7 Ways to Make Tent Camping More Comfortable

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Tent Camping Comfortable

Whether driving the next town over or hours away tent camping is a fun and frugal way to enjoy nature with your family.  While kids love a night under the stars, for adults it might be a bit challenging. Many think that tent camping means you need to sleep on a hard surface and wake up with a backache, but the truth is there are plenty of ways to make your slumber a cozy one. Look below at 7 ways to make tent camping more comfortable, and see how easy it can be to tent camp and actually wake up refreshed.

1. Be sure to insulate the floor.
A dirt floor can be quite cold, and that can be an issue when you are trying to sleep. Lay some type of insulation down such as an area rug, some thin foam, or even a tarp. This will help provide some protection and insulation, keeping you warm and dry.

2. Consider an air mattress.
Your back will thank you! Take an air mattress with you, and don’t forget the pump. The extra support will help you sleep better and be easier on your joints. Be sure to check it for holes prior to going, so you don’t run into any issues when it comes time to inflate it. Don’t forget the repair patches as well.

3. Use your household linens.
You would be amazed at how use you get to your own household linens. Take your household sheets, blankets, and pillows so you can sleep well. Take more than you think you will need, since it is better to be safe than sorry. This includes sheets, a throw blanket, and multiple pillows and cases.

4. Lavender oil can help.
A few dabs of lavender oil in your tent can help you feel more relaxed and may be able to help keep bugs away too. Just add a few drops around your sleeping area and around the entrance of the the tent.

5. Check and double check the tent screens.
Before you head out, check the screens on your tent well. Nothing will ruin your sleep more than bugs. Check the screens and repair any rips ahead of time so bugs don’t have an easy way in. You will be glad you did!

6. Bring your sleepytime favorites.
This means your favorite book, a small nightlight, your cozy pajamas, silk pillowcase, fuzzy blanket and other items that you relate to bedtime. This way you can still enjoy the same bedtime routine and your brain will know when it is time to shut off.

7.Don’t forget the lights.
Stumbling around in a dark tent can be a pain. Be sure you have some battery operated or solar charged lights. This way you can have a little reassurance in the dark, which kids are going to love as well.

Are you ready to enjoy some tent camping with your family? Consider these 7 ways to make tent camping more comfortable, and see how easy it can be to actually enjoy your night in the great outdoors.

The Five Best Family Road Trip Hacks

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Road Trip Hacks

If a road trip is in your summer plans, you’re going to want to check out these family road trip hacks! Don’t just survive your road trip, enjoy it!

Now that the kids are out of school, it’s time to start focusing on family vacations. Some of you will be flying to your final destination but plenty of you will be hitting the open road.   If you have a family road trip in the works, you know that this particular kind of vacation requires preparation. Without preparation, you’re going to end up with cranky kiddos asking if you’re there yet every five minutes. Ok, that will probably happen anyway, but they will be less cranky when they ask if you have a magic toolkit of family road trip hacks that you can dig into. And that’s why we’re here today. I want you to have a memorable for all the right reasons, not all the wrong ones!

The Family Road Trip Hacks You Need

1. Leave in the wee hours so the kids sleep a good portion of the trip. We like to leave around 3:00 AM so we can sneak in at least a few hours of drive time before they wake up. When they wake up, you better have your game on!  This is the time to break out your activity books, craft projects, etc.

2. Evaluate what you’re going to pack. If you have a small car you’ll want to make sure you don’t over pack.  When you’re cramped you’re all more likely to be grumpy.

3. Anticipate their every need, meaning, you want drinks, snacks and boredom busting activities at the ready! I also always have plenty of motion sickness remedies on hand.

4. Take advantage of rest stops. Sure, you can use the restroom without having to take a detour, but did you know that many rest stops also have playgrounds? Stopping for an extra 10 minutes or so to let the kids run off all that extra energy is worth your sanity!

5. Journal your trip. It’s hard to make a mental note of all the best parts of your trip when you’re in the thick of it, so having a family journal that everyone can capture their favorite memories in takes the pressure off Mom.  Plus, it’s a great way to remember funny things that are said and create cute inside jokes for your family to share.

