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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Technology can provide hours of entertainment during road trips, plane rides, or when riding the rails but it’s important to have the right gear for all of your devices. If there’s a trip in your future, start by taking stock of the items you have to determine what additional items you need or how you can pare down what you already have to reduce the number of cords and chargers you are taking with you. Then take the following steps to ensure that your devices are ready to go when you are!
Get organized. It’s easy to make sure that nothing gets left behind when you leave your house or your vacation destination when everything has a place. Pouches that feature pockets for cords, earbuds, and accessories such as the Kangaroom Personal Media Pouch ensures that everything has a place so it’s easy to tell at a glance if something is missing. The Built NY Charger Notebook Accessory Organizer Bag is another great product that features larger pockets and is made of stretchy neoprene.
Invest in a good bag that will hold your devices. A checkpoint friendly backpack such as the Timbuk2 Uptown Laptop Backpack keeps your hands free during travel and allows easy access to remove your laptop quickly as you approach the TSA checkpoint and stash it fast when you’re done. If you’re looking for a more versatile bag, here are 4 stylish bags that go to the office, park, and beyond.
Bring along a mini extension cord. Tech savvy families know that having lot of devices require a lot of plugs and sometimes hotel rooms or family members’ home lack the number of outlets needed to keep electronics charged. To combat this problem, travel with the Belkin 3 Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Surge Protector with Dual USB Ports. This handy device provides 3 extra AC outlets and 2 USBs and swivels for convenience.
Keep devices charged when on the go. Nothing is worse than running your phone down to the red when on a trip and needing to coordinate plans. Portable power can be your savior and some of my favorites are Rayovac’s 7 Hour Power that provides an instant charge for USB devices like phones and tablets thanks to 4 AA batteries. Unlike portable chargers that are charged via an outlet and run out of extra juice with that first charge, 7 Hour Power provides the freedom to be without outlets. Carrying extra sets of batteries ensures that you can charge more than one device, or a single device multiple times, when on the go. Android users may prefer Rayovac’s External Micro USB Battery for Cell Phones that provides a 2 hour charge for your phone. While the charge is less than that of 7 Hour Power, the device is much smaller and uses a single lithium battery.
Traveling for the first time? Don’t miss my 6 Tips for Surviving Air Travel With Kids!
The public check in area of an airport with crowd control barriers via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
The 2012 London Olympics begin on July 27 and for those traveling to the games, there are numerous apps that can assist with navigating the city and enjoying the games.
London Tube Deluxe— Traverse London with the London Tube Deluxe, a feature rich, no-nonsense transport guide to Greater London. This app is used over 50,000 times a day by Londoners, visitors and Tube drivers looking to navigate the London Underground with ease.
Tagwhat— Tagwhat serves as your mobile tour guide as you make your way through the streets of London. Geolocation provides rich and relevant content about surrounding places around via text, videos and photos from information created by Tagwhat, its users, publishers and public sources. Tagwhat will help you find the side street where the cover of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album was photographed and the location of Lady Diana’s previous bachelorette pad. Tagwhat puts the stories of the London places around you directly into your hands. It can also be used by those who aren’t traveling to London for the Olympics by using the “visit” tab in the Tagwhat featured list.
HipGeo— Imagine bumping into Michael Phelps. Wouldn’t it be great to have immediate bragging rights by snapping a photo, adding some text about your encounter, and instantly sharing it with your friends and social networks using an app on your phone? HipGeo allows you to share your experiences via innovative geo-aware technologies that automatically transform your iPhone, iPad and Android photos and text into a creative narrative of your everyday and far away adventures. The HipGeo app and website lets you watch your travels instantly unfold on maps and automatically creates virtual albums, which can then be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and by links in emails and blogs.
London Olympics Ultimate— This is the ultimate app for keeping tabs on the games. Follow your favorite countries and get updates when they win or lose, view complete event schedules with participating countries, check medal counts, read about Olympic news and receive events results and ranking of countries for multiple team events.
XE Currency App— Whether London is your only stop, or there are other European destinations on your itinerary, the XE Currency App converts every world currency on-the-go. It features live currency rates, charts, and even stores the last updated rates, so it works even when the Internet doesn’t.
London, England- May 21 via Steve Broer / Shutterstock.com
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Monday, May 21st, 2012
If you’re planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, chances are your kids are pretty excited about your upcoming trip. Seize upon their excitement to sneak in a little learning. Kids will be highly motivated to complete activities involving their favorite characters or to learn more about the parks. Here are 5 wonderful websites that contain free printables and tutorials that can help you integrate learning into your upcoming Disney vacation.
- Earlier this month, Disney launched their Spoonful site that serves as a wealth of free content available for kids of all ages on a daily basis. Visitors can always browse through the tabs- cook, create, play, and celebrate- or subscribe via email to keep up to date with the changing content. The printables section is where to find Disney themed coloring pages that are perfect for preschoolers who are practicing fine motor skills like how to hold a pencil or crayon and coloring. Older children will enjoy helping with Disney themed cooking activities that serve as a way to practice math and reading by having to measure ingredients and practicing sequencing to add them in the right order.
