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Pack Your Bags – It’s Time for Summer Vacation! The Top 10 Tips for Traveling with Kids

June 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Michele Fisher

Summer is finally here, and for many families, that means it’s time for a family vacation! If the thought of traveling with your kids is both exciting and—let’s face it—a little nerve-racking, you’re not alone. But with the following tips, you can have a safe, smooth trip that every member of your family will enjoy.

1. Include your kids in the planning. Children will be more excited about a trip if they know what to expect and get to have a eoay in what they’ll be doing. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, share books and online information about your destination. Let each person in the family choose an activity or specific attraction they’d like to visit during the trip, and then be sure to include each in your itinerary.

2. Break up travel boredom with small surprises. Let’s face it, a long car ride or cramped trip in a plane can get boring for kids (and adults). To fend off the grouchy cries of “Are we there yet?” pack some small, inexpensive surprises in your travel bag. Think small toys, fidget spinners, Thinking Putty, coloring books, word search books, stickers, and more. Then ration out each surprise as boredom hits.

3. Have a plan, but be willing to change it. It’s tempting to try to fit as much as possible into each day of your vacation. But if your kids are feeling grumpy or tired, take a cue from them and slow down. Even a 20-minute ice cream break in the middle of the day or deciding to head back to the hotel for an afternoon nap while the sun is at its hottest could make the difference between cranky kids and happy ones.

4. Let your kids be amateur photographers. Pack a sturdy, child-friendly camera and then allow your kids to snap away at anything that interests them. This encourages them to be more observant, and you just might end up with an amazing pic from a brand-new (knee-high) perspective!

5. Pack plenty of baby wipes. Kids out of diapers? Baby wipes are still a godsend for cleaning off the surface of nearly anything you and your kids are going to touch. And, of course, hand sanitizer is a must-have.

6. Snack smart. Avoid the high prices charged at tourist destinations and pack your own snacks. But choose wisely. To avoid crashes following sugary snacks, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein, but low in sugar. Think whole grain crackers, low-sugar granola bars and (dry) cereal, string cheese, and fresh fruit.

7. Play “Who Gets Home First?” You can pick up postcards at nearly any tourist destination and turn them into a fun and easy game. Have your child choose one, write a short note on the back, and mail it to your home address. Then see if you or the postcard makes it home first!

8. Consider a wearable GPS tracker. Got a kid who tends to wander? GPS trackers come in many different models, from bracelets to watches to small units that you can attach to a child’s belt or shoe.

9. Or go low-tech. You could also simply write your name and phone number on your child’s arm, in case you get separated. For older kids, start teaching them your cell phone number a few weeks before your vacation. Finally, it’s wise to choose a spot at each new attraction you visit where everyone agrees to meet if you get separated.

10. Preserve those memories! When you get back home, no doubt you’ll be busy unpacking, doing laundry, and catching up on work emails. But you don’t want to forget all the amazing things you did as a family on your trip. The solution? Let the kids take care of this task by creating their own scrapbooks filled with souvenirs, photos, ticket stubs, postcards, and more. This is also a great way to keep them busy on a rainy day!


About the Author

Michele Fisher is the author of the Come Travel with Me book series, including Come Travel with Me: Philadelphia and Come Travel with Me: Chicago which she was inspired to create by her daughter’s interest in travel and willingness to be adventurous and try new things. Michele is from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband, son, and daughter. She has worked in financial services for 25 years and travels frequently for her job. Michele loves traveling to new places with her family.

Don’t Get Burned! Sunscreen Safety Redefined

July 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to enjoy some fun in the sun. However, before you grab your swimsuits and make a beeline for the nearest pool, let’s take a minute to discuss sun safety. We all know that increased exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer, but did you know that your brand of sunscreen may not lower that risk and may even pose new risks of its own? This week, with insights from True Goods medical advisor,sunscreen expert Dr. Debby Hamilton, we’ll review what to look for in a sunscreen in order to maximize protection and minimize risk so you can have a worry-free summer.


A good sunscreen should be broad-spectrum, protecting against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. Most sunscreens provide good burn protection, but the long-term damage done by UVA rays can be much more harmful. Sunscreens with higher SPFs (50+) are especially guilty of misleading customers, touting increased safety over lower SPF options when in fact, they are less protective against UVA rays and only marginally better protection against UVB rays. Luckily, broad-spectrum sunscreens are becoming more popular due to growing awareness of this issue and new FDA regulations requiring manufacturers to label their products more accurately.

Lotions, Sprays, Powders—Oh My!

Sunscreens now come in a variety of applications, including aerosolized sprays and brush on powders alongside the more familiar lotions. Of these options, lotion is the easy winner. While not all lotions are nontoxic, all sprays and powders come with the additional risk of inhalation, which can introduce harmful chemicals into your lungs and bloodstream much more easily than through skin absorption alone. It is also much harder to get even coverage with a spray or powder. So don’t be fooled by claims of convenience, and instead make safety and protection your primary concerns.

Active Ingredients

As Dr. Hamilton describes in her new book, Preventing Autism and ADHD: Controlling Risk Factors Before, During, and After Pregnancy, most sunscreens fall into one of two categories, both of which come with risks. As with anything that enters your body through your skin, it’s important to understand how ingredients may affect us. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing into your skin and deactivating sunlight within your cells. The concern is that common ingredients can oftentimes act as hormone disrupters, causing problems if absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, exposure of ingredients to UV rays can create free radicals within your skin cells, which are known to damage and potentially mutate DNA. Oxybenzone, one of the most popular SPF ingredients on the market, perpetuates both of these risks. Other offenders include phenol, octinoxate, octocrylene, and PABA.

On the other hand, mineral sunscreens are promoted as the safe alternative to chemical sunscreens. Instead of absorbing into your skin, the active ingredients (generally zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sit on top of your skin and act as a physical barrier, reflecting the sun’s rays. In the past, these mineral sunscreens fell out of fashion due to their chalky white color and unpleasant texture, but newer sunscreens are now being offered with micronized versions, or nanoparticles, of the minerals. This recent technology allows the use of these minerals with less of the pasty look and feel. The problem is that any particle under 50 nanometers in size can be absorbed into your skin. These particles have the ability to absorb a lot of heat and energy from UV rays, which can cause them to break down into free radicals at the cellular level within your skin. Anatase titanium dioxide is of particular concern after it was shown that sunscreen containing this ingredient was able to break down the coating on steel roofing material that had come into contact with construction workers’ sunscreen-coated skin.

Dr. Hamilton stresses the point that toxicity should be taken into consideration when choosing mineral sunscreens. “Although both zinc and titanium are used in sunscreens, there is a difference between the two substances. Zinc is an essential mineral that is often low in diets. On the other hand, titanium is a toxic metal, and we don’t know the long-term effects of titanium on the body. I have often seen elevated titanium levels in children with autism. Titanium is also a very allergenic metal, similar to nickel, that causes skin rashes.”

With so many options and important considerations, you may be asking yourself what the best course of action would be to minimize sun damage this summer. Public health agencies recommend skin coverage and timing your exposure as good first-line precautions against sun damage. So Dr. Hamilton suggests that you cover your skin with protective clothing, seek out shade protection, and avoid the strong midday sun. Her recommended second-line defense is sunscreen. “I recommend sunscreen products with zinc oxide as their only active ingredient.”

For more information and resources, check out the Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive 2013 Guide to Safer Sunscreens.


From our friends at truegoods.com

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.