Archive for August 2011
School just started but it already feels like fall break is looming over my shoulder. My kids get a full week off and are begging for a trip to Walt Disney World. I love Disney and have been many times but I am beginning to wonder if it might be time for something different.
On the pro side, it is an easy family vacation and my littlest one is the absolute perfect age, 4. She still believes in the magic and will remember at least bits and pieces of the trip. Plus, fall trips to Disney are the best – great weather and (hopefully) fewer crowds.
Of course, a trip to Disney with 8 people is not cheap. I really wish they would come up with some family suites in the moderate and deluxe resorts. A living room separated from the bedroom by a door would be fantastic. Throw in a mini kitchen, price it reasonably and it would be a runaway success!
Although the price is a major factor, the other thing I keep coming back to is that a family Disney trip is simply not relaxing. After spending a fortune on tickets, I always feel like we should be in the Park as much as possible. Or we should be using the pool and other facilities the resort has to offer – just to get our money’s worth. With such a busy schedule at home, a busy vacation isn’t as appealing.
I know I will lose this battle so I am going to turn my attention to adding some relaxing moments into the trip so I don’t come home more tired than when I left!
[editor's note: August 31 is considered the model year end for our activity kits so this post reflects on the past year and thoughts on moving forward].
My posts have been far and few between these days and I apologize. I have been discouraged of late from a business and travel blogging perspective and have been trying to pull myself out of this funk by reading other travel blogs and researching kid friendly vacations and products. The variations of “10 Tips for a Perfect Vacation” and “Stressfree Travel with Toddlers and Kids” are endless and, honestly, I have fallen into the trap of writing a few myself. After reading hundreds of different blogs and posts, I am left feeling like I am the only one with imperfect family vacations. I highly doubt that every trip is quite as sunshiny as they portray. I also found some terrific blogs that inspired me to keep going. To those, I say thanks!
The reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect vacation and there are thousands of little things that have to fall into place to make for a good vacation. Not to mention that my idea of a great vacation is likely vastly different from anyone elses. As for stressfree travel with kids – it isn’t going to happen no matter what you do (frankly, it isn’t going to happen without the kids either). There are lots of things that will help make for a smoother journey but again, the things that work for my kids probably won’t work for yours.
I spent the better part of this year listening to marketing and PR people tell me what price I needed to be at for the kits, what I should write about and how I should position my company. In the midst of listening to everyone else, I lost my voice. No more! So here is what to expect going forward:
- A new line of activity kits launched on September 1. Want a sneak peek? The BusyKiddy was launched a few weeks ago. Ignoring the suggested price points, I went back to creating kits filled with the quality products and assortments that my kids (and our test panel) demand. I also found some fantastic bags from Stephen Joseph that will join our lineup of Melissa & Doug totes.
- Fun new products and games – many that are hard to fine elsewhere such as the PurpleCow line of games and puzzles.
- The blog will refocus on family travel with a twist – I will tell you how it really is with some tips that help us survive and even enjoy family travel. I will also be looking to you for stories, tips and suggestions. I will also share my take on controversial family travel issues and, as always, welcome your thoughts.
- Destination guides that focus on the small things that make a vacation – ice cream shops, unexpected events, etc. Most travel bloggers accept complimentary vacations in exchange for writing about the trip. I find it impossible to write an honest review if I have been comped – I find that I am much more willing to let things like poor service slide since I am not paying for the trip. So, as of right now, there will be no comped vacation destination reviews. In the unlikely event that changes, it will be made very clear at the beginning of the post.
- A newsletter featuring great deals, tips and stories that comes once a month. Be sure to subscribe – the deals will be great!
Recently a restaurant in the northeastern United Stated garnered attention by banning children under the age of 6 (I refuse to give them more publicity by naming them but it is easily googled). While I think it was mostly a publicity stunt that will likely backfire in the end, it does bring up an interesting issue – should children be welcome at every restaurant? After much internal debate, my answer is a completely noncommital it depends.
Can kids disturb other diners? Absolutely! but there are steps both parents and restaurants should take to maximize the enjoyment had by all.
- Set the ground rules. Not all restaurants are created equal and different manners are required depending on the type of restaurant – what is acceptable at Red Robin may not be appropriate at your favorite five restaurant and it is up to the parents to explain the differences and the consequences for misbehaving.
- Have a fussy child? Be willing to walk out immediately. Do not pacify or negotiate at the table. Simply pick up the child and walk outside the restaurant or to the restroom. Stay there until the child has regained their composure.
- Uncertain about the menu? Be prepared. It is NEVER acceptable to bring in a meal from another establishment but it is sometimes essential to bring small snacks or treats to make it through the meal. Another tactic is to feed the kids earlier and let them get dessert while you eat your meal. For restaurants that feature longer dining experiences, consider ordering the kids meals with the appetizers and let them eat dessert while you eat your main course.
- Engage kids in the conversation. Bored kids are misbehaving kids.
- Provide prompt service. Families have a limited window and need quick service – especially with the check at the end.
- Be willing to ask patrons to step outside. If children are misbehaving and the parents do not seem to be taking appropriate steps to mitigate the situation, the manager should politely ask the parents to take the child outside until he/she calms down.
- Always step in to prevent running around. I HATE to see kids running around a restaurant. Why do parents think that running around the table is acceptable? Not only is it annoying but extremely dangerous. This should also be done politely – simply state that the restaurant has a no running policy for safety reasons.
Finally, sometimes it is just a bad idea to go out to eat. Fussy kids at home are unlikely to settle down in a restaurant. On those days, it is best to order in!
What are your thoughts?