Tips for Preparing for Your First Family Road Trip

The great road trip has fast become a quintessentially American tradition, accounting for nearly 39% of all vacations taken. From the Pacific Coast Highway to Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia (where I grew up traveling to), there are a plethora of gorgeous natural areas to drive through and stop for a few days. Hey, you can even fly abroad and then rent a car to explore the best Asia destinations, if you’d like your road trip to stretch even farther! After all, road trips appeal to America’s love of independence and freedom. It can be extremely liberating to let your wishes be your guide, and to take every day as it comes, sleeping in your very own RV or booking local hotels with charm. If you are keen to take your very first road trip and you need some advice for traveling with children, keep these considerations in mind and enjoy a fun-filled bonding experience with those you love.

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Choosing a Destination that Appeals to Everyone

Because a road trip enables you to visit more than one site, ask everyone in your family to come up with their own ‘bucket list’ that covers the general area you are visiting. If everyone feels like they have chosen at least one top destination, the trip can be a little more satisfying for everyone involved. There is one proviso when it comes to lists, of course. Some places are particularly magical and may entice you to stay for longer than envisioned. For this reason, you should keep your bucket lists fairly ‘loose’ and agree to slightly alter your route if you become enamored by a new spot.

Selecting and Preparing Your Vehicle

If you are traveling with children (and let me tell you: you haven’t travelled with children until you’ve traveled with 3-year-old twins!) or simply taking a road trip spanning more than a long weekend, a spacious RV-style vehicle will certainly make travel easier and more convenient. On the one hand, items like strollers, toys, and other essentials can be easily stored, as can sports equipment and sportswear – including items like boots, thick coats, and the like – without worrying about space. Check your vehicle maintenance book and ensure that your oil and filter are clean/new, change your spark plugs if need be, ensure spare tires are in good working order, and obtain extra items such as car belts and other essentials. If a maintenance check is due in the next few months, pull up the date slightly to ensure you don’t go over the stipulated mile count. 

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How To Help Family Burdened By Debt

I hate debt.

Over the almost 7 years of our marriage, we’ve paid off a lot of debt. We’ve incurred a little bit more…and paid it off, too. When our financial advisor looks at our setup, he thinks we’re looking pretty durn good – but I HATE even a little bit of a balance left on a credit card. Drives me NUTS. Makes me feel stressed out and nervous. So anytime we end up with more money than we thought we had, I’m always down for paying off something else! 

In the US, the total household debt accumulated by families currently amounts to somewhere over the $13 trillion mark. With this in mind, it’s not unlikely that you know someone suffering from the consequences of debt, made only worse by rising costs of living, and a generally fickle economy. If a family member or dear friend is struggling under the weight of debt, it’s time to strategize. Help distance your loved ones from the anxiety of endless payment plans with the following tips:

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Eliminate Bad Spending Habits

Spending habits are the easiest things to tackle. By cutting costs at every possible opportunity, you can not only avoid adding more debt to your name, but you can eventually start to accumulate enough money to pay off your debt sooner than expected. And it adds up quickly! We’re always surprised when we start looking for expenses we can eliminate!

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Use a Budget

A budget can help you find each and every spending habit that may be threatening your finances. Indeed, if you’ve the time and resources, help your family organize a spreadsheet which details expenses and income. Don’t worry if you’ve never tallied a budget before. There are award-winning money management apps like Mint, Pennies, and You Need A Budget (YNAB) that simplify what seems like an insurmountable task to the novice. (The one my husband uses for our finances is called “Personal Capital”.)

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Festive Ways for Warm-Weather Families to Have a Cold-Weather Christmas

Okay, okay, calm down, calm down. I’m not “starting in on Christmas” already. Well, not really. But y’all know that here in Florida, it does NOT feel like Fall quite yet. Even though yesterday WAS the first day of Fall, the temperature on my back deck read 91 degrees, with a “feels-like” temperature of 95. I kid you not. Does that give you festive warm Fall fuzzies? Yeah, me neither.

