7 Reasons to Travel Together (And How It Makes You Stronger)

Did you know that when you travel together, it actually strengthens your bond as a couple? Here's how:

Travel is amazing no matter how you slice it, but there is something extra special about sharing a trip with the one you love. This has definitely held true for us, in fact choosing to travel together has been one of the most enriching things we’ve ever done for our relationship.

Here are 7 ways that travel together will strengthen your bond as a couple:

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1.You’ll see the world through their eyes.

Is there anything better than experiencing new places or stunning scenery hand in hand with the one you love?

2. You’ll find out things about each other that you never knew.

Whether it’s a scenic reminder of an unshared memory, or a plate of food that includes an ingredient you didn’t realize he hated, travel together brings up best stuff!

3.You’ll build unique memories as a couple that will strengthen your bond.

It’s science. New experiences, new food, shared experiences – just look at how many travel-related things made it on this list!

4. You’ll find space to regroup away from everyday distractions.

Sometimes this is just what you need to get perspective and create a plan of action together.

5. You’ll have some of the best talks ever.

It seems like new scenery always sparks new conversations. Remember when you were dating and could talk about nothing for hours? Travel together can bring you right back to that sweet spot.

6. You’ll have the chance to overcome challenges together.

It’s these experiences – getting lost, seasick, or even just disrupted plans for the day – (and overcoming them) that strengthen your relationship most of all.

7. You’ll experience the adventure factor.

Being in new places doing new things with the one you love breathes new life into your relationship. This article from Lifehack explains it so well.

Have you traveled as a couple? What was the most challenging or rewarding side to that experience? Please share in the comments below! For more great travel tips and hacks from Always an Adventure click here.

Did you know that when you travel together, it actually strengthens your bond as a couple? Here's how:

Toy Timeouts: A Parenting Hack that Really Works

Toy timeouts are one of my FAVORITE parenting tricks.

Have you ever heard of a toy timeout? Toy timeouts are one of my FAVORITE parenting tricks, and I’m SO EXCITED to share with you today.

So, what are toy timeouts? I’m so glad you asked.

A toy time out in our house is just what it sounds like – a toy or set of toys gets put in a special place where kids can’t reach them, for a specific amount of time. In our house, toys go to the top shelf of my bedroom closet.

We use toy timeouts instead of kid timeouts for many situations. When a toy is being used inappropriately it’s often more effective to take the toy away and put it in time out for a while rather than putting the child in time out.

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make.  Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

There are several reasons for toy timeouts, but here are some of the most common:

  • If it’s a toy that they are fighting over and aren’t willing to share nicely or take turns.
  • If the toy is being used inappropriately – for example using markers on the walls, or craft scissors to cut hair.
  • When special toys aren’t being taken care of – like shoving a keepsake doll in the toy box rather than putting her away nicely on the shelf where she belongs.

How long do toys stay in time out?

This totally depends on the situation. If it’s in time out because of being fought over, it might be there for an hour or until the next day.

When toys are used or cared for inappropriately, they usually get a longer stint on the time out shelf. For example, in our house the rule is that the kid scissors in their art bin are ONLY for cutting paper. So when I found a fist size hole hacked into a pillow case – ALL of the art bin scissors went into time out for a week.

Related: 100+ Things To Do Instead of Screen Time

Why give the toy a time out rather than the kid?

Because it helps put the focus on the right thing!

You see, as much as I believe there is a time and place for kid timeouts, sometimes they just don’t help as much as we’d like them to.

Like when kids are fighting over a toy. It’s a natural response for a child to want the toy to themselves – to not share. And for kids who are still learning and not emotionally mature yet, getting a timeout for fighting over a toy feels so unjust. It’s like they are being punished for a normal human response.

But for some reason, when the TOY goes into timeout, it diffuses the whole conflict. (Well, usually). And after the emotions cool, it is way easier to talk about how to play kindly, take turns, etc. There’s much less blame going around too – after all, it really was the toy that got in trouble, not the kid.

That’s why it works so well for using toys inappropriately too. In my experience, this is mostly caused by impulsiveness, or acting out due to another issue. In those situations, a toy timeout is simply a natural consequence for their choice, there’s no shame or blame involved.

Are toy time outs your only parenting tool?

Of course not! But they can be a fantastic and effective addition to your parenting toolbox. They have certainly worked for us.

Want more great practical parenting tips? Click here. Was this article helpful? Please spread the love by sharing the link with your friends.

 

What is a toy timeout? I'm so glad you asked. Toy timeouts are one of my FAVORITE parenting tricks.

