Six tips for a more comfortable flight
Some people settle with the idea that flying is an uncomfortable experience, but that doesn’t need to be the case. And while we don’t have tricks for avoiding nosey seatmates who steal the armrest, we do have some simple tips that can make your journey a little more comfortable.
Choose the right plane
We all look at flight times and prices, but have you ever considered the plane make and model? If not, maybe you should. If you are prone to altitude sickness when flying, buy a seat on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350. The cabins on these planes are pressurized about 2,000 feet lower than on other commercial airliners. You’ll find that you breathe easier and sleep better on long flights. The interiors of these planes are also more humid so your nasal passages and eyes, if you wear contacts, will be more comfortable.
If you’re prone to air sickness, try to get a seat over the wings. It’s like sitting on the fulcrum of a seesaw: There’s less motion up and down.
Plug ‘em up
Wear ear plugs, and not just when you’re trying to sleep. You may not realize how loud the engines are because the sound comes off as background noise, but according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the sound is typically around 85 decibels (dB) at cruising and can reach 120 dB at takeoff and landing. The sound could affect your sleep, or unknowingly cause stress. If the sound really bothers you, pick a seat in front of the wings, which tends to be a little quieter.
Shut it out
Eye shades are great for sleeping, especially as seat mates may have the glowing screens of their phones, laptops or seat-back TVs turned on during the flight. Pro tip: Eye shades also do the trick for avoiding a talkative seatmate.
No drinks onboard
Hate to kill the fun, but you should avoid drinking alcohol too. Sure, it may ease your nerves, but flying already makes you dehydrated and alcohol only exacerbates the problem. Save the booze for a toast upon your arrival.
Monitor screen time
Finally, limit (or even go without) screen time. The blue screens and light can impact your sleep. Instead, kick it old school with a good book. Or, better yet, a boring one if shuteye is your goal.
10 Packing Tips to Make Family Travel Easier
When you’re traveling with your family, things can get chaotic and overwhelming. Planning ahead, using a system, and using effective organizational tools can make all the difference.
Planning on taking everyone on a good ole’ family trip? Though you can’t expect to completely avoid sibling skirmishes, but you canbe proactive about preventing many of the sticky situations that can come about during a family trip. Here are some tips for making your trip smoother.
1. Cross pack
Just in case someone’s bag doesn’t end up at your destination, cross packing can make it a little bit easier. Try putting a backup set of clean clothes for each family member in someone else’s suitcase. For example, put an extra outfit and some clean pairs of underwear in your partner’s suitcase.
2. Organize all of your cords and chargers in one place
Portable DVD players and iPads can be a lifesaver for parents who need to keep their kids occupied during travel. These wonderful devices can keep kids entertained for hours and provide an endless supply of entertainment. But one thing is a sure fun-killer: forgetting or losing the chargers. A good tip from OrganizedJen is to use a small pouch to organize all of your cords and chargers in one place. One that’s waterproof will keep them free from any liquids and prevent damage.
3. Find apps your kids can play on an iPad without internet connectivity
If you are flying or will be in another country where you don’t want to rack up international data charges, it’s a good idea to have some apps on your iPad so kids can keep playing. Some apps to try include Minnie’s Bow-tique, Bejeweled, Starfall, Angry Birds, Road Rally, Where’s My Water, Hangman, and Tetris. Make sure you review all games before downloading them for your child to ensure you are comfortable with the content.
4. Buy a headphone splitter so multiple people can listen on one device
If you play the audio on an iPad out loud on an airplane or other mode of public transportation, it isn’t unlikely you’ll win over any of your fellow passengers. Make sure all of your family members can listen, even if there’s only one device, by using a headphone splitter. You can find headphone splitters that allow two people to listen with their own headphones at the same time, and even ones capable of handling up to five pairs of headphones.