Now who’s ready to rev up the family vehicle? With these family road trip hacks you should have a relatively stress free road trip ahead of you! Make this the trip your family talks about for years to come because you had such a magical time, not because Sally fought with Jimmy for 12 hours straight.

Virginia Vacations for Families

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll which is just a hop skip and a jump from Virginia.

Virginia Vacations

If you’re in family vacation planning mode, don’t discount the mother of all the states, Virginia.  There are plenty of family friendly places to visit in Virginia!

It’s summer vacation season and that means countless families will head out all over the country for their annual vacays. Some are planning beach trips, while some are mountain bound. There aren’t many states that offer both options, but Virginia is one! That’s right. You can head right from the mountains to the seashore if you’re so inclined.   Our readers have submitted their favorite Virginia vacation destinations and here are top three family friendly destinations to visit.  I hope you’ll comment below with your other great Virginia vacation recommendations!

Don’t Miss Family Friendly Places to Visit in Virginia

1. Colonial Williamsburg: Pay one visit to the world’s largest living history museum and your kids will likely be wanting to know the date of your next trip before you leave! With loads of hands on activities, you can’t blame little ones for wanting to come back! And you can even stay on property. Score!

2. Sandbridge Beach: A bit more off the beaten path than the highly trafficked Virginia Beach area is Sandbridge. Comprised of five miles of quiet coastline, this beach is perfect for the laid-back family time you crave, but it’s close enough to the action if you want to leave the relaxing community and head into town for some flavor.

3. Blue Ridge Parkway: If hiking is a family favorite activity, there are loads of opportunities to hit the trails on this scenic drive from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s the ultimate road trip! In fact, you can even found some mapped out day trips on their website.

As you can see, there is no shortage of family friendly places to visit in Virginia. There are all kinds places to see for all kinds of families to experience! I daresay there is certainly something that will appeal to your own family. So, let’s go! Virginia is waiting for you. Now you just have to decide what will take the top spot on your must see list!

How to Save Money on Gas

Top Off Your Gas

Is it just me or does the price of gas raise significantly every summer?  I think it does.  Here are a few tips to save money on gas brought to you by WarsawChryslerDodgeJeepRam.com.

– Find the Lowest Price

Watch where you buy your gas.  Gas prices can easily fluctuate $0.40 a gallon in the same town.  GasBuddy is one of the gas apps to help you save money.  Using a social media approach, GasBuddy allows the consumer to check out gas prices nearby. The social aspect comes into play as people report and confirm gas prices near you, and you can do this as well. One really important feature – GasBuddy will alert you of gas price spiking predictions, so you can fill up before it costs you an arm and a leg.  If you are like my husband and don’t use apps, there is also a GasBuddy website for you to search before you leave the house.

– Buy Regular Unleaded

It’s probably obvious that premium gas is always going to cost a lot more than regular.  If your car can operate on regular but you opt for a mid-grade or premium gas you may be paying $5-$10 more a fill up.

– Go Off the Highway

This is related to our first point….find the lowest price you can.  That’s usually not going to be located on the side of a major highway.  Of course, it’s probably not worth it to make a big detour but when possible try and fill up before you hit the highway.

– Know the State Tax on Gas

Not only can gas prices vary from place to place but they can vary significantly because state gasoline taxes are different.  Driving across borders can add an extra $5-$10 dollar difference sometimes.

-Pay With Cash

Not all stations offer this but many offer a lower price if you pay with cash instead of a credit card.  The difference can be as much as $0.15 a gallon.

-Pay With a Cash Back Credit Card

In complete contrast to the above suggestion (and Dave Ramsey’s recommendations) sometimes a cash back credit card is the way to go.  Even with the higher price, the reward you receive could make using a credit card the better deal. ….not to mention easier since you don’t have to go into the store this way.  Plus, if you have a station specific gas station credit card you could earn as much as $0.05 cents per gallon back!

I hope these tips will help you keep a little more cash in your wallet this summer!

