Easing Road Trip Travels

We live at least an hour away from any family members, which means our kids are no strangers to travel. Because they're so dependent on electronics, they don't know what to do when they're in the car without wifi. I'm all about forcing children into creativity through boredom, just not when I'm stuck in a confined space with them for hours. So this summer, I'm using some brilliant downloads created by BYUTV's Relative Race to ease tension of travel.

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Since our trips revolve around family, it's only fitting that the activities are all about recording memories and getting to know each other better. Each family member gets their own set of worksheets to capture new experiences and write down old ones.

My favorite fun section is Part 8: Animals. You can check off how many cows, horses, sheep, dogs, and other animals you see. Another page has you replace your road trip companions with animals, drawing how each one would look. Get ready to laugh at your illustrated self as a giraffe or a badger!

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The heartfelt pages of Part 10: Reflections will have you thinking not only of your personal journey, but of those that have traveled before you. Family members are asked to share the story of an ancestor who overcame a challenge. Even though travelling with my kids can be challenging, it's nothing compared to what grandparents, great-grandparents, and others have been through. It's because of them that I have a family to travel with, family to go visit, and a reason to connect with the world around me.

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The second download are conversation cards. Relive the past and learn more about each other by sharing a funny story about a family pet you had growing up or describing a place that has special meaning for you. Use the answers to the prompts to create vacation plans for the future!

Click the link below to download the worksheets for your next family road trip.

RELATIVE RACE ROAD TRIP ACTIVITY WORKSHEETS

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Road Trip Ready Vehicle Checklist

A huge thanks to Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser for sponsoring this post. Just remember, the advice I give is mine, all mine. #FueltheLove #CollectiveBias

'Tis the season to hit the road! Kids are out of school, three-day-weekends are plentiful, and the great outdoors is calling. Summer vacations usually involve a lengthy drive, but is your vehicle road trip ready?

There are 9 things to check off your safety list before heading out to your destination.

Check/Change Oil

If your motor oil is low or old, you risk the chance of damaging your engine. With your vehicle on a flat surface, pull out the dipstick, wipe it off, and reinsert it. Pull it out again and check the oil level. It should be close to full. If it's not, or if the oil is too dark, it's probably time for an oil change.

You can do this yourself or a professional can do it for you. Regardless of who does it, make sure you get the product that's right for your vehicle. I use Pennzoil High Milage Vehicle oil since both my car and van are over 75,000 miles. I'm partial to Pennzoil because it is designed to protect my engine so I can drive an extra 550 miles a year versus driving with a dirty engine. Hey, 550 miles is a good road trip!

Check/Top Off Antifreeze

I've passed many a person, pulled off the road, pouring water in their overheated vehicle. Let's avoid that, shall we? Take a peek under your hood and check your engine coolant level. If it's between LOW and FULL, you're good to go. If it's below LOW, have a professional check for leaks.

Check Battery for Leaks & Cracks

Make sure the box powering your car is damage-free. If you find corrosion, it's leaking acid and will need to be replaced. Bite the bullet. It's easier to buy a new battery than drive with vinegar and baking soda to clean the terminals when your car won't start. (Yes, my sister totally did that.)

Top Off Wiper Fluid

Driving through a bug-infested stretch or a dust storm is pretty par for the course on my road trips. But if I'm out of wiper fluid, an annoyance has become a hazard. You have to see to drive, so fill it up and you won't have to stop at a gas station just to clean your windshield.

Check/Replace Wipers

Once that wiper fluid is filled, run it through and check your wipers at the same time. Again, visibility is key and you don't want to be caught in a rainstorm with a streaky windshield. Replace those wipers, even if the forecast doesn't call for rain.

Check Lights

Have a family member or friend stand outside while you hit the breaks, turn on headlights, and signal for turns. I've been pulled over a few times not knowing I had a taillight or headlamp out. Don't risk getting a ticket on vacation!

Check Tire Pressure & Tread

Before you fill up with gas, take advantage of the station's air compressor and check the air. Look at the sticker on your door frame for the recommended tire pressure. For tread, use the "coin trick." Stick a penny in the tread of your tires. If the tread covers any part of Lincoln's head, there's still life in your tires. If the tread doesn't touch his head, it's time to replace them.

