Medical Emergencies While Traveling

You are planning out your dream vacation: hotel is booked, adventures planned, restaurants scouted out, clothes packed. When putting your clothes in your suitcase, you usually plan for contingencies, right? A sweater in case it’s cool, a swimsuit in case there is a pool or beach, a nice outfit for dinner out. You never know exactly what is going to happen so you try to be as prepared as possible. What about when it comes to your health or accidents? How do you plan for that? Of course, we can never foresee an unexpected injury, or that cold that hits you right in the middle of your summer trip to the Bahamas.  But just like we prepare for foul weather, I recommend you always have in the back of your head what to do if someone decides to ruin your trip by going and getting sick on you!

Medical Emergencies While Traveling - twokidsandamap.com

We are still in the middle of a less than stellar move from Newport, R.I. to Omaha, Nebraska.  Our housing plans completely fell through at entirely the last possible minute and we found ourselves homeless in our new town.  After some more house hunting we made the unplanned drive over to Denver to stay with Jen and her family while we wait for our home to be available.  It should come as no surprise to us that my 10 year old daughter would suddenly have an abscess appear below one of her teeth.  AGH!  What to do!?!

It can be incredibly stressful being in a strange area, out of your usual medical coverage area, trying to get in to see a doctor that you aren’t even going to be a patient of in the future. Our stress was compounded by the fact that we are getting ready to separate from our children as they continue their vacation with family.  This had to be fixed YESTERDAY.

I have taken many trips with and without children and here are my tips for how to cope with an injury or illness on the road:

  1. Give Permission for Medical Treatment in Advance: If leaving your children with other friends or family members while you (or they) vacation, write a letter that gives their caretaker permission to seek medical treatment.  Include your name, your kids’ names, the caretakers’ names, and be sure to sign it. Also leave a copy of your insurance card, allergies or illnesses and current physician’s contact information.
  2. Bring Your Insurance Cards: Always be sure to have access to your insurance information while traveling.
  3. Be Aware of Your Out of Network Policy: The last thing you want to worry about in an emergency is if you are making the right choice financially. Our medical insurance company had a webpage specifically geared toward what to do while you are traveling. Do try to be sure you make it to a provider that your insurance will allow, or you could be smacked with major bills later.
  4. ICE Contacts Stored in Your Phone: ICE (In case of emergency) contacts are vital in case you get hurt and are unable to call your emergency contacts yourself.
  5. Timing is Everything: Do not wait to see what happens. If there is a problem, whether accident or illness, take care of it ASAP.  It could develop into something so much worse and your issue could get out of hand faster than you imagine.
  6. Pack a Small First Aid Kit: I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to use antibacterial cream when someone gets cut while camping, or worse. Jen posted once about what to pack in a car first aid kit. Take a look and see if you are ready for the unknown!
  7. First Aid Kit - twokidsandamap.comStay Calm and Cool and Think With a Clear Head: Nobody will benefit if you are having an anxiety attack mid-emergency.

Have you had to deal with an emergency while traveling? Do you have any other advice to share?

Make Your Own Winter Survival Car Kit

Last winter, we didn’t put together a winter survival kit though we probably should have.  Most of our trips were into the mountains and we were staying for the weekend.  This meant that not only did we have all of our ski gear (gloves, hats, ski pants, jackets and more) but we also had enough snacks and water that we could probably live in our car for three or four days.  I wasn’t too worried about getting stuck somewhere because we had what we needed if an emergency happened.

wintersurvivalcarkit

This year, most of our mountain ski adventures are going to be day trips.  We will leave around 6am, ski for a few hours, and then drive back to Denver around 1 or 2 in the afternoon.  There is a good chance that we will encounter snow, heavy traffic and more.  I hadn’t even thought about making our winter survival car kit for our first winter season trip into the mountains last month but I was in a bit of a panic as we hit a big snowstorm.  It was pretty difficult to see while we were driving on the road and all I could think about was the fact that I was completely unprepared in case of an emergency.

