Monday, December 28, 2009

New regulations for flying with kids in/out of the US

Following the recent security breach on a US plane, there are some new regulations that affect families flying in or out of the US. The main change seems to be a ban on holding any personal items or leaving your seat for the last 60 minutes of a long-haul flight. This is a daunting prospect if you have have young children. Check out the latest posting from Delicious Baby for ideas on how to keep your little ones occupied.

Here's the link to the US Transportation Security Administration that is responsible for airline security regulations. And here's their information page on travelling with kids.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Little Traveller would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a prosperous and healthy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Babies and balancing on the internet

I came across a couple of gems on the internet this week.

Set aside a few minutes to watch this trailer for a documentary called Babies that will be released in April. It follows four babies born in four very different cultures for their first year of life. It's guaranteed to put a smile on your face for the rest of the day.

I also watched this clip on YouTube and was amazed! Check out the balancing skills on display in this clip from Bangladesh.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Give the gift of music


My life has a soundtrack these days -- one that involves a lot of Sharon, Lois and Bram. I don't go far in the car without that familiar refrain: "music, please!" This is from an article I wrote recently for Calgary's Child magazine. Here are my top 10 picks for best music CDs for young kids. They make great gifts and are easy to mail, too.

1: Mainly Mother Goose by Sharon, Lois and Bram
This collection by the talented Canadian trio should be in every family's music collection.

2. Here Come the 123s by They Might be Giants

This CD won the best musical album for children at the 2009 Grammy Awards and the catchy tunes will appeal to kids of all ages.

3. Putamayo Kids Present: Sing Along with Putamayo
Folk and blues inspired high calibre songwriting

4. The Backyardigans: Groove to the Music
Eighteen original tracks from the TV show, sung by children. The wide variety of musical styles make for a fun listening experience for 2-4 year olds.

5. You are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell
The 17 mellow folk melodies are calming but never boring. This is one of my favourite CDs at the moment.

6. Family Time by Ziggy Marley
A strong and uplifting message about love and family thread through this CD which features collaborations with many other artists.

7. Putamayo Kids Present: World Playground
Another highly accessible anthology that is a great CD to dance to.

8. The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens
A great introduction to classical music, this is a rousing suite of 14 animal-themed movements. Buy the accompanying book by Barrie C. Turner and Sue Williams to add context.

9. The World's Very Best Opera for Kids (in English) by The Budapest Concert Orchestra
Nineteen classic tracks from Carmen, La Boheme, Madame Butterfly and six other operas. Sung in English, this is opera without the usual language barrier.

10. On a Starry Night by various artists
Soft and gentle, but never boring, lullabies to get your little one off to sleep.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CARES harness wins new award

The CARES child aviation restraint just won another award. The Mom's Choice Award named CARES among the best in family friendly products for 2009. It won a Gold Award (their highest accolade) in the Gear and Accessories/Safety category.

Word is slowly spreading about this innovative product that helps keep young children safe and secure when flying. For more info, visit the CARES page on our website.

CARES harnesses are available to rent or purchase through Little Traveller in Calgary, Alberta.

Fireproofing your Christmas tree

I was shocked and more than a little terrified when I saw this fire safety video on YouTube today. Take a look at how few seconds it takes for a Christmas tree to become engulfed in flames and how quickly the fire spreads around the room: Christmas Tree Fire Safety video

But apparently there's a solution... you can fireproof your Christmas tree by feeding it a special concoction. The tree will be able to hold up to seven times its weight in water. Here's the recipe:

Christmas Tree Solution
8 qts / 2 gallons hot water
1 pint / 2 cups Karo (corn) syrup
2 oz. / 1/4 cup liquid bleach
pinch Epsom salts
1/2 tsp. Borax

Strip 3 in (7.5 cm) of bark of the bottom of the tree trunk to help it absorb the solution. Mix all the ingredients in the hot water. Pour as much of the hot liquid into the tree stand as it will comfortably hold. Save the remaining solution and top up the tree stand every day.

Haven't tried it yet but it's on my to do list...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Organic grocery delivery


I've been using Spud.ca for a while now -- since my first child was born and getting out to the grocery store on a regular basis became more of a challenge. This online grocery company delivers fresh, local, organic produce to my door every Wednesday.

Little Traveller has teamed up with Spud to provide organic/green baby essentials for families travelling to Calgary. If you'd like formula, baby food, diapers or anything else delivered to your hotel or grandma's house or added to your equipment rental order through Little Traveller, drop us a line and we'll arrange for it to be delivered on time through Spud.ca. Visit their website for more product information or send Little Traveller a list of what you need.

Little Traveller baby equipment rentals is featured in the Garlic Press newsletter this week that goes out to all Spud customers and on the Spudfan blog site.

As well as Calgary, Spud delivers to the metro Vancouver area and Vancouver Island (as well as a number of locations in the US).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stork Craft cribs recall


Foundations folding steel crib

Since January this year, Stork Craft baby cribs have been involved in a recall for their mattress support brackets on cribs manufactured between May 2000 and November 2008. This week, there is a new recall notice on ALL drop-side Stork Craft cribs. Almost 1 million cribs with the storkcraft baby and Fisher-Price branding have been sold in Canada since January 1993. Toys r Us announced that they plan to stop selling drop-side cribs (of any brand) by the end of 2009.

Here at Little Traveller baby equipment rentals in Calgary we have a variety of crib options for your baby. We do not carry any Stork Craft products. As well as full-size wooden cribs, we have folding steel cribs (no drop sides, with a 4" mattress), the Baby Bjorn travel crib light, and pack 'n' play playpens. Call us for more information on 1-877-242-4067.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby B'Air contest

Just a reminder that the Baby B'Air flight vest contest through Canadian Babies ends soon. To enter for a chance to win a free flight vest for lap held babies who fly, head to the contest zone and comment on your favourite Little Traveller blog entry. Couldn't be easier!