5. Don’t forget about non-tech toys too
You don’t want to be completely reliant on technology to keep your kids occupied. Batteries die and there are some circumstances when it’s better to not use them. Consider bringing coloring books, lightweight paper books for reading, a travel version of Guess Who, magic markers, Crocodile Dentist, or wikki stix.
6. Limit each kid to one small pack-it bag for toys
Assign each kid to a color and then give him or her a small pack-it bag for all of his or her toys. The colors can make for easy identification. Kids will like the opportunity to choose what they want to bring. Giving them the limit of one bag helps them decide what’s most important and gives them an opportunity to have some independence in deciding what they want.
7. Prepare for the noise
Whether it’s coming from you kids or not, it’s likely there will be times you want to just tune out the noise. Consider packing earplugs, which can be used by your family or given to other passengers in the case of a screaming baby. This might be the time to bring noise canceling headphones too, if you prefer to listen to audio and get rid of ambient noise.
8. Maximize your space
Packing cubes, folders, sacs, can help you corral all of your items and organize them for easy finding, packing, and re-packing. Again, color-coding by family member can make identification quick and easy. Jessica from bring-the-kids.com provides a wonderful guide (with pictures) to using the Pack-It System on family trips.
9. Bring snacks
Kids get hungry and to keep them from getting fussy, plan ahead with lots of nutritious snacks to keep them going. You can designate one pouch/bag as the food bag for easy organization. It helps if it’s lined with a waterproof material, so just in case something spills it doesn’t sabotage the rest of your stuff.
10. Bring a collapsible daypack that can be used during the day
A daypack that can compactly fit inside your suitcase can be a lifesaver during busy trips that involve several different activities. Just pull out your bag and fill it with what you need for the day, and voila! When you go home you can either pack it back into your suitcase without sacrificing too much space, or use it as an extra bag for items you’ve acquired
7 Tips for Traveling & Flying With an Infant
If you plan to fly with a child less than one year old, you’d better get prepared and gather your courage. Though you can’t entirely control what happens in-flight or at the airport, you can plan ahead. Most importantly, you need to put plenty of thought into your child’s temperament – what calms him or her? How can you best keep to your normal routine? Your first instinct is to keep your little one as comfortable as possible, but you should also take your neighbors into consideration.
Tips for Flying With a Baby
Don’t make the rookie mistake of flying without doing your prep work. When you have the right gear and you’ve planned ahead, you can rest assured that you have the tools for a content little passenger.
1. Make a Checklist
Don’t ever pack your carry-on without a checklist. While older kids can carry their own bags, you don’t have that luxury when flying with an infant. If it’s not packed, you won’t have it, and airport stores rarely carry many baby supplies. Be sure that you start packing a couple of days in advance of your flight so you have plenty of time to pack all of your baby gear.
Here’s a general list of necessities:
- Diapers and wipes (enough for travel time plus 24 hours extra in case of delays)
- Two or three receiving blankets – they’re great as nursing cover-ups, for naps, for keeping your baby warm, and for keeping your clothes protected from spit-up
- A change of clothes for your baby – at the very least, pack an extra onesie
- Nursing pads and shields if you’re breastfeeding
- Formula and bottles if you bottle-feed – again, plan for travel time plus 24 hours to be safe
- Pacifiers, if necessary – always bring a couple of spares
- One or two board books and a couple of comfort toys
- A sling or a baby carrier
- Baby-friendly snacks, like Cheerios and puffs
- A couple of Ziploc bags – they come in handy for storing snacks and keeping soiled clothes separate in your diaper bag
2. Prepare Your Bottles
If your baby is bottle-fed, you need to think ahead. The TSA has rules against traveling with more than three ounces of liquid, but the rule doesn’t apply to baby formula and juices. Instead, you must have your baby’s formula tested via a handheld scanner.
To avoid causing a delay in the security line, I prepare bottles with powder only. You can also purchase single-serving formula packs. That way, I only need to add water once I’m past the security checkpoint. Ask the flight attendants for warm water – they usually have plenty on hand for coffee and tea.
