7 Money Saving Hacks When Travelling With Children

The following post was contributed by a reader of The Practically Green Mom.

If you wait until your children graduate to go on vacation, you are likely to get a little crazy before then. Travelling makes for valuable family bonding time, and everyone can use a change of scenery once in a while. Travelling with children is always going to be a little more complicated and expensive than travelling alone, but it doesn’t need to feel impossible. Just change the way you plan and make a few extra considerations.

  1. Find Free Things to Do

Children have more of a concept of fun than they do of money. No matter where you go, there’s likely to be free (or cheap) things for your kids to do. Some destinations across the world have children’s museums, playgrounds, and even waterparks that are free. If you spend a few days devoted to these free activities, your budget will go much further.

  1. Buy Groceries

When you’re eating out, dinner for two every night can get really expensive. Dinner for four or more is almost astronomically pricey. When you get to your destination, find a grocery store. Stock up on staples (things like snacks and juice boxes) that you ordinarily go through quickly. Buying shelf stable things like peanut butter, bread, and fruit is always a good plan. You can pack picnic lunches for days where your family wants to explore nature.

  1. Economize on Accomodations

Fitting  your whole family in an entire hotel room can feel like a logistical nightmare. Because of this, you might opt for a suite. Accommodations become super expensive, especially if you’re going to be gone for a while. It might be more economically efficient to opt for a short term rental. You’ll have more space, and you won’t pay nearly as much. You might even be able to stay away for longer.

  1. Buy Reusable Containers

Think of all the toiletries and small things that your children will need to carry with them. Every time you travel, you need to buy more. Instead, buy everyone their own set of refillable bottles. Whenever you want to travel, you can pack from your supply at home and use the bottles indefinitely. It’s better for the planet, and it’s better for your budget in the long run.

  1. Book Your Flights in Advance

Almost every airline requires passengers over the age of 2 to have a full priced adult ticket. If you’re going somewhere you can’t reasonably access by land transportation, buy those plane tickets months in advance. Tickets are always at their cheapest when you book them far ahead of time. As the departure date grows closer, tickets might even double in price.

  1. Take Advantage of The Time They Sleep

No matter how you’re getting to your destination, it might be wise to plan your travel time for when your kids are asleep. You’d be surprised how much time and money this can save you. If you’re flying on a plane, it may not make a difference. If you’re going by car, you’ll find that you’ll be less likely to have to pull over for bathroom stops, snacks, or things to entertain your children when they get restless. You’ll get better gas mileage and spend less on impulse purchases along the way.

  1. Coupon Everywhere

Groupon and other sites like it exist in almost every country. No matter where you’re going, you’ll probably be able to find discounts on things like food and entertainment through couponing sites or apps. Try to make your plans around what discounts are available. You might even be able to find deals where kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.


 

While you might need a much larger budget and a much more flexible schedule to travel with your children, you won’t have to wait on a huge inheritance to be able to spend a week on the beach. If you’re thrifty and clever at home, you can be thrifty and clever anywhere.

 

 

About the Author:

Sienna Walker is a huge fan of travelling, both to well-known and famous places as well as to the ‘off the beaten path’ locations. Currently supporting Aubiz, Sienna might often be found online, sharing her tips and suggestions with readers. Feel free to follow her on @SiennaWalkerS.

7 Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

So, you want to stay home with your kids, but your family finances just don’t seem to allow for a one-income household? You might want to reconsider whether or not you can afford to stay home. By the time you eliminate things like child-care costs and other expenses that come with having a job, you might find that your budget shortfall isn’t as bad as you thought. The good news is that you can often make up the difference by starting a home business. Here are some home businesses that can offer you the flexibility to work around your kid’s schedule, and still make enough to help off-set your family expenses.

eBay Selling

All you need is a camera, a good computer, and enough free time. Scouring classifieds and garage sales for free or very low-cost items, then turning around and selling them for a profit is a great way to make some extra cash. You may have some items in your possession already that you could part with, helping to de-clutter your house in the process.

Blogging

Mommy-blogging has turned into a lucrative business for many stay-at-home moms. Most parents will have stories that others might find value in; it all comes down to how you tell it. If you’re good with the written word and can engage people emotionally about real-life parenting issues, you may be able to turn your kid’s antics into a steady stream of income.

