Is Your Car Road Trip Ready?

road trip2When you’re in the car with your family for hours — or days — there’s a lot that can go wrong. Maybe your GPS leads you in the wrong direction, maybe one of your kids gets the stomach flu, or maybe you forget to confirm your hotel reservation and you end up sleeping in the car for a night. Sometimes you can’t avoid some of the hindrances and disruptions that often come along with a road trip, but there is one thing you can help prevent: an automotive breakdown.

As your vehicle is arguably the most important component of your road trip vacation, the last thing you want to happen is a mechanical failure. Breakdowns can typically be avoided by getting your car checked out before you hit the road. To reduce your chances of experiencing a potentially vacation-ruining vehicle breakdown, take your car to a reliable mechanic such as this Richmond auto repair shop, and be sure that they inspect the following:

Tires

The most common source of an automotive failure is your tires. Have your tires inspected by a professional, trustworthy mechanic who can tell you if your tires are sufficiently inflated, if the tires are worn unevenly, or if your tires are so worn down that they need to be replaced. It’s best to get your tire problems fixed now than to find yourself on the side of the road due to a flat tire.

Brakes, Oil, Filter

These are all things that you should be getting checked regularly. If you’re about to hit the road and you can’t remember the last time you had your brake pads, brake fluid, or oil changed, then it’s a good idea to just go ahead and get those looked at now just in case.

Transmission

There are many things that can go wrong with your car’s transmission. Signs of transmission problems include refusing to go into gear, your car emitting a burning smell, or clunking or humming sounds. Unfortunately, issues with your car’s transmission can take a while to fix, so you’ll want to take care of these well before your road trip. And if you’re thinking about just holding off until your next paycheck or until you find the time, you’re going to risk making matters much worse (and much more expensive!)

On a long road trip, there’s a lot that can go wrong. But that doesn’t mean to simply throw all caution to the wind and hope that everything goes smoothly. Instead, take as many precautions as you can — such as getting your family road trip vehicle inspected and serviced — in order to prevent as many avoidable issues as possible.

How To Keep Your Home Clean Every Day

Window-cleaningKeeping your home clean is no easy task.  It’s easy to fall into a rhythm of letting the house become messy and then spending all day cleaning once a month.  This type of cleaning method can really take a toll on you, though.  Every day your home gets messier and messier and then when cleaning day comes around you feel unmotivated and uninspired.

I used to fall into this habit myself until I made a point to clean just a little bit each and every day.  It has made a world of difference in my home.  Small stuff, like dusting or wiping down surfaces in a room or a quick vacuum of the hallway, can go by really quickly.  These are things that can be done in just a few minutes time and if you just do one task a day, you’ll find that your home is consistently more clean.

Of course you should always plan out larger tasks in advance like steam cleaning or air duct cleaning, but getting the little stuff out of the way every day, will make those chores seem like less of a burden.

Make a Landing Strip

Most people, when they walk in their home, want to immediately offload items like their keys, wallet, purse, or any other items.  The best way to organize these things and to not have clutter all over the house is to create a landing strip at the door.  For my home, I put a table that sits against the wall and provides an area for me to put all of my offloaded items.  This helps me not to accidentally misplace these items and keeps everything in one spot.

Do the dishes after every meal.

Yes, dishes are a pain.  But they’re easier to deal with in smaller quantities.  If you make it a habit to clean up after every meal, you can better manage the mess.  It’s hard at first, but once you get into a habit of cleaning up after every meal, you’ll notice that it becomes much easier.

Set a Time Limit

If you go into cleaning without a determined amount of time that it will take, chances are you’ll spend more time than necessary.  For me, I like to choose a task and set a limit at either 5 or 10 minutes depending on the cleaning being done.  This helps to prioritize and not get caught up with distractions.

Make it Fun

Put on some tunes or whistle your favorite song while doing your cleaning tasks.  This will make the task seem like less work and you’ll be finished in no time.

Clean Your Home Like a Hotel Maid Service

hotel maid cleaningEspecially if you have a full-time job and a family, keeping a clean house isn’t an easy task. When you finally get home after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of the evening cleaning when you could be sharing a nice meal and relaxing with your family. But when you start noticing dust and clutter building up around the house, you know that some changes in your regular cleaning routine need to be made. Getting in the habit of cleaning on a regular basis will save you a lot of time on cleaning in the future, and will help to keep your house clean and your family healthy.

