Why Road Trips are a Good Idea for Families

If you’re looking for a good excuse to go on a family road trip then you’ll enjoy my reasons why this is an excellent idea for families. Today I’m featuring my top favorite reasons why road trips are a good idea for families. This fun-filled option to travel with kids is an excellent way to expand your child’s experiences and intelligence among other things. Enjoy my list of reasons why I think every family should get out there and go on a family road trip this year.  This post is brought to you by FlemingtonDodgeChryslerJeep.com.

Why Road Trips are a Good Idea for Families

Why Road Trips are a Good Idea for Families

Provides Relaxation

Both adults and children these days are full of stress and anxiety. The world is a fast-moving place and daily life can consume even the most optimistic people. Going on a family road trip with kids will provide your family with a much-needed break to get some relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of real-life.

Strengthens Family Bond

Being out on the road with your kids is an excellent way to strengthen your family bond. Spending quality time together discussing new sights and other adventures you experience during your family road trip helps solidify your family bond.

Making Memories

While you can make memories at home, going on a road trip with kids provides a new opportunity to make memories together. There are so many things a family can do on a road trip with kids. You can dine at a new place, see historical landmarks, and experience fun on the road to make new memories.

 Encourages Patience

Going on a family road trip with kids helps establish a deeper level of patience for both kids and adults. Your kids may be antsy to get to the next destination, but soon learn that it takes time to arrive at each location. This helps your kids learn a deeper level of patience that can be used in other areas of life.  (Check out our list of Audiobooks for Road Trips)

Getting Out of Comfort Zone

Kids who grow up going on family road trips are more apt to get outside of their comfort zone. You’ll be experiencing new places, new stops, and perhaps dealing with mishaps along the route. This all provides your kid with experience in getting out of their comfort zone. This skill is a much-needed skill to encourage your kids to live a very fulfilling life and to reach for their dreams in the future.

These are just some of the reasons why road trips are a good idea for families. If you haven’t gone on a road trip with kids, I highly recommend you give it a try. A family road trip helps you getaway to relax, have fun, and make some new memories together before your kids are all grown up.

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Buying a new car entails so much more than I previously thought. From figuring out how much “car” you can afford, to determining what type of car will work best for you, the list of proactive steps to take before you sign on the dotted line seems endless. While yes, many steps come into play when buying your new car, the biggest step I want to help you with today is setting a budget for your new car purchase. If you’re heading to the local dealership and want some tips for how much you can spend on that new car purchase, then continue reading for some tips to help you set a new car budget with ease.  This post is brought to you by Butlerchryslerdodgejeep.com.

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Consider Total Price

The total price of your new car goes beyond what the selling price is for your new car. You’ll want to take into consideration the total price that includes the sticker price, the title, insurance, and other fees involved with buying a new car. You can easily estimate some of those costs beforehand to get a general idea of what a new car may end up costing to use to calculate your new car budget.

Review Expenses

Take a moment to review your income and expenses in the house. This is an important step in calculating your new car budget because you can’t spend money on a new car if you don’t have any money. Take a moment to figure out what you can remove from your current household expense list to make room for a new car payment and what amount is left over after all other household expenses have been deducted from your household income.

Calculate Monthly Payment

Remember that your new car is probably going to carry a hefty monthly payment, so be sure you know how much the monthly payment will be on a new car. You can easily estimate a monthly car payment by talking to your local dealership about their current rates and pricing options. Consider getting a list of approximate monthly payment options to help you calculate your new car budget.

Down Payment or Trade-In

When you work to calculate your new car budget, you’ll want to take into consideration whether or not you’re putting a down payment on the new car or trading in an older vehicle. Each of these things will be taken off the total price of your new car purchase. Have a discussion with the sales rep at your local dealership to see what types of down payment options or trade-in options they have to help get your new car budget calculated.

At the end of the day, buying a new car can be stressful. This is a new expense that you’ll be adding into your already packed full household expense list. That’s why I highly recommend you follow the simple steps I shared today to calculate your new car budget. This will ensure you can get a new car without breaking the bank or added more stress into your life.

How to Create a Car Travel Journal With Your Kids

Many parents enjoy traveling with their kids to make memories (road trips can be amazing!! Check out our list of Great American Road Trips), but what are you doing to capture those moments? I think that we often feel our kids will hang onto these memories that we’re making as we travel around with them to see new places, but the reality is sometimes you need a journal to truly capture those traveling moments as a family. If you’re looking for a new journaling idea for homeschool or perhaps you simply want to create an awesome travel journal with your kids, then here are some tips to help you make this happen!  This post is brought to you by Pearsontoyotascion.com.