(See Related: Should You Top Off Your Gas? The answer may surprise you!)

How to Pack a Travel First Aid Kit

Traveling can do great things for the soul, reset your mind, and provide great opportunities for bonding with your family.  However, sometimes traveling can leave you wanting.  Be prepared for small set backs or emergencies with a first aid kid.  This post on how to pack a travel first aid kit is brought to you by KingGM.com.

(Related: See our Family Car Games post)

To begin building a first-aid kit for travel I recommend buying a pre-packed kit from the Red Cross.  They sell Car Survival Kits for $41 and Be Red Cross Ready First Aid Kit for $21. Both of these options will give you a great deal of products for cheaper than you could buy individually.  Plus, they come with a handy carrying case.

Car Survival Kit

The Car Survival Kit includes:

  • -1 Durable Nylon String Back Pack
  • -1 Emergency Food Bar 6ct
  • -1 Dotted Poly-Cotton Gloves
  • -1 Emergency Hand Warmer 2-pack
  • -1 Emergency Blanket Bulk 52″ x 84″
  • -1 Emergency Mylar Sleeping Bag
  • -1 Rain Poncho
  • -1 12-Hour Emergency Light Stick.
  • -1 Emergency Water Pack 4oz
  • -1 Mini First Aid Kit with:
    • -5 Adhesive Plastic Bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
    • -3 Adhesive Fabric Bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
    • -5 Junior Adhesive Plastic Bandages, 3/8″ x 1-1/2″
    • -1 Fingertip Fabric Bandage
    • -1 Knuckle Fabric Bandage
    • -2 Antiseptic Cleansing Wipes (sting free)
    • -1 Triple Antibiotic Ointment Packet, 0.5g

Be Red Cross Ready

The Be Red Cross Ready Kit includes:

  • -3 Triple antibiotic ointment packs, 0.5g each
  • -4 Antiseptic cleansing wipes (sting free)
  • -1 Hydrocortisone pack, 0.9g
  • -2 Hand sanitizer packs, 0.9g each
  • -2 chewable aspirin tablets, 81 mg each
  • -20 Plastic adhesive bandages, 3/4″ x 3″
  • -10 Plastic adhesive bandages,1″ x 3″
  • -2 Elbow and knee plastic bandages, 2″ x 4″
  • -5 Junior plastic bandages, 3/8″ x 1-1/2″
  • -1 Knuckle fabric bandage
  • -1 Fingertip fabric bandage
  • -3 Patch bandages, 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″
  • -1 Instant cold compress
  • -1 Triangular sling/bandage
  • -1 Trauma pad, 5″ x 9″
  • -4 Gauze dressing pads, 3″ x 3″
  • -2 Gauze dressing pads, 4″ x 4″
  • -1 First aid tape roll, 3/4″ x 5 yds
  • -1 Gauze roll bandage, 3″
  • -1 CPR one-way valve face shield, latex-free
  • -1 Thermometer, one time use
  • -2 Latex-free exam-quality vinyl gloves
  • -Scissors, 1 pair
  • -Plastic tweezers, 1 pair
  • -1 American Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide
  • -1 Zippered clear-pocket soft pack

I Recommend Adding:

1. Your health insurance cards.  We had to use ours on a trip last year and boy, was I thankful we had them.  In an emergency, you’ll want them handy.

2. Enough of your Rx medications and vitamins to last you the length of your trip—and a few days more juuuuust in case.  I guess these would really be packed in your suitcase instead of the first aid kit but I can’t make myself leave them off.  My Rx medication keeps me going and I can’t go anywhere without it.

3. Antidiarrheal medication (Imodium or generic) and antacids.  I can’t tell you how many bottles of antacids I’ve bought on trips because I never think to pack them.  Well, actually, I can.  Four. I have four nearly full containers of antacids because I rarely have an upset stomach at home.  I guess it’s the travel that gets to me!

4. An antihistamine for an unexpected allergy attack.  Claritin or a generic for seasonal allergies and Benadryl or similar for an allergic reaction to food or another reason.

