Tuesday, 19 November 2013

From SF to LA: A Getaway to USA with Kids!

Known as "The Golden State" and famous for its long beaches, California is a perfect holiday destination for the families. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, we had the best of times in the West Coast of United States of America this October. 



Before we start, we would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude towards Bloom & Grow Asia for sending us these fantastic travel items and making our journey much more easier and fun with the kids:)!
1. Boostapak - Trunki Booster Seat & Backpack

2. Tiger Tribe Magnetic Playbook

3. Magna Play by Tiger Tribe - Building Sites

4. Snoozihedz

We had a long 22 hours journey from Singapore to San Francisco via Seoul on Singapore Airlines. Although it sounded like an impossible task with the kids but luckily our kiddies stayed happy and occupied with the in-flight entertainment system, tech gadgets and not to mention a fantastic Magnetic Playbook by Tiger Tribe. 
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Review: Tiger Tribe Magnetic Playbook (Building Site)


Our 4 years old couldn't have anything better than this to stay busy. With his sheer interest in building and construction (inspired by Bob the Builder), he couldn't stop playing with this magnetic playbook for hours in the plane




Not only did he enjoy the magnetic press-outs like stickers but also he challenged his imagination to create different construction scenarios with the given items. 







With loader to bulldozer to shovel to ladder to simple sign board press-outs, he had much to create, play and learn. Besides, he also got engaged in make-believe or pretend play which in our opinion is very important for your child's development. It develops their imagination & thinking as well as language & social skills.



Pros:
1. Light weight & sleek
2. Illustrative, theme based and colourful
3. Portable and easy to travel with (1 fold-out A3 magnetic play board and a sheet of press-out magnets)
4. Develops imagination and fine motor skills
5. Promotes independent and pretend play
6. Ideal to keep kids busy on the move
7. Reuse as many times as you want to and create as many scenarios as your child could think of
8. Perfect for ages 3 and above
9. Available in different themes such as Pirate Adventure, Enchanted Fairies, Transport in the City, At the Beach, At the Market, Outerspace and Building Site.





Cons:
1. Magnetic press-outs were a bit hard for our 4 years old
2. You might have to keep the outer case-plastic of the book as small magnetic pieces might fall from the book.

For purchases and more information: http://www.bloomandgrowasia.com/
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All set for the cold, we landed at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), picked up our rented car from the car rental station next to the airport and drove to our hotel.


We are again thankful to Bloom & Grow Asia for this amazing Boostapak - Trunki Booster Seat & Backpack which was indeed a perfect travel companion during our trip!

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Review: BoostApak - Trunki Booster Seat & Backpack




Trunki has always been our favourite brand and this time we were even happier to have BoostApak during our long-haul travel. In most of the countries including USA, law requires children under 12 years old or 135cm in height to use a booster seat. Therefore, it was an ideal option for our 4 years old boy to have one during our trip. 

Not only did we save cost of renting out an extra booster seat but also we could use it as our backpack to keep snacks, toys, books and other such items for kids inside. We literally survived long road-trips with it as it would really make it ideal for us to keep our baby essentials like diapers, wet wipes, snacks, etc especially when we would take short stop overs on our way. It is so convenient that with just one fold, you can bring the seat down and carry it along like a backpack, however, we do feel that it could have been even better if the backpack had more capacity in terms of volume though it was still sufficient to keep a few items and of course to be tagged along by a young child like ours. It was so easy that our son could fold it and bring the seat down by himself.





Unlike other backpacks, this one has a hard cover surrounding the backpack to keep the things intact inside. Otherwise, imagine your child sitting on a normal backpack and squeezing down the things stored inside:). Also, it looks aesthetically smart as a backpack and otherwise too especially when it glows, making your child visible in the dark.

On the other hand, though it was quite soft as a seat but may be it could have been slightly more comfortable if it was more cushioned especially for long drives.


We also liked the idea of having instructions printed on boostapak itself making it easy on the go. Also, the seat belt adjuster made it even safer for our child as we could strap the seat belt per his height.

Pros:
1. Compact, light weight and easy to carry during travel. Ideal as a hand-luggage!
2. Booster seat and backpack in one
3. Easy to install as a booster seat and fold back as a backpack
4. Soft and comfortable as a seat as well as sufficiently padded as a backpack
5. Aesthetically and technically a smart design
6. Comes with a seat belt adjuster to cater to different age groups
7. Suitable for ages 4 -12 years
8. Available in Pink and Green colours

Cons:

1. Backpack capacity, though could be sufficient, is good for a few things only.
For purchases and more information: http://www.bloomandgrowasia.com/
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San Francisco is famous for its many world attractions including The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf at PIER 39, Lombard Street or a Crooked Lane, Museums, Beaches and many other cultural and entertainment spots


San Francisco


 Lombard Street

U.S. is not only known for its big cities but also for its amazing suburbs/towns. We visited one of our friends in Fremont which was just like a small city town on its own. Just a few miles away, we went for a day long retail therapy trip to one of the shopping heavens called "Gilroy Premium Outlets" where you can save loads and loads on clothing, bags, shoes and what not!

Known as the best place for shopping, there are many factory outlets located in the outskirts across all major cities in the U.S.  

We stayed in this amazing city of San Francisco for almost 2 days and packed our bags for an even more exciting road trip on one of the most beautiful scenic routes called the U.S. Highway 101 (North to South) along the Pacific Coast. With the breathtaking views of the shore, mountains and sky, we stopped by at various traveller's spots to relax and appreciate nature. 





