Yet Another Travel Pillow

This is interesting, and with a much better price point than the bullrest (at least for this kickstarter campaign), I feel like I would prefer the Ostrich Pillow Go. But don’t take my word for it, take a look for yourself. My favorite feature is that it shrinks down for storage.

An Updated Approach to Getting Rid of Lice 

A while ago I dedicated a post to dealing with your kids getting lice when you’re on vacation. You could also discover the creepy crawlies when you’re already on vacation, though now we check before leave for any place. Since then, I have made some awesome discoveries about getting rid of lice, because the olive oil & blow drying approach wasn’t working. The kids kept passing it to each other, and after three months of struggling against the disgusting creatures, we decided there had to be a better solution. But where did my kid catch lice during summer, you may ask. They caught it at Ikea in the kids’ area *insert sigh*. Through this whole process, I discovered two tools that will make killing lice a mere inconvenience instead of a horrendous nightmare.

Terminator Nit Comb

The Shampoo

In my previous post I said that lice shampoos do not work. I am not changing my opinion, the pesticide laden shampoo you can find at drug stores across the world do not work. But my husband did some research and found that there is a specific enzyme that dissolves lice and nits, while being totally safe for humans. In fact, pregnant and breastfeeding moms can use this enzyme shampoo, and you don’t have to wait a certain number of days between uses on your kids. You can use it every day if you want to, although I think that would be overkill. Pun intended. This shampoo only needs to be in your child’s hair for 15-20 minutes (each brand has slightly different instructions), and unlike the enzyme foam, there will be no live lice after use. In the US this brand seems to be the best value for the amount:

Schooltime Shampoo for Lice & Nit Removal

and here is the European equivalent which I had to order from the UK… we couldn’t find any enzyme shampoo in our country. We tried the enzyme foam, but it didn’t completely kill the live bugs and did nothing to the eggs.

Lyclear Shampoo (this shampoo comes with a comb, but it was completely useless)

The Comb

Depending on whether you are ordering the comb from the US or Europe, the comb has two different names, but is exactly the same. I purchased them from different continents and compared them. The best lice comb in the US is called the:

LiceLogic Terminator Nit and Lice Comb 

On the other side of the pond, the comb is called the

Nitty Gritty Nit Comb 

This comb is unique in that is removes lice and nits. No other comb has come close to removing any nits, and this thing works! For our younger daughter, it got the eggs out even when her hair was dry. She has thick hair, as in, even the individual strands are thick. For our older daughter the comb did not remove eggs while her hair was dry, it needed to be wet. Both combs recommend wet hair with conditioner rubbed in. We got a plastic hair parter and some banana clips from our local hair supply place, and sectioned the hair into four to six sections. Once you run the comb through the hair, wipe it on a napkin or paper towel before moving to the next strands of hair. The Nitty Gritty comb comes with a lifetime warrantee. If the comb breaks, you can send it to them and they will send you a replacement.

Delousing the House

You still need to wash and dry their bedding and any clothes they wore while the lice infestation occurred, but once you treat them with the shampoo and comb, the clean sheets you put on don’t need to be changed again.

An Extra Step Because I’m Paranoid

My ongoing battles with lice have created a certain amount of paranoia. Because of this, I choose to flat iron the kids’ hair after all of the treatment to heat any existing eggs to death. I made sure to stay close to the scalp because they eggs are usually about 10 cm from their head. I don’t know if any nits existed after using the combs, but I wanted to be extra careful.

Next Time I Travel

I plan to create a “Lice Travel Kit” with one comb, a small amount of enzyme shampoo in my toiletry bag, a plastic parting comb, and six banana clips just in case. Being away from home and not having what you need to kill these little buggers is stressful and unnecessary. Becoming an expert on treating lice was never something I aspired to, but it happened. Learn from my mistakes and create your own “Lice Travel Kit” if you will be traveling for prolonged periods.

May your future travels be fun and lice free.

