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Eco-Family TravelEco-Friendly Family Vacation Ideas for 2013

A standard family vacation tends to be somewhat less than environmentally friendly, when you think about it. Consider, for starters, the high eco-impact of transportation. Airplanes certainly get you from point A to point B the fastest, but they ratchet up your carbon debt almost exponentially. Then there are hotels to consider, and between the disposable items in every guest room, the massive amounts of water used to wash sheets and towels daily, sky-high electrical usage, and the less-than sustainable materials used to build and outfit properties, you can be sure that the waste and pollution involved with your stay is significant. Plus, you’ll no doubt find yourself renting a gas-guzzler to tour your environs, eating out for every meal, and generally increasing your carbon footprint with every activity. This can be a hard pill to swallow for the family committed to doing their part to protect the environment. But there are alternatives that will still let you have the fabulous family getaway you’ve been dreaming of, and 2013 is the year you can make a change for the better when it comes to your travel plans.

While you can’t exactly negate the impact of flying, there are a couple of options you can choose to make your transportation less harmful. For one thing, you can drive to your destination if it’s not too far (or over water). And if you have a fuel-efficient or otherwise eco-friendly vehicle, even better. But if you simply can’t avoid flying, or the drive is too long to fit with your limited time, at least consider choosing an airline that offers the largest aircraft available. It will use only slightly more fuel than smaller planes, but because of the greater number of passengers the efficiency goes way up. Then, when you reach your destination, look for a car rental company that offers eco-friendly options (like hybrid or electric cars) or look into mass transit for your transportation needs.

As for hotels, you might be surprised to learn that many chains are looking for ways to green up the works, reduce their carbon footprint, and cater to travelers seeking eco-tourism services. You can find available options for your destination on greenhotels.com, or use travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity that offer green options for the budget-conscious traveler. With the eco-tourism industry growing, you may even be able to contact your travel agent and find all kinds of package deals that include transportation, lodgings, and activities that fit within your green ideals. And if all else fails, simply take a camping trip. Getting back to nature is a great way to get some R&R, cut your carbon footprint, save a little cash, and really reconnect with your family without all the distractions of the modern world.

Just because you found some Vegas deals doesn’t mean you have to hop on an airplane and head to Sin City. When you travel smarter you can do your part for environmental protection and often save some money in the process. So skip the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and waste when planning your family vacations this year and you’ll have a cleaner, greener earth to show for it, along with years of awesome outdoor adventures to come.

How to Travel in an Eco-Friendly Way When Vacationing

Traveling in an eco friendly way is a great way to give back to the environment. Traveling can be quite a harmful activity for the environment, if you’re not doing it properly and not doing your research – so you should feel good about making the effort to travel in a green, environmentally-friendly manner – as every little helps.

There are, of course, various ways you can impact the world in this way – and lots of ways you can improve your carbon footprint and help the environment whilst travelling. One of the main ways when travelling, is choosing your modes of transport properly and properly considering every option available to you. This is unsurprising I think – as we all know that modern transportation is one of the most toxic things that harms our environment. So take charge here and embrace your new found respect for the environment.

Here are some of the most powerful ways you can make a difference:

1. Let’s Start at the Beginning
Your journey starts the very moment you leave the house – so ensure you get public transport (rather than a car or taxi) to the airport when your trip begins. This is already making a big difference – so you should feel great about getting your trip off to a good start! Most towns and cities will have shuttles or buses heading to the airport – and a quick browse on the internet will point you in the right direction.

2. Fly with a Newer Aircraft
Newer aircrafts have been proven to be more environmentally friendly – so if you can request at the time of booking, that you be travelling on your fleets newer aircrafts. The newer planes use less energy and have a better efficiency of fuel – which means you can rest easy knowing you’ve reduced your carbon footprint a little.

3. When You Land
It can be daunting when you arrive in a new place, and it can be pretty easy to just opt for the a private limo or taxi to your hotel. The truth is though – most major airport have cheap public transport on offer. When you arrive at the airport, ask the information desk at the airport the best way of getting into the city. It might be a train, a tram, a subway line, a bus or even a little shuttle mini bus. All of which are miles better for the environment than the taxi you were planning on taking!

