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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Family Road Trip Hacks

We're on a road trip, so I've been using these ideas for our own family.  They're designed to make the trip easier, the hotel time smoother, and everyone happier.  What great ideas would you add to the list?

I've been rolling the kids' clothes for years.  Each of them has an "assigned" colors, so I bought colored elastic and sewed them into loops for clothes scrunchies.  Each bundle has everything the kid needs to get dressed- tops, bottoms, undies, hair accessories, whatever.  I know that it's very popular to use plastic zip bags for kids' clothes, but I really like these bundles because they're not slippery and can be stacked like firewood.  I pass out one roll to each kid, and they can dress themselves easily.

One of the difficulties with travel is washing dishes.  Even though you try not to have too many to do, there always seems to be a few that need done.  I absolutely hate packing wet dishcloths that soon turn into stinky messes that make everything around them stink.  This is my simple solution- dollar store dishcloths, cut into fourths.  I used my sewing machine to hem the raw edges a bit, but you wouldn't have to sew them.  For $2, I got eight mini dishcloths perfect for a quick wash up.  At twelve cents each, I don't mind tossing them after each use, eliminating the need for packing up wet cloths.  To make these dishcloths even more convenient, I put dish soap on them and allowed it to dry.  All set for a quick washing of a mug, knife, plastic bag, table, or whatever.

"Are we there yet?" is a classic road trip question.  Some of the motivation of that statement is from boredom and some is from not have any idea where they are or how long it will take them to get to their destination.  This map is a great solution to the "are we there yet" question.  Before our trip, I print off a map from Mapquest and add dots at certain locations to act as milestones.  Major cities, the places where we'll stop for the night, special attractions, or events like crossing a river are all good things to add to the map.  Then, I laminate it and tape it to the visor of the passenger's side.  As we pass a dot on the map, we add a sticker or cross it out with a marker.  We can use the picture to talk about where we've been, where we're going, when we'll stop the car, etc.  It gives my kids a lot of peace to know where they are in the world.

I got an amazing deal on this no-pill fleece fabric in all the kids' colors.  After hemming the fabric on all sides, I added a piece of wide elastic in a loop to one edge.  The blanket can be rolled up and secured with the elastic, making it easy to carry and store.  The kids are very excited about their new blankets, and I'm happy about how easy it was to create.  I also made them matching pillows.

I think I saw this idea on Pinterest, but I'm not sure who originally thought of it.  The kids are eating microwave mac and cheese in the hotel while sitting at the ironing board.  I cut a rectangular tablecloth in half so it would fit on the narrow counter, and used it to cover the board.  Not only did the tablecloth make the ironing board seem more like a table, but it also protected the fabric surface from food stains and grease.  The tablecloth could also be used on the floor to create an indoor picnic or at a rest stop for a real picnic.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rest Stop Fun for Kids

We're on the road right now, so I don't have a lot of time for a long post.  One of the hardest parts of a long road trip is that kids are stuck in one position for hours and don't get enough time to run around.  I have three kids under eight, so I know those kids need to get their wiggles out, but it's so hard to give them time when you're trying to get to your destination quickly.  My challenge for myself and for my readers is to let your kids spend time outside of the car.  Don't just make a potty stop, make a PLAY STOP.

I've collected my family's favorite outdoor games, which would be easy to pack in the car and use on a play stop, either at a park or at a highway restroom.  All of these toys encourage kids to move their bodies around and to play with each other or other adults.  You might even make some new friends by sharing your toys on the road trip.  If you're feeling generous, you could leave the toys on a picnic table with a note that tells other kids to have their own play stop.

bubbles- toddlers love to chase and pop them and older kids like blowing them

kites- run to get the kite in the air and run to maintain it

water balloons- a quick way to cool off on a hot day

jump ropes- teach your kids the old playground rhymes and tricks 

playground balls- play kick ball or just roll it back and forth

nerf football- throw it around and roll around in the grass

water guns- another good way too cool off; could play tag with it

parachute- gather some kids and launch stuffed animals in the air

zip ball- grab onto the handles and zip the ball back and forth between you

velcro throw and catch game- the velcro makes such a satisfying sound when you pull it off the mitt

juggling clubs- learn a new skill and gather an audience

dancing ribbon- perfect for the free-thinker

frisbee- throw and chase to get all the wiggles out

sand trucks- my boys love these trucks and they're great for the car as well

soccer ball- start a game with just your family and see who else you can add

Do you have any more to add to the list?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Easy Ways to Customize Your Stuff for a Themed Road Trip

We're still getting ready for our "Everything is Awesome" Lego road trip.  We've been planning for months, but we're finally getting close to leaving.  As I put together the final touches of the trip, I wanted to share with you all some easy, fun ways to customize your accessories for a themed trip.  Of course, I'll be showing you a few Lego things, but these ideas will work for any theme.