3 Easy Ways to Simplify School Mornings (And Drink Your Coffee While It’s Still Hot!)

Simplify school mornings with these three simple tweaks!

School mornings with elementary kids can be absolutely painful, but they don’t have to be! Did you know that there are a few (really!) simple things that you can do to make getting out the door easier?

Here are three easy ways to simplify school mornings:

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(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. . Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

1. Simplify Clothing

I don’t know about you but my kids can make picking out clothes for school a 45-minute long event. But who has time for that? One of the best things that we have done to simplify school mornings is to choose outfits for the whole week on laundry day. We have these hanging closet organizers from IKEA – they’re perfect because they have 5 large cubbies, one for each school day.  (Here is a similar hanging organizer on Amazon). Once a week (on laundry day) we assign outfits for each school day for the week and put one set in each compartment. The kids know that they have to choose an outfit from the cubby there’s no changing things after their outfits have been set up. This has made our mornings SO much easier.

If you don’t want to organize a full week at a time, try laying out clothing the night before. Make sure to include everything down to socks shoes and underwear.

2. Simplify Food.

Breakfast foods has been another time suck in our busy mornings. But it’s also one of the easiest things to simplify. Kids don’t need to have 17 different options for breakfast, they can make do with three or four nutritious options to choose from for the week. Even one or two if you’re really crunched for time.

When we had to get out the door extremely quickly, I would make up sandwiches ahead of time that they could eat the morning of. Other quick options are cereal and easy to eat fruit like banana or apples. Save the hot breakfast choices for the weekend, or use a kitchen tool like the Instant Pot or a microwave to quickly  whip up hot food on school days.

School lunches are another easy thing to simplify.

With just an hour of prep on the weekends you can make packing school lunches super duper easy. Pre make sandwiches and stick them in the freezer, and pull them out the morning of. Divide easy to eat fruits into snack size bags or containers, and make snack packs of pretzels or veggie sticks. You can even use containers like these to make lunchable style lunches a few days in advance so all they need to do is grab and go. Here are a few ideas from around the web for how to simplify packing lunches:

Related: How to Make a Quick and Healthy Meal Plan on the Fly

3. Make a List (or Four)

Lists are a busy moms BFF. Don’t make your mornings harder by trying to remember the same things over and over! Make a list of ANYTHING that you need to remember on a regular basis. There’s something so powerful about having your day to day steps written out. Decision fatigue is a real thing and anything you can do to combat that will only help to simplify school mornings and make your day easier.

Lists work great for kids too! You can use a simple pictorial list (like these) for non-readers to remind them of their morning routine. For older kids, lists are a fantastic non-nagging way to help them remember to do chores, check homework, and remember to pack what they need for school mornings. I loved the tips on this video for using checklists for teens (and even myself!)

School mornings don’t have to be chaotic and stressful! With a few tweaks to your day, you can easily simplify school mornings, and maybe even buy yourself enough time to drink your coffee while it’s still hot.

For more great tips on how to simplify your life so you have more time for the important things, click here. Were you encouraged or inspired by this post? Spread the love by sharing the link with your friends!

School mornings don't have to be chaotic and stressful! With a few tweaks to your day, you can easily simplify school mornings, and maybe even buy yourself enough time to drink your coffee while it's still hot. 

10 Road Trip Essentials That Could Save You Hundreds

Don't leave home without these road trip essentials! This tried and true list could actually save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip.

It’s that time of year again! You’re getting ready to load up your car and hit the open road. Road trips are a great way to see the country, and for many can be a frugal way to travel. They can also be quite expensive, if you’re not careful! Use this list to make sure you don’t forget any of these road trip essentials – they could literally save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip.

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. We only recommend products and services we actually use and love. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

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Don’t forget these money saving road trip essentials:

Roadside Assistance Membership Info

A roadside assistance policy is absolutely one of the best ways to save money and have peace of mind on the road. Breakdowns and accidents happen – it’s part of life! The membership fee for roadside assistance is tiny compared to the cost of paying out of pocket for someone to tow your vehicle should it break down just once on the road. This one tip alone could save you hundreds of dollars!

Also, many insurance companies offer roadside assistance as part of their policies (or as an inexpensive add-on). Take the time to find out your benefits and have the info handy should you need it on the road. You won’t regret it! With that, don’t forget to make sure you have:

Current Proof of Insurance + Registration

Heaven forbid you get in a fender-bender or get pulled over, but you’ll want to make sure all your necessary documents are on hand and current – just in case. This might save a bit if you’re ticketed for some reason, but it’s worth it’s weight in gold for peace of mind. It’s nice to have your ducks in a row. Also, don’t forget to pack a:

Tire Gauge

Before your trip, find out the ideal pressure for your vehicle’s tires, and then make a point to check your tires at the start of each day. This $4 tool could save you the price of a new tire, and at the very least make sure you’re getting the best fuel mileage possible. And, speaking of fuel mileage – you’ll want to download a good:

Fuel Price Finder App

On our last trip we used Gas Guru, and it saved us up to 40 cents per gallon on each fill up! It is so nice to be able to look up fuel prices ahead of time, and know that we were getting the best deal. And the savings really do add up.

