Category: Travel and Vacations

5 Places to Take Your Kids Snorkeling This Summer

kids snorkeling

Do you have young explorers at home who want nothing more than to swim with Nemo or say “hi” to a sea turtle? If you do, your next vacation is the perfect time to introduce them to snorkeling and scuba diving.

All around the world, resorts and dive shops have special programs for families and kids so they can lean their love for their water-breathing buddies and the deep blue sea.

If you or your children aren’t ready to learn to scuba yet, snorkeling would be a great alternative!

Here are 5 of the best places to take your kids snorkeling.

1. Cottrell Key, Florida

Cottrell Key is only five miles west of Key West and it’s filled to bursting with shallow reefs, coral formations, and sponges. If you’re looking to spot some parrotfish, stingrays, group and sea turtles, this is a great spot to take your kids.

2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

If you’re interested in a resort setting where you don’t even have to leave in order to enjoy the fun, strap on your full face mask and head to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

This resort and the area surrounding it is full of ancient Mayan history and ruins. Guests at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort can dive into the unique location by snorkeling in a crystal clear cenote. These are naturally occurring underground springs. You’ll be surrounded by over 60 species of animals and 25 species of trees.

3. Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin

Snorkeling probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think about Wisconsin, but Lake Michigan has some incredible spots to explore. Bailey’s Harbor is only 2 hours north of Green Bay and it offers a shipwreck snorkeling trip.

4. Kankakee, Illinois

Illinois is another strange place to consider snorkeling, but Haigh Quarry in Kankakee is a great place for divers and snorkelers alike. The quarry isn’t used anymore and for several years after its closure in the 1970s, it sat unused. Someone purchased the land in the late 70s and unplugged some of the pumps the mining company left behind.

In three years, the quarry was filled with spring-fed water and is now a great place to take kids snorkeling.

5. La Jolla, California

If your kids are determined to swim with sharks, this is the snorkeling spot for you. Here, snorkelers can see plenty of leopard sharks during their outing. There’s also no shortage of bottom feeders and rays alike.

How to Teach Kids Snorkeling

No matter where you take your kids snorkeling, you need to make sure they’re prepared. Five or six is the best age to start and the pool or a bathtub is the ideal training ground.

Breathing only through your mouth is a skill kids need to practice, so don’t put them anywhere they’re not familiar with right off the bat.

Start your child with the face mask before you ad the snorkel and make sure it fits well. Let them take it at their own pace and follow their lead, never push if they seem to want to stop.

When you try real life snorkeling in the sea, start off with a calm spot so as to not unnerve them.

Snorkel On!

Kids snorkeling is a great first step to get your little ones familiar with the water, it’s many life forms, and the possibility of scuba diving. There’s nothing quite as magical as interacting with your environment, especially as a child.

For more fun family ideas and tricks to save some extra cash for that snorkeling vacation, visit the rest of my blog today!

15 Facts About Sunscreen That’ll Blow Your Mind and Keep Skin Safe

facts about sunscreen

Are you the person who goes to the beach with all kinds of sunscreen? Maybe you have one bottle for your body, one for your face, and another for your kids. Most parents think that’s all they need to keep their skin safe from the sun.

While it’s a good start, there is much more to consider when it comes to sun safety and using sunscreen properly. To get a better understanding of this, check out the following facts about sunscreen.

1. You Can Get a Sunburn on a Cloudy Day

We’ve all been there – it’s a cloudy day and all your kid wants to do is go to the pool or take a walk on the beach. If it’s not that cloudy, go ahead and indulge them, but don’t forget the sunscreen!

The sun’s rays are powerful enough to break through the clouds. If you aren’t careful, you and your little one can get a sunburn even if the sun isn’t technically out.

2. Keep Your Sunscreen Away from Direct Heat

Some people make it a habit to keep sunscreen in the car during the summer. While this may sound smart at first, it’s actually a bad idea.

The car gets incredibly hot, causing ingredients in the sunscreen to separate. Once the bottle cools down, everything won’t mix together in the way it’s been made to do. Keep in mind the heat rule also applies to sunscreen that’s sitting in direct heat when you’re at the beach, by the pool, or playing an outdoor sport.

