The Mommyhood Life

Travel Tips

How to Save at The Pump with Shell and The Fuel Rewards® Program

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Shell, in which I was compensated. All opinions are my own.

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How to Save at The Pump with Shell and the Fuel Rewards® Program

Summer is upon us and for my family that means road trips! As a family of 5 who loves to travel, we spend a lot of time driving because it is the most cost-effective way for us to be able to get out and explore. Whether we are traveling all the way up to Boston to visit family, or finding a fun place here in Florida to spend the weekend, we enjoy being on the go. This also means we go through a lot of gas, so I am always on the lookout for the best way to save at the pump.

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Shell has been my go-to gas station for as long as I can remember because they have such convenient locations for me. There was a Shell gas station close to my parents’ house growing up, close to my first job, close to my house when I moved out on my own, and now that I have moved across the country, there is still a location less than a block away. When I learned about the *Fuel Rewards® program at Shell it was a no brainer for me to sign up, when a company you are already loyal to, gives you a great way to save money, you do it!

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So, I was thrilled to have the recent opportunity to team up with Shell on a 5-part series throughout the next 6 months to bring you, my readers, travel and money saving tips while showing you all the awesome ways you can save with Shell and the Fuel Rewards® loyalty program’s “Instant Gold Status”.

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Instant Gold Status

Shell has launched an amazing campaign, giving Fuel Rewards® program members Instant Gold Status free through December 2017 and rewarding them with automatic savings of 5 cents a gallon on every fill-up (up to 20 gallons per fill up). If you are not a Fuel Rewards® program member, now is the perfect time to sign up!

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How to Earn Rewards with the Fuel Rewards® program

On top of the amazing 5 cents a gallon savings you receive from the “Instant Gold Status”, you can stack your Fuel Rewards® savings with rewards from the shopping, dining, and traveling you are already doing, by linking your credit card to your Fuel Rewards® account. I was shocked at the number of brands that participate in this program, which makes earning Fuel Rewards savings incredibly simple.

I earn Fuel Rewards savings at the restaurants my family normally dines at, the store I usually by our groceries at, and even the hotels we stay at while traveling. This program has become a huge part of my budget plan both when I’m traveling and during everyday life.

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We have three more road trips planned over the next several months, one to Orlando, another to the Space Coast of Florida, and we will be traveling up to South Carolina over the holidays. I hope you will follow us to learn all our budget travel trips, and make sure you become #InstantGold before your next fill up.

*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to

3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.

5 Tips for Saving for a Summer Vacation

This review was made possible by iConnect and Luvs.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

5 Tips for Saving for a Summer Vacation

Saving for a Summer Vacation

It is officially the start of summer!  Even though down here in Florida summer seems to have started several months ago.  For my family and I, the best part of summer is traveling.  We love taking road trips over to Orlando, or spending long weekends at the beach.  However, as a family of five, traveling can add up quickly.  So, it is important for us to save ahead for all our vacationing plans.

Top Tips for Saving for Summer Travel

Plan ahead: I try to plan our summer travel a couple months before school let out for the summer.  This gives me plenty of time to search around for the best locations and the cheapest travel dates.  This will help save you money and also give you an idea of exactly how much you need to save.

Sell Old Stuff During Spring Cleaning:  With 3 kids, our house gets cluttered quickly.  While we are spring cleaning each year, I declutter every room in the house and items that are sellable are either brought to a local consignment store, sent to online resale sites like Thredup, or we hold our own yard sale.  This is a fairly easy way to earn a chunk of the funds you’ll need for your vacation.

Make your Credit Cards Work for You:  I hate having debt, however I have several credit cards that work to save me money.  Two examples are my Disney Chase Card and my Hilton Rewards American Express Card.  I use these to buy everyday essentials like gas, groceries, and medicine throughout the year and then make sure I pay them in full every month.  In turn I earn reward points towards free travel.  I save my Disney points for trips to Disney World and I use my Hilton Rewards on a lot of our hotel stays.

