Check out these perfect traveling companions new for summer 2014!

NEW! Sun Bum Shorties: sun bum

sun bum

Sun Bum premium sunscreens now in TSA-approved sizes. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with the classic Sun Bum Moisturizing Lotion, and replenish on the go with the moisturizing Sun Bum After Sun Cool Down Lotion. Smells like a tropical vacation every time you apply instead of chemicals.  Available in SPF 15, 30, 50.

On a recent trip to the Yucatan, I commissioned a friend to give his face, head (balding some;-) and body a fighting chance to become bronzed but not burnt. It was a success!


Though the sun was beaming down hard…especially climbing the Mayan ruins…the sunscreen provided protection. On two occasions Jim wasn’t donning a hat and was concerned he had too much exposure. Each night at twilight, he used the moisturizing After Sun Cool Down Lotion. The next day he woke up without burn and his skin felt great…even on top of his head :-)

Our family will put the lotions to the test again this baseball season…once the Ohio weather clears enough to actually be in the sun for more than a couple innings! (I’ll update this post later)

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Travel Tips from the Family Travel Mom: subject – Natural History Museums – flashback

NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMS – It’s all in the starting point.
Flashback to an earlier time:

As we waited in some lines opening day of the new Creation Museum, we were greeted by friendly faces and warm smiles from the docents and the guests alike. Many had been waiting for this museum to open for years, so what was another few minutes. “Much of the experience features displays that would be similar to what you would find in a natural history museum, so you will see exhibits on par with some of the fine science museums around the world,” said director, Mark Looy. “Because we’re taking our visitors on a walk through history from Genesis to Revelation, it is a biblical museum combining Scripture with the best of what science can present.” Interesting twist on most “Dinosaur” museums. Yes, there were tons of dinos, many animated –even dragons! Really, right up there with “Dinolands” in VA, OH & FL but also including some items like simulated walk-thru gardens, caves and even an ark! Elements we like best in Natural History Museums are simulations: walk thru limestone caves (OH), Ice Age (OH), Indian mound sites (TN, IL, OH), copper mines (MI, TN), or coal mines (TN). Some of our favs have giant prehistoric creatures hanging overhead (OH, NC). Many have wonderful paleontology labs (OH, PA, VA, MD) where real scientists are actively working on specimens. All that wonderful science to absorb – but one difference…the timeline. Same science, different starting points. Curious? Check out the Creation Museum for details…

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Travel Product Review: Fix N Zip

As seen on the TODAY show TWICE, this item is perfect for traveling, business, and home. When traveling, the last thing you need is for your zipper to break. From researching a local tailor to scouring the premises for household items – you simply do not have the time.

Easy to use and eco-friendly, FixnZip is reusable and can be taken off one item and used for another. It has a patented spring plate design consisting of two slider plates, a thumbscrew and spring, all manufactured within the USA. The slider parts are made of nickel plated zinc die cast and the spring and thumbscrew of stainless steel.


Product highlights:

·         Zipper repair without tools or sewing

·         Easy to apply

·         Repairs tooth and coil, metal and plastic zippers

·         Each fits a range of sizes

·         Can be started anywhere on the zipper

·         Comes in attractive bright nickel or black nickel finishes

·         Non-corrosive surface

·         Durable

·         Promotes recycling and sustainability

·         Can be re-used

·         Full website and online instructional support

·         Online store for ease of ordering

·         Made in the USA

·         Assembled and packaged by Exceed Enterprises, an employer of the disabled

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Have a Holly, Jolly Season at a National Wildlife Refuge

Walking in a winter wonderland? Check. At some national wildlife refuges, you can also hear sleigh bells ring, join in carols or turn fresh pine boughs into a festive holiday wreath. Many refuges will host free, family-friendly holidays activities though the New Year. See what holiday treats are in store at a wildlife refuge near you. Check here for added listings as the holidays draw closer.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Work off those holiday-season calories by cutting your own tree at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, Rydell National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

