Category: Travel Essentials

The sunblock that turned us into a family of sunblock snobs

This sunblock is so good, so easy, and so waterproof that my kids call it only “the good one.” Well, not my three-year-old. He calls it “dat good can dat you spray.” Translation: winning product. The brand is MD Solar Sciences, which bills itself as a physician-driven skin cancer prevention company– unlike, say, companies that also make SPF 2 body oil and post-sun aloe gel.  “The good one” refers to two different products that work equally well. The Quick Dry Body Spray is our very favorite, as it sprays cleanly and, believe it or not, clearly. With almost no...

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A cool passport holder – you won’t believe what it’s made out of.

Not everyone gets excited about cool passport holders. But I do. While I’m not the most organized of people in my normal, day-to-day life, I turn into an organizational queen when my family travels, so I’m always on the lookout for organizational tools so amazing, I might actually get to relax a little. All the better if said tools are upcycled and totally gorgeous. Poketo’s Upcycled Leather Passport Holders will do the job quite nicely. These sleek cases are handmade entirely from leather of vintage sofas. Cool right? The results are textured collages, and no two are the same. Kind of a...

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Tip for flying with babies – Buy this.

Does the thought of flying with your baby on a long journey completely stress you out? When your little one is small and doesn’t have his own child’s airplane seat, you cross your fingers that you get a seat up in front with more leg room that could be easily used for your baby. But, those seats are hard to get and you need a backup plan. This amazing device: the backup plan of your dreams. [editors update 2013: it is listed as “compliant with FAA regulations,” but still not FAA approved at this time as far as we...

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Grilling on the go

This week we found ourselves unexpectedly in need of a grill at a summer rental. We didn’t want to invest a fortune–we apartment dwellers can’t quite throw a few steaks on the grill in the middle of our living rooms. So I just love the idea of this compact grill on sale, that’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the wallet. The attractive little BBQ Grill at West Elm is now on sale for–get this–$19.99. Nice price cut considering it was originally $49. The pretty blue powder-coated steel grill is just under one-foot in diameter, so...

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7 of the best toys for the car (and books and games too!)

We’re about to head on one of our annual summer road trips, which means packing plenty of toys for the car. We try to avoid the DVD–and generally succeed if we’ve planned ahead. Here, some of my favorite toys for the car for toddlers and bigger kids, for when you’re tired of I Spy, and need a little quiet time in the front seat. Best of all, none of them beep or boop or require 18 AAA batteries. The only noises you’ll hear in the back are your happily entertained kids. At least until the next “I have to...

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Fake a tan while protecting yourself from a real one

Just because I want to avoid the sun, doesn’t mean I want to spend my summer looking like a ghost. I know I’m not alone, which is why self-tanners have become so popular. And now, I’ve found the perfect beauty product that gives me a gorgeous fake bake, while protecting my skin from the rays. The new SPF 20 Gradual Self Tanning Sunscreen Mousse from Supergoop leaves an ever-so-slight kiss of golden color while saving your skin from sun damage. Pretty genius. I used this self tanner/sunscreen for one week straight and was thrilled to step out looking like...

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The cutest beach robes for your little beach bums

Now that our neighborhood pool is open, my kids and I practically live there, Which that means I’m willing to spend more on good quality towels and swimsuits–a lesson I learned after going through far too many per kid last summer. So when I discovered these gorgeous pool robes from down under, I knew I had struck summertime gold. You have to trust an Australian company to know their beach towels, which is exactly why the locally made Terry Rich Australia kids’ beach robes are so darn awesome. Between the stylish design and the soft, hearty fabric, which actually dries you...

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The baby gear for your next road trip

As a mommy that is constantly on the go, I find that my kid’s nap times can be interrupted by life. So if I can’t create nap time at home, I’ll create it on the go. You gotta do what you gotta do, right? And here’s a fabulous bit of gear that’s helpful for you traveling moms. Let me introduce you to kikko’pilo, a 23″ square memory foam mini mattress that stores easily, rolling up into a tube. This is the perfect solution for extra pillows on flights, in cars or just out and about. The waterproof 100% cotton...