After spending way too much time researching water bottles, testing out a few, and debating all the options (and I'll do a blog post in the future), I finally decided to use plain Nalgene mini bottles.  I usually fill the bottles with a lot of ice cubes and a bit of water for our trip to help with the potty stops, and I like that this water bottle has a large lid for filling.  The simple lid design should be easy to clean and unbreakable.

I also really like that these water bottles are a plain color, because it makes them perfect for vinyl stickers!  I bought mine from Etsy, since I don't have my own cutter.  These bottles are 12 oz and the stickers are 5" tall.  They were very easy to put on, and I love the way they look.  I even added one to my husband's Contigo Autoseal, leak-proof, insulated coffee mug.  It's awesome!

I saw an idea on Pinterest to use these yellow cornstarch containers for storage.  I originally was planning on using this bin for a car pulley system for moving snacks from the front of the car to the back, but I changed by mind.  When I put the vinyl stickers on this bin, I decided I needed more of them and would use them for snack storage (or any sort of storage) on the road trip.  As you can see, it's also a nice little box for Lego bricks.

Most of the time when we go on a road trip, we pack way too much food!  I pack like I'm heading for the Kalahari and will die if we break down without food and water.  Although we have done that sort of trip in the past, we're not doing anything like this this time.  I bought this small cooler for a few cold drinks and ice.  Since I already had a bunch of vinyl stickers, I decided to add one to the cooler too.  It stuck pretty well, but feels like it'll peel off without much encouragement.  Customization is great, but being able to change out the sticker for the next trip is even better!

When we decided to do a Lego road trip, I was very excited to find Lego man candy molds.  I don't know if this candy "recipe" could be any simpler.  We put one Jolly Rancher in each man and stuck the whole thing in the oven (300 degree F) for about five minutes.  After they melted completely, we took them out of the oven and allowed them to cool before taking them out of the mold.  I wish the picture was better, because they're absolutely adorable!

For more ideas about themed road trips, click the link.

Click the picture below to see more Lego Road Trip Ideas.

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

How to Plan a Road Trip with More Teeth (Jurassic World)

I'm guest blogging today at Budget 101, writing all about how to plan a road trip with more teeth!  From toys, to food, to costumes, I've got you covered.  Read all about it HERE

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

DIY Blind Bags for Surprise Toys

My kids love blind bags!  They love the suspense of getting a package and not having any idea what is in it.  They even enjoy watching other people open them on Youtube!

Sadly, blind bags are sort of expensive, especially when you're buying everything in multiples for more than one kid.  I try to look for deals at the Dollar store or on clearance isles of box stores.  I don't have either option in my town, which means that I still have quite a few "holes" in my summer road trip entertainment that need filling.

I ran into the idea on Pinterest to wrap the road trip surprises in wrapping paper, but I don't actually own any paper.  I also don't like wrapping regular gifts (we use reusable fabric bags), so wrapping items even for a really fun reason sounds like torture.  As I was contemplating my problem, I remembered some random pin that I saw a few years ago, which used tin toil to wrap the surprise toys.

One of our bonus outings during our road trip will be to a dinosaur museum, so I dug through our sensory bin stuff to find a few toys that I had bought we hadn't used yet.  These dinosaur fossils came as a party favor bulk buy, so I had a lot of skeletons choices.

I covered six of them (two for each kid) in heavy duty tin foil, which was a really (really) easy way to wrap them.  The foil made it very easy to disguise what was in the packages and was thick enough to keep the dinosaur tails from poking through.  Hopefully, the children will appreciate the effort.

I have a bunch of different blind bags for our journey- Thomas the Train Minis, Matchbox cars, Hatchimals, Lego keychains, sticky hands, and a few other things.  Any "party favor" pack of toys would work well.  I aimed for less than $1 USD per toy.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Keeping the Car Clean on Road Trips

We're going on a very long road trip in the near future.  As part of my preparations, I wanted to make a checklist for the kids to follow every time we stop.  By posting it where everyone can see it, the kids will know what's expected of them and the parents can help hold them accountable.  When all the items on the list are done, it's time for lunch, a snack, or a surprise toy!