3. Calm Breastfeeding Fears
While breastfeeding on a plane might not be as comfortable as breastfeeding at home, it’s completely doable. You can pump milk and bring it on the plane in bottles if you’re nervous about nursing – the TSA simply scans the milk with a hand-held device, and it’s completely safe.
Of course, breastfeeding on the plane might be a necessity. If you’re nervous about nursing next to a complete stranger, bring two safety pins with you. That way, you can pin a receiving blanket to the seat in front of you and on the side of your own seat to create a privacy curtain. I’ve found that seatmates are extremely understanding and accommodating when I’ve had to nurse during a flight.
4. Decide on a Car Seat
If your child is under the age of two, you don’t have to purchase a ticket. This can save money, but it also means your child has to sit on your lap for the entire flight.
If you purchase a separate ticket for your baby, or if there are extra seats on your flight, you can bring your baby’s car seat on the plane and use it the same way you do in the car. Traveling with your baby in a secured car seat is the safest way to do air travel with a baby, period.
Unfortunately, however, I once brought a car seat along with me, and it ended up being a major pain. Not only did I have to cart the bulky object around the airport, my little guy was miserable and just wanted to be held anyway. On the next flight, I ditched the car seat and traveled with a sling instead. I “wore” my baby across my chest – he was very cozy, and it was convenient while moving around the airport. It was also perfect for discreet breastfeeding.
You can also opt for a travel system if you’re determined to bring along a car seat and you don’t want to drag it with you through the airport. A travel system allows you to snap the car seat onto a stroller base, which you can then easily detach during boarding. It’s the best of both worlds when both mama and baby need their own space.
5. Check Your Gear
I love having a stroller in the airport. It always allows my kids to have a rest while I sprint from gate to gate, and it cuts down on dawdling. Also, the airline can check your stroller right at the gate. Just ask for a “gate check” – tag and bring your stroller to the end of the jetway. Airline attendants can pop it down in the cargo hold, and can bring it back up when you’ve landed for use during layovers.
Be smart about the stroller you use. Make sure it’s one that collapses easily and isn’t too bulky. I have a model that collapses with one hand, which saves me from fumbling with it.
6. Prepare for Takeoff
If you’ve ever been on a flight with babies on board, you’ve probably heard them wailing during the takeoff and the touchdown portions of the flight. That’s because the pressure can cause major pain for babies while flying. If you’ve got a little one tagging along, prepare to offer a pacifier, a bottle, or the breast during takeoff and landing. The sucking motion helps relieve pressure so there’s fewer tears.
7. Deal With Strangers
In my experience, babies and kids aren’t always the most welcome passengers on planes. I haven’t always gotten the warmest reception when a seatmate finds out that I’ve got two kids along for the ride. But a little friendliness and consideration goes a long way in making sure other people are comfortable.
I usually make a point to be extra nice to the flight attendants, who are then more than happy to grab some warm water or dig up snacks for my kids. I also make sure that my kids aren’t bothering other people in any way. For instance, if your infant has a dirty diaper, get up and change it in the bathroom as soon as possible. Planes have changing tables in the bathrooms, so use them. They might be small, but it’s far more considerate than changing your baby next to your seatmate. Just limit how much stuff you bring with you to the bathroom. I like to grab a diaper and a case of travel wipes so I don’t have to drag the entire diaper bag into an already tight space.
I find that when neighbors see me doing my best to keep things under control, they’re more likely to lend a hand. I’ve had kind seatmates offer to share a tablet computer or chat with my kindergartener for hours, while attendants have offered extra treats and even upgrades. As long as you’re courteous and conscious of the strangers you’re traveling with, you’ll be welcome and have a better overall experience.
