17 Travel Tips For Long Car Rides With Kids

Everyone is packing up and heading out! 

Since so many families are leaving for their summer vacations right now, I decided to gather some of the best tips for long car rides and put it all in one post.

 I have to admit that, I think the DVD players kept my kids quieter than anything during our 8+ hour long journey to Cape Cod, but, many of these other tips were life-savers too. For example, don't underestimate the power of a quick stop at a rest area.  Having a potty break, walking around for 10 minutes and eating a popsicle made a world of difference when my 4 year old was getting extremely fed up of being in the car during our drive home.

I asked some moms for their top tips for traveling with kids in the car, and this is what they had to say:

 1) Make a Roadtrip Countdown - Jessica got crafty and "wrote a city name or border that we would pass every two hours or so. On the back of the paper, I wrote a task. They included things like special treat, read a book out loud, special present (I bought some dollar store items) draw a picture, play a game, etc. As we passed the city, we ripped the tag off and completed the 'assignment'! This was a huge hit and the hours flew by." Click here for free Printables for Road Trips

2) "Rent Redbox Movies and Return Them In Other States Along Your Route. You can use the free Redbox app to find kiosks near wherever you may be"  says Heidi of Free Fun In Austin. This is much cheaper than buying new DVDs and since it's so affordable, you can really stock up!

3) Play Games - Joey, from, reminded me of all the fun car games you can play with kids. The license plate game is a classic.  You can also count things on the side of the road (like animals or objects), make Road Bingo cards, and play I-Spy. 

4) Expect Delays - As soon as you become a parent, you learn that everything takes longer with kids.  "Just Just know that 7 hour trip will become 10. Consider when you leave and factor in traffic," Chrissie from London Mod Girl.

5) "Load up your ipad or Leap Pad with apps and videos they've never seen before." - Lisa from

6) Books on tape are ideal for preschoolers and Early Elementary age kids.  Susan reminded me that I can borrow audio CD's from my local library. Susan said that when she went on vacation "Sometimes the kids were so engaged they refused to get out of the car." A few titles to check out include: Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, The Freddy series, and The Castle In The Attic, Winnie the Pooh with Stephen Fry, and Skippy Jon. Here is a great resource to find audio books for kids. 

7) "Take breaks every 1.5-2 hours depending on how long they can last. Let them stretch, have a snack, potty" - Brandi of One Great Mom. 

8) "Make up a "fun bag" for each way (down and back) with items like coloring books, small toys, new books, magnet boards, model magic, etc. I also got them a small lap desk. They love it. Last time back they barely watched any movies!" - Heather of Diapered Knights

9) Make a Sandpaper & Felt Travel Board - Melinda from Look What Mom Found told me about this sensory activity from Gummy Lump which you can make with this Sandpaper Felt Board Tutorial. 

10) Have lots of fun snacks that they never get at home. "Single-size cereals were their favorites" - Alissa of Fun Finds For Families

11) Get Creative - It's amazing how a few simple Wiki Stix or pipe cleaners can really entertain a kid. Have a contest to see who could create the coolest thing.
12) Leave super early, like 4am. Put the kids in the car (in their pjs) and they'll typically sleep for the first few hours and be groggy for a while when they first wake up. Then with breakfast and a DVD it's usually not too painful. - Sarah of Finnegan & The Hughes

Or, if you're not a morning person...

13) "Drive 1/2 the way late at night stop at a hotel" - Sherri of

14) Before you go, download online kid's books to your Kindle or IPad. Here's a great post about finding online books for kids.
15) "Stopping for a play break is essential. Kids need time to run around a bit. Try finding out
where a playground is on your way to stop at for a 15 minute play break." - Diane   
16) Don't be afraid to abandon all rules - Heidi says "We did Texas to Canada and back this summer and I abandoned all rules/ It was a DS + movies +iPod + iPad + snacks children's paradise. All electronics all the time. Everyone was happy for all 50+ hours (because I usually don't let them have that much screen time, and we wouldn't let them play at all while we were in Canada).

