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15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

15 Awesome Road Trip Hacks for the Whole Family

Road trip! What childhood memory comes to mind when you hear those words? Chances are your memories are either about great fun, or hours of misery fighting with your sibling in the back seat of the car. For me, it’s a little bit of both!

Now that I’m older and have learned a lot about traveling with kids of all ages, I realize as long as you take the time to plan ahead on some things, and are wide open to change on others, a road trip can be a fun part of the whole adventure. Here are some great road trip hacks for the whole family.

1. Make Behavior Expectations Clear Before Leaving

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    Image via Flickr by Kim Davies

    This often overlooked hack sets the tone for the whole trip. Talk to your family about trip rules and expectations before you leave. Print them out so you can refer back to the rules if necessary. The last thing you want to hear is, “You didn’t tell me that!”

    The rules should include things like, “Everyone uses the restroom when we stop, even if you don’t have to go,” and “When we stop, everyone stays together.” Also relay expectations about how often you will be stopping, when you will eat, what reward will be given for good behavior, and what is taken away if behavior is not up to par. By going over these simple rules and expectations beforehand, your family will know what to do.

    2. Hang a Backpack Full of Activities Over the Headrest of the Front Seat

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      Image via Flickr by MTSO fan

      This hack works for all ages and there’s nothing to buy since just about everyone owns a backpack. Items inside the pack can be customized based on age.

      Hang a backpack over the head rest of the front seat, then roll the flap of the backpack down and secure it with a binder clip. Once secure, fill the bag and mesh compartment inside with age-appropriate activities and snacks. This hack can be super simple or very creative. For little ones, you might want to wrap up a few dollar store toys and put them in the bag as a special surprise.

      3. Fill Fido’s Kong Toy with Peanut Butter

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        Image via Flickr by OakleyOriginals

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        Dogs get bored just like kids. When traveling with your four-legged kid, fill a Kong toy with a tasty treat such as peanut butter. I know, it sounds gross but it really does work! He will be able to smell the treat even after licking all he can out of the center. This keeps him busier than a normal toy would and it doesn’t splinter all over your car like a bone.

        Once you reach your destination, just rinse the toy thoroughly inside and out to remove any leftover treat still inside. Most of the Kong toys have a larger opening that makes cleaning easy.

        4. Play Games that Promote Working as a Team and Avoid Games with One Winner

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          Image via Flickr by Vastateparkstaff

          Face it! Kids are competitive at all ages, and they will fight if given the chance. A game that requires everyone to work as a team will help everyone get along better. You can play a game of scavenger hunt and offer a prize for everyone once all of the items are collected, say, “If you get everything on the list, we will stop and have ice cream!” That would work for me!

          It may be best to avoid some of the more traditional games like license plate bingo if you are traveling with competitive kids. Games like these can backfire and cause fights when someone doesn’t believe you actually saw that license plate from Ohio.

          5. Create a Moving Scrapbook

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            Image via Flickr by Bunches and Bits

            Assign everyone a different task. Someone can be in charge of pictures, someone items for the scrapbook, and someone keeps a journal. The idea is that each person works on their part while on the trip so that when you return home from your destination, you have everything for a scrapbook. The collaborative work becomes a meaningful souvenir everyone will appreciate.

            6. Stay Connected While On the Road

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              Image via Flickr by Sidartha Thota

              An easy solution for staying connected to the internet on larger devices such as a tablet is use your smartphone’s hot spot or tethering capabilities. This hack comes in handy for the whole family. Full views usually offer more information than a mobile view so it’s easier to find maps and other needed information faster.

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              Remember, if you don’t have unlimited data you will want to either purchase more data before you leave, or monitor the usage closely while on the road to avoid overage charges.

              7. Schedule Pit Stops Where Everyone Can Burn Off Excess Energy

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                Image via Flickr by lulginter

                Bring action items such as a football or Frisbee so that you can encourage everyone to burn off excess energy during pit stops. If you forget to bring something family members can chase, no worries, foot races or tag will get you the same result.

                This is a great family activity so Mom and Dad should be running too. Exercise helps release endorphins and that reduces stress. If you are less stressed, you will be better able to handle the hiccups that may happen along the way.

                8. Go Old School and Bring a Real Map and a Sharpie

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                  Image via Flickr by StefanAndrejShambora

                  There is just something about a traditional map that brings excitement to a trip. You can tell the kids this is how Mom and Dad traveled when we were your age. You will sound ancient but the kids usually think its cool!

                  Allow the kids to trace the route as you go. They will appreciate the visual of how far they have gone and how much further they have to travel to reach the destination. It adds a fun element that is missing in today’s travel.

