6 Ways to Keep Children Entertained on the Road
Road trips present a fun and often more affordable way for families to go on vacation. While the benefits of a family road trip are easy to see, there can also be disadvantages to traveling by car with the little ones. With children cooped up in a small space for hours on end, things are bound to get a little dicey. To avoid pandemonium in the backseat, you can keep kids entertained on the road with these fun ideas.
Load up tablets and DVD players with movies.
Road trips often boil down to countless hours to kill in a small, confined space. An easy way to keep the little and big ones entertained is by putting on a movie or cartoon. Today’s technologies make this even easier with tablets and built-in vehicle DVD players. You can easily distract the young ones and even the older children for hours on end by having a few movies in your arsenal.
Play a game.
The entire car can partake in a road trip game to stay entertained. There are many different road trip games you can play with children, from I-Spy to the License Plate Game. Road trip games present a fun way to involve the whole family and keep everyone busy in the process.
Listen to some stories.
No longer do you have to toss a physical book your child’s way to keep them entertained. As it can be difficult to read to smaller children in the car, audiobooks can help pass away the miles with very little effort required. You can find options that come with a physical book and the audio version so the little ones can flip through the pages and read along as the miles pass by.
Set up a coloring station.
If you want a quiet backseat, you can encourage your children to draw what they see out the window. All you really need are simple spiral drawing notebooks and a few colored pencils. You will want to avoid crayons as they can melt in the car and make more of a mess than the pencil alternatives.
Magnetic time wasters.
Most kitchens have a baking sheet or two. You might not think to pack these for your road trip, but they can help keep your younger passengers entertained. You can purchase magnetized letters, shapes and numbers. Kids can then create pictures or words or practice counting on their baking sheets, all while keeping the backseat mess-free.
Stop at a rest stop every few hours.
To avoid hearing, “Are we there yet?” over and over again on a road trip with kids, parents will need to break up the drive to keep kids entertained. As part of your road trip activities for kids, you can map out what rest stops you’ll hit for a few minutes of running around outside of the car. A little activity will help break up the drive mentally for children and also give them spots to look forward to on their own.
While your carload of kids is happily entertained in the backseat, Extended Stay America makes parents happy with their “kids stay free” policy. With on-site laundry facilities, kitchens and plenty of television channels, the whole family can unwind off the road.
Pre-Road Trip Car Maintenance Checklist
Summer's ending soon, and the great American road trip is a summer bucket list essential. Road tripping across the country presents an affordable and fulfilling way to see the United States. However, a road trip can turn into a nightmare if your car breaks down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. While you can pack an emergency kit with essentials, the best way to keep your wheels turning and the wind in your hair is to have your road trip vehicle serviced before you hit the road. Make sure you check off these car maintenance steps before you put the pedal to the metal.
Check Your Engine Oil or Have it Changed
If you don’t stay updated on the condition of your engine oil, you could face major engine malfunctions, shutdowns and damage to your vehicle. If you are taking off on a road trip, you should have your car’s oil levels checked. Even if you aren’t due for an oil change just yet, you might want to have it changed. In the case of long road trips, you might exceed the mileage on your last oil change while you are traveling.
Make Certain the Wheels Will Keep on Turning
It is an all too common scene. A minivan full of kids is pulled over with a flat tire. While you might not be able to avoid the flat tire on your road trip, there are a few things you can do to prevent blowouts or flats. You should have your tire pressure checked on all four wheels. If it is too low, you are in danger of having a flat or a blowout. You also want to examine the treads on your tires. They shouldn’t be worn. If they are, you might need to replace them before you take off on your trip. It is also a good idea to have tire-changing tools in your car such as a solid spare tire, a jack and a wrench.
Hit the Brakes
Aside from an engine failure, brake failure is one of the worst things that can happen to your road trip vehicle. You can prevent a brake problem by having the brake fluid and brake pads checked before you leave. If it has been several years since your last brake fluid flush, you might need another to ensure you can stop when you want to on your road trip.
Take Charge of the Battery
A dead battery often occurs at the worst possible time and location while on the road. In many cases, a dead battery could be blamed on one of those tiny tikes leaving a car light on while you head into your hotel for the night. In this case, you should have jumper cables in your road trip vehicle. When planning a road trip, it is also a good idea to check the age and condition of your battery. If your battery is approaching old age, you might need a new one before you hit the road.
After a long day of driving, you will want accommodations that provide everything you need. Extended Stay America suites come equipped with premium television channels, kitchens and separate bedrooms so that you can relax and hit the road well-rested in the morning.
