Taking a vacation — or even a day trip — can be tough on your monthly budget if you don’t prepare ahead of time. I’m a fairly frugal person who really likes quality for less so I take advantage of as many offers and tips as I can to get the most out of my excursions without maxing out the credit card using these awesome tips. Keep reading to see how you can save (and earn!) on your activities, stay and transportation on trips. Read more
Carmel, CA is known for wine, art and dog-friendly businesses, but what can families do during a quick weekend getaway? Turns out a lot! Grab your notebook, or star this page for later reference because this post is all about a few must-do activities for the laid back family. Keep reading after this post for more California-based family travels, too! Read more
School breaks are fun for the kids, but often leave parents wondering how to entertain the kids and still get some work done. Since my sitting at the computer searching for a logo update was making the kiddo a bit antsy, I decided to take the 2016 Camry SE (Starting at $23,840) I was reviewing during Christmas out for a little adventure to Coyote Hills Regional Park with my sister to keep our kiddos entertained.Keep reading for a recap of our day and my take on Camry’s safe family “sport” car.
Coyote Hills Regional Park is a part of East Bay Parks in California and offers hiking, biking, naturalist programs, butterfly garden, wildlife refuge, and picnic fun. According to their site, there’s about 979 acres of marshland and rolling grasslands, so we thought this would be a great sort of nature learning experience for the kids, too. When I was a kid I went to Coyote Hills and Don Edwards Bridge for field trips where we would dissect owl pellets. As I got older it was just a pretty place to walk and use as a backdrop for photos I took of families. I forgot about it for a bit and never took S here . . until now. Neither kiddo had ever heard of a marsh before, so they learned something when we went! Read more
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There’s a lot going on this time of year between all the holidays, family gatherings and of course, game day. So it’s always important to get things prepared a bit with some pre-season shopping. I headed over to Nob Hill Foods in Alameda on Monday to do just that, and meet Oakland Raiders Fullback Marcel Reece (number 45) who was there with Proctor & Gamble (P&G) to greet shoppers and sign items. Keep reading for a full look at the event, and to enter my P&G Prize Pack Giveaway! Read more
After having kids any dream of that cherry red sports car is out the window, right? Well not necessarily! Mazda has managed to marry a 5-passenger sedan with a sports car for a little zoom zoom that gives families a sense of safety and vroom. I took the 2016 Mazda6 (Starting at $22K) up to Truckee for Friendsgiving recently (yes, I’ve been going there a lot lately) to test out how it fares on suburban, rural and freeway roads with a kiddo and some Friendsgiving treats in the car. I was surprised by this car, for sure, and you wouldn’t guess why! Keep reading for my “Ooh!” and “Hmm” family car breakdown on the Mazda6. Read more
Have you been to the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area? It’s so nice. Every time I visit is literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air. Traffic isn’t as crazy, there are still a lot but not a ton of people (at least when I go during off-season times), and there’s so much to go do and explore. One of the recent spots I visited with S was Donner Lake. It’s a relaxing spot with something for kids and parents alike, and super easy to get to. I was test driving the gas-efficient 2016 Mazda CX-5 (starting at $22K) during our trip, which made it easier to climb the hills and go on the 3-hour drive to get to the Truckee area for Donner Lake (plus hold all our stuff). Once there, I was really surprised by the lake — There are a few playgrounds right on the beach, several picnic areas with some grills and even benches directly in the sand itself. It’s a peaceful and lovely place to visit. Keep reading for a few tips for your own adventure to the lake! Read more
Water covers the Earth, we know what’s in there, but when you stand at the beach looking out the water seems endless and unknown. It can be incredibly scary for some kiddos (and adults), but also very peaceful (especially if you’re on the water paddle boarding). Some are brave enough to try stand up paddle boarding (SUP) in the ocean, others stick to the lake. I’m not a very good swimmer (and haven’t been out in water in about 6 years), so I tried SUP with my daughter during off-season at Kings Beach in Lake Tahoe — It was magnificent. Everyone masters being in the water differently, though —especially kids — so if you’re thinking about taking your child out to SUP, consider these simple tips first. Read more
Not every family vacation is smooth sailing. If you plan on spending 2 or more hours in the car as a family, you may need some extra help.Keep reading for a few handy travel items for smoother trips. Read more
If compact cars and typical crossover SUVs are a bit too small for your family but you aren’t quite ready for a minivan or massive gas guzzler just yet, you’re going to be enamored with September’s Car in Review! The 2016 Kia Sorento is a crossover SUV with a similar size to other crossover SUVs but the luxury of a full-size SUV and intelligent design unlike any other crossover I’ve seen. So what are “Oooh” and “Hmm” bits about this vehicle? Keep reading for the details, and why I’m sad I had to return it after six days of testing. Read more
Most people are surprised when they hear that traveling in Italy while eating gluten-free is quite easy. There are enough people with celiac disease for this small country to do things quite differently than in the United States. Of course, having a successful gluten-free vacation starts with planning. Keep reading to learn how I ate gluten-free with my family while traveling in Italy and Rome for seven days. Read more