Round Top, Texas – What You Need To Know

Here’s everything you need to know about Round Top, Texas! Known for its twice-yearly antiques fair, this small Texas town is full of charm. Travel along with me as I share what we did on our most recent trip to Round Top.   Round Top Texas – Everything You Need To Know I’ve lived in […]

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The Ultimate Southwest Road Trip

Pictures this: You head out on a road trip around the incomparable American Southwest. In just one week you can see some of the most gorgeous sights the U.S. has to offer. Here are 12 must-see places on your southwest road trip route from TravelPirates. You can easily start this trip from Los Angeles or Las Vegas, and you can also reverse the order of stops.

 

Stop 1: Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Your first stop is Joshua Tree National Park, famous for its eponymous trees and incredible stargazing. The park is about the size of the entire state of Rhode Island.


Stop 2: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), AZ
The Grand Canyon is the second-most visited national park in America, and is probably on the most bucket lists. Spend time at the very accessible South Rim, and consider camping overnight.

Stop 3: Antelope Canyon, AZ
There are actually two sections to Antelope Canyon: upper and lower. Famous for its surreal rock striations and sunbeams, this photographer’s dream can only be accessed on a guided tour. The canyon is also just a 15-minute drive from Horseshoe Bend.

Stop 4: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, UT
This area is loaded with unique rock formations, like arches, hoodoos, and a petrified forest. It also has historical significance, as both dinosaur bones and petroglyphs have been discovered there.

Stop 5: Monument Valley, AZ/UT
If you’ve ever watched an American Western, then you’ve seen Monument Valley on film. Now, it’s time to see these incredible sandstone buttes, some as tall as 1,000 feet, in real life.

Stop 6: Mesa Verde National Park, CO
While Mesa Verde is home to some impressive landscapes, it is even more famous for the hundreds of cliff dwellings that dot the park, like the 900 year-old Cliff Palace.

Stop 7: Arches National Park, UT
The sandstone arches of this national park are some of the most iconic natural features in America. While visiting, tread carefully: the park is trying to preserve the 2,000 arches that dot the landscape.

Stop 8: Canyonlands National Park, UT
Right next door to Arches is the unique and colorful park that is Canyonlands. Filled with great opportunities for hiking, rafting, and photography, it shouldn’t be missed.

Stop 9: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
Bryce Canyon is famous for its fire-colored hoodoos, or rock formations similar to pillars. Consider taking a horseback ride for a unique way to see the parks wonders.

Stop 10: Zion National Park, UT
Home to the stunning 15-mile long Zion Canyon, this park is a great place to stop for a hike. The park also has a shuttle bus system to transport visitors to various popular spots.

Stop 11: Las Vegas, NV
Why not spend a night of your trip in Las Vegas? Whether you’re traveling solo, with a group of friends, or on a family vacation, this colorful city caters to everyone.

Stop 12: Death Valley National Park, CA
The name “Death Valley” may have some negative connotations, but it’s a fascinating place to visit. It contains Badwater Basin the lowest point in North America, and is officially a dark sky park, meaning the stargazing is unbeatable.

Sample Itinerary

  • Day 1: Los Angeles to Joshua Tree (2 hours); drive to Grand Canyon, South Rim (6 hours)
  • Day 2: Morning at Grand Canyon; drive from Grand Canyon to Antelope Canyon (2.5 hours)
  • Day 3: Morning at Antelope Canyon; optional excursion to Grand Staircase-Escalante; drive to Monument Valley (2.5 hours); drive to Mesa Verde (3 hours)
  • Day 4: Morning at Mesa Verde; drive to Arches National Park (3 hours)
  • Day 5: Morning exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks; drive to Bryce Canyon (4.25 hours)
  • Day 6: Morning at Bryce Canyon; drive to Zion National Park (1.75 hours); drive to Las Vegas (2 hours)
  • Day 7: Depart Vegas for Death Valley National Park (2 hours); return to Los Angeles (4.5 hours)

Total Driving Time: 35 hours | Total Distance: 2,000 miles

TravelPirates is a free-to-use travel search website and app with the largest travel Facebook community in the world (9.4 million likes!), powered by a team of expert deal hunters who find the best travel deals and tricks for seeing the world on a budget.