5. A pain reliever such as Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, or Aleve.

6. Sunscreen, aloe gel, hydrocortisone cream.  To protect from the environments and sooth sore skin.

7. Insect repellent.

8. Antiseptic wipes/hand sanitizer are listed in the Red Cross kits but I like to have a lot of this extra and on hand while we’re out on the road.

10. A thermometer.  It may be overkill but it would come in handy if you needed it.

There you have it folks, my recommendations on how to pack a travel first aid kit!

How to Stay Comfortable on Long Drives

Stay Comfortable on a Long Drive

Long drives can really be a pain in the back.  Literally.  Here are some tips on helping you stay comfortable on long drives.  This post is brought to you by VictoryLayneChevrolet.com.

Pull Over

Pull over at least every two to three hours.  Lynn Millar, Ph.D., chair of the department of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, said, “Sitting too long is hard on the lower back due to that constant flexed position.”  Getting out and giving your back a break can help avoid back pain.  Sitting too long in one place can compress the discs in your back potentially leading to pain or even tingling in your legs.  Walking a bit always helps me stay comfortable on long drives.

Stretch Your Back

If you can’t get out and walk at least try and stretch your back.  This is also a good stretch to do if you do stop and get out of the car!  Raising your arms above your head and arching your back slightly can do wonders to ease a tired back.  Shoulder rotations can also be beneficial.  Every single time I think about rolling my shoulders in circles I think of my third grade teacher who made us do this daily when we took a break.

Stay Alert

I know all about driving sleepy and being sleepy for that matter.  Do what you have to do to stay awake.  Go ahead and have some coffee or energy drinks if you need them (and don’t have a physical restriction preventing you from taking them).  If you can’t stay alert, don’t push yourself.  Stop.  Always stop and sleep when it’s not possible to switch drivers.  Get a hotel room, sleep in your car, just don’t fall asleep on the road.

Stretch Your Legs

Literally, don’t just get out and walk, do some stretches.  Some deep knee bends and some lunges will help keep you feeling good.

Flex Your Feet

Point your feet and roll them around every now and again.  Long car trips can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis so stop when you can and stretch in between those stops.

Sit Straight

Sitting straight isn’t just important to do because it’s what your mom would want but it will help keep your spine aligned and comfortable.

Consider a Neck Pillow

I adore my neck pillow.  When my neck is sore, I get a headache, and when mama gets a headache, no one is happy.  Therefore my neck pillow keeps everyone happy!  Well, that may not be sound logic but I love my pillow.  If you get headaches on trips try a neck pillow.

Those are my tips for staying comfortable on long drives.  I hope they help you stay comfortable in your travels this year!

Keep Your Pets Safe in The Car

Keep Your Pets Safe

This post is brought to you by BrennanDodge.com.

If you love your pet and like to travel you’ve probably wondered what the best way is to keep your little loved one safe in case of a car accident.  Growing up my family always drove with our small puppy roaming the car.  They would be in the back window one moment and on the driver’s lap the next.  I don’t know why we never questioned the safety of this?  We purposefully didn’t drive with the windows down because we didn’t want him to jump to his demise but we never thought about the risk we were putting him in…and ourselves in by having him roam loose in our car.  Thankfully we never had an accident and nothing came of it.  Now that I’ve thought about it, I want to try and do the best I can to keep myself, my family, and my dear pets safe.

As of now there are no government standards for pet safety items.  It’s a 60 billion dollar industry that is unregulated.  I don’t necessarily think we need government regulation in this are but I think it’s helpful to know that just because a car pet product is marketed toward car safety, doesn’t mean that it actually is safe. Recognizing that there was a need for testing pet travel gear, the CenterForPetSafety.org set out to do some testing.  You can see some of their crate car testing videos and results by clicking here.  You can see their pet seat testing videos by clicking here.  Don’t worry, you can click over, the videos don’t use real dogs but test dummies just like in car crash tests.