17) Please, Relax. It is a vacation after all!- "It's always much easier than I anticipate it being. I think the anxiety beforehand is the worst part!" - Bestie, of

If you have specific questions about a certain area, just ask. I find that the best tips come from my friends, family and other parents who have already ventured to my destination. They are your best source of information!  There are also tons of local blogs from moms that are full of tips as well as helpful travel sites such as

What is your best tip for long car rides with kids? 

5 Reasons Why We Love Our Local Arboretum


To me, the word "Arboretum" sounds so boring and scientific, but every time we go to our local arboretum, Tyler, we are far from bored. My kids and I love it there! In a nutshell, "Arboretum" means collection of trees, yet, there is so much more for kids to see there. The exhibits are engaging, the flowers are plentiful and the trees are majestic. It's one of our favorite places to meet with friends and explore for hours.

Whenever we go to the arboretum, it's a reminder that kids don't really need much to be entertained. As long as they're with friends, my kids are happy running through the wooded trails, playing with sticks and picking up stones. Isn't it nice when it really is that simple?

Here are 5 reasons why we love our local arboretum:

1. The kids can touch almost everything. My kids are very hands-on and don't mind getting dirty.  It's nice to just let them play and be kids.  Arboretums offer a multi-sensory experience.  Tyler Arboetum website even says "Come and climb, explore and play in our Totally Terrific Tree Houses!"  What more could a kid ask for? 

2. They can be as loud as they want. No indoor voices are needed when you're outside in the woods!

3. We love the kid-friendly exhibits at Tyler Arboretum. The kids run up and down the steps of the tree houses and they were happy to have a rest with the Sit-a-Spell Exhibits.  Everything is so inviting. 

4. Yearly Memberships are very affordable. With your membership, you get unlimited, year round, free general admission and your contribution helps sustain the Arboretum. There are many membership options, and if you don't need a yearly membership, you can choose to buy a day pass instead.

5. It's the perfect place for kids to learn through play. They can learn about the evironment and the world around them.  Also, sixty minutes of daily unstructured free play is essential to children’s physical and mental health. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2008).

Do you have any arboretums in your area? 

Here's a list of some of the top U.S. Arboretums:

Become a Jedi: Training Academy at Hollywood Studios

Is the force with you?  I mean...have you experienced Jedi Training yet? 

Before we left for our trip to Disney World, this past spring, my friend told me a great tip to getting your child into Jedi Training Academy.  The Disney folks only take a limited number of kids every day, and you need to get there early to register.  We got to the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park almost as soon as it opened and quickly ran over to the registration point near Star Tours.  You must have your child with you to register.  They won't let an adult register a child who isn't present.  As soon as you register, they'll give you a time to come back for Jedi Training Academy.

Here's a sneak peak at my son becoming a Jedi at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida.

If you're not headed to Disney World or Disney Land anytime soon, you can still have Star Wars Fun at home.  Here are some ideas that you can do anywhere:

Star Wars Coloring Pages

Star Wars Inspired Recipes

Free Online Games at

Star Wars Crafts Ideas at

Do it Yourself Lightsaber Craft from Disney Family

 Star Wars Party Ideas

Jedi Training Academy Party at Home

 Do you have any other fun Star Wars inspired activities to do with kids?  Let me know or leave a link in the comments. 

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is

10 Disney Tips on Everything from Toy Story Mania, Epcot, PhotoPass & More!

This post, and the excellent photographs that go along with it, are courtesy of my friend Jen.  She was nice enough to give me valuable tips for my trip to Disney World in Florida, which I am excited to test out! Jen and her family go on magical Disney vacations twice a year, so she really knows what she's talking about!

I wish I could click my heels 3 times and go to Disney World RIGHT NOW! But, since I can’t, I would love to share some tips for anyone who may be heading there soon.

1) If you’re planning on going to Hollywood Studios here are important tips to keep in mind: You need to get there in the morning when they open - fast passes for Toy Story Mania are GONE by 10 or 11!  And, if you have a Star Wars lover in your house, you won’t want to miss Jedi Training Academy.  But you have to get over there first thing, and register for a show time - that fills up quick too!   As soon as we get to the park, we usually go straight to Jedi to sign up, then right over to Toy Story to get fast passes.  When that’s done, go off to enjoy the park.