Images show the front and back of the Baby B'Air.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tips for travelling with baby

Travelling with a newborn can be daunting, but in fact young babies are often good travellers. Here's an article I wrote for The YummyMummy Club out this week with some tips for travelling with newborns.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeping toddlers busy


What's your favourite travel toy for airplane journeys and road trips? I love the Mudpuppy mini magnetic play scenes (rated for 3+ years because of little pieces). I bought a few different sets and keep them hidden away until we have a long car journey or plane ride. They even have an airport themed play scene. The Usborne Great Searches book series also work really well for our children who love studying the busy pages.

Delicious Baby posted some great articles recently about keeping your little ones occupied during airplane journeys. Debbie calls her bag of carefully chosen toys an "airplane busy bag". Here are three recent blog posts about packing a busy bag that's appropriate for your child:
- Packing an airplane busy bag
- What's in my airplane busy bag?
- Travel Toys (by age)

By the way, one of Debbie's favaourite travel products is the CARES airplane harness. To find out more, click here to access Little Traveller's information page.

Money Saving Tips

If you love to read, and love reading to your kids, but don't want to pay full price for new books then check out these money saving tips and websites:
- Purchase previously rented books from your local library. I've found lots of great 50 cent board books for my toddler this way. (And since she's far from gentle with her books, it makes it easier for me to bear when she rips all the flaps off the page.)
- Head to local garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets for some great finds at low, low prices.
- If your children are no longer interested in certain titles, swap them with friends who have children the same age
- Join the online book swapping community at bookmooch.com. It's free to join and free to use -- the only cost is postage. Also try www.paperbackswap.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CanadianBabies contest

Little Traveller is running a contest at the moment through CanadianBabies.ca to win a Baby B'Air infant flight vest (for lap held infants who fly). To enter, visit the Canadian Babies' contest zone. All you need to do is comment on your favourite Little Traveller blog entry. Couldn't be easier! For more info on the infant flight vest, visit Little Traveller's website. Good luck!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I spent yesterday evening at a school Halloween dance dressed up as Captain Hook (albeit it a pregnant Captain Hook which somewhat spoiled the illusion) and a foil for the little Tinkerbell at my side. Needless to say, I'm in full Halloween mode now.

But if you are like me, you'll be confiscating most of your kid's candy later tonight. I mean that in a nice way. I have to pick through all the candy anyway because of my daughter's nut allergy. She chooses a couple of safe treats and she's happy with that. She promptly forgets all about the stash of candy at the back of the cupboard (unfortunately, I don't). This year, we'll be taking all the leftovers to the Evans Centre for Dental Health and Wellness here in Calgary. For every pound of candy you bring in they will give your child $1. They are also giving away glowing LED toothbrushes and a chance to win an iPod.

Candy will be collected on Monday, November 2 from 4.30 until 7.30 pm. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winter Fun in Calgary

Here are a few of my favourite things to do with kids in Calgary in the winter:

- dress up warmly and head to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary for a winter walk
- enjoy toddler storytime at Pages in Kensington on Mondays at 10 a.m. or Monekyshines in Marda Loop on Thursdays at 10.30 a.m. (it's free)
- go tobogganing at a local hill (visit familyfuncalgary.com for a list of venues and safety tips). Helmets recommended!
- meet friends at Coffee and S'Cream (or one of the other indoor play areas around Calgary) and catch up with friends while your kids let off steam
- strap on some skates at Bowness Lagoon and warm up with a hot chocolate around the fire pit
- if it's blustery and cold outside, treat the kids to a movie at the theatre. The Uptown on 8 Ave downtown will screen "'Toons for Toddlers" aimed at 2 to 5 year olds on November 28.
- don't want to leave the house? Bake some muffins and cookies at home with the kids then invite some friends over for a fancy tea-party.
- take a ride on the C-Train -- just for fun. I usually aim for Dalhousie Station and the Chapters store where we hang out and maybe pick a new book or two to take home. If you return within 90 minutes, there's no need to buy a return ticket for the train.
- immerse yourselves in culture at the Glenbow Museum and spend time creating your own masterpieces in the art area
- enjoy a bbq at one of Calgary's parks on a sunny winter's day. Pack plenty of warm clothes, blankets and a thermos or two of hot chocolate and grill hamburgers for the family. Bring a soccer ball to keep the kids moving!
- head to the Telus World of Science for some indoor adventures. Check out the Creative Kids section and Wow Town. Click here for a coupon for free admission for a child.
- and last but not least, take advantage of free events around the city. Visit the city of Calgary website and head to the "Living" section for an event listing and keep an eye on the local papers. Family Fun Calgary is an excellent resource for parents in the Calgary area. Check out the "Cheapies and Freebies" page for more great ideas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have Breasts, Will Travel

I feel the need to share this blog entry from Mabel's Labels founder and mum of six, Julie Cole. I love her witty writing. This one is a story about nursing on a plane. Here's the link:
Have Breasts will Travel blog post by Julie Cole

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Five Great Bedtime Stories


If you're tired of your usual goodnights to the moon and that big red barn, mix it up with five of my favourite bedtime stories for little ones under six:
- Peepo!
- Where is the Green Sheep?
- Cornelius P. Mud: Are you Ready for Bed?
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
- And if the Moon Could Talk

If you want to know why I picked these five, read my article published today on Savvymom.ca.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Extras for air travel


We are a baby equipment rental company here at Little Traveller. We rent car seats, cribs and highchairs (among other things)... but we also consider ourselves specialists in flying with kids. We've got a long list of items that we rent and sell to make life easier for parents flying with their little ones. Here are some of the specialist products we recommend:

- CARES airplane harness for children 22-44 lbs travelling in their own seat. As safe as a car seat but compact enough to fit in your purse. Available to rent for $25 or to buy for $85.
- Baby B'Air flight vest for lap-held infants. Protects against mid-flight turbulence and gives mum or dad some hands-free time. Available to rent for $25 or to buy for $45.
- EarPlanes ear plugs are designed to combat ear pain during take-off and descent. Two sizes for adults and children. Available for sale for $8 for a pair.
- Safe.2.Go harness to keep tabs on adventurous toddlers in the airport and ensure that everyone makes it to the gate on time! Available for rent in ladybug or frog designs from $3 a day.
- Angel Alert child electronic tracking device helps keep tabs on errant toddlers in busy locations such as airports and car parks. Available for rent from $3 per day.

