Making Road Trips More Comfortable

Ah, the Road Trip, we’ve all done it. In a tribute to Jack Kerouac, we’ve all piled six people in a five seater in an attempt to see the country. As the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s City of New Orleans blare on the stereo and old Willie asks, “Good Morning America, How are you?” we’ve all restrained ourselves from answering. With the smell of spearmint gum and cigarettes masking the aroma of the pine tree air-freshener and the fast food wrapper that – before the trip is over – will serve as toilet paper resting against a pair of Birkenstocks, we’ve all embarked on a road trip, a rite of passage, a tribute to freedom, and perhaps one of the most uncomfortable journeys ever invented.

Cars, as a mode of transportation, aren’t meant to be comfortable. They are typically compact, stuffy, and a meeting place for body odor. Yet, road trips are still a favorite pastime of the American culture. For those of us who can’t afford to road trip in a limo, or an RV, there are a few tricks of the trade to make road tripping more comfortable.

Know Your Rest Stops

There are stretches of the American highway system where not a single toilet exists. While some people may see a tree and think, “toilet,” most others see a tree and think, “tree.” Because of this, it’s important to know where rest stops are located and, more importantly, know where they aren’t located. If you’re about to embark on a road trip, map out rest stop locations beforehand. This way you will know if you can drink a liter of coffee, or if that liter, should be more like a cup.

Bring a Pillow

We’ve all gotten one: a window print on our forehead. This ultimately results from sleeping with your head against the window, getting a neck cramp and letting passengers in passing cars look up your nostrils. Though a car isn’t exactly the best place in the world to sleep, it’s certainly not a latex or memory foam mattress, bringing a pillow can alleviate the discomfort. Propping a pillow up against the window will be much more comfortable than sleeping against the window itself. Of course, pillows and sleeping should both be avoided altogether for the person actually doing the driving.

Go on Walks

Road trips are a breeding ground for leg cramps, a place where aches and pains get together to attack joints and muscles. Because you’re stuffed in a car for hours at a time, leg cramps have no problem developing. The best way to avert their development is to stop every couple of hours. Whether you stop at a rest stop, or simply pull over on the side of the road, get out of the car, stretch your legs, and walk around. Even do jumping jacks and calisthenics, we promise the cars passing on the highway won’t stare.

Bring Your Own Music

We all remember being children and road tripping with our parents. As we were stuffed into the back seat among our brothers and sisters, forced to listen to our parents sing a duet to Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe, we longed to change the radio station to something we wanted, something like totally cool. Good music is the key to a good road trip. But, keep in mind, even if you are traveling with people your own age, there may still be some discrepancy of what constitutes good music. Instead of fighting over the stereo, simply bring a Discman and listen to whatever you want. Yes, even Bette Midler.

Road trips are fun. But, they aren’t always the most comfortable thing in the world. They get long, they grow boring, and there’s only so many times you can play rounds of travel games before you start to annoy even yourself. But, with these few tips, road tripping can be a little easier, a little more comfortable, and a little less likely to make you want to stick your head through the windshield.

3 P’s to Relieve Parent Stress While Travelling With Kids, Toddlers, and Young Children

Travelling with “little ones” can be one of the most joyous events of all-it can also be one of the most stressful. Parent stress is usually high when travelling with small children or toddlers as children in this age bracket have multiple needs, short attention spans and are easily bored or agitated when cooped up for a long time. Travelling with children can be stressful, but with enough preparation and forethought you can ensure a relatively tears-free trip, for both you and your child.

Here are the 3 P’s to prepare you before travelling and alleviate parent stress:

Planning… Planning… Planning, there is no escape from this. If adventurous, unplanned holidays gave you a high in the past remember one thing – they have to be forgotten when you have kids – else you will only create more parent stress. There are ways to reduce anxiety when travelling with little children, though it takes meticulous planning in advance and flexibility during the trip. Planning involves:
o deciding where to go to,
o how to go,
o what to do and know about the place you are visiting and
o how to be prepared for the travel.

For deciding where to go, ask your travel agent for family-friendly suggestions. See your doctor about vaccinations beforehand. The most important step is to decide how to travel. Take all the pros and cons of different modes of travel before deciding the mode of travel. Depending on the mode of travel, plan for stuff like breaks, overnight stays, availability of airport transit facilities etc so that you and your child are comfortable.

An important tip to relieve parent stress while travelling is to ensure that you have enough rest breaks. Do not jam-pack the trip with lots of activities; have days of relaxing so that your children do not feel very tired. Keeping your trip as simple as you can and it will reduce the number of problems.

Once you are through with planning a trip the next step is to prepare for the trip. This step involves actually mentally, physically and emotionally preparing you for the trip. Once you have decided on the place to travel and the mode of transport you will need to prepare for the following:

o How do you prepare for the place you are visiting?
o What sort of accommodation you want?
o What to bear in mind and prepare depending on the mode of travel?
o What do you need to carry with you?

Preparing for the place you are travelling requires you to know about the facilities that the place provides like supermarkets, availability of key food and hygiene brands required for your child, availability of medical care, what to avoid eating and drinking, where to avoid visiting etc. This research will help you to be better prepared for the trip and you would know what to expect.

The most important preparation is for the mode of transport. If you are travelling by air or train remember to:
o Purchase an extra ticket if you can afford, else request an aisle seat, which can give you more mobility and quicker access to your seat when boarding and de-boarding. Also, in case of air travel ask for bulkhead seats or seats near an exit to give your child a safe spot to play on the floor.
o Schedule the flight during night so that your baby sleeps most of the time.
o Allow more time for security checks, getting to the gates or your platform at the station, and unexpected events.
o Bring nutritious snacks for your kids and for yourself; you don’t want to be caught hungry with no food options in sight.