3. Always Put Your Sunscreen on at Home

Whatever kind of fun you’re up to this summer, always apply sunscreen on at home. This gives your skin plenty of time to soak in the protection it needs.

If you wait to get to where you’re going, you’re actually exposing yourself. A half an hour here or there may not seem like much, but it adds up when you think about all your beach days and other outdoor plans all summer long.

4. Reapply Even When Under an Umbrella

A lot of people apply at home and think they’re fine for the rest of the day. This is even true for adults who spend hours under an umbrella in their bathing suit.

While an umbrella provides a cozy space out of direct sunlight, it doesn’t protect your skin. You can still get a sunburn under there, so reapply as needed.

5. Low SPF Doesn’t Really Work

What if you’re trying to get a tan? Should you just use an SPF of 5 or 10?

Honestly, save your money if that’s the level of SPF you’re going for. These won’t do much to help you out. Always reach for an SPF of 30 and above – your skin will thank you later.

6. Broad Spectrum Is Your Best Bet

Another thing to pay attention to when comparing sunscreen labels is whether or not it’s broad spectrum. This is the best way to go. Anything else won’t give you the extent of protection you need to best prevent a sunburn.

7. There Is an Average Amount to Apply

No matter how tall or short you are, or how curvy or slender, there’s an average amount of sunscreen for everyone to apply.

The face requires about a marble-size of sunscreen for full coverage. Additionally, all the bare skin on your body needs no less than a shot glass size, which looks something like a golf ball. Always apply at least this much, then more as needed.

8. Don’t Forget to Coat Sensitive Areas

Speaking of applying sunscreen, remember your sensitive areas. Apply directly on the back of the ears, the neck, and the top of the feet. Do the lining of your bathing suit or your clothes, too, as their exact placement can move while you move your body.

9. Scars and Tattoos Also Need Sunscreen

Some people think their scars or tattoos don’t need sunscreen. If anything, these areas of the body need more!

Scars are still a part of your skin. Even if a certain part of your skin doesn’t look like it used to, it’s vulnerable to the rays of the sun and needs protection. If you have scars you want to treat, you can contact the American Skin Institute.

When it comes to tattoos, exposure to the sun can affect the coloring of your skin’s art and do damage to the skin itself, too.

10. Sunscreen Alone Doesn’t Fight Skin Cancer

Unfortunately, putting on sunscreen isn’t enough to fight skin cancer. There are many other ways your risk for this condition increases. Not to mention, cancer can honestly happen to anyone.

11. You May Need a Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Maybe you’re hesitant to use sunscreen in the first place because of a reaction you’ve had to it before. Don’t automatically assume you’re “allergic to sunscreen.” There’s no such thing.

It is possible, though, that you’re allergic to an ingredient in the sunscreen you’ve been using. Look for all-natural options to keep your skin safe from the sun and to protect your body as a whole from unwanted reactions.

12. Not All Sunscreens Are Made Alike

There’s the matter of all-natural sunscreens versus traditional over the counter options, then there are plenty more details to look into. Not all sunscreens are made with the same regulations and requirements.

This is something to keep in mind if you’re traveling overseas this summer. You may want to bring your favorite brand with you instead of buying it there. Or, you could discover someplace with better sunscreen regulations after a bit of research!

13. Animal Sunscreen Is a Real Thing

Here’s something you may have never considered before: sunscreen for your pup. Many people love to take their dog to the beach or at least on a long summer walk.

What most owners don’t realize, though, is that dogs can get melanoma, too. Better your pet’s odds of not getting this skin disease by finding dog sunscreen for them.

14. It’s Never Too Late to Start Wearing Sunscreen

At the end of the day, sunscreen is a necessity. There’s no way around it. No matter if you always wore it as a child or if you’re just discovering the benefits of it now at 30 years old, you need to wear it.

It’s never too late to start, and there’s no better time than now.

15. You Need Sunscreen in the Winter, Too

Last but not least, remember sunscreen is a year-round necessity. Find a brand you love and put it on your face and body every day for the best results. Think of it as something that goes after your moisturizer, but before your everyday makeup.