If you're travelling to the Calgary area, visit our website at www.LittleTraveller.ca for more compact, portable baby friendly products available for rent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Carry-on Conundrum

...or what to pack when flying with kids. These tried and tested tips should help you avoid many of the usual carry-on pitfalls. The key is to travel as light as possible. Borrow or rent key baby items (check out www.baby-equipment-rental.com) at your destination.

  • Before you travel outside of Canada, check the expiry date of your family's passports: some countries require that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected return. If you're travelling to the US there's no such requirement. Just make sure that your passports do not expire before you're due to return!
  • Baby food, formula, milk, water and juice in reasonable amounts for your itinerary are exempted from the liquids restrictions if you are travelling with a baby under 24 months.
  • Keep the following documents to hand for everyone in your travel party (even infants need ID): passport, SIN, birth certificate (for infants & children), health care number, aeroplan card and vaccination record. If travelling without your partner, carry a signed consent letter (and a copy of their driver's license) to prove that you have permission to travel with your child/children. A sample consent letter is provided on www.voyage.gc.ca (follow links to "Children and Travel"). Keep a photocopy of the original documents in a checked bag and another copy at home.
  • Put contact information on every piece of luggage, including carry-on bags, strollers, car seats etc.
  • Pack a diaper bag with a spare change of clothes for parent and baby, several diapers, plenty of wipes, Ziploc bags, a refillable bottle and snacks, and a few simple toys. Backpacks are a great choice for carry-on baggage because they leave your hands free. Kids over three can carry their own little backpack with a stuffie, a couple of toys and a drink bottle for the trip.
  • Toys such as transformer robots that resemble firearms or toy weapons such as water guns are not permitted in carry-on baggage.
  • Ensure that your carry-on bags conform to airline size/weight restrictions so that you aren't surprised at the gate and forced to check any of them. Check your airline's policy if in doubt.
  • Infants without a seat are usually permitted a baggage allowance of 10 kg / 22 lb, but policies vary by airline. Air Canada and WestJet allow two items of baggage per infant (for example, a car seat and a stroller).
  • If you're taking a car seat onto the plane, check the car seat before you leave home to make sure that it has a CMVSS 213 or 213.1 compliance sticker on it. Most airlines require the car seat to be installed in the window seat and only one car seat is allowed per row. If in doubt, call the airline to confirm their policy. (On a recent British Airways flight with our 11-month old who was still in a rear-facing infant seat, we were told that we could only install the seat in a forward-facing position.)
  • Consider renting or purchasing a CARES harness for children aged one to four years (weighing 22-44 lb) sitting in their own seat. It does the same job as a car seat, but fits in your purse. CARES are available in Canada from Little Traveller.
  • Lightweight or combo strollers are a must for most airports if you child is under four (or bring a baby carrier for young babies). Confirm in advance that your airline offers a "claim at gate" option. This option is not usually available for international flights -- strollers have to be picked up at the baggage carousel with the rest of your luggage. (I travel with a Quinny Zapp that folds right down and comes in a compact carry case with a handy shoulder strap. I sling this over my shoulder before boarding and stow it in the overhead lockers. It makes for a quick and easy transition when we land.)
  • Some airlines (but not Air Canada or WestJet as far as I know) are starting to charge for large items, such as car seats, that are gate checked. Check with your airline in advance so that you can avoid additional charges.
  • Pack winter coats at the top of your checked bags so that they are on hand when you land, and just carry on a warm sweater for you and your children. This saves you battling with big, bulky jackets.
  • Bring your own cheap headsets for the kids so you don't have to wait for the flight attendants to offer them. Consider bringing a compact, portable DVD player so that you have more flexibility over what your children watch and when.
  • Customize the look of your bags to make them easy to identify on the carousel.
  • Keep the stubs from your checked luggage. Immediately report the loss of luggage to the baggage agent on duty.
  • Prepare to deal with a lost bag. Pack so that you can continue your trip with the loss of one of your bags. Distribute key items like diapers, formula or underwear so that you can get to your destination.
For more information, head to these sites:
www.airsafe.com
www.flyertalk.com
www.voyage.gc.ca

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some interesting travel blogs...

It's that time of year when everyone is back from a great summer of adventuring and are starting to plan next year's adventures. (At least, that's what I do when it starts to get cold and I need something to keep my mind off the impending winter months!) Here are a couple of recent blog entries that offer some useful tips:

Nerd's Eye View posted "Mistakes Rooky RVers Make" about RVing around the southern Gulf Islands in BC.

Away.com posted an article called "Top Five Tips from a Five-Month Family Road Trip."

And if you're heading farther afield, check out Stuffyourrucksack.com. They have connected with 187 organizations (in 78 countries including Mexico) that need stuff -- stuff such as clothing, toys, stationery and other items that you could squeeze into your suitcase before you get on the plane. What a great idea!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Car seat compatibility

I remember the confusion and exhaustion I felt when shopping for a car seat for our first born a few years ago. I was heavily pregnant and my husband and I drove around Calgary checking out a number of different brands in several stores (that doesn't happen any more with two kids in tow: I research online then head straight to a store, make the purchase, and am out again within 10 minutes!) When we eventually decided on a car seat and a colour we both liked, we found it wouldn't fit in our Subaru. Let's just say that I wasn't very happy as we headed right back into the store to return it. Needless to say, we tried out a couple of options in the car before we bought a replacement.

