Family Travel

5 Tips for Summer Travel with Kids

summer travel with kids

Summer is here and like millions of people, you are probably planning on traveling. If you have young children, you might be looking for some ways to make the trip easier. Here are 5 tips for summer travel with kids.

1. Do your research

There are lots of travel websites with customer ratings that can be very helpful. Many of them tell you if destinations are kid-friendly or not. You can also check out the travel section of the local bookstore or library. Travel agents can also take the guesswork out of booking a great vacation.

2. Pack plenty of activities for the car or airplane

A plastic tote fits perfectly in the backseat of the car and can hold coloring books, crayons, and small toys. Little Pim flashcards are a great addition to the box of goodies for the ride. If you're traveling by air, invest in a small book bag that counts as your child's carry on. It will easily hold these items and provide hours of entertainment.

3. Have electronic entertainment ready to go

Download a playlist of kid-friendly songs for your trip. Bring your copy of Little Pim's Spanish or French Bop so the whole family can sing-a-long in a new language. With Little Pim's digital downloads, you can watch our language learning videos anywhere, anytime. Of course, don't forget to bring your Little Pim Panda plush and tag your travel pics with #littlepim.

4. Take plenty of snacks

You'll save a lot of money and avoid unnecessary stops if you already have small packs of crackers or pieces of fruit ready. Some sweet treats are also a nice surprise.

5. Don't overbook your trip

It can already be difficult for little ones to be off of their normal schedule. If your kids still take naps, leave time for them to take one during the trip. Try to put them in bed at the normal time. If Little Pim is part of your daily routine at home, take some time each day to continue. Your child will benefit from progressing toward his or her goals.

Summer is the perfect time for your child to begin or continue learning a new language with Little Pim and going on vacation can actually be a fun way to incorporate our program. If you're interested in having your child learn any of the 12 languages we offer, visit our website to learn more and watch a free preview today.

Ways to Sneak Language Learning in Family Summer Fun

summer-games-kids

In the days before air conditioning and electronics, outdoor family games were a staple of summer evenings. Many times these activities involved both the adults and children, but more often the kids played while the grownups chat and relax. Often the whole neighborhood was involved. Depending on where you lived, you could hear happy voices calling out in Spanish, English, French, and many other languages as well.

Fireflies twinkled in the gathering dark, cool breezes offered relief from the heat of the day, and everyone was ready to unwind and enjoy good company, and good fun, in the late summer evenings. Music rang out, with one adult playing guitar while others sang favorite songs from their cultures.

You can readily update this time-honored tradition, bring in some nostalgia, and further your child's bilingual education. Following are some family favorites, along with suggestions on ways to help your kids learn a second language.

Badminton - Look for a set at your local sports shop or discount store to bring back Badminton for a fun family outdoor activity. Try keeping score in the second language.

Volleyball - Use your Badminton net for dual purpose and enjoy some fun while teaching the children new skills. Call out vocabulary words and instructions in a second language as the family plays Volleyball together. If you have little ones, use a balloon and try not to let it hit the ground by gently tapping it up and counting to practice your numbers.

Horseshoes - All you need is a stake in the ground and some used horseshoes, or you can buy a set. What is the word for horse in the second language? Practice animal and nature vocabulary in the second language while playing the fun yard game.

Frisbee - Toss around a frisbee and let the family dog join in. Each time someone catches the frisbee they must say a word or phrase from a chosen them in the second language. For younger children, you can say the word in the second language and have your child repeat after you on every throw.

Sidewalk Chalk - There are so many possibilities with sidewalk chalk. Your kiddos will love drawing on the driveway! Get creative and add in language learning activities by playing 'pictionary' outdoors with chalk so your little ones can guess the drawing in the second language. Another fun activity would be to draw the map of the language's country of origin or have the kids draw and color in the country's flag.

roasting-marshmallow

Campfire - Make a fire in a fire pit or other safe area and sing camp songs or tell stories while roasting marshmallows. Bring out the guitar or maracas for even more fun. What songs can you introduce in a second language? Check our Little Pim Spanish Bop and French Bop on our website. You can download your copy instantly to make summer travel a lot more fun!