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Reinventing the beach towel

It’s not too often that I get excited about a beach towel for kids. Yes, I get it – some have cuter patterns or whatever. But in the case of Towelmate, they really did reinvent the beach towel for both kids and adults–and it’s awesome. Hit the Towelmate website and you’ll find a brilliantly simple idea–towels with a little zipper up one side, forming a small pocket for your keys or money. Or in the case of the kids’ beach towels, lotion and little treasures. In fact, I love that right inside the pocket it say “shells.” The mermaid towel...

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The coolest luggage tags, just in time for travel season

It’s Memorial Day, which means the start of summer travel season, hooray! If upgrading your entire set of luggage isn’t in the budget at this particular moment, you can at least swankify it all with a super cool new luggage tag. Here are just a few I’ve found that might get us even more excited, that moment we see our bags make it out onto that airport conveyer belt. If you’d rather not put your name on the outside of your bag, how about a simple This Bag Is Mine stamped onto leather, and sold at Owen & Fred....

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A Petunia Pickle Bottom bag made for all women. No babies required.

We’re always fans of Petunia Pickle Bottom bags, thanks to smart design, elegant patterns, and a rugged refusal to succumb to ruination. But once you’re past the gigantic diaper bag phase and even the maybe-it’s-just-a-purse diaper bag phase, you might enjoy this lovely new option. The exterior of the Travel Train Case is made of the same easily cleaned, PVC-free, matte-glazed canvas we’ve come to love, and all the beautiful fabrics are available. However the inside is made just for you. And that means no bottles. The six interior pockets are great for dividing jewelry for travel, or maybe for...

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An easy way to get your car seat from the car to the airplane

Going on vacation is top on my list of things I love to do. At the bottom of that list has to be schlepping things–like car seats–from my house to the airport. I just discovered a contraption that makes that schlepping at least a little bit easier. The new Roll ‘n Go Car Seat Transporter from Brica takes the grunt work out of getting your front-facing car seat (or convertible car seat) through the airport and to the airplane. The Transporter is basically a lightweight hand truck that allows you to easily attach your car seat and push it wherever...

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Vintage meets handmade meets gorgeous

I have a soft spot for stitch art and it’s not just because I live in the embroidery capital of the world (yes, there is such a place). As a gal who can’t even sew a button onto a pair of pants, I greatly admire those patient enough to create detailed designs out of those tedious little stitches. Designer Jamie Davis offers a fresh take on the use of embroidery with her line of vintage luggage pieces. Jamie refinishes her finds with sweet yarn stitching and updates the inner lining with retro inspired bold designs. One of my favorites is...

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A portable easel for whenever inspiration strikes

My kids are what you might call serious artists. No they aren’t selling their paintings for thousands, they just can’t leave the house without a bunch of arts and crafts stuff–just in case inspiration hits in the minivan, I suppose. Fortunately, one of our favorite brands for neatly-designed, high-quality kids’ toys has come up with a portable easel for an artistic playspace on-the-go Long-time CMP favorite B. Toys’ Take it Easel—gotta love their creative product names—pops up to be a two-sided magnetic easel with a whiteboard on one side and blackboard on the other. Hooray for families with two...

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BeginAgain toys – Simpler toys Santa’s elves would approve of

When the toy store ads appear in our Sunday newspaper, I’m mostly uninspired by all the blinky, noisy, plasticky stuff touted as The Next Big Thing. Would these really be the toys that Santa’s elves carefully assemble in the North Pole? But now, just in time for the holidays, a brand new toy maker has come riding into town, aptly called BeginAgain. And if you are looking for toys, games and activity kits that harken back to a simpler time when people actually said “harken” (heh), you must check out this line of imaginative and eco-friendly toys. {keep reading...

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Customized water bottles just might make the water taste better

Just when you thought that metal water bottles had reached the apex of coolness, we’ve found the coolest designs around. Yours. (Don’t miss a great discount code after the jump!) Wawabots allows you to fully customize your own water bottle. One picture, several pictures, your picture as part of an adorable design. You can even put in your kids’ artwork or hand prints or add their names to the stainless steel, BPA free bottles. And they have special designs for mom, dad, and the grandparents, just in time for holidays. I designed two Wawabots and really put them through...