 

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Trending on Pinterest: 12 Tips for Traveling with Kids

We’ve traveled quite a bit this summer and it looks like we’ll be traveling plenty this fall and winter with the holidays!  It seems there’s always another road trip to look forward to with our children and we’ve found a few things that have worked amazingly well to keep everyone happy when we go.  Pinterest is an amazing resource for fun travel ideas with kids and certainly helped me add to this list.  Here are 12 tips for traveling with kids, in no particular order:

1. Cover Your Seats

Find an old sheet and cover your seats!  It saves them in the long run AND in the short run.  It is so much easier to pick up a sheet, shake it off and move on after a spill than it is to fully vacuum your seats.  Sheets can keep sweaty legs from sticking to leather, goldfish from diving all the way into the cushions and other more unpleasant spills contained.  Just be sure to cut our holes for seatbelts!  Seat covers like these are amazing too at helping protect your seats from those long car rides.

2. Buy Headphones

For everyone.  You will thank me.  Instead of listening to Moana for the millionth time (without even getting to watch it!) get your kids headphones.  It means you can talk privately for hours or listen to your own music and audiobooks in the car!  Since our car doesn’t have it’s own entertainment system we actually have our children watch movies on the tablet and use a splitter for the headphones, meaning we can talk uninterrupted.  It’s the best.  And be sure to get them over the ear headphones-earbuds tend to be less user friendly and more dangerous for little ears. Try these for something fun and effective.

Traveling with Kids

3. Netflix offers downloads now!

Going along with using tablets, Netflix has begun offering downloadable content for those long drives to people who’s car’s do not have their own wifi.  This also means using less or no data while you drive-a huge perk!  You can find more information at netflix.com.

4. Audiobooks

I love audiobooks.  I never thought I would but now that I have an entire library on my phone I just love being able to plug in anywhere and enjoy a book!  Since our children have their own entertainment and headphones to go along with it, my husband and I listen to audiobooks when we drive to fill the lulls in conversation (we’ve been married 12 years, we literally know everything about each other at this point and can catch up in 2 hours leaving endless hours of driving to fill).  If you need a book suggestion, check out Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.  You’ll thank me.

 

SEE MORE: 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

 

5. XM Radio

I had no idea what I was missing out on by not taking advantage of XM radio.  If you know you’ll be travelling in the car quite a bit this summer, XM radio is definitely something to consider.  In all of our adventures all over these united states we never once lost service and it is so nice to always have music available.  We often find ourselves picking a genre for every city we’re in and loving listening to old music from high school!  There’s even stations with stand-up comedy and sports if you’re sick of music.

Traveling with Kids

6. Emesis Bags

I stashed these in my dashboard during my pregnancy and now I’m so grateful to have a few extra still in there!  Emesis bags are made to efficiently contain vomit and are great insurance for long trips and possible car-sickness.  In a flash you can grab one and hand it to a car-sick kid and after twist it up (containing all contents and smells) and throw it away at your next stop.  Life saver.

7. Refillable Tumblers

One of my biggest pet peeves about traveling is never having enough water.  I feel like we’re constantly buying water bottles from convenience stores that cost way too much, or taking up half of our trunk with a cooler full of water bottles and still burning through them leaving my car full of empty water bottles.  Buying everyone their own re-usable tumbler has been the solution!  You can fill them to the top with ice and water at most gas stations for free and if your water gets warm or you run out, just stop and fill it up again!  This has saved us so much money and the planet too.

 

Traveling with Kids tips

8. Window Markers

Or washable dry erase markers.  If you’re looking for something outside of electronics, drawing on the windows is a great way to pass the time.  You can outline your surroundings or keep track of games!

 

SEE MORE:  A Day With Kids in Snow Canyon State Park

 

9. Print a few Road Trip Games

I don’t like having a lot of clutter in the car, but these two games are perfect and could be laminated and played over and over again as you travel!

roadtrips with children

Here you can find this adorable: RoadTrip Scavenger Hunt Printable.

roadtrips with children

And how darling is this license plate game from I Heart Organizing?

10. Eat at Chick’Fil’A

Or other places with a playplace!  A few of the gas stations on this side of the country have started installing playgrounds and it is the best!  Getting our kids out to play for a minute is always a good idea, and even if it adds an hour to our trip I never regret stopping for a minute to stretch our legs.