Now, look back to when you were a child and recreate some of your best summer fun with your kids. How can you involve your children in the culture, memories, and the language of your childhood or the language and culture your kids and family are learning? Time together is how we make lasting memories that children will cherish.

Current brain research and best educational practices show that active, hands-on learning and parental involvement is an unbeatable combination to help further a child's ability to grasp and retain knowledge. Comment below for more information on Little Pim's award-winning language learning program for kids ages 0-6.

To make summer travel a lot easier and fun for the little ones, check out our post on Summer Travel Tips with Kids.

Need Summer Travel Tips with Kids? Little Pim to the Rescue!

Tell a parent there's an unanticipated three-hour car ride or plane trip in the near future, and in five minutes flat you'll find a lined bag busting with tissue, snacks, coloring utensils, and the child's comfort item of choice. Relief, however, will be not be found. Why? It takes this bag just to get to the grocery store! If there's one thing capable of infusing fear, hesitancy, and anxiety into an upcoming summer adventure, it's traveling with kids. What we hope is an exciting and restful experience, can often become a melting pot of opposites. Fortunately, Little Pim has come to the rescue!

Not only has Little Pim created learning tools proven to plant seeds of exploration, joy, and an expanded worldview into the youngest of children, the tools offered are as transferable to travel as to an afternoon at home. If you're looking for tips for Summer travel with kids, the following products will do the trick.

language-learning-for-kids

Colorful flashcards

Use these flashcards to familiarize your kids with sights and sounds discovered along your way. Play a guessing game or have your children quiz each other. To play, point to a flashcard and your child has to say the word in the language he or she is learning. If your child is having trouble remembering the word, you can say the word and he or she can point out the card. Before starting, read through the flashcards, pointing to each as your child repeats after you so it sinks into his or her memory.

Reward your child when they get 5 correct with a small treat like a gummy bear for example. Little Pim flashcards are really easy to travel with and make long trips with kids fun & educational for the whole family!

Engaging videos

Thank you, technology! Rest assured your kids are learning while you're resting, enjoying while you're planning, and engaging while you're focusing on what's next. Each of our videos has a unique child friendly theme, such as eating, playtime and feelings. Our Entertainment Immersion Method® is based on how children naturally acquire language.

The videos are segmented into 5-minute episodes to accommodate a young child’s attention span. The more your child watches, the more they learn. Simple sentences are broken down and are reinforced through repetition by native speakers.

Vocabulary scripts

Whether traveling to a foreign country where shopping and touring elicits perfect opportunities to put new languages into practice, or just a state away to visit family, these scripts and companion guides will help your family enjoy not only the vacation, but the book-ending miles. Memorize a conversation and pretend you are in the nation where the language is native. Discuss fun facts about the place.

Little Pim Plush

languages-for-kids

Whether this panda is involved in a learning activity, or your child just needs some comforting to fend off travel-sickness and tears, this plush friend delights to come along.

For more fun tips, products, answers and ideas, please contact us. We look forward to hearing how Little Pim helped replace your stress with rest this Summer!

15 Essential Tips for Your Next Family Road Trip

Little Pim Founder and CEO Julia Pimsleur reports on her family's recent road trip. She returned to us with lots of stories and some great tips for busy moms.When we decided to go on a two-week road trip this summer through Oregon, Nevada and California many of our fellow urban parents with kids exclaimed “we have always wanted to do that!” But they still packed their brood off to Maine, grandma’s or sprung for that extra week of summer camp. To our surprise, we are among the first in our circle of friends to actually take a bona fide road trip. Our findings seemed blog-worthy and a great way to honor this amazing country and Independence month to boot! Both my husband and I have fond memories of summer car trips we took with our parents, and while this very American tradition may be going the way of the dial phone, if records can make a come back, why not road trips? We decided to find out whether 11 days of two adults, two boys (6 and 9), 1250 miles and imposing on far flung family and friends in three different states would make for a great time or a failed attempt at old fashioned fun, like trying to bring back square dancing. Happily, it was a huge success!