As soon as we got home that afternoon (even though the afternoon ended up being gorgeous), I started researching winter survival kits for the car.  I found several that were pre-made and easy to purchase but they included a lot of things that we already carry in the car like jumper cables.  I didn’t want to spend money on what I didn’t need, so I put together my own kit.

What did I include in my winter survival car kit?

Mylar blankets

Window Cleaner – I want to note that our window cleaner is an important thing for me because our windshield gets so dirty that it is dangerous to continue driving even just to find a gas station.  We spent last week in the mountains and our window cleaner was frozen solid when I went to use it!  I need to do some research and find a cleaner that won’t freeze in my car!

Paper towels

Water bottles for each member of the family

Snacks for each member of the family

Flashlight

An old pair of gloves in case a tire needs to be changed

Kitty litter

Seatbelt cutter/window breaker (I keep this in the center console of my car)

I put all of these items in a box that stays in my car throughout the winter season.  In addition to the these items, I also have my homemade first aid kit that I always keep in my car.  In addition to the winter survival kit, I also have another bag that I throw in the car if we are going to be leaving the Denver metro area and heading into the mountains or somewhere else where we might encounter snow.

That bag includes:

A small shovel

A blanket

Window scraper

What is in your winter survival kit?

 

 

4 Day Camping Menu

Why does food always seem to taste better when you are camping?  You still have to cook it yourself and clean up after yourself, but for some reason it always tastes better.

campingfood3

It has been quite awhile since I have had to plan a camping menu for more than one night.  We went camping in Moab, Utah where we stayed in a primitive cabin with a small fridge.  I knew the fridge would eliminate the need to worry about refilling the cooler with ice.  We had access to a charcoal grill and we brought our camp stove.

We planned on doing a lot of hiking and it was hot.  I tried to come up with meal ideas that were easy to prepare at the campsite without much effort.  To do that, I realized that we needed to do some prepwork.

Here is our meal plan for our four day trip with some tips on what worked and what didn’t.

Day 1 – Arrive for dinner

Chicken packets and squash

campingfood

Chicken packets

  • At home prep:  Cut up small pieces of chicken and place in tin foil with seasonings and sauce.  I used garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce.  Close up the tin foil to make a little packet.  If you aren’t using super strength tin foil, use two pieces.  Put in a plastic bag to make sure sauces don’t leak in cooler.
  • At the campsite:  We started cooking the chicken packets on the grill but they weren’t cooking very quickly so we moved them directly into the coals.  They took about 25 minutes to cook.
  • The verdict?  Everybody loved the chicken packets and I didn’t make enough.

Squash

  • At home prep:  Place squash slices in tin foil packet with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Put in plastic bag to make sure oil doesn’t leak in cooler.
  • At the campsite:  We cooked the squash packet the same way but should have taken it off of the grill after about 15 minutes.
  • The verdict?  Pretty tasty but we cooked too long.

Day 2

Breakfast burritos

  • At home prep:  Scramble eggs and cook bacon or sausage.  Take one tortilla, fill with cooked bacon/sausage, eggs, spinach pieces, and shredded cheddar cheese.  Wrap up like a burrito and then wrap in tin foil.  Place all burritos into a plastic bag and freeze.
  • At the campsite:  So we didn’t have to start a fire, we cooked the burittos in a pan in the campstove.  They had to be cooked a little longer than usual because they were still frozen at the campsite.
  • The verdict?  Delicious and the best part of the day!  This breakfast held us over until lunch even with our miles of hiking.

Turkey and cheese roll-ups

  • At home prep:  Purchase ingredients
  • At the campsite:  Roll turkey, cheese, spinach and any other desired ingredients into wraps of your choice.  We used cheddare jalepeno and spinach wraps.  Wrap up in tin foil and put in backpack.
  • The verdict?  A good lunch and didn’t take up much room in the hiking backpack.  The kids didn’t want a wrap, so they had pepperoni pieces and cheese sticks.

