Road Trip Tips and Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheLyrics #CollectiveBias

It’s summertime and you know what that means… vacations and road trips! Our family loves a good road trip. Whether it’s some place in our state we want to explore or a cross country trip, bring it on. We love to travel and most of the time we find it easiest to jump in the car and travel that way. Since we do it so often, we have a routine down… a system that works for us and that I thought I would share with you. Though I am no expert, I am full of wanderlust at heart and we travel often, so here are my road trip tips and essentials. This is focused more on road trips and travel with kids, but take whatever info you find helpful.

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  • If you are taking your own vehicle, be sure to have the tires aired up and checked, fluids topped off, and an oil change if necessary.
  • Make your kid(s) a road trip kit complete with a road map, road trip seek & find/BINGO (printables all over Pinterest), book(s), coloring books and twistable crayons (they don’t melt as easily and you avoid paper wrappers and sharpening), Mad Libs, small pillow, and a Kindle or iPad with headphones (loaded with new games, books, music, movies).
  • Download a gas station app so that you can find the best priced gas along the way as well as the nearest gas stations along your journey.
  • Pack easily accessible snacks and drinks. I utilize baggies and plastic containers to the max. I also love personal coolers because they are nice and compact and there’s a flat top to use as a table top in the car.

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  • Utilize rest stops for bathroom breaks and to stretch your legs (and the kids’). Sometimes I’ll have my daughter do a few jumping jacks, sprints, and yoga stretches to get some of the jitters out. It’s fun with the adults participate too!
  • Bring quarters for the kids. We reward good road trip behavior with quarters. Then at rest stops they can be used to purchase a treat or in the quarter machines that have stickers and tiny trinkets.
  • Bring a camera or a phone with lots of empty space for pictures along the way. Don’t be afraid to pull off the road (safely and in the designated areas of course) to take pictures and explore. I love looking back on our family travel photos.
  • Have a road trip play list ready to go. Have all of your family’s favorite songs ready for their listening pleasure. (This can even include audio books!)
  • Research ahead of time! Plot out and find cool and interesting places to stop along the way. This can be natural features, museums, parks, monuments, hikes, visitor centers, thrift and antique stores, farmer’s markets and festivals, historical places, restaurants, etc. Explore!
  • If you’ve done a lot of driving, be sure to check those tires and fluids in the car before you hit the road back home.

And don’t forget to refill those coolers with snacks and drinks for on the way back home! I hope you found my road trip tips helpful.

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This personal cooler is one of my road trip essentials we’ve been bringing on our most recent adventures and I love it (so does my daughter)! It fits my Diet Coke cans nicely as well as my daughter’s road trip snack baggies and water bottle (we refill it with a jug when needed) while keeping everything nice and cool. It’s not too big and bulky, so it fits well in the back seat or on the floor of the car. The flat top lid makes a great surface for snack eating or even coloring pictures.

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I am also loving the new Diet Coke cans with the fun song lyrics on them and felt inspired to add some lyrics to our little cooler. Isn’t it cute?! It’s super easy to do and only took me a few minutes.

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I used my Silhouette Cameo to design and cut a vinyl sticker for the front of the cooler. I used lyrics off of one of the Diet Coke cans I was drinking… because I couldn’t get the song out of my head and I thought it would be clever on a cooler that holds our snacks and drinks. Plus, music is a big part of our road trips, as we are often singing loudly together in the car. No shame here! We love music!

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Head over to your nearest Sam’s Club for Coca-Cola and Diet Coke  and get yourself road trip ready while you sing your favorite song lyrics right off the cans.

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Do you have any road trip tips? I’d love to hear where your family is adventuring to this summer!

One Day Trip to NYC On a Budget

A few weeks ago my family went on an unexpected road trip from west coast to east coast. It was a first for my daughter and I and we were thrilled! While we primarily stayed in Connecticut once there, we planned a day in the big apple. I have wanted to visit New York since I was a little girl… how could I miss this opportunity when we were that close to putting a check mark on my bucketlist! So we planned a One Day Trip to NYC On a Budget.

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New York City is huge… there is a ton to see and a ton to do. There’s no possible way you can do it all in one day. But if one day is all you have, I have some tips that might help you plan your trip without breaking your bank.

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1. Plan to take a bus, subway, or even taxi.