But the internet has made life easier. The website carseatdata.org is a one stop shop for advice on car seats. It has useful pointers on choosing the best car seat, but the part I like best is the car seat compatibility search by car make/model. What a great time-saver! And you can even add your own data to the site if you wish.

There is an art to installing a car seat correctly (read: safely). There are two companies in Calgary offering car seat installation clinics, house calls and consultations: Seat Savvy Inc. and Keepin' Baby Safe. LaVonne Ries at Keepin' Baby Safe told me that 85% of car seats are not used correctly. Post a comment on this blog entry and I'll email you a free car seat inspection coupon (worth $20) for an upcoming clinic through Keepin Baby Safe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

20% discount on Baby B'AIR flight vests


We're running a fall special on the small size of the Baby B'Air flight vest. Regularly priced at $45, it is on sale for $36. The small size is suitable for babies aged from newborn to 6 months. The Baby B'Air helps protect lap-held babies from mid-air turbulence by attaching them to a parent's lap belt.

Contact us at Little Traveller (kara@littletraveller.ca) or 1-877-242-4067 if you'd like to place an order. We're located in Calgary, Alberta but will ship across Canada.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Airline Safety Tips


The odds of dying in a plane crash are very slim (some reports put the figure at 1 in 11 million, others at 1 in 90 million). Over the last 10 years, there have been on average 173 major plane crashes per year around the world. Odds like this won't stop me flying with my family. But some high-profile aviation accidents earlier this year (especially the Hudson River crash landing in January) got me thinking. I wanted to find out how I could maximize my family's chances of getting out of a plane crash alive.

This is what I discovered:
1. Fly on non-stop routes (the first three minutes of a flight and the last eight are when most accidents occur)
2. Choose larger aircraft
3. Sit within five rows of an exit
4. Seat your family together
5. Pay attention to the preflight briefing
6. Listen to the flight attendants
7. Keep heavy items out of the overhead storage lockers
8. Keep your seatbelt fastened at all times while seated (and keep kids buckled up, too)
9. Keep your shoes on during the flight
10. Don't drink too much -- you need to keep your wits about you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dinosaur Capital of the World

Not only does Calgary have proximity to the Rocky Mountains in its favour, it's also close to one of the world's biggest discoveries of dinosaur bones. According to voters on Smithsonian.com, Drumheller, Alberta is the dinosaur capital of the world. The town is just 90 minutes drive northeast of Calgary and is a great day trip for kids of all ages. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is the star attraction. I took my two children (aged 4 and 1) a couple of months ago and spent the day at the museum enjoying the interactive exhibits, the roaring dinosaur (!), the inside look at a paleontology lab and much more. The weather wasn't great so we didn't hike the outdoor trail, but we did pack a picnic and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the badlands.

This weekend (September 18-20, 2009), the museum is celebrating Alberta Arts Days with free general admission and tons of kid-friendly activities scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

To find out how to get there click here. Want to get your little ones excited before you go? This site lists a big selection of kid-friendly dinosaur web sites.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Travel crib reviews

Most parents of young children buy a portable travel crib of some sort. The majority opt for a Graco playpen (and these are our most popular rented cribs at Little Traveller) but there are other options. We also rent out the Peapod travel bed and Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light -- two lightweight, portable sleeping options for children under 4. The Peapod weighs in at under 6lbs and the Baby Bjorn crib at 11lb (compare that with the Graco playpen which is over 20lbs) and that makes them both excellent travel companions.

Delicious Baby has given the Peapod the thumbs up in a review this week (the site reviewed the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib earlier this year). They are giving away a Peapod next week (starting September 14) -- check back here for details on how to enter to win.


To give either of these products a try or to rent them for an upcoming trip in the Calgary area, give Little Traveller baby equipment rentals a call on 1-877-242-4067.

Enjoy a cuppa on your travels!


I was born and raised in England so it goes without saying that I enjoy a nice cup of tea (or two). I can't stomach coffee at all, no matter how hard I try. When my husband and I first arrived in Canada 10 years ago, it wasn't easy to find a decent cuppa. But things have changed and now I regularly head out with my kids or with friends to my local tea house (we now have a few great tea shops in my Calgary neighborhood).

Edmonton author, Mary Oakwell, has written a book called "Tea Time in Alberta" detailing 54 great tea houses from Grand Prairie to Waterton Lakes. So next time you're on the road in Alberta and need a break, consider stopping at an old fashioned tea house for some old world hospitality. A few of the tea houses profiled by Oakwell are featured in this Travel Alberta article.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Get fit while the kids play!

Sometimes I feel like my life is slipping away as I wile away another afternoon at the local park. But now I can keep myself busy, too. Two Calgary mums have started PlayFit -- a fitness class that allows you to bring your your kids along. For a nominal babysitting fee of $1 or $2 your kids can play at the nearby playground while you sweat it out with the PlayFit trainers.

There are classes around the city (check out meetup.com for a full list of classes) and Margaret and Dawn are introducing new locations all the time, though sadly none in the Kensington/Hillhurst area yet (anyone interested in being a community organizer and working out for free??) The cost is $10 per class or 10 classes for $95. Head to their website www.playfit.ca or their Facebook site PlayFit Canada for more information.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Need to rent baby equipment?

Have you started travelling again now that your little ones are a wee bit older? Or perhaps your kids are school aged but your sister is visiting with her little baby? If you find yourself in need of some compact baby equipment in Calgary (or pretty much any city in the world) then look up your local baby equipment rental company. But before you make the phone call, read my tips on renting baby equipment that were published this week on UrbanMommies.com.