How to Move with Kids During the Back-to-School Season
For families, plotting a move just before school starts is essential. You avoid the disruption to your child’s schoolwork and the conflicting of schedules by moving before the first bell rings of the school year. Back-to-school season is an exciting time for kids. They are adjusting to new teachers, classmates and routines. However, if you throw a move into the mix, tantrums and meltdowns are bound to occur. Whether you are moving down the road or across the country this back-to-school season, be sure to consider these relocating tips for a smoother move.
Be Organized and Get the Kids Involved in the Process
Some parents try not to break the news of moving to new schools and homes until they absolutely have to with their children. However, you don’t want to create more chaos for your child. It is best to start getting organized for your move several weeks in advance, especially if you are moving in August. Being disorganized could lead to a disastrous move, filled with disruptions and exhaustion. Parents also shouldn’t shy away from getting kids involved in the organizational process. You will want to show them photos of their new room and how they will set it all up once moving day arrives.
Have Some Fun by Getting to Know Your New Home
If your family always goes out for pizza on a Friday night, you need to keep up that routine in your new home with your kids. Families should find new restaurants and attractions in their new neighborhood to establish a similar routine for the little ones. By helping your kids get to know where they are moving, and by linking it to the previous home by way of routines, they will be less likely to have trouble adjusting at school. A familiarity with their new home will allow kids to transition to a whole new life that much easier.
Book Extended Stay Hotels to Make the Transition Easier
If you are moving homes during back to school time, you need to establish some sense of normalcy for the kids. If your new home isn’t quiet ready for moving in or you are relocating to a whole new city in general, extended stay hotels can be ideal for families on the move. These properties often have kitchens, living spaces and separate bedrooms, lending the kids some semblance of a home and a routine that bears similarities to one that they had in the old house. If you are moving and school has already started, checking in to an extended stay hotel can help keep the kids on task with homework and projects. They will have more of a home than your average hotel room to focus on schoolwork.
To make the move even easier, you can arrange to stay at an Extended Stay America for a little slice of home even while you are in transition. Parents will delight in the kids stay free policy and kids will be happy with separate rooms and other great amenities.
Family-Friendly Road Trip Games
Whether you are setting out on a road trip for a vacation or job relocation, parents have to come up with ways to keep the whole car entertained. Road trips aren’t always the most time efficient way to travel, but by adding some fun family friendly games to the mix, your kids won’t be staring at the clock for nine hours or asking the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” Here are three simple games you can easily play with the whole family on a road trip.
Perhaps no road trip can commence without playing a little I-Spy. This classic road trip game is one of the easiest to play, especially if you have younger children. One person chooses an object that they see. Once they have selected an object, they can give a hint to the others by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter__.” If you don’t want to use letters, you can play I-Spy with colors instead. Once a person guesses the correct object, they can now pick an object and give their clue for the car to guess.
The License Plate Game
If you have kids who are a little bit older in your back seat, or children who are learning states and capitals in school, the license plate game can be the perfect road trip distraction. As cars go by with various license plates, the first person to call out a new state gets a point. Once that state has been spotted, no one can call it again. Double points can be given for seeing Alaska and Hawaii plates, or when someone can name the capital of the state plate they see. At the end of the road trip, you can add up all of the states named by each child and see who spotted the most. When you plan a road trip, you can prepare for such a game by giving everyone a list of all the states. Once you see the state, you cross it off. Mini Time has license plate game sheets you can print out for every passenger in the car before you hit the road.
The Picnic Game
To test the memories of those within the car, the Picnic Game is ideal for all ages. One person begins by saying, “I went on a picnic and I brought…” They must then come up with something that you could bring to a picnic that begins with the letter A. The next person must then repeat what the previous person said and then add another item beginning with the next letter in the alphabet, which is B in this case. The game keeps passing from person to person and becomes a test to see if you can remember all of the picnic items and ultimately finish the game by coming up with something to bring to a picnic that begins with the letter Z.
While you might be able to keep the whole family entertained with these fun road trip games, the crew will be relieved to arrive at an Extended Stay suite. Families can sprawl out in separate bedrooms and take advantage of the premium television channels.
Where to Find The Best Barbecue in Texas
Whether you are passing through Texas on business or whisking the whole family around the Lone Star State, there is one thing you must do: have some Texas barbecue. Barbecue in Texas is its own attraction, where the emphasis is always on the meat. While other areas of the country specialize in sauce, in Texas it’s all about meat, specifically brisket. Beef brisket is a specialty in this state, but you won’t be hard pressed to find ribs and sausage too. To experience the best Texas barbecue, you must seek out places that honor the tradition of cooking meat low and slow. Here are three popular barbecue joints in Texas you definitely don’t want to miss.
