Top 10 Science Museums in the US – as per Mensa

Earlier this year American Mensa surveyed it’s members to come up with a list of the best science museums around the US. The list is as follows:

1. National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C.)

2. Academy of Natural Science Museum of Drexel University (Philadelphia)

3. Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)

4. California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco)

5. Bradbury Science Museum (Los Alamos, N.M.)

6. Arkansas Museum of Discovery (Little Rock, Ark.)

7. California Science Center (Los Angeles)

8. Exploratorium (San Francisco)

9. Museum of Science (Boston)

10. Center of Science and Industry (Columbus, Ohio)

In the north east I have come to appreciate science content presented in:

1. Museum of Natural History (New York)

2. Liberty Science Museum (New Jersey)

3. Momath (New York)

In the south I also admire science content at the Children’s Museum in Birmingham – Alabama.

Happy Exploring!

My secret to traveling light

85470709What makes up most of our luggage during a trip? Clothes. With a toddler who just turned four I am changing him at least twice a day during my travels. When he was little I used to carry blankets, sheets, burp cloths etc. How do we reduce this luggage and make traveling more convenient?

A. Find hotels, B&B’s or rent homes that have washer and dryers available (small hotels in Europe do provide this facility)
B. Carry a clothes detergent
C. Carry clothes that are made from quick drying fabrics. Most active wear clothing are easy to clean, dry quickly even when hung indoors. They are wrinkle free, wicking, offer stretch and are preshrunk. A perfect solution for an action and family packed travel

I finally found a solution for a clothes detergent. Try Method’s travel size Laundry detergent – a 8 load solution. I even used this detergent in the bath tub – just soaked clothes in the detergent, rinsed them in the morning and hung them dry. They smelled great and felt clean.

Method Laundry Detergent

A tiny bottle that is easy to pack and easy to use. Pack it in a ziploc – it did leak in my bag on my way back from my trip. Check out more details about this product on the Method Site.

We were on our way to Lindau, Germany in the super fast RailJet. In the train we met a family on their 2 month trip with their 3 sons (age range 5-12 yrs old) and they were carrying one back pack each. I am no where close to packing so efficiently but they surely inspired me. Check out this blog that provides a lot more information on how to travel light: OneBag

How When Where? Smart travel decisions that can make every trip memorable

When my son was 3 years and younger, we used to make travel decisions based on “convenience”. I have shared with you factors like:
1. Distance from home
2. Convenience of getting there
3. Ease of getting around
4. Baby friendly services at a hotel or resort
5. Warm and comfortable weather
6. When? We could go anytime we could take time off from our work. We didn’t have to care for school, long weekends etc.

Rafting the Upper Colorado

As my son turned 4 we have come to realize that these factors don’t apply anymore. Our travel decisions are driven by our overall family interests. Factors like:
1. What is our tot curious about? Dinosaurs, specific topics like the Von Trapp Family etc.?
2. What activities does he enjoy? Beach, Skiing, Factories, Farms, Museums etc.?
3. Which resorts have day camps for him?
4. Is it possible to travel with another family with similar aged kids or with close family
5. Plan trips during school holidays, long weekends and breaks
6. Distance from home still applies but is not an over-riding factor anymore
7. Convenience of getting there – we still don’t want to have multiple layovers and hours of drive in the car. Maybe this factor will not matter in a few years

As a parent you have to be dynamic in your thoughts and actions based on your child’s developmental cycle and age. With limited time and set resources you want to get the most out of each trip. There are times when you want to visit a certain destination which might not be on your tot’s top list. In this case it helps to generate curiosity in your child. Talk about the destination, attractions, famous people from the place, unique culture and learn a bit of it’s language (if different). Once your tot has reached the 3-4 year age range you can help your tot explore the destination before getting there. This will help him/her build memories that will last forever.

Post travel invest time to create a scrap book, an eBook, a short slide-show of selected photos from the trip or an album to keep reminding your tots on things they explored and invaluable moments spent together as a family.

Traveling with a toddler – so much easier than before

Enjoy your vacationIn the past 5 months, we have been to India, Mexico and Miami. It has felt much easier traveling with my son after he turned 2.5 years vs. before. Of course it has helped that we started traveling with him when he was an infant and he is now used to the drill. So now that he is 3 years old, these are some of the things that make my trips successful:

  1. Vacation for 4-5 days at least – don’t cut it short
  2. This one still applies – take direct flights, avoid layovers if you can
  3. Rent with Hertz. They have always provided a clean car seat and is always installed when I pick up the car. I still confirm twice to make sure everything will be in order
  4. Read the hotel reviews. Spending on your hotel room is of great value now than before. Hotels with a kids club are of great value. Just make sure you have read all the reviews on the kids club. I have always called ahead of time to talk to the director of the kids club to get a feel for the club, it’s services and if it is appropriate for my child given his age and interests
  5. If not getting two separate rooms – request hotel to provide a spare bed. Take your own sheets if you child has sensitive skin. Take a small pillow or lovee that your child uses every night to fall asleep
  6. Pack as many clothes for the little one, keep your own bags light. Pack his/her favorite small toys and 3 most favorite all time reads. Paperbacks are great to travel with
  7. If traveling international, take a few snacks you are sure your child will eat e.g.: take his/her favorite peanut butter as you will always find bread, take Mac n Cheese – its easy to cook. Take and Toss is still my favorite. I have atleast carried straws and traveling spoon & fork set
  8. Take basic medicine, thermometer and weather-appropriate toiletries (lotions, sprays etc.)
  9. Research restaurants in and around your hotel. It’s great to have a few options on hand. Quickly research nearby grocery stores, pharmacy, mall etc.
  10. Always keep sanitizing wipes handy – use them on the plane, rental car, in your room just to keep it safe. Sanitize in route always

So there are a few things to think about, keep your child entertained and manage his/her usual schedule. But overall everyone should take a break and enjoy. Vacations are a great way for the whole family to connect – so put away the blackberries, the iPhones and get to know each other. Let your child break some rules, don’t forget he/she is on vacation too.