Most importantly, don’t forget sunscreen when playing winter sports. If you love skiing, snowboarding, tubing, or even just a little bit of fishing, you need to show your skin some care. The more of an effort you make now, the better your skin will be for years to come.

Educating Your Children on Facts About Sunscreen

Many mothers deal with fussy children who hate putting on sunscreen or have to watch the clock closely to make sure their child’s sensitive skin doesn’t burn.

Wherever you are on the parenting spectrum, make the effort to share the facts about sunscreen with your children. Such an effort empowers them from an early age to make the right choice when it comes to protecting their skin.

For more ways to keep your children happy and healthy this summer, click here!

How to Save for a Vacation on a Tight Budget

how to save for a vacation

Vacations are expensive. Let’s face it.

How are you supposed to take an enjoyable vacation when you’re pinching every penny in your everyday life? There’s gas, plane tickets, daily excursions, food, and more. When you tally up the costs, even a camping excursion can rack up a large sum.

But the vacation you want to take could be the experience of a lifetime. If you have a family, you want to do your best to create valuable memories that will last. If you’re a solo-traveler planning to backpack Europe, it’s likely that you’re aching for that trip and are just seeking for a way to make it happen.

Here’s the thing: it’s entirely possible to inch away towards the sum you need to have an excellent vacation. Read on, and you’ll find out a few key ways to save money and put it away towards a vacation.

How to Save for a Vacation

1. Where are You Blowing Your Money?

It’s understandable to splurge a little on things like coffee and snacks whenever you stop for gas. We all have those little guilty pleasures that we shouldn’t be spending money one, but is that where you want your money to go?

If you add up the cost of your weekly spending on non-essentials, you’re likely to find that you’re spending a lot more than you had previously thought. Things like soda, treats, movie tickets, and the like are all things that be eliminated.

If you dedicate yourself to a year without, say, drinking soda, you’ll be able to save maybe a thousand dollars alone on that front. Not to mention, you’ll be a lot lighter for that hike through the Andes!

The most important thing you can do to save money for your vacation is cut out non-essential spending, and set aside the money you would use whenever you have a hankering for that bag of Doritos, or can of soda.

2. Garage Sale

It can be difficult to start saving when your vacation fund is meager. It’s a lot easier to set money aside when you can see the result of your frugality. A great way to get your savings started is by having a garage sale.

Gather up all of the stuff you don’t need- old clothes, microwaves, knick-knacks, whatever. Often times you can get rid of a lot of clutter while making a couple hundred dollars to tuck away for your trip.

A lot of times neighborhoods will have community garage sale days. These are great because everyone knows that there will be a sale, giving you a lot of traffic that you would otherwise miss out on. If you don’t have a community garage sale day, you can always advertise on Facebook a few days in advance to get the word out.

3. Pawn Shops

Pawn shops are often a place that your parents tell you never to enter. They rouse images of people selling their priceless items just to have money for gas or cigarettes. This is definitely not the case, and you can get some value out of the things that you couldn’t otherwise get rid of on Craigslist or similar sites.

Know that you won’t get the full value for your items. Resort to pawn shops only if you know that you’re not going to be able to sell your items to anyone else. Additionally, if you’re not having luck selling online and your trip is coming near, pawn shops are a great way to get that last little cushion that you need.

4. Get a Side Job

There are a lot of employers that are just looking for part-time work. If you already have a full-time job and you need a little extra cash, consider finding something that only requires you to work one or two days a week.

There are plenty of part-time gigs on Craigslist or Indeed, and you won’t be tied down to a commitment that you aren’t able to come through for. Another thing to consider is working for a delivery service, or taking online surveys.

You will find a lot of little side-gigs online if you do a little research.

5. Get a Separate Savings Account

It’s really easy to dip into your vacation fund when you need new tires or your old bicycle needs a tune-up. If you’re not in dire need of money, do your best to find out how to get the money you need in other ways.

Your vacation will never happen if you keep pulling money from your savings. An easy way to avoid this trouble is to create a separate account to save your vacation money in.

You can set limits on withdrawals, having a way to keep your money safe from yourself. If your wallet gets too tight you can always use the money for something you need, but if your goal is to go on a vacation try to discipline yourself and save what you want to save.