  • Moosehorn Refuge lets visitors cut two balsam fir or pine trees per person, starting at the end of November. The trees must be cut to maintain road safety. Pick up a free permit from the refuge office before you cut. Phone: 207-454-7161
  • Rydell Refuge will allow Christmas tree cutting on Saturday, December 7, and Sunday, December 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This may be the last year for this activity as the refuge restores native vegetation. Phone: 218-687-2229
  • Kenai Refuge lets visitors hand-cut one tree per family between Thanksgiving and Christmas. No fees or permits are required. Cutting is restricted to certain areas. Phone:  907-262-7021 or toll-free: 1-877-285-5628.

Wreath-making Workshop
December 1 & December 7, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Learn how to combine native conifers and shrubs into a beautiful wreath you can take home. Bring your family. All materials are provided. If you have a pair of pruning shears or gardening gloves, please bring them. Pre-registration is required: 503-812-6392 

Holiday Open House
All month - Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Borrow snowshoes, outdoor activity backpacks and binoculars from the visitor center. Enjoy the wild Wisconsin winter.

Winter Wildlife Excursions
Starting in early December, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. — National Elk Refuge, WY
Take a free guided tour along the refuge road where elk, bighorn sheep, waterfowl and other animals can often be seen.  Hear a naturalist recount refuge history and wildlife management methods.  To reserve a seat, call 307-734-9378 or stop in the visitor center. Updates:

Holiday Open House
Thursday, December 5, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Celebrate the holiday season with staff from the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture. 

Holiday Full-Moon Howl
Saturday, December 7, 5 to 6:30 p.m. — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Hear endangered red wolves in the wild.  Bring a flashlight and insect repellent. Howling trips will occur except with lightning, heavy rain, wind or impassable roads.  See a short video about the wolves and hear them howl.

Wildlife Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Shop for wild and not-so-wild treasures at this annual Friends group event.  See live animals. Find unique gifts and support the refuge and the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Make origami ornaments and hand-crafted cards. More info:

Christmas on Chesser Island
Saturday, December 14, 6 to 8 p.m.  — Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA
Celebrate the holidays at the Chesser Island Homestead with luminaries, caroling and live music. Tour a swamp homestead adorned with traditional homemade decorations.  Stay warm by the bonfire while enjoying homemade cookies, hot chocolate or cider.

Santa Comes to Call
Saturday, December 14, 2 to 4 p.m. — Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex, Lacombe, LA
Mrs. Claus will read Christmas stories while Santa greets kids and families in his “Cajun Cottage” outpost in the visitor center.  Admission, photos, refreshments, and visits with Santa are all free, courtesy of the Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges.  Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. Explore the trails and grounds of Bayou Gardens, filled with many varieties of camellias in bloom. 

Winter Sleigh Rides
Monday, December 16 — National Elk Refuge, WY
Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride to see the elk that winter on the refuge. For details, see: or  Sleigh rides will continue through Saturday, April 5, daily except for Christmas.

Winter Tram Tour
Saturday, December 22, 1 to 4:30 p.m. — Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Take a ride on an open-air tram and see the ducks, geese and swans that make Back Bay Refuge their winter home. Continue into False Cape State Park for a one-mile hike to the Wash Woods cemetery and church site. $8 per person. Reservations are required: 757-426-7128.

Christmas Bird Count
Many national wildlife refuges will host the 114th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count on specified dates between December 14 and January 5.  The citizen science effort provides data on bird population trends. To find a bird count near you, check this page.  Participating refuges include:

Sunday, December 15, 6 a.m. to dusk — Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, SC

Sunday, December 15, all day — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV

Monday, December 16, all day — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD.
Teams will cover about a third of Kent County, including the refuge.  Registration is required: 410-778-9568

Monday, December 16, 6 a.m. to sunset ­— Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL

Saturday, December 21, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MO

Saturday, December 21, 7 a.m. to dusk — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX Sign up:

Saturday, December 21, 8 a.m. to dusk — Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, MO

Sunday, December 22, all day — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC

Sunday, December 29, all day — Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, AZ  

Monday, December 30, dawn to dusk — Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, CA

Monday, December 30, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX 

Holiday Open House
Tuesday, December 31, all day – Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Self-guided items for checkout from the visitor center include snowshoes, “Let’s Go Outside” activity backpacks, and binoculars.  Enjoy and explore the wild Wisconsin winter!