When travelling by car:
o Use appropriate restraints, such as seatbelts or car seats.
o Don’t stack items in a way that they fall all over if you have to brake suddenly.
o Use shade cloth to keep the sun from shining in your child’s face or wear sunscreen.
o Be prepared for plenty of toilet and rest stops are taken to reduce motion sickness. This needs to be planned in the travel. Also check with your doctor on the drugs you can give to your child to reduce motion sickness.

The last step in preparation is to decide what you should carry with you when you travel. Here the key tips are:
o First aid box containing items such as baby paracetamol, thermometer, anti-itching lotion, oral rehydration preparation and band-aids. Also pack sunscreen, hats and insect repellent.
o Take sterilising equipment if your child is bottle-fed.
o Pack, lots of toys that keep your child busy and not bored. Also avoid too much of sharing between kids, which can lead to quarrels.
o Prepare to carry loads of nutritious snacks and food when going out for sight seeing.
o Take your own stroller or pram, even though it is bulky.
o Take some familiar items from home – blanket, stuffed toy – this will keep your child occupied and give them some comfort.

The final step to relieving Parent Stress, while travelling is to pursue your plan and execute on it when you are on vacation. Before you even embark on your travel, if the baby is sick, postpone the travel – if they get sick during the travel try and cut the travel short. Actually visit the doctor and get all vaccinations and clear all doubts regarding the place you are visiting.

Before travelling, to help pack for the trip and to keep your child’s various supplies organized, it might be a good idea to make a personalized travel box for each child. If travelling by air, feed your baby or child when starting and towards end of the trip, as the frequent swallowing can help prevent the build-up of pressure inside the ears. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration. During the flight, stick to smaller and more frequent feedings. Also supervise flight attendants when they heat your meals for the child.

If travelling by car, make sure your child eats something before travelling, but avoid heavy or greasy foods. Entice your child to look out the window by pointing to several things along the way. Also try and have a few surprises up your sleeve, like a travel toy or game that can be opened only after you begin your travel. This will avoid boredom in travel for kids especially when doing long haul flights or long road/train journeys.

Once on holidays, take all precautions when visiting new places – like not leaving the child unattended, being vigilant about the potential dangers of unfamiliar places, such as unfenced swimming pools or balconies. Try to keep a little bit of familiar mealtime routine so that the kids do not get cranky. Ring ahead and check out for availability of children’s menu to avoid surprises and for younger kids prepare them to eat “jarred” or “tinned” baby food as fresh food might not always be available. Wherever possible, use disposable items and use any babysitting facilities at your hotel so you can have a break.

The most important thing, however, is to be flexible! Your baby won’t be able to have the same sleeps, so if you think the baby is tired, take a day off. Use the extra days you have planned to relax and don’t pack them with more travel.

For kids above five years, you can allow them to choose some items to pack or provide them with a choice of seat or allow them to move around the platform or terminal while waiting for next train or flight. This will help them gain a sense of control in the experience and they will be lot better behaved and less bored. Finally maintain a cool head during the trip. Remember to focus your attention on the trip itself and all the fun that comes with it, rather than on the hassles of travel as these hassles are short lived. This way you can have a wonderful time with your family.

Should I Tip My Massage Therapist?

Ahhh, thee ole tipping question. People want to know, nobody wants to be the CHEAP guy, that doesn’t tip.

But first the story

I ordered a gluten free pizza the other day, and the chap came up to the 23rd floor. He had the “I am barely getting through my day” look, on his face. He handed me my bill and pizza, I took my pizza and gave him a $20 tip.

His eyes lit up like Christmas

I presumed that most folks weren’t very generous with him, and when I see the cost of gas these days, I leap out of my skin. I can’t even imagine how low his hourly wage is.

Let me ask you something, is it customary to tip $20 for a $10 pizza? No, it isn’t, but I did anyway because I thought beyond myself. I put myself in his world, imagined what a normal day might be like for him.

If you get a massage at a spa, or hotel, a 15% to 20% tip is standard if you were pleased with the services.

On the other hand, there are no real ground rules or norms when it comes to massage in a medical setting. Some massage therapists say tipping isn’t appropriate in a medical or clinical setting.

I work in a rehab center and I get tips, I work in a clinic and I get tips. I do not work in a spa, where it is expected.

I will throw in some insider secrets to help you decide:

  • Most RMT’s are on a 60/40 split percentage with the clinic they work at. The RMT receives 60%. So even though you may pay $80 for a one hour massage the RMT receives $45.
  • In a lot of day spas, RMT’s are grossly underpaid, in a spa they may only be making $22 per maRMTssage. I have friends that work in spas, so I know.
  • The same for rehab centers, most rehab centers pay out a max of $30 per 1 hour massage to their RMT.

As you can see the businesses are pocketing the majority of the money that you pay. RMT’s do not even get a whiff of the money.

Here are some questions to help you:

1.) How would you feel if the situation were reversed?

2.) Would you like to receive a tip? If so how much?

3.) How would you feel if someone didn’t give you a penny?

4.) How would you feel if someone was extraordinarily generous with you?

That’s your answer in a nutshell. If you tip, it will make our day, it will lighten up our lives. It’s that little extra that we don’t expect.

Tipping well improves relationships, because it makes the other feel special and important. Next time they will want to do more for you.

If you get a discount massage, then definitely tip because the therapist is working on you for half their normal rate.

If you get benefits and everything is essentially free, then why not? Why not make someone’s day.

I tip well because I know the value of appreciation, I know that it will make a difference in that persons life, so I do it.

Lindsay Tietz, RMT, Homeopath