Cut Down on Your Monthly Expenses:  Try buying in bulk or shopping your local farmers market to save on your grocery bill.  Walk wherever possible during the nice spring whether to save on gas costs.  By taking a close look at your average monthly spending and tightening your budget, you should be able to take a small chunk of money to set aside for a vacation.  When you’re on your dream vacation, you won’t be thinking about the $4 coffees you gave up.

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Save on Diapers: Having children in diapers is a huge expense!  We had 3 in diapers at one point and I remember counting down the months till they were all potty trained, so we would have a raise in funds.  However, there is easy ways to save on diapers like switching to Luvs.  Once the twins came we made the switch and our wallets thanked us.  

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Why Luvs are a great diaper option:

  • Features Super Absorbent Leakguards and NightLock Plus™, its largest absorbency area ever, Luvs Diapers lock away wetness and absorb even more than regular Luvs.
  • With large refastenable stretch tabs, fastening Luvs diapers is super easy for parents, plus they can rest assured knowing that they’re giving baby a secure, snug fit again and again.
  • Luvs knows that between laundry, play dates, snack time, and nap time, you don’t have time for leaks. Luvs makes life easier for busy parents by helping to keep leaks in the diaper where they belong, so baby stays dry and comfortable, even overnight.  
  • A contoured shape hugs baby for a great fit and a super soft cottony material and it softer than ever before so it feels gentle on baby’s skin.
  • The Luvs Money Back Guarantee: Luvs feels so strongly about their diapers that they guarantee them! If you aren’t satisfied with the leakage protection of Luvs, they’ll refund your money.

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Luvs is sharing the luv this summer and offering a great money-saving opportunity with a $2 print-at-home coupon!

The expire 30 days from the date the coupon is printed by the consumer.  You can use this coupon at any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold. All Luvs Diapers are included in this particular offer, except trial/travel sized diaper packs.

Now that you have tips to start saving, where do you plan to Vacation?

How to pack the perfect “Mommy’s Road Trip Survival Bag”

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TwizzlersSummer #CollectiveBias

Road trips have become my favorite way to travel as a family.  I love the freedom of packing up the back of the van and choosing what time we leave, where we stop along the way, and how long we stay.  In the past when we would travel by plane, I hated the fact that I couldn’t stay in a particular city for an extra day or two if I wanted to because the airlines would charge over $100 a ticket if I tried to reschedule our tickets home.  My favorite part of family road trips has to be being able to stay that extra day whenever we get the itch and not having the stress of rushing to an airport is great too!
 
Last June we took our first long distance family road trip.  We traveled from Boston, Massachusetts to Clearwater, Florida.  Stopping for a couple nights in South Carolina and Boca Raton and Orlando Florida for a few nights each. 
 The kids did so well and we had so much fun, that when our Christmas vacation to Charleston rolled around we immediately chose to drive.  We were able to get from Boston to South Carolina in one day, however on the way home we took our time and stopped in Atlantic City and New York City.  Now we are planning a third family road trip for August and we will be traveling from Boston to Orlando with several stops planned out along the way.
 
As much as I love road trips, they can easily become a nightmare if I don’t pack well and plan out ways to keep my kids entertained.  We always leave before the sun comes up, usually by 4:00am.  This way the kids are all still sleeping when we put them in the car.  The early start combined with the car motion usually keeps my kids snoozing until midmorning.  Then once they wake up its time to start pulling things out of my road trip survival bag.
 
Are you heading on a road trip this summer?  If so, this is what I recommend keeping in a bag close to you.  This way you can hand things out as needed in intervals through out the trip and also keep track of things each kid has which helps prevent the car from becoming a huge mess.
 
1) Electronics – no matter what your parenting style is when with  electronics when it comes to being on the road for 12+ hours with kids, electronics can make everyones life a whole lot easier.  We pack a portable DVD player with a variety of DVD’s, Ipads for each of the kids, Nintendo DS’s and Ipods.  It may sound excessive but having numerous electronics allows us to swap them out for charging and as the kids get bored.  Plus headphones are always a must!

