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.

8 Items To Keep in Your Car

8 Items to Keep In Your Car

It’s a shame but the truth of the matter is that no one can predict when and where their car is going to break down.  Wouldn’t it be nice, if you could?  Because we can’t predict the future it’s a good idea to be prepared in case your car should break down.  This isn’t a complete list, I’m sure you can think of some things to add but I hope it’s a helpful starting place.  This post is brought to you by Waynesborocdjr.com.

1. Jumper Cables
Dead batteries happen and jumper cables are the solution.  It’s also helpful to know how to use them before you’re in a situation where you need them.  You can find a simple guide on how to use jumper cables here.

2. First Aid Kit
For minor wounds you’ll be glad you have a first aid kit.  You can see how to pack a first aid kit by clicking here.

3. Spare Tire
Along with a spare tire, the knowledge of how to change one would also be handy.  This is something I need to learn.  I just did a google search and am excited to learn how.  You can click here to see the guide I just found.  You might want to keep a jack along for the ride too!

4.  Tire Pressure Gauge
These are affordable and can give you peace of mind when your tires look a little low or when your sensor comes on.

5.  Kitty Litter
Kitty litter removes yucky smells, can clean up oil spills, and can help you gain traction in slippery conditions.  (Click here to see six other ways to remove bad smells from vehicles)

6.  A Multitool
A good multitool is a fabulous thing to have with you everywhere.  They’re too heavy for me to carry around in my purse but stashing one in my car is the perfect way to have one close at hand.

7.  Blanket
I keep a blanket in the car so we’ll be able to bundle up if we break down when it’s cold out, or want to have an impromptu picnic.  However it will be handy to have should I ever need it to change a spare tire!

8.  Flashlight
Because you never know when you’ll need to see in the dark!  A good flashlight will help you see farther than the flashlight on your phone will plus it will allow you to keep your battery charge up in case you need it.

How to Prepare for a Road Trip With Kids

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When you’re planning a family road trip with kids you may wonder how in the world you’ll ever survive this trip. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the idea of keeping kids entertained during a road trip with kids as well as wonder if your family vehicle is ready to go the long haul. While having some fears over what to expect and whether or not you’re fully prepared for this road trip are normal, I’m here to tell you that you can prepare for a road trip with kids in such a way that you have a fantastic time and wonder why you haven’t done more family road trips in the past.

How to Prepare for a Road Trip With Kids

How to Prepare for a Road Trip With Kids

Get Out The Map

So many people rely on GPS navigation these days that it’s no wonder fewer families actually own a physical map. The thing is though, if you truly want to enjoy a road trip with kids then you’ll want to get out that old school map to plan out your route. Sit down with your kids and use this time as a geography lesson as you work with your kids to jot down your road trip route. Using a marker, you can easily review the map to make little dots for locations you wish to visit during your family road trip.

Get Your Vehicle Prepared

Make sure you have a toolkit on hand for extra oil, a funnel, spare tire, jumper cables, and an extra gas can so that you’re ready for any minor emergencies that may occur during your road trip with kids. Schedule an appointment for a tune-up, oil change and routine maintenance check for your family vehicle before you venture out on the open road for a family road trip. Following each of these steps to get your vehicle prepared will ensure you have a reduced chance for any mishaps with your vehicle.

Pack Like a Minimalist

Going on a road trip with kids can be a great time to teach your kids how to pack light and learn more about what a need versus a want is. Since you’ll be packing up the family vehicle to go on a road trip with kids you’ll have minimal storage space. Sit with your kids to review the necessary items to bring along for this family road trip so that you don’t end up having too many things in the family vehicle making it difficult to be comfortable during this long trip.

Think About Entertainment

No matter how well you plan this road trip with kids there will be times that they get frustrated from being inside the family vehicle for long periods. This is where having a route planned out via the old school map will come in handy. Use the map for the kids to try to follow the route during the family road trip. This will not only keep them entertained but also allow them to learn more about geography and how to read a map.

(See our Audio Books for Kids list.  These can be great for car trips!)

Prepare Easy Snacks

While traveling on the road during this road trip with kids everyone will begin to get hungry from time to time. This is why it’s important to prepare some easy snacks that can sit for long periods in a car or a cooler with ice. In addition to some protein-rich snack options, you’ll want to pack plenty of water so that the family can stay hydrated during this family road trip. Consider using one cooler that will fit inside the family vehicle or have each family member pack a small individual size cooler to keep their own snacks and water in during this family road trip.

When it comes to preparing for a road trip with kids the key is to make sure you have a route planned for a fun family road trip itinerary, a family vehicle that’s gone through proper maintenance, and some ways to keep the kids entertained during this trip. There are so many fun experiences a family can enjoy during a road trip with kids. From new sights, cultures, and historical landmarks your family road trip will be an absolute blast so as long as you follow my tips to prepare for a road trip with kids.

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.