Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you know we love to road trip. There is not a single road trip that is too long or short for us to venture out on. We’ve pretty much had it down to a science and could get off work Friday afternoon, throw the essentials in a bag, and be out the door for a weekend away in no time. Now that we are planning road trips with a tiny human again, we’ve been rethinking our minimalist packing strategy. How much more will we really need? Thanks to a partnership with Red Tricycle and Amazon we’ve discovered there are really only three things you need on the road with kids of any age.

Amazon Fire 7 Kids edition tablet

After a lot of consideration, we’ve determined that there really are only three things you need on the road with kids. Yes, only three, really! Keep reading to see what they are. I promise it will simplify your packing and ensure a ensure a perfect road trip designed with kids in mind.

Road Trips Redefined : The Only Three Things You Need On The Road with Kids

Before year one you probably can get by with “Oh the baby will just sleep in the car.” If only it were that simple in the few years afterward. Those of you with small ones know that packing the car with the right gear can make all the difference. With our older children, a weekend away would mean a stop at the grocery store to stock up on snacks and then by the library to pick out books to be read on our trip. If the vehicle we were driving had a dvd player, we would also pick out a couple of movies to borrow as well. These movies we would watch over, and over, and over. Yes, we all remember the cross country summer marathon viewing party of Elf. It brought a whole new meaning to Christmas in July.

Entertainment

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

The Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet has revolutionized our road trip entertainment options. So much of my previous errand running is totally eliminated. It saves space in the vehicle and it’s portable. I can download their favorite movies, books, and apps at home before we go so that everything is accessible when we are on the road without wifi.  There are 15,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games to choose from and Fire Kids Edition includes a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited at no additional cost.

It also comes in this awesome kid-proof case, your choice of color, so you don’t have to worry about sitting right beside them in the car. On top of that the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet comes with a 2-year worry free guarantee. Really, you don’t have to worry!

My favorite part of this tablet is that it’s designed for ages 3-12 so it can grow with the age ranges of our family for years. We can also set up separate profiles on one device and switch users. With most vehicles having the outlet to recharge in the back we can even charge our device on the go so I’m not having to monitor power usage.

amazon Fire 7 Charging on the road

Snacks

Snacks are always going to be important because you never know when traffic will have you stalled or when other that roadside diner looks less than desirable. Also, road trips by definition require snacks. Here are a few snack suggestions and tactics to make this as easy as possible.

Amazon Fire 7 Road Trip Snacks ideas

  1. Do not go to the grocery store for the pre- road trip snack run- AMAZON PRIME will deliver it to your door!!
  2. Get a good mix of fruit, dry snacks – think easy to vacuum up- like cheerios. My favorite is the individual breakfast boxes. Also add in some pouches that are easy to hand out and have hidden veggies.
  3. Add in a few of their favorites that you reserve for luring them back into the car with. After several hours on the road, even I need an incentive to get back in my seat.
  4. Reusable water bottles. We make sure everyone has their own and we refill them when we stop for bathroom breaks. Staying hydrated is super important and this is a great way to keep track when traveling. Reusable bottles are also good for the environment.

Roadside Attractions

Roadside attractions are definitely something you should plan for. You are going to need to get out and stretch your legs or maybe the roadside attraction is just part of a day trip. Either way these make the trip fun for the kids and they are super great photo-ops for your Instagram presence. You know you’ll have to stop for bathroom breaks and to refill your water bottles so why not make it a fun one.

Roadtrippers app Amazon Fire 7

Need some help finding unique spots along the way? 

Roadtrippers.com is one of my favorite sites to help plan your trip and they even have an app in case your route changes you can find new stops along the way.

Roadsideamerica.com has several forums of user suggestions and feedback on what is worth visiting and RoadTripAmerica.com will create a map of all your stops and is available as an to download in the app store for iPhone users also.

Bonus Tip Amazon Fire 7

*Bonus idea: Life is messy.

Before you take off, loop a reusable tote bag around the headrest for trash or for items you need to locate quickly (charging cords, change of clothes, etc. When my other kids were small they hated wearing shoes in the car so once they were buckled in their car seats, I would immediately take off their shoes and put them in this bag that way I wasn’t searching the car trying to find shoes. If you aren’t in that stage anymore it’s still a great way to keep the car tidy when traveling!