Check Spare Tire

Changing a tire is no bueno. It's not difficult, but it's annoying. Hopefully you won't have to do it on your trip if you've checked your pressure and tread. But just to be safe, at the same time you check your other tires, pull out the spare and check its tire pressure as well. If it's a full-size tire, the pressure will be the same as your others. If it's a donut, the recommended tire pressure should be on the whitewall.

Purchase/Update Emergency Kit

I'm mildly paranoid. I like to prepare for the worst. Having an emergency kit helps me not worry about the unexpected. Mine has jumper cables, a flashlight, flares, a small tool kit, and a first aid kit.

To dot your i's and cross your t's, I created a printable PDF of these safety reminders. CLICK HERE for the free download.

Last, but not least, here's a little time-saving tip for all your road-trip preparation…
Take your vehicle to your local Walmart for your oil change. While the pros put some much-needed Pennzoil in, you can shop for all the other things you may need for your vacation.

Now through September 9th, Pennzoil oil changes will be on Rollback. I paid $35.88 for my High Milage change compared to my normal $39.88. (Getting it changed elsewhere typically costs $46.) More money in my pocket means more road trip souvenirs!

Where are you heading this summer? Is your vehicle road ready?

Organize Your Blog with an Editorial Calendar

I'm a self-proclaimed Type A/B personality. I have traits from both, which normally keeps me balanced…but not when it comes to blogging. I walk a fine line between over-organizing and flying by the seat of my pants. To accomplish anything, I needed to find middle ground. It wasn't until I created (and used) an editorial content calendar that my I found sanity and success in blogging.

Editorial Calendar title

There are a billion (possible exaggeration) editorial calendaring systems out there. After trial and error, I created one that, I feel, is a great starter calendar. One that isn't super overwhelming. You can get as crazy as you want with it AFTER you've mastered the basics of blog organization. So let's begin!

Monthly Themes

To get ahead of your posting schedule, you have to know what you're posting. The first step in blog organization is brainstorming what topics you'll be covering on your blog throughout the year. Since most of us work on a weekly posting schedule, there are four lines per month for you to fill out with ideas.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MONTHLY THEMES

I start with timely themes like holidays and seasons. Things that people won't necessarily search for year-round on Google and Pinterest.

Then I fill in the blanks with evergreen content. These are post topics that readers will be looking for all the time. I try to keep my ratio of evergreen to timely at 60/40. It's just what works for me.

If I'm drawing a blank for themes, I visit Bre Pea's post with over 70 monthly post ideas or Days of the Year, where you can find national months and random holidays.

POST IDEAS

After you fill out your themes for the year, it's time to transfer each topic to the Post Ideas sheet.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD POST IDEAS

With your topic idea at the top, fill in three different categories you write about that your topic could fit in. This maximizes your posting options for not just that week, but for the future. It's not likely that you'll write theme weeks all year, so brainstorming post ideas in varying categories gives you content to use later. In subsequent posts, refer to your Post Ideas page to and link to the others that have already gone live. A little cross-promotion never hurt anyone!

When you're coming up with post ideas, ask yourself these questions…

  • Who am I creating content for? Does this post address the needs of my target audience?
  • What do I want to be known for? Does this post maximize that message?

If each post appropriately addresses these questions, you're good to go. If not, modify your post idea, or lose the post all together. Just because it's a fantastic idea, doesn't mean it's right for your audience and your blog.

Each post idea should bring in a source of income. Consider using affiliate links through companies like ShareASale or AvantLink, creating and selling an e-book, or partnering with a company for sponsorship. Not all posts will be able to be monetized, but if you have sidebar ads, you'll always have an income.

MONTHLY CALENDAR

When you've decided which post ideas will go live when, pull out your Monthly Calendar and plug in the titles.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MONTHLY CALENDAR

Once the title is down, figure out what you need to do to prepare for and complete the post. Do you need to build or design something? Will you need to take photos or shoot video? Do you need to contact a company about sponsoring your post? Work backward from your post date and schedule out your preparation.

Here's an example I did of working backward from a post. A week before, I'll finalize and schedule the post. Once I decide when I'm going to write it, I know I'll need to edit pictures, stage the pics, and create the item, taking pics while doing so. All of this goes on the Monthly Calendar.

Following the same pattern, I write down the remainder of the post ideas for the month with their assigned tasks.

Spreading out these tasks will help keep you ahead of the game and schedule your posts in advance. This frees up your time to be creative. And isn't that the fun part of blogging?

So how do you organize your blog? Are you more Type A or Type B?