Another road trip essential that could save you hundreds is to make sure you bring:

Plenty of Cash

Paying cash at gas stations is THE BEST WAY to avoid credit card skimmers at the pumps. Also, paying with cash can help you stick to a budget for your trip. We try to carry cash for all travel purchases, plus a backup stash that could get us home if for some reason there was an issue with our cards or bank account. Along with plenty of cash, you’ll also want to bring plenty of:

Bottled Water

Buying a case of bottled water at the grocery store will cost pennies on the dollar per bottle, compared to convenience store prices. Also, when you bring a cooler of ice cold water you’re more likely to stay hydrated – a great way to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong on your trip. Also, don’t forget to pack loads of:

Healthy Snacks

Bringing your own snack foods will save you boatloads of cash on your trip – and if you pack healthy snacks you’ll feel better too. (Here’s a list of 30+ Frugal and Healthy Road Trip Snacks!)  Not buying snacks and drinks at convenience stores and vending machines can save you $5 or more per person, per stop. That adds up fast! Another helpful way to save is to bring your own:

Travel Mug

A simple, insulated travel mug is safer to drink from while traveling, and will keep your hot beverages warm longer, and your cool beverages cooler. We like to fill ours at the hotel prior to checkout, insuring we’ll have a nice cup of coffee to start the day’s drive. Average savings? $3-$5 per day.

Another thing that is super helpful but commonly forgotten:

A Well Equipped First Aid Kit

Bringing a well equipped first aid kit (more than just bandages and antibiotic ointment) should top your list of money saving road trip essentials. Knowing you have the right supplies on hand to clean and bandage a cut or deal with nausea gives so much peace of mind. It can also prevent an expensive detour to a pharmacy or urgent care.  To any comprehensive first aid kit (like the ones below) I like to add/make sure to include simple OTC medications for pain, nausea, motion sickness and allergies.


Also, don’t forget to bring updated copies of your:

Health Insurance Info

If you do have to visit an Urgent Care or Emergency room, knowing what locations are covered by your insurance could save you hundreds (if not thousands!) on medical bills. Make sure to have current copies of your cards, as well as what numbers to call if you need directions to the closest covered facility.

It Never Hurts to be Prepared!

As you can see, just a little advance planning could save you hundreds on your next road trip. And why not? Use the savings to go farther or do something fun! Or just let these road trip essentials make your journey more relaxed and enjoyable!

You Might Also Like:

Love these tips? Please share the link with your friends! Also, we LOVE to hear your feedback. Think I missed something on the list? Please share in the comments below!

Don't leave home without these road trip essentials! This tried and true list could actually save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip.

10 Truths to Remember When You Feel Like a Bad Mom

It's so easy to feel like a bad mom, and SO unhelpful! Here are 10 truths to remember when you're feeling like you messed up!

The guilt washed over me in waves as we drove home from the beach. How could I have forgotten the sunscreen at home? Even worse, why didn’t we just pack up and leave once I realized my mistake? One look back at my uncomfortably sunburnt children in the back seat was enough to make me sure I was a bad mom – probably the worst mom on the planet.

If you have kids, I know you’ve been there too. It’s so easy to see ourselves in a negative light – to zoom in on our mistakes so much that we don’t see the big picture. But mom guilt, as convincing as it is, gets us nowhere.

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Here are 10 truths to remember when you feel like a bad mom:

They’ve helped me so much. I hope they help you too.

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. We only recommend products and services we actually use and love. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

1. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom.

We all want to raise our kids well, to set them up to live a good life – hopefully without screwing them up too much. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing we have to be the perfect parent to make that happen. The truth is though, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Believing we somehow should be just sets us up for a boatload of stress and anxiety. You’re not perfect. Join the club.