How to Create a Travel Journal With Your Kids

How to Create a Travel Journal With Your Kids

– Let Your Kids Make A Journal

While you can purchase a travel journal for kids online, it’s always more memorable to have your kids make their own journal. Gather up the three-ring binder and lined notebook paper. Put together a binder of journaling printables with lined notepad paper to provide many options for travel journaling.

– Bring The Tools

Using a small flexible pencil case bring along scissors, markers, crayons, pencils and any other journaling tools that your kids may need to document their memories in this travel journey during your family road trips.  You could store this in the glove compartment or have a special bin in the car that holds all of their supplies.

– Lead by Example

Keep a car travel journal of your own.  We love to document how many cars from different states we see on trips, how traffic was, and all the fun or extraordinary events that take place.

– Encourage Writing

While most adults enjoy reflecting about their day at the end of the night, many kids aren’t quite in that mindset. Encourage your kids to write in their journal during the day when their memories are close to their heart, so that they can truly journal the most from their traveling day.

– Don’t Micro-Manage

While you may want to micro-manage the process of journaling, this is not the time nor place to do so. Allowing your kids to journal during your travel adventures is a great way to let your kids show you their best grammar and vocabulary knowledge, but you can review that later on after your vacation.  It’s so hard to not do this, it’s a struggle with every. single. journal entry but it has to be done.  They need the freedom to express themselves without worrying about spelling every last word correctly…besides, it would be pretty annoying for you to spell every other word to them. 🙂

– Offer Prompts

Some kids aren’t equipped with the skills to come up with creative things to journal about during your time traveling, so consider giving your kids prompts each day during your time on the road. Don’t force your kids to use the prompts, simply have them written down each day to help them think deeper.

Having your kids create a travel journal will be a wonderful way to help them improve their grammar, vocabulary and handwriting skills all the while capturing their favorite family moments of your family travel events.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

With the holiday season approaching many parents are wondering how to keep kids busy in the backseat. This is such a challenging concept for parents with kids of all ages. While you’d think preteens and teens can self-entertain, just take them on a long road trip to visit family and see how well that truly entertain themselves. Since kids of all ages may need some entertainment options during a long holiday travel road trip, I wanted to share some of the best ways you can keep these kids busy in the backseat.  This post is brought to you by Easterns.com.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

Printable Games

There are so many printable games that kids of all ages can enjoy in the backseat. Car bingo and i-Spy come to mind as two childhood favorites that kids can enjoy playing while they’re patiently waiting to arrive at your next family holiday gathering.

Portable DVD Player

Whether you love or hate electronics, the sad reality is that our kids are growing up with technology all around them. A two-hour movie or two will keep your kids busy in the backseat. Have the kids take a vote before leaving what DVDs will be played in the backseat to avoid sibling rivalry on the road.

MP3 Player

Grab an MP3 player or a smartphone with a music app downloaded for use in the car. Have your kids create their own holiday travel playlist that they can listen to during the long haul to visit family. If you don’t have a device for each kid, consider playing each list over the car radio during your travels.

Paper and Drawing Utensils

Get a little holiday travel tote bag that’s full of drawing utensils like crayons, markers, and pencils as well as pads of paper. This will give your kids plenty of supplies to draw on and enjoy playing games like Hangman or Tic Tac Toe together in the backseat during long road trips.

Bring Audiobooks

Take this time to give your kids a little homeschooling on the road. Download audiobooks that will help your kids learn about your current topics you’ve been studying. This allows you to do some homeschooling on the road during the heavy holiday travel season.  Check out our Family Audiobooks.

There you have it, my top 5 ways to keep kids busy in the backseat. As you can see my ideas will work for most any age group and will help your kids remain calm so that you can arrive at your destination in one piece.

How Do I Decide What Car To Buy?

Whenever we need a new family car, it’s always a stressful time. I never quite know how to best choose the right car to buy. I know we spend a lot of time on the road, we enjoy family road trips and homeschooling on the road, but what happens when you simply have no idea how to choose the best car for your family? Well, you read a blog post like this where I share some tips to help you decide what car to buy. Continue reading to hear my reasonable tips to help you make the right decision for a car that suits your family’s needs.  This post is brought to you by CerritosDodge.com.