Hamburgers and hot dogs

campingfood2

Hamburgers

  • At home prep:  Make hamburger patties in advance and put in plastic container.
  • At the campsite:  Cook in camping hamburger cooker over the coals.
  • The verdict?  Best camping meal…hamburgers and hotdogs are so tasty at the campsite!  Our kids proclaimed the hotdogs to be the best ones they are every eaten.

Corn

  • At home prep:  Purchase corn on the cob in the husk.
  • At the campsite:  Cook corn in the husk directly on the grill.  We had to move the corn into the coals to cook faster.
  • The verdict?  A little smoky from being cooked directly in the coals.

Day 3

Breakfast burritos (I made enough to last us the whole weekend.  See Day 2 for prep and directions.)

We ate out for lunch and had a horrible meal.  We wished that we had decided to make another wrap.

campingfood1

Tacos

  • At home prep:  Cook taco meat with desired seasonings.  Freeze in a plastic bag.  Put taco fixings in separate containers for easy use and clean up.  Shred cheese and put in a plastic bag, salsa in a container, a bag of fritos or tortillas, etc.  
  • At the campsite:  Cook taco meat in pan on camp stove.  Serve up with all of the fixings that you brought.

Day 4

Hit the road!  We decided to clean up and hit the road so we grabbed something on our way home.

Here are some of the snacks that we ate during the weekend:

Trail Mix

Raisins

Lara Bars and Granola Bars

Nuts

And of course, a camping trip wouldn’t be complete without at least one night of S’mores for dessert…though we ate them every night!

 

 

5 Books to Get Before Your Next Trip (and Activities to Go with Them)

In a world full of technology and fun toys, you might forget that books are the perfect travel companions for your children. Even if your child is not an avid reader, you can help get them started with these books and activities to go with them!  The best part of collecting books to bring on a trip is that you can pick them up at the library for free.  Each of the books below can be found at the library.  Just ask your librarian to point you in the right direction.

five books

1.  How To Draw Book – Find a book that teaches your child to draw something that they love.  We like How to Draw 101 Animals by Dan Green.  Our library has a whole shelf of How to Draw books that include things like insects, birds, reptiles, flowers, knights and castles and more.  Grab some paper and spend the time on the road learning how to draw something new.

2.  Comic Strip Books – Pick up a Garfield comic strip collection or a Superman Comic book for the trip.  While you are on vacation, talk to your kids about the different things you have done and which activities would make good comic strip plots.  Draw your own comic strips together using your family’s vacation as the topic.

3.  Poetry Anthology – Lots of kids don’t like poetry but there are plenty of anthologies out there to interest your children.  One of our favorites is the Reptile Ball by Jacqueline Q. Ogburn.  The book is full of silly poems about reptiles.  Choose a poetry anthology about something that your children like.  While you on your trip, write poems together about something that happened.  If you need an idea to get you started, write an acrostic poem.  Write the name of the place you are visiting and then come up with one word or phrase that starts with each letter.

4.  Guide Book about Your Destination – The library usually has a pretty big travel guide section and I always check there before purchasing one of my own.  Pick up a travel guide to browse with your kids and plan out your adventure.  While you are on your trip, create a travel brochure together.  It is so easy!  Take a plain white piece of paper and fold it into thirds and write about your destinations.

5.  History Book or an Informational Book about Your Destination – Learn more about your destination before you go.  Learn about the history, culture and food.  While you are there, discuss what you learned in the book and compare it to what you saw at your destination.  History books don’t have to be boring, either.  Pick one out that has brightly colored pages and small informational paragraphs that are easy to digest.

This post is part of Travel Tips Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels.
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The Thing about Traveling with Children

The thing about traveling with children is that you never know when or how the benefits will manifest themselves.

Naysayers will argue time and again about how small children won’t remember anything.  They argue that traveling is hard on the parents and not worth the time or money.

This may be somewhat true, but I would like to argue that many of the benefits may manifest themselves in ways you might not expect.