2. You care enough to question yourself, and that’s important.

The fact that you feel like a bad mom is actually a good thing. It means that you’re teachable, and that you realize you have room to improve. Feeling like a bad mom means you care, and caring is what really matters. Also,

3. Parenting is the most challenging thing you’ll ever do, and it doesn’t come with a guidebook.

Raising kids is hard. Especially when you hear a million opinions of how it should be done, but none of them agree. You’re tackling a really hard thing here, so give yourself some credit! Especially since,

4. Each child is unique and comes their own set of gifts and challenges.

You are raising the only child like your child in the whole entire world. Sure, there are some similarities in personality and interests. But really, this kid is unique. They’re a puzzle, and it’s going to take some trial and error to figure them out. Trial and ERROR. Have I mentioned that you’re not going to do this perfectly? I won’t either.

RELATED: 7 Reasons You Should Walk Your Own Path (I’m Not Judging You)

5. Mistakes are not the end of the world.

You are human, and you are going to make mistakes. Even big, painful mistakes are not the end of the world. They’re just part of life. Your kids already know you’re human. They’ve seen you screw up before. They’re learning from you how to handle making mistakes. In fact,

6. This is an awesome opportunity to model grace – for yourself.

Giving yourself grace when you’re feeling like a bad mom, is the best thing you can do for yourself, and your kids. They need to see what it’s like when an adult can get back up from a mistake, dust themselves off, and keep going. Would you want your child to beat themselves up over and over for not doing something perfectly? No? Show them how to extend grace to others and themselves. Also,

7. A heartfelt apology is worth more than gold.

Another amazing thing you can do for your kids, is to give them a heartfelt apology when you screw up. This shows them you care, and models mature adult life skills – cleaning up after yourself when you’ve made a mess. Humbly admitting your mistakes and asking for forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s so worth it. And it’s even more important because,

8. These kids are in YOUR life for a reason.

God put these kids in YOUR life – whether you gave birth to them or they became yours through marriage or adoption. YOU are in their lives for a reason. There is something special that they need from you. Not the supermom down the street, not your sugary sweet, soft-spoken neighbor next door. YOU. And being there, imperfections and all, is what they need from you. Besides,

9. Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.

It’s another opportunity to start fresh, and to learn from our past failures and keep moving forward. Now, let’s be honest, there WILL be mistakes tomorrow too. But that’s okay, because no one is doing this perfectly. And the truth is,

10. Kids are incredibly resilient.

All around the world there are kids surviving far more than the worst that you, a loving mom, could ever fail to do for your kids. Do your children eat regularly and sleep in a warm bed? Are they being supervised, educated, and loved on a regular basis? I bet they are. Even with the challenges they face being raised by an imperfect parent, the overwhelming chances are, they’ll be just fine.

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

The guilt – the bad mom feelings – are such a lie.

My kids may be sunburnt, but that’s because I cared enough to pack a picnic lunch and drive them to the beach. We lose our patience because we’re there, present in their lives. We drop them off at daycare because we’re committed to putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. We mess up because we’re human, and we feel guilty because we care. And we’re good moms because caring is what really matters anyway.

Were you encouraged by these words? Feel free to share this link with a friend!

It's so easy to feel like a bad mom, and SO unhelpful! Here are 10 truths to remember when you're feeling like you messed up!

 

9 of the Best Workouts Around for Introvert Moms

Introvert moms need the energizing and restorative benefits of fitness more than anyone, but it can be hard to find in group classes and gym memberships. Here are some of the BEST workouts for introvert moms.

Working out has amazing physical and emotional benefits – and I can’t think of anyone who needs that more than us introvert moms. In my own efforts to get fit I’ve joined gyms and tried classes that ended up not being a good fit for me, mostly because they just didn’t honor my introverted nature. Eventually I found some of the best workouts for introvert moms – workouts that energize and restore, without draining my emotional reserves.

I know I’m not the only one who has faced these challenges, so I wanted to share some of my favorites with you today. Here are 9 of the BEST workouts out there for introvert moms:

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(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. We only recommend products and services we actually use and love. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

The Best Kind of ‘Me Time’

Is there anything better than the mental space and time to think you find during a good walk or run? Out in nature is best, but even a long go on a treadmill or stationary bike can give you energizing and restoring me time. If you’re stuck in the gym, wearing headphones is a great way to drown out the noise and create the illusion of alone time. Here are some of the best solo workouts you can do almost anywhere:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming Laps

RELATED: How to Find Alone Time When You’re Never Alone

Strength for the Day

Strength training is something I shied away from – partially because at the gym it’s more social and not as relaxing. I eventually bought some weights and started strength training at home. Here are some of my favorite strength training workouts for introvert moms:

Mommastrong

This incredibly affordable set of workouts is absolutely amazing. It’s one of the most empowering workout experiences I’ve ever had, and very effective for the time spent. Workouts range from beginner to advanced, and all can be done in the comfort of your own home (or wherever there’s wifi).  And at $2/month to stream,  you cannot beat the price. So awesome.