Happy travels,

Kristin

The Kindle Fire – My Favorite for Traveling Kids

I have been writing this article in my head for the last few months. When Kindle Fire 7” tablets went on sale for Cyber Monday in 2015, my FIL bought the girls each one. At $33 he said they were too cheap not to buy. He also got them the bouncy foam cases and clear screen covers that have made them almost kid proof (the only way they could break them at this point would be to drop them in a bucket of water). I was looking forward to my daughter getting more screen reading time, since we can’t find many books in English here and I wanted her to practice. Fast forward to July, when my FIL bought my son his own Kindle Fire, and sent memory upgrades for each of the three tablets. Here are the many reasons why Kindle Fire is the best tablet for the money, and my absolute favorite tablet for travel.

traveling-kids-with-kindle-fire

Portability

My kids are able to take their Kindles and use them when they want. They are light and easy to put in and out of a backpack. This is great, because when you go through airport security, they have to be taken out of the backpacks. I usually keep all three together in my bag before security, that way I grab all three in one motion (yes they are that light), and distribute them to the kids as we are gathering all of our bags once we’re through to the other side of the metal detector.

Battery Life & Quick Recharge Time

The battery life is up to 7 hours. I find that to be plenty of time, even if we are longer trips. The kids will play with their Kindle, take a break and color, eat, and then play on it a little more. And if you can find a place to plug in when you’re in the airport or wherever, you can get one of these with a usb plug so that you can charge all your devices at once. I like this option because I can use it in the US and Europe… all I have to do is switch the plug. Just make sure that the plug you have is able to convert the power in volts so you don’t ruin your devices. I use the iClever BoostCube and have never had any problems with it. The Fire Tablet 7” only takes 3.3 hours to fully charge, so if you can plug it in for 30 minutes you will get around 2 more hours of play time.

The Price

You cannot beat the price of this tablet. With the memory update for 64 GB at only $20, you can make your Kindle like an iPad for only $70. Add the case for $25 and the screen protector for $7, and you have a really awesome kids tablet for $102 before taxes.

Amazon Underground – Actually Free Apps

There are hundreds of apps that you can get for free through Amazon’s program “Amazon Underground,” which means you can amass a pretty great collection of games without spending any extra money. The games offered in this program change, but once you have purchased them through Amazon Underground, they stay free on your devices, even if they aren’t offered for free any longer. To find these games, search under the “Apps & Games” part of the Amazon drop down menu, and then select “Actually Free Apps” under “Amazon Underground” under “Refine by.”

amazon underground actually free apps

Amazon FreeTime

FreeTime is a program that lets you severely limit what your child is able to access on the Kindle. The only problem with FreeTime is that is difficult to exit, which makes sense since you don’t want your kids to be able to exit if they are small. You go through your apps, movies, and books and can add them to individual FreeTime profiles that you make for each child. The only reason I don’t use FreeTime for my younger kids is because I want them to be able to watch Netflix on their Kindles, and that doesn’t work with FreeTime. Again, that makes sense because with the Netflix App, you can’t limit access to adult Netflix profiles.

Parental Controls

The parental controls on the Kindle Fire are robust. You can limit your kids on almost everything. My one major complaint is that the home screen on my kids’ kindles automatically loads images of my most recently acquired books. Most of the books are not for my kids, nor do I want them to have access to them. I have to manually go through each of their kindles and delete the books from their home screens. I have researched a way to avoid this, but so far everyone agrees that there is no way to get rid of this annoyance. You can also a curfew and choose which days it works. It allows you to set the earliest time they are able to use the device, and when the device will automatically stop their access. There is also the ability to provide a unique code for the kindle that is separate from the parental code. I love that, because it keeps my 4-year-old from messing up my 9-year-old’s reading and game progress.

Downloadable Content

You have the option to download movies and television shows onto your device after you have purchased them. I love this option because it means the kids still have access to their video content when the internet is not available.

So there you have it, my argument as to why I love the Kindle Fire 7” for my kids. I feel like it has all of the appeal of an iPad, but at 1/4 the price, and the price I gave you includes accessories.

JVC Kidphones

My Headphones Pick

We found these JVC Kidsphones at the airport in Gatwick. The large plastic headband and cushioned ear area make these durable and comfortable. Coincidentally, they come in colors that match the Kindle Kids Cases, which makes my kids happy.

Do you have any experience traveling with a Kindle Fire 7″ for your kids? What does your pro & con list look like?

