Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Traveling Mamas On the Move ApprovedEZ Grill is just what the name implies – an easy way to grill. We tried out one of these inexpensive and convenient grills and I have admit that I loved how light and extremely portable EZ Grill is. This affordable grill had everything you need for tailgating this fall or taking along on that last minute family vacation. Plus, there’s no guilt because it’s 100% recyclable. The EZ Grill makes a Traveling Mama’s life so convenient while on a family road trip or campout that it’s been designated as On the Move Approved!

    Perfect for summer road trips, outdoor adventures and on-the-go entertainment, these instant, ready-to-use grills come with everything you need, including EZ Light charcoal. With just one match, you can grill superior quality food for at least 1 ½ hours. Plus, July is National Grilling Month so it’s a great time to get outside and get grillin’.

    The all natural charcoal dipped in high-end mineral oil gives a more natural flavor without the additives, chemicals, fillers and lighter fluid associated with traditional charcoal briquettes.

    Endorsed by some of the biggest names in sports and grilling, including NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Tony Dorsett, Racecar Driver Michael Waltrip and the number one BBQ organization in the country, Kansas City Barbeque Society, the EZ Grill is available in regular size (1.81 lbs) and party size (3.31 lbs) for $4.99 and $9.99, respectively.

    In addition to Walgreens and Camping World, the EZ Grill can be purchased nationwide at more than 49,000 stores nationwide, including numerous regional supermarkets and convenience stores across the country. Visit http://www.ezgrill.com/retail.php to find a retailer near you.

    Have you tried this product? We want to know what you think.

    A sample product was provided by the company for research purposes.

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  • As someone who tries to cram anywhere from two to five days of clothing in a single carry-on at least once or twice a month, packing for a road trip is a total luxury. I can load up a lot of “just in case” items that could come in handy, but that I would never bring on a trip involving air travel.

    Here are some things we bring along that might come in handy on your next road trip:

    • Laundry detergent – I would much rather pack a few outfits and wash once or twice on the trip than have to pack a bunch of suitcases. But my allergies prevent me from using a certain, extremely popular brand that is sold in the majority of those laundry-room vending machines. So, I like to bring some along. I especially love the Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets for travel. They are the ultimate portable laundry product – no liquids or powders to measure or spill. (In fact, I often stick one or two in my carry-on during business trips so that I can do laundry on the fly if I need to.)
    • Ziploc bags – I like to throw in a handful of these in both quart and gallon sizes. They can be useful for saving half-eaten snacks for later, and they can also become storage containers for shell, rock or leaf collections started on a nature hike.
    • Paper plates and plastic utensils – Carrying these items with you makes it easier to stop by a store for an impromptu picnic, order pizza or other takeout, or heat up leftovers in your hotel room’s microwave.
    • Roll-up picnic blanket – It’s another one of those items I like to have just in case. We don’t always use it on trips, but it’s great to have in case of impromptu picnics, free outdoor concerts or even a stop to take a nap at a park.
    • Small, soft-sided cooler – A small cooler that you can carry often comes in handy on a hike or at a picnic.
    • Extra quarters and other change – As much as I would love to see an electronic toll-paying system that covers the whole country, it’s probably not happening anytime soon, so anticipate that you may need cash for tolls. The change also comes in handy at rest-stop vending machines, and you never know when you’re going to find an old Frogger or Qbert machine that you just have to play.
    • Fleece throws or other (non-precious) blankets – Great for piling on in a cold car or hotel room, or for spreading out for some cloud- or star-gazing.
    • Backpack – While you might not use a backpack for packing on your trip, it can be helpful to have an empty one in the car for use as a daypack on hikes or anytime you’re going to be away from the car for an extended time.
    • Coffee – Let’s face it, a lot of hotel coffee sucks. If you have the space to bring some of your favorite brand along, it will make your mornings more pleasant. (And while you’re at it, you might want to bring instant oatmeal and/or cup-a-soup packets that you can also use the hotel coffeemaker to prepare).
    • Paper towels – If you’re traveling with the family, I don’t even have to tell you the myriad reasons you’re gonna need ’em.
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  • 2010 is the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway – 469 miles of scenic roads that connect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah Valley National Park in Virginia.

    The road construction began in 1935 as part of FDR’s New Deal job creation efforts, and I am so appreciative of the visionaries who thought to preserve the gorgeous waterfalls, upland meadows and forests that make up the terrain.

    It’s one of the best drives out there for families, and here are my Top 5 reasons why:

    1. You have to slow down.

    No, really, you have to slow down. The speed limit on much of the parkway is 45 miles per hour, and with all the curves in the road, you couldn’t speed if you wanted to. This forced slow-down is great for all the too-busy, stressed out among us (i.e. ME). There’s no hurrying, so you may as well take a deep breath and take in that gorgeous scenery.

    2. Scenic overlooks abound.

    There are places to stop every few miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Some serve as hiking trailheads, and others have great little picnic spots.

    3. Cell phone service is spotty.

    That’s not something I would usually count as a blessing, but in this case, it means several hours with no calls from the office and no new e-mails coming in. And the teens in the car can’t spend all their time texting or on Facebook. Plus, radio stations are hard to come by. No radio + no cell phone service means your family will actually have to engage in a conversation together. A lengthy one.

    4. Tunnels!

    What kid (or adult, for that matter) doesn’t love to drive through a tunnel? There are tons of them on this mountain drive.

    5. There’s a mountain everyone can climb.

    Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississppi, and it’s also one of the easiest to climb. Just turn off the parkway at Mount Mitchell State Park in North Carolina, and drive until the road ends. From there, it’s just a 680-yard walk to the summit (and there’s a snack bar and restrooms, to boot!).

