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 101 Car Travel Games & Ideas for Kids
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Staying Safe this Summer

The heat of summer is in full swing, and with that I present this public service announcement  info-graphic with tips on how to avoid common summer time illnesses. As moms, we know that prevention is always the best medicine! Keep your summer fun with this information on how to avoid dehydration/heat exhaustion, swimmers ear, asthma and allergies, and food poisoning. In addition, here is a whole list of ways of prevention tips and ways to treat different types of insect bites. Keep your summer safe and healthy!

Staying Safe This Summer

Keep it cool and stay safe!

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July 13, 2013   2 Comments

Rationalizing Renting

The reasons for renting a car after flying halfway across the country are obvious; you need transportation once you’ve reached your destination. But what about renting for a road trip? Renting a car may seem like an unnecessary hassle and expense for taking a road trip, but it can have its perks.

Renting a car can really expand the options for the type of car to be driven on the trip. Minivans and SUVs are a great option for hauling cargo and backseat drivers, while coupes and sedans are more fuel efficient and eco-friendly.

Or maybe your old clunker just isn’t as reliable as it used to be. Renting a newer, more reliable car is a great way to get your family safely over the river and through the woods. You can even rent a newer model of the car you already own. We all know learning those little differences from car to car can be annoying. This way you already know where the windshield wipers are, and you are already a pro at operating the stereo system.  Being comfortable in a familiar vehicle is often just the thing to keep you relaxed on your trip, so check out local car rental places like

Whether you’re taking a weekend trip to a neighboring city with your daughter’s Girl Scout troop or driving six states over to go to the beach for a week, renting a car can be a great option for a road trip.

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June 5, 2013   1 Comment

Distracted Driving

This infographic spells out just how dangerous it is to drive while otherwise occupied.  Stay safe! Many accidents are preventable!

distracted driving infographic from ifa auto insurance

Presented By IFA Auto Insurance

May 9, 2013   Comments Off

Camper Van vs. Motor Home

camper vanIn a few weeks I’m heading to the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee with a group of girl friends. It will be my 5th year in a row. If you’re not familiar with this type of festival, imagine a huge farm swarming with 80 – 100,000 sweaty dirty people, all having a great time listening to dozens of different bands, and rouging it by camping in tents next to their cars with no water or electricity. Just imagine Woodstock, and you’ll understand.

Most attendees are in their 20’s. They have stamina of youth. My gal pals and I trend toward a slightly older demographic. We have put up with too much in our lives to live without modern conveniences for too many days in a row, and frankly we need to rest easy in order to be able to keep up with our whippersnapper counterparts. So we pay the extra money for the VIP parking and bring our party to the party in a vintage motor home RV. We camp in luxury and sleep in air conditioning!

I’ve often considered the pros and cons of and RV verses a camper van for other road trip vacations. There are lots of places to rent vehicles like these in almost any country you visit, for example check out the Drive Now offers for campervan hire in New Zealand.

In the 70’s and 80’s my family had a big Chevy camper van. It was like a mini RV. It had sleeping areas and a cooking unit, and even a small refrigerator, but unlike its bulky motor home cousin, it had all the convenience of being a more normal sized vehicle. It was much larger than today’s minivan, but unlike an RV, it was easy to drive, easy to park, and easier on gas. We made so many memories in our big “Blue Goose” (the nickname we gave our  van). Not only did our family use it for camping, but my mother used it as her regular  vehicle and literally worked out of it as a soccer mom when we weren’t road tripping.

Camper van or motor home, I’m game for having a good time either way! In fact, I hope I see you at Bonnaroo!

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April 11, 2013   4 Comments

Teen Drivers

If you smile and turn around in your minivan you will probably see your dear darlings smiling back at you while they are safely strapped to their car seats.  Now picture yourself a few years from now when you are no longer the one in the driver’s seat, and your dear darling is now grinning at you from behind the wheel.  You are now white-knuckled to the arm rests of the passenger seat while your teen age driver smashes the accelerator just a little too hard, or over-corrects every turn.  You instinctively reach for the brakes in front of you before you remember that you don’t have any on your side of the vehicle.

Welcome to my world.

I am about to be the mother of two teen age drivers.  My darling daughter is about to join her older brother in the ranks of Kentucky drivers since she is taking her driver’s test next week.  They both learned how to drive on my minivan.

I’ve had to do some research to make our new driver fit into our family budget too.  Where I live, you don’t have to add a driver with a learners permit to your insurance, but once they get the actual license, you will need car insurance for your teen.  Good thing mine can now drive herself to her job to help pay for it.