The trip included breath-taking views as we wound along Highway 101 on the Oregon coast, which really can’t be captured with any camera or smartphone. We only drove a few hours a day (maximum 4, and never more than 2 at a time) and had a great time in the car comparing hamburgers at our various stops, counting red cars, and playing French music. We did have rain the first couple days and we did have moments of total meltdown (the main one on a nature walk that did not get sufficient up front buy-in). In less than two weeks we saw three states, visited cousins in two states, ate in countless charming roadside restaurants, explored great zoos and aquariums, tasted local peaches and watermelon, heard our kids exclaim in delight over bugs they had never seen, took walks on bridges made by famous architects, and created opportunities for our third grader to show off his Native American history knowledge. As a side benefit, now we can all name which states are part of the Lewis and Clark trail! Can you?

Here is my list of Do’s and Don’ts for when you plan your own road trip. There is something deeply satisfying about moving your family unit through America and reconnecting with how vast and grand this country is. It is also a way of slowing down time and enjoying time together far from tech and TV. These tips are most pertinent if you have kids in the 5-11 age range – we figure we are in that short window when they will actually WANT to do this kind of trip with us. I also think setting yourself up for success means having at least one real driver in the family who thinks it will be fun to take on the lion’s share of driving.

DO:

  1. Set up hotels and an intinerary a few weeks in advance. Book at least half your hotels up front so you have some anchors. Ask friends you haven’t spoken to in years where to go in their areas, you’ll find people are excited to help!
  2. When planning the trip look for friends and family who have kids roughly your kids ages. And an extra bedroom. Lacking either will be sub optimal.
  3. Stay at the nicest hotels you can and alternate with camping or cabins if you want t go more natural. (Shout out to my husband for agreeing to stay at “Marriott Town Suites” with eat-in kitchens and outdoor pools in lieu of the camping he requested.)
  4. Let each child have his or her own iPod. Major sanity preserver and they can still hear you and look out the window.
  5. Make a “Summer Road Trip” song playlist in advance with music everyone in the family likes (this takes some advance research). Let your kids make their own playlists too; they will love that.
  6. Spend two nights in one place when you start feeling like if you have to rummage through your bag one more time to find your toiletries you might scream.
  7. Map out the trip but don’t overplan. One of our favorite places was in a town we had no intention of going to (Redding) that was recommended by our hotel receptionist.
  8. Have strict rules about "tech time" on smartphones or tablets (ours got 30 min a day in the car and listening to music on iPods did not count).
  9. Start traditions! Every few days at a dinner we went around the table and each said 3 things we are grateful for. It’s a great way to get kids to reflect on the generosity of friends hosting us. And sometimes they even thanked us for planning this trip!
  10. Use the road trip to learn new facts about America. We became Lewis and Clark Expedition experts.
  11. Have a designated bag you bring with you to restaurants with entertainment for the kids. They color in those placemats way too fast and service is not always speedy. Inside the bag – coloring pad, markers, lego guys, Lewis and Clark kids book, stuff like that. Keep it in the back seat for easy grab and go.

DON’T:

  1. Be too attached to the plan. But do have one.
  2. Let your kids ask servers for things directly. Trust me on this one.
  3. Settle for bad coffee.
  4. Tell your kids more than once a day “look out the window, this is so beautiful!” You didn’t care about that when you were a kid, and chances are, they don’t either!

5 Sanity Saving Family Road Trip Tricks and Tips

Heading out of town for a sunny family road trip? You’re not alone; car travel is the most popular way for families to travel during the summer months. But it doesn’t mean it always easy.

Never fear, our family travel expert Melissa Klurman is here with tips and tricks to make your family road trip as smooth as your favorite roadside frozen custard.

Let’s hit the road!

1. Snack attack!

Nothing makes a trip fly by like special snacks. Make a road trip bento box for each child in your car using a plastic tackle box from the craft store – fill compartments with kid finger food faves such as goldfish, grapes, string cheese, and fruit snacks. Don’t forget water bottles and juice boxes to quench your thirsty back seat crew.

2. Art supplies on the fly

One of my favorite tips from my early travel writer days was to make a portable desk from a small plastic storage container – fill it with washable crayons and markers, stickers, and paper, then use the top as a “desk”. When I’m feeling lazy, I make do with a shoebox. Best part? Everything goes back in the box for easy craft cleanup.