6. Seek out Deals

There are a lot of sites online that send email blasts with travel deals. Whether you need to take a survey or subscribe to a website, you may find a lot of discounts online.

Additionally, keep an eye out for plane tickets far in advance. You’ll often find the best deals if you’re thinking ahead and planning your trip a few months out. In fact, if you buy the tickets early, you’ll be more inclined to save that money and dedicate yourself to planning your trip.

Use the Resources at Your Disposal

There are so many great ways to find deals on vacations available online. Do some research and make sure to fine-tune your trip to your preferences and your family’s needs.

If you’re having difficulty finding extra money to set aside for your vacation, take advice from other people who have done it. Often times it takes that friend or individual online who has a special trick or trip. Be sure to look around online for advice on travel or budgeted living.

4 Tips for Planning an Affordable African Safari

affordable african safari

Do you dream of watching wild giraffes stroll across the savanna? Would you love to see a pride of lions lounging in the shade or a stampede of migrating wildebeest?

Let’s face it: Most African safari packages are not cheap. So regardless of what your heart yearns for, your bank account might be holding you back.

If this sounds like you, don’t despair. The truth is that you can take an affordable African safari–you just have to know how to budget and where to look.

In this post, we’ll give you some expert tips on planning an African safari that won’t break the bank. Read on!

1. Choose the Right Destination

The best places to take a cheap safari are countries that are easily accessible and offer a lot of options.

You may dream of a safari in Tanzania or Kenya, but these areas are known for luxury accommodations and high park entrance fees. Many reserves in Botswana and Zambia are very remote and can only be accessed by private plane–which means bigs bucks for you.

For an affordable African safari, consider South Africa, Zimbabwe, or Namibia. These countries are much more accessible to the budget traveler while still offering excellent reserves.

2. Book Through a Local Operator

Major international tour companies may have flashy websites, but don’t be fooled. You’ll almost always get a better deal–and better experience–by going local.

Locally based safari operators offer local guides and better safari deals than the big-name companies. You may even be lucky enough to snag a great last-minute deal on your dream safari.

Cape Town-based companies such as African Budget Safaris offer terrific packages at very reasonable prices.

3. Travel During the Off-Season

Another helpful hint when planning an African safari? Book your visit during the off-season.

Although this usually coincides with the rainy season, it’s unlikely to rain all day, every day. Instead, you’ll enjoy far fewer crowds and better chances of seeing newborn babies and migrating birds.

Best of all, prices drop significantly during the off-season. If you want to take a cheap safari, this is the time of year to do it.

4. Save on Accommodation

A huge portion of most African safari packages is the accommodation. While five-star lodges and gourmet chefs certainly sound appealing, they can make a serious dent in your savings account.

To save money, select a budget option for accommodation. A 2- or 3-star hotel will still be very comfortable at a fraction of the price of its five-star counterparts.

Looking to save even further? Pick up some camping gear and take advantage of the cheap campsites scattered around most major game reserves. It’s also possible to rent a 4WD vehicle with a rooftop tent and all necessary supplies.

Why pay for a luxury hotel when you can sleep beneath the stars in the open savanna?

Book Your Affordable African Safari Today

So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know how to find an affordable African safari, all that’s left to do is pack!

Feeling inspired? Looking for more helpful tips on where and how to travel frugally?

Check out our latest travel posts for more information.

How to Find the Best Deals on Camping Gear

camping gear

Do you want to take the family on a great trip to the outdoors? Did you know that over 40 million Americans go camping every year?

Surely, there’s a reason why so many people opt to spend time with their loved ones outdoors. Here are our favorite reasons to go camping and the best deals you can find on all the camping gear you’ll need for your cheap getaway!

Find the Best Deals on Camping Gear

If you’ve never been camping before, you’ll want to start off with a checklist of all the things you’ll need to bring with you. It can seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! We’re going to help you find all the best deals.

Once you have your list, you can start by checking out any local thrift stores in your area. There’s no reason to overpay for the things you can buy for pennies, so don’t shop anywhere else until you know what’s out there!

After you finish your thrifting excursion, browse online outlet stores for more outdoor gear and apparel options. Outlets can be a great source for finding great deals on name brand gear.