4. When Changing Destinations
For travellers and backpackers – it’s common to flit between destinations every couple of days or weeks. For this – try to avoid planes, and see if there are any eco friendly transport options available. This may take longer, but it will likely cost less too and you’ll get to take in more as you travel on land instead of by air. Look for coaches, public transport or trains – all of those are great options. If you can – opt for the train over anything else though, because a train is more environmentally friendly an carries more people (making your carbon footprint smaller).

5. Use Eco-Friendly Tours
In most destinations there are many tours and day trips open to tourists. When you’re looking to book one of these – browse around for the eco friendly options. You’d genuinely be surprised at how many niche tours there are now for those looking to protect the environment, so keep a look out for any you can take advantage of during your trip.

6. Use Eco-Cabs
In countries such as Australia and New Zealand, there are now licensed cab companies that pride themselves on their USP. These eco friendly cab companies are not only driven in eco friendly electrical cars, but they also replant trees in developing nations too – to offset and give back any energy used. When you arrive in your destination, do a quick Google search and see if anything similar operates in the area.

About The Author
http://community.asiarooms.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/wanphing-315×223.jpg

This article was written by Wan Phing, resident travel writer and editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born in Penang, Malaysia (home of good food and Jimmy Choo), she is the ideas machine behind the blog. She loves coffee, books, films, stand-up comedy and peanut butter (smooth, not chunky). She loves wandering around aimlessly in strange cities, but she always has one purpose – to save the world through content marketing ROI, one blog post at a time.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Pack in an Eco-Friendly Way for Vacation

Eco-Friendly travel (or green travel – as you may know it) is a trend and a cause that is becoming more and more popular – and more and more worthy or your attention. There are some great companies out there that are exclusively offering eco-friendly tours and trips – and although this is a great step to take, there are a few smaller steps you can take personally too when heading away on vacation.

What is green travel?

Well, as you may recycle your plastics at home to help the environment – green travel and eco friendly travel, is all about helping to protect the environment when you travel. Travelling can potentially be quite a harmful hobby or interest – when you don’t take the environment into consideration, so it’s imperative that you take the environment into consideration and you employ techniques that go out of the way to protect and utilise the world’s own resources.

How can something as small as packing help?

Well you’d be surprised. It’s all about being thoughtful about how you pack – and (unsurprisingly) utilizing a bit of common sense too. Most people can easily pack for their travels a little more eco-friendly, without leaving important items behind or without sacrificing any fun too.

Here are the top 5 tips:

1. Pack lightly

Packing lightly is the first tip. If you’re heading away on a romantic weekend, instead of taking two bags or two suitcases (one each) take just the one and share the space. The less luggage you take with you, the less you’re having to cart around, which means less energy. When it comes to planes and fuel – if every couple took one bag rather than too – the plane would be using much less fuel – lowering the carbon footprint of that plane ride hugely. The same goes for if you’re traveling by car – as the less heavy the vehicle the less fuel it needs.

2. Pack sensibly

If you’re heading away for more than a few days – then there’s a chance you may need to do laundry whilst you’re there. This tip applies to backpackers and travellers in particular. To prevent doing laundry often (because doing laundry take up a lot of energy and resources) you’ll want to pack items that are going to stay clean for longer – which means pack darker items (not white linen trousers). Also – pack items that dry quickly too, as this means you needn’t use the dryer – instead, you can simply dry your clothing quickly and easily on the balcony in the sunshine!

3. Pack re-usable items

Things such as re-usable water bottles are great to have with you when travelling so make sure you’ve packed one. Not only is it cheaper to refill your own water bottle then keep buying new ones – but it’s also much more eco friendly and environmentally sound. One bottle (even a cheap one) can last you months, and a proper flask may last you years. Think about all the plastic you’ll be saving with just this tip.

4. Avoid disposable bags

Disposable bags, like the ones you’ll be given in duty free shops, supermarkets or souvenir shops – are all usually plastic – and definitely not eco friendly or green. Instead, pack yourself a foldable

5. Take a digital camera

Sounds silly – that this should even been included but packing a digital camera is an easy and effective way to improve your eco efficacy. Make sure you have multiple memory cards that are reusable and ensure you have rechargeable batteries too. Disposable batteries are terrible for the environment – so avoid those at all costs!