2) You'll definitely want to take advantage of 'Child Swap'.  According to the Disney Family website, "The rider swap allows one adult member of your party to wait with the child who is too small to ride, while the rest of your party experiences the attraction. When your party is finished riding, the person waiting with the child is allowed to ride the attraction without waiting in line, and they can take up to three other people with them."  You can read the rest of the details here.  But, this is a great feature for families of small children.

3) Don’t forget that rain ponchos can be found at the dollar store in 2 packs!  But, if you’re like me, and plan on going to Disney World often, it is worth it to buy the Disney ponchos in the theme park.  I bought ours a while ago and re-used them on every trip. They hold up well and I like wearing them on water rides to stay a little drier.

4) I carry a bunch of fruit snacks and dum-dum lollipops with me. The lollipops are perfect on the plane for kids who are too small for gum.  The fruit snacks help curb the kids’ cravings for the candy that they see all over the theme parks.  

5) At Epcot, inside The Land....The Seed Tour was a little pricey and 45 min but all 3 kids LOVED it.  My kids were about ages 2, 4, and 7 at the time. It was very educational and they released ladybugs into the greenhouse at the end.

6)  At the Magic Kingdom, you might want to ride the train (right at Main Street) over to Frontierville first thing in the morning.  We have done that before and seemed to stay ahead of the crowds all day.

7) Take advantage of the little street shows. Even if the weather is crappy, the cast members make things fun!

8) If you're one of those moms who gets home from vacation and realizes that you're not in any of the photos, then you'll want to look into Disney's PhotoPass. Disney has photographers scattered everywhere throughout their parks.  I found that the photo pass was really helpful to have. They grab good shots of all the characters and some pretty nighttime family shots too. It’s the only we get photos of our entire family.
And, I have a secret website for $50 off the DVD, but it must be purchased before you arrive. Here is the link.

9) Ohana at the Polynesian is our favorite breakfast.  It's a character breakfast with Lilo & Stitch and my whole family loves it!

9)  My personal goal is to grab an adult beverage in every county in Epcot!  I've gotten close..... : ) And, I highly recommend the Woodpecker cider at the Rose Crown Pub.


Saving Money at Disney World - For Moms of Preschoolers (and Big Kids too)!

So, our big Disney vacation is soon approaching - Woohoo!  I already know we are going to spends lots of money at Disney World and buy things we wouldn't normally indulge on.  That's a given.  However, the thrifty side of me really wants to be prepared as much as possible to cut down on our expenses.

I've been to Disney World so many times as a child and this is my third visit back since I've had kids.  Here are some of the things I've gotten before the big trip to help save us money:

I love browsing the Disney Store website. When I saw a good sale, I bought each of my sons a monogrammed fleece pull-over for a less than $15.00 each (including the personalization), and some Minnie ears for only $4.99.  I know I'd never be able to get them personalized sweat shirts this inexpensively once we're in the park.  So, I am really excited about this.  I could have saved even more money if I remembered to use EbatesRight now, Ebates is giving 5% cash back rebates on all of your Disney Store purchases made through them.  If you plan on buying from the Disney Store online, you should definitely buy through Ebates and save extra money.

I also bought these mini Mead notebooks for the kids to use as autograph books.  I didn't think it was necessary to spend over $7.00 each for autograph books, so I picked these books up for less than $1.50 each and have some Disney stickers that the kids can use to decorate them.  The kids will still have their Disney autograph books, just for a heck-of-a-lot cheaper!








 Anyone who has ever been to Disney World or Disney Land knows that there are tons of shops and kiosks all around the park with any type of Disney themed mercherchandise you could possibly every dream of.  It's inevitable that I'm going to get suckered in and buy some souvenirs for my kids.  The stuff is so darn cute.  But, I found some Disney themed goodies for the kids that will help curb my urge to shop.  The Disney silly bands I saw while checking out at the grocery store - they were $1.00.  And, Dollar Tree had these cute Mickey Mouse watches and Disney Pez Dispensers - also $1.00 each.

I still have to buy some cheap rain ponchos.  But, other than that, I think I'm done.  Do you have any suggestions?  I feel like I have a good grasp on it, but I'm sure I am missing something.

If you're going to Disney soon, you may also want to read this: Disney with Kids: Tips from some of the Best Disney Blogs!