Keeping the car clean on road trips is important.  Put the kids to work with this free printable checklist, which has pictures for pre-readers.  #partythroughtheusa

PUT ON SHOES- Anyone else's kids ditch the shoes as soon as they get in the car?  We have piles of shoes in our car because the shoes go off and never get put back on.  Bare feet are fine in the yard, but not so great in a public bathroom (ewww).  Everyone needs to get their shoes back on first thing.

GO TO THE BATHROOM- Since we're probably stopping the car for a bathroom break, we're going to get that done first thing.  I'm hoping that having it on the list will persuade my reluctant kids that they really do need to go to the bathroom now and not wait.

GIVE MOM YOUR WATER BOTTLE- We're traveling in the hottest part of the summer, so I want to make sure everyone stays hydrated.  I usually just put ice in the cups, which they can suck on or allow to melt for water.  Filling with ice instead of water helps to delay the next bathroom stop.

PICK UP YOUR TOYS- While Mom is filling water bottles and digging around in the car for food or surprises, everyone else should be cleaning up their areas.  Toys can go back in their backpacks and garbage needs to be put in the trash bag.

PUT ON YOUR SEAT BELT- After everything else is done, everyone needs to get buckled up again so we can hit the road!

I'm confident that having a list with easy to understand pictures will help the kids know exactly what to do when we get to a stop.  Having mandatory cleaning times every few hours should keep the car a lot cleaner too.  Be sure to grab the free printable for your own road trip, and check out the items below for more ways to keep your car clean.

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Keeping the car clean on road trips is important.  Put the kids to work with this free printable checklist, which has pictures for pre-readers.  #partythroughtheusa

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Crafts for Keeping Adults Happy on the Road

Crafts for Keeping Adults Happy on the Road from Party Through the USA.  These crafts can be done and home and used on your next road trip.  Toys and activities aren't just for kids.

Keeping grown-ups happy and entertained in the car is just as important as providing lots for kids to do.  Most of my Travel Time Tuesday posts focus on DIYs for children, but today I'm going to focus on crafts for grown-ups.  Here are 9 things to create to make the adults in your car more comfortable.

I have admired this caddy for years.  I find it so inspiring every time I run across the picture.  I love how it clips into the window, keeping it close but off your lap.  You also don't have to move it every time you get in and out of the car, either.  If you have an abundance of cup holders, you could make this caddy without the attached window cup holder.

This pattern is a representation of all the DIY travel pillow tutorials on the web.  If sewing isn't your favorite thing, you can also find free crochet or knitting patterns.  If the horseshoe version doesn't work for you, there are also long rectangular ones and other shapes.

I don't know about other moms, but I'm the cable keeper in our family, and especially on the road trip.  This easy to sew cozy will keep everyone's chargers and cords in one place and organized.

If mama isn't happy until she has her morning coffee, this glitter mug will at extra sweetness and sparkle to her day.  Read all about it at Living Sweet Moments.

I love using Altoid tins for every sort of small storage.  An empty one is perfect for holding a pair of earbud headphones or a USB charge cord.  Click on the post to get the fun printable cover.

It's not a secret that cars can get very smelly.  Take advantage of the hot, summer car by using it to melt wax air freshener.  To change out the scents, place the mason jar in the freezer and the wax will pop out.  Match your road trip to a particular scent, and you'll always think of those people and places when you smell it.

Adults need good road trip snacks and these mason jar lunchables are perfect for a more sophisticated taste.  Pack hummus and veggies, teddy grahams and frosting, or a cheese and fruit combo.  The original website has lots of ideas for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

I love that this Kindle cover has a cord pocket!  I really like my Kindle Fire, but don't like that there is no place for keeping a charge cord in my current case.  I might have to make this for myself.  It looks great for anytime.

If commercial air fresheners give you a headache, you might appreciate this essential oil hack.  Bring your favorite scents with you and banish the stinky car.  Be sure to do some research before your trip about which oils are safe for pets and children, especially for long term exposure.

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Crafts for Keeping Adults Happy on the Road from Party Through the USA.  These crafts can be done and home and used on your next road trip.  Toys and activities aren't just for kids.

More Games for the Road