2) Coloring Books, Crayons and Notebooks – The kids will get tired of the electronics and get ancy after a while.  My kids all love to color and draw, so I am usually able to keep them content with some crayons for at least an hour.  Its also good to take them into restaurants along the way.

3) Small Toys – I like to go down the party favor isle at Walmart or the dollar and clearance areas and pick up small easy to travel with toys that will keep the kids entertained for a little while.  Some toys that have worked out great are; Playdo, handheld games, sticker books, etch a sketch’s, mini puzzles, exc.
4) Sweatshirts or Blankets – The kids can start complaining about being too hot or cold every hour so I like to keep sweatshirts or blankets on hand incase one wants the air conditioner on and another is complaining their cold.
5) Refillable Water Bottles – Spill proof bottles work out the best for us.  The kids are always thirsty during our road trips, so I like to keep a drink redaly available for them however we learned quickly that if there wasn’t a cover attached to the drink it would end up all over the place.
 
6) Yummy Mess Free Snacks – My go to is Twizzlers Twists, the kids love Twizzlers candy and I like that its an easy snack that is mess free!  There’s no melting mess or risk of spilling and they still taste delicious.

Plus Twizzlers Pull N Peel candy is one of my guilty pleasures.  I could devour an entire bag of this yumminess in one sitting, so I try to keep a bag of it tucked away incase the kids get rowdy and I need a few minutes to escape into my own little world.
 
When we start packing for our road trip, its crunch time and as busy moms we don’t have any time to waste.  Luckily I am able to pick up everything I need to fill and refill my Road Trip Survival Bag at Walmart.  This is very convenient because Walmart is everywhere along our road trip route! 
What are your summer fun plans?

 



Packing the Essentials for Camping ~ The Best Place to be is the Middle of Nowhere! #BBBestSummerEver

 This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

Every year my entire family gets together and drives into the woods to spend a week camping, fishing, swimming, and toasting marshmallows.  We have been doing this since I was a my kids age and I still enjoy every minute of it.  It has become my favorite part of the summer.

My aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends all set up tents in a huge row of camp sites and spend the morning fishing at the river while cooking bacon and eggs at the picnic tables.
  Then enjoy floating in the river all day, laughing and reminiscing about the last 30 years of fun at the campground.  My husband, however, usually falls asleep on a float and finds himself in a bush along the river.
The campground we call home, has a lot for everyone to do.  From beach parties, to turtle races, its impossible for the kids to get bored.  The best part of continuing this family tradition now that I have a family of my own, is seeing the fun of camping through my childrens eyes.  I love seeing them bonding with their cousins and learning things that they would never learn sitting infront of a tv all week!
Every night we get together and barbeque before the kids get to make s’mores, tell campfire stories, and play flashlight tag.
 
With the world often feeling like its becoming a very scary place, there is something about camping that brings out the innocence in my children and makes life slow down.
 
As if that wasn’t enough on the weekend nights, we trade in flashlight tag for a family glow dance at the pavilion.  The big kids and the little kids shake their booties till they fall asleep in our arms dancing to “We Are Family”.  These are the memories that will last forever and I’m proud that they are experiencing these amazing adventures.
After camping my whole life, I have learned that most people don’t forget to pack the big stuff.  I have never heard of someone showing up to the campground without their tent and rarely have I heard of someone forgetting a grill or cooler.  However somebody always forgets the small stuff, and without bug spray, a can opener, or sunblock in the woods for a week can lead to misery.
 
Have you ever camped with a sunburn?  Its not fun at all!  You have no way of controlling the temperature while your depending on mother nature.  A sunburn can make you freeze all night and burn up all day.  Carrying wood for the fire, sleeping on an air mattress, and running through the woods goes from normal camping fun to a miserable achy day. 
 
So what’s on the top of my packing list every year?  Not my tent or chairs, I know they’ll get packed, on the top of my list is my Banana Boat® Sunblock!  We are living outside all week, we are in the sun weather we plan to be or not, that’s why in order to keep everyone healthy and happy all week I apply and reapply sunblock on my kids and myself all day, everyday. 
 
