Zero Prep – Road Trip Car Games for Kids

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Road Trip Car Games for Kids

Car trips can be awful but I’ve found them to be sooooooo much fun if I go into them with a good attitude and a plan.  I’m all for kids getting bored but I think it’s fun to mix in a few games along the way too.  Let them come up with their own games too!  I bet they’ll surprise you with what they create!  In the mean time, here are my zero prep – road trip car games for kids.  I hope your family finds them helpful!

I Spy

How to Play: Someone says, “I spy with my little eye something…” (Or the old version my great aunt taught me, that goes “Riddle, Riddle, Riddle Marie, I see something you don’t see and it is…”)  Either of those statements are followed with a clue to an object that someone sees.  The clues are usually based on color.  For example, ….something that is red.  A fun twist is to give a shape as a clue.

 

The Banana Game

How to Play: Each time someone sees a yellow vehicle, they yell out “Banana!” and they receive a point.  The player with the most points at the end of the predetermined time or when you reach your destination is the winner.  A fun twist on this game is to have kids find a specific model or type of car instead of color.  My kids love to find mustangs and convertibles.

 

Count the…

How to Play: Pick anything that you want your kids to count and begin.  We count school buses on the way to school every day (we homeschool so this is only once a week for co-op but they have fun with it).  We count motorcycles on Saturdays because my son loves motorcycles and loves to see how many are on the road this time of year.  We had 19 last Saturday and we only went to three places.

 

Tunnel

How to Play: This is an easy but a short lived game.  We get to play it twice on our way to visit family though so it’s a keeper in our house.  When you enter a tunnel, everyone holds their breath.  I used to love this game but I’m old and lazy now. ha. Whoever can hold their breath the longest is the winner!

 

Name That Tune

How to Play: My kids loves this game but I am absolutely dreadful at it. My kids play it by humming a song and letting everyone else try to guess the name of that song.  I can’t eeeeeever win.  Never ever.  Maybe if we played snippets of songs on the radio I might have a better chance?  Nah, probably not.

 

RELATED:

Family Road Trip Songs

 

Storytelling

How to Play: I love storytelling and find much value in being about to tell stories.  This is one fun and super easy way to help cultivate the love of storytelling in my kids.  One person starts the story with a sentence, such as “Once upon a time there was a beautiful maiden who lived in a humble cottage.” Players continue taking turns adding a new sentence at a time until the story until it’s complete or it becomes too ridiculous and everyone is doubled over laughing. I always imagined these would be fun to write down but I’ve never actually done it.  Maybe I could secretly record my family the next time we play.  That would be a fun memory to look back on years from now.

 

7 Tips for Driving in the Rain

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Tips for Driving in the Rain

Spring is here and with it the rain.  If you’re like me you’ve been finding yourself driving in the rain more often than not lately.  I just wanted to give everyone a quick refresher on how to safely drive in the rain.

1. Think – Avoid Sudden Motions

Most people drive so much that they’re on autopilot driving from here to there.  When it’s raining we all need to consciously think about driving and pay attention.  Doing so, will hopefully help us avoid any sudden motions.

2. Turn on Headlights

This is a no brainer but one that doesn’t hurt to repeat.  When it rains, turn on your lights and wipers in a few easy flips.  Easy peasy.

3. 3 Second Distance Rule

Allow plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.  Try to leave ample stopping distance while driving and begin to slow down to stop for intersections or turns earlier than you usually would.

Driving in the Rain

4. Look Out For Pedestrians

Folks who are out may be in a hurry to get where they are going and get out of the rain.  Be sure to be alert and pay extra attention to pedestrians who may be more distracted themselves than usual.

5. Drive Slowly

Speed limit signs are for ideal conditions.  Driving in rain decreases visibility and comes with the added risk of hydroplaning.  Be safe and slow down.

6. Avoid Heavy Rain

If the rain is so heavy that you don’t have good visibility it’s okay to pull over, turn on your hazard lights, and wait a spell.  It will likely pass within a few moments so enjoy the brief break with some tunes on the radio.

7. Be Prepared in Case you Hydroplane

If you begin to hydroplane, let off the gas slowly and continue to steer in the direction you want your car to go.  Don’t jerk the wheel or slam on your breaks to regain control.  That will only further displace your car and could cause serious issues.   If your car starts to spin, begin to slowly turn your wheel in the direction that the vehicle is spinning.  The key word there is slowly.  Don’t overreact.  Now that you know how to deal with hydroplaning you don’t have to worry.