Little Traveller rents baby equipment in the Calgary area. Our most requested items are convertible car seats, CARES airplane harnesses, playpens and high-chairs.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heavenly Holiday with kids


Some friends just got back from an incredible holiday in southern California. They rented a 3000-sq-ft family beach house in San Clemente, mid-way between Los Angeles and San Diego. The house was extremely child-friendly as the owners have 4 children of their own. Our friends' two young children were in heaven in the children's playroom and art room complete with toys, games, a piano and even two indoor swings. Mum and dad were happy with the state of the art kitchen, the excellent choice of local restaurants and stores, and the surfboards that are available for guests to use. Disneyland and Legoland were only 25 minutes away and the beach, a short 5-minute stroll. While the house doesn't come cheap (it sleeps 12 after all), our friends said it was worth every penny. Their kids were in floods of tears when it was time to pack up and head home.

It's not always easy finding a kid-friendly vacation home that everyone can enjoy, but I have to admit to being a little green with envy at the reports of this amazing house!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to work!


I'm back to work this week after a couple of weeks of taking things easy with my children and parents-in-law (visiting from England) and enjoying some down down at our little log cabin. I'd like to say were enjoying the sunshine, the local outdoor pool, and picnics in the mountains but we've had a typical English August here in southern Alberta -- cold and wet!! So we've been enjoying plenty of craft time together (I recommend kidscraftweekly.com and the book D.I.Y. Kids by Ellen Lupton for great ideas) and baking cookies and cakes in the warm kitchen.

We also plucked up the courage to upsize our Subaru. I loved our Subaru and vowed I'd only ever buy Subarus again but our growing family had outgrown it and we needed more space. So we joined the masses and bought a minivan... I can't believe we didn't do it sooner! I love driving it, I love the convenience and the extra space (no need to collapse the Chariot anymore), and what's more the kids love it. My 5 year old was so excited during the test drive that she didn't stop talking for one single moment and she's given everyone on our street a tour of the roomy interior!

So, I'm rested and I'm ready for a busy fall season!

CARES awards

The CARES airplane harness for children continues to generate positive reviews and media buzz. In the last few months, CARES has been awarded the Dr. Toy's "Best Vacation Product" and "10 Most Socially Responsible Product" accolades. It's also been given the 2009 National Parenting Center's "Seal of approval."

CARES can now be used on any plane certified under the jurisdiction of Canada, the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It's also been used successfully by parents on nearly all the European and Asian airlines. Notable exceptions include Aer Lingus, Lufthansa and ANA. For more info, visit the Kids Fly Safe website.

Anyone planning to travel with children in the 22-44lb weight bracket (approximately 1 to 4 years) should consider giving CARES a try. It's available to buy or rent through Little Traveller baby equipment rentals in Calgary, Alberta. We ship across Canada.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kara's featured on Canadian Babies

I got a little write up on Canadian Babies this month as part of their parent entrepreneur program. Check it out at Canadian Babies online.

Are you interested in becoming a parent or a mom entrepreneur? Here are 9 tips for parent entrepreneurs starting their own business from MarketWatch.com. Got a great idea for a new product or service? I highly recommend a book called The Mom Inventor's Handbook: How to turn your great idea into the next big thing by Tamara Monosoff. The author gives expert advice on how to create and sell your own products from home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Travelling while pregnant

I came across this informative post today by pregnancy/parenting expert Ann Douglas on Canadian Babies about travelling while pregnant.

It's also a good idea to pack a big box of your preferred heartburn/indigestion remedy of choice. There's nothing like the combo of travelling, disturbed sleep and unfamiliar foods to enhance that uncomfortable pregnancy side-effect.

Happy travels!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CARES on TV

Sarah Brazeau and Erin Laberee from www.StarBrightforkids.ca were featured on the Breakfast Show on Calgary's CityTV this morning. They were on air to offer advice about travelling with kids, and borrowed a CARES airplane harness from Little Traveller to extol the virtues of this little 1lb device.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jump seat booster makes eating more fun!


We're excited to add another new item to our inventory. The Beanstalk Jump Seat booster is an incredible seat that fits on virtually all dining chairs turning them into an instant highchair. Now your toddler can sit at the table (any table!) and enjoy dinner with the rest of the family. These so-called jump seats are popular in Europe where space is often an issue.

Another benefit of the seat is that it folds completely flat (you can even remove the handles) and so it travels really well. It has a lightweight metal, adjustable frame and is suitable for babies over 6 months weighing up to 30 lbs.
The Beanstalk jump seat is available to rent through Little Traveller in Calgary for $4 a day / $24 a week.

Kid-friendly hiking near Calgary


One of the best things about living in Calgary is the proximity to the Rockies and all the amazing hiking on offer there. We headed to Heart Creek at the weekend with our two little girls. Our 17 month old was as happy as can be in the Jack Wolfskin Watchtower Deluxe backpack. It's one of the most comfortable backpacks you can find -- well suited for broad-shouldered or tall men. Our 4 year old is an adept hiker now and helps with the regular shout outs to warn away the bears (and all other wildlife!)

The Heart Creek trail near Lac Des Arcs (just 45 minutes from Calgary) is perfect for little legs. It's an easy half day hike with limited elevation gain. The trail follows the creek and there are seven log-wood bridges along the route which my daughter literally skipped across while I held on tight to the railing. We couldn't see the waterfall at the end because there's some rock-climbing involved in reaching it, but we enjoyed lunch at the little beach at the base of the falls. The wildflowers are incredible this time of year.

Another great area for hiking with kids is Bow Valley Provincial Park. There are a number of short loops and some great picnic spots. Head there soon to catch all the lillies and the Indian Paintbrush in bloom.