Strength Training by Jenny Ford (currently free to stream on Amazon Prime)

I also love using our Amazon Prime subscription to stream workout videos. There are a ton out there, but this strength training video is one of the best.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

RELATED: How to Make Time for Self Care

Stress Relief and Restoration

Fit2B Workouts

Fit2B workouts is another great option for introvert moms. This affordable subscription offers a variety of workouts for every fitness level, including cardio, strength training and yoga. Their yoga/relaxation videos are my favorite. Not able to stream online? They also have a few workout DVD’s on Amazon.

I also love adding in gentle yoga routines for days when I need to relax and restore, or just to mix things up. When I can’t make it to the YMCA for a class, I break out my tablet and yoga mat and do use a video at home. Here are a few I’ve tried and enjoyed:

 

The Best Workout Really Is The One You Love

At the end of the day, the best workouts for you are the ones that you actually enjoy. Finding fitness options that you love will make all the difference, because when you love it you’ll actually do it – introvert or not.

What are your favorite ways to work out? Any introvert friendly options that I missed? Please share in the comments. And if this post was helpful to you in some way, feel free to share the link with your friends!

Introvert moms need the energizing and restorative benefits of fitness more than anyone, but it can be hard to find in group classes and gym memberships. Here are some of the BEST workouts for introvert moms.

How We’re Sneaking Summer Skill Building into Lazy Days

Summer days are meant for chill relaxation, but they're also the perfect time to sneak in some summer skill building. Here's how we work learning into our summer fun!

Summer is upon us, and I am working hard to get back in the groove of things. In some ways it’s nice to have a more laid back schedule, but in others…. well, I’m already missing the comfort of a set-in-stone routine. The summer heat here is brutal, and I know we’ll be spending lots of time inside. In order to avoid turning into total couch potatoes, I’m really going to try to keep us active and engaged, and hopefully build some practical skills into our fun time.

Here are some of ways we’re sneaking summer skill building into our lazy days:

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. We only recommend products and services we actually use and love. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

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A Teamwork Approach to Housework

Our kids have been cleaning up after themselves and helping with chores since they were toddlers, but this summer we’re working on real life skills that will help them work independently. Some of the things our 6&7 year olds will be practicing this summer include:

  • Folding laundry a specific way
  • Cleaning and polishing the bathroom sink
  • Unloading the dishwasher and putting dishes away
  • Loading the dishwasher a specific way
  • Setting the table properly
  • Keeping their art supplies clean and organized
  • Keeping their bookshelf neat and tidy
  • Stove safety and preparing basic foods like quesadillas and scrambled eggs

Most of these “training” opportunities are going to be in Mommy & Me chore sessions around the house. The girls are already used to working together with me on projects — they have no idea that summer skill building is my hidden agenda. And I’m totally fine with that. We’ll also be working on:

Healthier Habits for Sweets & Snacking

Without the structure of school days, it’s easy to get into the habit of snacking all day long. Constant grazing is not a habit I want to encourage though – it’s a recipe for constant messes and can easily turn into mindless munching and boredom eating (ask me how I know!) So we’ve determined some realistic meal and snack times, and are doing our best to stick to them – myself included.

We also got into the bad habit this year of eating sweets after almost every meal. I blame the Halloween/Christmas/Valentines/Easter candy influx that filled our candy jar and kept it full ALL. YEAR. LONG. I’m stocking up on this sugarfree gum in efforts to break the candy cravings and create habits (and life skills) that will be healthier for their bodies and teeth for years to come.

Does this count as summer skill building? I think so. My kiddos will probably see it as just boring-old-rules, but the truth is at this age, we have the power to shape habits that will affect the rest of their lives. This is totally an area I’m willing to be “mean old mom” on – even for myself!

RELATED: Why Kids NEED to Be Bored

 Strong Swimming Skills + Endurance

Being able to swim well can literally be a lifesaver, and it’s definitely something we’re focusing on this summer. We’ll already be spending hours at the pool to escape the summer heat, and we’re going to intentionally make time to practice the skills they learned in swimming lessons this spring:

  • Treading water
  • Floating, especially when they start to get tired
  • Basic swim strokes
  • The ability to swim 25+ yards without fatigue

The best part? We’re sneaking this into one of their favorite parts of the day – pool time! How fun is that?

RELATED:100+ Things To Do Instead of Screen Time

Manners and Social Skills

Our girls are both very social, and easily make friends wherever we go. But we still could improve our playground etiquette skills, like introducing yourself and asking the other person’s name, inviting shy kids to be part of the group, and how to resolve disagreements in a kind and respectful way.