Pre-Road Trip Car Inspection Checklist

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Pre-Road Trip Car Inspection

If you’re up for a road tip then you’re the kind of person that knows preparation is key.  Preparation for packing, for car games, for snacks, and yes, even for car maintenance.  Here’s our family’s pre-road trip car inspection checklist.  We just came back from a trip so these were fresh on our minds.

Regularly Scheduled Maintenance 

This will likely include an oil change and fluid check.  If you go to the dealership they’ll probably have a record of your belt replacements, air filter changes, and a whole slew of other maintenance items.  My family likes to always do what they recommend but even if you don’t usually I would recommend it before a trip.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

Emergency Kit 

Your emergency kit should include first-aid materials, tools that you’ll need in case of a breakdown.  These may include a flashlight, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, screwdrivers, wrenches, extra fuses, spare tire, jack, etc.  In winter I also like to pack candles and blankets just in case.

 

Battery Check 

Take a quick moment to check that your battery terminals are nice and clean.

 

Tire Check 

Check tire pressure and tire condition.  You don’t want to face the open roads with bare or low tires.

 

Check Brakes 

Your brake pads should have 1/4 of an inch of pad or more.

 

Wipers

Check to see how your wipers are fairing.  They only last so long and it’s easy to put off replacing them.  Before you leave for a trip, make a quick stop of at a shop and switch them out.  You can top off your wiper fluid while there too.

 

Lighting

Check that all interior and exterior lights are working properly.

There you have it!  A simple pre-trip vehicle inspection will help ensure a safe and stress-free journey to your vacation destination.  Happy trails!

7 Ways to Keep Your Car Safe on a Trip

This post is brought to you by Ted Britt Chevrolet.

Keep Your Car Safe on a Trip

When you’re away from home and out on the open road for a much needed holiday, your car is your home away from home.  It’s the place you’re seated to and from your destination, it’s the place you’ll eat a few meals, hide belongings, and occasionally use to escape the elements.  Read on for seven tips to help you keep your car and valuables safe while traveling.

7 Ways to Keep Your Car Safe on a Trip

 

1. Hide Everything Before You Arrive

This is a tip that my family has instilled in me since I was small.  Always, always, always hide all of your valuables before you arrive in the parking lot. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a woman get out of the car and put her purse in the backseat or in the trunk.  It’s not safe.  Doing that just shows everyone who’s around to see exactly where to find your valuables.  Lock them in the truck or other safe hiding place prior to exiting the vehicle.

2. Unload Your Valuables Away From Your Parking Spot

On a similar note, if you plan on using the same parking area over a span of a couple days don’t retrieve your valuables from your car the moment you return to it.  If you open the trunk every time you go to your car someone may take notice.  If possible, pull into another location away from your parking spot to gather your valuables again.

3. Choose a Good Parking Spot

What makes a good parking spot a good parking spot?  Visibility.  It’s simple; out of sight is out of safety.  Try to always park in a well lit, busy spot, that is within sight of a lot of eyes.  I’ve always hear to park with your trunk facing out to make it harder for thieves to break into your trunk unseen.

4. Remove Tempting Items

Remove or lock up any tempting items from your car.  This may include but is not limited to a GPS unit, cell phone or accessories, MP3 Player, a bag that may look like it holds valuables (even if it’s an old purse your kid uses for dress up or a make up bag, etc.), and on and on.  I’ve had a few friends tell me that their cars have been broken into for the change in the cup holder.  Don’t risk it, put away any items of potential value.

5. Park Your Car Yourself

Most parking attendants and valets are perfectly safe.  However, if you make it easy for someone to steal something valuable from your car they just might.  I’ve had a car wash attendant steal a bottle of cologne from the car.  If you use a valet, keep valuables out of sight.

6. Keep It Neat

Your car that is.  I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’ve always been told from my family that a neat car is less likely to be robbed.  It makes sense though.  If you can only see the car seats you don’t assume there’s more in there but a car with a lot of McDonalds wrappers, coats, and device cords laying loose you may wonder what’s hiding under them and what’s connected to those cords.