Because they have to clean so many rooms throughout a single day, most hotel maids are able to clean a larger room in 45 minutes, and a smaller room in 25 minutes. You may not be on the same kind of time crunch as a maid service, but if you plan well, your deep cleaning project won’t have to take you all day. Here are some tips on how to keep your house clean like a professional hotel cleaning crew:

Create a plan

Without a plan, you’re not going to be able to clean an entire room in 45 minutes. Break down the room into separate areas that need to be cleaned or dusted – bookcase, coffee table, behind the couch, etc. Start from the top, dusting ceiling fans and window frames, and end at the bottom by cleaning the floors. Drafting a cleaning checklist beforehand may also help to keep you focused on attacking one task at a time.

Remove clutter

Start by cleaning up all the trash in the room and getting smaller items (like shampoo bottles and toothbrush holders in the bathroom) out of the way so you have room to clean the floors and wipe down countertops.

Use non-toxic cleaning solutions

green cleaningTry to use eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products that are safe for your family and pets. Many cleaning products are very dangerous to keep around the house, especially if you have small children or pets. Be sure to never mix cleaning agents, as this can create harmful fumes that you may breathe in.

Don’t forget your furniture and upholstery

Many people tend to focus on dusting and wiping counters, and vacuuming the floor, while overlooking furniture and upholstery. Sofas and upholstered chairs can collect food particles and pet hair over time. Use a vacuum with an attachment to vacuum up your furniture and upholstery.

Open a window

Especially if you’re cleaning with smelly chemical products, you should open a window to help ventilate your home while you clean. Letting natural light into your home will also help make your home feel fresh, airy and clean.

Hire some outside help if you need to

Don’t be a hero. Everyone needs a little help every now and then. If starting with a blank slate will help motivate you to keep your home clean in the future, hire a cleaning service. With certain items like carpeting, you may even require professional help to deep clean and extract all the dirt and debris that has built up over time. This Winston Salem carpet cleaning company uses a carbonated hot water extraction method to give your carpet a deep clean that you might not be able to achieve on your own.

Unfortunately, no one pays you for your cleaning services around your own house. But, you’ll notice that once you get into the habit of regular, weekly house cleanings, each time you clean your house you won’t need to spend nearly as much time – meaning more time for you to spend relaxing with your family.

4 Expert Travel Tips For Your Next Adventure

travel-bags

Traveling is something I’ve always loved to do.  Ever since I was a child, traveling with my parents, I’ve loved just hitting the road and going somewhere new and fun.  Some people, however, aren’t so fond of traveling and the sheer thought of it brings uneasiness; but unfortunately, everyone must travel at some point.

Over the years I’ve picked up on some helpful travel tips that have saved me headaches while on the road.  I wanted to share with you some of my favorite travel tips below.  Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, I’m sure you’ll find some of these tips helpful.

Save On Space

Space can be critical when traveling.  Whether you’re flying or just limited on space in the car, it can be very easy to end up with a lot more than you can handle.  A great tip I’ve learned is once you’re done packing, go ahead and unpack a third of what you have.  Chances are much of what you packed isn’t really necessary.  You’ll be glad once you start packing up the car or boarding the plane and have less bags to deal with.

Take Pictures of Valuables

Things get lost – it’s inevitable.  However, some things are more valuable than others.  Before you set off on your journey, make a point to take a picture of items such as your credit cards, license, passport, social security card, etc.  In the case that you lose any of these items, you’ll have proof of your identity as well as contact info on how to replace them.

Pack Snacks

No matter how short your trip is, chances are you’ll get hungry at some point along the way.  Always make sure to pack snacks and bottled water in a bag that you’ll always have on you.  You never know if you’ll have a delay, or be rerouted along the way, making your trip much longer than you anticipated.

Take Time For R&R After Your Trip

No matter the destination or the purpose, returning from a trip can be exhausting.  Always make sure to plan some time once you return to relax and readjust.  For me, I always schedule time at my local massage and spa parlor.  You’ll be glad you took a day to relax after traveling.