About The Author

This article was written by Wan Phing, resident travel writer and editor at AsiaRooms.com. Born in Penang, Malaysia (home of good food and Jimmy Choo), Wan is the ideas machine behind the blog. She loves coffee, books, films, stand-up comedy and peanut butter (smooth, not chunky). She loves wandering around aimlessly in strange cities, but always with one purpose – to save the world through content marketing ROI, one blog post at a time.

5 Green Alternatives To The Package Vacation

When it comes to planning the annual vacation many of us look to long haul, package trips to far flung destinations. The problem with these is the cost to the environment from all those jet emissions, plus in some destinations valuable environmental resources are being plundered just to satisfy our desire for exotic vacations. So this year why not think about booking something new? Summer is the perfect time to enjoy nature and getaway with family and friends. Instead of doing the same old mundane package vacation, you may want to think about exploring some different ideas for you and your family.

The following are some creative ideas which offer green credentials as well as giving you all a new experience you may just want to repeat for years to come.

No Frills Camping

Most people think that camping is already a no frills adventure. To take your camping experience to the ultimate level in green living, try leaving your electronics, fancy camping gear and any other items you think you can’t live without at home. Only bring the necessities like a tent, sleeping bag, basic survival gear and a cellphone in case of an emergency. Imagine yourself fishing, eating, hiking and camping out underneath the stars without any interruptions or connection to the real world. This type of trip will do wonders for your stress level, and it will surely recharge your mental batteries.

Retreats

There are a number of organizations that offer green getaways for you and family. They can last anywhere from an entire week to a long weekend. This is an interesting and fun experience that is typically held in a campground type of setting. You and your family will spend time learning about green living and sharing ideas within the community. This is a different type of vacation that gets the entire family involved. You could learn how to grow organic produce, get involved in nature and gain exposure to the various aspects of how to live a green lifestyle.

Visit Your Local Attractions

Staycations and visiting your local attractions is another creative green vacation idea. This saves on jet fuel, and it gives you a chance to discover the popular places in your own city. Visit zoos, museums, festivals and parks. Instead of taking your car, you may want to go green by traveling via bicycle or public transportation. This saves on gas, is better for the environment and is probably better for your pocket too.

Timeshares/Fractional Ownership

If you’ve had your eye on a luxurious vacation property and thought that it was out of your reach, you may want to think again. Fractional home ownership gives middle-income buyers a chance to share ownership in vacation homes that they’ve never dreamed about owning. The property is divided into more affordable sections per each individual, and it gives an owner specific privileges and property usage that is based on their shares. There are even fractional green vacation homes where the communities recycle, and they use only organic and environmental friendly products. Timeshares offer a lower budget option but you will be sharing the property with a larger number of people and their will be greater restrictions on when you can use your home.

Train Travel

Trains can be an adventurous way to see different parts of the country, and it can take you off the well-traveled path that most visitors take. This is an excellent way to travel green, and you can find fun and exciting places to visit. Take a train ride to a state park and learn about the various conservation methods that are being implemented to save our animals and nature. Combining train travel with any of the above ideas will give you the perfect stress free break without the hassle of airport queues, traffic jams and delays!

Most people are concerned about our planet today, and they want to do everything they can to be kind to the environment. When planning your next vacation, you can find a number of fun things to do, from camping to staycations and utilizing membership in your home clubs, as well as exciting places to see and still be good to Mother Earth.

About the Author

This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy who is an environmental blogger, and a contributing writer for Ritz Carlton Club, which offers fractional home ownership to those who want the ability to revisit their favorite locations, without the worry of upkeep and maintenance – backed by a company with a reputation for excellence and distinction.

Eco Friendly Travel Tips That Also Save You Money

Yep. It’s that time of year again. The time of year when people are booking flights and renting cars so that they can take a much needed vacation, yet no matter what mode of transportation you choose, it’s gonna be a bit pricey this year due to the (will it ever end?) rise in gas prices.

