Viewing category ‘Travel’

Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at

Summer sleep-away camp supplies

Categories: Elementary school kids, Health and Safety, Managing stress, Travel

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I am in a TIZZ about Elizabeth going to Girl Scouts camp this summer. I’m GLAD she’s going, and I’m glad she WANTS to go, but it’s a week and this is the first time and ack.

I HAVE been having fun buying things, though. She’s supposed to bring old grubby clothes, but she went up a size this year so all her clothes are new. So I went to Goodwill and bought a bunch of things for $1-2 each: shorts, long pants, t-shirts, a sweatshirt. And Target had a bunch of t-shirts and leggings at 70% off, so I bought some of those, too.

Other fun purchases:

Each girl needs her own mess kit. The Girl Scouts shop has a mess kit with a logo on it (photo from for $25, but that felt a little high. I found the SAME mess kit without the logo (same brand, same color, same items even though the dunk bag isn’t in the picture) on Amazon for $15.84 (photo from

When I was little, my grandmother gave me a pad of fold-and-mail stationery (photo from, and I remember thinking it was a mind-blowing concept. This sort of thing rarely has the same impact for the next generation (”I remember when we got COLOR TELEVISION!!”), but I found a pad of it at Marshalls and got it for her for writing letters home. She does like it, though the wow factor is, as expected, not quite as wowish.
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Road trip supplies for older kids

Categories: Books, Crafts and activities, Fashion, Learning activities, Travel


Paul has started a new annual tradition of taking the two older kids on a road trip each summer. Here are some of the supplies I bought for them this year, when they were ages 11 and 13:

The Hunger Games trilogy (photo from Both kids read the first book, but we’ve spent the rest of the summer on the library waiting list for the second one. This was the perfect moment to finally give in and buy the set. And there was no fighting over it, because one kid wanted to re-read the first book before reading the second one, and the other kid didn’t.

Brain Quest for the Car (photo from We’ve loved these Brain Quest cards for littler kids; I hadn’t realized they had sets for older kids. I first considered the set for 7th graders (one child is going into 6th, the other into 8th), but this car-trip set seemed more fun. I worried it might be too young for them (it’s marked ages 7-12), and probably would have gotten the America set (ages 9 and up) if it hadn’t had a predicted shipping delay.
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Long car trips: toys and other entertainments

Categories: Electronics, Entertainment, Managing stress, Toys, Travel


My friend Heather is moving across the entire country with children aged almost-3 and almost-5. If I were her I would say that as “ages 2 and 4,” to maximize the Pity Factor.

She is looking for ideas to keep the children entertained on the trip. If your first suggestion is “NO DON’T DO IT AT ALL! Fly instead!! With the children in animal crates!!” you can save your breath because I already tried it. They will be in the car at least six days, and that is final.

I suggest we see if we can make this easier for her in any way. Donations of prescription medications would be excellent too, but I was thinking more along the lines of travel tips and toy ideas.

My tip, based on taking two much-shorter trips (1.5-days in the car each trip) with a 2-year-old and a newborn, is to plan to stop at places that have a play area or a grassy run-around area, and include in estimated trip time the amount of time it would take for the kids to run/play/climb for 15 minutes or so at each stop. Plus assume triple the number of stops needed with adults. This makes the entire trip take much, much longer.

My second tip is to save some stuff aside and not bring out everything on the first day of travel, or else the children will play frantically with all the toys on the first day and be bored for the rest of the trip. (This is a pointless tip, because if it were me, I’d be desperate enough on the first day to bring out anything, ANYTHING I had.)

Now for things to buy:

1. Fresh TV/movies. Heather tells me that they already have a DVD player for the car, so I suggest buying several new DVDs. …This doesn’t seem like it’s brilliant enough to suggest, but that didn’t stop me from suggesting the kids could run around at rest stops. Blue’s Clues (photo from is one of the ones I got for the just-turned-2-year-old on my own trip, so it may be too young for the 2- and 4-year-olds—but anything, ANYTHING they would like that wouldn’t be intolerable for the adults.

2. Water-drawing thingie. The H-2 Whoa is the one we had. It’s two-sided, so by the time you finish drawing on the second side, the first side is mostly dry and ready to use again. But if I were buying now, I’d buy the travel-sized Aqua Doodle (photo from (In fact, I DID buy it, and we still keep it in our car. I like it less because it has pre-printed rainbows/grass on it, which can kind of ruin an outer space drawing. But it IS more sensibly compact.)
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Travel mugs

Categories: Toothsome products (for grownups), Travel


I need a new travel mug, because mine broke. Which reminds me of how I GOT that travel mug. I was shopping with my mom at Target, and I saw a travel mug in the most gorgeous, almost ETHEREAL shade of pink. Glowing glossy pale pink. But it was only 30% off, and it was expensive to begin with so it was still well over $10, and most importantly I didn’t NEED a travel mug because I never used one. I dithered for awhile because it was SO LOVELY, but I didn’t buy it.

That evening, I was suffused with regret. WHY hadn’t I bought it?? Maybe I WOULD use a travel mug! How did I KNOW if I didn’t even TRY? Even though the Target was a half hour away and I’d need to bring kids with me, the next morning I went back to get the pink travel mug—and it was gone. I have two other Targets within reasonable driving distance, and I went to both of them over the next couple of days, but no luck. I looked online, at Target’s site and at any other site that carried that brand of travel mug: no luck. I whined about this to my mother at some length.

The next month was my birthday. One of my gifts was THE PINK TRAVEL MUG.
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