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The really cool allergy action kit we hope you won’t have to use

Since my son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy two years ago, we’ve made several permanent adjustments to our family’s lifestyle. No more trips to the Chinese buffet down the street, or the ice cream parlour. No more visits to most restaurants, period without calling ahead. No more unidentified cupcakes at classmates’ birthday parties. No more (sigh) trick-or-treating at Halloween.  And most importantly, no going anywhere, ever, without my son’s EpiPen.  Which is why I’ll be buying him an allergy action kit from Medpax. The “why didn’t I think of that?” invention of a mom who also happens to be a doctor,...

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Have pouch, will travel in style.

Okay, show of hands: Who else gets ready for a fabulous trip by overloading a bunch of sandwich baggies with half-full sample bottles and hotel soaps? Um, me. Not exactly glamorous. Know what we be much more fitting?  This pouch. “No matter how much I have seen, there is always so much more that I have not.” The words are perfect, and so is the design. This flat canvas travel pouch is just the right size for all the little doodads you keep in your carry-on for in-flight and post-flight primping. They’ve also got a pouch that says “always...

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The Doodle Roll unrolls before your kids unravel

My handbag is sort of a Mom’s Swiss Army Knife. Need a Band-Aid? Got it. Hungry? I’ve got some mints in here somewhere. But when we get stuck waiting somewhere and the kids are threatening to mutiny out of sheer boredom, it turns out that drawing on the back of old receipts isn’t all that much fun. Enter a cool new coloring kit that all three of my kids can use at once, doesn’t take up more room than my wallet and stays neat and easy to reach when the doctor’s office is running 45 minutes behind. {keep reading...

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The Brita water bottle. Pretty smart.

While lots of companies are trying to build a better water bottle (just search water bottle on our site sometime), I’m actually surprised it took Brita so long to get into the game. But now here they are, with a sports bottle that has one of their filters built right in. Fill up the substantial, BPA-free Brita Bottle right from a water fountain or sink, and the filter, which is attached to the sippie part at the top, filters out “chlorine taste and odor” as you drink. Note they say chlorine taste–not actual chlorine. So don’t be filling it with pool water. But it does mean if you need a refill on the road or at the gym, you can feel better about your choices. The filter needs replacing about every 20 gallons or so, so if your kids are downing one of these bottles a day, that’s only once every four months. It does come with a huge Brita plastic wrap label over it but fortunately, it’s easy to peel off. Then you’ve just got a nice, big blue sports bottle, and some well-hydrated kids. –Liz Find the Brita Water Bottle online from shops like Target, Walgreens, and our affiliate...

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Banish bug bites without using any nasty chemicals

The first sign of summer for me is always my first mosquito bite. I always consider bug bites to be the price I pay for good weather and barbecues. But now that I have kids, I feel the need to douse them in something to ward off bug bites, and I’ve never been a fan of that hideous bug spray smell mixed with all those nasty chemicals. Thanks to Erbaviva, I’ve found a way to fend off the bugs, while still keeping my family chemical-free. The new Organic Buzz Spray bug repellant from natural mom and baby skincare line Erbaviva...

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Stickers for boys. Or girls. Cool how that works.

Imagine a knight in his breeches. It’s up to you to put the correct clothing and armor on him. Without the proper threads, he’s absolutely lost. What’s a lad to do? We’ve seen paper dolls before, which almost always cater to girls and often involve ballerinas, fairies, and princesses. But these? Different. Usborne Activities takes sticker dressing in an entirely new direction with their Sticker Dressing Knights. We’re talking jousting and shiny armor. Children learn about different types of knights, as well as the associated garb, with easy-to-follow directions; although younger ones may need some assistance with the reading...

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Bubble Bum: The portable booster seat that may be my favorite new thing ever

I’m heading out on our first European family vacation this summer (I know!) and, mom that I am, was already stressing out about the car seat situation. Just in time, I discovered the portable car booster seat Bubble Bum and have been doing the happy dance ever since. Truly, I haven’t been this excited about a new kids’ product in a good long time. This portable booster seat is wildly popular in Europe, and I’m thrilled it’s finally approved for sale in the US. I got the chance to try one and seriously? Awesome. The reason it’s portable is...

