travel tips for the family from the expert Amy Tara Koch

I had the great pleasure of doing a quick interview with Amy Tara Koch, the author of Bump It Up, trend reporter to NBC, contributer to SELF, New York Times, People’s Mom and Baby, Travel & Leisure, and many others – yah she’s totally an expert on all things style and travel.

Admittedly the first line about I’m following you is awkward but its about Twitter – lol…

We went over some basics of traveling with expecting a baby, traveling with kids of all ages, and tips for what to bring on the plane.

Of course the age old question how do you defuse the angry mob on the plane when your baby/kid just wont stop crying.

Well I could write out all the questions and answers but that would take all the fun out of watching the video.

Standing Pee

There are few moments in a fathers life when he’s truly proud… One of these moments is the ability to say what I’m saying is that my baby boy Pees standing up.  It truly is a guy thing. I know its one of the crowning moments that a Dad with daughters only will never get to experience. For that I’m sorry but for me its the highlight of the month, of the year so far. On the serious side potty training isnt easy, its constently asking do you need to go potty, trying to teach him its not ok to go in the diaper.  We’ve been given tons of advice, some of which just made me laugh out loud… just let him go naked for 3-4 days; they dont like peeing themselves… sure you’ll pick up some doodie off the floor… My response was like a look of puzzlement and maybe horror.   My wife’s been reading a few “experts” online and really wants to introduce where the poop goes after he does it in the diaper and draw that link. To which I also laugh at – after she got angry that I wasn’t doing it and showing him the poop from his diaper goes down the toilet and I did it. Of course in the handling of not touching said poop it landed on the bathroom floor. LOL Her face was priceless… of course I was the one with bleach spray cleaning up but that’s not the point.  My point is this everyone has their own way of training and you’ve gotta make it work for your kid and make it feel right for you and your family. I’m not showing him where the poop goes anymore – really the first goal is dry diapers and only peeing in the potty we’ll get to the pooping in the potty soon enough!

Tips for summer outings with a baby or toddler

The first official day of summer is June 21st which is exactly a month from today. The beautiful, warm weather means you and your little ones can start spending more time outdoors. Young kids love being outside, whether it be in the back yard, downtown doing errands, the park or pretty much any place where they don’t have to sit still and be quiet. However, leaving the house with a baby or toddler is no small event. Here are some tips to consider before heading out and while on your outing this summer. These tips are geared more towards a short trip to the park, doing errands, etc. as opposed to a longer road trip or vacation away from home.

Attire and protection

Dress your baby or toddler lightly–shorts, tank tops, a cool dress, sandals, flip flops and don’t for get a hat to help keep the sun out of their eyes. If they are cool, dry and comfortable, it will make the outing so much easier on you.

If you will be in direct sun for any length of time apply some sun block/screen on your baby/toddler. There are products made just for their young, sensitive skin. You will want to try the product on a small patch of their skin first as some children may be allergic to the ingredients.

My personal dad tip: You also don’t want to jump into a blazing hot vehicle with your baby so a few minutes before you actually get into the vehicle, start it up and turn on the air conditioner. If the weather is cool enough you can simply open up the vehicle and lower the windows to vent all the hot air. Also, try to park in the shade.

Your gear

Consider how long you will really be away from the house and pack accordingly. The key here is to pack lightly and keep organized. Here is my usual arsenal of baby gear.

  • One or two diapers, that’s all.
  • A small packet of baby wipes, not the huge wholesale family pack.
  • A pocket size packet of tissues or a soft spit-up cloth. (To clean drool, boogers, etc.)
  • One or two servings of baby formula in an easy to despense container. You don’t want to carry the whole can of formula because it’s just too messy to scoop out when on the go.
  • One or two baby bottles with water already in them. When your baby needs a bottle simply dump one of the pre-portioned servings into the bottle. (Don’t carry a bottle already mixed as the summer heat may make it turn bad before your child consumes it.)
  • A single, maybe two, change of clothes.
  • A small toy or two.
  • A snack for your little one.
  • My gear: wallet, phone, iPod, keys, sunglasses.

Keep things organized in your diaper bag and pack things horizontally, next to each other as opposed to on top of each other so you’re not digging through it to find what you need. Also, try to pack it yourself so you know exactly where everything is.