I hope these tips were helpful to you in some way.  Click here for some more expert travel tips and good luck on your next adventure!

 

Road Trip Inspired Design

road-tripI’ve always loved traveling with my grandmother.  Growing up, her and I would always take a road trip each summer and stay at various bed and breakfasts along the way.  My grandmother always liked to stay at B&Bs because she loved seeing all of the different ways the homes were decorated and she and how inn keepers always made your feel at home – unlike most hotels.

Over the years, however, we’ve gone on less and less road trips, usually because of my scheduling conflicts.  However, this year I decided we should change that and go on another trip.  The timing worked great for me, as I had time off from school, and for my grandma, whose senior care helper was going on vacation with her own family.

While planning our trip, I researched different bed and breakfasts that were on our route.  They were all located on the country side surrounded by beautiful scenery.  I thought they would be perfect places to catch up with my grandmother.

During our road trip, my grandmother expressed to me how she wanted some help redesigning her home.  She said that she felt inspired from the different inns we were staying at.  She thought they were so stylish and sophisticated and that she would love to have her home use a similar style.

I thought this sounded excellent!  Since I was home for the summer I would have more than enough time to help plan and design my grandmother’s home.

Making these plans to redesign her home filled us both with creative energy.  During our drives we would play around with different ideas that we had like what colors to use and what styles to replicate.  While staying at the different B & Bs we would discuss with the inn keeper about the different styles they used in their inns and what had inspired them.

stylish-kitchenOnce we got home from our trip we could hardly wait to begin with the plans we had made.  The day after our return, I visited my grandmother with my laptop and we browsed the internet for ideas and ordered a few pieces of furniture.

Our furniture is expected to arrive any day now and then we’ll get to work on everything else we have planned.  We have all of our color combinations prepared and ideas in mind.  This is going to be a great summer!

Vacation Ideas for Seniors

If you are a senior who has recently retired, and your grown children are already out of the house and starting families of their own, you’ve probably found yourself suddenly with an abundance of extra time. Previously, vacations had to be scheduled around work and the children’s school schedules, but now, there are few obligations holding you back from that dream vacation you’ve been waiting for ever since you returned from your honeymoon. So what’s the wait?

Many getaways and destinations are focused on young, newly married couples, or families with young children. However, as the baby boomers move into the senior citizen demographic, more and more vacations are geared toward people aged 65+. Many hotels and cruises also offer valuable discounts for seniors, making a post-retirement getaway even more desirable. And itineraries are not always centered around couples either – many planned vacations are designed specifically for single seniors who are interested in having fun and meeting new people. Whatever your interest or reason for vacation may be, here are a few ideas for senior getaways to get you started on planning your next trip:

Cruise

If travelling along the West Coast or to different islands in the Caribbean, while enjoying the amenities of maid service, breakfast in bed, a swimming pool, and live entertainment sounds  like an ideal vacation for you – considering going on a cruise! Many cruise lines offer special rates for senior citizens, and most provide social activities like single seniors’ night, dancing, and bingo. With all of the on-board and off-board activities available, you’ll always have something fun to do.

Volunteer Vacation

If you’re more interested in taking a vacation while being immersed in culture and helping people at the same time, consider volunteering abroad! Cross-Cultural Solutions for example offers the experience of a lifetime for seniors interested in volunteering in countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, and India.

Historical Tour

Taking a historical tour in a city like Charleston, SC or Richmond, VA is a great way to learn and go somewhere new – especially if you’re not all that interested in the typical beach vacation. Charleston is a beautiful southern city rich in history, home to extravagant mansions and expansive plantations. The city features over 1,000 historic buildings, perfect for touring.

Stay At a Local Bed & Breakfast

If a lack of mobility makes it difficult for you to travel, consider making a weekend reservation at a local bed & breakfast. This is an easy, cost-effective way to just “get away from it all,” and you’ll be able to socialize with other guests, and eat outstanding, home-made food. Many B&Bs also offer senior discounts and social events for seniors. Call a nearby B&B in your town to see what they have to offer. And if your lack of mobility is getting in the way of aspects in your life apart from travelling, call Seniors Helping Seniors Asheville to see if in-home care services are right for you.