Traveling with Kids? Use Blogs to Plan your Getaway

Traveling with kids can be exciting and exhausting, and, as a Mom, I always want to be prepared. I've been using local resources for nearby weekday adventures with my little ones. But, in the past, I would check Trip Advisor and other big travel sites to help research our vacations before we went away.  But, this year is different.  I'm using blogs.  Why?  Because everything is so much easier when you get advice from a local mom who knows your destination like the back of her hand!

Last year, we traveled to the Hilton Head, SC area and we had a blast bike-riding, going to the beach and taking the kids on a boat.  But,  I remember thinking 'I wish there were some more  things to do with kids to do around here.'  Then, a year later, I came across Southern Mamas website and was completely blown away by the endless amount of activities for families and kids in the Low-country area.  This would have been an amazing resource for my husband and I as we were planning our trip.  It has all of the best activities, events and resources for parents in the Low-country and it's all written from a mom's perspective.  If only I had known about it a year earlier!

This year I have no excuses.  I'm looking forward to planning some Spring and Summer day trips using the Best Blogs for Local Fun Guide.  And, for our Spring vacation to Disney World, there are so many amazing blogs written by moms that are dedicated to helping parents navigate their way through the Disney attractions as smoothly as possible (see my post here).  It's kind of empowering to know I have the inside scoop from these blogging Moms.  

But, it doesn't matter if your traveling across the country or just having a spontaneous day trip with your family. Blogs can help make your trip a little bit easier.  Just Remember: When you're traveling with kids you have to expect the unexpected and when the going gets really tough - laugh it off!

Are you planning any fun getaways this Spring or Summer?

What's your favorite Destination for your family?

Check to see if your destination is listed here.

Photo Courtesy of: Robert Trueman Photography

Disney with Kids: Tips from some of the Best Disney Blogs!

I've been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida more times than I can count.  I think it was my parents' top pick for family vacations when I was growing up, and it's exciting to take my little boys back and see it through their eyes.  But, even though I've been to Disney World so many times, their parks, hotels and restaurants are always evolving as they're being upgraded and transformed.  So every time we go, there is always something new to do or see.

My husband and I have visited Walt Disney World in Florida with our kids before, but we want to go back this Spring. It's been a while, so I'll definitely be getting some tips from my friends who have recently travelled there with their kids.  And, I just stumbled upon some blogs from people who live, eat and breathe Disney.  I want to share some of their posts with you, because they have so many useful tips for parents who are travelling to Disney World.   

Is Walt Disney World a Good Place to Take My Toddler or Preschooler?

Let's begin with an article called "Top Ten Reasons to take Toddlers to Disney World"  by Lisa Battista on  You don't need to convince me that Disney World is a great place for the toddler and preschool crowd, but just in case anyone needs some reassurance, this article should do it!

Should I Take My Stroller, Should we Rent a Stroller or Should we just Let the Kids Walk?  

For my family, the sit-n-stand stroller is our favorite mode of kid transport when at a theme park.  It's a lot less bulky than the double stroller, and now that my kids are getting older (almost 3 and just turned 5), it's perfect for when they need a rest, but not a full nap.

  The Disney Diva, tells you EVERYTHING you NEED TO KNOW about getting around Disney World with your little one in her article titled "Ride or Walk? Strollers at Walt Disney World".  She covers it ALL including how much it costs to rent a stroller, where to rent one, what size child these strollers accommodate, and gives you her personal recommendations as well.

 Can I Surprise my Kids with a Trip to Disney World?

As I mentioned before, my family and I are probably going to be heading to Disney World in the Spring, and honestly, it never occurred to surprise my kids with the trip.  For me, part of the vacation fun includes the time leading up to the trip where we can all get excited about it.  And, this article by Kathleen Reilly called "How to Pull Off a Walt Disney World Surprise Trip" on has a so many great ideas if you want to pull off a surprise Disney trip.  She lists many great approaches, which include "The Gift", "The Hunt", "The Mystery", "The Shocker" and "The Switcharoo."  Every approach is fun for the kids and can stir up lots of Disney excitement in your household.

Is Character Dining a "Must Do" at Walt Disney World? 