Christmas Tree Drop-Off
March 2014, Exact date TBA. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, LA
If you live near the refuge, you can see that your Christmas tree aids wetland restoration when the holiday ends.  Place your tree at the curb for collection and delivery to the refuge by city contractors.  Volunteers will band the trees together for a helicopter sling.  The Louisiana National Guard will drop bundled trees in selected wetlands to boost habitat for waterfowl, wading birds and other wildlife.  In recent years, this effort has created about 100 new acres of refuge marshland.  Check the refuge website for updates.

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Travel Product Review: Travel size lotions from Coppertone…sun protection is always in season.

When Coppertone first approached me a couple weeks ago about doing a blog review of their sunscreen products, I thought, “it’s almost the end of summer!”

But then I received the sample package…right after Labor Day weekend full of outdoorsy fun at festivals and football games. Right after days in the late summer sun…and a little sunburn on my face and shoulders! Ok, I get it. Providing broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays is always in season.

I focused on the facial products – especially the Sport Lip Balm and Oil Free Faces Sunscreen Lotion. An outdoor concert, a baseball game and a college football gameday tailgate were on the agenda the following weekend. I applied the lightweight products (btw, won’t clog pores or cause breakouts, water-resistant (80 minutes) and the Sport even sweat proof) and they worked! Soft skin and no burn.

And, for you sun-seeking travelers who fly south when the chill hits North – Coppertone Travel Size offerings are now available. The 3 oz lotions are made specifically for convenience and comply with TSA travel size regulations.
  • For portable protection, Coppertone Travel Size Lotions are perfect for your weekend away game trip – they can easily fit in a purse or carry-on bag for on-the-go sun protection.
  • For a simple beauty regimen, Coppertone Oil Free Faces SPF 15, 30 and 50+ is a fragrance free, hypoallergenic sunscreen lotion specifically designed for the face. It helps prevent premature skin aging and won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
  • For convenient lip protection Coppertone Sport Lip Balm SPF 30 can easily fit in a pocket for on-the-go sun protection that also helps smooth and soften lips.

Where to find: Available nationwide at food, drug, mass and internet retailers. Sport $3.99. Lip Balm $2.99. Oil Free Lotions $8.99. 

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New KIDS LOVE INDIANA, 4th Edition – Updated w/ more quick budget info!

A note from a long-time customer:

NE – HUNTINGTON. ANTIQOLOGY. (a note from a long-time reader…)

First, thanks so much for writing your books. As our children were growing up, we used them to find some locations that turned into great family memories.

I ran across a great little store last Sunday in Huntington, Indiana called ANTIQOLOGY, located in the historic downtown at 401 N. Jefferson.
It combines antiques, soda, and ice cream. Eclectic would be a great word for the store’s antiques.
And, everyone should get the chance to have a Strawberry Fanta float at least once in their lifetime!
Wishing you all the best,
David T


And…look for the new KIDS LOVE INDIANA, 4th edition out this month at your favorite bookstore: or

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Back-to-School Travel Product Review: BIC Tech 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen

Earlier this year, BIC introduced a new product, the BIC Tech 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen, which features a lightweight stylus on one end that glides easily across tablet and smart phone screens, providing accuracy and precise control as well as a retractable ballpoint pen with smooth-writing Easy-Glide system ink.

