It was somewhere between the twelfth and twentieth lap I made around the aircraft, bouncing my wired-and-overtired baby in my arms as she elected to not sleep on the overnight flight to Paris, that I realized I would pay a goodly sum to any qualified person on my flight to take over while I snoozed.
What if I could have checked ahead of time, and discovered an experienced nanny or babysitter with at least two verifiable references was already on that flight? What if I could have paid only $10 to be connected with the caregiver, and then paid only her standard hourly rate for the time she assisted my family during our flight?
If you think that sounds like a good idea, you and I are not alone. It’s the very model of the new business called “Nanny in the Clouds,” which allows traveling nannies and parents to register and connect for upcoming flights. To me, it seems that the best thing about Nanny in the Clouds is that parents get the dedicated help of an extra person without having to pay their airfare or hire them for the full vacation. However, I think this service has potential that reaches far beyond the regular family travelers setting out on vacation.
Flying solo with baby? Outnumbered by multiples?
For parents flying alone with babies and toddlers, this service could be a godsend—especially when they can also make arrangements with the nanny to assist at the airport before or after the flight. Flying with multiples? Just that many more reasons to register with Nanny in the Clouds.
Minors flying alone?
But what potential could this service have for the many families now having their minors fly alone – for which they already pay a $25 to $100 surcharge in addition to the child’s airfare according to the Chicago Sun-Times? Not only could it provide tremendous peace of mind for the parents, with children as young as 5 years old boarding direct or “through” flights across the U.S., but it could also enable these youngest solo travelers to make connecting flights, which is not allowed for children less than 8 years old (more here at DOT website).
Disclaimer: When Nanny in the Clouds first contacted me about advertising on TravelswithBaby.com and introduced the service model to me, I couldn’t wait to share the idea with all of you for obvious reasons. So this post, I’ll just mention, is not sponsored and was not promised as part of our agreement, and I hope that all of you who are interested will be sure to check it out. I’d also love to hear feedback from those of you who do!
The place to register and find out more is www.NannyintheClouds.com.
And if you want pre-screened, qualified childcare during your vacation, don’t forget the new Directory of Vacation Babysitter and Nanny Services at TravelswithBaby.com.
Okay, I didn’t say which president!
In honor of President’s Day and President’s Week Vacation, I thought I’d look up this fun photo from our early family travels. Here we are on my first trip to Washington, D.C. – yep, as a parent with a baby!
Some people would say I’ve done a lot of things “backwards” in my life. The first time I took an airplane, I did not stop until I reached Eastern Europe – isn’t that normal for a girl from the Pacific Northwest?! And though I had already traveled over both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the first time I touched Atlantic waters was in… France, naturally!
I did not start exploring the East Coast until after I became a mother, and while I realize this may not be the usual order of things for a U.S. mom, it’s been a fantastic journey altogether and I wouldn’t change a thing.
So when people – just this morning even – ask me if parents shouldn’t just leave their toddlers at home when they go on vacation, I have to laugh to myself and think, “Buddy, you don’t know what you’d be missing.” I’ll start by saying, “the kid!”
But I think there’s something more important here that is often overlooked by the exhausted parents among us who (perhaps too easily) fall into those complaints about energetic kids and awkward situations on airplanes. Don’t your kids have a right to know the you that isn’t bound by a dozen daily time constraints? The you that isn’t constantly checking the cell phone and replying to emails while grumbling about how much laundry is waiting to be done? Sure, you deserve a vacation – but doesn’t your child deserve a chance to know “vacation you” too?
Just a thought going into this weekend… (Step away from the computer, Mommy…) as I contemplate feeling some San Francisco sand between my toes while holding a very small hand, which is presently shoving this keyboard tray away from me — as — I type!
For more ideas, inspiration and advice on where you might travel WITH your baby, toddler, or young children, take a look at the Destinations page (click here). This post is part of the Photo Friday fun over at Deliciousbaby.com.
And now… for a truly inspired Pack This! feature.
Our travel-size doodle pro has put on many miles (along with its lap-size counterpart, which is always helpful during road trips). If you don’t have one already, here are just a few reasons why I highly recommend a travel-size doodle pro for every traveling family.