How do I decide what car to buy?

How Do I Decide What Car To Buy

Review Household Income

The first step to deciding what car to buy is to know what you’re working with for funds. Review all income and expenses that are flowing within the household. Figure out how much money you’re able to designate towards a new car down payment and monthly bill. Take into consideration the cost of car insurance and any applicable taxes so that you can figure out a solid new car purchase budget.

Assess Your Needs

Figured out what you’re going to use this new car for. Will you need a car that can drive a lot of miles with ease through a variety of weather patterns? Do you live in an area where four-wheel drive is important? Assessing your needs for this new car purchase will help you narrow down your options based on what you use a car for while still keeping your car-buying budget in mind.

Consider Other Cars

Perhaps you have your heart set on a specific class of car, but your budget and needs says you need to pick a different car. This happens to the best of us! The good news is that when you’re deciding what car to buy, it’s easy to find a similar car of our dreams without spending as much money. Visiting your local car dealership will help you use a salesperson to determine what car options are available.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to decide to buy a car that will suit your budget and needs. You’ll also want to take into consideration reliability and the car’s ability to drive in the weather conditions that your local area has in store for you.

Road Trip Audiobooks For The Whole Family

Audiobooks are game changers for car trips.  It allows the whole family to bond together through the story.  You’ll all groan when it’s time to stop for a restroom break.  You’ll talk about it for days, maybe weeks after the trip and the memories you’ll share over the books may last a lifetime.  This post is brought to you by Jeepcheap.com and contains affiliate links.

Here are the audiobooks my kids would enjoy on a road trip and I hope yours will too!  If you’ve never tried Audible by Amazon you should look into it.  Their free trial gives you 2 free audiobooks that you get to keep even if you cancel your subscription right away.

Boxcar Children Audiobook

The first book I’d recommend is the beginning of The Boxcar Children Collection.  This series is a rich, easy read that my kids are hooked on.  My kids are 4 and 6 and they both enjoy these stories.  We haven’t enjoyed the audiobooks yet because we haven’t traveled since we’ve discovered this series but we’re already on book 38 of the series. 

This audiobook series includes 3 books for one price ($33.60) but you’ll get the whole set free plus another book if you sign up for the free trial.  I like how they’ve lumped the first three books together into one set.

Little House Audiobook

The Little House series is another great one that we’ve only had the pleasure of reading and not listening too.  It has great reviews on Amazon though so I’m sure the reader does a fabulous job.

Pippi Longstocking Audiobook

Pippi Longstocking has been a favorite of young girls for decades now and this audiobook will help introduce it to more children.

Mary Poppins Audiobook

What kids wouldn’t love a story about a nanny who could clean up their toys, dance with them on rooftops and hop into sidewalk drawings with them?  Mary Poppins is a classic and my kids adore her.  I love how drastically different the books are from the movie and yet how they are similar.  We’ve loved both movies and it’s fun to see what bits and pieces they’ve chosen from the books to include.

Peter Pan Audiobook

Peter Pan is another story that ignites a child’s imagination and takes them far away from home.  This is another one I think all young kids would enjoy.

A Bear Called Paddington

The bear from darkest Peru will surely warm heart young and old.  🙂  A Bear Called Paddington is another great classic book for young kids.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a delightful tale of fantasy.  I can still remember feeling my heart race as I first read this book and eagerly anticipated Charlie opening his chocolate to find the golden ticket.

The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge, performed by David Thorn (This might be best for ages 7-10)

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling, narrated by Terry Bregy

Peter Rabbit Collection by Beatrix Potter, performed by Peter Batchelor

Don’t let anyone tell you that audiobooks don’t count as real books.  They absolutely do!

Tips for Traveling With Kids

Tips for Traveling with Kids

Fall is upon us.  Ladies, lock and load ‘cause we’re hittin’ the road. We are traveling with kids.  This helpful post is brought to you by Robertloehrchryslerdodgejeepram.com.

I thought I would share my tips and tricks for traveling successfully with the kiddos.

1.  Prep

I know this goes against the grain of the wild adventurer in every one of us, but seriously, you are cruisin’ for a bruisin’ if you don’t know where you’re going or what your doing on the trip. These are not the days of the road trip when we had the luxury of packing the essentials and hitting the road.