Bixby Bridge


On the way, we stopped by at Monterey with its attractions around Monterey Bay, Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row. 

After a hearty meal at one of the restaurants nearby, we drove to Cambria and had a night over transit at this small village located next to the sea and midway between San Francisco & Los Angeles. The entire village looked like a wonderland in Oct with halloween statues and more in different themes around children's famous fairy tales.
Santa Rosa Creek


Pumpkin Patch / Pumpkin Festival





Cachuma Lake

Next morning, we went back on the road with short stop overs at various places including Cachuma Lake, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara before we reached the beautiful city of angels called Los Angeles.


Santa Barbara

DisneylandHuntington Beach, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Griffith Observatory, The Hollywood Sign, Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Dolby Theatre, Paramount Pictures, Beverly Hills and Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library at Simi Valley are the places we visited during our short stay in LA, and also before we started our travel back home via Tokyo.  


Disneyland


Hollywood




Chinese Theatre

Hollywood Walk of Fame 

Griffith Observatory

Ronald Reagan Presidential 
Foundation and Library at Simi Valley


Huntington Beach, LA



Newport Beach, LA


 Laguna Beach, LA

Also, many thanks to Bloom & Grow Asia for these amazing travel companions! 
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Review: Snoozihedz (Dudley the Dinosaur)



Both our little ones got really excited to see Snoozihedz which is essentially a lot of things together in one:)! Yes, it's a pillow, fleece blanket and a cute looking plush companion. Our younger one not only likes to have a pillow while travel but also loves tagging along stuffed toys, thereby making it ideal for us to have it all in one. 



It is available in 4 different animal designs and we were pleased to receive "Dudley the Dinosaur" in green colour. We loved it as a toy as well as a blanket. Unfortunately, our daughter doesn't like to sleep on any inflatable travel pillows as they are usually hard and the feel is different, however, she would love Snooziheds and find it really soft and cuddly when stuffed with the blanket inside. The plastic could have been replaced with any other material as not only this but all sorts of inflatable travel pillows are usually uncomfortable and have an unreal feel to it. However, our boy liked it.  


So much so it was like a fun for her to zip/unzip it all the time:), luckily the zip was quite sturdy! 


The cute Dudley went with us virtually everywhere including the long distance flights, endless road trips and long walks with the stroller. We also liked the idea of having a grip to prevent pillow and blanket from falling off while both in use. Smart Idea! Otherwise, you know with kids, blankets keep on falling especially when they are fast asleep!






We also noticed a cute little pouch in front of the blanket for kids to keep anything inside:) but yes, it's designed more for soft toys to keep it safe for children.


We are extremely thankful to Bloom & Grow Asia for letting us have a pet too called "Dudley" :)!

Pros:
1. Light weight & compact to tag along
2. 3 in 1 i.e. inflatable pillow, soft fleece blanket and cute travel companion
3. Ideal for all modes of travel i.e. plane, car, train and even strollers
4. Comfortable and cozy
5. Available in different characters and colours including Dudley the Dinosaur, Pippin the PenguinBert Blue and Betsy Pink, Leeroy the Lion and Chinese Dragon.
6. Comes with a Trunki Grip to connect the pillow and blanket together
7. Can be used as a pillow cover too

Cons:

1. Plastic inflatable pillow might not be liked by some kids. 

W: http://www.bloomandgrowasia.com/index.php/Product/570.html

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Review: Magna Play by Tiger Tribe - Building Sites


What a lovely little red tin suitcase for the young ones to carry! :) Bundled with over 30 magnetic pieces and 20 unique theme based ring bound design cards, this Tiger Tribe's Magna Play set is fabulous for hours of creative fun for the little peeps.







Like the Magnetic Playbook, this one also has got magnetic press-outs too to play with. Not only does it knock your child's mind to think out of the box and create different patterns and stories of their choice but also they can learn to make different shapes using the cards inside. 








From a tree to duck to owl to many more you can create and re-create with the Forest Fantasy set of cards.   






Magna Play is not only ideal for the travel but also for the play dates and eatouts with kids. You do not even have to worry about losing any items as the suitcase is as easy to pack as to unpack and play with:). Good news is that it is available in three other themes and colours too including the Robots in Space, Secret Garden and Things That Go. It could be a really good pacifier and an alternative to portable electronic gadgets and TV. Kids can also keep their other artworks, color pencils or even small toys like cars inside the suitcase and on the go! 
Features:
1. Comes in bright colors and a beautiful mini portable suitcase
2. Light weight and small in size
3. Ideal for travel, play dates, eatouts and on the go fun
4. Available in 4 different colors and themes including Robots in Space, Secret Garden, Things That Go and Forest Fantasy.
5. Great for pretend plays and boosting child's imagination skills
6. Bundled with over 30 magnetic pieces and 20 unique theme based ring bound design cards

Cons:

1. Though compact but still might be big for the backpacks especially when you are carrying other travel essentials too. 
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After a long 25 hours travel, we finally reached back home:)! THE END!

Note: For informational purposes only.

2 comments:

Syarifah Syazrah on 21 November 2013 at 00:44 said...

Thanks for the review! I'd love to travel with my kids someday. But the idea of travelling with 2 kids (I'm a single mom) is a bit scary and I'm worried that I might get overwhelmed by the two of them. Those travelling companions seemed to be very helpful to keep the kids busy, I might wanna get some for my kids if I were to go for a long trip. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts :)

Mum Dad on 25 November 2013 at 22:49 said...

Pleasure:)! Yes, it is indeed quite difficult but if you are well packed and well prepared with kids then it might get easier:)!

 

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