How do I love thee, Travel Doodle Pro? Let me count the ways:
1. You fit in the side of my diaper bag, and even in my purse.
2. You satisfy boredom in restaurants, and on airplanes where it’s worse.
3. You scribble wildly for my toddler, then Tic-Tac-Toe for my older pair.
4. You erase for reuse again and again, and without showing (too much) wear.
5. You secure to the car seat with carabiner clip, and with your stylus never touch the floor.
6. Cleaning up after use on an airplane tray – or at Grandma’s house - is never a chore.
7. O, you never demand new batteries, never beep, or flash a light!
8. You power-on with mere imagination, and can be used through all phases of flight.
Click here to browse all of the Pack This! recommendations so far, and find more inspired gear recommendations for your travels here. For more tips and practical advice for flying with your baby, toddler, or young kids be sure to check out the Flying Tips page. And if you’re gearing up for a family road trip, don’t miss the new Road Trips and Car Seat travel advice page.
One good reason to wear your baby facing forward? Blowing kisses to the crowd to pass the time in the airport line. Come on grouchy travelers, tell me you don’t want to see this baby boarding your flight?
The girls were heartsick, however, after SO MUCH FUN in Jamaica and having to leave the vacation nannies they’d grown to think of as new best friends. If you missed the related post earlier this week – see my tip for fitting more romance into your family travels this year.
And if you ever wondered what we look like approaching airport security, this was us on a good day! Note the infant car seat hooked over the handle of the stroller – a good little trick.
This post is part of Photo Friday over at DeliciousBaby.com. Head over for more fun travel photo picks for this week – or link to your own! For more tips and practical advice for flying with your baby, toddler, or young kids be sure to check out the Flying Tips page.
Last month I addressed ways to help fit more travel into your family’s new year. Today? A helpful hint on fitting a little more ROMANCE into your family travels as well.
If you can’t hop the next flight to Franklyn D. Resort in Jamaica, where an all-inclusive vacation includes your family’s own personal vacation nanny (highly recommended and kids under 6 stay free – my full review here), you may still get significantly more value and enjoyment from your family vacation if you book yourselves a pre-screened vacation babysitter or temporary nanny during your vacation instead.
Whether you hire a babysitter to help throughout your vacation, or just during one special part of it, hiring a hotel sitter or on-the-spot nanny can help everyone enjoy the getaway a little more—yes, even your kids!
- How much more relaxing is a day at the beach, or by the pool, with an extra set of hands to help?
- Want to linger longer at breakfast with your lover (ie. that guy you married a decade ago) while somebody else pushes your fussy baby around the block in the pram or walks your toddler to the park across the street?
- And don’t even get me started on that Broadway show in the evening.
- Or that…(sigh) sunset stroll on the beach watching a tropical sunset while somebody else, just for a short while, cuts up fruit and hotdogs and conjures up a new art project involving feathers with your kids.
But if you’re like most parents I know (including me), you won’t be comfortable with any random babysitter referral a hotel concierge sends your way. So how do you find a ”childminder” you can trust in a foreign land? Hopefully our new directory of agencies that provide screened vacation babysitters and short-term nannies with confirmed references will help you find the perfect fit to make your next family vacation feel like… a little bit of a honeymoon as well.
Whether you’re seeking a screened hotel sitter in Japan or Johannesburg, in Boston or Banff, or Paris or Puerto Vallarta, please click here to visit the new international directory of agencies offering screened vacation babysitters and vacation nannies, and bookmark for future reference! We’re working hard on finding the agencies and services you’d recommend yourself around the world, so please send us your personal agency recommendations as well!
Related posts and pages:
- Tips for hiring a babysitter or nanny on your family’s next vacation
- Vacation Nanny 411: All about FDR Resort’s ultimate all-inclusive inclusion for families
- Travels with Baby international directory of vacation babysitter and nanny agencies
With a 180-degree view of the Mediterranean Sea, and a devout following of residents who bring them food and treats each day, the celebrated cats of Nerja enjoy an enviable life leisure on the “Balcony of Europe.” Like many tourist visitors to this landmark in southern Spain, my children became instantly enchanted by the free-range felines, and visiting them twice daily became a part of our routine while staying in Nerja. Fortunately, our apartment was just a short stroll away, by way of great coffee and what became that other part of our daily routine… ice cream.