Although my children may not remember much about trips they took at an early age, we were planting a seed and didn’t necessarily realize it.  We were planting the seeds of flexibility.

Adventure.

A lot has been happening in the Two Kids and a Map household.  We found out that my husband’s job is moving us to Denver, Colorado.

My husband and I were concerned about how our children would react and with good reason.  After living all of their years in Pensacola, we are uprooting our children from the only house, school and life they have known.  We are going to move them from Pensacola, Florida across the country to Denver, Colorado.

Imagine our surprise when my eight year old son said that it would be an awesome adventure even though he would miss his friends.  All the while, his sister was sitting next to him nodding her head in agreement.  Both children were understandably nervous but are excited to start this new adventure together as a family.

I attribute this to the traveling that we have been doing for as long as they can remember.  Travel has helped teach my children to embrace change.

It has taught my children to look for adventure around every corner.

My traveling children have also taught me something.  They have taught me not to underestimate the power of traveling with children when they are small.

Travel Tip: 511 Traveler Information

 

This post could also be titled That One Time Tropical Storm Debby Almost Ruined My Florida Vacation.

Just like most summers, we Floridians sit and watch the Gulf of Mexico (and the Atlantic) churn up the tropical storms and hurricanes every year.  We don’t really worry in June.  We normally start to worry closer to August but not this year.  Mother Nature decided to remind us who is boss early in this hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Debby was a beast of a storm.  She was a large, slow moving storm and once she got near Florida she decided to hang out for a little bit while her outer bands wreaked havoc on pretty much the entire state.

As we watched the forecasts, one thing never changed.  TS Debby was going to be over practically the entire state during our massive Florida road trip.  The trip I had been planning for weeks.  The trip that was going to finally take me to Key West after living 15 years in Florida.

We decided to plan as if we were going on the trip, weather or no weather.  We packed up, prepared for a storm just in case Debby decided to turn, and got ready to leave.  The original plan was to leave Monday evening and drive through the night but we read in the newspaper that parts of I-10 (the Interstate we would be driving on for the better part of 6 hours in the dark of the night) were closed.  We decided to wait until daytime to leave.  While we were reading up on road closures, we just stumbled upon Florida 511.

Florida 511 is the free traffic resource of the Florida Department of Transportation.  You can call 511 to get traffic info but we had no idea they had a comprehensive website that was updated practically to the minute.  Not only do they list road and traffic updates on the site, but the updates are also tweeted out over Twitter.  You can choose to follow certain Interstates eliminating the noise you don’t need.

Throughout our very rainy drive, we followed the alerts on Twitter and the website to learn about the closures due to flooding or sinkholes.

Not traveling in the state of Florida?  Check 511: America’s Traveler Information to find an active program where you are traveling.

*Photo courtesy of Oregon DOT via Flick Creative Commons.

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Packing Tip: Let the Kids Pack Their Own Bags

My children are five and seven and have been packing their own bags for the past two years. We would help my youngest but now even she packs her own bags, too.

Why should you let your kids pack their own bags?

Letting my children pack their own bags helps with a number of things. Packing goes much more quickly for me. I am not digging around their drawers to find what they will need. Also, there is no arguing on the trip when it is time to get dressed. They packed their own clothing so if someone complains about the clothing choices, I gently remind them that they packed their own bag.

My kids pack their own activity bags as well. Sometimes, we have a bag full of stuffed animals. On one trip, my son packed 25 Hot Wheel cars. One would think that they would bore easily but my kids don’t seem to complain about being too bored when they pack their own bags. They know what they brought and it is full of things that are important to them.  I also pack a bag with some new activities like fresh crayons, coloring books or sketch pads, new games, and more to surprise them during the trip but for the most part they are stuck with what they pack.

Let the kids help you pack but double check the items.