The Jack Wolfskin Watchtower Deluxe backpack is available to rent from Little Traveller for $7 a day / $42 a week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Code Red "Bag It"

While browsing in a Calgary store, I came across a great addition for my backpack, diaper bag and car's glove box. They are biodegradeable bags called the Code Red "Bag It" that come in a tiny red dispenser with a loop attached. I use mine as on-the-go diaper bags or garbage bags. I bought a pack of three dispensers -- 36 bags in all -- for just $9.99 at Kacz' Kids.

I love finding products like this that make my life easier!

Road trips and new rental gear

Everyone I know is heading out on at least one road trip this summer with their children. We've got a few new items in our rental inventory that will make road trips and day trips easier. The Star Kids Snack & Play travel trays are ideal for keeping toddlers and preschoolers occupied on long journeys. The simple velcro closure attaches around any car seat to offer a flat play/snack surface. We rent them in the Calgary area for $3 a day / $18 per week.

Some moms I know don't let their kids eat in the car because of the mess it makes. I'm not one of them -- snacks are a highlight of our road trips! (And no one would notice a few extra crumbs on the floor of our car.) So, here are a few links I've found with great snack ideas and recipes.

5 Healthier Snacks for kids to eat on road trips
Great Road Trip Snacks from Road Trip America
Weightwatchers Top 10 Road Trip Snacks

We've also added some UV playshade tents and over-the-shoulder cooler bags to our inventory to make day trips and picnics more fun for everyone. For more info and pricing, check out our Specials page online or give us a call at Little Traveller at 1-877-242-4067.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips and Tricks Part IV

Yum. Who doesn't love pancakes and maple syrup? Here's a heads up on a few of the free Stampede breakfasts that are happening around Calgary in the next few days.

The CBC Stampede breakfast is tomorrow July 2 from 7-9 am at the CBC building on Memorial Dr (1724 Westmount Blvd NW). This is the first breakfast event for the Stampede Caravan which tours the city dishing out free sausage and pancakes. Click here for the Caravan schedule.

Calgary's largest stampede breakfast takes place at Chinook Mall on July 4 from 7-11 am.

Visit Stampedebreakfasts.com to get a full listing of events around Calgary that are searchable by city quadrant, postal code or date.

Happy Canada Day!

Today is the official kick-off of the Little Taveller and Baby Rhys great summer bandana hat giveaway!

For the month of July, all Little Traveller baby equipment rental customers will get a free eco-friendly cotton bandana hat for their little travellers. Check out the Baby Rhys Adventure Gear web site for more great products from this Albertan company.

Want to know more about Canada Day? Check this page out for the inside scoop on the history of the celebration.


Who are we? Little Traveller rents baby gear in Calgary and surrounding areas.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips and Tricks Part III


Click on the photo above to find out what's new for 2009 at the Calgary Stampede. Some of the highlights include the new Midway Circus featuring celebrity racing pigs, a high dive show and freestyle extreme motocross. On the Saddledome Plaza stage check out Recycled Percussion for some exuberant high energy beats performed on plastic buckets, ladders and recycled containers. Band member Justin Spencer is apparently the world's fastest drummer.

If you plan on enjoying the midway rides and are in Calgary before the Stampede starts, head to a Mac's convenience store (there are 20 locations around Calgary) to purchase a book of advance tickets. This is the best deal in town.

Here's a link to a coupon for 20% off merchandise at the Calgary Stampede Store. Click on the Calgary Stampede.

July 5 is Family Day and July 8 is Kids' Day. Enjoy free admission both days from 6 til 9 am and a free pancake breakfast for the first 20,000 people. Arrive early to avoid the line-ups.

If you haven't already done so, check out more tips Part I and Part II or request a Stampede with Kids Cheat Sheet from Little Traveller. Have a fantastic time!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The scoop on Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop


Like all celebrities, Gwyneth Paltrow has done more than her fair share of travelling. To share her knowledge and insider tips, she publishes a weekly newsletter that features her personal travel tips but also recipes, crafts, fashion and much more.

If you want your children to experience life in the celebrity fast lane next time you're in New York, LA, London or Chicago check out this newsletter on kid-friendly restaurants. For something more wallet-friendly, bake some of Gwyneth's favourite cookies with your little ones this weekend.

You can sign up for her newsletter through her web portal Goop.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips and Tricks Part II


When I am out for the day with my children I tend to get a little stressed about what we're going to eat. I find the day is so much more enjoyable if we can manage regular snacks, drink plenty of water and eat a decent lunch with a chance to sit down.

If you get to the Stampede early (before 8am) on Family Day July 5 or Kids Day July 8 then you'll hopefully get to sample the free pancake breakfast that is served to the first 20,000 people. Head to the grandstand to take advatange of the free food and a show.

Although the Stampede is supposed to be a trans-fat-free zone this year, there is still plenty of junk food around. If you want to avoid it for lunch or dinner, try The Range food court on the lower level of the Big Four Building for a selection of fast food. It's open from 11 am to 11 pm.

While I don't believe there are any sliced grapes or peeled apple slices in these packs, the souvenir Stampede Packs do contain a juice box, bag of Munchies, sunflower seeds and more. In other words, you probably won't need to hunt for snacks. For $12 you get a colourful kids backpack filled with goodies. There are several pack options for older kids. To get yours, head to the BMO centre Hall A.

For more insider tips to the Stampede, email a request to Little Traveller for our 2009 cheat sheet.

Top 5 Kids' Music CDs

I spent most of my free time in April and May listening to kids' music CDs. Whenever we drove anywhere, I'd quiz my daughter on the relative merits of the latest batch of CDs we were listening to. She was my captive audience and I got some straight-talking, highly opinionated 4-year-old feedback.

Check out the results of our joint efforts in my article on Savvymom.ca and this month's Savvy Five on Kids' Music CDs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bathroom breaks

My husband and daughter went to see UP at the movie theatre this weekend. Inevitably, little L needed a bathroom break half way through. If I'd found this site on Friday, I could have given my husband a heads-up on when to time the trip to the loo.