This post is part of the Photo Friday fun at DeliciousBaby.com; head over there to see more inspired travel photos or to share your own. Click here to see more Europe and Spain travel tips, advice and photos.
In case there aren’t enough logistical challenges to solve when traveling with one small child, or two young children, there are those of us who have the privilege of making travel work with three kids requiring car seats or safety boosters. I am a proud member of this club.
When we’ll be driving at our destination, it doesn’t make a lot of difference whether we’re flying two hours away or ten time zones. Car seat and safety booster seat laws now reach farther and wider—and for kids older and older—than ever before. Even our great state of California just upped its booster seat requirement from 6 years to 8 year, sending several parents back to the store to replace the booster seat they gave away a year ago. In Europe, many countries now require booster seats for children up to 12 years old. And if you think you’ll have it any easier in Costa Rica, guess again (and be sure to read this).
Still, short of renting a minivan for the five or us – which can be vastly more expensive than that economical compact car you always see advertised, it’s hard to know how to safely and legally seat all three kids in a rental car at home or abroad. When traveling to many places beyond North America, such as Europe, a minivan may not even be an option (or a sane one, when considering gas prices anyway!).
When I booked our rental car in Spain last visit, I already had to upgrade the size of vehicle from the most compact just to accommodate our baggage, but even still, I knew the chances that a car seat and two safety boosters would fit across the back seat of that car were slim.
Fortunately, we were prepared for this: We reserved one safety seat from the car rental agency for our youngest child, and brought along two RideSafer travel vests (certified for kids 3 years and older) for my big kids—and cleverly packed them in the outside pocket of our suitcase for easy access on arrival. Wearing their RideSafer vests installed with the car’s shoulder safety belts, they needed no more room on the seat than their own little hips required.
For children old enough to ride in a backless safety booster (at least 4 years), the Bubble Bum inflatable booster may also be helpful for travel requiring three booster seats in small rental cars. However, while it saves a little space by not having arm rests (or more importantly by fitting partially beneath a high-base car seat beside it), it may still be wider than your child’s hips, so your results may vary depending on the rental car and configuration of car seats / boosters.
The other advantage of the RideSafer, when fitting multiple kids into unfamiliar vehicles, is that the travel vest can also be used with a lap belt only, when used with a removable top tether strap. This may allow for additional seating configurations, depending on your rental car.
For more information about the RideSafer travel vest, and photos of it in use, check out my complete RideSafer review here. (FWIW, while I’ve been recommending the RideSafer travel vest for several years and we’ve used them on many occasions, those shown in this photo were provided by the manufacturer with no promise of positive review or mention in this blog.)
Related posts and pages:
Road trip travel tips and car seat advice (taxis, shuttles, laws and more)
For something small enough to fit in your back pocket, you’d be surprised how many hours of entertainment your child may actually get from this clever little book. Inside are 30 reusable stickers with airplanes ranging from small Cessnas to jumbo jets, plus a fuel truck, baggage truck, passengers, flight crew and more. And unlike the other stickers you might pick up along the way, you won’t struggle to remove these from airplane tray tables or car windows.
The inside of the cover is the background for any number of scenes your toddler or preschooler may piece together while waiting in the airport or passing time on the plane. My only issue with the book is that the sticker pages, which are stapled in the center, must be pulled out in order to use the whole background at one time. Still for around $1.50, it’s a sanity-saver you’ll be happy to splurge on.
There are several other small sticker activity books available like this (see them here), so you may want to choose a second to surprise your child for the return flight or drive, or stock up to use as needed for that overseas odyssey.
Click here to browse all of my “Pack This!” recommendations so far, and remember there are dozens more ideas for keeping your baby, toddler, and preschooler entertained during travel in Take-Along Travels with Baby.
Related posts and pages:
- Five ways airlines can make happier travelers of us all
- Banish boredom – not kids – from flights
- Index of tips and advice for flying with babies and toddlers
- "99 of the Best Travel Blogs" from TravelBlogs.com "10 Best Family Travel Blogs" from Blogs.com "Top 10 Family Travel Blogs" from TripBase.com "Top 25 Travel Blogs for Families" and "#2 for Insider Tips and Tricks" from Babble.com
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