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Are We There Yet?no - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut                  back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins - Dec 09, 98

    Holidays often involve family travel. If you don't recognize the question, "Are we there yet?" there's no need for you to read this week's column.

    No, wait. That's not right. Let me rephrase.

    If you are going to be traveling with kids any time soon, and you don't recognize the question, this is one column you must read. A pixel of planning beforehand may spare you a bandwidth of agony down the road or in the sky.

    Start with Kids Travel Planner. Their advice for parents of infants suggests bringing along cloth diapers as a contingency. Are you intimidated by the logistics of cloth diapers? Cloth Diapers (a free "discussion list" delivered by email) covers the subject from top to bottom. (Oh, stop groaning back there. Don't make me stop this car and use puns I did pass up.)

    The Kel-Gar, Inc. line of truly innovative products especially for infants and toddlers includes the Snak-Rak. It attaches inside your car and promises to "hold snacks . . . so kids will hold still for the ride." Of course, there will be times when you'll wish for a Kid-Rak that would do the same for the child.

    Parent Soup contains a nutritious repast of ideas for traveling with children but the advertising-laden site requires that you first suffer the slow download of a graphics intensive home page (more than 40 illustrations and ads!!), then scroll down to the search window labeled "Find It." Key in the word "travel" and click on "Go".

    I'll admit that many of the 218 relevant articles that delivers are worth a look. However, is it paranoid to suspect that the search field is at the bottom of the home page for the same reason high-volume, low-profit-margin bread and milk often are placed at the far corner of the supermarket?

    While I'm complaining, I may as well restate my annoyance with the practice, all too common for some directory and portal sites, notable exceptions being Yahoo  and its kids-site, Yahooligans, of forcing advertising banners through a full cycle of animation before the page content itself is delivered. In recent months, Internet industry surveys have been reporting the "strange phenomenon" that users are failing in increasing numbers to click through to advertisers' web pages. Owners of these large sites profess puzzlement. Hello??

    If you prefer to avoid those aggravations, web sites built by less avaricious designers deliver useful information but with a minimum of eyeball exploitation. The well-named Parent's Eyes section of Cyberwonders even invites visitors to click on a "low graphics" version that speeds up information delivery.

    It may be heresy for an Internet columnist to recommend printed books but there are few entertainments as complete and effective for children enroute. Want some suggestions? Amazon or Barnes and Noble can be counted on for a variety of books almost guaranteed to keep the kids from poking at each other in the back seat.

    However, the Just For Kids web site, thanks to a sensible limitation of graphics, is a lot faster downloading. Their search function offers a better range of age and interest choices to help you focus.

    If you don't have the time or energy to choose, just click on Travel Packs. Just For Kids staff has assembled reasonably priced and age appropriate selections perfect for the road.

    As much as I tend to favor the little guy, a comparative search of their respective inventories for books, cassettes and related child-hushers entitled "Are We there Yet?" reveals that Just For Kids offers two items, Amazon has five but Barnes and Noble lists twelve.

    Still, I had expected there would be an entire series under the name "Are We There Yet?". Then, every time someone asks the question, the next volume in the series could be surrendered.

    I figure a few dozen should cover most short trips.


From The Back Seat
Depending on the availability of space in your local newspaper, the following information may or may not have appeared in the print version of this week's column.

Award Winning Children's Literature
This otherwise excellent service greatly needs (and deserves) some web builder advice about rapid information delivery and organization. Instead of emphasizing the web site's structural faults (e.g.: large and repetitive graphics), I'll just say you not find a better collection of books to keep things quiet in the back seat.

List of Kid's Book Sites and Sources
An excellent overview of children's books.

Aims International Books
Children's books in 22 languages. (Spanish is a specialty).

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