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Three cheers for the red, white and beachy

Last year I discovered the wonderful handmade cotton totes from Bayan Hippo, and grabbed one with narrow black and white stripes, stat. Since it’s still holding up so nicely this year, I’m thinking of adding another to my collection. Especially since the prices are so great. With everything in the navy/white or red/white stripes realm so hot this summer, I’ve got my eye on this red and white striped sailor tote with soft cotton rope handles that make it nice and summer casual. It’s lightweight so it folds up easily in a larger suitcase if you’re traveling. And it’s...

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EWG and Cool Mom Picks agree: These 3 sunscreens rock

Does anyone else feel like buying sunscreen takes a PhD and two hours internet research? I do. And then I’m too tired to swim. That’s why we’re happy to share some family-tested sunscreens that we’ve thoroughly tested– and we checked the EWG Skin Deep list, too, where top sunscreens are rated with the lowest numbers. (But take some of it with a grain of salt – not every ingredient that is of concern to them, like fragrance, is of concern to everyone.) Sunny times are here again! Our family of four rotated through three different product lines this summer,...

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Quiet travel toys – Reader Q&A

Do you have any suggestions for fun, quiet and small toys for a looooong flight/travel day for a 2yo and a 4yo, both boys? Would love to hear your suggestions! Thanks!  -Brave mama, Melissa.  Crayons and blank paper, activity books, and coloring books are always mainstays for travel. I’m also a big fan of “grab bags” where you put a bunch of cool little goodies in a bag and “surprise” the kids with something new every few hours (or minutes if it’s that kind of day). Some other ideas:  If you’re a bit crafty, check out this PDF for...

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Go anywhere booster – The baby travel essential of the summer

Whether you’ve got one kid or four like me, it’s tough traveling on a long road trip. Hey, it’s even hard just going out to dinner with all your baby gear essentials sometimes. But this new pick is so practical, so cool, it’s become far from an extra for our family. In fact, I’d call it the baby travel essential of the summer. [don’t miss a giveaway after the jump!] The Go Anywhere Booster seat is by far the best-made and best-looking of this type of baby seat I’ve seen yet. What appears to be a pack about the...

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Keep your baby in the dark. Literally.

I’ve got to be honest, the Snooze Shade is the kind of product I dream of being able to use more. Because, well, my babies don’t generally start sleeping in the first place. But for anyone with a baby who actually does sleep, the Snooze Shade could be a lifesaver. It comes in two sizes –to fit an infant car seat or a stroller– and is made from black, breathable UPF50+ fabric. Anytime baby is ready for shut-eye you can just pop it on and create a dark, comfy environment for baby, even on the sunniest of days. Yes,...

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7 two-piece bathing suits that don’t make little girls look like teenage girls

I’ll say it: the bathing suit choices for little girls are abhorrent these days–teeny string bikinis, plunging v-necks, high cut briefs, ruching at the “cleavage” presumably to create more of it. It’s making me crazy. To say nothing of a certain retailer (ahem Abercrombie) that recently introduced–then backpedaled on–padded bras for 8 year-olds. Still, I do like two-pieces for girls. They’re cute and make changes easy, especially when you’re in the diaper phase.  So I’ve spent a little time tracking down a few picks for summer that will let your little girl look like your little girl for a...

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Vintage upcycled luggage makes travel fun again

We all know that any time you go on the road with kids, it’s not really a vacation, it’s a trip — but that doesn’t mean you can’t pack in style. In fact, the right suitcase can really get you in the vacay state of mind. Even if you are filling it with sensible shoes and kid clothes. I’m smitten with GetReadySetGO’s upcycled vintage luggage. Rachel Demsick takes classic pieces — train cases, messenger bags, suitcases — and embellishes them with beautiful one-of-a-kind artwork. The pieces themselves are in impeccable condition, and come in stunning shades (no more black...

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