We’ll also be working on table manners this summer, and this is DEFINITELY needed.  Yikes! Main focuses: eating neatly, sitting properly in your chair, using a napkin instead of clothes (please!!) and  how to politely deal with foods you don’t care to eat.

I don’t really have a schedule for working on etiquette – we’ll be sneaking it into regular conversations in our day-to-day. And addressing issues as the need arises, of course. I know it will be something I’ll bring up on the way to playground dates and social gatherings. Spending so much time together will hopefully make it easier to work into everyday life.

What does summer look like for you?

Each summer has been incredibly different for us. Last year I worked full time, and was honestly bummed to miss out on the summer fun. This year I’m struggling on the other side of things – how to stay sane and productive with my kiddos underfoot, especially since we don’t have an outdoor space where they can play unsupervised. Some of this summer skill building might just be for my own sake as much as it is for my kids.

What’s your biggest summer challenge? Anything you’re specifically working on over the summer months? I’d love to hear your comments! And if you loved this article, please feel free to share the link with your friends! 

Summer days are meant for chill relaxation, but they're also the perfect time to sneak in some summer skill building. Here's how we work learning into our summer fun!

How to Make a DIY Travel Kitchen and Save Money on Road Trips

 

With this DIY Travel Kitchen, you'll be sure to have everything you need on hand for cooking healthy, money-saving meals on your next road trip!

When we were planning our last road trip, I had this crazy thought: What if I could create a DIY Travel Kitchen that could be used in any hotel room – allowing us to save money and eat better by preparing home cooked meals? Was it even practical? Would it be more hassle than it was worth?

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After a little research I found a few ideas for how to cook in a hotel room, and set out to create my own travel kitchen, which I’ll share below.

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning we may get a small commission from any purchases you make. We only recommend products and services we actually use and love. Click here to read our full disclosure policy.)

As you go about creating your own DIY Travel Kitchen, here are some suggestions for things you’ll probably want to bring with you on the road:

 

A PORTABLE HEAT SOURCE

Depending on what you like to eat, this could be anything:  a mini George Foreman grill, Slow Cooker, or an extra deep electric skillet like this one. An Instant Pot looks like another good option. After reading this blog post, I decided to use a large rice cooker we already had and were comfortable using. It turned out to be a great choice for us, more on that below.

VERSATILE COOKING UTENSILS

This could include:

  • Can opener
  • Paring knife with safety cover
  • Slotted serving spoon
  • Pancake flipper
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups and/or spoons if needed

DISHWASHING SOAP AND SPONGE

You’ll definitely want to bring dish soap and a sponge to clean your dishes. Hotel room sinks can be small, so you may want to bring a small dish tub as well. I ended up using the insert for our rice cooker as a tub to wash dishes in, and rinsed under tap water before laying them out on a towel to dry.

MINI SPICE COLLECTION

Empty Tic Tac containers make excellent mini spice jars. I brought 3, and filled one with seasoned salt, one with a mix of salt and pepper, and one with garlic powder. We barely used them, but they were nice to have on hand.

With this DIY Travel Kitchen, you'll be sure to have everything you need on hand for cooking healthy, money-saving meals on your next road trip!

PLATES, BOWLS AND PLASTIC SILVERWARE

For our last trip, we brought reusable bowls and disposable utensils. The plastic bowls packed nicely for travel, and were easy to clean up. We were tight for space, and I didn’t want the hassle of trying to keep paper plates and bowls from being crushed while traveling. I brought disposable utensils because we had them on hand, and I didn’t want to risk losing pieces of my flatware set on the road.

PAPER AND PLASTIC PRODUCTS

Consider bringing:

  • sanitizing wipes for surfaces before and after cooking
  • paper towels (we used these for napkins as well)
  • ziploc bags for storing leftovers, etc.
  • small trash bags

A word on the trash bags – even the nicest hotel rooms we stayed in had tiny, very thin trash bags. It’s worth bringing your own extra trash bags so that you can dispose of any food-related waste properly – it makes everything much nicer.

You Might Also Like: 10 Road Trip Essentials That Could Save You Hundreds

With this DIY Travel Kitchen, you'll be sure to have everything you need on hand for cooking healthy, money-saving meals on your next road trip!

HERE’S WHAT WE BROUGHT IN OUR DIY TRAVEL KITCHEN:

With this DIY Travel Kitchen, you'll be sure to have everything you need on hand for cooking healthy, money-saving meals on your next road trip!

I was able to pack everything except the food and roll of paper towels inside of the rice cooker. Since we were traveling with two kids (5&6) and a cat, it was nice to pack in such a small container. The only thing I REALLY wished I had brought along was a slotted spoon for scooping out pasta to drain.