I always have a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Sunscreen Lotion for the kids faces, and a bottle of Banana Boat®  Sport Performance® CoolZone™ Continuous Spray Sunscreen for my husband and I with me.
 
Banana Boat® keeps the kids protected so that I can keep the fun going!
I also like to pack some other necessities that are easy to forget in a small plastic bin that I can keep on the picnic table without worrying about any rain.  Some of my easy to forget items are Band-Aids, Neosporin, bug spray, prescriptions, Motrin and tummy medication, an extra flashlight and batteries, zip ties, and antibacterial wipes.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

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Getting Ready for Our Next Road Trip! #BBBestSummerEver

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.
Summer is finally here!  We plan to take a road trip down to Florida again this year after having an amazing time last year.  We leave Boston before the sun comes up and head south, trying to make it to South Carolina by sun set.  My brother is still in Charleston, along with a piece of my heart.  I fell in love with Charleston during our first trip down there a few years ago, and that love has grown deeper each time we have returned.  I love the southern living, the front porches, the people, and the beauty.

After spending some time soaking up life in Charleston, we get back on the road and head south to Clearwater, Florida.  However there is no driving through Georgia without getting Georgia peaches!  I’ll never forget the first time we drove through and I grabbed some a stand for a snack, the kids and I were hooked on the most tasty peaches we’ve ever had and ate about 5 pounds that day.  The peach stop is now a set stop on all our east coast road trips.
After stocking up on peaches, we continue down to Clearwater.  Clearwater Beach is my most favorite beach.  The water is crystal clear, warm, and calm plus the sand is soft and fluffy.  Beyond the beach there is so many fun activities to do in the Tampa Bay area, from Zoo’s to Boat rides.
After Clearwater, we head over to Orlando for some amusement park fun before starting our return trip home.
I love taking this road trip during the summer because the kids are out of school and we have more time to spend relaxing and enjoying each stop, without worrying about getting back home before school reopens.  However the Florida summer is hot, actually more like sweltering.
It is hotter than hot, humid, and sticky but so beautiful at the same time.  We spend lots of time outside, at the beach, poolside, and doing day trips.  This means we need sunblock every single day, all day.  During last years trip we went through a bottle of sunblock a day keeping all five of us protected, and I anticipate the same for this year.  So before we hit the road I will be making a special trip to Walmart for sunblock and all my summer fun must haves.
 
My go to sunblock is Banana Boat®,  its a trusted brand in my family.  I like the protection they offer, the scent is great, and they have a full selection of all the sunblock types I look for.

For the road trip, I have a bag that stays in the front center of our van with all my essentials in easy reach, including my sunblock stock.  I have a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, a bottle of Banana Boat® Kids Sunscreen Lotion for the kids faces, and a bottle of 
Banana Boat®  Sport Performance® CoolZone™ Continuous Spray Sunscreen
for my husband and I. 
 

The Sport Performance®

CoolZone™ spray is my biggest obsession, especially in Florida!  It sprays on cold and instantly refreshed me when I’m hot and sweaty, it’s awesome and like dropping ice on yourself without getting wet.  This turned my mood around on many hot days walking around an amusement park!

We are sweating and swimming a lot in Florida, so I make sure to apply at least 2 tablespoons of Banana Boat® to each of us every 2 hours during the day.  The kids get sick of getting out of the water or breaking from the sand castle building, so we like to try to make up songs to sing with a little dance so that putting on sunblock is fun.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

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How to Pack the Perfect Beach or Pool Bag with a Free Printable Checklist! #CokeHappyHour

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CokeHappyHour #CollectiveBias
The most relaxing way for my family to spend a summer day is by the pool or at the beach.  My kids love the water and could swim for hours without complaining once, and building sandcastles at the beach and burying each other in the sand makes some of the best family memories.

However to really be able to relax on this fun outing with 3 children, I need to do a lot of prep work.  That’s why I have created the perfect beach/pool bag for my family. 
At the beginning of the summer season I gather everything I may need at the beach or pool and pack up my beach bag fully,  along with stocking the back of my van with the kid’s favorite pool toys, life jackets, cooler, and our sand toy tote.
 