In the next week or so I’ll be listing our favorite Amazon Fire Kids apps, video, and book recommendations for various age ranges so be on the look out for that! If you are considering purchasing an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet for your family (Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet an 8” HD Display, 32 GB of storage and a kid-proof case $129.99 or the Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet 7” display, 16 GB of storage, kid-proof case $99.99) feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or on our social channels. I’m happy to share what I know! Feel free to connect with us anytime!

Thanks again to Amazon for providing the Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet you’ve see in the pictures above and for sponsoring this post!! We appreciate your partnership in helping us share great stories.

 

Holiday Magic is Everywhere in Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Last Friday, I was invited to spend the day touring some of the things the city of Arlington, Texas has in store for us this holiday season. You already know Arlington offers so much to take part in all year-long but this season is especially fun! If you are looking for an entire day of Christmas fun you are going to want to read all the way through this post. I even found a few spots I’ll be back to visit all year-long! I’ll let you guess which ones.

Decorator’s Warehouse & Rose Garden Tea Room 3708 W Pioneer Pkwy, Arlington, TX 76013

Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

First stop on our tour was Decorator’s Warehouse. It has been recognized for years as the premiere Christmas store throughout Texas. Owners David and Kathy Hanson, who started the business in 1989, have pursued with great passion the design and creation of a Christmas store that would be unparalleled anywhere.

Reindeer Christmas decor Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

There are 20 different theme areas from snowmen, Santas and elves to rustic and woodland as well as beautiful elegant and classic themes, and so many more. Each theme area is an adventure in itself where you will see displays such as a full-size Santa’s workshop, a classic truck and life-size bears and Santas. They also feature the largest selection of Christmas trees in Texas as well as ornaments, wreaths, garlands, florals and everything else known to the imagination.

Bear photo op Decorators Warehouse

Vintage Truck Decorators Warehouse

Located in the back of Decorator’s Warehouse is the Rose Garden Tea Room. We enjoyed lunch here after shopping a bit. They have a signature Rose iced tea. I recommend making a reservation because it is a very popular destination but so perfect to enjoy a day of Christmas shopping and lunching with your lady friends.

Downtown Arlington

After shopping to our hearts content we headed downtown to visit some more local shops. You know I am a huge supporter of shopping our local small business.

Downtown Arlington Texas

Legal Draft 500 E Division St Arlington, TX 76011

Legal Draft is possibly one of my favorite new finds. It has a welcoming vibe and great selection. They have seasonal varieties that will keep you coming back and the location lends to additional shopping and eating locally too. This is a place I can see my husband really enjoying for date night or a night out with the guys.

Legal Draft Arlington Texas

Urban Alchmey Coffee

Welcome to your new living room. Urban Alchemy will be your cozy chair, your favorite meeting space and go-to place to celebrate. Arlington’s very first, locally-owned coffee and wine bar is coming to downtown in 2017. Give them a follow on Instagram to be in the know for announcements and local events.

Sleepy Cottage www.thesleepycottage.com 500 E. Front Street #150 Arlington, TX 76011

Sleepy Cottage has curated some of the most adorable merchandise I’ve seen in one place recently. I’m not really even going to elaborate. Check them out in person and online. TRUST ME.

The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Gift from the sleepy cottage Arlington Texas

Travel gift from The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery   

On top of being one of the best wedding cake bakery the metroplex offers, you can also stop in for an espresso, cupcake or sweet treat anytime you like.  I highly recommend the s’mores cupcake.

Sugar Bee sweets Arlington Texas

Six​ ​Flags Over Texas 201 E Road to Six Flags St, Arlington, TX 76010

Six Flags Over Texas truly outdid themselves with a special surprise for us. They day of our tour they opened the park early just for us! Have you ever had an entire theme park just for yourself? I certainly never have. It was magical. all of the grounds are decorated for the holidays and the music playing made me feel like a kids again. But it just kept getting better!

We were first in line to experience Frosty Snow Hill where you can bring your family to go sledding down a hill made of real snow. Our group had the best time. Afterwards, we stopped in to enjoy a custom-made hot chocolate. If you haven’t been out to Six Flags Over Texas now is the time!! You want to make this part of your holiday festivities!

Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Bloggers Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Sledding at Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Globe Life Park Corner of AT&T Way and Copeland Road, Arlington TX

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

The annual Arlington Texas Christkindl Market, is now even grander as part of Enchant: The World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze & Market. Visit Texas Christkindl Market Lane in Enchant, November 24 thru December 31, 2017.