We ate simple meals on our travels. I practiced at home to test cooking times and serving sizes – I didn’t want to have any leftovers. Here are some of the types of meals we ate:

  • Kielbasa, potatoes and canned green beans.
  • Macaroni and cheese with canned chicken breast.
  • Burritos with refried beans and shredded cheese.
  • Hearty canned soup and crackers.

We had a good stash of healthy snacks with us, so most of our meals included a side of fresh veggies or fruit from our snack bag.

WE LOVED OUR DIY TRAVEL KITCHEN

It’s true, it did take a little effort and experimenting to put it all together – but it was totally worth it! We saved money, and had a more relaxing experience overall. Several times we prepped the food and then relaxed in the hotel pool while our meal was cooking – how cool is that?

Hotel room cooking isn’t for everyone — and it’s not necessarily something we’ll do on every trip. But there are some times when it is necessary, and I love knowing that if needed, we can make do in any hotel room with our DIY travel kitchen.

OTHER HELPFUL ARTICLES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

How to cook real food in a hotel room.

The complete beginners guide to cooking in a hotel room.

Necessities for cooking in a hotel room.

How to use the Instant Pot in a hotel room.

Do you have any great tips for hotel room cooking? I’d love to hear them!

With this DIY Travel Kitchen, you'll be sure to have everything you need on hand for cooking healthy, money-saving meals on your next road trip!

Things to Do in Historic Downtown Winter Garden: Kid Friendly Fun

Historic Downtown Winter Garden is both charming, and surprisingly kid friendly. It's the perfect Central Florida destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.

Winter Garden Florida seemed like just another town on our map.

Until recently, that is. In the three years since we transplanted to Central Florida we’ve done a lot of exploring. But it wasn’t until I had three friends (in so many weeks) RAVE to me about this “charming” little town they had discovered, that I decided to check out Historic Downtown Winter Garden.

But was it kid friendly?

I wasn’t sure. None of the people who recommended Winter Garden’s Historic Downtown to me had young kids, so I did a little research to make sure it wasn’t too fancy for our active girls. While there are some nice restaurants and shops, overall it seemed pretty relaxed and low key.

There’s also a popular Farmer’s Market every Saturday – and that (along with the enthusiastic recommendations of my friends) was enough to make us grab our day pack, load up the family, and head out for a day in Historic Downtown Winter Garden.

RELATED: How to Prep for Family Outings So That They Are Easy to Do + Actually Fun

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

The Winter Garden Farmer’s Market is Awesome.

Located in the Downtown Pavilion, the market is spacious and welcoming. As you can see, it’s also kid and pet friendly.  There’s wide paths between stalls, easy stroller access, and lots of places to rest in the shade. I was honestly surprised at how many families with young kids were there, until I discovered,

There’s also a FREE Splash Pad right next to the Market.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

Our girls were totally thrilled about that! The splash area was a total surprise to us, so we hadn’t packed bathing suits. We did let them play for a bit – there was plenty of time to dry off in the sun while we wandered the market. Next time we’ll pack a lunch, and plan on some real soaking wet fun!

There are a ton of vendors with everything from fresh fruit and flowers, to gourmet treats and jewelry. Towards the back end of the farmer’s market, there’s a covered patio with a huge selection of fresh fruits and veggies — right next to this is the public bathrooms. (Always handy to know!) There was also some comfortable seating in the shade, right in the center of the market.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

After the Farmer’s Market, we headed to Harry & Larry’s BBQ for lunch.

But we totally had to stop and check out this kid-friendly train display in a storefront on our way there.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

As you can see, it was a hit for several of the kids passing by. There’s actually little buttons where the kids can turn the trains on themselves — and we stayed there for quite awhile just to watch the fun!

Harry & Larry’s BBQ is a true, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We walked past the entrance twice, trying to find our way in! The relaxed atmosphere and kid friendly food options made it the perfect place for us to relax for a bit. It did take awhile for the food to get to our table, but it was worth the wait. We loved checking out the fun vintage style decor while we waited.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

When our meal came, we dug in before I remembered to take pictures! The food was yummy though – you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.

The Centennial Plaza Fountain was actually our favorite part of Winter Garden’s Historic Downtown.

It’s circled by benches and swings, and is nicely shaded. Such a pretty spot! We actually spent quite a while there. The girls were happy to play around the fountain, and we were happy to sit and chat. When I looked over our pictures from the day, I could see the relaxation in our faces:

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

It’s hard not to be relaxed though, when you’re surrounded by this:

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

While we were hanging out by the fountain, we saw people walking by with these huge, delicious looking ice cream cones. When we were planning our day, the girls decided that finding an awesome ice cream shop was the one thing they really wanted to do on this particular day trip.

