Tag Archives: Travel

Quick Answers for Kids, Cold Weather, and the Holidays

Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Milwaukee – and the list of frozen states continues. 

We’re getting questions via phone about unplugged entertainment for kids since there’s no power and no school in much of the northern half of the country.

Solution: Here’s a good list of non-electric games and ideas for mom and dad.  We call it the Kids Emergency Entertainment Kit.

Another question we’re getting – ice dams.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, count yourself among the lucky.

Solution: Here’s info on Ice Dams: Prevention and Removal.

Holiday travel is always a bit dicey – moreso now with the crazy weather.  Lots of people are worried about their homes – are they secured?

Solution: Here are some tips from seasoned travelers on keeping your house safe and secure while you’re enjoying holiday travels.

Happy Holidays!


Screaming Child on a Plane

Flying w/Kids for the Holidays

Snakes are a joy compared to a screaming child on a plane.

If you’re a parent – or a nearby passenger – you know that the change in the plane’s cabin pressure most often starts kids howling.

So if you’re flying with kids this holiday season, we have collected advice from other parents on making your plane a ‘no-cry’ zone.

  1. Something to drink, eat or suck on. Bring a bottle for infants, a juice box or two, or Cheerios or goldfish crackers. No thirsty or not hungry?  Give a special treat sucker.  Why? As the cabin pressure changes, swallowing helps to ‘pop’ ears and alleviate pressure.
  2. Plan your travel around sleep or nap times.  Kids will do better if completely sacked out upon take off or landing.
  3. Build your own Emergency Entertainment Kit. Entertain your child as best you can for the few minutes while cabin is pressurized.
  4. Nothing working? Prepare to reach out to those around you by offering free earplugs.  Earplugs can be purchased inexpensively and come in individual sterile packaging.  If your child is inconsolable, offering earplugs can go a long way to pacifying frustrated passengers around you.

Here’s to quiet travels this holiday season!

- Susan

Road Trip!

van.jpgI’m in the planning stages of a 1400 mile road trip from Minneapolis to Boston. It’s my first road trip since the good ol’ family vacation days so I’m very excited to break out the road atlas and get started!

Here’s our pre-road trip checklist:

1. Schedule a car tune-up. The chosen car for the journey is in impeccable condition but it needs all of the fluids checked and the oil changed before we go.

2. Map out the route and the pit stops along the way. Don’t forget to pencil in fueling stops and other important landmarks to stop and see. Here are some helpful resources I discovered while browsing online:

3. Make a packing checklist. Along with the obvious things like clothes, IDs, credit cards and the camera, we’ll also need to pack a few road trip needs:

  • Audiobooks
  • Car emergency kit
  • Change for tolls (calculate your toll cost [for-profit site]- looks like we’ll be paying over $40 for tolls – that’s a lot of change!)
  • Cellphone and car charger
  • Cooler filled with water and snacks to fill the gap between stops
  • GPS
  • Maps and road atlas
  • Roadside assistance membership card and emergency contact number
  • Sunglasses (make it easier on your eyes as you drive)

4. Other helpful resources we plan to print out and use:

Am I forgetting something? How do you plan for a road trip? Share in the Comments below!

Do You Travel “Illegally”?

luggage.JPGBy Mark E., our newest blogger, WhatHappensNow staff member and traveler extraordinaire. Welcome Mark!

Are you an “illegal” traveler? Of course you’re not (I can hear you saying no). Well, before you answer no (again), chances are you could be and not even know it.

On a recent trip back from the Virgin Islands, my travel plan was to have a brief layover in Miami before heading home to Minneapolis. However, I was told at the check-in counter that my return booking was “illegal”.  Huh?  But I’d booked online through a travel site.  I had all my flight confirmations, ID and passport organized and right there as proof.  C’mon – I had just helped a little old lady across the street. I had petted a stray dog. So now I’m “illegal”?  – what gives?

Ok, while the term “illegal” might be a little strong, it was the term that the check-in counter used and I did indeed violate an airline policy. I had booked my trip through a travel website and the 40 minutes of time allowed for layover in Miami was insufficient per the airline’s 1 hour standard for layovers.

What can this mean for you?  Basically, that all bets are off and the airlines responsibility of getting you home per scheduled events is lifted. What could happen if you don’t book a longer layover:


  • worst case scenario: they don’t let you on the plane
  • your luggage won’t route correctly and may be delayed
  • you won’t make your connection time and may have a longer layover (which the airline may or may not pay for if overnight)

While you may not be aware your online booking company is violating layover times, there are some smart things you can do in advance to be prepared and help the airline booking people help you:


  • When booking your next flight, pay attention to your layover times. If traveling internationally and booking a connection, shoot for a layover that lasts at least 1-2 hours. Why so much time? When returning home to the U.S. you’ll need to grab your luggage and clear customs, even if you’re a U.S. citizen. And that takes time.
  • Know the airlines’ policies.  Here are phone numbers and websites.
  • Be as cooperative and helpful to the ticketing staff – that includes being prepared.  Help them help you.

As it turns out I did get on the plane to leave the Virgin Islands (a little bittersweet there). However, I had to spend the night in Miami on my dime and my luggage arrived at my home destination two days after I had got back.

Lesson learned?  Be prepared, because petting the stray dog isn’t gonna get you any points.  Help the old lady though. It’s just a nice thing to do.