There are some ways that you can save a few dollars while on your travels, though. The added bonus is that the following tips are also eco-friendly. So, not only are you sparing a few trees by not spending so much money, but you’re also doing the environment a favor by cutting down on the use of your resources.

Do you want to know how to make that happen? Check out these ideas below.

Think about your mode of transportation. Now, more than ever, flying is more about convenience. So, if you’ve got a week to spend time in a place that’s over a thousand miles away, flying might be the best route to take. Make sure that you shop for special deals (that’s what HotWire, Orbitz and Expedia are for) and when it’s time to get your ticket, request an e-ticket rather than a paper one. If you’re going to rent a car, there are more rental companies with hybrids available (Enterprise and Budget are two of them). It may cost a bit more to rent the car itself, but with what you save not having to fill up at the gas station, it’s still well worth it.

Pack wisely. There are a lot of tips for this one. First, make sure that you use refillable bottles for your toiletries; there’s no sense in bringing full bottles of things like shampoo along. If you’re leaving for 10 days, you probably only need a couple of pair of jeans because you can interchange them with several outfits. In other words, don’t pack excessively. Make sure to bring along a reusable bag in case you plan on shopping for souvenirs so that you’re not wasting any paper or plastic shopping bags. Take a recyclable water bottle in case you’re thirsty at any time. It’s a lot cheaper and better for the environment than buying bottled water. Oh, and be sure to use a digital camera rather than a disposable one; mostly because a digital camera is one that you can use over and over again.

Prepare to go. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Even before you leave the house, there are some things that you can do to cut down on electricity. Be sure to turn down your thermostat, unplug any appliances that don’t need to be in use while you’re away (ones that would are the refrigerator, for instance), turn down your water heater and make sure to turn off most of the lights (other the porch and a living room lamp) in the house.

Take a travel lunch. Even though lunch is no longer served on airplanes, if you’re hungry, there may still be the temptation to purchase a meal at the airport and that can be extremely expensive. Whether you’re traveling by air or land, you can save good money by preparing a lunch ahead of time filled with organic goodies like nuts, fruit and veggies.

Research where you’ll be staying. These days, there are eco-friendly hotels and restaurants in virtually every city. Therefore, make sure to do your research ahead of time. The great thing about “window shopping” online is that there are even places that will offer online private tours to help you in making your selection. Just remember that wherever you end up to use the same rules that you would at home when it comes to electricity and water usage. And be sure to ask if there are recycling bins where you’re staying, too!

Traveling with Kids – Top Safety Tips

When it comes to family travel, the mantra is: play it safe! Take some basic steps to ensure your little one’s safety, and you’ll enjoy your outings and vacations that much more.

What to Pack

One serious childhood sunburn can increase a child’s risk of developing skin cancer later, so sun protection is a must. Pack baby-safe sunscreen, sunhats, UV-blocking sunglasses, and UPF apparel. For more sun-smart tips, see “Baby and Kids’ Sun Protection Primer: What Every Parent Should Know. ”

Insect bites aren’t just itchy, they can cause serious illnesses. Adult insect repellents may be too harsh for young skin, so pack gentle, child-friendly bug repellent. If you’re traveling with baby gear, don’t forget mosquito netting for your play yard and stroller.

Bringing bottled formula? You’ll also need an insulated storage cooler. Unrefrigerated formula can become contaminated in just a few hours, especially in the heat.

Bring your child-friendly first aid kit, with pain reliever, bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, thermometer, etc.

You can’t destroy all the germs in the universe, but you can minimize your child’s exposure to them. In addition to indispensable toy wipes, consider disposable placemats, toilet seat covers, and changing table covers. (Give Mother Earth a break: use earth-friendly disposables like ours!)

Visiting amusement parks or other crowded areas? Dress your child in bright clothing so he’ll stand out from the crowd. In addition, consider bringing a child tether or simple child locator to prevent you from getting separated.

Just in case, create a “if I get lost” plan and review it with your child.

Bring your child’s health history and ID information, including a recent photo. Better to have your child’s identification and not need it than need it and not have it!