3. Car games

My family plays endless (and I mean endless) rounds of “I Spy” and “20 Questions” both in the car and any time we stop for a meal break. To keep my sanity, I also stock up on magnetic travel games such as Travel Bingo to switch things up. Another great option for car and restaurant fun is Flashcard Speed Rounds (we flash a card and see who can get the answer first) – perfect for Little Pim’s 11 different language flashcard options (check out Spanish, here).

4. Cozy corners

One of the highlights of traveling by car with kids is being able to let them snuggle up with their favorite pillow and stuffed animals from home. Don't miss this opportunity for quiet car time -- turn the back seat into a nap friendly spot with fluffy toys, blankets, and pillows your kids love.

5. Electronic Back Up

Although we always try to stay unplugged for as long as possible to enjoy the scenery, for extended car trips, it’s often a relief for everyone to have a variety of entertainment options available. Preload your tablet or phone with kids friendly music, video, and game and app options so they're ready when you want them. And don’t forget to pack over–ear headphones if you need them for quiet viewing.

Buon Voyaggio!! Have a great trip!

Spring Ahead With A Fantastic Family Road Trip Playlist

Spring flowers, sunny skies, and the hints of warm weather that come with the change of seasons practically call out for a family road trip. So pack up your kids and put everyone in the traveling mood with our playlist of recent hits and classic songs from around the globe. Actually, no matter if you’re spring day tripping, spring cleaning, or simply have a spring dance party in your living room, our playlist will make you want to get up and groove.

And if Spring makes you as “Happy” as a “house without a roof” (our pick for favorite spring song), check out this link to folks around the world doing their own “Happy” dance. It's a great way to let your kids get a glimpse of spots reaching from Aix to Zagreb, and literally everywhere in-between (96 countries have participated thus far!).

Want even more musical inspiration? Little Pim’s Spanish Bop and French Bop are perfect to keep the music going all the way into summer.

So what are you waiting for? Plug in some speakers and let the spring music start!

5 Secrets to Smart Packing for Spring Break

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – spring break!  Whether you’re going to grandma’s house or to a tropical beach, the first step to a successful vacation with kids is packing right. Travel expert Melissa Klurman can get you from overstuffed diaper bags to sleek and chic suitcases in just 5 simple steps.Then it's Buon Viaggio as our friends in Italy say! 1. Make a List, Check it twice: Stop! Before you even think about putting something in your suitcase, make a list for each member of your family. Then pile all the items on your pad outside your suitcase before you pack. Then edit out as many items as you can out (bring stain remover sticks and Woolite single packs to stretch wardrobe options.)  Your goal is a lean, light suitcase. Remember: No one ever came back from a trip with kids saying “I wish my bags had been heavier and I had to carry more.”

2. Do you homework: Check out the weather in your destination on an app such as WeatherBug and pack for the climate without  bringing “just in case” clothes. Consult the hotel’s website, or give them a call, to determine if they have supplies you can leave at home. Many hotels stock everything from baby proofing kits to booster seats.

2. Switch It Up – When it’s time to pack, don’t think "one suitecase-one person." Intead, divide everyone's clothes over multiple bags. You should have some of your kid’s or spouse’s pieces in your bag, and vice versa; covering you in the (hopefully rare) case that one of your bags goes missing or is left at home (trust me, it happens).

3. Plastic Rocks! – If you remember only one word about vacation packing with kids, make it PLASTIC. Put suntan lotion, shampoo, or anything that might leak in Ziploc bags for checked luggage. Tuck a few more into your suitcase for wet bathing suits, sandy shoes, or dirty bibs. Plastic zip bags for snacks on the go turn into drip-free garbage bags when you’re done eating. And if you’re packing for a dressy occasion, pack outfits in individual plastic dry cleaner bags and then place in a garment bag – the plastic layers keep clothes wrinkle free.

4. Roll, Roll, Roll – To save space when you’re packing, skip the “square” fold and roll instead. Lay shirts flat, fold arms in and across each other, fold in half length-wise, then roll from top to bottom. Tuck rolled items up against each other to create rows of rolls. In the corners, place shoes which should be filled with rolled socks.

