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.

Virginia Vacations for Families

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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!

7 Camping Hacks Every Family Should Know

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Camping Hacks

Camping season is upon us, which means it is time to hit the open road, grab the old dusty tent, and enjoy a few nights under the stars! Camping doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive, in fact there are plenty of “hacks” out there that can make the experience an enjoyable and affordable one. Look below at 7 camping hacks every family should know, and see how you can hack your way to a better camp out!  It’s a great way to explore your local

1. Tin foil is your best friend.
Tin foil can be used in so many ways when it comes to camping. You can use it to cover leftovers, or use it to cover grill grids if they are rusty and dirty. Tin foil can also be used to cover items in a hurry to protect them if the rain starts.  You can even cook some things on the engine of your car!

2. Make your own cheap fire starters.
Stuff toilet paper tubes with shredded paper and dryer lint to achieve a roaring fire. These DIY fire starters a great way to get a roaring fire without spending a dime. For even more fire starting power, add the remnants of old candles inside as well.

3. Take a tarp.
A cheap tarp can help your items stay dry if the rain starts. You can also place a tarp underneath your bedding area to help keep the space warm and dry as well. Tarps do an amazing job protecting your firewood stash as well. Since rain can be unpredictable, having a tarp on hand is always a great idea.

4. Don’t forget the solar lights.
Take some basic solar lights with you and allow them to charge during the day. This is an easy way to keep your campsite lit up at night without having to worry about candles or even flashlights. You can even take them on evening walks with you.

5. Consider foil dinners.
One of the easiest ways to cook over a fire is to make foil dinners. Add chopped vegetables, seasonings, and a meat of your choice to the foil and close it up to create a packet. Then, just toss the packet onto the fire for a quick meal with easy clean up.

6. Keep bugs away naturally.
Burning white sage in your campfire is an easy way to keep biting bugs such as mosquitoes away. You can also use citronella oil and peppermint oil on your camping linens to help keep them at bay! They hate the scent, and will soon fly elsewhere.

7. Hit the dollar store before you go.
Your local dollar store will have so many supplies that you can use in creative ways when you camp. Take clothespins so you can easily hang linens to dry. Large freezer bags are excellent for storing dirty clothing. Inexpensive blow up rafts can offer extra support while you sleep, and the plastic storage containers are excellent for carrying shower toiletries to and from the bath house.

Are you ready for the best camping trip yet? Consider these 7 camping hacks every family should know and see how fun (and easy) a night under the stars can be!

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

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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.

 

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.

 

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

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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!

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.