7. Check Your Valuables

Hopefully, you’ll follow the rules above and won’t store anything in your car that you value….however, if you don’t do that double check your valuables soon after returning to your car.  Don’t trust that your laptop is in your laptop bag just because you see the bag.  Sometimes thieves will leave the bag and take the goodies.

There you have it!  I hope these tips will help keep your valuables safe as you hit the open road this year!

Spring Car Maintenance DIY Guide

Used Car Tips

It’s that time of year again.  Flowers, pollen, rain, rain, and more rain.  Spring is a great time to be outdoors and enjoy life (with allergy medicine!) but it’s also a great time to do a check-up on your car.  That’s right car maintenance.  This Spring Car Maintenance DIY Guide is brought to you by AppleValleyHyundai.com.

While you could go to the auto shop and pay someone to look over your car, you could do a couple of things yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Check Your Spark Plugs

From what I’ve read most spark plugs require that they be replaced after driving about 30,000 miles and changing them isn’t a complicated process once you understand it.  You could read online about replacing your own or go to the ever popular YouTube and find a mechanic who knows his stuff.

Get an Oil Change

Or maybe I should say, give yourself an oil change.  Car experts vary with their recommendations but most say that you should change your oil somewhere between 3,000-5,000 miles.  This seems like common sense but because I don’t always think things through myself I’ll say it anyway, when changing your oil make sure not to do it when the engine is still hot.  You don’t want to get scalded.  A trip to the ER will not help you save money.

Check Your Battery

Get a battery tester or take it to an auto place where they can quickly check it for free.  It’s important for a battery to be clean and free of rust and dust to avoid unnecessary problems.

Check Your Tire Pressure

This is easy to do at home and you can go to most gas stations if you need to inflate them with air.

There you have it!  There are some simple ways to give your car a spring maintenance check up.

Carpool Safety Tips

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Carpool Safety Tips

With moms and dads shuttling kids to event after event it’s no wonder folks have turned to carpooling to help cut down on their time spent on the road.  It’s a great way to make sure the kids get where they need to be without constantly being on the go…or maybe you have another kid’s event to be at and can’t be at two places at once.  Letting kids carpool with friends and family just makes sense for a lot of families but it’s important to make sure it’s done safely.  Here are some tips to help to help you navigate the carpool waters.  See what I did there?  Pool. Water. Ha.  Okay, on to the carpool safety tips…

1.) Know Who Will Be Driving

Statistically the number one cause of death of children ages 1-12 in the US is car crashes.  It’s imperative that you know and trust the people you’re entrusting your children with.  You want someone who practices safe driving habits on a regular basis.  Not only that but you need to make it clear that you don’t want any other individuals driving your children around that you haven’t given express permission to.  There my be circumstances when they need a backup person and it’s a good idea to find out who that is before the occasion arises.

2.) Make Sure Your Child Will Be Properly Secured

Car seat safety is something that I am passionate about!  I would make sure that all individuals who would be driving in the carpool be fully educated about my child’s type of car seat, how to install it, and how to properly restrain them each time they’re in the car.  Whether it’s a car seat or a booster seat all drivers need to know the ins and outs of car seat safety.

3.) Keep Your Kids Informed

Because you won’t be in the car when other adults are driving, it’s essential for your kids to know about what’s going on.  They need to know who is dropping them off, picking them up, and where they’re going.  They need to be responsible to keep up with their belongings.  It’s important that they also know how to behave in a car seat or booster seat.  It’s important that they stay buckled up and sit up when in a booster.  Plus, it’s a good idea to have ongoing conversations with your kids about the people they’re riding with and make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable in any way.

I hope these carpool safety tips will help keep your sweet little ones safe on the roads.

8 Car Care Items from the Dollar Tree

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Car Care Items from The Dollar Store

I love the Dollar Tree for party supplies, craft supplies, gardening tools, and the occasional odds and ends I don’t realize I need till I see it.  Did you know that the Dollar Tree is also a great place to save on car care items?  Taking care of your car can add up quickly, but before you head to the nearest auto store to buy your supplies, check out these common needs that you can have filled for a dollar at your nearest Dollar Tree.

Here are 8 Car Care Items from the Dollar Tree:

Utility Rope

Utility Ropes
In case of emergency, keeping ropes in your vehicle is a great idea.