Handling Hotel Rooms

If you are traveling with a toddler, experts suggest you childproof your hotel room. Some hotel and cruise lines actually provide childproofing kits upon request, so ask when you make your reservations. To childproof a hotel room:

Move dangerous items (including coffeepots, hair dryers, complimentary toiletries, drinking glasses, and dry cleaning bags) out of reach.

Pull furniture away from windows. Make sure the windows and doors have sturdy locks (balcony doors especially).

It the room includes a sharp-edged coffee table, either cover the edges with hand towels (you can tie or tape them on) or ask that the table be removed.

Tie up loose blind cords. (Pipe cleaners work great for this.)

Get down on your hands and knees and inspect for hazards such as pest poisons, peeling paint, or small items missed left behind by other guests.

Cover exposed electrical outlets.

If your hotel doesn’t provide a kit, bring your own, which can include inexpensive outlet covers, removable, non-marring cabinet locks, and a portable safety gate.

If you’re using a hotel crib, inspect it carefully. Several years ago, The National Safe Kids Campaign performed random safety checks on nearly 100 hotel cribs and discovered safety hazards in four out of every five cribs tested. Common dangers included loose hardware, insufficient mattress supports, and soft or loose bedding, a suffocation risk.

Since then, the Consumer Products Safety Commission and Safe Kids launched a hotel safety initiative. Some national chains, but not all of them, now participate in the program. The CPSC suggests that when booking a reservation, parents should ask if there’s a system in place to ensure crib safety.¹

Kids on Planes

Rule #1: pack all your child’s essentials —diapers, food, toys, any medication — in your carry-on. Pack enough to account for flight delays and misplaced luggage.

Rapid changes in cabin pressure can make little ears “pop,” so keep drinks or pacifiers available for takeoffs and landings (sucking helps reduce ear sensitivity). Or bring along ear filters, which buffers eardrums against air pressure changes.

Airplanes present unique challenges for parents with young children. Kids under age two are not required by law to be restrained on airplanes, so it’s up to every parent to decide how to travel.

If you decide to ride with baby on your lap, consider a flight vest that secures your child to your lap belt. These vests are not designed for use during takeoff and landing, but for cruising, when turbulence most often occurs. (One Step Ahead has sold such a flight vest for many years. We’ve posted more than 50 reviews from parents who’ve used it, which you may find informative if you’re considering this option.)

The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that small children be seated in a Child Restraint System, or CRS—i.e., a car seat. According to FAA guidelines:

For babies less than 20 lbs., use a rear-facing car seat
For children 20 – 40 lbs., use a forward-facing car seat
For kids weighing more than 40 lbs., use the airplane seat belt

Every restraint must bear a label indicating that it’s FAA approved, something to check in advance of your flight.

In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips:

The only way to guarantee that your child can use a CRS is to purchase a ticket. Some airlines offer discounted fares for kids under two, so ask. If that isn’t a possibility, select a non-peak flight time that’s more likely to have empty seats.

Measure the width of your car seat; if it’s less than 16″ wide, it will most likely fit in an airplane seat.

Always place your CRS in a window seat, so it won’t block the aisle or get jostled by people passing by.³

Bringing your car seat on board is an excellent idea, but carrying it through the airport can be challenging. We carry a number of air travel accessories designed specifically to make flying with children easier.

And for more detailed information regarding child safety seats on planes, visit:

http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/ and
http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/travelsafetytips.htm.

Bon voyage!

Footnotes:
¹Consumer Product Safety Commission – http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml00/00071.html
²FAA – http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs
³American Academy of Pediatrics – http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/travelsafetytips.htm

*Article & image courtesy of OneStepAhead.com.*

Top Eco Luxury Resorts

Not all travelers are looking for a manmade paradise when they hit the road. Certainly you want to be comfortable and well provided for when you take off to parts unknown, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want a whole slew of overblown tourist traps (complete with paid entertainers and lavish synthetic settings). Many people have begun to embrace a different style of travel known as ecotourism. Rather than looking for the next big spectacle to take them away from the drudgery of their daily lives, a lot of travelers want to get away from it all, reconnect with nature, and do less to harm the environment along the way. So if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next walkabout, even as you enjoy the luxuries to which you have become accustomed, here are a few great resorts that could fit the bill.