Don’t get me wrong. Although I let my kids help me pack, I still double check the items to make sure we don’t have fifteen skirts and one shirt for an eight day trip. I have both kids get ready to pack by telling them what to get. For example, I will tell them to get 8 shirts and bottoms that match. They go get the clothing and place it on our couch. Once both kids have finished, I send them in to get the next items. It looks a little like this when we are all finished.

Once we have all our items ready, I pack it in the suitcase myself to make sure it all gets packed.

How do your kids help prepare for a trip?

 
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Preparing Your House Before Traveling During Hurricane Season

During hurricane season, June 1 to November 1, some people consider whether or not their vacation will be affected by a hurricane. We consider this as well but instead of wondering if a hurricane will disrupt our cruise or our beach trip, we worry about the possibility of having to race home ahead of a hurricane to take care of our house.

If you live in a hurricane zone, you know what I am talking about. We watch the Weather Channel on a 24 hour loop wondering if the hurricane is going to turn and head straight towards us. After going through Hurricane Ivan with a four week old, we make sure that we are prepared each year.  This also includes preparing our house when we travel out of town in case a hurricane is making its way that direction. Many of these tips work for most possible natural disasters or additional man-made issues.

  1. Before you go out of town, put a cup of water in each of your freezers and allow it to freeze. Put a freezer safe object (like a penny) on top of the ice and put the cup back in your freezer. If you lose power, the ice will begin to melt. Should your power go back on, you will see the item frozen in a new location and this will clue you in as to how safe your food is to eat.
  2. Bring in all of your outside toys. Right now, my backyard looks like a hurricane blew though it but it is really just my children’s mess. Some of those toys have the potential to become weapons in 75 mph winds.
  3. Secure the lawn furniture. This is something we are awful about. During one trip a few years ago, we had to have my mom go to our house and secure our furniture before the storm hit. We now try to remember to throw it in the shed or at least bring it close to the house.
  4. Do all the laundry. I am normally doing laundry right before a trip just to fill a suitcase but during hurricane months I try to keep up with the laundry so everything is clean when we go out of town. This ensures that we will have clean clothes even if we return to a house with no power.
  5. Let someone you trust know that you are going out of town so that he or she can be on standby. In some cases, your utilities will need to be turned off and it will be nice to have a friend at the ready. If you decide to stay away from your house, you will also want to have someone ready to check on your house in case you need to call the insurance company.
  6. Take a walk through your house with a video camera. Hurricane insurance is a tricky thing to deal with (trust us, we know!) and you will want proof of your belongings. Make sure that you have the time and date stamp turned on. Be sure to get close-ups of anything important to you like jewelry or antiques.
  7. Take stock of your hurricane stock. Do you need to go shopping for batteries or canned goods? If you are traveling in your car, you will be able to load up on supplies before you get back in town. If you are trying to beat the storm, you may not have time to get supplies or the stores may already be out. Making sure you are stocked up on supplies like water and canned goods before you go on vacation will alleviate some stress.
  8. If you are leaving a car at home while on vacation, make sure that the gas tank is full. If the pumps are down for several days or week, you will be glad you thought to fill the tank before you went out of town

Photo Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory via Flickr Creative Commons

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Tips to Survive Sleeping in a Standard Hotel Room with a Family of Four

For the most part, we consider hotel rooms to be a place to sleep after a long day of exploring but we have stayed at some amazing properties that were destinations in themselves. If it makes sense, we will invest in a suite or a vacation rental that includes a kitchen. When we went to Disney World for a week with five other family members, it made sense to invest in a suite with a kitchen. We cooked meals, prepared lunches to bring in to the theme parks and enjoyed the extra space. We also saved money because we were able to rent one property rather than three to suit the needs of the three families.

Sometimes, I just can’t justify the cost of anything more than a standard hotel room. This summer we are planning a trip traversing the state of Florida. At one point during the trip, we will be stopping for the night after driving about 9 hours. We will probably arrive late and it is just a stopping point before we continue on. I found a brand new, 2-3 star hotel off of the Interstate for $60. We will arrive late, get a good night’s sleep and the next morning we will eat a continental breakfast and then continue on the road. This is an example of when we would save the money and stay in an inexpensive room.