Runpee.com gives suggestions for pee breaks so that you don't have to miss key plot turns or the funniest bits of a movie. It's great for parents with little ones or pregnant ladies. Print out the suggested break times and bring them along with you so that you can read up on what is happening while you pee!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Calgary Stampede Tips & Tricks, part I


It's only 2 weeks until the start of the 2009 Calgary Stampede. And I am ready. I found an old leather vest at a flea market the other day that will help me look the part, although it doesn't smell quite as fresh as I'd like it to. We always take our children to the Stampede parade. My 4 year old loves to watch the horses and other farm animals wander down 5th Ave (especially if they poop which she finds hilarious). I'll keep my 16-month old strapped into a backpack carrier again this year. (There's no room for a stroller among the crowds lining the route.) She loves music so she'll enjoy the marching bands.

To ease you into the spirit of the Stampede, today is designated Get Your Head in a Hat day and free cowboys hats will be given out around the city. Make sure you dust off yours as volunteers will be giving out spot prizes to anyone seen sporting a cowboy hat during Stampede (July 3-12). Check out the Stampede blog for more.

Until June 30, enjoy 15% off all merchandise through the Stampede online store. Use promo code "stampede09" (no spaces). I love the little horse buckle for kids.

If you want more info, request a copy of the Little Traveller Calgary Stampede with kids "cheat sheat" by emailing us or commenting on this posting (we won't post your email address). We'll be posting more Stampede insider tips over the next two weeks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer in the Pass

Are you looking for a family friendly adventure this summer and want to try something new? Then head to the Crowsnest Pass -- I highly recommend it. My family has a cabin there and we escape south a couple of times a month to unwind away from the city.


I wrote about my top 10 favourite summer things to do in the Pass in the upcoming July/August edition of Calgary's Child. Here they are in short form. For the full text, pick up a Calgary's Child magazine.
- Tour the Bellevue Mine
- Visit the Hillcrest Mine disaster
- Walk the Frank Slide trail
- Hike the historic Miner's Path
- Cool off at the Flummerfelt water park
- Munch on a warm cinnamon bun at the Cinnamon Bear Cafe
- Go fly-fishing on the Crowsnest River
- Tour the Crowsnest Museum
- Picnic at Chinook Lake
- Enjoy Rum Runner Days from July 16 to 19

...and remember to pack the sunscreen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A map of Calgary's Attractions

For a quick overview of Calgary's main attractions, click here to view an online map.

Click on the link at the top right for family friendly coupons.

Travel Alberta Family mag

If you are visiting Alberta this summer or live here and plan to take a vacation close to home, then take a peek at the new edition of Travel Alberta's STAY Family magazine. It's packed with great ideas for things to do with kids in southern Alberta.

Click here to download the pdf (it's a big file - about 11 mb - so may take a while).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CARES winner

Congratulations to Andrea Condron of Ontario who won the CARES airplane harness from Little Traveller this week! Thank you to everyone who entered the competition.

To read a recent review of the CARES harness from the author of Jet with Kids, visit the Kid's Fly Safe website here.

CARES are available to rent through Little Traveller in Calgary for $25 per trip or to purchase for $85.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Nanny Dish

Feeling creative? Have a funny nanny story to tell?

Nannies on Call and Fat Rock Productions have launched a mini-writing competition called "The Nanny Dish." To enter, write 300 words about a nanny situation from a mother's perspective (can be fact or fiction). The grand prize is a full-time nanny placement through Nannies on Call and registration in a Fat Rock online screenwriting workshop. The story will also be developed into a screenplay. There are numerous runner's up prizes, too. So start writing... the deadline is July 15.

For info and rules visit www.nannydish.com

Still dreaming of Tofino


My family and I just got back from a fabulous, sunny week in Tofino. We had such an amazing time there last June that we decided to head back there this year. We stay at the Crystal Cove Beach Resort on Mackenzie Beach -- a resort that is absolutely perfect for children. Our 2-bed log cabin was right on the beach -- a long, sheltered sandy beach that is almost deserted this time of year. There are loads of starfish-filled rock pools to discover and the waves are small, just right for toddlers and pre-schoolers to splash about in.

The resort has its own hand-hewn wood children's playground including an old boat to clamber on. The cabins come with a fully equipped kitchen, TV and a log fireplace with plenty of wood. The resort also caters to campers and RVs.

Tofino is a 5 hour drive from Victoria so we prefer to fly to Vancouver then take the ferry to Nanaimo. (We spotted a pod of orcas on the way there and dolphins on the way back.) From there it's a 2.5 to 3 hour scenic drive. We rented our baby gear from Wee Travel in Vancouver who delivered to the airport for us.

Highlights from our travels include:
- enjoying the views from the sun deck of the ferry
- exploring the rock pools on Mackenzie Beach
- making elaborate sand castles
- brunch at the Common Loaf bakery in Tofino
- exploring the Botanic Gardens
- hiking the Schooner Cove boardwalk
- boat trip to Meares Island
- massage at the Wikaninnish Inn (mum's special treat)

We'll be back next year for sure. If I can wait that long :o)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Announcing our fabulous July promotion


You're the first to hear about our fabulous July promotion! For the month of July (longer if we still have stock), we will be giving all Little Traveller rental customers a free Baby Rhys bandana hat (retails for $14.99) to celebrate the summer in style! The sassy headgear fits children from 0 to 4 years and is made from 100% breathable, hand-dyed, handloomed cotton. All the Baby Rhys Adventure Gear products are designed in the Canadian Rockies and are inspired by an active on-the-go lifestyle. That's why we love them so much!