1. CESiaK – Sian Ka’an, Mexico. The Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK for short) is part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, an ecological model of sustainability located near the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. If you thought that white-sand beaches, warm waters, and eco-friendly attitudes didn’t mix, think again. This beach resort situated on a 1.3-million-acre park employed local labor for building (and staffing) and uses solar and wind power for all of their buildings, plus filtered rainwater collected from cisterns.

2. Longitude 131˚ – Northern Territory, Australia. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding this establishment since its geographic location is right in the name; but just in case, look for the world’s largest monolith peeking up out of the desert. Situated on top of a sand dune just a stone’s throw from Uluru, this hotel consists of 15 so-called “tents” that are like little luxury cabanas on stilts. They barely disturb the desert floor and everything runs on solar power. Plus, all the entertainment comes from the natural surroundings.

3. Bardessono – Napa Valley, California. Dubbed the “greenest luxury hotel in America”, this resort has the creds to back up the claim (if their status of LEED Platinum certification is any indicator). Heating for rooms (and water) is geothermal, photovoltaic panels provide energy, a vertical garden covers the walls of the hotel lobby, and a massive compost (called the “Earth tub”) turns kitchen scraps into fertilizer. Talk about sustainable.

4. Camp Ya Kanzi – Kenya. With Mt. Kilimanjaro providing a scenic backdrop, you’ll feel the closeness of nature every time you look out the window. And with an eye on sustaining the view, the “Camp of the Hidden Treasure” used local building materials (cutting down nary a tree in the process). In addition, energy and heating come from solar panels, rainwater is collected and filtered from rooftops, and cooking takes place thanks to eco-friendly charcoal created from coffee husks.

5. Capital Coast Resort and Spa – Paphos, Cyprus. Although there aren’t many Paphos hotels that can claim to uphold any standards of ecotourism, this one has met local certification standards to be listed as a green/sustainable property. Not only is it adjacent to historical Cyprus attractions like the Tomb of the Kings and the Paphos Lighthouse, it also overlooks beautiful Paphos harbor. And in addition to checking its environmental impact, the property is also friendly to diverse communities, actively welcoming LGBT guests.

Car Trip Tips: 5 Ways to Entertain Your Children

Traveling the country by car is a time-honored tradition that has a place in many people’s memories. When children are passengers, planning entertaining past times is recommended. Where adults can sit for hours and look at the scenery, children’s attention span require more stimulation.

Having a theme for the trip may help in choosing some of the games. Choose an environmental theme and look for ways to incorporate recycle, reduce, and reuse ideas and actions throughout the trip.

Search for environmentally friendly games online that can be printed and put these into a binder for each child. Make up a game that brings attention to an environmental problem, like counting plastic bags seen alongside the road. Then talk about ways to fix the problem.

Whatever games are chosen, just make sure they are simple, easy to access and cover a variety of interests. Include group games and individual entertainment. Also, before leaving for your car trip make sure the car is safe to make the trip and has proper travel car insurance. Following are five ways that children can be entertained on a car trip.

5 Car Trip Tips for Children

1. Digital Distractions

Music and books are a good way to while away some time and get the children involved. To save some money, make a trip to the library.

Pick out one or two books on tape (or CD) that the whole family will enjoy.

Select music that is enjoyable to sing along to or just to listen. Have the kids compile their own mixes for the trip.

Don’t forget the movies if you have a computer or car with this capability.

2. Games Galore

Games are fun because they can entertain and educate. Mix it up and have a variety of games from which to choose.

License plates can be an ongoing game. Keep a list of how many different states or countries each person calls out first. The person who has the most at the end of a trip stage will get some type of prize.

Call out vanity plates and see who can interpret what they say the fastest.

Paper and pencil games can consume some time. Put together a binder of different games for each child. Have some that require interaction with another person and some that can be done alone. Some suggestions are Hangman, it’s a great way to practice spelling and guessing, Tic Tac Toe is just a simple and fun past time, or print out crossword puzzles from an online source.

Miniature sized board games are easy to pack and may bring some lively competition to the back seat. Look for magnetic boards to keep small pieces from being lost. Old time favorites like Checkers or Backgammon are easy to set up and come in magnetized versions. There are other favorite games available, just search the Internet for your favorite ones.