11. Consider your Accommodations

Find hotels with breakfast, pools, and shuttles to where you’re going.  We recently went to Lake Las Vegas with our children and I was delighted at how family friendly it was!  I had been looking at the usual places we stay there and realized just how much they don’t love children at casinos.  When we go to Disneyland I’m always so grateful for a shuttle to the park instead of worrying about/paying for parking.  And be sure to see if you can stay at a hotel slightly outside of town to avoid traffic and parking fees!

12. Bring Wipes

My last and final and probably most important tip is to bring wipes.  We’ve saved ourselves so much heartache by always packing wipes when we travel.  Even when it’s just adults or kids out of diapers they never fail to come in handy.  Always carry a pack of wipes.

What are your Travel Essentials with Kids??

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Theaters + a Giveaway

This is a sponsored post, the words and opinions are all mine. 

Family road trips are a childhood rite of passage most kids miss out on today. I grew up in New Mexico, and every summer my family would pile in our van for a road trip. I think it was a 12-16 hour trek each way to Utah and Idaho to visit family. Of course, by the time I tell my kids about these trips, I’m sure they’ll be uphill both ways. I probably will have had to walk or push the van for a good portion of it too. Even though the trips were a pain at the time, they made for great memories.

Here we are in Idaho hanging with my aunt and some cousins. I’m the camera shy baby in the red overalls. I guess not much has changed over the years.

Family Vacation

My most unforgettable trip happened when my brothers and sisters made me laugh so hard I wet my pants. Now I’m not going to say how old I was at the time, but let’s just say I was old enough to not be wetting my pants in the car. We were in the middle of nowhere, and my parents refused to stop and delay our schedule. Instead, my mom made me alternate between sitting on a plastic bag and hanging my tail end out the window to speed up the drying process. I can laugh about it now, but back then I wasn’t amused.

I immediately thought of that story when I saw the trailer for the new movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. It will be in theaters May 19, and it embodies all that can go wrong (and right) when a family drives across the country together.

The movie is based on the best-selling book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. In the film, the Heffley family sets out to visit their Meemaw for her 90th birthday. When Greg secretly plans a detour to a video game convention, the trip encounters some, uh, issues. If you ask me, that’s what makes for the best family vacations.

Even if you’ve never taken a road trip of your own, you can now go to WimpYourself.com to create your own family photo like this one:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID GIVEAWAY

We would love to send you and your family on a road trip of your own. Well, a road trip to the movie theater in your town, that is. We’ve teamed up with 20th Century Fox to give one lucky winner

  • A $100 Visa to see the movie in theaters with your family
  • A copy of the hardcover book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

To enter*, just leave a comment below with a favorite family road trip memory or destination. We will pick one prize pack winner.

Check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul in theaters everywhere May 19.

 

Open to US mailing addresses only. Prizing and samples courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip

The family road trip. For many it’s a means to an end, a necessary evil you must endure for the reward of a great family vacation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With over a decade of road trip experience, I’ve learned a few things—from keeping a change of clothes within easy access when traveling with an infant to how to settle the “she’s looking out my window!” bickering that comes from too many hours of confinement.

The most important thing I’ve learned, though, is that travel activities and snacks are only helpful if they are easy to reach. Invest in seat-back organizers or handy ‘go bags’ so the kids can help themselves to boredom busters and mom-approved munchies.

To compile the very best family road trip tips, I asked some of the most respected family travel bloggers to share their sanity saving tips for a successful road trip with kids.

Road tripping with the kids? These valuable tips can help you have a stress-free trip.

Road tripping with the kids? These valuable tips can help you have a stress-free trip. (Flickr: Jan Fidler)

Younger Kid Tips

Keryn Means of Walking on Travels took her family on a cross-country road trip when they moved from Washington State to Washington DC. She warns against relying on technology for most of your journey, recommending use of a timer so the kids know how much time they have on their devices. Bring activities like dot-to-dot, puzzle books, comic books, and magnet games to play in the car when the tech is put away. Everyone will be a lot more willing to get out of the car to explore if you minimize their screen time.

Lara Dorman of 2 Moms Travel adds, “Try to stop often no matter how quickly you want to reach your destination. Whether the stop is to go potty or collect nature souvenirs, run around with the kids before getting back in the car. For instance, play tag for 10 minutes to get some energy out. Plus, it just feels good to get some exercise.”

If your trip from point A to point B is multi-day, plan something fun at your overnight stops, advises Ann Belle of Kids Travel Books. Making the drive part of your vacation can really help kids look forward to each evening, making the drive an adventure.