Most likely you are intentional about where you want to go and what you’re going to do, but the amenities of those places you will frequent are worth their weight in goal. Number one priority – a playplace. Have you planned a place to let your smunchkins out to roam, to get out the wiggles. Is there a good rest stop that can provide a run and roam area? How often do you need to stop on the way? Planning stops along the way can be crucial to a happy crew.

2.  Protect

If you still want your vehicle to be in one piece after your return home, I suggest that you use protective covers on your car’s fabric features. There are expensive seat covers to protect the car’s fabric from kids’ spills, but you can also use a fitted crib mattress sheet. This is cheap, probably something you have on hand, and can be easily thrown into the wash.

I also like to put down old towels on the floor areas where my kids might drop something or to catch the snack crumbs. I don’t do this all the time because I don’t like a junky car, but it’s nice when your car is home on a long trip.

3.  Pack

Pack your items in such a way that you can grab the essentials at a moment’s notice. You need to be able to get to your toiletries and an extra set of clothes in case junior decides to get carsick and go projectile on your clothes. Vivid but true…

Also, if room provides, make sure that you think through where you could change baby’s diaper if need be. If you’re tight on space, you can always change baby in one of the front seats when you’re not sitting in it. And pack those extra diapers. I’m constantly tucking diapers side pockets, nooks, and crannies like a little squirrel just in case we sometime forget to have diapers. Silly, but I’d rather be prepared.

4.  Pennies

If you have a child at the begging age, you know it’s important to have some money set aside. We collect our pennies and loose change for trips, and then hubby and I decide on what we’d like to use it on. Sometimes it’s what the kids are whining for… within reason ;), sometimes it’s something special we planned. Either way, it’s nice to have cushion change that didn’t come from the budget.

What did I leave out? Let me know what your essential traveling habits are!

Shoes for Travel

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When it comes to travel you want to be as comfortable as you can be but it’s usually not possible or ideal to pack more than a few pair.  Here’s my list of my favorite shoes for traveling.

Travel Shoe Categories:

  • – Flip flops – I love these for the beach, when sharing a bathroom, or for driving in the car.  I hate for my feet to be confined when I’m in the car for long trips so flip flops are my go to for car travel.  I love my Vionic flip flops.  They have a deep heel and a higher arch that just fit my feet perfectly.  I can walk a long time in them without my feet growing weary.
  • – Comfortable – Tennis shoes or running shoes can be great for hiking or when it’s wet out.  Sketchers can be wonderfully comfortable and not too expensive.  I personally, truly truly hate tennis shoes.  If at all possible I wear sandals or flats.  It’s a weird quirk I have.  Maybe it has something to do with being forced to wear them each year in elementary school.  …or maybe that just proves that I’ve always hated them.  My Sketchers however are very nice! They’re super lightweight and the ones I have slip on.  If you have a weird aversion to tennis shoes like I do, Sketchers are definitely the way to go!
  • – Casual – For a fall or winter trip this usually includes a neutral pair of flats.  These are my favorite because they pack up so small.  For summer or a warmer spring, I’ll take a cute pair of flat sandals.  Sperry boat shoes are also a great go to pair for just about any time.  I’ve just recently acquired a pair of Tieks flats and they do feel very comfortable.  They have a thicker than normal sole which is quite comfy and I love how they have a larger toe bed than any of my other flats.  I’ve heard that the Lucky Brand Emmie flats are nice as well but I haven’t tried them out yet myself.
  • – Long wear sandals – Birkenstock sandals (or my nicely made knock off pair), Chacos, or Vionics are my favorites to wear when I have to be in my shoes for a long time.  I could walk miles (and have) in these shoes.  Chacos are even waterproof…you know, in case you like hiking around waterfalls.

There you have it!  Those are my top travel shoe picks.  Depending on where you go you might need rain boots, winter boots, or hiking boots.  You’ll want to take my list with a grain of salt but I hope it inspires you to rethink comfy traveling shoes.

Fall Foliage Across America – Hit the Road

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Fall Foliage Across America

From orange pumpkins and yellow mums at farmers markets to the brightly-colored foliage that graces the woodlands of America, just about any family can appreciate the beauty that fall has to offer through the great outdoors.

Pick a sunny weekend, pack the car, invite the family along, pack a picnic lunch, and bring the camera to ensure that the fall scenes freeze in time to enjoy for years to come.

Here are just a few popular fall foliage sites and destinations across America where families can enjoy nature its fullest this time of year.

State Parks and National Forests

State parks and national forests boast some of the best nature and hiking trails out there, as well as some of the best foliage and family fun.