Alphabet games are easy and can get the kids to enjoy some of the scenery. Decide what items will be used to complete the alphabet; some suggestions are license plates, town signs, or billboards.

3. Amazing Attractions

When planning the trip look for funny or interesting roadside attractions along the way. Not only is this a way to take a bathroom break and stretch, it can provide some laughs too. This will require veering off the highway to some less traveled roads, but it can be worth the time.

4. Candid Cameras

Have a picture contest. Using either cell phones or disposable cameras, have the kids take pictures of the trip. After the trip compile the pictures into a photo album and personalize the album for each child. This can become their personal travel log for years to come. The roadside attractions will always be remembered with this pictorial record.

5. Quality Quiet

Having pillows and blankets available will allow for some quiet time. Encourage taking a nap or doing something by oneself. Offer these quiet activities:

  • Listen to music on a personal player.
  • Read a book.
  • Play a game.

Most of these suggestions cost very little money but will require some time to plan and put together. By packing a game bag, everything can be contained and easily found when needed. For some of the individual activities make a bag for each child so they can access their personal items when they want.

Encourage each child to keep a travel diary. They can make entries about what they have seen, funny things that happened, and general thoughts about the trip. Put these together with the pictures they have taken and they will have their own personal travel keepsake. Another great travel trip would be to rent an RV. An RV allows for a different type of vacation and a special treat for the children. Just make sure your RV is properly covered under RV insurance.

Car trips really can be a lot of fun for the entire family. When planning games and places to visit get the children involved. Have them choose the theme and then let them find games that have something to teach about the topic. This way it really is a family trip from start to finish.

About the Author

Jennifer is a freelance writer for a website that is able to compare car insurance for free! She loves helping families find new ways to travel. She also makes sure that families are properly insured when traveling. When she isn’t helping people with traveling and insurance, you can see Jennifer running trails around her neighborhood.

*Image: Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Summer Road Trips You Can Enjoy with the Kids

School is out, the thermometer is creeping up into triple digits, and the kids are getting cabin fever. If the pool lifeguards are getting tired of your kids already and your kids are getting bored with the local children’s museum, ice cream shop, and playground, why not get out of town for a while? Taking a road trip with the kids lets you bask in the pleasure of air conditioning or the breeze of open car windows during the hottest summer days, and it gives the kids a new experience at every stop.

East Coast Boardwalk Excursions

The beaches on the east coast are wide, family-friendly, and fun. Since the kids might get antsy after a few hours in the sun, the boardwalks give the whole family something to do. Some of the boardwalks have arcades, shops, and restaurants along them, while others just provide an avenue for pure family fun.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach boardwalk isn’t made of boards. But it gives you a place to walk—or to rent beach surreys, ride bikes, or simply take a stroll. The street next to the beach gives families plenty to do once the sun goes down. In addition to restaurants and bars, there are street performers and live bands, rides and amusements. Nearby are Seashore State Park, Ocean Breeze Water Park, and the Marine Science Museum. When you’ve had enough of the beach, take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg for a historic experience.

Ocean City

Ocean City, New Jersey, has what Virginia Beach lacks: miles of wood-planked boardwalk along the shore. It’s like a constant carnival on the boardwalk. In between body surfing and building sand castles, kids can play miniature golf, eat cotton candy, or test their skills at an arcade. You don’t have to worry about packing all your gear, either. You can rent everything from beach chairs to boogie boards right on the boardwalk.

Travel Across the USA’s Northern Border

If you really want to get away from the heat, try a road trip across the scenic Minnesota State Highway 61. You can stop and stretch your legs on a wilderness hike and visit one of the Great Lakes. There are so many places to stop that you won’t spend too much time in the car and you’ll keep the kids entertained.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. If that doesn’t impress the kids, maybe the fishing, ship watching, or kayaking will. Start your trip in Duluth, Minnesota, where you can ride the North Shore Scenic Railroad. In Two Harbors, you can watch large ocean-going vessels navigate their way in and out of the bay. You can tour the oldest operating tugboat on the Great Lakes and bike along the waterfront Sonju trail.