    There are many 75th anniversary activities planned throughout the summer and fall in communities adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I encourage you to drive a piece of it on your travels – whether it be 10 miles or all 469, it will be worth it.

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  • Nothing can ruin a family vacation or road trip more than getting one of those unwanted speeding tickets. It could happen to anyone. You reach a long stretch of road, the car is a bit quiet because all the other passengers are asleep, you look at your spouse in the passenger seat and think, “I just want to get there.” That’s when you push a little more on the accelerator and pick up some speed. Sometimes, you get caught and if you do, you’ll never hear the end of it. Plus, that speeding ticket may end up costing you a whole lot more than you expected if you add in the potential increase of your auto insurance premiums.

    It isn’t just state troopers waiting at the bottom of a hill to catch speeders these days, but there are now those police camera cars that take a photo of you. Trust me, those work. I recently opened my mail to see a picture of RedBugg with yours truly behind the wheel. Apparently one of those cameras was hidden in someone’s yard on a little road in my town because I was awarded (like it was a prize) a ticket for doing 29mph in a 25mph zone. Also, on our spring break family road trip through Missouri, we made all the way through the entire trip without any incident – that is, until we crossed in to our home state of Louisiana. In the little town of Waterproof, there were no speed signs, yet my husband was given an Easter Sunday gift of a $135 moving violation.

    Twipic of speeding ticket

    Here are some tips on how to avoid those unwanted speeding tickets on a holiday road trip.

    1. Don’t speed.

    avoid speed cameras with gps angel2. Get your hands on a GPS Angel which detects those hidden speed cameras. It is simple to use, has frequent updates on new cameras located, and it’s LEGAL. There is no installation required and it doesn’t take up much space at around 2.5 inches. What’s also great about this gadget is the fact that you can set your own updates so that you can be reminded of places that you KNOW a police officer monitors regularly.

    3. Don’t speed.

    4. Be aware of changes in speed zones. Many small towns have a law enforcement unit laying in wait for unsuspecting travelers to speed through town unaware that the speed limit changed from 55mph to 25mph on a 5 ft stretch of road.

    5. Don’t speed.

    6. Check out the National Motorists Association who has been helping drivers fight their traffic tickets for over 25 years.

    7. Don’t speed.

    I’m sure there are other ways to avoid a speeding ticket, but the bottom line is, if you don’t speed, then you are keeping your family safe on your road trip. The National Motorists Association has put together a list of states where you are most likely to get a ticket. After crunching the numbers, the National Motorists Association found that the state most likely to hand out a traffic ticket is Florida, followed closely by Georgia and Nevada. The state where drivers are least likely to get a traffic ticket is Montana. The full list of state rankings and further information on how they were calculated can be found at Motorists.org/Ticket-Trends.

    Use this information wisely, do your best to obey all posted speed zones, and most of all drive safely on your road trip or holiday travel.

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  • We love interacting with readers on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes we even get questions asking for a bit of assistance. Recently a twitter follower asked a great question about good road trip food.

    road trip food twitter question

    Thanks for following us, @StaffordK and engaging with TravelingMamas.com on Twitter. This is a great question that many of our readers would be interested in. We have covered some healthy road trip snacks in the past, but not regarding microwaves in the hotel room. Bringing a few snacks for your overnight stay or final destination can help alleviate some of the costs associated with a road trip. Here are some things to consider when planning what to pack snack-wise:

    What do your children like to eat at home? One of the stressors of road trips with kids is getting out of the normal routine. It may help keep the kids on track (and happy) if you include some comfort food. When my family travels and we know that we’ll overnight in a hotel with a microwave, we sometimes bring along a few packs of Kraft Easy Mac and Campbell’s Heat and Serve Chicken Noodle Soup. They’re easy-peasy to prepare and also convenient for when the kids come in from the hotel pool with an appetite. We also bring along a few packs of microwave popcorn to enjoy as a healthy snack (we get the air popped kind).

    If your hotel room has a microwave, chances are there’s also a mini-fridge. Another snack option is the ready to serve cereal packs. You can always stop at a convenience store and purchase a small container of milk for the cereal. Many hotels amenities these days include a continental breakfast, some with a few hot foods, for no extra charge. Choosing to stay overnight at these types of lodging properties are not only convenient, but great for the family road trip budget. Be sure to grab a banana or apple from the buffet as a fresh, healthy mid-morning snack while on the road.

    bean appetit coverBrowse through one of your cookbooks. I personally enjoy delicious cuisine, but I’m not very adept at preparing gourmet food. For those that enjoy food preparation, be sure to grab one of your favorite cookbooks and search for easy to snack on items that you can prepare before your trip. This way, you know just what ingredients are in your snacks. A cookbook that I can live with is Bean Appetit: Healthy Food, Happy Tummies. It includes SUPER SIMPLE recipes that even the kids can prepare (I like that a lot) and plus they’re good for everyone.

    We also have a list of healthy road trip snacks and an article about the health benefits of cherries that you can print out (or save as a pdf) and use for packing. While you’re packing, be sure to include utinsels and napkins to enjoy your handy snacks and mini meals while on your road trip. We hope you and your family have a safe vacation and we appreciate your follow on Twitter.

    TravelingMamas.com

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    Do you have tips for @StaffordK or have you written an article on good road trip food? Please be sure to leave a link in the comments. From time to time we select questions from Twitter and Facebook that readers ask. Be sure to follow TravelingMamas on Twitter and like TravelingMamas on Facebook. We just may answer your question online!

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