Happy travels,

Kristin

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This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

London to Paris for Cheap – Ouibus

We went to meet my Father-in-law during our Easter Break, since he had to go to England for work. The trip was wonderful, and I learned even more about the art of traveling with children (it’s an art, trust me). My oldest daughter is obsessed with Paris and since my FIL had taken my husband to Paris when he was 9, and my oldest is 9, FIL asked if we could find a way to get the whole family (6 of us total) from London to Paris for less than eight hundred dollars.

Challenge accepted.

London to Paris for Cheap!

I scoured the internet for the cheapest travel options. There are severals ways to travel, through the English Channel in a giant metro car for cars and buses, by ferry, by train, or by plane. If you find a good flight, they can be as cheap as $120 per person. But flights through budget airlines don’t go every day, and that might not work out if you have a limited amount of travel time like we did. I found a flight for 6 for around 800 dollars, but the days were impossible with our schedule. The next thing I looked up was the train. In general, trains in England are expensive. I learned that when I traveled from Manchester to Liverpool, but outside the country, man… so much money. The train tickets I found on the dates we wanted to travel were around 600 per person. Yikes! I saw an add in London for 20 pound train tickets to Paris, but psh… when I looked them up again online, there were none to be found. I’m sure a few exist, because if not that would be false advertising, but I couldn’t find them. The next avenue I checked was taking a train to a ferry and then another train from the ferry to Paris. This was cheaper than flying or the normal train, but it was still above my budget. Finally, I found a company called Ouibus. I found tickets for all of us for around three hundred dollars. But then I saw they had an overnight bus which was more expensive, but would save us two nights of accomodation expenses. The total for six overnight bus tickets from London to Paris was under 450 dollars. Sweet, right? Little did I know that two late night adventures were in store.

On the bus!
On the bus!

The First Leg… London to Paris

The way there, we got onto the bus at 9. The bus station in London is easy to find, and the seating is adequate. We boarded the bus after they checked our tickets and passports and got ready for sleep. The seats reclined, a lot! The seats were comfy and the bus in general was nice and clean. The only problem was that we left on Friday night, and apparently the top floor of the double-decker bus turns into a party bus on Friday nights. In fact, at one point the couple across from us was watching pornography on a laptop. Thank God the kids were asleep. The paper they give you for the night bus asks you to shut off your devices and stay quiet once 10 pm comes. On the way there no one followed this rule. Maybe bring an eye shade and ear plugs?

The Bus Driver and The Guy He Wanted to Strangle

When we stopped at the border control between England and France, they let me stay on the bus with the sleeping kids while Travis went through passport control and customs (with six backpacks). That was super nice of them. When we went the other way we had to wake the kids up and drag them through the line. Thankfully they insisted we went to the front. That was nice. All the people with kids got to go first. Back to the first leg… so once we got through passport control we were waiting in line for the giant train to take the bus through the English Channel. But there was a mall near the passport control, and one passenger from the bus took an hour and a half walk around the closed mall. Because we had to wait for him, we missed our spot on the giant train which left. Then we had to wait for two more trains because both were full of buses and cars that didn’t miss their reservation. The bus driver told everyone (In French, a neighbor translated for us) that, “Now we have to wait for two hours because of this guy. I would prefer to strangle him, but the least he can do is buy everyone coffee.” He didn’t… and we sat in the hot bus for two hours as we waited for the train. Ok, so the idea that your bus is in a giant train (which reminded me of a giant metro car) is cool. I found the whole process fascinating, but eventually sleep took over and I didn’t wake until we were out of the train thingy. My FIL got out and walked around outside the bus. He said there were even bathrooms in the train. Nice! We got to our Airbnb two hours late, but our host was understanding.