Auto Protectant

Auto Protectant
You can really save some dollars here. This solution is for vinyl surfaces to protect and restore shine.

Flashlights

Flashlights
In case of emergency or if you need to do some repair, the flashlights will suit your needs well. Who cares if it gets lost or dirty?

Windshield Washer Fuild

Windshield Washer Fluid
You can save a pretty penny by refilling your own windshield washer fluid… for a dollar. This fluid acts as antifreeze and de-icer, making your car safer.

Steering Wheel Cover

Steering Wheel Cover
Snazz up your car, avoid a dirty steering wheel, and protect your hands with the steering wheel cover.

Funnels

Funnels
Although you’ll find this in the kitchen section, it’s perfect for guiding fluids during routine checks.  Plus, they come in packs of three so you could divide them between your kitchen needs and car needs….just don’t use one for both. 😉

Snow Scraper

Snow Brush with Scrapers
Scraping your windshields is an important step of winter car safety.  Save your credit cards and buy a cheap scraper that can get the job done even quicker.  Keep your car’s paint job safe too with the brush feature.

Brake Fuild

Brake Fluid
If you’re your own mechanic, this deal is sure to impress. Refill your brake fluid for a buck.

Do you have any ways to save on car maintenance?  If so, please share in the comments.

Parking Lot Safety Tips

Parking Lot Safety Tips

I’m hyper-vigilant about parking lot safety….and safety in general as a mom.  Yes, I’m that kind of mom.  Especially when we’re out in public.  There’s just so much that could happen quickly.  There’s too much at stake, in my opinion, to take a relaxed approach.  Because I’m this way my daughter always grabs my arm when we walk across a parking lot, even if my hands are full.  I’ve trained her well and she’s as cautious in parking lots as I am.

This past week she was helping her younger brother remember to look both ways before crossing the parking lot lane.  She said, “this is a lot like a street so you have to be very safe.  I wish someone would create a safer parking lot where you didn’t have to be so careful.”  I told her that she was absolutely correct in her assessment.  We also had fun trying to brainstorm different types of parking systems where people could park and safely walk to the building without fear of oncoming traffic.  The closest we could come up with would be some sort of tunnel system and we agreed that didn’t seem practical.  So, for the moment, until someone creates something better, it’s a good idea to be safe in parking lots and I have some tips to share with you on how to do just that.  This post is brought to you by Thunderchrysler.com.

I have to tell you that I wanted to look up some stats to write this post and include some handy information and what I found was a treasure trove of information.  The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety in Parking Lots at SNL/NM: Audit Background Report is a 57 page pdf that has more information than you ever wanted to know about parking lot safety.  If you want more information after you read my article please check it out!

-Drivers Are Distracted In Parking Lots

The NSC.org website says, “In an NSC public opinion poll, 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. Respondents also said they would:

  • Program GPS systems (63%)
  • Text (56%)
  • Use social media (52%)
  • Send or receive emails (50%)
  • Take photos or watch videos (49%)

NSC found teen drivers (59%) were more likely to engage in personal grooming than adults (53%) while driving in parking lots, but less likely to be on the phone (60% vs. 66%).”

-Pedestrian Parking Lot Safety

  • -Be hyper-aware of your surroundings when walking across parking lots.  Like my daughter says, look both ways as if it were a busy street.
  • -Always make eye contact and wait for the driver to signal you across.  Don’t just walk and assume that they’ll see you and stop for you.  Drivers are distracted in parking lots, remember?  Don’t assume.
  • -Walk on sidewalks and crosswalks when possible.  Make it easy for drivers to see you.
  • -If the weather is bad wear the appropriate shoes.  You don’t want to slip and fall and not be seen by a driver.  I personally know someone who accidentally ran over a man’s legs who was knelt down in a dark parking lot.  He ended up surviving and making a full recovery but it was a terrible ordeal just the same.
  • -Many accidents happen when cars are backing up and don’t see people behind them.  I like to walk quickly behind running cars juuuust in case they back up suddenly without looking first.
  • -Get off your cell phone.  I am constantly amazed by the number of people looking at their phones while walking through parking lots.  It’s not smart.