I am defining a standard hotel room as a room with two beds and a bathroom. There will probably be television and internet access but there are likely no additional amenities in the room. No kitchen. No room with a door to close when it is time for the kids to go to sleep and the adults aren’t ready.

We are a family of four, which right away makes it easy to choose a standard hotel room when we are traveling but I have a boy and a girl. I know that sometime in the next few years they will not want to share a room with each other (or their parents) and we will be ready to upgrade but until then, this is how we survive a stay in a standard hotel room.

We throw the bedtime schedule out the window. I should probably preface this with the fact that we aren’t really a scheduled family. We didn’t institute a consistent schedule until our kids entered school and were forced in to a schedule. Once summertime hits, the schedule disappears. It is what works for our family. When we travel, we don’t worry about a strict bedtime. If the kids are still awake at 9pm, I don’t panic. I know that after a long day of adventures, they will fall asleep quickly the next night.

Invest in a book light. My husband and I can read in bed at night while the kids are trying to fall asleep. We use book lights so that we can read without really disturbing the kids.

Watch television at a low volume. Depending on what we can find on the television, we will turn it on at a low volume and bore the kids to sleep. It is amazing how quickly my kids fall asleep while watching the late night news or a sports game.

Book a room with a sleeper sofa or book a roll-away bed. Hotels like Comfort Inn usually offer an room option with a sleeper sofa. It typically only costs a few dollars more than a standard room. The sofa comes with all the bedding you need and is a perfect way to separate my children so they aren’t fighting, crossing the line, or doing any of the numerous things they do to annoy each other. Another option is to book a roll-away bed but be sure to book it ahead of time.

Divide and Conquer. I will lay down with my daughter and my husband will lay down with my son until they fall asleep. Then we move them to the sleeper sofa or bed that they will sleep in.

Book a room with a balcony. We have spent many an evening chatting on the balcony while our kids fall asleep in the hotel room.

How do you make your stay in a standard hotel room more comfortable?

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7 Things to Buy BEFORE You Get to Disney World

Disney World can be an expensive vacation. Because we live in Florida, we are lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the Florida resident discounts offered throughout the year. We are also able to make the trip in a long weekend without having to take 7-10 vacation days to make our trip worth the money spent. Before you make the trip to Disney World, buy these few things to save some money. Sure, Disney World has stores everywhere and you can certainly purchase them there, but you will be glad that you saved money on these items by purchasing them before your trip.

Ponchos – Go to your local dollar store and purchase a stack full of ponchos. They are packaged perfectly for travel and cost one dollar. You will be glad you have them because it always rains at Disney World.

Souvenirs – You may be wondering why you would buy your souvenirs before your trip! Head to any store that carries Disney items and pick up a few ahead of time. You will find many of the same items at the theme parks and at a much higher price. The Orlando Targets and Walmarts also have large displays of Disney merchandise. We go shopping ahead of time and surprise the kids with little souvenirs throughout the trip. If they find something in the parks that they just absolutely have to have, we discuss it then. My kids know that this is the case and the begging every time we come out of a ride and get dropped into a gift shop does not bring out the “I want this now’s,” thankfully.

Sunscreen – I forgot my sunscreen and bought a bottle of spray sunscreen for $12.99 at the hotel. Enough said.

Batteries – If your camera takes batteries, be sure to pack extra. They will cost you more just as the sunscreen does.

Spray Bottles or Fans – These are sold all over the theme parks. You can find them sitting in ice filled coolers. Florida is hot. And humid. Buy your kids a spray bottle or fan for just a few bucks before you go.

Snacks and Drinks – This is one of our biggest money savers when we head to Disney World. You can bring in a soft-sided cooler full of drinks, snacks and even lunch. Purchase them ahead of timeand bring them to the park. Freeze water bottles and use them as ice packs. When the bottles defrost, drink them.

What do you bring with you on your Disney World trip?

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