Ice Skating at Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Surrounded by millions of dazzling lights, the memories you make at Enchant will last well beyond the holiday season. Come enjoy the world’s largest light maze, gliding around the magical ice-skating pond, visiting Santa or sharing hot cocoa with your loved ones while listening to live entertainment, you’ll find enchantment around every corner. Enchant has over 100 food and market vendors, including the Texas Christkindl Market Lane. Unwrap new holiday traditions at the most scenic wonderland in Texas!

Enchant Christmas

I’m not sure I realized just how much there was to do in Arlington Texas for the holiday season but since my visit I’ve been telling everyone what a great time we had. I hope I was ably to share some new places and events that you can add to your holiday plans.

Have you visited Arlington, TX recently? Any of these you plan to go to? Leave me a comment below or on IG/FB!

 

 

Ready, Set, It’s Thanksgiving! 5 Unique Hostess Gifts for this Season and Beyond

Babbleboxx Thanksgving

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com

Ready or not Thanksgiving week is here! The kids are out of school. Holiday phone calls are being made to finalize last-minute travel plans. Pies are being baked. It’s hectic but the very best kind, right? This year we are extra out of sorts because literally every household in both our families have moved, some to new houses and some out of the state. Due to the distance, new schedules, and getting settled, we won’t be hosting together in our familiar homes as in years past but we’ve partnered with a few amazing sponsors to highlight five unique ideas to show our gratitude and appreciation to those opening their homes to us this week. So whether you are traveling across the country or just across the street we’ve got the perfect suggestions for what to bring to your host/hostess whether they are a pet lover, always on the search for the perfect cocktail, or just a little something everyone can enjoy.

For the Hosts + Guests

Thanksgiving Edible arrangements

Edible Arrangements is a fantastic gift solution to bring to any Thanksgiving gathering. It adds a healthy option to the menu and creates a delightful centerpiece to share with the crowd while the finishing touches are being added to the main courses. Guests are always looking for something to snack on while the food is being prepared, aren’t they? That’s how it goes down at my house EVERY year! I’m certain this will be well received by any hostess.

It’s delicious and super convenient! We received the Salted Caramel Harvest Bouquet™ with signature Orange Swizzle Berries® This arrangement included salted caramel apple wedges, chocolate dipped strawberries, playful pineapple leaves, a chocolate covered pineapple “apple” in the middle, additional grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe and a ceramic pumpkin container that can be used again. You can order yours until the day before Thanksgiving and I have discount codes for you too!!

Use : THANK17 $10 OFF $39+ ($49 for CA) valid 11/13 – 11/22, unlimited use, for fulfillment any time.
         FEAST $20 OFF $99+, valid 11/13-11/22, unlimited use, fulfillment any time

Edible Arrangements Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

For the Furry Friends

Babbleboxx Thanksgiving Pets

This year we adopted Doug, into our family. She is a 6 year old rescue dog coming to us from a local animal shelter and has been one of the best pets we have ever had. We are so thankful for her and do our best to offer her the best in nutrition and treats whenever possible. Solid Gold Pet believes that every per deserves the longest, happiest life possible. These are treats we feel really good about offering our pet and bringing to other pet lovers for the pets in their families as well.

Solid Gold Pet Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

We also wanted to pay tribute to all those dedicating their time to providing love to those pets without homes this year. Petlanthropy.org is an organization doing just that. They partner and work with hundreds of local animal shelters and rescue groups across the nation. They are filling in the gaps to ensure all animals in shelters have health and happiness until their forever home is found. Offering a Petlanthropy.org donation gift card allows the recipient to give to a local shelter or rescue organization of their choosing. It’s perfect for someone who loves pets and insists “You don’t need to bring anything”. I love it because it is one way that we can remember to say THANK YOU to our local shelter for bringing so much love into our home with dog Doug.

Petlanthropy  Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

For the Guests

Thanksgiving Cocktails

While your hosts are preparing the turkey, it can be a lot of fun help them by serving up a few handcrafted cocktails. A fun cocktail in refreshing and can liven up practically any atmosphere. Clean Cocktails for the Modern Mixologists is a great way to introduce clean cocktail recipes to a crowd Feel free to leave the recipe book behind for your hosts to garner ideas for their next soiree. I know they will appreciate it.