Once I have my bag fully packed and the van well stocked, I am prepared for countless pool and beach days.  I only need to swap out wet towels,  empty trash, and refill the cooler and I’m ready for our next outing.
This is what I pack in my Beach Bag:
The kids favorite beach towels
 
Sun block, I like having both spray and cream versions.  The sprays are convenient and quick, but I like using creams for the kids faces and shoulders for extra protection.
 
Both Lilly and Myself get really dry lips when there is an ocean breeze, so I always pack lip balm.
Plastic bags are great for wet towels and clothes.  Plus if your a walk from a trash barrel, having plastic bags can be very convenient.
 
Baby wipes, my kids are all potty trained however I still use baby wipes everyday.  They are perfect for wiping down faces, hands, toys, and pretty much everything else.
 
A beach blanket, I have chairs in the van however a blanket is a lot easier to carry when I’m taking the kids by myself.  Plus sometimes the kids just want to laydown and stretch out after spending hours building the biggest sand castle possible.
Hair Ties, Leave in Conditioner, and a Wet Brush.  Lilly’s curls can become a matted mess really quickly if I don’t maintain a high ponytail while she’s in the chlorine or salt water.
 
Lotion is also great to have on hand.  The salt water and ocean breeze or a heavily chlorinated pool can both leave your skin feeling tight and dry.
 
I also have a small pouch of first aid necessities.  Band-Aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, and Tylenol are great to have on hand just in case.
 
After my bags packed, I set up the van for all the summer fun!
The things I keep in my van are;
Beach and Camp Chairs, between the beach, pool, and cookouts, I am always pulling chairs out of the van.
 
The kids lifejackets, I love always having these with me and even though Anthony is a great swimmer and the twins are learning, there are still times when I prefer them to have their jackets on.  Especially at crowded lakes and rivers.
 
Swim toys,  I keep the kids noodles, kick boards, and goggles in the back of the van.  This has saved me countless times from the kids wanting to go in those fun beachside stores that have all the cool pool floats sitting outside.
 
Sand Toy Tote, I love our sand toy tote it is plastic with checkered holes through it which makes it incredibly easy to rinse off all our sand toys at once.  My kids are often entertained for an entire day building castles, so I never want to be stuck at a beach without our pails and shovels.
 
Cooler, one of the best parts of spending the day at the beach or pool is that it is budget friendly for a family of five.  However if I buy lunch and drinks at a snack stand, the day can go from costing a few dollars for parking to over $50.  So we pack our cooler before we go or on the way at a local Walgreens.
One drink that I always have in my cooler are a few bottles of cold refreshing Coke.  There is something about the bubbly taste and smelling the ocean that brings me right back to my childhood.  As my childhood memories flood back, I enjoy making these great memories with my children even more.
What better way to share a Coke, than enjoying a beautiful day by the water!
 
It is easy to forget some important essentials when trying to get out the door early enough to find a perfect spot on the sand with a bunch of excited kids in tow.  This Beach (or Pool) Checklist is the perfect solution, run through it before you leave the house to save yourself a headache in the midst of some water fun. 
 Plus make sure you stock up on your favorite Coca-Cola beverages at Walgreens with these amazing deals, before you get to the beach!
Every Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00pm, Buy 1 Coca-Cola 20 oz. bottle and Get 1 Free 20 oz. bottle to share! You can load the coupon instantly on the Walgreens app or click here for more information.
 
May through July you get 3,000 Balance Rewards points when you buy participating Coca-Cola products when you purchase $10 of participating Coca-Cola products.

Who will you share a Coke from Walgreens with this summer?

 

Tips for Preparing to Travel to Brazil with kids ~ Plus a Portuguese Language Program Giveaway! #rocketlanguages


With a Brazilian Hubby, my family has traveled to Brazil over a half dozen times in the past 10 years.  We have also had the opportunity to live there for 6 months when Anthony was a toddler.  With all these trips under my belt, traveling to Brazil has become second nature.  However I still remember the stress of the unknown the first time we booked plane tickets.
 