Parking in NYC is crazy expensive. And the traffic and toll roads aren’t my favorite things either. It eats up a lot of time and a lot of money. So I highly recommend taking the train into the city. Tickets are cheaper during off peak hours, so you can try to plan your day trip around those times as well. The subway will take you across the city and taxis are always available.

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2. Make a NYC wishlist/bucketlist.

First, my family and I made a list of all the things we wanted to do in NYC while we were there. We knew making the list that we wouldn’t be able to do it all, but with strategic planning, we’d be able to knock several awesome sights off the wishlist.

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3. Map out your day trip.

Once our list was made, we pulled up Google maps and mapped out different sights from our list to see how close things were to once another. From there we checked prices and availability of things to determine what we could fit into the day and within our budget. We were able to do knock 9 things off of our wishlist and we did it for a family of 4 for under $200 (including transportation, food, sights). Don’t forget to plan for food and for walking time between different places.

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Other tips:

  • check the weather before you go and dress accordingly
  • bring a phone charger…there are plugs on the train!
  • pack snacks and water bottles in a backpack
  • bring a camera for good picture taking
  • an umbrella stroller is a good idea for little ones

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What we did on our day trip to NYC:

  • train ride into the city
  • subway to Central Park
  • walk Central Park and play on the playgrounds
  • Times Square
  • Pizza at Bella Vita Brick Oven Pizza
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Rockefeller Center at night lit up for Christmas
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Empire State Building (from a distance)
  • lots of walking and lots of picture taking

 

Have you been to New York City? What were your favorite places to visit?

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in Long Disneyland Lines

Hello friends!

If you follow along with Mine for the Making on social media (icons at the top of this page), then you know we sold our home a couple of months ago, down sized a ton, bought an RV and are currently living and traveling in it while we buy land and build our next home. We are loving the RV lifestyle so far and have enjoyed lots of trips together as a family. This Christmas we decided to take a trip to California for a family adventure in the RV and while we were there, we visited one of our most favorite places… Disneyland.

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Typically we like to go to Disneyland during off peak times to avoid the large crowds and long lines, but this year we decided to bite the bullet and experience the Disney magic at Christmastime. Though the lines were long, we made the most out of it! I wanted to share 5 ways to keep kids busy in long Disneyland lines, because I am certain many of you have found yourselves in that situation.

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1.Family App Games

There are lots apps you can play with while in line at Disneyland, but we like to play the games that get our entire family (or at least all of the kids) involved. Here are a few that we really enjoy… feel free to leave a comment with your favorite family app games too!

  • Heads Up
  • Scrabble
  • Ellen’s Know or Go
  • Ultimate Movie Trivia: Disney Edition
  • Charades! Kids

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2. Bring Snacks

Believe it or not, snacks can take up a good portion of the wait time in lines. We bring our own snacks in a backpack, but we also like to indulge on Disneyland treats too. My daughter always goes for a churro and I always go for a Dol Whip! What’s your favorite Disneyland treat to take in line while you wait for a ride?

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3. Disneyland Mapping

While you are waiting in line, it’s a great idea to check your Disneyland map and decide on the next couple of rides you and the kids want to go on. This is a great way to get to know the park, organize your time, pick out which characters you want to visit, and teach your kids about reading maps. We utilize this time to find the nearest bathrooms, treats we want to try, and a place to meet at if anyone gets lost.

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4. Counting Mickeys

This is one of our favorite games to play in line at Disneyland, and surprisingly it never gets old. We play “Counting Mickeys” and it’s so fun! You and the kids try to ‘spy’ as many Mickeys as you can while waiting in line. They can be on the decor, on peoples’ clothing, Mickey shaped food… as long as it’s a Mickey, it counts! It’s funny because the longer the line the more time you have to find Mickeys and this seems to be what the kids focus on rather than the ‘boring’ time spent in line. Try it! Let us know if your kids like it too.

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5. Old School Games

When all else fails, you can resort to some of the ‘old school games’ that we used to play as kids… you know, before electronic devices and smart phones! Some require a small pad of paper and pencil, but that can easily be stored in your backpack with the snacks. Here are some of my favorites… feel free to leave comment with any that your family likes to play!

  • I Spy
  • Paper, Rock, Scissors
  • Thumb wars
  • tic-tac-toe
  • Hangman
  • Celebrity/Character Alphabet game
  • Rhyming words game

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There you have it! 5 ways to keep those kids occupied in the long lines at Disneyland. The busier they are, the less likey you are to be answering the “are we there yet?” and “how much longer?!!” questions. Don’t forget to utilized the Disneyland apps for wait times and be sure to stock up on those Fast Passes for your favorite rides!

