though, that seatbelt sign can come on when you and your child dont want it. I found humming their favourite tune in their ear or busily turing pages of a favourite book is a good distraction. It is always a good idea to take any medications with you though, in case of any illness or discomfort. (Certainly have them in your suitcase – you don’t want to get to your destination sick and needing to hit the shops – ‘normal’ people don’t keep Children’s Panadol in their medicine cabinet)!
Toddlers are a different kettle of fish, as they are happy to let you and everyone else know when they aren’t happy. I try and stick to a program of food and various activities from drawing, to cards, to viewing movies.
Older than this they are happy to find an activity for themselves and will often assist if you have younger ones with you.
At all ages I would suggest letting them pick a favourite thing to carry, generally teddies travel with us on car and plane trips. Longer trips you may like to swap for something smaller or something with a toggle you can attach to a backpack. Have you seen our kimochis range)?
Once you are there
I generally arrive at my destination quite tired. Luckily we are generally picked up from the airport. Enthusiastic Aunty’s normally have various snacks and suprises ready in the car. After collecting our bags we normally head for the toilets. I try and pick a ‘family’ room, something like a changing room etc is ideal. I like this as I can keep track on each of the kids and while a nappy is being changed, someone can be on the toilet or washing hands etc. If you have to go into a cubicle, I have in the past made the kids stand right in front of the door and insist that I have to be able to see their their feet. I insist they not move from there. I have also learnt that with some kids, even if they say they don’t need to go, THEY DO and if you leave the toilets you’ll have to go back (no doubt you already know if you have one of these always busy types).
Routine suits the littlies
We try and stick to routine when we’re away and make the first one an early night if we can. Normally my kids have a bit of trouble getting to bed the first night or 2. They also share rooms when we’re away, so the older they get the more exciting this is. At toddler age (our 3 kids were born within 2.5 years) one liked a night light, while another didn’t, so sharing a room was a tad problematic (hence Little Gulliver stock the swivel night light ;).
I think the main thing is to just enjoy yourself and try to keep it about your family. I remember being appalled (when my kids were barely on solids), a well meaning distant relo presented them with a Giant Freddo each! ‘Thanks’, as you quickly put it away for years and years later. Also, you may want to really catch up with your loved ones, but once the kids are on the scene it may be a little different. While you may have found you could never finish a sentence at mothers group, it will be the same when you catch up with your mum and dad. Always try and cover the important issues when you can, particularly when you get to catch up with older family members. Photos…photos…photos…
The warm and fuzzy bit
Most of all, no-one will know much effort and how hard it is for you to make the visit – so just enjoy and be pleased that you are there. It will pay off for your children, as they grow, with regular visits. They will form some beautiful relationships and have precious memories. I’ve done this for my children and if you are like me, you will enjoy this post; 16 things only people who live away from their families will understand.
Make the effort when they are young, believe me – it does get easier. Happy travels!
During a difficult first pregnancy I got to thinking about child safety when travelling. I spent a lot of time thinking about car seats and strollers and cots and child carriers and…. Then I started to think about the inevitable plane flights to visit relatives with bub. What about babies and toddlers on planes?
Fortunately I discovered the CARES harness and always travelled with these, finding them a simple alternative to travelling with a car seat. Like so many families I found myself with a baby and toddler in quick succession. Travelling on my own with them and a car seat + assorted baby paraphernalia as ‘carry on’ was not desirable for me. I got to thinking and after some more thinking during a flight to FNQ, Little Gulliver was born.
Although our children are now over the weight limits for the CARES, it still interests me how difficult it is to come across information for those parents who asked the same questions I did. While as a mum and a business owner I certainly do not want to alarm anyone, I’ll give some links below of an interesting article I have just read. Carrying a CARES or even a car seat on board is an option worth considering.
Please contact us with an questions or comments. We are always happy to hear from our customers!
I love how simple life is as a kid. When the latest craze takes hold it is all encompassing and exciting.
I started writing this post earlier in the year, when at our school the craze was all about Loom Bands and Bananas. I decided to complete the post now, because if you haven’t tried either of these activities yet, consider them – for kids travel, both are fun and easy to do.
Though the craze has waned, Loom Bands are still a great activity. You take some coloured elastic or silicone bands and 2 pencils and its fairly simple from there. I had to help my 5 year old with some of the looping, but our (then) 6 and 7 year old were fine to make them themselves. We’ve had them made in footy colours, favourite colours, crazy colours etc and have given them as gifts and even swapped them at school. (Looms are available from craft stores if you are wanting to try a trickier style bracelet). To make a basic ‘fishtale’ style, watch the video below (or google – there are heaps on You Tube).
Now, the banana thing is even better. I had vaguely read about arty folk drawing on bananas over the years but had never thought much of it – until the kids started asking me to draw on theirs. I do admire people who can draw and after I made a few attempts, the interest in mums banana creations has waned. That’s Ok, I’ll get over it.
Here’s some ideas in the Daily Mail to get you started, (although my creations are normally a ‘Princess’ or an inspirational message for the school banana, such as “don’t forget to bring your drink bottle home).” These use tooth picks, but again, there are less creative and easier ways (pen anyone)?
So, if your kids haven’t discovered either of these activities yet, try it out. Both can be lots of fun for your next long weekend and are fun activities for travel with kids too.
Since we introduced this product back in March, it has become one of our most popular items. Why, I wondered? Its funny looking and would anyone ever really want to cart their child around like that? Yep, the answer is YES!