Here are a few tips to help your international travel go smoothly.
 
1.  Get your paperwork and travel plans together in advance.   American citizens needs passports and visas to travel to Brazil,  both these applications require both parents to be present when applying for a minor.  Visas are obtained at your local Brazilian consulate office and you will need to schedule an appointment for this in advance.  The wait time can differ greatly depending on the time of year and what Brazilian holidays are coming up. 
 
2.  Think about where your staying.  When we go to Brazil we stay with family so hotels aren’t something we think about often.  However we did stay at a hotel in Rio once and on Praia da Costa in my husbands state, Espirito Santo.  When staying in a hotel in Rio I highly suggest either reading as many reviews online as you can or going with a trusted resort chain.  The crime rate in Rio is very high and the neighborhoods can range from beautifully upscale areas to favelas that are mainly controlled by drug gangs.  You want to make sure that your hotel is in a safe area before you begin your trip.
 
3.  Add some Portuguese to your vocabulary.  I have used several language programs, but right now my favorite is Rocket Languages.  The Portuguese program is interactive and you are able to record yourself in conversations which is extremely helpful when trying to get the pronunciations correct.  The program is also fully available online with 24/7 access, which is a huge plus for busy families.

4.  Packing, remember that a lot of brands your used to using in the USA may not be available in Brazil depending on the parts your traveling to.  Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have more American brands for things like makeup and baby formula however expect the cost to be at least 3-5 times as much as you’d pay in the US.  If your going to a less touristy area of the country these brands will likely not be available and you’ll have to use the local equivalent and many items are a lower quality.  When our kids were still in diapers and we traveled, I always tried to pack as many diapers as possible to bring with us because the quality of the diapers there, even the name brand packages weren’t very good.  I also packed extra bottles, pacifiers, and formula.  These are all available in Brazil however a $3 bottle from Walmart will easily cost over $30 in Brazil and baby formula was sky high.

5)  Cellphone Service, before traveling check with your cell phone carrier about their international pricing.  If its not available and your cell phone is unlocked, you can go to a Brazilian cell phone companies kiosk in any local mall once you arrive in Brazil and purchase a prepaid sim card.  However we haven’t found a company that offers unlimited data with prepaid plans yet, so we usually spend a lot more than the average person refilling our data with both me and the hubby working online. 

We love Brazil and it is our second home.  Once the planning, packing, and traveling is over, make sure you relax with an agua de coco and enjoy the beautiful country!

Now for the Giveaway!
Enter for a chance to Win the Rocket Languages Portuguese Program:
Giveaway ends: February 27, 2015


 
*I received a press sample of this language program to facilitate this review/giveaway, All opinions are 100% my own*

Packing Tips for Great Wolf Lodge New England ~ Things to Bring and Things to Leave!


I’m a chronic over packer.  Heading out for a weekend getaway, I can easily rationalize packing half my closet and the entire bathroom.  This was the case with our recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge New England as well, and most of the stuff in our suitcases didn’t get touched!  So here is a small list of things that you may need and some things you certainly do not need to pack.

Bring:
• Snacks/meals for your room – eating on site can get pricey, especially when needing to purchase 3 meals and snacks everyday.  Try packing some snacks, stuff to make sandwiches, exc.  The rooms are equipped with small refrigerators and microwaves, making it is easy to cut a meal or two off your budget by eating in your room.
• Cute Pj’s and Slippers for the kids – One of my favorite parts of our GWL stay was the nighttime show and bedtime story in the lobby.  Pack some cute pjs for a great photo opp and some slippers to wear down to the lobby.
• Bathing suit Cover-up – you’ll be making a lot of trips from the waterpark to your guest room or other activities.  A cover-up is a must have because the pool towels must stay inside the water parks and the hallway is much chillier than the water park.
• Sneakers – I assumed all we would need at a waterpark was flip flops but boy was I wrong!  Thankfully the kids had worn their sneakers to the resort because you need closed toe shoes to do the Howlers Peak rope course, and it is a must do at the resort.
• Cape or Costume –  One of my kids favorite thing at Great Wolf Lodge was the MagiQuest game,  If you purchase a Paws Pass you’ll get a basic wand and the game as part of the package.  However all the fun wizard and princess costumes in the MagiQuest store will probably catch the kids eyes.  If you have one packed away in your room, its easier to cut the expense out.
 
