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 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

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 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 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 (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:

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

And if you're heading farther afield, check out 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 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.