5. Mesh to the rescue – Mesh laundry bags, usually sold for laundering your delicates, are travel lifesavers for families. For babies and tots, place easily visible, whole outfits into the transparent bag, then tuck the dirty clothes back inside when you’re done with them for easy drop and wash when you get back home. For you, place bathing suits and lingerie for easy snag free packing and washing. Added bonus: if you’re flying with carry-on luggage and your bag gets inspected, you can skip the whole  strangers-holding-up-your-unmentionables part of the inspection since the contents are partially visible.

Happy Travels!

Melissa Klurman is an award-winning travel writer and editor who has professionally demonstrated how to pack suitcases on CBS, FOX, and NBC programs – she still, however, has trouble deciding which shoes to bring on vacation.

Top Family Travel Trends from the 2014 Travel Show

Our resident travel expert and Little Pim blogger Melissa Klurman hit the floor at the NYT 2014 Travel Show to find the “Next Big Thing” in travel for families. Here are a few of her favorite finds, just in time for summer vacation planning.

1. Croatia – Looking for an affordable European vacation destination without the crowds? Croatia, the newest member of the European Union (they joined in Septemer 2013), should be at the top of your list. The country has beautiful beaches lining the crystal blue Adriatic Sea, storybook Medieval cities, and great value for money. And for proof that Croatia is family friendly, look no further than Disney Cruises, which has added the picturesque walled city of Dubrovnik to all of its Mediterranean cruises.

2. TripWing – There are probably more travel apps available for download than raisins squished into your minivan, but this is one of the most innovative we’ve seen: It let’s you research and compare trip itineraries from travel tour operators and then book directly on the site. Currently, only 3 of the 30 tour operators on TripWing let you book directly without a travel agent. So now you can do your family travel research and booking completely on your own schedule (check out some of the offerings for family friendly Biking in France or Eco-Tourism in Costa Rica if you need an afternoon distraction.)

3. Jersey Shore – Proving they’re “Stronger Than the Storm,” New Jersey pulled out all the stops at the Travel Show to highlight their family friendly beaches as THE east coast destination to spend your summer vacation. If you’ve never been before, fly into Philadelphia and drive to lovely Cape May – kids love the historic lighthouse and you’ll be enamored of the Victorian architecture. Stay at historic Congress Hall, which offers beach chair and umbrella service along with chair-side waiter service.

4. Puerto Rico – Tropical beach fans should say Hola! to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico– their Travel Show stand highlighted not only their easy access (a short 3 hour direct flight from the NYC area), but also the fact that they’re a Commonwealth of the US, meaning you can visit without bringing a passport or exchanging currency. Once you arrive, you have your choice of white sand beaches, wonderful Latin culture, and a number of affordable family-friendly resorts (we especially like Copamarina Resort in Guanica on the southwest corner of the island).

The Global Surprises of a Caribbean Getaway

If you’re anything like us, this winter’s arctic blasts, piles of snow, and ice coated roads have left you longing for a tropical break. To get you ready for a spring break warm-weather escape, we’ve rounded up great Caribbean getaways with an extra bonus: the chance for your family to practice their new-found language skills at islands throughout the Caribbean where bilingual culture shares the bill with sandy beaches. Enjoy our favorite Bilingual Islands of the Caribbean:

Trilingual Appeal

St Marten/St Maarten

Here’s a unique cultural experience beneath the palms: this little island is split in two by an imaginary line that creates Dutch-speaking St Maarten and French-speaking St. Martin. Rent a car and you can sample authentic croissants a la plage for breakfast and imported Gouda on the beach for lunch.

Where to Stay: On the Dutch side of the island, the Westin St Maarten is the place to stay with kids, with the largest fresh water pool on the island, Camp Scallywag for daytime escapades, as well as all the beach watersports fun they can handle.

French Flair

St Barthélemy

Petite “St Barths” feel like a slice of France on the Caribbean Sea with French cuisine and language infusing the beach scene here with a certain savoir faire. The French have laid claimed the island since 1877, but you’ll also hear English throughout your stay. Head to Lorient Beach for the friendliest family scene on the tres chic island.

Where to stay: The most kid-friendly spot on St. Bart's is the full-service resort, Hotel Guanahani & Spawhich features private suites and cottages (14 with private pools) and two separate kids’ programs.