Older Kid Tips

Claudia Laroye, The Travelling Mom, says her number 1 tip for enjoyable road trips with older kids is to include your kids in the planning process. Get online or pick up an old-school paper map. Planning as a family creates excitement about the trip and the destinations you’ve chosen will be those that kids/teens actually want to see themselves.

“A good audiobook can save your road trip.” says Tara Schatz of Backroad Ramblers, “the key is finding a good story with an awesome narrator.” That can be easier said than done, so Tara offers a long list of audiobooks, organized by ages, on her website.

Important Parent Tip

“Make time for yourself,” urges Karon Warren of This Girl Travels, and not just the thirty minutes between putting the kids to bed and when you turn in. Rise early to exercise or relax in the hotel hot tub in the evening to gain some quality quiet time and relieve stress.

The Best Packing Tip

It can be a drag, literally, to schlep in everyone’s suitcase for a single night in a hotel. Kim Tate of Stuffed Suitcase recommends using one overnight bag for everyone and store it at the back of cargo area or trunk for easy access. This saves you from hauling multiple suitcases into the hotel and minimizes the possibility of leaving something behind.

Car Tips

As you prepare for a road trip it’s easy to overlook the most important factor: your car. Corrinne McDermott, founder of Have Baby Will Travel, recommends having your car serviced in the weeks leading up to your trip, with fluid levels checked and tires balanced. The day before you leave double-check the tire pressure and make sure your membership with a roadside assistance provider is up to date.

Even when your car is road trip ready you can still experience travel delays. “Prepare for the unexpected,” advises Beth Henry of Cloud Surfing Kids. If you’re traveling with young kids Beth recommends having a travel potty in an easily accessible spot, as well as plenty of drinks. And she never leaves home without a motion sickness remedy and emergency equipment (like extra water, flashlights, road flares, a car jack and spare tire) for peace of mind when you’re on the road.

 

Jody Halsted of JodyHalsted.com contributed this to MiniTime.

 

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Camping Food Hacks

We are “camping people.”

We along with our extended family have garages and sheds packed with camping gear — sleeping bags, camp stoves, tents, packable chairs, lanterns…you get the drift. We take things like bug repellant and marshmallow roasters very seriously.

Adding kiddos to this camping and road-tripping equation is wonderful, hilarious, and overwhelming.

At least once a summer my husband and I remark to each other about how our first camping trip together included sleeping bags, a box of donuts, a pack of hotdogs, a bag of buns, some soda and firewood.

NOW? Is there a patron saint of family travel packing, because I would pray to them regularly for guidance.

Every time we pack up for a camping trip, we learn something new. Now that our oldest is nine, we feel pretty solid about some of our camping hacks —particularly when it comes to camping food hacks.

Long gone are the days of walking out of the grocery store with one or two bags of food. (Thank the heavens for Costco!) We serve up a sturdy three-meals-a-day while we’re camping.

Here’s how we transport our eggs…because nothing will ruining your magical camp breakfast plans like opening your cooler or trailer fridge to discover your eggs are broken.

Egg Camping Hack

Get yourself a bulk container of applesauce, preferably a week or two in advance so you have time to enjoy the applesauce and wash the container.

Then crack your eggs into the container. This container holds 12-18 eggs depending on the size of the eggs you buy.

 

If you’re careful about how you move this bottle around, you can usually pour out individual eggs for recipes or sunny-side-up eggs. We like scrambled eggs, so I just give that bottle a ferocious shake when I’m ready to roll. (The picture above represents, post-shake eggs.)

That applesauce container became my new travel snacks MVP last summer…

Road Trip Snack Hack

I buy most of our favorite snacks in bulk. But once you’ve got a few kiddos that are well out of toddlerhood, those little snack containers that you’re accustomed to filling full of goldfish and cheerios are not going to get the job done.

6 ounces of cheerios for a roadtrip with a 9 and 6 year old? LOLOLOLOLOL.

So then you’re plastic baggy-ing all this stuff and then, what? Putting it in a bag in the car or in under the seat on an airplane? Probably.

Want to know the number of times my children have stepped on the bag of snacks during a roadtrip: ALL OF THE TIMES.

So instead of bags, I use that same, practically indestructible, bulk applesauce container.

Bonus that it has a narrow spot on the bottle for your hand, and a mouth opening that’s wide enough to accommodate most snacks and small enough to minimize spillage. I said minimize. It’s not a perfect world. 

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