Child-care

If you’re already at home making lunches and planning activities for your own little ones, why not add a kid or two to the mix? You may have a friend or neighbor who needs reliable child care. Parents seeking flexible and affordable child-care may not be able to make use of day-care centers that have high-costs and require you to pay for full-days, even if you only need a few hours a few times a week. Offering to watch a child in your home is a fantastic way to help someone out while earning some extra cash.

Gift Basket Delivery

People will pay a premium if they need the perfect gift delivered today, usually because they forgot to get a gift. Keep several pre-made and on hand, and offer to do custom gift-baskets for special events. The materials are cheap if you shop around, and you can easily charge $75 to $100 for items that cost less than $15 or $20. Enlist the help of a cheap and reliable courier service from a sharing community site like Zoom2U, and you may not even have to leave the house to do it.

Freelance Writing

While this can be difficult work to break into, once you’ve established a strong reputation, you can really rake in the cash without investing too much time per week. Writing web-content or ghost-writing self-help books is a great way to earn some extra cash. The hours are flexible, and you only have to commit to what you’re able to handle, so when life throws you curveballs, you can back off until you’ve got the time to devote to it again.

Tutoring

If you excel in math or writing, you can often make good money working as a tutor for kids struggling with certain subjects. Parents will pay good money for tutors, so if you’re only looking for a few hundred dollars a month, you can easily make it with just a few hour-long tutoring sessions each week. It does involve a bit more commitment, as most parents want a firm schedule, say, every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00. If you can commit to the hours, this is a great way to earn extra money.

Pet Care

If you’re an animal lover, working as a dog-walker or neighborhood pet-sitter can also help fill in the gaps in your household income. Most pet-sitting jobs involve 2-3 trips to the pet’s house each day, and if they’re local, can be done in 20 minutes or less. As with many of the other home-based jobs, you can take on as little or as much work as you need, so it can be scheduled around vacations or your family activities.

Any one of these ideas can help you find the time to stay home with your kids without sacrificing the income that you need. Many of them also allow you to break into an industry on a small-scale, and grow your business once your kids head to school full-time, increasing your earning power. Think about whether or not you could start one of these businesses before you decide that you can’t afford to stay home with your kids.

 

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.

Playground Safety Tips

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

Most parents would love to see their kids get more exercise, but regularly playing outside may do more good than parents know. Not only does playing outside get kids some much-needed exercise and provide a strong counterpoint to all the time they spend in front of screens today, but playing outside also provides kids with stimulation beyond their physical development. Playing outside with other kids can give children stronger cognitive abilities and helps them develop good social skills. Add this to the physical activity that helps keep kids in shape and avoid obesity, and the neighborhood playground becomes even more important.

Even though playgrounds are great places for kids to work on their physical and mental development, they’re also potentially dangerous places if children and parents are not careful. Parents need to be aware of the possible dangers at playgrounds and teach their kids to exhibit safe behavior while playing. A quick visual inspection around the playground before play begins can be the difference between a fun day in the fresh air and an injury. What follows is a list of basic playground safety tips parents and kids should keep in mind every time they use the playground. Keep these guidelines in mind, and parents and kids can look forward to a healthy and happy time on the playground.

How to Keep Up a Healthy Lifestyle alongside Work

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

I imagine being a health journalist in America is actually a frustrating job. I mean it has to be, because it seems you’re constantly reading and writing about how unhealthy your country is. Just look at these numbers, and you be the judge:

If you’re a person who constantly writes about these problems, what can you do? You can give some advice that will hopefully help at least a couple of people with their health.

However, before we start talking about the solution, we first have to get to the root of the problem. Just why so many people in the United States are unhealthy? The answer probably won’t surprise you…

Maintaining a Good Work-Life Balance

In today’s day and age, people are mostly concentrated on their work, which in itself isn’t exactly a bad thing. But when you take a look and see just how many people are putting their work before their health and home life, you realize that constant work can hurt relationships, happiness and even health.

The problem is – modern technology has made workers accessible around the clock and fears of job loss have incentivized longer working hours. According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, almost 95% of employees today works more than 50 hours per week and 50% of them work 65 hours weekly.

But even if you feel like you’re too busy to concentrate on anything outside work, you need to make time for some of the most important things in your life, including health.

How to Balance Out Your Life

  • Sleep needs to be Your Number One Priority

If you ask any doctor out there, he will tell you that an average person needs anywhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function properly. If you don’t have enough sleep, you’ll be unproductive, unfocused and your body will start storing fat and breaking down your muscle tissue.