As soon as the Piggy Back Rider arrived in store, we tried it out for ourselves. We had a tall adult male use it with a 5, 6 and 7 year old and all was possible. We believe a large adult would comfortably undertake a big walk with a large child up to 5 (but its open to interpretation and is depending on your own size/needs/size of the child). We have a lovely customer Piggy Back Riding with their family in a charity walk (in Spain) as I write.
So what does this mean for travelling? It may mean you don’t bother with a stroller on some trips, its great for hiking, where someone may get tired legs (Theme parks?), for kids who have outgrown strollers but may need to be carried and generally where you don’t want to cart a stroller. Its also a good “upgrade” from the traditional child carriers, in that it can carry a larger child.
Details about the Piggy Back Rider;
Well, as a mum I loved my traditional child carriers and always flew with one after having our first child. Then when one sibling (and another) came along, a child carrier was the perfect way to navigate planes and airports with babies and toddlers, especially if you are a parent travelling alone. (I always used a nappy bag backpack, wore our baby on front and had one hand left for each of our 2 toddlers). Would I ever have used a Piggy Back Rider? The man of the house says absolutely yes, we would have. Bush walking would have been much easier (we could have wandered longer trails) and even the Royal Show would have been easier to navigate.
As a kids travel store, we are always looking at new products from around the globe and assessing them. Are they useful for travel, easy to pack, good quality for the price, easy to use etc? We use our own experience as parents (our kids are now 5, 7 and 8) to assess how useful something may be. At the end of the day our customers let us know – is the Piggy Back Rider popular? Yes, so we are happy to stock them! I hope you’ve learned a little more about them today.
Please contact us if you have any questions or comments!
After requests from our lovely customers, in 2014 we have introduced a range of gift vouchers in various denominations. Gift vouchers available are $50, $100, $150 and $200.
Gift vouchers can be a lovely way to show you care and are very handy for the recipient. Not only are you giving a gift – you are letting the parents or kids choose something they may really need or like.
If you’ve never heard of a Kimochi or are certainly not sure how to even pronounce their name (Kim-och-chi) you’re not alone! Over the past few years, however, our family have become familiar with the Kimochi characters. Its so easy to share our feelings by describing a character and what they would do or how they would feel.
I first saw them years ago at a trade fair and was impressed by the teams passion and commitment in demonstrating their product. That’s a great start with any product, right? As a mum I LOVED THEM, but I have to think of all LG purchases in terms of “are they a priority for our Kids Travel Store?” Back then, I thought “no”. Although the Nesting Heart made sense, I didn’t follow up and purchase the Kimochi’s at that time. How wrong I was!
I saw the Kimochi’s again when schools in our area began introducing them as a communication tool (in fact, when introduced to Australian schools they sold out in the first 8 weeks)! Some schools have included the Kimochi soft toys, Mixed Feeling (small characters representing an emotion such as “brave”, “happy” etc and Books (depicting the characters) as part of their curriculum. Children use them to explain their feelings and at times (such as being upset) are encouraged to pick one up to assist in understanding/communicating/resolving their feelings. I was still a little dubious. What impact would they have during travel?
Soon though, our own school aged children started talking about them and I noticed other little friends were asking for them as Birthday and Christmas gifts. And I love that schools began introducing Nesting Hearts as a separation tool for families (one plush heart nestled inside another – half stays with child, half stays with loved one). I wondered again about their fit for our business – for assisting children with what can be emotional experiences, such as the uncertainty of flying or staying away from home.
Then, I had my own up close and personal Kimochi experience when I arrived unexpectedly for a school function. I had an appointment and was unable to go to a function in our sons classroom. When I explained I couldn’t attend he didn’t really say much about it, certainly didn’t tell me he was upset or wished I could come at all. Fortunately I was able to change my plans that morning and I arrived at the school to a big smile and an “I’ll just be a minute mum”. He had drawn a Kimochi and as I looked over his shoulder I saw him pick up a pencil and begin to cross out “disappointed” and write “excited”.
Since then I’ve been a convert and absolutely believe they have a place in a Kids Travel Store . It seems I had missed the point, they are not just soft toys, they really are “toys with feeling inside“.
Little Gulliver are very pleased to stock the mini Kimochi pack, known as “the perfect backpack buddy” and Nesting Hearts. Not only do they come in a beautiful presentation box (so are an excellent gift), they come with a mini emotion key-chain and a comic. Perfect size to take on holidays for Kimochi fans, nervous travellers, extremely excited travellers or my favourite – send half of a nesting heart to a loved one and reunite the 2 halves when you visit! They are available from Little Gulliver here.
“Through children’s play and interactions with these lovely Kimochis characters, children have a range of opportunities to explore, to identify and to express their emotions and to develop a greater awareness and understanding of others’ feelings and responses.”
So, if you’re like I was and think your life has no room for ‘yet another stuffed toy’, I recommend you think again and meet an educational toy with a difference. Shop with Little Gulliver and take them on board your next flight, pack them in your suitcase, give them as gifts.
Who’s your favourite Kimochi? And where are you taking them next time you’re travelling with kids?
This month newsletter subscribers can claim a free gift with purchase. It’s the perfect time to purchase some holiday play gear from Little Gulliver (delivered to your door, too easy) and receive a bonus!
What better than new a wind-up toy for the holidays? This one is a cute boy or girl – wind them up and they’ll jump around doing handstands. Play with it straight away or save for a rainy day…
To claim your free gift with purchase simply;
1. purchase from little Gulliver between now and midnight Sunday July 7, 2013.
2. at checkout (in the comments section) write “June – boy” or “June – girl”. We will try to send you your preference (unless unavailable).
* Give-away offer available to first 24 customers only.
* Offer open to newsletter subscribers only (new one’s too – so subscribe now to be eligible)!