How do you keep the kids busy in the long Disneyland lines?

 

My family was given tickets into the park to share our experience. All opinions are 100% my own.

How To Do Knotts Berry Farm In One Day

Hello there and Happy Summer friends! Are your kids on break for the summer? It’s always an opportune time to plan family vacations. Since we are Arizonans, we love to travel to California for vacations because it’s not too terribly far away. We love to cram in lots of fun things while on vacation like site-seeing, trying new restaurants, visiting the beach, renting bikes, and going to amusement parks.  To get it all in, we have to plan each day strategically. So today, I’m going to tell you How To Do Knotts Berry Farm In One Day, since it’s one of our favorite places to visit in California!

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These tips are simple and are bound to help you get through the park in one day while enjoying what Knotts Berry Farm has to offer. And it’s a lot more than just awesome roller coasters!

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1. Stay at the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel

The Knotts Berry Farm Hotel is in walking distance from the park, making it super convenient. You don’t have to deal with or pay for the amusement park parking. Score! The hotel has all the normal hotel amenities, but lots of extras as well! The restaurant connected to the hotel is delicious and affordable and when you check-in you get a free kids entree coupon. There’s also a gift shop, bar, basketball/tennis courts, pool, hot tub, room service, gym, awesome splash pad, and special visits from the Peanuts characters.

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We stayed at the hotel for my daughter’s birthday, so the staff was sure to give her very special treatment… I’m talking birthday pin, Snoopy stuffy, and a brownie ice cream sundae sent up to our room. I can’t even tell you how special she felt! We were super impressed. If you go for a birthday or special occasion, be sure to let the front desk know!

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2. Arrive at the park 30 minutes prior to opening.

This allows you to get your tickets and get in line to enter the park before things get too crazy. Kind of a give-in for any amusement park. Take advantage of the character pictures right as you enter the park. This helps you get it out of the way first thing so that you don’t have to stand in the lines to meet the Peanuts gang. 

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3. Work your way around the park to hit all the rides.

Rather than jumping all over the park, grab a map at the entrance and work your way around the park, riding the roller coasters that you and the family are interested in riding. Pony Express, Jaguar, Boomerang, and La Revolucion are some of our favorites! There’s also Camp Snoopy for the younger kiddos. There’s literally rides for all ages at Knotts!

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4. Eat at the park.

Okay. Let me first say that I think the food prices at Knotts are a bit pricey. But I feel that way about most amusement parks. So the prices are comparable to other parks. I will also tell you that the food at Knotts is DELICIOUS. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices. So, I encourage you to eat at least one of your meals at the park. You can pack snacks and water bottles in your backpack and eat breakfast in the hotel room before walking to the park. Splurge for at least one meal at the park. You can thank me later. If you schedule it right, you can even eat while you watch one of the shows at Knotts and knock that off the list at the same time.

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5. Walk through Ghost Town, it’s a must.

You can do this when the kids need a break from rides and lines or you can do this on your way out of the park, but either way, it’s a must. One of the greatest things about Knotts is that there’s SO much more than the roller coasters. There’s actually a ton of history in the park (I tell about it HERE), so be sure to take advantage of it! The Knotts employees made my daughter feel extra special all day because of the birthday pin she wore. Check out the personalized lucky horseshoe the blacksmith made her! So special. 

I hope these tips help you to not only do Knotts Berry Farm in one day, but to get the most out of your visit. It really is one of our favorite places to vacation and we highly recommend it for families! 

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This post was written in exchange for admission tickets to Knotts Berry Farm, though all opinions and ideas are 100% my own and I only share things I love and feel my readers would love too.

 

 

 

Three Things You Didn’t Know About Knott’s Berry Farm

This past fall/winter, we took a family vacation to California and had the very best time. One of the days was spent at Knott’s Berry Farm and because we went during the week during the school year, there were hardly any lines to stand in. We had lots of time to ride all the roller coaster rides rides AND learn about the awesome amusement park’s history. 

Three Things You Didn’t Know About Knott’s Berry Farm…. 

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1. It all started over a delicious fried chicken dinner.