In order to have high-quality sleep every night, you need to start using a smart alarm clock, or an alar app. You see, when we’re sleeping, our bodies naturally cycle between phases of light and heavy sleep. So if we’re awaken from the heaviest phase of sleep, we’ll feel terribly for the remainder of the day.

So one option to ensure that you’re not awaken from your deepest sleep, you should either purchase a light-based alarm that uses a gradually brightening light to slowly wake you up or download an app such as SleepCycle that senses when you’re moving during sleep and estimates when you enter light sleep.

 

  • Simplify Your Diet and Set Clear Rules

First off, you need to stop drinking sugary drinks like juices, sodas and alcoholic beverages. Moreover, it would be wise to stop adding sugar to your coffee and start drinking straight, black coffee. And while this may seem like hard work, it is worth it, because not only you’ll get in shape more easily, but you’ll save a lot of money in the process – Starbucks isn’t cheap after all.

You also need to ensure that you eat five to six small meals throughout the day instead of two to three large ones. Include vegetables with every meal and eat as much as you can to limit your calorie intake and get vitamins and minerals your body needs at the same time.

And you don’t have an excuse for eating junk food even if you’re on vacation. Thanks to the Internet, you can easily skip fast food chains and airport restaurants, by ordering a long-lasting food kit, which can last you for the duration of your trip.

 

  • Start Following a Time-Saving Exercise Plan

We’ve come to the hardest part of staying healthy – exercising. You know you need exercise and in order to ensure that a workout session fits your schedule, you need to make them short and intense, and schedule them for times when they are easy to do.

Ideally, you should hit the gym, because there you’ll have a distraction-free environment where you’ll be able to focus on your workout completely. Plus, every modern gym is filled with expensive equipment you usually don’t have access to. And average gym workout should last around 30 minutes and you should do them at least three times every week.

But if you don’t have enough time for a gym, you can simply workout at home. And you don’t even have to waste a ton of money for equipment – you can just buy an adjustable dumbbell and workout for 15 minutes every day. While this won’t build you too much muscle, it will still make your body burn excess fat and keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.

 

Final Thoughts

Exercise is one of the most crucial human needs, unfortunately, in most cases, it is the first things that goes when our schedule starts filling up. But you have to make a conscious effort to exercise at least 150 minutes every week.

Once you start exercising on a daily basis, you’ll not only feeling healthier, but you’ll also feel more relaxed and satisfied. A quick workout will give you an endorphin rush, which will lift your mood. According to Mayo Clinic, it can even serve a 1-2 punch by also putting you in a meditative state.

The bottom line is, you have to work hard to achieve a good work-life balance if you want to remain healthy enough to advance your career. So make sure that your daily schedule includes a couple of minutes of exercise every day, be careful about your diet and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

So what do you think about our tips? Do you think we left out something important? Do you have any health tips of your own? If you do, make sure to leave a comment in the comment section below and share your thoughts with the rest of us.

By Norman Harris

Healthy living and well-being have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified fitness instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of staying in shape and keeping his inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on as one of its revered writers.

5 Steps to Creating a Culture of Self-Reliance in Your Family

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received.

When you have a family, you always strive to teach them something good and invaluable. Our grandparents have done that with our parents, our parents have done that with us. Now, it is our turn. It is important for us to enable our children to be self-reliable from the early age. Here is how you can teach your children some basic steps that will lead them through life later on.

Learn how to save money

First things first, money is important for every person in the world and who says differently isn’t telling the truth. The money provides stability and security. Making your own money automatically means that you are an independent person and that you can rely on yourself, which is actually something we all want in our lives. If you impose such a system in your house within your family members, the odds that your child will be aware of the fact that money can be very important are very high. At children’s early age, you can provide them with some allowance and advise them to keep that money so they can buy a toy or some candies later. Advise them that saving money will enable them to spend it on stuff they really want. Tell them a story of how have you been saving money so you could afford a house or a journey to a seaside. Have your child sit next to you when you count how much money you need to pay the bills and let it go with you to pay those. Some numbers will be too large for the child to understand them, but it will realize that it is a serious thing.

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

And by ”it” we mean clothing, toys, gadgets and even food. It is very important that you advise your family that they shouldn’t change their clothing after only a month of wearing it. They shouldn’t crave for new Ipad when they have sufficient toys and other gadgets. They shouldn’t throw away food they don’t eat. Being self-reliant means that you are able to know when it’s time for changes or new things. Teach them to wear the clothes until they are unable to fit it. Teach them that they should save food if they cannot eat everything. Try to make them to fix thing when they are broken. They will appreciate it more.