Don’t forget to coupon when packing campsite friendly foods. Be sure to bring snacks for the drive up as well! You don’t want your rugrats getting hangry before the tent is set up! Click for more great deals on camping gear.

Bid to Win

The online auction is your friend. Online auction sites have long been a great source for deals and camping gear is so exception! Be sure to watch out for pesky shipping fees. Sellers often mark up the shipping price to offset the bargains they’re giving.

Online auctions are a great source because so often people find themselves holding on to things they don’t use often. Many people who love camping just can’t seem to find the time to go and feel obligated to part with the camping gear that’s taking up space in their garage!

Bringing Fido Along

One of the best reasons to go camping for pet owners is that they can bring any furry family members along with them! This means you won’t have to call in a favor with a friend or pay for an expensive doggy hotel.

Just grab a few bowls, some dog food, and get ready for adventure! Explore all the great bargains for all that you’ll need to bring Fido along! Don’t forget to be a responsible camper and remember to bring clean-up bags!

Get Ready for Adventure

Don’t get too stressed about the details. If you accidentally forget something, you can always run to a nearby discount store to get what you need.

Not everyone has the luxury of going on a family getaway. Remember that this trip is a great opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones and spend time reconnecting.

Be sure to visit our blog for more info on how you can find all the things your family needs. The best part? It’s all within your budget.

5 Cool Park Vacations To Take With Your Whole Family

cool park

Looking for an inexpensive way to give you and your family a break from everyday life?

Look around, North America has 417 state parks waiting for you to explore. Visiting a cool park can change your child’s life by exposing them to the wonders of our country.

Taking the family on a trip to the country’s stunning national parks would make for a cheap summer vacation.

Not sure which cool park is right for your family trip? We’ve listed up five family-friendly parks in America. Add them all to your bucket list and start planning your next family trip today.

1. Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most-visited national park in 2017 with over 11 million visitors. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains for waterfalls, swimming holes, and horseback rides.

The parents can kick back and relax at Deep Creek. This gorgeous site has creeks and waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a local vendor offering tubing packages and rentals.

2. Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon National Park is just that–Grand! If you’ve only seen it in photos, it’s about time you see its glory in person.

Go for a drive along Desert View Drive, where a 25-mile cruise will offer unforgettable views. Stop along the way at one of the picnic areas for a sweet picnic with your family.

Don’t let planning the details keep you from visiting one of these beloved parks. Experience Park Tours can help you plan your next trip.

3. Yosemite National Park

The Yosemite National Park goes the extra mile to accommodate families. They have a Family Adventure experience that starts at $7.50 per participant.

This activity tasks families to navigate three miles of trails in the park with a hand-held GPS. Your family will uncover history and stories (you may even find some secret treasures).

Even if you don’t take part in the adventure, the gushing waterfalls and iconic valleys will be more than enough.

4. Redwood National Park

The trees of Redwood National Park stand as the tallest in the world!

Taking a stroll through the Redwoods will remind your kids of a page from a storybook with the mossy, tall trees. They’ll probably get a kick out of driving underneath the Chandelier Tree!

Many families make a stop to this park during the two-hour round trip from Berry Glenn to Fern Canyon. Fern Canyon offers a small creek for kids to splash around in and a lovely view of fern varieties.

5. Great Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is a kid favorite.

This national park is home to North America’s highest sand dunes–reaching up to 750 feet.

If you visit in early summer, you will see Medano Creek running through the main access area. Children build sand sculptures and play along the creek before heading to the dunes.

If you plan on visiting during the Summer, beware of scorching temperatures. Surface sand temperatures can rise to 140?F on summer days.

Take plenty of water and wear tennis shoes to protect your feet from burning sands.

Cool Park Trips for the Family

These national parks can be tons of fun while offering some of the country’s natural beauty.

If you can carve out time for your family to enjoy the fine scenery of a national park, you won’t regret it.

Plan a trip to one (or all) of these amazing national parks with your family soon. Do these fun summer activities with your kids, too!

How to Choose a Travel Bag to Avoid Being Pickpocketed

travel bag

So, you’ve booked your next vacation and you’re pretty eager for the day to come. While you’re incredibly excited, you know you’ve also picked a destination where you’re more likely to get pickpocketed.