State Park Hiking

After that, your trip takes you through the wilderness. You’ll pass eight state parks in just over 100 miles. Gooseberry Falls State Park is a beautiful place to hike to five different waterfalls. Picnic next to the river and show the kids the splendor of nature. You can even camp out under the stars for a truly unforgettable experience.

Grand Marais

The harbor village of Grand Marais is a quaint stop on the lake. Take a walk through a small forest to the lighthouse at Artist’s Point. Other short hikes take you past waterfalls and to a magnetic rock. Kids can look for agates at Paradise Beach or cool off with an ice cream cone at Gunflint’s Mercantile.

Whether you’re looking to beat the heat or just trying to find a new activity to keep the kids busy this summer, a road trip is always exciting. Pack up the car, grab some tunes, and think up some road trip games. When they’re older, the kids will thank you for not subjecting them to another year of summer camp and for taking them on such an entertaining journey.

About the Author

Gabriela Patterson is the mother of four and a content contributor for online car insurance companies, which offer quotes from popular carriers such as Geico car insurance.

*Image: akeeris / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

4th of July Fireworks Off the Beaten Path

The Fourth of July makes you think of watermelon, Uncle Sam, and the glittering sparkle of fireworks. Maybe you traditionally spent the day at a family picnic or on the beach; either way, you were always excited for the sun to set and the fireworks display to begin. Now that you have a family of your own, you get to share the excitement with your kids. This year, why not do something really unique and make this holiday your most memorable?

The Capital Sidelines

While the National Mall in Washington, D. C. swarms with people on Independence Day, you can drive just across the Potomac for a more relaxed celebration. A trail runs along the Potomac all the way to Mount Vernon. Various parking areas along the trail allow you to park and sit by the river to watch the fireworks. Gravelly Point is one of the most popular areas to watch the fireworks, and since it’s close to Reagan National Airport, you’ll see airplanes landing and taking off under the glow of the lights.

Take to The Hills

The fireworks in downtown Austin, Texas, are popular, but the area is swirling with crowds. But just off of Interstate 35 on Woodland Avenue is a church on a hill overlooking the city. Bring a picnic blanket and chairs and sprawl out in the field in front of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Although some other people know about the spot, it won’t be crowded. You can also see fireworks bursting in the sky above several other towns from that vantage point.

A Small Town Celebration

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Corbett, Oregon, is like attending a family reunion. A huge celebration in a small town, the Fourth of July Corbett Fun Festival has live music, a fun zone for kids, its very own Elvis impersonator, and some of the best fireworks in the Portland area. Join this friendly community for a spectacular parade and a roaring fireworks display.

Up on The Roof

In Tempe, Arizona, the stadium and other areas downtown get swamped with people celebrating Independence Day. Instead of paying admission fees for the official fireworks, treat the night like a drive-in movie and watch the excitement from a nearby parking garage. One of the secret spots to watch the fireworks is Mesa’s Fiesta Mall. Its parking garage gives onlookers an explosive view of the fireworks that take place at Mesa Community College’s stadium.

The parking structures at Arizona State University are also a popular place to stake out a spot to watch the fireworks. You can see a few different fireworks displays from these parking structures, whether you drive on or simply walk on.

An Island State of Mind

Just a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle is Bainbridge Island, a rustic, artsy community where you can view both of Seattle’s Fourth of July fireworks shows. If you catch it at the right time, you can even watch the fireworks from the ferry. You’ll see the glittering colors reflect off the tall buildings of Seattle’s skyline, and you can snuggle up under a blanket in the cool night air.

Even though so many people watch fireworks displays on Independence Day, getting off the beaten path ensures you don’t have to wait in long lines of traffic or shuffle with the crowds. You’ll have more room to spread out and more time to enjoy the summer night air. If you’re looking for a unique place to watch the fireworks in your hometown, look for a hill with an open view of the area. If you’re traveling in a new city, do some exploring before the big day, and you might make it an Independence Day to remember.

About the Author

Author Michael Thomson is an insurance consultant and recommends an online auto insurance comparison if you are contemplating a move. For instance, if you live in Florida you can instantly request a Maryland auto insurance quote online.