BEST BBQ JOINT #1: Kreuz Market
In order to begin a tour of Texas’s best barbecue, you often have to start at the beginning. Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, is certainly one of the oldest barbecue joints in the state with beginnings in 1900. The guiding principle at Kreuz is definitely old school Texas barbecue in that there is no sauce, just meat. As owner Keith Schmidt puts it, “Good meat with just a few basic seasonings cooked with the right wood correctly is all you need.” Kreuz Market also has locations in Dallas and Plano. The original location of Kreuz is actually now Smitty’s Market. A family feud created a bit of confusion, but both spots boast some of Texas’s best traditional barbecue.
BEST BBQ JOINT #2: Franklin Barbecue
Located in Austin, Franklin Barbecue is relatively new to the Texas barbecue scene, but you wouldn’t know it. Aaron Franklin, son to parents who owned their own barbecue stand in Bryan, Texas, decided to open up a brisket stand with his wife, Stacy, in 2009. The travel trailer operation quickly morphed into a full on restaurant by 2011. Since opening, the restaurant has sold out of brisket every day of its existence. Franklin Barbecue has also received much critical acclaim and has the lines to prove it.
BEST BBQ JOINT #3: Gatlin’s BBQ
When travelers search for places to eat in Texas, barbecue and good service are often driving forces for where to go. Located in the Heights community of Houston, Gatlin’s BBQ began as a catering operation that quickly morphed into one of the city’s most revered barbecue joints. The high-quality barbecue is driven by southern hospitality, only contributing to Gatlin’s popularity in Houston and beyond. The family owned business specializes in the art of smoking meats. The sides at Gatlin’s BBQ are equally mouthwatering with ranch style beans, dirty rice and coleslaw, to name a few.
In Texas there is one rule of thumb when searching for the best barbecue. Travelers merely need to follow their nose to seek out establishments that honor the Texas style. Low, slow and brisket are the buzzwords for uncovering the best of this massive state’s barbecue eateries.
When your stomach needs to recover from all of that meat, you can unwind at one of the many Extended Stay America locations in Texas The hotel provides all of the necessary comforts such as premium television channels and spacious suites.
4 Reasons to Vacation in Seattle This Summer
Flying fish, ocean and mountain views, and freshly brewed coffee are some of the main images conjured up when plotting a trip to Seattle. If you are traveling to this Pacific Northwest city during the fall, winter or spring, rain clouds and all that come with wet conditions tend to also invade your vacation plans. However, those who visit in the summer are rewarded with a very different looking Seattle, one with sands to sink your toes into and fireworks lighting up the summer sky. If you are still on the fence about heading to Seattle for a summer getaway, these five reasons are sure to sway you toward this Pacific Northwest stunner.
#1: The Ferry Rides
Seattle is often pictured with its waters. To get those shots of the skyline and Puget Sound, you often have to board a boat tour. For families on a budget, you can take the ferry instead, running between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. The ride takes you across to the island, but it is the return that causes cameras to snap fervently. On clear summer days, you can usually see Mount Rainier. If you aren’t so blessed with clear skies, the ferry ride will at least lend jaw-dropping views of the city.
#2: The Beaches
When most visitors think of Seattle, rain clouds and hot coffee might come to mind. However, in summer the beaches surrounding the city truly begin to glisten. Families and other travelers visiting in the summer can take advantage of the balmier temperatures and dip their toes in some Seattle sands. One of the most striking beaches in the summer is Alki Beach Park . Reaching from Alki Point in Seattle to Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay, the beach not only offers a long stretch of sand to enjoy, but also views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Seward Beach Park is also popular in the summer for its picnic accommodations and walking trails.
#3: The Outdoor Theater
While there are several reasons to visit Seattle in the summer, perhaps none is more compelling than the opportunity to attend a play in the great outdoors. The Seattle Shakespeare Company puts on free outdoor productions of classical plays all around the region. In Seattle, you can catch those performances in the summer at Volunteer Park. The Seattle Shakespeare Company has a calendar detailing when you can catch these budget-friendly performances.
#4: The Parks and Gardens
It’s hard to run out of things to do in Seattle in the summer, especially in the parks and gardens department. Seattle Parks and Recreation maintains more than 400 parks. If the family is seeking more than just green spaces and wooded areas, Seattle even supplies parks of an artistic variety. Olympic Sculpture Park in downtown Seattle features world-class sculptures, complete with vistas of the city, harbor and mountains. The park is free to enter and occupies nine acres of town.
Even though you won’t have to dodge much rain in Seattle over the summer, you will still want a space where the whole family can unwind after a day of touring the town. Extended Stay America's Seattle suites come equipped with all of the needs for a family, such as separate bedrooms, premium television channels and fitness centers.