So, Kentucky motorists, please welcome a new driver to the streets.  You have been warned.   (PS. Congratulations to my darling daughter)

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February 16, 2013   2 Comments

How Safe is Your Baby’s Car Seat?

baby car seat safetyIf you are expecting your first child, you have begun to experience the wonderful world of baby stuff. Even if this is your second, third, or eighteenth child, you’ve learned that you need to keep up on the latest trends, recalls, and safety wisdom. While every piece of gear you buy is important–with the possible exception of those videos that show toys while classical music drones in the background–the one that both parents and the government require the most from in terms of safety is the car seat.


You’ve got the latest edition of Baby Bargains on your iPad, you’ve narrowed down which houses for sale are in the best school district and don’t have any exposed wiring or trap doors that lead to crocodile pits, your auto insurance is all up-to-date, and you’ve sold the ’72 Chevy Nova for a newer model with LATCH. Congratulations–you are doing an excellent job of building the illusion that you are ready for life as a parent! Your next assignment is to spend a minimum of forty solid hours researching the best infant car seat. Whilst poring through the myriad books, magazines, websites, and parents’ brains, keep the following questions at the front of your mind:

  • Does it exceed government standards? Try not to settle for just meeting them. That’s not how modern parents roll.
  • Is it easy to use? If it’s hard to get junior in and/or out, your frayed nerve ends may force a brain shutdown, which you don’t need when there’s a diaper that needs changing and a mouth that needs feeding.
  • Is it versatile? You really shouldn’t care if the seat matches the upholstery, but at the prices seats go for these days, you might want to consider a seat that will keep your progeny safe for a few years down the road.
  • Holy #*%@–$300 for a *$&# car seat? “Costlier” is not a synonym for “safer.” While three large will get you a seat that is safe, feature-rich, and stylish, one of the best-reviewed car seats of 2012 will only set you back $170. If you are not sure what features you need, this is one time when you can trust in online user reviews and friends’ recommendations.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

A car seat could have an impact-activated forcefield, gyroscopic stabilizers, and inertial dampers, but if it is not used properly, that kid ain’t gonna be safe. Before you even think of installing that thang, read through the included manual–heck, read it in every language, just to be thorough. Check the manufacturer’s website; many feature videos that walk you through the steps. Many local police departments offer child seat inspections; call for a schedule.

Before you leave the house, though, do your best to install the seat to manufacturer’s specifications. This probably requires that you not put the child in the seat and then leave them on the car’s roof, trunk, or hood–it’s a safe bet that the police would not approve of such usage.

Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and Law Enforcement. (Guest Blogger for

Get great games to play in the car, or shop for a carseat!

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October 18, 2012   Comments Off

Let Kids Ham It Up for Family Vacation Pics

Universal Studios Jurassic Park photosDo your kids refuse to cooperate for family vacation photos?  If you are a photo-taking maniac, chances are good that they are sick of posing in front of touristy spots for family pictures.  If you can’t get them to cooperate at all, then I have the cure. Let them “not cooperate”.  Have you looked at your teen’s facebook page lately?  It is loaded with really strange and goofy self portraits of themselves and equally odd photos of their friends. That is apparently what teens are after these days.

So let them be goofy. You already have enough “pretty” pictures of your kids, so why not just let them be dorks, and take photos of them having tons of fun!

In other words, when you’re on vacation, don’t pose them in front of cool stuff and and order your children to put on fake smiles — get involved!  Ham it up!!  Your photos will really capture the fun they are having and they won’t whine every time you want to take their picture.  It will make the trip all the more memorable, and they’ll have fun at the same time.  No doubt they will probably even share these “family pictures” with their friends, and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.

(These photos were taken during our Thanksgiving trip to Universal Islands of Adventure Tips at the Jurassic Park section of the park.)

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October 4, 2012   Comments Off

Break up a Long Road Trip with Local Activities

Break up your long trip with some short stops that are of local interest.  Checking out what the locals have to offer along the way is a great way to see the country.  It may sound silly, but be prepared to be spontaneous!  Making stops you haven’t planned lets you feel adventurous.

Once, we made a short stop for a potty break in Tupelo, MS and as luck would have it, we were less than a mile from the birthplace of Elvis, so of course we took a detour and had a look! There turned out to be a little playground nearby where we spent 15 minutes running around. On the trip home, we drove the Natches Trace parkway and stopped for 10 minutes to see some Indian ruins.  It’s amazing how many interesting things there are to see even out in rural areas of the country.

If you are fortunate enough to get some adult-only time to yourselves, I recommend touring a local vineyard where you are traveling, for example,  Take their tour and try some wines you may not have tried before like maybe the Sonoma Biodynamic Wine.  You may be surprised to know there are wineries all over the country, and not just in California,  where you can take short tours and see beautiful countryside.  I recently toured one in Kentucky!