• Small Bag for Dry Clothes – After check-out you still have access to the park and activities until closing.  The water park has lockers and changing rooms so packing a small bag with clothes for the ride home can be very convenient instead of digging through the suitcases in the car.
Leave:
• Towels – The resort provides plenty of towels in both water parks.  They have bins full of them so you can get a dry one as often as you’d like, so leave your towels at home.
• Lifejackets – There’s no need to pack all the kids Lifejackets, the resort had them in every size.  So you can leave your at home and still have piece of mind!
• Floats – Pool floats are not allowed in the water park so leave your inflatables and noodles at home.
 
• Sunscreen – A big perk of indoor water parks is not needing to reapply sunscreen every hour.  The New England Great Wolf Lodge only has a small splash pad outside, everything else was indoors so the bottle of sunblock never made it out of the suitcase.

 

Camping 101 ~ Tips to prepare for a Great Camping Trip

Camping 101
Technology is an amazing thing, letting us live lives of comfort and keep in contact with friends and family all over the globe.  The downside is it is very easy to find yourself isolated from people who are near to you and out of touch with yourself.  Camping is a great way to connect with friends and family and to give yourself a break from the LCD glow that surrounds us even while we sleep.  

One of the great things about camping is that it is something that you can tailor to suit almost every taste.  If you just want a change of scenery, you can go with very comfortable, well appointed campers and travel trailers.  If you want something a little more traditional but still want the comfort of a hot shower, many campgrounds offer modern amenities.  If you want to go totally rustic you find places suited for that as well, right down to simply stating out a spot in a State Forest and having to purify water and forage for food.  Regardless of how you choose to camp, there are a few tips that are almost always useful.
Preparation – nothing spoils a trip faster than finding out you forgot something important.  We like to keep our gear packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Every time we return from a trip, everything is taken out, cleaned and repacked.  Depending on the style that you choose, make sure that you have a supply of the basics, stowed away to keep them protected.  
Another great way to simplify your trip is to prepare your meals ahead of time as much as possible.  Chop veggies and potatoes ahead of time, you save on time and space.  If you plan your meals ahead of time, you can freeze the meats you won’t use right away.  They will help keep the rest of your food cold and reduce your chance of food borne illness by staying cold longer.
Planning – do some scouting on where you would like to camp.  Many popular campgrounds are booked months in advance, especially on holiday weekends.  Make sure you pick a location with activities that your group will enjoy.  Besides the obvious things like hiking or fishing, camping can be a fun way to closer to popular attractions or save money on a long road trip.
Most campgrounds have maps online, look and see how close the campsites are together.  If a campground is packed in tight and very crowded, you may end up wishing you’d have stayed home if you are looking for a little solitude.  Look at the services available at a particular site.  If a site has large spots for RVs or campers, but no electric hookups, you may end up next to someone who is running a generator, which will spoil your ambiance. 
Prevention – campgrounds attract animals and they are much cleverer than you think about getting into your stuff.  If you are backpacking, if you keep your site clean and if you aren’t in a spot that is camped at a lot, a simple food cache will usually be enough.  Keep your food in a separate bag, tie a long length of rope to it and hang it from a tree branch large enough to support it and keep a bear from pushing it over, but small enough that it can’t be climbed.  
If you are in a campground and near your vehicle, simply put your food back into your vehicle and roll up the window.  Keeping strong smelling food in a Ziploc bag can also help avoid having your meals destroyed.  DO NOT put your food in your tent, not only will you have your food eaten, you will also very likely have your tents and sleeping bags destroyed as well.
Camping is one of our family’s favorite activities and properly planned it is extremely enjoyable.  If you don’t plan, however, it can be a miserable experience that can spoil it for a lifetime.  The time spent away from the rush of everyday life is the perfect way to bring friends and family close together and be an ongoing tradition.

