It has been an epic summer.
Labor Day is around the corner, and school starts in less than three weeks. The season of fun and sun and freedom is almost coming to a close. But I’m not ready to throw in the [beach] towel just yet! I want to make the most of every hot, sweaty, sandy, muggy moment we have left.
We just got back from an amazing nine-day road-trip summer vacation in northern Michigan—and even though it required we take a plane, car, and ferry ride, it also reminded me that you don’t necessarily have to go far to enjoy one last summer hurrah.
Gather the people you love and find adventure—anywhere. Just don’t forget to bring the essentials, and follow these simple tips to milk the last few days and weeks of summer 2017!
Plan a Local Getaway
Find a last-minute deal at a local hotel or nearby resort. Any destination within a three-hour radius with a pool, an ocean view, or other outdoor amenities will do! A mini road trip will bring the family together with plenty of opportunities to laugh and play, and then seamlessly squabble like only siblings can do.
Yes, quarreling is definitely par for the course—so you’ll want to have your road-trip arsenal at the ready. Over the course of our week-and-a-half trip, we were in the car no less than 20 hours. Some spurts were short and sweet (with two cute-as-can-be kiddos napping in the back!), others—well, not so much (cue the clichéd “are we there yet” chant).
It’s hard not to get cranky when you’re confined to a car seat for hours (or even minutes!) on end. Make sure you have everything you need to set yourself up for success (AKA peace and quiet).
Of course, a few favorite toys, trinkets and books are nifty, but one or two techie gadgets will most definitely be key. A portable DVD player or a kid-friendly tablet can be your best friend and most trusted on-the-go gizmo.
Tip: Be Prepared for Snack Attacks: Stock up on snacks before you hit the road. Hunger and boredom often coincide, so be prepared for both with healthy, delicious treats. I love the Gold Emblem Abound snacks from CVS. They have everything from organic trail mixes to nut medleys to vegetable chips, and more. Plus, you can get them for a steal. Don’t forget to use your CVS Rewards card. I have mine synched to the CVS app on my phone—it sends me customized deals based on my purchase history.
Make It a Movie Night
Two of my favorite summer nights, thus far, have included outdoor movie events! Lots of local town parks, playgrounds, beaches, and community centers plan outdoor screenings of family-friendly films. My hubby and I caught a picture-perfect viewing of La La Land earlier this summer, and watching it with the stars as our backdrop was nothing short of magical.
Better yet, on our Michigan trip, we found a retro-inspired drive-in movie theater (they’re few and far in-between, but they do still exist!). With the kids in our laps, we were able to watch a kiddie movie from the comfort of our rental car. And thanks to our pre-packed snacks, we didn’t need to purchase overpriced concession-stand goodies!
Tip: BYO Creature Comforts: Bring your own eats, treats, bevs, beach chairs, and blankets. (A family even brought blow-up mattresses—now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!)
Can’t find an outdoor viewing? No worries! Pile up in your big bed, create a fort in the living room, or cuddle up just about anywhere, and enjoy some quality snuggle and snacking time together.
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Create a Summer-Vacation Journal
Right before we left for our vacation, I got my son a $3 notebook at CVS and a new box of crayons. I thought he’d use it for rounds of tic-tac-toe and scribbled jibberish. But, to my delight, he decided to create his very own vacation journal. He documented every major happening on our trip with amazing illustrations (and some spelling help from Mom and Dad).
Journaling kept him entertained for hours on the road, in hotel rooms, and at the beach. And so when he asked me if I could get some glue and print some photos to add to his book, I didn’t hesitate to whip out my iPhone and pull up my CVS app. In less than two minutes, I placed a photo order—and an hour later, I picked up our prints from the lovely CVS in Traverse City, Michigan. Happy mama, happy boy, happy memories captured in his journal. A new travel tradition has been born!
Tip: Get Photos ASAP. Download the CVS Pharmacy app to save money and time. Not only will you get exclusive steals and deals, you can upload images to be printed directly from your phone’s camera roll or from the Facebook or Instagram app… Pics in a pinch!
Find Adventure Outdoors
Step outside your comfort zone and try something new as a family—whether it’s a big hike, a challenging bike ride, or a family sail. I wasn’t sure how my young kids would fare on a two-hour tall-ships sail, but they surprised me with their enthusiasm and excitement. Of course, we had a few near meltdown moments—good thing I had a toy boat for each of them and plenty of yummy snacks for the adventure.
Tip: Don’t forget the sunscreen! Summer may be winding down, but you still need SPF. I stocked up on our favorite brands for the family at CVS before our trip. I love knowing that I earn 2 percent back on every single purchase I make at CVS, to be redeemed quarterly as Extra Bucks. (BTW, I recently learned that I’m in the top 7 percent of CVS savers! It pays to save!)
Don’t forget that it’s often the littlest things that make the biggest impressions on your little ones. For my kiddos, sleeping in a king-size bed with Mommy and Daddy for a few consecutive nights was a highlight of vacationing together. They were so pumped for our nightly sleepovers.
Who says you have to be in a hotel to have a PJ party? Stay up late (midnight snacks necessary!), tell stories, play games, and rock your favorite (preferably matching!) sleep-sets, and I promise you and your children will make a treasured memory.
Tip: Camp in your living room. Don’t want them to get too comfortable in your bed? Go camping in your living room. A big tent and some sleeping bags will make for a super special summertime treat—s’mores included).
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