Safety is your primary concern, of course, but let’s be honest — you also want a travel bag that helps you to look stylish.

So, how can you look ultra-chic while on vacation while also ensuring that you’re not a target for thieves?

You’ll need to read this post to find out.

In it, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best types of travel bags that will prevent thieves from going after you.

1. Go For A Wristlet Or Clutch

One of the best travel bag options for those who are concerned about being pickpocketed while on vacation?

In general, the less you’re able to carry, the better.

First of all, going with a smaller option makes you less attractive to thieves. They likely won’t consider you because they don’t think you’re carrying much more than a little bit of cash and a credit card that you can cancel in a few minutes. When you’re rocking a wristlet or a clutch, there really isn’t too much for the expensive electronics that so often attract criminals.

Plus, a wristlet allows you to get a great grip on your bag. Thieves will know that they’ll have a difficult time quickly unzipping it without you noticing, or even ripping it out of your hands.

The same goes for a clutch bag.

Because you’re able to hold the purse completely closed, with your hand over the flap?

Thieves will move on to the bigger fish that they can fry.

Plus, clutches and wristlets have small bag bottoms — meaning that they’ll be next to impossible for pickpockets to slash through.

So, when you’re getting ready to leave your hotel, think about the essentials that you really need for the day. Always make an effort to leave behind everything you can to avoid becoming a target for pickpockets and other dangerous criminals.

2. Try A Fanny Pack

It’s official: fanny packs aren’t just an amazing and pickpocket-proof travel bag option: they’re also seriously back in fashion.

So, if you’re looking for a bag that combines both form and function, look no further than an ultra-sleek fanny pack.

But what makes them so effective at stopping pickpockets?

First of all, any bag that you can wear in front you automatically makes you far less likely to be robbed. You’ll be able to see where your bag is at all times — and whether or not someone is trying to get their hands inside of it.

Plus, especially if you’re planning on taking public transit throughout the course of your travels? It will be pretty difficult for a thief to quickly slip your cash or credit card out of a fanny pack. Instead, they’ll gravitate towards those with shoulder or tote bags.

Finally, fanny packs usually have zipper enclosures in the front of them, which are an awesome way to deter pesky thieves. Plus, the sound of the zipper being opened will certainly tip you off if you suspect something is going wrong!

Looking for the perfect fanny pack? If so, then be sure to check out the Fanatique website for a list of the top snygg midjev?ska i skinn bag trends.

3. Wear A Pull-Close Backpack

Especially if you’re going to be gone for a long journey, or need to carry heavier objects in your purse?

We understand that sometimes, you just need to use a backpack as your travel bag.

The good news?

There are backpack options that are not only pickpocket-proof but also won’t force you to wear them in front of your body — a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.

So, which model should you go for?

Look for a drawstring/pull-close backpack, which works to keep your bag sealed completely shut. Thieves won’t be able to reach their hands down inside of your bag, because the straps you’re wearing on your shoulders will always keep it closed.

Plus, these bags are usually made of lightweight canvas. This means that, not only will they be effective at preventing theft, they’re also incredibly comfortable!

4. Purchase A Cross Body With A Lock

The final anti-theft travel bag on our list?

If you need to wear a cross body or even a shoulder purse, look for one that comes complete with a lock or, at the very least, a snap or buckle enclosure.

As with the other bags on this list, anything with a lock will first and foremost act as a deterrent against thieves. If your bag isn’t easy to access or open, then you likely won’t become a target.

Plus, a lock helps to make sure that your items don’t fall out while you’re on vacation.

You can even turn the key into a stylish necklace, which will compliment your outfit and ensure that you never misplace it!

Need More Travel Bag Advice?

We hope that this post has helped you to understand which kinds of bags pickpockets and thieves are the most likely to avoid.

Invest in a purse with a lock, a pull-close bag, a fanny pack, or just a smaller wristlet or clutch.

Above all, be sure that you keep your wits about you when you’re in an unfamiliar location.

Looking for more advice about how to save money on suitcases and travel purses? Want to know how you can save on hotels and food while you’re on vacation?

We’ve got you covered.

Check out our website and blog to get access to unbelievable deals and giveaways — so your vacation fund can grow faster than ever.