10 Great Travel Games to Make Road Trips Fun

After spending 70+ hours in a Van with 3 kids over the past few weeks, I learned what works and what doesn’t to keep them happy and entertained.
Here is a list of 10 great Travel Games to help you make a road trip fun!

 

Melissa & Doug License Plate Game

License Game
Road trip Add excitement to travel with this sturdy, reusable classic travel game. Learn the name and location of all fifty states, identify states by their license plate design or simply plot your trip by flipping the states along your route…this is truly fun on the go No loose pieces to leave a trail.
 

Zynga Words with Friends To Go Game

Words
Play this travel size Words with Friends game whenever the urge for words strikes! Based on the addictive online game, this portable word game lets you create words vertically or horizontally that connect to previous words. The player with the most points wins, and when the game is over you can store the tiles and game board inside the portable case. Take your wordy fun on the road with the Words with Friends game!
 

My Friendship Bracelet Maker Traveler

Friendship Maker
Celebrate friendship and creativity with our portable Traveler Friendship Bracelet Maker. The Traveler features a weaving work surface with slide-out storage drawer and 20 pre-cut threads in bright shades that appeal to every child. Color instructions are included.

Find It Games At the Beach

FindIT
Find It at the Beach is a contained adventure. It features ocean blue end caps and over 40 hidden items with a beach theme in soothing blues, greens and coral colored pellets. This is an exciting game that is a great travel game with its enclosed pieces that will never get lost. Will you find the ray, whale, beach chair, shark, bathing suit or light house in this contained adventure. The hard to find penny is still included in the Find It At the Beach game. Play Find It At the Beach in your home at the cabin, car or office. Includes Find It At the Beach game and a check off pad. Find It can be played alone or as a timed game with friends.

Hasbro Travel Guess Who Game Fun On The Run

Guess Who
Hasbro Travel Guess Who Game Fun On The Run.

Spot It! on the Road

Spot It
Spot it! has officially hit the open road. Each colorful symbol is something you would see on a typical road trip. This edition has a new way to play while in the car: Travel Bingo. Whether you’re in the big city, cruising down the highway, or just around town, there is always something to spot. Be sure to pack Spot it! On the Road to bust backseat boredom wherever you go. This little tin has everything you need for endlessly fun car games! Includes 55 cards in a tin canister.

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Hangman

Hangman
These fabulous, travel-style games bring new fun and convenience to old family favorites. Innovative flipping pieces won’t get lost. Includes one game board with erasable whiteboard, self-storing marker and eraser. Great for the road and at home. Exceptional Quality and Value.

Curious George Travel Cube

George
Take the fun anywhere. Curious George wants to play his favorite games with you. This travel-sized cube has a convenient carry it anywhere handle and comes loaded with bingo, two classic card games and a fun new four-in-a-row game all featuring curious George and his friends. Learning fun, number, color and shape recognition, matching and strategic thinking. Product contents 1 game board in 4 pieces, 1 deck of 40 cards, 1 rules card, 60 tokens, 25 bingo tile, 1 spinner and 1 game rules manual. Age 3+, number of players 2 to 5. The wonder forge features family games designed to bridge generation gaps and build family bonds. Its preschool sub-brand, i can do that. Games, is designed to celebrate the “can do” in every kid, with games that engage children physically, socially and creatively.

Educational Insights Travel Blurt!

Blurt
Now you can Blurt. on the go. This handy, portable version of best-selling Blurt. includes 75 new Blurt. definition cards (450 new Blurt. clues), cardholder, scoreboard and magnetic pieces. Take turns passing the cards, reading the definitions and blurting out the answers.

Let’s Go Fishin’

Fish
Try to get the most fish in this classic action-packed game! For 1 to 4 players, Contents: Deluxe plastic game base, 21 colorful fish, 4 plastic fishing poles, rules. Requires 1 x C battery (not included). 4 Years +
 
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