It’s not always going to be smooth sailing when you’re traveling with an unpredictable infant. Diaper blowouts, gassy bellies, and crying spells can make you feel flustered. But making sure that you’re prepared for anything can help you feel more confident in your abilities. And in a worst-case scenario, live by this mantra: “It’s only temporary.” You’ll be at your destination in no time, with tons of experience under your belt for your next trip.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Travel Tips
Punta Cana is a popular vacation destination within the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispanola. In this city, there are 21 miles of beaches, many of which are public and some that are clothing-optional. Punta Cana has become the most popular tourist area on the island due to its acres of white sand and aqua-blue water. It continues to grow with new resorts–mostly all-inclusive. It is a wonderful place for a beach vacation, but there are some things you should keep in mind when making plans.
Punta Cana is on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, at the point of the island where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. If you are looking to surf or go whale-watching, the rougher ocean might be a better choice than the warmer, calmer sea. Note that a hotel may list its location as Punta Cana, but this also encompasses the towns of Uvero Alto, Cap Cana, Cabeza de Toro, El Cortecito, Arena Gorda, Macao and Bavaro, a popular area beach for all-inclusive resorts.
Punta Cana is laid back, so your dress will be casual. T-shirts, tank tops and shorts–or skirts and dresses for women, if desired–will take care of most of your needs. For evening, sundresses for the ladies and khaki pants and collared shirts for men usually are fine, but check with your hotel for dress requirements. At most resorts, you will need a cover-up for your bathing suit in the restaurant. Although sandals probably will be your preference in the heat, bring a pair of comfortable shoes for walking in rocky areas.
Language and Currency
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. English is spoken in most tourist areas, but you should try to learn a few phrases before you arrive in case you are in an area where little English is spoken. The peso is the unit of currency for the country. American dollars may be taken in some areas, but check the exchange rate before you arrive to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of.
If you tire of the water sports, horseback riding and sunbathing in the Punta Cana beaches, Marinarium Marine Park and Punta Cana Ecological Reserve are within the city. Nearby, you can take a short boat ride to Dolphin Island, visit the Boca de Diablo cave system or explore Manati Park Bavaro. If you have time, you can also find the picturesque town of La Otra Banda or the Boca de Yuma and Ponce de Leon House in San Rafael de Yuma within an hour of Punta Cana.
The average daily temperature in Punta Cana is 80 degrees, so bring plenty of sunsceren. While there are drugstores there, toiletry brands from the United States and Europe may be expensive, so you may want to be sure to bring enough from home. Pack all of your medication in the original bottles. Make a list of what medications you are taking, including the drugs’ generic name, as brand names can be very different in the Dominican Republic. Be safe when traveling in Punta Cana. Before venturing out, check with the hotel staff about any areas you should avoid and keep a close eye on your valuables. Punta Cana has its own international airport, and most area resorts are located within a half-hour’s drive.
3 Tips for your vacations in Cancun
If you are on vacation in Cancun and would like to venture a little further than the hotel beach and pool, there are a few tips to our visit here.
Beach to spend the day
If you are looking a beach to spend your day, the best place to go is ‘Playa Gaviotas’.
You can reach this beach by a small pathway right next to Coco Bongo nightclub. It’s hidden behind the Hard Rock Cafe right in the Party Centre but the ocean and sand here are truly beautiful although the waves may be a bit big if you have small children.
Beach if you have small children
If you have kids with you then another great choice would be Coco’s Beach Bar at Km3 which has a beautiful wide beach with plenty of seating and shade under the palm trees. They also have a swimming pool here so the kids really do have a ball.
Visit ‘Parque de las Palapas’
Many tourists do not venture into town but it’s worth going to the Parque de las Palapas, a large market square where the locals gather in the evenings. They often have live music and shows and lots of street stall selling delicious local food. The children also love it here as they have a play area and electric cars to drive around the square.
For really tasty authentic Mexican food at much more reasonable prices there are plenty of restaurants downtown worth a visit, from street stalls to much more classy restaurants.
So during your vacation in Cancun, be adventurous and explore where us locals go.