Clean Cocktails Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Looking for a great non-alcoholic option to serve as well? Sipp Sparkling Mojo Berry has you set. Sipp mixes organic ingredients with blends of herbs and fruits to create a lovely refreshing beverage. You can choose to serve it alone or as part of a mixed drink. There are 6 original flavors to choose from so you can really have a lot of fun with this.

Sipp Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Hopefully you found a little inspiration in the gifts above. I know I was introduced to a couple of new favorites myself. The truth is we each have so much to be thankful for this season and every season! I want to show my gratitude whenever possible.

Happy THANKSGIVING to all our readers – We are thankful for YOU all year long!

What are you most thankful for right now?

Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining

 

Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Traveling to Tahoe : Winter Adventure Day 1 #SorentoFamily

Traveling to Tahoe #SorentoFamilyGetting out and adventuring together as a family is what life is all about. Sunshine or snowfall, the Chases are all about finding the next adventure any time of year. So when Kia Motors America invited us to join them for some #SorentoFamily winter fun in Lake Tahoe at The Ritz-Carlton, we jumped on a plane and were on our way!

Naturally, living in Texas we didn’t own a lot of true winter gear. Skiing, snowmobiling, tubing, snowball fights, and well, virtually every activity we would be participating in required winter gear that we didn’t previously own.  Solution: GetOutfitted.com

getoutfitted.com #SorentoFamily

Did you know you can rent everything you need for the ultimate winter vacation and have it delivered right to your doorstep or resort ?! That eliminates a lot of the pressure of shopping, stuffing bulky coats, boots, gloves, goggles and everything else into your suitcase and traveling with it. Fast growing children also means renting is a much more economical option rather than investing to only get one trip out of it. We will never choose to do it any other way now and have recommended this option to several friends going on their own winter adventure.

Once we’d packed up, we headed to the airport and off to Lake Tahoe. Sebastian was super excited to check a few photos off his travel photo checklist before we had even arrived. This one with the pilots was at the top of his list.

Picture with the Pilots #SorentoFamily

When we landed we were met at the airport by some of our favorite Kia representatives who directed us to the Kia Sorento we would be driving during our stay. They were incredibly thoughtful to equip our Sorento with a cooler of our favorite snacks and a warm blanket for our drive to the resort.

#SorentoFamily Snacks

The Sorento was the perfect vehicle for our adventure! The automatic liftgate and spacious trunk made it easy to load our many bags and the other luxury features kept the whole family comfortable inside.

#SorentoFamily Luggage

#SorentoFamily features

The Kia Sorento has heated seated warmers for the front AND back seats, heated steering wheel keeping the driver’s hands toasty warm, and an expansive sunroof keeping the gorgeous mountain peaks and treetops in full view. It also provides just enough lighting for the PERFECT selfies!

Family Selfie #SorentoFamily

Our navigation system kept us going the right way even while we kept distracting each other with “LOOK OVER THERE! OH WOW!” due to all the beautiful scenery we were driving through. Thankfully, Sebastian brought his GoPro along so we wouldn’t miss a thing.

Want to see what the whole drive was like? Check out the time lapse of our drive below!

Being that this was the very first time for the kids to experience what show was really like, we knew would want to pull over and stop along the way, let them play a little bit and capture their first reactions to this gorgeous landscape. I’m so glad we did because, you guys, I’m just in love with the pictures we got and the expressions on their faces are ones I’ll never forget.

Playing in the snow lake Tahoe Kia Sorento #Sorento Family

Kaitlyn first look Lake Tahoe #SorentoFamily

We played and played. Each time we stopped it took a bit of cajoling to gather our excited children back into the Sorento so we could make our way to the Ritz-Carlton in time for check in. I couldn’t really blame them it was a beautiful day to be outside.

Kaitlyn scaling rocks in Tahoe #SorentoFamily

Lake Tahoe Trees and Kids #SorentoFamily

We were haveing so much fun on all our little roadside stops together and the real activities hadn’t even begun yet. I truly wanted to live in these moments forever.

Finding a little zen in the snow #SorentoFamily

Pushups over the water Tahoe #SorentoFamily

We encouraged them to take a few moments of zen to focus and regroup. Then off to the Ritz! They had no idea how much more fun there was to come!

This week we will have several more posts covering our Winter Adventure in Lake Tahoe. I hope you will check back each day for a new post! Until then you can check out some of our photos and social posts we did on site by following the hashtag #SorentoFamily on instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

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