Retirement doesn’t have to mean staying on the couch all day! If you have the freedom in your life that’s often inhibited by a 9-5 job or young children, take advantage of it by going on vacation, seeing the sights, and spending time with your loved one. You won’t regret it!

Finding Alone Time For New Parents

family-matters

Getting away isn’t as easy once you’re a parent.  Once you have little ones running around the house, it’s much harder for couples to regain the intimate privacy that they once had before the rug rats came along.  Many new parents are reluctant to leave their child in the hands of someone else, but many times it can be beneficial to the relationship to get away for even just a few hours.

Despite its challenges, however, it is possible to get away for even just a day trip.  Below we’ll explore some options that may be open to you.

Finding a Good Daycare

If you’re trying to just get some time alone with your significant other for just a few hours and don’t want to bother anyone or spend time looking for a caretaker, then daycares are a great option.  This option is best when your child already attends daycare and they will feel comfortable in your absence.

If you haven’t already enrolled your child in a daycare, this could be a great opportunity to look around and find a good fit for your child.  Daycare and child care can ease a lot of parent’s minds when it comes to scheduling chores and other daily activities.

Have a Relative Watch Them

new-parentsA great option for parents looking to escape for a little while is to have a relative watch after your child.  This is a great option for parents looking to get away for a weekend or an overnight trip.  Leaving your child with close family members will help you feel at ease knowing your child is in good hands.

Many times, grandparents are more than happy to spend some quality time with their grandchildren.  Children love it too because often times they get to do things that mom and dad don’t typically allow them to do!

Hire a Baby Sitter

Hiring a babysitter is a great option for parents who are looking to get away for an evening or for a day trip over the weekend.  Babysitters are particularly useful if you don’t have any nearby relatives that are able to watch your child for you.  For many new parents, hiring a babysitter can be very nerve-racking.  It’s often hard for new parents to leave their child with a stranger.  When searching for a babysitter it’s important to find someone who is responsible and can be relied on.

Planning Your Honeymoon Staycation

staycationWhile it’s customary for newlyweds to take a grand, extravagant vacation directly after their wedding, a growing number of recently married couples are spending their honeymoons at home. Called a “staycation,” these stay-at-home “getaways” are a cheaper alternative to the popular tropical honeymoon. And after several hectic months of wedding planning, a staycation can offer relaxation benefits that the process of securing a passport, hotel reservations, plane tickets, and loaded itinerary often limits. Staying at home, or in the vicinity thereof, provides you and your new spouse with the opportunity to relax and spend some much-needed alone time. Here are some staycation ideas to ensure that your honeymoon is relaxing, but more special than a typical weekend at home:

Stay at a local bed & breakfast!

See if your town has a nearby B&B, which lets you stay close to home, without the expenses of travelling. And let the innkeeper know that this is your honeymoon, as some will give special discounts or go the extra mile to make your honeymoon memorable.

Get to know your hometown better

Many people who have lived in the same town or city for a long time haven’t spent much time as a tourist in their homes. Visit some of the local museums or parks, take a historical tour, or eat at a restaurant that you’ve never been to before. And if you and your spouse have moved to an entirely new location, this is a great time to get to know your new home before life becomes busy again.

Hang out with friends and family

Depending on where the majority of your friends and family are located, right after the wedding might be the only time when you have everyone together in one place. Consider hosting an informal gathering after the wedding where you can take time to catch up, because your wedding celebration most likely didn’t allow ample time for that. Afterwards, you and your spouse can officially retreat into romantic seclusion if you so choose.

Go off the grid

Now is the time to log out of your e-mails and your Facebook, and simply live in the moment. Consider even turning off your cellphone and your computer. Being attached to your phone or the internet will distract you from your honeymoon, and make your staycation feel like just another weekend at home.

Turn your home into a honeymoon suite

Flowers, scented candles, and chocolates on the pillows don’t have to be just for the hotel. Have a bottle of wine or champagne in your bedroom, and invest in some quality massage oil. You could even buy a charm from Stevens Jewelers to leave on your wife’s pillow. Being in your “home away from home” will give some added romance to your honeymoon.

Whatever you do, remember the purpose of your honeymoon: to celebrate your marriage to the love of your life. Don’t get caught up in the little details, as the most important part of your honeymoon is to simply spend time together and have a wonderful experience that you will never forget.