- Creating a countdown paper chain out of paper rings not only provides younger kids with a very concrete visual about the number of days left until your trip but also gives them practice in counting backwards. PlanaMagicalVacation.com has a free PDF with numbers on one side and trivia on the other to integrate a little math and reading into your pre-vacation excitement or create your own. Cut colorful strips of construction paper and have your kids practice patterning (another math skill) to create your paper chain.
- Visit your local craft store to assemble supplies to make your own Disney autograph book. You could purchase one in-park but save yourself some money and have fun making your own with thanks to the tutorial on Juliverse. Labeling the book with your name and address in case it get lost not only ensure that it will find its way back to you but is a way for children to practice knowing and writing their name and address.
- Teach your kids fun facts about the parks before you leave. TeachMama.com’s Amy Mascott created free Disney trivia printable lunchbox notes with fun facts to teach your kids a little park trivia. Cut out the strips and put them in your child’s lunch box for a little meal time trivia or print, cut, and place in a basket on your dinner table to read them together as a family.
- TeachMama also has free printable word searches available based on Disney characters and one for each of the following parks: Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom. These are a wonderful way to help kids practice word recognition amid the excitement over their Disney vacation.
Mickey Mouse at a benefit screening via Shutterstock
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Big Kids, Education, Elementary, Must Read, Preschool, Tech Savvy Parents, Website
Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Walt Disney World is an exciting destination any time of the year. Frequent visitors and first timers can maximize their time in the parks thanks to many helpful websites that can assist in vacation planning. Here are a 5 helpful sites that contain a wealth of information along with a few free and affordable apps that you will want to download before you go.
- Get the lay of the land before you go using the Walt Disney World property map. This helpful resource allows you to see resorts and parks to help you plan your time on the property.
- Once you’ve figured out which parks you’ll be visiting, plot your day with this well designed spreadsheet from Mama of all Trades.
- Then order free customized Walt Disney World maps. Customized maps will be sent to your home prior to your trip. Older children will love plotting which parts of the park to visit first in order to hop on popular rides early in the day and younger visitors will enjoy having their own version of park maps as trip keepsakes.
- Worried about food allergies in your family and where to eat? Confessions of an IT Girl provides helpful tips making it easy to find meals that family members with food allergies can enjoy while at the Disney parks.
- Caffeine addicts who will need to fuel up with coffee in order to make it through late nights of fireworks at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom will be pleased to know that Starbucks is coming to Disney Parks this June. For park locations, visit Disney Parks Blog to learn where to find your venti caramel macchiato or favorite Frappucino.
Before you go, visit iTunes or the Android Marketplace to find free helpful apps that can also assist you in maximizing your park time while you are at the parks. Here are 5 useful apps that are available at minimal cost or for free:
- PixieTime (free) provides park hours for Walt Disney World parks.
- PixieResorts (free) is fast and easy way to locate resort information including locations, rates and list of amenities.
- Plan which rides to hit next using Disney World Wait Times (free).
- Plot out your next dining adventure with Disney World Dining ($1.99).
- Kids and adults alike will have fun searching for Hidden Mickeys located throughout the park. Turn your search for Hidden Mickeys into a treasure hunt with the Hidden Mickeys ($2.99) app.
A sign in Orlando, FL points to Disney World Resort via Shutterstock
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Monday, March 26th, 2012
Are you packing your bags and heading to a great vacation destination? Before you go, arm your phone with some key apps to make traveling even easier. Enjoy your vacation a little more by checking in on your phone, getting inside travel tips about your surroundings from the locals who know, and navigating the area like a pro!
Check in through your phone. With airlines offering downloadable apps, there’s no need to be tied to your computer to get in the A boarding group. Southwest, United, Delta, Alaska, and more make it easy to check in. United’s app also allows you to use a mobile boarding pass at security so you can just present it on your phone with your ID to get through security.
Use Yelp to travel like a local. If you’re heading to an unfamiliar destination, Yelp can help you find almost anything quickly. Whether you are looking for the best eats, most talented barista, or recommendations for a dentist, Yelp allows you to become a local even when you’re traveling thanks to the user generated reviews.
Find your destination thanks to Google Maps with Navigation. This free Android app will let you leave your old old-school GPS at home. Google Maps Navigation provides turn-by-turn directions just like a GPS device and re-routes you around traffic. When you arrive at your final destination, the app displays a Google street view image that looks exactly as it does in real life thanks to the crisp image on the screen. Other smart features that make this app a must-have include the ability to speak your destination and also type in a business name even if you don’t know the address.
Gauge wait times for rides with Disney Attractions. Real time information makes this app a gem because it helps park visitors plan their day around rides with wait times to popular attractions at The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It also includes times for fast past return and single rider wait times inn case there’s something that the rest of the family refuses to go on and prefers to take an ice cream break instead.
What apps do you rely on when traveling as a family? Feel free to add your favorites through the comments below!
Family going on a trip traveling by airplane via Shutterstock
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