What are you going to be when you grow up?

This question is important because it imposes many others. You need to explain to your child the fact that people work for money, but that we also want to do something we like. Try to make the child feel positive about work, job generally and earning.

Ask a child what it would like to be when it grows up and draw that dream job. After that, draw yourself at work (you do not have to do a masterpiece) and explain to the child what do you do, why you have chosen it and why you love your job. You can do this with many occupations. In this way, children will be taught values regarding hardworking and obligations. It is proven that children who work over summer holidays have strong communicative skills and are easily adjusted to jobs later.

Maintaining the house

Starting from their rooms, they have to learn that there should be no one picking up after them. They need to know that it is important to have some responsibility at home, as well as in the schools, colleges, or at work. If they learn to be tidy and neat, those characteristics will help them later in the life. People notice such things and praise people for that. You can start at the early age of your children. Advise them that their rooms need to be tidy. At first you can start with rewards, such as giving them candies if they do it. But rest assured that later it will become their habit. Once they are to go to a college, they will be ready to live alone with no one to help them clean the apartment.

Exercising and healthy food

These two will help everyone become self-confident. If we feel good and healthy, then there is nothing to stop us and it boosts our ego. You can start by explaining how important is to eat healthy food and have some exercising. Also, if you do it, everyone else will in the family. Besides, children always seek for their role models. You can be theirs.

If you start implementing these things, your children will grow up into self-reliable people, and sometimes that is actually what we all want. They will be thankful, rest assured. 

 

About the Author:

Healthy living and wellbeing have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified yoga instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of taking care of his physical fitness and inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on http://www.prosurvivalist.com/ as one of its revered writers.

 

15 Summer Activities to Help Your Kids Appreciate Nature

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

What are your kids doing this summer? For many of us, summer time with the kids is a time to enjoy the outdoors, the sunshine, and if you’re lucky the ocean!

As much as kids love summertime, keeping them busy can be a real chore! If you don’t have the luxury of sending the kids to camp, then it’s up to you as parent to find things for the youngsters to keep busy with.

Failing that, your kids might spend all their time in front of a computer, tablet, phone or other screen.  Research has shown that spending too much time in front of a screen can have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of children.

Studies have shown that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering from mental ill-health and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, a daily walk in nature has showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.

One in four people are estimated to experience bouts of mental ill health and it’s on the rise. Prescription medication of antidepressants are also at a record high level and the demand for more invasive treatments are also on the rise. Health and social care commissioners are examining and commissioning different options for cost effective services for mental health and one of these options is a daily walk of 90 minutes or more. We need to learn from the past when kids got excited to spend their time climbing trees and building dens rather than spending hours inside.

Joe at Nature Rated understands this all too well and has put together an infographic on 15 Summer activities to help your kids appreciate nature.

This is what it looks like:

15 Summer activities to help your kids appreciate nature

From baking a blackberry pie to constructing a pond or insect hotel, there’s plenty for the youngsters to get up to. Head on over to his site for step by step instructions to get your kids out and about enjoying nature.

An outdoor enthusiast, Joe is the lead editor at Nature Rated; a website which rates and reviews the best outdoor gear for people who quickly want to know what to get. He believes in no fluff, to the point reviews, which help you choose the right gear for your next adventure.
Whenever daily life gets him down he heads to the nearest lake or river with his kayak and camera spending time recharging his batteries.

Save Money with Green Home Upgrades

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

Green home improvement is a hot topic these days. With the cost of water rising throughout much of the country and energy policies facing an uncertain future, more homeowners than ever before are showing an interest in energy-saving remodeling projects and upgrades. The following infographic explains energy saving upgrades that will put money back into your pocket within two years.

 

Natural Bathroom Cleaning Tips

The following is a guest post.  No compensation was received. 

More than 150 chemicals found in your home are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and physiological disorders. The majority of these chemicals are used in routine bathroom cleaning. There are many DIY “recipes” that combine household ingredients to create a natural cleaning solution, and eliminate harsh chemicals. For example, you can combine baking soda and vinegar to create a tile cleaner. The following slideshow displays different recipes and methods for cleaning your bathroom without using harmful chemicals. Try these solutions to help clean your house safely.

How to Clean Your Bathroom…Naturally by Modern Bathroom, a company that offers sinks, faucets, and wall-mounted vanities.

 

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