-Driver Parking Lot Safety

  • -When possible choose a pull through spot to avoid having to back up.
  • -When you have to back up double check that there isn’t anything or anyone behind you before driving in reverse.
  • -Avoid driving through a parking lot and stick to the driving lanes.
  • -Slow down.  Parking lots have 10-15 MPH speed limits for a good reason.
  • -Keep an eye out for kids.  Please keep an eye out for little ones that may dart away from their mother’s grip.
  • -This is the same advice that I listed above for pedestrian safety and in my Tips for Teen Drivers, leave your phone alone.  Leave it in your bag.  Don’t drive distracted.  If it’s so urgent that you need to attend to something, pull into a parking spot for a moment before driving on.

What are some things you implement to try and stay safe in parking lots?

Safe Driving Tips for Teens

Safe Driving Tips for Teens

It’s is a known fact that teenage drivers account for more cat accidents than folks in any other age group.  Here are 5 tips that can help keep your teen safe while on the road.  This post is brought to you by Kingbgmc.com.

1.) Choose a Safe Car

When looking for a new (to us) car I cared about the safety of the of the car first and foremost.  Check the crash safety record before you look into the latest features.  As a side note, this is a great thing to do with car seats too.  You want a car with the latest anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and air bags.  The new back up cameras are a nice feature too but it wouldn’t be on my must have list.

2.) Put Down Your Cell Phone Off

There are studies that relate driving with a cell phone (even hands-free) to driving drunk.  That’s awful.  Distracted driving is  dangerous for anyone and increasingly so for new drivers who need to concentrate.

3.) Don’t Text (Even voice to text)

An average text takes 5 seconds to type and send.  That seems quick enough, right?  Wrong. Even if only traveling at 55 mph, that would take your care the the length of an entire football field without looking at the road.  A lot can go wrong in those few seconds.

Studies have found that voice to text can be just as dangerous.  AAA released a study that confirmed this. They said, “as mental workload and distractions increase, reaction time slows, brain function is compromised, drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, potentially resulting in drivers not seeing items right in front of them including stop signs and pedestrians.”

4.) Obey the Speed Limit

This seems like a given, right?  Speeding is a major contributor to teen accidents.  This is especially true in unfamiliar areas or when there is a lot of traffic.  Even if everyone is speeding by, keep a safe speed.  It can not only keep you safer but will help you avoid costly tickets and sky rocketing auto insurance premiums.

5.) Minimize Distractions

Being a distracted driver is possible even if you leave your phone in your bag.  Drinking (anything), eating, playing with the radio, can all cause your mind or vision to wander.  Try and arrive somewhere a few minutes early if you need to reapply your make up, eat your lunch, or whatever else you’re tempted to do in the car.  Chances are, whatever it is you’re doing, isn’t worth risking your life for.

There you have it, 5 tips to help you stay focused and safe on the road.

Car Related New Year’s Resolutions

Car Related New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s is a great time to evaluate your life and replace your bad habits with new ones.  Keep in better contact with family, live in the moment, prioritize your health, and the list goes on and on.  There are hundreds of ways that you can improve your life but what about the life of your car?  If you would like to see your car live a good long and healthy life read on for some New Year’s Resolution ideas.

This post is brought to you by Thompson Toyota.

Car Related New Year’s Resolutions for Drivers

  • -Get your oil changed regularly (mark it on your calendar)
  • -Research how to be fuel-efficient (click here for a good place to start your research)
  • -Save money on gas by using apps to find the cheapest gas (see my full list of gas apps here)
  • -Use the Waze app to carpool with others (see my full list of map apps here)
  • -Be more patient with other drivers
  • -Practice being a courteous driver more
  • -Check your tire pressure monthly
  • -Change your wiper blades before they’re unusable (this is a good one for me)
  • -Keep your car’s interior clean (you might want to check out our list of 7 ways to remove car odors)
  • -Get a monthly plan for the car wash (we started that this year and love it!)
  • -Stop leaving your vehicle idling
  • -Start locking your car when you leave it
  • -Stop speeding
  • -Take your car in for regular maintenance (see how to winterize your vehicle here)
  • -Start saving for upcoming repairs/service and for your next vehicle!

What car related New Year’s resolution could you add to the list?  Personally, I want to add write down which CDs are in the CD changer.  Yes, we have an old van but I love it dearly.  …but for the life of me I can’t keep which CD is in which spot straight.  It’s always the last one I check.  Always.  Happy New Year’s, everyone!!