That’s right. Walter Knott’s (farmer) wife had a one-of-a-kind delicious fried chicken dinner recipe so the family opened a restaurant in 1936. Within a few years, the restaurant became so popular that the wait was often several hours long! The restaurant was also well known for their berries, preserves, and pies, hence the name Knott’s Berry Farm. Let’s hear it for the awesome wives out there! I love learning about successful women who have supportive successful husbands. 

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2. Then came the authentic Ghost Town.

Because those fried chicken dinners were such a hit (serving over 4,000 dinners on a Sunday evening) and wait times were well over a couple of hours, Knott knew he needed to do something to entertain the crowds so that they would continue to wait. Walter Knott’s love and interest in American pioneer history drove him to recreate a ghost town using building relocated from Old West towns.  

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He specifically sought out specific pieces from all over the mid and southwest to create his own ghost town. Often times he’d purchase entire buildings, including everything in them. 

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This authentic schoolhouse made my teacher heart go pitter-patter. We loved sitting in the original desks and walking around the small room, checking out all of the awesome relics and things on the walls and shelves. The maps and teacher rules were two of my favorite artifacts. 

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3. The rides didn’t enter the park until the 1960s.

Knott’s Berry Farm had been open for nearly 20 years before Walter Knott bought or opened any rides at his park. Be when he did, they received rave reviews. And despite Disneyland opening just 5 years earlier and only about 13 miles away, Knott’s Berry Farm continued to thrive and still does today. It is even said that Walter Knott and Walt Disney attended each other’s parks and had a friendly relationship with one another. 

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Here’s a video of our day at Knott’s Berry Farm… check it out and see for yourself! 

 

And when you visit Knott’s Berry Farm, be sure to try that chicken dinner and take time to walk around the ghost town. You won’t be sorry!

 

 I received admission tickets as compensation for this post, yet all ideas and opinions are 100% my own and I only share things I think my readers will love.

 

Family Vacation to DISNEYLAND!

We had such a fun time on our family vacation this summer. We decided to take Luci to Disneyland. Matt and I hadnt been in years…and it is my most FAVORITE place to visit. I was soooo excited to share the Disney magic with Luci. And believe it or not, Luci (2 years old) was able to go on 90% of the rides!! We even had a park hopper pass and spent a day at California Adventures! So fun!

Enjoy!

 
 
 “Hi Choo Choo!!”
 
Pretty sure we rode the “orsies” (aka: horsies) a billion times.
It’s a small world after all…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Our sweet family <3
  Our goofy girl with Goofy (notice her feet crossed…such a lady).
Luci LOVED the parade. She was in awe with all of the music, dancing, and characters.
 My tiny dancer in the parade. Very interactive. LOVE Disneyland!
Tarzan’s Tree House
We could not get over the landscaping here. Everything was so well kept, green, and colorful. So so very pretty.
Playing in Minnie’s House
Tea for 2 please
Luci learned a big lesson in patience and Im pretty sure she understands what “wait” means after standing in lines :) The reward at the end of the lines was worth it…
Seriously?! Cutest picture ever, right?! I would pay BIG bucks for this…wait….I did pay big bucks for this LOL!
3D Michael Jackson…we roll old school
“Hi puppy!!” 
What’s in your mouth, White Rabbit? 
 
That’s all for now! I know I have a boat load more…when I find them I will post more later :)
 
What kinds of family vacations have you gone on/are planning on going on this summer?

Disney Character Autograph Book

Yes, I am posting while on vacation. I brought my notebook with me so that I could blog while relaxing and enjoying the beautiful California weather.

This is the view from our beautiful hotel room balcony….




The beds are super comfy (even better than our bed at home) and big enough for all 3 of us to snuggle comfortably….

But….there’s something very important we must do before going to sleep in this oh-so-comfy hotel bed….

(Pardon the blurry pictures…was using the camera on my phone)

That’s right…we JUMP JUMP JUMP on the bed before snoozing away. It’s a family tradition…try it sometime! The rule is…ONLY hotel beds :)

Tomorrow we are getting up early to go to Disneyland. This is my most favoritest place in the whole wide world and I am so excited to share the magic with Luci. I even made her a Disney Character Autograph Book for when she meets all of her favorite Disney characters. I used scrapbook paper, stickers, ribbon, and gel pens. Super cheap, super easy, and super handmade.

At the bottom it says “Disneyland Vacation Summer 2010”. A keepsake for my 2 year old busy bee.

Off to get our beauty sleep! Up early to meet up with Mickey and Minnie!!