Scoops Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop totally fit the bill.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

There were so many flavors of ice cream to choose from – and the cones were HUGE. Definitely more than we could eat! On our way into the store, I could hear people outside raving about how good the ice cream was. And it was totally delicious. And check out the old fashioned charm!

Scoops is located on the ground floor of the historic Edgewater Hotel, which now functions as a bed and breakfast. We accidentally exited out the back door of the ice cream shop and found ourselves in the old hotel lobby – it felt like we were transported back in time! I  had to snap a few photos:

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

Historic Winter Garden Florida turned out to be a surprisingly relaxing and  kid friendly destination for us.

We could have spent another hour at least at the splash pad, and barely scratched the surface of the Farmers Market. The Heritage Museum and the Central Florida Railroad Museum are both places we would have liked to explore, but our kiddos totally ran out of steam. We’ll have to hit them next time, I guess!

All in all, it was an awesome way to spend a Saturday in another one of our everyday adventures!

We discovered so many kid friendly things to do on our spontaneous getaway to Winter Garden Florida.

 

7 Reasons You Should Walk Your Own Path – I’m Not Judging You

Have you ever felt judged for your own life choices? Here's why you should walk your own path (and why I'm not judging you!)‘Don’t judge, but…’

How many times have you heard that from a friend? How many times have you said it? Those times you look at someone else’s life, and feel judged just because you choose to do things differently? Or when you censor your own conversations, and not say what you really think because you’re afraid someone will think you’re judging them?

I’ve been on both sides of that coin, more times than I can count.

In fact, I’ve hesitated to share things here that I truly love to think about and discuss – just because I don’t want to alienate anyone. And it’s true – just talking about things like how much screen time kids should have or how to be more organized is enough to stir up all our insecurities.

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Silencing my own voice, isn’t the solution though, and you shouldn’t silence yours either.

And the truth is, even though we make sometimes drastically different life choices – I’m not judging you. In fact, I honestly think that you should walk your own path, and I should walk mine. This is why:

Walk Your Own Path Because:

 

YOU ARE NOT A BISCUIT

Not one of us is a stamped out cookie cutter replica of anyone. You are unique, and that uniqueness is one reason you should confidently walk your own path. Because you’re unique, what works for you won’t necessarily work for me. And really,

THERE IS NO PERFECT ROAD

We were grown in different soil, we face different challenges, and we definitely have different perspectives. How then can we even think that there’s just one perfect way to parent, to feed our bodies, or to organize our homes? Besides,

WE’RE ALL JUST WINGING IT ANYWAY

No matter how much planning, intentionality, and research we throw at life – we’re all just winging it and hoping for the best. Your friend that seems to have it all together and then some? She’s winging it too. And I most definitely do not have my ducks in a row, and I have some significant quirks, which is good because,

VARIETY MAKES LIFE MORE FUN

It really does. I may be passionate about living simply, but I have a huge love for history and am so thankful for the curators and collectors in this world. I’m in awe of you extroverted, life-of-the-party, spicy and fun personalities – and I’m happy to be the yin to your yang. Variety is the flavor of life. Also,

COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF JOY

And joy is far too important to give up that easily. Besides, we’re all so different that trying to measure up to someone who is 100% unique is really foolish. Most of us are just doing our best to make it, and we’re far more consumed with our own lives than anyone else’s.  And even if there is some area where you appear to be winging it ‘better‘ than me,

WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN BATTLES

And many people are fighting battles that the world at large will never see. This knowledge should fill us with compassion, and a burning desire to live authentically, and walk our own paths because ultimately,

THE WORLD NEEDS YOU

The real, not-picture-perfect, not-cookie-cutter, amazing just the way you are you. You who I would love to sit in a coffee shop and chat with, and hear your stories and your challenges and your unique perspective on the world. The world needs you, in all your quirkiness, and flaws, and real life hurdles. You choosing to live bravely and walk your own path. That’s enough.

Can we declare a judgement free zone?

Where we each walk our own paths, and you won’t judge my imperfections, and I won’t judge yours? Will you join me in bravely choosing authenticity and compassion (for ourselves, and others) as we shine our own bright lights in the world? Because I’m really excited to see what YOUR path looks like, and I promise: I’m not judging you.

Did this resonate with you in some way? Please let me know in the comments below. And feel free to spread the love by sharing on social media.

Have you ever felt judged for your own life choices? Here's why you should walk your own path (and why I'm not judging you!)

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