FESTIVE WAYS

But there ARE things I do this time of the year to try and help it FEEL more like Fall in Florida. Fall foods. Fall scents. Fall decor. You’ll actually get to see lots of that here on the blog over the next few weeks.

And all this “trying to make it feel like Fall” got me thinking. When it’s 70 degrees in Florida in December and we’re “trying to get it to feel like Christmas”, what on earth will we do then?!

If you live in a warm-weather state like California, Arizona, Hawaii or Florida, you may gaze wistfully at your friends’ winter time photos on social media of their snow-covered lawns and their rosy-faced kids making snowmen.

While you are eager to get into the holiday spirit, you find yourself wishing that the weather would magically cool off in Tucson or Tampa and that you could experience a true White Christmas.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can create a festive and chilly Christmas season — at least one that looks that way. 

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Making Memories: 6 Beautiful and Family-Friendly Backyard Ideas!

The twins are now 7 months old, and I FINALLY feel like I’m getting control of my house again! I mean, MERCY! I knew I’d be off my game for a while, but I didn’t realize it would be for THIS LONG! Don’t get me wrong – they are SO worth being off my game for! Nonetheless, I’m thrilled to be back on track.

Inside, that is. I’m back on track on the INSIDE of the house.

Every time I drive up to our house I see a million things I need to handle. Does anyone else do that, or is it just me? And that’s just in the front!

When I look at the back yard, I’m completely overwhelmed. 

We have a very large back yard, for which I am so grateful. It’s nicely fenced with a pretty white privacy fence, and we even have a few things like a pineapple bed, a garden, and several different spots in which to sit – a picnic table by the garden, a screened-in porch and a brick patio. 

But my mind has been turning with ways we can make it kid-friendly, since, before I know it, the girls will be running around out there! (Already one of their most favorite activities is to be outside rolling around on a blanket!)

So when blogger Chloe Taylor contacted me with just that, a post of family-friendly backyard ideas, I knew it was fate! And when it comes to ideas, Chloe has some awesome ones!

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Kids absolutely love spending time outdoors; running around and exploring the world. But what if you simply can’t find the time to organize family walks or visits to the playground? Well, what better way to satisfy your kids’ curiosity and adventurous spirit than your own backyard? Of course, the key is in creating a fun and an enticing place for your family, so that kids can play to their heart’s content and stay safe. Play at a young age is a child’s process of learning, which is why you should seriously consider the following ideas for your own family-friendly backyard.

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Tips for Healthy Eating as a Family

The more I read labels on foods I’ve eaten all my life, the more my eyebrows raise. There is SO MUCH JUNK in our food! Sure, the “junky” food seems easier to grab and prepare, but in the long run, healthy eating is way more worth it!

When it comes to healthy eating as a family, time management and budgeting can make it a bit difficult to get the hang of. Especially if you are a parent (which is really where my brain is at these days), it’s important to foster healthy habits in your children when they’re young so they can carry those habits into the rest of their lives. Here are some ways to stick to a healthy diet on a budget, and to encourage positive habits for your kids.

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Find a Farmers’ Market
 
The price for fresh produce at farmers’ markets is nearly unbeatable. You can stock up on locally grown food that’s in season to use for the week or freeze for a later date. At some farmers’ markets, you can find free-range eggs, delicious homemade jellies and jams, and raw honey. Since you’re buying food that’s in season and cutting out the transport costs, you’ll save quite a bit of money on produce.

 
Cook With Your Kids
 
Nothing is more frustrating than preparing a healthy meal just to have your child turn it down. To avoid this, try collaborating as a family to find meals that you’ll all enjoy. Once you’ve made a plan for the week, involve your children in the cooking process. Even young children can take an important role, like snapping green beans or topping a casserole with cheese. When they’ve helped to create a delicious meal, your kids will be more motivated to eat it and their confidence will grow in the kitchen.

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