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April 25, 2009

Where's Wendy? Times Square

Wendy_perrin_on_galavantingtv_2
To see a Galavanting video, shot in Condé Nast Traveler's Times Square offices, about how I attempt to juggle my job, travel schedule, and kids--as well as a few tips for aspiring travel writers and thoughts on new media--click here.

If you're wondering why you haven't heard more from me online lately, it's because I've been holed up in my office trying to crank out certain annual print features for Condé Nast Traveler--namely this June's "Worldwide Guide to Affordable Villa Vacations" (remember last year's guide?), this August's Cruise Guide (remember "You Don't Know Cruising...Until You've Read This"?), and our tenth annual list of the "World's Top Travel Specialists" (you must remember the ninth).

I've also been supervising Daily Deals here on The Perrin Post, of course, as well as planning trips to Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle, trying to snag some of those summer travel bargains I wrote about in my "Perrin Report" in the May issue. Meanwhile, you can catch me over on Galavanting TV being interviewed by Travel Blog Exchange founder Kim Mance about why and how I do what I do, as well as at IAGblog Podcasts talking to Addison Schonland about why and how the travel industry should be using Twitter to reach travelers.

I also try to check in daily on Twitter to answer readers' travel questions. Here's why. I've gotten a slew of reader questions via e-mail lately, yet I far prefer answering questions either on Twitter (if they're short) or here on this blog (if they're long). That way, everyone can hear the answer and add his or her advice to the conversation. So please consider submitting your questions via one of those public platforms. Thanks, everyone!

March 25, 2009

Radio Interview with The Trip Chicks

by Wendy Perrin

I did a fun half-hour radio interview on Monday with The Trip Chicks. The show covered everything from how I got my start at Conde Nast Traveler (nearly 20 years ago!), to which article I'm most proud of having written, to what I learned at the South by Southwest Interactive conference last week, to why I consider Twitter a powerful journalistic tool (and it's how I met The Trip Chicks, actually). If you'd like to listen to the interview, click here.

June 11, 2008

Top Ten Things to Do When You're Stranded at an Airport

Stranded_lax
If YOUR family were stranded at the airport, what would YOU do?
AP Photo/Ric Francis

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM APRIL 11, 2008

by Wendy Perrin

American Airlines canceled 570 more flights today, putting the total number of canceled flights this week at about 3,050 and the total number of displaced AA passengers upwards of 170,000 or so (I've lost count). The groundings are expected to continue through Saturday.

If I were one of those stranded passengers, I'd be buying a one-day pass to the Admirals Club for $50 and waiting out the delay in the club lounge. You can't do that with young children in tow, however. (If you have to ask why not, you're clearly not a parent of preschool boys.) Which brings me to the strandees who are likely having the toughest time of all: The parents trying to keep their young kids occupied, napped, exercised, fed, hydrated, and tantrum-free. After you've worn out every Crayola marker in your carry-on, read every Dora the Explorer book, and sung the Thomas the Tank Engine song 15 times, here are some ideas for killing the hours left:

10. Go on a family scavenger hunt through the terminal in search of: emergency diapers, juice boxes for sale, a newsstand that has not run out of The New York Times, and an empty electrical outlet.

9. Use the cot and blanket supposedly provided by AA to make a fort. (You can build a wall out of leftover McDonald's Happy Meal boxes.)

8. Buy ten packs of Starburst Fruit Chews and use all the colorful little blocks to build towers, castles, and parking garages. 

7. Ride anything that moves: the train between terminals, the escalators, the shuttle bus to the long-term parking lot. As for the baggage carousel . . .

Continue reading "Top Ten Things to Do When You're Stranded at an Airport" »

June 09, 2008

Summer Fun in Newport, R.I., With Kids (Yes, Really)

Thebreakers_perrinpost
The Breakers, a Vanderbilt mansion, offers tours specifically for children.
Photo: The Preservation Society of Newport County

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM AUGUST 20, 2007

by Wendy Perrin

Who woulda thought that Newport's elegant turn-of-the-century mansions, built by the robber barons and their descendants as "summer cottages," could be child-friendly? But last week in Rhode Island I happened upon two that anyone sightseeing in New England with tykes should know about. 

The Breakers, the 70-room palazzo built by railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895, actually has a family tour geared specifically to children.  Offered daily in summer, the tour starts at the Children's Playhouse. (Imagine having McKim, Mead and White design your kid's playhouse!) 

Childrens_cottage_the_breakers_ne_2
The Vanderbilt tots used to hang out here in the Children's Playhouse. Our tour was led by the fabulous guide Ellen Sadlier (right). Aug. 14, 2007.

Our guide must have been a kindergarten teacher in a former life. Charlie, 5, and Doug, 3, were riveted by her stories about the Vanderbilt children, and especially by the silk-carpeted grand staircase down which the kids used to slide on sterling silver trays. (Speaking of Vanderbilt progeny, a bit of trivia I learned:  Did you know that CNN's Anderson Cooper is Cornelius Vanderbilt's great-great-great-grandson?) A parent-friendly bonus: For ages 5 and under, the tour is free.

More on Newport's kid-friendliest "summer cottages," after the jump.