Dutch Wonderlands

Curaçao

The largest of the Netherlands Antilles, known as the ABC islands (Aruba and Bonaire are the other two), the island's capital, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering a colorful trip through colonial history and architecture.

Where to stay:Sunscape Curaçao takes the family resort prize as the only all-inclusive property on the island, meaning not only all of your food and drinks are taken care of with one-stop shopping, but also that the excellent Explorer’s kids club and Core teen center are included in the price as well.

 Aruba

Another option to hear Dutch is on this sunny, wind-swept island, an independent entity of the Netherlands. Although you’ll see Dutch architecture in the capital city of Oranjestad, listen closely while you're here and you’ll also hear Arawak, Spanish, and the local lingo, Papiamentu. Global Caribbean indeed!

Where to stay:Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino is popular for it’s kids’s program and numerous family-friendly amenities and activities including a three-level pool complex with a cascading waterfall and two-story water-slide.

Spanish Caribbean

Puerto Rico

Rich in Spanish language culture and heritage, yet a Commonwealth of the United States, which means you get a salsa beat and the rich historic atmosphere of Old San Juan, without having to exchange your US dollars or even bring a passport. Kids will love the old Spanish fort of El Morro and it’s grassy slopes where kite-flying is a must.

Where to Stay: In addition to six pools and 500 landscaped acres on a cliff overlooking the turquoise sea, the family-friendly El Conquistador Resort also features Coquí Water Park and Palomino Island, the resort's private island which offers everything from snorkeling to horseback riding.

Dominican Republic

This Latin Caribbean nation is a great place to practice your Spanish while enjoying beautiful beaches and the all-inclusive resorts the island is known for (since the DR, as it’s referred to, has the most resort hotel rooms of any island in the Carribbean, you can also expect to hear English spoke in most hotels, too). Head to Santo Domingo’s cobblestone streets to walk in the historic footsteps of explorers such as Columbus and Ponce de Leon.

Where to Stay: At Barceló Bávaro Palace Deluxe, pint-size pirates can tame the high seas at Pirate’s Cove – a waterpark complete with a themed pool, swashbuckling pirate ship with water slides, and a one-of-a-kind wave pool.  There’s also a teen nightclub and an 18-hole mini golf course. Plus, the opportunity to soak up the sun on a beautiful white sand beach, por supuesto.  

--Melissa Klurman

7 Budget Saving Tips for a Family Trip to Europe

Want to try out your child’s Little Pim language skills with a family trip to Europe? Follow our 7 easy tips to visit the continent without breaking the bank. 1. Friendly Skies: To save on international airfare, remember this one easy tip: Depart on a Tuesday, and return on a Wednesday for the lowest fares.

2. Shoulder Your Way To Savings: Shoulder season is what the travel industry calls non-peak travel season, the periods between prime summer months and the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. If you’re flexible, visiting Europe in the “shoulder” months of January through March will save you a bundle.

3. Do Your Homework: Not all credit cards are created equal. Check before you jet off to make sure your card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Note: Amex Platinum, most Capital One cards, and Chase’s United MileagePlus and Sapphire cards are all good options to avoid foreign fees.

4. Pack Smart: Most airlines will allow one checked bag free on international flights, but charge a HUGE surcharge for a second bag, up to $100! Think one large (within the weight limit) bag per person, instead of two smaller ones.

5. Home Away from Home: For families, nothing beats an apartment or house for stretching out and cooking your own money-saving meals. Try Airbnb for unique options and user reviews or VacationHomeRentals.com for everything from Italian villas to Paris apartments. Want to stay for free? Home exchanges with a like-minded European family might be just the ticket. Check out HomeExchange.com or HomeLink.org.

6. Ride the Rails: Whether you ride London’s Tube (where kids 16 and under ride free) or the multi-country Eurail (kids under 4 free, kids 4 to 11 ride for ½ price), train travel is the most economical option for European family travel. Plus, most kids love a train ride, so you have built-in entertainment value as well.

7. To Market to Market: Now that you have your own room with a view, and a fridge, you can take advantage of farmer’s markets, artisanal shops, and roadside stands to eat like a local and on the cheap. Bon appetit and bon voyage!

--By Melissa Klurman