My personal dad tip: I hate lugging around a diaper bag so when I can get away with it, my weapon of choice is a good, comfortable pair of cargo shorts. I simply pack the bare essentials in the cargo pockets and head out the door.

During your outing

Keep an eye on your child. This may seem obvious but during the summer, public places become much more crowded so don’t let your child wonder off too far and don’t take your eyes off of them.

Keep a cool drink handy for your child. They may not sit still long enough to drink the whole thing but offer it to them often so they can sip it and keep themselves properly hydrated while you’re both out.

In the hot weather they will probably drink a lot of liquids so make time for frequent bathroom breaks. If your child is still in diapers, be sure to check them often to see if they are in need of a change. The last thing you want is your baby to end up with diaper rash.

My personal dad tip: Kids may not be willing to stop and take a drink but I’ve found that they love ice. So try a snow cone or crushed ice if they are refusing liquids.

My personal dad tip: If it’s especially hot and humid I sometimes would forgo a thick diaper and put a cool, breathable underwear on my boy. Make sure you are prepared to clean up a messy accident if you do this.

Do you have any “daddy tricks-of-the-trade” for surviving while away from the house?

Planning our first camping trip AB (After Baby)

Although Michigan has beautiful parks and places for camping, there are two factors which make camping not so enjoyable for me: unpredictable weather (more work for me) and black flies (unreal how much they love to chew on me). However, I’m always eager to score points with my lovely wife so I am currently working on planning our descent into hell, er…um our a camping trip.

My wife loves camping and has been bugging me to plan a camping trip for the three of us. Let’s just say I don’t share her excitement. I used to love camping, but as I have gotten older it has become more reminiscent of work than relaxation. I blame this partly on the fact I worked for a residential treatment center where taking delinquent kids camping was part of my job. I left that job shortly after the last fiasco of a camping excursion which involved a combination of marijuana, fake injuries and a near mutiny.

Although Michigan has beautiful parks and places for camping, there are two factors which make camping not so enjoyable for me: unpredictable weather (more work for me) and black flies (unreal how much they love to chew on me).

However, I’m always eager to score points with my lovely wife so I am currently working on planning our descent into hell, er…um our a camping trip.

In a way this could be cool, because I have to basically buy all new equipment. (I gave away most of our camping equipment to some homeless guys I was interviewing for a project. Seriously, I did.) I’m also kind of excited to take Tessa camping. Mostly because I can use her as an excuse to buy the elaborate gear I plan on getting in exchange for agreeing to do this.

Here’s my shopping list for the 3 main items which I believe will be essential for a pleasurable camping vacation:

Tent: With all the crap gear we will need for Tessa, we will need lots of room.

Below is the tent I want:

From Cabela’s, it’s the Coleman Legacy Weathermaster for $240. (It has a LED tent lighting system with a USB port in the light system power unit can recharge cell phones and music player…waterproof floors, self-rolling windows)

NICE, right!?!

However, I know this is more realistic:

This is the Eagle’s Camp Family Voyager Tent for $99 It’s okay, but no LCD light, USB ports or other things that I might actually enjoy and get pleasure out of having.

I really liked that little section in the tent above where I can put my chair and hide from the black flies.

Camp stove:

I have no chance in hell of getting this but it is so awesome. This is the Camp Chef Deluxe Oven with Grill. It’s only $280, but comes with a top burner (7,500-BTU); oven (3,000-BTU), and the top grill has a 5,000-BTU output. Includes thermometer and two oven racks. Matchless ignitor burners. I can cook, so imagine the gourmet I could put together. I’ve done pretty well with much less and it will likely remain that way.

Like I said, no chance in hell.

(Even Hell, Michigan where we might be camping 🙂

I’ll probably get this:

Remember all the gear and crap we’ll need. That’s why this will have to do. It folds up so it will be easy to pack into the back of our Prius. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that little nugget. We have one car, a Prius. I had a Blazer until we moved to Lansing, but since we were both working within a few miles of our house, my wife suggested I sell it. Yep, that’s my story.

It’s times like this when I miss that Blazer.

Finally, and this item is non-negotiable:

So what were your experiences camping with your baby? Any “gear” you would recommend? Any you would suggest leaving home? Please share your thoughts. I’m going to need all the help I can get (And in help, I mean actual help – not beer).