Visiting the locals and finding out what they like to do is one of my favorite things to do when traveling on the road, because it gives so much flexibility.  Watch those road signs and be a little spontaneous!

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September 19, 2012   Comments Off

Have a Jolly Roger Good Time in the Car

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!  This is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your Pirate Speak for your next road trip where you can carry out your adventures with your own pirate personas.  Nothing beats traveling like a band of merry men aboard your road ship.  In my article “Pirates of the Caravana” you’ll find some great ideas on how to pass the time on the road while becoming thick as thieves. There you’ll also find a whole list of basic pirate terms that you can teach your crew, and if you’re lucky, they will love to follow orders!

One of my favorite pirate activities for the road is telling pirate jokes.  How much does it cost for a pirate to get his ears pierced? About a buck an ear! Arrrrrrrrr!!!

Another is to make pirate accessories out of aluminum foil while you’re on the road. It’s easy, cheap and fun and will keep your little buccaneers happy and busy while you’re out on the high seas!


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September 18, 2012   Comments Off

Pets on Vacation

It’s becoming more and more popular these days to take your pet with you on vacation, and pet owners want to keep their pets safe and comfortable.  I just got an awesome pet carrier from Sherpa Pet!  Mine is the Legacy Ultimate model and it is SUPER CUTE.  My cat Rocky can now ride in style!  They also have many other models which are very reasonably priced. (Rocky is frequently featured on my daughter’s @dailycats  Instagram account and DailyCatPictures .com) 

I especially love the super soft removable pad on the bottom that can be easily washed. The side pocket is perfect for holding small items like treats, leashes, and vaccination records that are usually required when you travel.

There is a top opening so your tiny dog can stick his head out while you’re carrying him around for a great view, and then zip it up when he has to be tucked away for takeoff.  To prevent him from jumping out, there is a clip on the inside where you can hook his harness and keep him safe.

Carriers by Sherpa are airline/subway/rail approved for carrying your pet on-board.  This is the only pet carrier company that has a partnership with all the major airlines.  So, if you’re getting ready to take Fifi on a plane ride to a far off exotic destination like the beautiful  Waikiki hotels, you’ll want to check out the Guaranteed On Board program before traveling.

Truth be told, my cat does not usually accompany us on many long trips. He does, however, take a lot of mini-vacations with us to relatives houses. For travelers with small dogs, I cannot think of anything better than this soft sided carrier.  One bit of advice: do not just show up at the airport with your pet!  Be sure to check out all the requirements and fees of your airline for carrying a pet on board BEFORE you head to the airport so that you won’t get turned away and for the safety of your pet. Happy travels to all those furry travelers!



Here are a few handy tips from the pet travel experts at Sherpa Pet Group to make the most of airline travel with your feline or canine:

  • Book your reservations early and check the airline’s latest pet policies.
  • Obtain a general health certificate and a rabies vaccination certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of your departure.
  • Choose nonstop flights if at all possible to help eliminate pet anxiety.
  • Early morning or late evening flights work best in warmer weather.
  • Pets younger than eight weeks old or weaned less than five days prior to the flight are prohibited.
  • Allow plenty of time to exercise your pet, and give them a “potty break” when you arrive at the airport and before you enter the security area.
  • Avoid giving your pet a large meal prior to the flight. Instead, bring along healthy, all-natural and easily digestible snacks

If traveling by car, here are a few rules of the road:

  • Never allow your cat to roam freely inside your vehicle. Always keep it secured in a carrier. 
  • Always restrain your dogs in a carrier, or with a harness or pet car seat. And never attach a restraining device to a pet’s collar. Always use a harness to prevent injury. 
  • Stop every few hours to stretch your legs and provide your pet a much-appreciated pit stop. Never let your dog jump out of the car without a leash.
  • Bring your own supply of clean water and your pet’s bowls, as fresh water is not always handy or convenient when you need to stop.
  • Encourage your pet to consume small amounts of food and water, but don’t allow them to overeat or drink if you still have more driving to do. Reserve your pet’s main meal for the end of the day, preferably when you have reached your final destination for the night.
  • Be considerate and practice good “petiquette” by cleaning up after your pet. Always keep a supply of pick-up bags with you.
  • NEVER leave a pet in a parked car.
  • Pack a pet first-aid kit, your pet’s medical records, medications and health certificate.
  • Make sure your pets are micro-chipped, and bring the chip ID number and telephone number to call if they become lost. Be sure to have a travel tag on your pet’s collar.


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July 18, 2012   Comments Off