I’ve had mine for a few months now and, while i mostly use the Stylus, having the ink pen right there…on the other end, is very convenient. The BIC Tech stays in my purse for on-the-road use so you will mostly see me using it in a carpool line, at a booksigning event, or placing notes in my day planner (yes, I still like to keep a spiral paper planner). Oh, and to sign checks I deposit at the bank :-)

Features of the BIC Tech 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen include:

  • Stylus and ball pen in one
    • Lightweight stylus for capacitive touchscreen devices, including tablets and smartphones
    • Easily glides across screens providing fingerprint-free precision and control
  • Retractable ball pen with Easy-Glide System® ink—BIC’s exclusive ink technology for smooth writing
    • Available in four metallic barrel colors: silver, blue, pink and aqua

The BIC Tech 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen makes life simpler with the easy transition from paper to tablet. It’s the perfect device for any globetrotter, thanks to its reasonable price point and the convenience it offers.

BIC Tech 2-in-1 Stylus and Pen is available in a one-pack with a suggested retail price (SRP) of $4.99 and a two-pack with a SRP of $7.97.  (

I’m doing a Facebook giveaway of 5 BIC Tech Pens (courtesy of BIC)!

Just go over to our facebook page (  this week and LIKE our page. Or, if you’re already a Facebook Fan, enter by writing a comment about your favorite travel tip or trip we’ve recently talked about. One winner each day-chosen randomly. Contest ends September 8th.

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7 Last-Minute Labor Day Travel Tips

With one last, long weekend to say farewell to summer, there’s not much time to plan your Labor Day getaway. Though spontaneous trips are full of excitement, little planning leaves a lot of room for expensive travel hiccups. This is especially true when 34.1 million Americans are expected to travel during Labor Day, according to AAA Travel.

This means busy roads, crowded airports, overbooked hotels and high prices on everything from entertainment to accommodations. If you want to plan a last-minute getaway for the three-day weekend, follow these thrifty travel tips.

1. Hit the Road
Since airlines are notorious for raising prices during holiday weekends, your best bet is to travel by car. Research vacation spots within driving distance and take in the sites along the road. Use the helpful planning tool to find fun and interesting stops along your route like hiking trails, historical landmarks and amusement parks.

2. Get Cheaper Gas
Though fuel prices typically surge before a popular holiday, there’s been a noticeable drop in gas costs recently. However, just because you saw cheaper gas in town, prices can still spike along popular freeways and interstates. Research where to find the least expensive price-per-gallon by using They also offer a smartphone app to help you find the cheapest fuel prices based on your current location.

3. Find Free Things to Do
Once you reach your final destination, find as many free things to do as possible to save on activity expenses. You might be amazed by what towns and cities have to offer for no cost. If you’re escaping to the big city, peruse for a list of free things to do in over 20 metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Portland and San Francisco.

4. Go Camping
A great way to celebrate the last warm days of summer is to take your clan camping. All you need is a tent, some sleeping bags and a flashlight to enjoy a really cheap night under the stars. Some campsites require reservations while some are first-come- first-serve, so do you research before hitting the road. Go to for information on sites, pricing and reservation policies.

5. Look for Hotel Steals
If camping is out of the question, there are other ways to save on accommodations. Check vacation rentals on or hit up AirBNB to find less expensive places to rest your head. Bed and Breakfast-type accommodations are usually cheaper than hotels and offer complimentary breakfast to help you save on food costs. Otherwise, download the HotelTonight app to find last-minute savings on unsold rooms with discounts of up to 70-percent off.

6. Dig Up a Daily Deal
If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, look for daily deals in surrounding cities to find last-minute getaways for less. Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes are great sites to check, but don’t forget about TravelZoo’s Top 20. For instance, you can test your history IQ and enjoy some vino with a last-minute deal at an historic Gettysburg Hotel with Wine Tasting for just $119.

7. Tap into Food Savings
Check in to various dining establishments with Foursquare to discover discounts on entrees, or even score free appetizers or drinks. Check the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for popular restaurant coupons like 50-percent of a deep-dish pizza from BJ’s Restaurants or $8 off two entrees from Outback Steakhouse.