All across Vermont, one thing is clear this time of year – fall is here. Woodford State Park in Vermont is a 398-acre park that borders Massachusetts and offers several hiking and nature trails to please the nature-lover and foliage enthusiast.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State contains a West Coast version of fall’s array of color. The park’s trails span over 1,200 miles and go through woodland areas with scenic views. The U.S. Forest Service recently reported positive fall color around sites such as the Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams Ranger Districts.

The Minnesota Valley State Park in Jordan, Minn. is a mid-westerner’s destination. During fall, there are 41 miles of hiking trail available to adventure-seekers and foliage enthusiasts. Enjoy viewing the reddish-orange-colored Sumac or other plant varieties.

Foliage Routes

Get together with family members to map out an individualized foliage routes or visit state websites that can provide routes for discovering the best places to experience fall’s beauty.

The Ozark National Forest in Arkansas has brilliant colors in the fall. Take a look at the state’s collection of candy corn-colored Maple and Dogwood trees. To find some of the best foliage, drivers are encouraged to tour throughout the northern part of the state, including Bull Shoals, Yellville and Flippin, along the tree lines of the Ozark Mountains.

Maine is also a state filled with lovely displays of foliage this time of year. To experience fall-tinged Maples and mountains, the Maine Office of Tourism recommends a driving tour through Naples, Sebago Lake State Park, and Grafton Notch State Park, into the White Mountain National Forest, and through Lovell and Fryeburg. Many regions in the state are already experiencing some of their peak times of foliage color.

Scenic Drives

The Natchez Trace, which is a roadway that cuts through the South between Natchez, Miss. and Nashville, Tenn., is one example of an area in the country filled with the colors of nature especially during fall. One portion of the scenic drive takes travelers through the northwest corner of Alabama with 33 miles of fall beauty.

Not far from the Natchez Trace in the northwest part of Alabama, Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Ala. is a southern sample of the array of foliage to find. Drive along U.S. 72 or meander through the park in Lauderdale County.

Fall in Love with Fall

No matter the time of year, nature across America is abundant with beauty, but especially in fall, the colorful foliage outside is to be appreciated. Take the time to bring the family together outdoors, take a nice drive, and discover all there is to love about nature during fall.

Tips for Homeschooling on the Road for Traveling Families

Being able to homeschool is truly a blessing because your kids can experience more of the world and learn on your terms. With that being said, there are some tips that homeschooling families should learn as a means to make homeschooling in the car a valuable experience. If you’re a traveling family or just find that you’ve been so busy that you’ll have to homeschool on the road during a family vacation, then you’ll enjoy these tips for homeschooling on the road.  This post is brought to you by WinnerFordofDover.com.

Tips for Homeschooling on the Road for Travel Families

Tips for Homeschooling on the Road for Travel Families

Get Prepared

Look over the lessons that you’ll be teaching your kids while homeschooling on the road. Make sure you opt to choose from lessons that won’t need a lot of supplies. Opting to prepare for your homeschooling on the road sessions will mean that you’ll get the supplies ready, choose lessons that make more sense for homeschooling in the car, and work to allow all kids to learn something similar at the same time.

Plan for Stops

If you’re going to be traveling in the car for long distances, make sure you plan for a stop along the route. This will allow your kids to get some reading and other lessons completed outside of the car. You may want to pick some historical landmarks to stop to work on a homeschool history lesson with your kids while homeschooling on the road.

Review Lessons

While it’s best to choose the harder lessons for at home homeschooling sessions, you may need to teach some of the harder homeschool lessons on the road. It’s best to prepare with a tri-fold poster board to help keep kids focused while trying to get some of the harder lessons done. You may also opt to find a location with no distractions to get out, stretch and learn on the road when you have a difficult lesson to teach the kids while traveling in a car.

Make a Checklist

Last, but not least, make a checklist of supplies that you’ll need to make the most of your homeschool lessons on the road. This means getting pencils sharpened, bringing a pencil sharpener, plenty of paper, journals, and books as well as any other supplies that you’ll need for each lesson in your curriculum while homeschooling on the road.

If you take the time to review what lessons you’ll be working on during your homeschooling in the car adventures, you’ll find that the kids learn better and focus easier. This is one of the benefits of being a homeschool family, you can educate your kids pretty much anywhere. There’s always a way to educate your kids in history, math, science and social studies when you’re a traveling family who’s well-prepared for homeschool lessons in the car.