                  9. Go Off the Beaten Path

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                    Image via Flickr by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

                    Another fun activity for all ages is to follow a couple of those really weird billboards you see along the way or Google, “World’s Largest (you fill in the blank).” These little side adventures not only take you off the beaten path, but they add unexpected fun and memories to your trip.

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                    10. Take Advantage of Free and Reduced Price Days

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                      Image via Flickr by Scott Smith

                      If you want to see something particular in a town, research when they may have free or reduced pricing for that attraction. Many museums and theme parks reduce prices after a certain time of day. Some even offer free admission.

                      Disney is a great place to find these freebies. Many museums in the area offer free days and Downtown Disney is always free. You will find lots of things to do and see there for all ages.

                      11. Look into Coupon Books for a City Before you Travel There

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                        Image via Flickr by Schipul

                        This hack can save you hundreds when visiting a city far away from home. In the US, if I am traveling to a certain area for a few days, I often invest in an Entertainment Book for that area. They tend to be less touristy and using just a couple coupons inside more than pays for the price of the book.

                        If you want to do more of the touristy activities, many cities have coupon books available for attraction-heavy activities around town. Discounts in these books are usually not as good, but any discount is better than none.

                        12. Plan Your Trip to Avoid Detours and Rush Hours

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                          Image via Flickr by Derek Bruff

                          By leaving at a certain time of day, you can avoid rush hour in larger cities and get to your destination faster. If you do happen to hit a rush hour or traffic jam, there are some great apps out there now that can help you detour using alternative routes.

                          When researching a route, don’t forget to check for construction along the way. Sometimes the fastest route becomes the slowest once you hit construction delays.

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                          13. Use a Gas App to Save Money on the Road

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                            Image via Flickr by Andy Pixel

                            Sometimes just a few miles makes a big difference when it comes to gas prices. With a gas app, like GasBuddy, you can easily tell when it is a good time to fill up.

                            If you are taking a rental car on your road trip, beware of high gas prices near the rental facility. Your contract usually requires you bring the car back with a full tank. Recently, I dropped off a car to a rental facility where the gas at the station across the street was priced $1.50 more than I had paid elsewhere. The station was full of people filling up before dropping back their cars. Ouch!

                            14. Remember the Important Travel Essentials: Rubber Bands, Binder Clips and Duct Tape

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                              Image via Flickr by Lynn Friedman

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can secure cell phones, back packs, iPads, and many other items. Duct Tape, well, what can’t Duct Tape do? Use it for quick fixes of squeaks inside the car, securing luggage, and even arts and crafts. It is the universal travel essential you cannot leave home without.

                              Rubber bands and binder clips can be used to hold cell phones in air vents when a holder isn’t available. This is great hack when using a cell phone as a GPS.

                              15. Use the Coat Rack for Something Useful

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                                Image via Flickr by Josh Ferris

                                You can use an additional cargo net like the one pictured, but attach it to the clothes handles above the rear windows near the interior roof. This adds more space for storage and utilizes wasted space along the ceiling. For winter trips, this is an excellent place to put coats or other flat items that are needed, but bulky when left in the seat. It’s also a great place to put pillows.

                                This hack is great for everyday use.You can leave the net there and have an instant storage location to use year round.

                                If you have used any of these hacks, or have hacks of you own, please share your experience in the comment box below. Everyone loves a great hack! What’s yours?

                                Featured photo credit: by Massachusetts Office of Tourism via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                                13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                                Why is this so critically important to you?

                                The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                                Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                                1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                                Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                                When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                                • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                                • The man facing the judge.
                                • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                                • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                                • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                                • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                                These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                                Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                                Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                                2. Accept Your Fear

                                Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                                We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                                And here’s what can be done.

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                                3. Get Some Perspective

                                I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                                And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                                That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                                We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                                So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                                • Are you really at risk?
                                • Will this kill you?
                                • Which leads us on to..
                                • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                                4. Hold a Hand

                                As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                                Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                                We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                                Ask yourself:

                                • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                                • Could that really happen?
                                • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                                • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                                By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                                5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                                This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                                Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                                The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                                It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                                For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                                Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                                6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                                I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                                Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                                Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                                Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                                Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                                Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                                7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                                Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                                I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                                It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                                One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                                Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                                It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                                8. Assume the Worse

                                If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                                Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                                • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                                • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                                • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                                And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                                When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                                Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                                9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                                If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                                Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                                Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                                10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                                One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                                11. Go with Fear

                                When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                                I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                                Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                                One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                                However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                                We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                                12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                                And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                                The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                                What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                                13. Own Your Fear

                                Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                                We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                                You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                                More Resources About Fighting Fear

                                Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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