We have the bandana hats available in small, medium and large in an assortment of colours. Reserve your rental equipment through Little Traveller now to get the best selection of colours!

p.s. If you're visiting Calgary in July for the Stampede ask for a copy of our insider guide to the Stampede with kids.

Hurry for your chance to win!

There's just over a week left to enter to win a CARES harness at Canadianbabies.ca. Enter online by voting for your favourite entry from Little Traveller's blog. We want to know what you want to know!

The major pros of the CARES harness:
- it's easy to use
- it fits in your purse
- it stops your toddler from squirming out of his/her seat
- it offers the same safety rating as a car seat (so much safer than a lap belt alone)

If you're not the lucky winner on June 8, don't despair. Little Traveller has CARES available to rent as well as to purchase. Visit us online at Little Traveller's website or call us on 1-877-242-4067.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Calgary's Amazing Attractions

The Travel Alberta web site just announced some summer coupons and special deals for Calgary. By signing up for a holiday card (which is free) you can take advantage of some great deals at some of the best family friendly attractions in the city. For example, you can enjoy 50% off admission for up to four people at Calaway Park. And there are similar deals for the Calgary Zoo, TELUS World of Science, the Aero Space Museum and more.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strolling back into shape

I don't care for the gym and running is too sweaty for my liking. But I love to walk, and when the sun is shining I can't wait to get out the door.

When my oldest child was a baby, I'd walk for a couple of hours several times a week while she napped. Organized stroller fitness hadn't caught on yet. But now there's a wide choice of stroller fitness classes and boot camps to choose from in Calgary. And there's another option, too. You can become your own personal trainer with the Strollometer. This wireless device straps onto your stroller and measures your speed, trip distance and time, daily mileage and even the temperature so you know when to tuck an extra blanket around baby. It fits any stroller and is available from Ontario-based BabyBling.ca for $54.99.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

25 best campgrounds in Canada


If you're planning a family camping trip this summer, check out this article from Today's Parent on the 25 best campgrounds in Canada.

If you're heading to a national park, visit the Parks Canada online campground reservation service to reserve a spot ahead of time.

Here at Little Traveller, we rent out the Peapod travel bed to families with little children in the Calgary area. The compact pop-up tent has mesh sides for added bug protection and an inflatable mattress. It's suitable from 0 to 12 months. Visit LittleTraveller.ca for more portable equipment ideas for camping trips.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Family car games

Here's a cool post on Savvymom.ca with ideas for games to play with the kids on your next road trip... or when stuck in traffic around town.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A winning combination

Massage and childcare... yay! I just read that Prema Sai Wholistic Living now has free childcare available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. My prayers are answered. I no longer have to schedule my monthly massage for last thing on a Thursday night or guiltily squeeze it in around our weekend plans. Now I can bring my kids along and enjoy a leisurely mid-morning slot while they play.

Prema Sai has 29 practioners on staff offering a wide range of wholistic treatments including massage (Tibeton Bon, lymphatic drainage, deep tissue, hot stone and more), acupuncture and reflexology. What's more they specialize in prenatal therapies and will even arrange your baby shower for you.

You can book online and find them in Calgary at 2613 14St SW. Ask about their Mother's Day special.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pit Stops with Kids


It's not always the case (I can think of a couple of memorable exceptions!), but half the fun of a family trip is often the journey there and back. Especially if your kids are very small (so they sleep the whole time!) or old enough to enjoy some lively family discussions that you don't get around to having at home. There are also plenty of adventures to be had along the way, especially if you know where to look.

Next time you are planning a road trip through the US, check out the recommendations on Pitstopsforkids.com. This super-useful site provides reviews of kid-friendly places to rest, eat and play searchable by state, airport or interstate. Most of the reviews so far are for Oregon, Washington and California but they are expanding coverage.

The site doesn't have any recommendations yet for Canada but is hoping to expand northwards. So next time you head out on a road trip, make a note of where you stop and send in your reviews (details here). They also accept reviews of airports around the world.

What a great resource this will be for travelling families when we have all the major routes in Canada covered!

Heritage Park in the news

Exciting things are afoot at Heritage Park. This weekend (May 9/10) is your last chance to visit Thomas the Tank Engine who has rolled into Calgary for a visit. There are limited tickets available at the gate (advance tickets are sold out).

Heritage Park recently unveiled its new $65 million expansion. With the addition of Heritage Town Square, the park now covers 127 acres on the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir. From May 16 to September 7 the historical village is open daily and is a great spot for a family day out. The new additions such as the interactive Gasoline Alley Museum give families more "all weather" options at the park. So you don't have to change your plans when one of Calgary's infamous spring storms rolls into town...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Little Traveller gets a mention

Little Traveller was featured in Kim Gray's Modern Family blog on the Calgary Herald site last night. Take a peek at some of Kim's posts on all things family.

Win a CARES harness


It's sunny outside here in Calgary which is very fitting for the launch of our sweet summer deals. To kick it off, we have a CARES competition through Canadian Babies. Click here to visit the contest page and vote for your favourite Little Traveller blog entry for a chance to win a CARES harness!

Little Traveller is a baby equipment rental company in Calgary that rents and sells the CARES harness across Canada.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Get all the latest parenting books...


...summarized and delivered to your in-box by ParentsDigest.com! What a great way to get through the pile of unread parenting self-help books you bought in a moment of "why is my kid suddenly behaving like this?!" a few months back. If you like the sound of the summary, you can go ahead and purchase the book and read it from cover to cover, if you have the time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Holiday Card offer

The Holiday Card from Travel Alberta is free and gives you access to hundreds of special deals on accommodation, attractions and activities throughout the province. As part of its sweet summer deals promotion, Little Traveller is offering all Holiday Card carrying customers 10% off their rentals from May to September.

Little Traveller is a baby equipment rental company in Calgary. Visit our web site for a run down of all our sweet summer deals.