Character Dining can be a fun thing to do with the kids at Disney World.  Last time we were there, we enjoyed a fun and delicious meal with some Disney Characters at the Crystal Palace.  But, I actually think my kids preferred the German buffet at Epcot even better!  First of all, my little guy was afraid of the costumed characters and the German buffet does not have costumed characters.  However, it does have live music from the German Band which my little guys LOVED. They danced and danced on the large wooden dance floor and truly had a blast!  has a blog post called  "Team Favorites: Character Meals"  which they share their insight and opinions about Disney character meals.  And even though this other post from the Disney Diva was written in 2008 (prices on meals might have increased), I think it's another great source of info for parents looking for mom's advice on character Dining at Disney. Her post is called "Magic Kingdom: Character Meals for Lunch and Dinner"

These articles on, "The Best and Worst Restaurants for Kids (Part 1)" and" The Best and Worst Restaurants for Kids (Part2)" are full of information about Disney eateries.  I also like the fact that these posts are written by several different mothers' perspectives so you get a few different points of view.

Have a picky eater?  This post, from may help: "Feeding a Truly Picky Eater at Walt Disney World" 

You also might want to check out these other helpful posts:

Free Dining.  How. Why from the Meltdown Free Disney blog

This page from the Disney website explains the Fast Pass & what attractions it can be used on.  If you've never heard of the Fast Pass, it's an easy way to cut your wait time for some of your favorite Disney attractions. And, if you're going to Disney with your little ones, you will definitely want to check it out.

Will you be Pregnant on your trip to Disney?  Growing up Disney has two blog posts on how to enjoy Disney while you're expecting. Their articles "Minnie Moms: Pregnant at WDW, Part 1" and "Minnie Moms: Pregnant at WDW, Part 2"  have many great tips to help other Expectant Moms who want to enjoy every second of their Disney Vacation.

Everyone knows that a visit to a theme park usually includes standing in some long lines.  This article on called "It's a Line Emergency" gives you 8 ideas for ways to entertain yourself and your kids while waiting in some of these lines.

If you're travelling to Disney and have a child with Asthma you won't want to miss this blog post on called "R.A.D. Doesn't Always mean "Radical".  Managing Asthma & Allergies at Disney."  This article gives you the scoop on First Aid Stations, special meal requests and how to handle an Asthmatic child who is "wilting" in Florida's summer time heat and humidy.

I can't wait to go to Walt Disney World in a couple of months!  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting the most out of a Disney trip when traveling with toddlers and preschoolers.  If you have a great tip or have a favorite Disney blog, leave a comment below.

Travel Tuesday! Holiday Events across America

ALASKA -Alaska on the Go would love for you to get outside with the kids! A few options for outdoor fun include: The Tree Lighting Ceremony in Anchorage, Zoo Lights at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

KANSAS -  Want to know about the best Christmas light displays & places to see Santa The Kansas City Area? KC Kids Fun has has an extensive list of everything going on from now until January!

CALIFORNIA - Just Spotted has the scoop on Orange County holiday fun.  Some of their cool events include: The Christmas Train through Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa, the Newport Beach Boat Parade, Disneyland and Scuba Santa

FLORIDA - Florida's temperatures may be warmer than other parts of the country, but the Daytona Area is turning into a Winter Wonderland for the holidays. Some of the events on the Volusia County Moms site include:  Santa Cruisin' Classic Car Show or the Daytona Beach Parade in the Park, or theThe DeLand Holiday Tour of Homes

ILLINOIS - Go West Young Mom has an amazing holiday activity guide for making the most of the holiday season in the Chicago Area! The Christmas Stroll, Walk with Santa & Holiday in the Grove are just a few of the listed events.

PENNSYLVANIA - Looking for Fun in the Philadelphia area? Fun Things to Do with your Kids in Delaware County Blog has some wonderful ideas, such as the Peddler's Village Christmas Festival, Ice Skating at the Blue Cross River Rink, and the Holiday Light Show and Dicken's Village at Macy's Center City.

WASHINGTON - If you're looking for the largest holiday drive-through display in the Northwest (Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park), Sleigh Reides or Photos with Santa, Sounds Fun Mom blog will guide you to holiday fun in the Puget Sound Area! Photographer: Salvatore Vuono