A Waterproof Case for Your Smartphone

I have my smartphone with me all the time.  Partly because it’s my camera, partly because it’s my phone, partly because it’s my internet… I have my iPhone with me all the time.  When I take the kids to the beach or the pool, I don’t like risking damage.  So last November, when Hip2Save posted a great deal on a waterproof case, I got it… even though I wouldn’t be needing one for months.  Best random purchase ever.  The OtterBox Armor Series Waterproof Case has been an amazing Creative Solution.

If you don’t have an iPhone, OtterBox also makes a waterproof case for the Samsung Galaxy called the Preserver Series.

Don’t get me wrong: this case is bulky and more protection than I need most of the time.  But I don’t keep my iPhone in the OtterBox most of the time… I just keep the case with my sunscreen, towels, and pool stuff and put it on when I need it.  There are two little hinges that easily open and close the case.  And by close, I mean lock-it-down.  And because it’s waterproof, the microphone is blocked, so calls are a little muffled unless you open that little flap.

Still, this has been an awesome Creative Solution because I am able to take pictures and video while in the water, having fun with friends and family.

IMG_1972 IMG_1631

While enjoying a fun day on the river with friends, my iPhone was accidentally knocked into the water while in the Otterbox Armor case.  It sank about 4 feet to the muddy bottom before it was recovered.  Not only did the Otterbox prove to be waterproof, but because of my case, we were able to capture some amazing and fun memories!

IMG_2754 IMG_2930

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CamelBaks Aren’t Just for Hiking and Biking

20111105_030Here’s a Creative Solution: use a CamelBak anytime you want access to water but don’t want to carry a water bottle.  A CamelBak is like a backpack with a water “bladder” (reservoir) and a straw that many people use for hiking and biking.  Instead of carrying a backpack with a water bottle, fill the reservoir with ice, top it off with water, and you’ve got cold water all day:

  • At the zoo
  • While walking and touring a new city
  • At the pool or the beach – hang it on the back of your chair and pull out the “straw” when you want to drink.
  • Walking around an amusement park or Disney
  • At a kids sporting event

You can get CamelBaks in all shapes and sizes.  The most popular (and the one my husband and I have) is the Camelbak Mule, which comes with a replacable 100 ounce reservoir.

You can get a larger backpack if you need, but the storage space on the Mule is fantastic.  Moreover, when everyone has their own CamelBak, everyone carries their own stuff.  Which brings me to the kids…

On our first family camping trip, we were astonished by how much the kids loved our CamelBaks, but our packs didn’t fit them (too uncomfortably large), so we were pretty excited to find the Kid-sized version.  The CamelBak Mini Mule fit the kids perfectly. It’s got a kid-sized backpack and a 50 ounce reservoir.  The kids stay more hydrated when they use their CamelBaks, and they can carry their own stuff (snacks, maps, hats, etc.) in the little backpack.  You can find them online at Amazon, LLBean, or in stores like REI.  The Mini-Mule prices range from about $49 – $89, so definitely shop around.  We asked the grandparents to make the Mini-Mule their Christmas gift to the boys, which was a win-win: not a toy, and it lasts for years!  (Note: the Mini-Mule is very rugged, but occasionally, we do need to replace the “bite valve.”)

On our Summer travels this year, we used the Camelbaks when we hiked a couple of trails in the Adirondacks.

Lake George

I really wish I had thought to use them when we walked the Freedom Trail in Boston.IMG_2295

 

They were perfect for our walk on the Great Wall of ChinaCamelbaks on teh Great Wall

So whether you’re into hiking and biking or just being a tourist, I think CamelBaks are a great Creative Solution.

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How do you clean the CamelBaks?

Empty out the water (suck out whatever’s in the straw. too), stuff the inside with paper towels, turn it upside down, and let it dry out for a couple days.

IMG_0002They also make “Cleaning Kits.” But we’ve always just air dried them… I mean if you aren’t responsible about drying them mold/mildew grows and you have to replace the reservoir.

Traveling Tips: iPod Touch and Headphones for Kids

This Creative Solution explains which gadgets we use for our kids while traveling – and why.  We live a-ways from family: a minimum of a 3 1/2 hour car ride or a 3 1/2 plane ride.  When my boys (now 6 1/2 and 8) got to be of the age where we would consider a video gaming system or a portable DVD player (or both), we opted for iPod Touches.

Why?

  1. The adults in the house have iPhones that the boys love to play with, so this would give them their own version of the gadgets we use
  2. The iPod Touch is versatile: movies/shows, games, interactive aps
  3. The newer iPods allows them to FaceTime and iMessage their Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparents (who have iGadgets)
  4. It also has a camera
  5. Rugged cases

The longevity of application and versatility won the cost analysis.

So, first is the iPod itself.  We originally got each kiddo an 8GB iPod 4th Generation (now available refurbished).  New, they are now only offering iPod 5th Generation 16GB.

Honestly, in cost analysis today, I can’t say I’d choose an iPod Touch over an iPad Mini…

Anyhow, when purchasing gadgets for kids, a rugged case is a must!  Given the choice, I’d usually choose (and recommend) an Otterbox because of their guarantee.  When purchasing cases for my own kids, however, I found that my older child’s neurotic preferences for color combinations was strong enough to sway me to a non-Otterbox brand that promised kid-safe ruggedness.  Two years in and no problems!

    Multi Color Hybrid Hard Plastic Silicone Case For Apple iPod Touch 4 4th,Rugged Hybrid Case for iPod 4G (Blue+Green)

OtterBox Defender Series Case for iPod touch 5G

Child friendly headphones are another must in my book.  You don’t want to have to listen to that-noise.  Please don’t subject your traveling neighbors to listening to that-noise.  While my older one has been satisfied with random ear buds, my younger one has a sensitivity.  He prefers over-the-head.  I have found that the kids version of the Uprock Skullcandy Headphones works really, really well.  They’re definitely rugged (in case your kid might be like mine and leave them in a walking path to be trampled upon).  Unfortunately, Amazon tells me that the Uprock headphones are discontinued by the manufacturer.  I’ll update this post if I hear any more, but we have been really pleased with the quality and durability and comfort of these.

Skullcandy Uprock Headphones Athletic Red (2012 Color), One Size

So an iPod, a rugged case, and headphones.  A must in our Creative Solution traveling tips!

Traveling Tips: Portable External Battery USB Charger

After traveling with my two boys, ages 8 and 6 1/2, over the course of four weeks, from Houston to the Adirondacks, to New England, to China, to Malaysia, and then finally home, I have a lot of Creative Solutions that I want to share.

My kids each have an iPod Touch and a Kindle (e-ink), my husband and I each have an iPhone, an iPad, and a Kindle.  When we fly, my husband and I tend to read, and the kids tend to play games or watch movies.  One of the gadgets that really helped is a Portable External Battery USB Charger.

You charge it at home, and it packs a ton of portable power.  There are little LEDs that tell you how much juice is left.  It has multiple USB ports to charge multiple gadgets at once.  The Portable External Battery USB Charger was especially handy during international travel or long days out when I planned to use my iPhone as a camera.