Continue reading "Summer Fun in Newport, R.I., With Kids (Yes, Really)" »

June 05, 2008

Keeping Cool With Kids in Atlanta

The_world_of_cocacola
Atlanta's new World of Coca-Cola provides oversized balls, frisbees, and horseshoes to occupy kids while their parents wait in line to get in. That's Doug, my 3-year-old, on August 3, 2007.

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM AUGUST 8, 2007

by Wendy Perrin

Just back from Hotlanta, where my family and I spent several days trying to beat the heat with a variety of air-conditioned indoor, and the breeziest possible outdoor, activities.  Four train/tram rides, three 4-D movies, two trained-animal shows, and one planetarium later, I can assure you that the best thing to do with kids in Atlanta is still The Georgia Aquarium.  Since I reported on that last summer, however -- and Stephan just added his report last month -- instead I'll list the top three other activities I'd recommend to families with more than one day to kill and preschoolers in tow:

1. Ride the Ducks at Stone Mountain Park.

Ride_the_ducks
The "Ducks" are actually DUKWs -- 1940s-era amphibious trucks used in World War II.

Ride_the_ducks_into_a_lake
You start out riding through the park and then splash into Stone Mountain Lake, where each kid onboard gets a turn in the driver's seat. That's Doug and me, August 1, 2007.

Ride_the_ducks_stone_mountain
Every rider gets a duck necklace that quacks loudly when you blow into it. You get to keep it as a memento. My kids accidentally "lost" theirs (ha!) soon after the ride ended.

Continue reading "Keeping Cool With Kids in Atlanta" »

June 04, 2008

Flying With A Toddler? How Not To Get Kicked Off A Plane

Toddlers_on_plane
Charlie (then 3), Doug (not yet 2), and me on a transatlantic flight 2 years ago. Note the Sit 'n' Stroll car seat that Doug is sleeping in.

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM July 17, 2007

by Wendy Perrin

Last week we learned about the mom and tot who were booted off a plane after the aircraft's flight attendant objected to the 19-month-old's behavior:  He kept saying, "Bye-bye, plane" during the flight safety instructions and preparations for takeoff.  The mom, Kate Penland, says the flight attendant suggested giving her son Benadryl to quiet him down. "I'm not going to drug my child so you have a pleasant flight," responded Penland.  The flight attendant then told the captain that Penland had threatened her.  He returned the plane to the gate, and Penland and her son were forced to disembark, even though by then the boy was sound asleep.

The incident has stirred up passionate opinions.  There are nearly 2,000 comments about it on MSNBC.com, and loyal Perrin Post readers have added their two cents to Stephan's post "Bozo Flight Attendant Tosses A Toddler." 

I've got far too many unanswered questions about this incident to opine on who was right and who was wrong, but I can tell you, as a mother of two preschool boys who were toddlers not long ago (they are now 5 and 3), that there are steps Penland could have taken that likely would have prevented the entire unhappy incident in the first place.

My tips for any parent taking to the skies with an active or fussy (in other words, normal) toddler this summer, when planes are so packed and delays so rampant:

1. Buy your child his own seat on the plane.
Kids under age two can fly for free if they sit in a parent's lap, but most of the one-year-old boys I've observed on planes are far too squirmy to sit happily on a lap in the close confines of an aircraft for a prolonged length of time. In Diane Sawyer's interview with Penland and her son, Garren, on Good Morning America, Garren was "fussy" (Penland's term), wriggling free from her lap, kicking, climbing onto the coffee table, and being such a busy wiggleworm (normal for a child that age) that he was removed from the set by co-anchor Chris Cuomo. Penland told Sawyer that Garren's behavior on the show was similar to how it had been on the plane before they were kicked off. This tells me he would have been better off in his own seat.  Once my own sons turned six months old, I found I had absolutely no choice but to buy them their own seats.  The reasons for strapping a toddler into his own seat:

Continue reading "Flying With A Toddler? How Not To Get Kicked Off A Plane" »

June 03, 2008

Common Street Scams Overseas

Via_tornabuoni_florence_italy_2
Where there are cities crowded with tourists, there are street scams.
Photo: Atlantide Phototravel, Corbis

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM July 27, 2007

by Wendy Perrin

Headed abroad this summer?  It's important to be aware of the tried and true ploys that petty thieves use ... and how to evade them.  The other day I warned you about a common scam in Italy: the fake street fight.  One little boy pretends to beat up another. When the victim approaches you in tears, asking for money so he can get home to safety, you pull out your wallet -- and the kids snatch it and race off.  Here are three other scams to watch out for:

Continue reading "Common Street Scams Overseas" »

June 02, 2008

Top Ten Toyless Ways to Occupy Kids on Planes

 

Doug_on_plane
Let your child phone his imaginary friends with the TV remote. :) That's my four-year-old on a flight to Spain, Feb. 2008.

While Wendy's snowed under with projects for Conde Nast Traveler's August issue, we're republishing her greatest hits from this blog. Wendy will be back on June 13 with our biggest contest ever!

FROM APRIL 19, 2008

by Wendy Perrin

Yesterday's USA Today reported that "air travel is slower than at any time in the past two decades. . . . Congestion on the ground and in the sky is adding more than an hour to some routes as planes take longer to taxi and fly to their destinations. . . . Airlines are building extra time into their schedules, adding as much as 50% to expected flight times."

Continue reading "Top Ten Toyless Ways to Occupy Kids on Planes" »