In the end, only a handful of products earned the center’s crash-test certification. For pet carriers, they were the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with an Isofix-Latch Connection, $252, and the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock, $170 to $190. For pet crates, Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate, $500, with 8’ Tie-Down Straps, $75.  Lastly, for pet harnesses, the Sleepypod Clickit Sport, $70 to $90, and Sleepypod Clickit Utility, $90 to $100. Prices vary according to the size needed to fit the dog.  To learn more, go to centerforpetsafety.org and while you’re there check out their Pet Travel Tips.

Keeping your pet secure in the car will not only make for a happy pup but will also keep you from driving distracted and will keep your pup from becoming a flying projectile during the off chance you’re in an accident.

To choose the correct size dog carrier for your canine friend visit American Kennel Club for their recommendations.

 

Top 5 Things to Do In Shelby, NC

If you’re within a few hour drive of Shelby, NC here’s a list of 5 attractions that I think will make for a great day trip.  Call it a day-cation if you like.  This list of the Top 5 Things to Do in Shelby, NC is brought to you by MarburgerChryslerJeepDodgeRam.com which just so happens to be located in Shelby.

Banjo

  • 1. Earl Scruggs Center – Music & Stories From the American South

If you don’t know who Earl Scruggs is, I’m not sure we can be friends. I’m kidding…kind of.  The late Earl Scruggs pioneered the banjo picking method that made bluegrass what it is today.  His hometown was Shelby, NC so it’s fitting that’s where this center is found.  They have a very affordable exhibit and they offer free passes to all active military and veterans.  Not only do they have the exhibit open year round but they also offer music camps for kids and adults, coffee with the curator, affordable concerts from local artists, and so much more.  Check out EarlScruggsCenter.org for all the details.

 

Merry Go Round Festival

  • 2. Foothills Merry Go Round Festival

Okay, so a trip to the park might not be worth an hour drive to get to but I think their Foothills Merry Go Round Festival is!  It’s April 27th-28th this year (2019) but this will be their 22nd year hosting it so I’m sure they’ll have many more to come.  They have rides and attractions and it’s only $8 per person for the day.  Everything will be included except for the food.  I’ve never been to a festival that had the rides included in the ticket price.  It sounds like a lot of fun!  Visit CityofShelby.com for more details.

 

Drive In Theater

  • 3. Sunset Drive In Theatre

This drive-in theatre will bring back memories of days gone by while providing a great and affordable evening out with the family today.  Well, not today actually, it doesn’t open for the season until April.  Mark your calendars though because this is one fun outing that you’ll want to have on your to-do list.  It’s only $12 for a car and while they have reasonably priced concessions, you’re even allowed to bring in outside food!  What a deal!  Visit SunsetDriveinTheatre.com for more information. (Note, I’m sure it doesn’t matter to anyone but the picture above is a stock photo and isn’t of the Sunset Drive in Theatre.  I just went with this instead of getting permission to use theirs while they’re on their off season)

 

Bird's Eye Balloon Rides

  • 4. Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides

I did get permission to use this photo from Bird’s-Eye Balloon so if you go there this is what the balloon you will ride on will look like.  When I contacted them they were very friendly!  They mentioned that this time of year is great for proposals and they haven’t had anyone say no to a proposal yet.  I’m just throwing that out there in case any of you are looking to pop the question.  I would love to go on a hot air balloon ride one day!  My dear husband is afraid of heights so I’m waiting till my kids are a little older to go with me.  If you’re in Shelby and have always dreamed of a hot air balloon ride then you should definitely stroll by Bird’s-Eye Balloon Rides.  You can find out all the details about a ride at BirdsEyeBalloonRides.com.

 

Cleveland County Arts Council

5. Cleveland County Arts Council

If you love art then I think the Cleveland County Arts Council would make a good stop for you.  They have beautiful art to look at, a gift shop to take some home with you, music and film festivals, art classes for kids and adults, and even art camps.  They have a lot of events on their calendar so if art interests you, visit CAArtsCouncil.org for more information.

There you have it, those are my top picks for a day trip to Shelby, NC.  If I left off anything you think I should have included please let me know in the comments.

Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va

Maybe it’s the rain but I’ve been day dreaming of visiting another nearby town and spending the day there.  It’s certainly easier than a full scale vacation and it’s a great way to learn about the surrounding area.  If you live within driving distance of Richmond, Va I hope you’ll enjoy my recommendations.  This Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond, Va post is brought to you by a Richmond business, PearsonChryslerJeepOnline.com.

RVA Trolley Tours

  • 1. RVA Historic Trolley Tour

If you know me, you know my love of Mister Rogers.  It’s true.  There is a deep love I have for that precious man and the work he left behind.  Loving him, means loving Speedy Delivery and all things trolley related.  I’ve watched his trolley tour episode with my kids over and over.  I would love to ride a trolley some day and a trolley tour seems like a great way to do just that.  You get to see a trolley up close and see the Richmond area at the same time.  The RVA Historic tours website boasts, “This two-hour historic tour will give you a great overview of the history of Richmond! See and learn about the State Capitol, St. John’s Church, Libby Hill, Monument Ave, James River, and much more!”  To learn more visit RVATrolley.biz.

  • 2. Food Tours

How come this isn’t a thing where I live?  This should be a thing everywhere!  You can pay one price and enjoy a 3 hour food tour of the best eateries in the area.  I couldn’t pick just one to share because they all sounded so good.  Here are your three food tour options straight from their website:

-Dive into Church Hill, Richmond’s oldest neighborhood! Get a taste of the barbecue, baked goods, and everything else that makes Church Hill a food powerhouse, while uncovering Richmond’s origin story in this must-visit neighborhood.

-Explore Carytown from an insider’s perspective as you enjoy food and snacks from 5-6 different restaurants, cafes, and shops and learn from our expert guides about the fun and quirky history of Richmond’s most exciting neighborhood.

-Discover Richmond’s hip Arts District! Savor mouth-watering food and snacks from local restaurants and bakeries, meet the people behind these culinary destinations, and hear the stories of one of Richmond’s defining neighborhoods.

I really don’t know which one I would pick because they all sound so good!  To find more information visit RiverCityFoodTours.com.

  • 3. Museums

Last but certainly not least, museums.  Richmond boasts of museum after museum after museum!  There is The Valentine, the American Civil War Museum-White House of the Confederacy, The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, Children’s Museum of Richmond (two locations), Chimborazo Medical Museum, Edgar Allen Poe Museum, Virginia Holocaust Museum, and so many more!  To see all the museums that Richmond has to offer visit VisitRichmondVA.com.

There you have it!  Those are the three things I would do if I had a spare day or two in Richmond, Va.  I would take a trolley tour, eat a lot of good food, and expand my mind with museum after museum.  If you love Richmond and have something to add to my list please feel free to leave a comment below.

How to Keep Kids Happy on a Road Trip

How to Keep Kids Happy on Road Trips

  

Wear comfy clothes, pack back up clothes just in case of a water spill or some unforeseen emergency.

     

  • 4. Music.

Let them have a turn choosing music.  (On that note, you may want to see my Top Road Trip Tunes)  Sing with them.  Dance.  Let yourself have fun, which brings me to my next point.

  • 5. Be Silly.

Wear silly glasses and act like it’s normal when another car sees you.  Enjoy being with your kids.  Be that mom or dad that seems more like a babysitter instead of a parent.  That’s harder than ever to do on a trip but it’s that much more important to do then.  If you’re having a good time then they’ll have a good time.  You can control your attitude and in turn your attitude will greatly influence theirs.

  • 6. Play games WITH them.

Punch Buggy (although that’s honestly not a favorite of mine), License Plate Bingo (that’s right up my alley!), anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied. Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes? How many yellow cars are in the state of Virginia? (See my Top 3 Things to Do in Richmond post if you’re near there!) Make up the games as you go but whatever you do be part of the fun and you’ll probably find that it makes the trip go even faster for you too!

  • 7. Stop often.

Plan ahead of time for stops and allow the kids to stretch their legs at a rest stop or even a park.  A quick game of catch could be just what the kids need to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy.

Those are my 7 best tips for how to keep kids happy on a road trip.  If you have anything to add to my list please leave me a comment!