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

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Sporting Fun in Louisville – Day Two



For over 135 years, Louisville’s Churchill Downs has been home to the greatest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. At the Downs you’ll find the Kentucky Derby Museum (pg 38, which chronicles the colorful history of the race…and famous horses! Try riding like a jockey – the trick is never ever sit down in the saddle.


A constant 60 degrees underground, the Louisville Mega Cavern ( is a perfect activity for a rainy or sweltering summer day. With more than 17 miles of underground passageways beneath the City of Louisville, Louisville Zoo and Watterson Expressway. You’ll discover a guided tram tour rich in history, geology, mining and recycling.


For the adventuresome, glide behind a certified tour guide on the 2-hour underground MEGA Zips. Featuring six underground zip lines, including a fun filled dual racing zip, three awesome challenge bridges that will test your skill, balance, and mettle; this tour is guaranteed to get your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping. The tour path leads you into never before seen sections of the manmade cavern. This is the only underground zipline in the country!

For those who want a more relaxing adventure, be sure to take our one hour Historic Tram Tour through part of 17 miles of man-made passageways beneath the City of Louisville. Learn about the early limestone mining operations that created the caverns, dioramas to explain how the cavern could have been used as a fallout shelter, and even a little on the recycling that goes on below ground…even growing worms! Because you ride through the cavern and never walk, this tour is especially convenient for children of all ages, seniors, and the physically challenged.

The size and scale of this cavern is huge and the fact that the owners have such vision to create a viable business and attraction is worth a visit to see what all is down-under the city of Louisville.

  • Tip: Weight guidelines are 55 to 275 pounds. Children up to 15 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Zips run $59-$79 for a zip tour.


Be entertained while eating great seafood at Joe’s Crab Shack overlooking the Ohio River. Or have a family dinner at one of Louisville’s favorite locally-owned spots.

  • Enjoy a buffalo burger at Buckhead Mountain Grill (kids eat free every Monday-Thursday with purchase of adult entree of $9.99 or more…and many entrees are priced under $10). Try anything beef or local flavors like KY Hot Brown or Fried Green Tomatoes.
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Travel Product Review: HYDRO FLASK – Introducing the perfect travel companion

Travelers on the go are getting smarter about sailing smoothly through security – with an empty, reusable water bottle they can fill with water on the ‘other side.’ But it can be hard to find a water bottle that’s durable enough for a long trip to the beach, a trek through a nature center, or for touring a big city. Hydro Flask® has created a solution. 


Hydro Flask® began with a challenge: to create a reusable water bottle that truly performs in any environment. They nailed it with everything this one has to offer: 

  • Durable: Made with 18/8 stainless steel; resistant to bacteria and odors; backed by an unconditional lifetime warranty.
  • Essential: This flask’s double-wall vacuum insulation keeps drinks icy cold up to 24 hours (even in the blazing sun!) and hot up to 12.
  • Chemical-free: BPA-free and aluminum-free bottles ensure no leaching of chemicals, plastic or aluminum into beverages with a non-toxic powder coated exterior.
  • Charitable: 5% of the purchase price will be donated to a charity of the consumer’s choice, as part of
  • Diverse: The bottles come in a variety of shapes and styles including standard wide-mouth and narrow, as well as food flasks, beverage flasks, coffee/travel flasks with Hydro Flip lids and beer growlers.


 Whether you need a tough bottle for rugged destinations, or just for navigating through airports, Hydro Flask is a great option.

Personal Note: I have long hated the aftertaste of plastic bottles and the clunkiness of most thermos products. HydroFlask has become my favorite water bottle – mostly because the water stays ice cold and seems more crisp! Secondly, as a mom, I’m thrilled that it’s a product that is BPA-free and aluminum-free for my kids use long term. This really is different – try one.

More Details: The Hydro Flask is available at retailers nationwide and online.  The MSRP for 12 oz. – 40 oz. Flasks ranges from $19.99 – 34.99 respectively, and the 64 oz. Wide Mouth Stainless Steel Growler is MSRP $49.99.

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