Gripsterz Child Leash Alternative

We do a fair amount of traveling as a family.  At the moment we are traveling abroad with all the children.  So I thought this might be a good time to write some a blog post or two about keeping children close when traveling.

If you have ever had to bring your children with you through a busy airport such as Miami International Airport or London Heathrow you know how hectic and hair-raising it can be.  Multiply that be 100 and you know the feeling of taking your children through some of the third-world airports missionary families encounter on a regular basis.

Now imagine being in line for the security checkpoint with all your kids, your carry-on items and travel gear.   You definitely want to keep your children close, but sometimes when you use a traditional child leash or harness your child will realize they are being tied up or involuntarily restricted.  Does it help to have them sit down in the middle of the causeway and start bawling their eyes out since this restriction makes them feel like they are being punished when they haven’t done anything wrong?

Gripsterz child tether alternative at SJO San Jose, Costa Rica

Keeping children close with Gripsterz child harness alternative during international travel

Gripsterz Stay Along, which is comprised of a walking rope and voluntary character handle, helps alleviate that stress.  Children hold on to the handle because they like the monkey character, and they do not get upset since they are not being involuntarily restricted.

Gripsterz also gives children a feeling of security and ‘connectedness’.   They don’t have to cling to Mom’s leg because they are in a strange new environment.  Decreasing stress and anxiety for kids helps decrease stress for parents.

While there is no silver bullet for all people in all situations, we have used Gripsterz as an alternative to a child leash extensively during international travel and have found it works wonderfully for our family.

Travel with Children Lesson Learned

 

Bring Bags!

We have done a fair bit of driving, visiting different places in and around Panama City as well as around Coclé province, which is central Panama on the Pacific coast. There are a few areas where the roads are pretty curvy as you ascend or descend the central mountains just West of Panama City, and going up and down to El Valle de Anton.

Our van in square as seen from belltower of La iglesia Colonial de Santiago Apóstol, de Natá de Los Caballeros, Coclé province of Panama

Our van in square as seen from belltower of La iglesia Colonial de Santiago Apóstol, de Natá de Los Caballeros, Coclé province of Panama

We quickly learned a good use of all those plastic shopping bags you get from the grocery stores or department stores. They are useful to have in the car in case anyone gets motion sickness. We keep a couple pairs, tested for leaks, having have at least one ‘bag fail’ episode, for each child. Even those who don’t normally get car sick are not impervious to the ‘chain reaction’ when stuck in an enclosed area and one child starts getting sick.

The shopping bags are lightweight and fold down to small spaces. They can be stuck in the side pocket of a handbag, or just stuck next to a seat or in a handle or holder near the seat.

This little secret has saved us on numerous occasions.

¡Buen viaje!


International Travel with Children

Our family with 9 children on horseback in El Valle de Anton

Our family with 9 children on horseback
in El Valle de Anton

As a family with 9 small children, we have had some great away-from-home adventures.  We generally try to take our children with us whenever we travel, from adoption trips to Guatemala, trade shows and continuing education meetings on the West Coast, Canada and Central America, to just plain interesting and fun trips for extended periods.  When we only had 5 little ones we took a 9-day trip around Arizona and New Mexico in an RV  with 9 of us (including Robyn’s parents), when we had 6 children we took them all to Costa Rica for a week to study rain and cloud forests, volcanoes and Latin American cultures.

Now we are in Panama for three months where we are concentrating on learning swimming, Spanish language, and cultures of Indigenous and resident populations of Panama.

9 children jump into pool

Our crew of 9 children jumping into the pool

We are having a great time, and also learning more about ourselves and our children, as well as traveling with children.

As time permits, and I am finding time in short supply, we will try to add more blog posts with some helpful things we’ve learned in order to guide others who may want to visit “Family Friendly Panama”.

Our family with 9 children on an Embera dug-out canoe

Our family with 9 children on an Embera piragua, or dug-out canoe

Our Crew in Panama

Adventures with Nine!

After landing at the Tocumen Airport (PTY) in Panama City, we spent our first night at B&B Estancia, a converted military barracks on Ancon Hill overlooking the Panama Canal.  The rooms and accommodations are plain and simple, but a nice little breakfast is included, they are conveniently located and the staff is very friendly.  I spent some time with Samuel, the ‘trusted driver’, as we drove around the city and secured a 15 passenger Toyota Hiace.  Samuel is a really good guy.  He drove me around last year when we visited and I had some errands to run in the city.