From Paris to London

As soon as it turned 10 pm, a business man next to us asked every person on their phone or listening their music to stop. Score! We were able to rest in peaceful silence. Then we found out the tunnel was closed because of a bomb threat. Instead, the bus drove to a ferry, and we got out of the bus and found a place to camp out on the ferry. By the time we got off of the bus, most sleeping spots were occupied… one lady was sitting on a couch with a bench and five chairs around her. We asked if we could join her and she said, “Well my husband is coming, I need room for him.” I’m a polite person. At least I try to be, but I was tired, and I was dragging three half-asleep children through a giant ferry. I also hate confrontation and I would have just avoided her after that. I think my husband was surprised when I replied, “Well can’t your husband sit next to you on the couch. Even if you both want to lie down, there are five chairs here, can’t we use the chairs?” She rolled her eyes at me and nodded. I guess eye rolling is universal. The kids ate a few pieces of toast and sausage my FIL had gotten them and promptly fell asleep. British people know how to do breakfast. The food was amazing. My hubby got me a fried egg and a piece of wheat toast and I ate, then fell asleep with my middle cutie asleep on my lap. An announcement came over the ferry PA for people to head to their vehicles, and people rushed below to the buses, trucks, and cars. We hopped back on our bus and everyone went to sleep for a few more hours.

In Conclusion

If you want to go from Paris to London, or the other way, and you have lots of wiggle room in your schedule, the Ouibus is awesome. You can’t beat the price. Just remember to bring ear plugs and eye shades. Oh, and neck pillows.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Using a Menstrual Cup on Vacation

The title says everything, doesn’t it? If you don’t want to read about how successful I was in using a menstrual cup on vacation, feel free to skip over this article. If you are intrigued, however, read on.

using menstrual cup on vacation

Almost a year ago now, a dear friend messaged me on Facebook and said something like, “Sorry if this is TMI, but have you ever tried a menstrual cup?” It was just the thing I needed to hear. I am allergic to every kind of disposable pad here, and I pass out from tampons (since the very first time I wore one, and yes I have tried again at least twice a year since that first, fateful day when I was 13). So about two years ago, I made the decision to switch to cloth pads. Cloth pads are not bad. They were ok but I still got a rash. I think it was from the detergent, even though I tried every kind. Apparently I have extremely sensitive nether regions. The doctor gave me a cream, but it always took at least seven days to work, and I was really depressed every time my period arrived, knowing it would take two weeks to complete this tedious routine I somehow found myself in. As you can imagine, my friend’s message was an answer to prayer.

A Diva Cup for Christmas

When my father-in-law came to visit in December, he brought me my first Diva Cup. It might seem weird that I asked my FIL to bring me something so, well, private, but I was desperate! I honestly didn’t care if he thought it was weird or not. The timing worked out that he headed back to the States just before my period started.

Diva Cup Dilemmas

Every crazy thing you read about Diva Cups happened to me, minus it getting “lost.” I pinched my cervix trying to put it in too many times to count. About once a period I accidentally pressed on my bladder and felt like I had to pee for an hour. There were innumerable leaks. The first month was the worst, but I noticed that each month, things seemed to be getting better, and the leaks were almost nonexistent. Just for the record, I use the “C” method, where you fold the cup in half so it resembles the shape of the letter this method is named for.

Then it came time to plan for our family vacation. I knew my period would occupy one of the two weeks we were away. I had used the cup for four periods, but was that enough practice? What about washing it in between emptying it out? What would it look like to use it in various bathroom in different countries?

Going For It

I decided not to pack any cloth pads because then I would have to carry them around with me dirty as we backpacked. Gross. I thought, “Hey, if I fail halfway through, I can buy disposables and use my trusty seven-day cream.” I packed several small packs of pads, figuring I could just wipe the cup out when I was in a strange bathroom where the sink wasn’t close, and then wash it thoroughly with warm water and soap when we got back to our Airbnb.

Success!

I didn’t even need wipes. Toilet paper worked great for wiping out the cup, and wiping off the outside, after I emptied it into the toilet. The only problem was that I was often accompanying my girls to the restroom, so a few times I had to take them in, walk them back to my husband when they were finished, and go back into the bathroom alone. Trust me when I say, you do NOT want your kids to see you emptying your menstrual cup. They will think you are dying or something. However, in all of the countries we visited, you could flush toilet paper, so it wasn’t a big deal. If I had tried to that in Greece, the trash bin in the stall would have looked like a murder scene. Just saying. When my period was over, I put the cup into it’s handy draw string bag, and threw it into our toiletry bag, ready to be cleaned with hot water and hydrogen peroxide when I got home. Ta-da!

Ok, I won’t go into any more detail, but if you have questions, please feel free to ask.

Happy travels,

Kristin