Our 9 children with a large tree on Ancon Hill, Panama City

Our 9 children with a large tree on Ancon Hill, Panama City

The kids loved it there, and tolerated their first exposure to Panama’s warmth and weather during the rainy season well.  They enjoyed watching the agouti (large forest rodents similar to a cross between a rabbit and a muskrat, also sometimes called “Pacas” and said to make a good meal over rice with coconut), the various birds and frogs, and of course,

Geoffrey's Tamarin at B&B Estancia, Ancon Hill, Panama City, Panama

Geoffrey’s Tamarin at B&B Estancia, Ancon Hill, Panama City, Panama

the Geoffroy’s tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi), also known as the Panamanianred-crested or rufous-naped tamarin [citation:  Wikipedia]-a colorful little monkey.  These were all right outside our balcony at Estancia.

Geoffrey's Tamarin (small monkey) on Ancon Hill at B&B Estancia

Geoffrey’s Tamarin (small monkey) on Ancon Hill at B&B Estancia

  • Did you know that Panama, a country about the size of South Carolina, has more different bird species (970+) than all of the United States and Canada combined?
View of Panama Canal area from Ancon Hill

View of Panama Canal area from Ancon Hill

After a nice evening and breakfast at B&B Estancia, and then picking up our rental vehicle, we took a trip up Ancon Hill for a nice view of the area around the Panama Canal.  It was a great view, but it was hot at mid-day, so we didn’t stay long.  We grabbed a quick lunch and headed across the Bridge of the Americas, and down the Panamanian Highway to our next stop:  Playa Coronado…. [to be continued]

Gripsterz In Action

Managing Children In Airports with Gripsterz!

We made it to Panama!  After months of preparation we saddled up Wednesday morning, and had one of our great babysitters come with us to the airport.  Robyn has to be the greatest packer on the planet!  Our luggage for three months away:  6 checked duffel bags, and roughly half a dozen carry on bags with our computers, and gameboys, games and books for the  kids.

Luggage for three months-6 check bags, 6 carry-on bags

Luggage for three months-6 check bags, 6 carry-on bags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank goodness you can once again check bags at Skycap for international flights.  That made all the difference in the world!

Robyn and kids travel by Skycap at CLT

Robyn and kids travel by Skycap at CLT

 

We checked in and got a quick lunch at Charlotte International airport….

Kids watching planes at CLT

Kids watching planes at CLT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids eating lunch at CLT

Kids eating lunch at CLT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… then boarded and flew through Miami International Airport–grabbing a quick bite to eat, and arrived at Panama-Tocumen Airport (PTY)!

Robyn and the 9 children at the runway at MIA

Robyn and the 9 children at the runway at MIA

Robyn and the 9 children deplaning at MIA

Robyn and the 9 children deplaning at MIA

Gripsterz walking rope helps keep the little 3 boys close at Miami International Airport

Gripsterz walking rope helps keep the little 3 boys close at Miami International Airport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gripsterz Stay Along monkey handle was critical!  We had the three little boys holding on and keeping up all the way through the airports (see pictures).

Robyn and smaller children with Gripsterz at MIA

Robyn uses Gripsterz walking rope with the little 3 boys at Miami International Airport

Robyn uses Gripsterz walking rope with the little 3 boys at Miami International Airport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gripsterz and 9 kids at Miami International Airport 5-23-2012.

Off Label Use: Bandette or Bandle Child ID Bracelet

Bandette Child ID BraceletWhen we first introduced Bandette sippy cup labels we were very specific that it was NOT a wristband.  Due to familiarity with silicone wristbands, the first thing children and adults alike would do was to put it on their wrists.  We wanted them to understand the primary function was for labeling drink cups.

Now that there is getting to be a broader exposure and understanding of our product, we have received comments that it would work well as a child ID bracelet.  Well, they are absolutely correct.  We have used them in the past when traveling as an easy way to put the name of a child and our contact information somewhere visible in case they were separated from us.  We also use a backup by putting all pertinent information on a small index card or business card and putting it in their pocket.

Bandette band size generally runs a little big for the wrists of small children, so we found it works also to put it over a sleeve or on a child’s ankle where it is less likely to come off.  As long as it is not so snug as to be uncomfortable or restricting we found it to be no hinderance.

Team up this idea with Gripsterz Stay Along, and your outing should be fun filled and enjoyable!

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