We are happy to provide another guest article by Leslie Campos. A busy mom herself, Leslie has dedicated her site Wellparents.com to all the moms and dads out there searching for ideas on being physically and emotionally well. She loves to practice yoga, CrossFit and watch The Great British Baking show when not working or running her children to various after school activities.


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Simple Tips for Planning a Refreshing Trip for the Whole Family

If your family is like most, you’re eager to take a fun and relaxing vacation this year. But when you have kids, planning such a vacation takes a little more time and thought than it would if it was just you and your significant other.

Nonetheless, there’s no reason why you can’t plan the trip of a lifetime that includes something for everyone in your family. Whether you have babies, toddlers, and/or older kids, coming up with a strategy early on will help you lay the foundations for an awesome vacation. And We’re the Wilsons has some tips to help you get started:

Commit to saving.

It may seem impossible to travel with the entire family if you are not uber-wealthy. But if you prioritize travel and make room in your budget, it might be more obtainable than you think. The key is to save money.

Spend frugally and intentionally. Buy only what you need at the grocery store, and limit how many times per week you dine out. And create an inspiration board to hang in your home that will motivate you to save money for your next trip.

Take time to plan.

A lot goes into planning a trip. The first step is to give yourself time to devise a plan. When traveling with your partner and children, you must consider everyone’s needs. Look for deals on accommodations, food, and entertainment that will help ensure the comfort and enjoyment of each person. And start thinking about what you need to pack well in advance.

Get the supplies you need.

ZenBusiness has some suggestions when it comes to items you don’t want to leave behind – like your camera and passports. Speaking of packing, the earlier you start purchasing any items and supplies you need for your trip, the less stressed you will be when it comes time to depart. Do any of you need clothes, sunscreen, or sunglasses for the beach? Start looking online for good deals now. And if you need a top-notch travel bag, be sure to browse our selection!

If you’re bringing your pet along on your trip, you may need to invest in supplies for them as well. Some essentials to include are collapsible bowls, food, toys, and a travel crate. Make sure your pet has any necessary vaccines and that they get cleared from their vet for travel. Moreover, since there’s a good chance your pet will get dirty on your trip, consider bringing a dog hairdryer, shampoo, brush, and other grooming supplies.

Research destinations.  

The destination you choose is critical for your family vacation. While there are countless destinations that can provide your family with a good time, focus on those with beaches. Simply put, it’s hard to beat the beach when it comes to keeping toddlers and older children entertained. Sand, waves, and sunshine will make any child happy!

Strategize your itinerary.

Finally, create an itinerary that will offer something each day to everyone in your family. This does not mean to pack your schedule with nonstop movements. When you have kids, everyone will be much happier if you embrace the philosophy of slow travel. That said, you will be best served by researching activities and attractions well in advance and creating a loose schedule that will help your family get the most out of your trip.

Taking a family trip is one of the best ways to create lifelong memories with your loved ones. But when you have children, there are many considerations to make, and you want to start planning your trip as soon as possible. Along with following the tips above, keep researching how you can prepare for an amazing family vacation while saving money along the way.

 We’re the Wilsons is intended to let our friends, family and you see where we are, look at what we are up to, observe our travels and adventures! We’d love to hear from you.

We are happy to provide a guest article by Leslie Campos. A busy mom herself, Leslie Campos has dedicated her site Wellparents.com to all the moms and dads out there searching for ideas on being physically and emotionally well. She loves to practice yoga, CrossFit and watch The Great British Baking show when not working or running her children to various after school activities.

 

 

Simple Money-Saving Tips for Your Next Vacation

 

Many of us could use a getaway at some point during the year, but it’s not always feasible to fund a vacation even on the smallest terms. It is possible to start saving money a little at a time, however, and by doing it this way you can avoid creating money issues because you’ll never miss it.

 

The first step is to figure out where you’d like to go and how you’ll get there, since those are the two biggest costs you’ll face. It’s a good idea to look online for deals and to get an idea of the best time of year to visit certain spots, as there are always slower months that provide discounted rates for accommodations and transportation. You can also check out We’re The Wilsons, a travel blog that provides resources and ideas for anyone who’s ready to hit the road. Here are a few tips on how to save money on your dream trip (or just for a little weekend jaunt).

 

Grab some deals

 

It’s possible to have a great vacation on a budget, but you have to do a little research to find the best deals. Once you know where you’d like to go, take a look at Rent.com and set your budget, pet needs, and the number of bedrooms to filter out locations you don’t want. There are lots of options, as the site offers over 1,680 rentals around the Orlando area, and you can go with a small studio or a 4-bedroom depending on your family’s needs starting at $300.

 

Once you find the right place, think about the type of transportation you’ll need to get there. Road trips can be lots of fun with a little preparation, and they’re often the most budget-friendly option as well. If driving isn’t in the cards, search for flight deals and keep in mind that flying mid-week is often cheaper than leaving on the weekend, so you’ll need that information before booking your check-in date at the rental.

 

Start a change jar

 

Once you know where you’re staying and how you’re traveling, it’s time to start saving. An easy way to put some money aside is to set up a jar where you can throw loose change throughout the week. Place it near the laundry area or on the kitchen counter so that everyone in the family can participate, then a few days before your trip, take the jar to the bank or the nearest location with a money changer and cash it in for bills. The best part of this method is that you won’t even miss the change, but it really adds up.

 

Pick up a side gig

 

A change jar is a great way to save money for road snacks and gas, but when it comes to the more costly vacation bills, you might need to think bigger. An easy way to add to your vacation fund is to pick up a side gig, such as driving for a rideshare service or get rid of items you no longer want on an app like Poshmark or eBay. You might find so many benefits that you decide to hang on to the gig permanently!

 

Make small changes at home

 

There are also some ways you can save money just by changing up your lifestyle a bit. Making coffee at home instead of hitting the drive-thru, getting rid of streaming or subscription services you no longer use, making energy-efficient changes to your house, and working out with equipment at home rather than paying for a pricey gym membership are just a few ways you can make budget-friendly changes. You can also approach your grocery trips a little differently, utilizing meal prep ideas and coupons in order to keep the bill low.

 

Saving money for a vacation doesn’t have to be intrusive or stressful. By making a few small changes to the way you do things and actively looking for deals online, you can plan a trip you and your loved ones will never forget.

 

Have a question for experienced travelers? Get in touch today.

 

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It is important to prep our home for a long term trip away. Below are steps we find important to keep our home in great shape.

Marcy and I are not full time RVers. … at this time. Our plan is to be away from home approximately six months out of each year. That means our base (home) is vacant for the other six months or so. When planning for an extended trip out of town, most of us concentrate on getting our RV packed and ready for our time away on the adventure. But it’s equally important to prepare our “bricks & sticks” home before we leave. We did a bit of research and talked to our fellow RVers. What we found sounded overwhelming but necessary. Here are some tips we found to prep home for a long term trip ready our home before going away on vacation. We live in Florida and as such, our tips will be tilted towards the “reverse snowbird” or the Florida Go Away Bird.

 

Prep Our Home for a Long TErm Trip


Administration

First, we had to figure out a way to pay our bills while away from the mailbox for a long term trip. With today’s online technology that task is fairly simple. Many of the businesses that bill you now have secure online payment options. We also use bill pay options provided by our banks. With bill pay you can pay anyone that has an address. We also use Zelle® to pay and receive money. Zelle® is a fast way to send and receive money with the people you know and trust.

That brings us to that mailbox thing again. A mailbox is an antiquated means of receiving correspondence, bills, magazines and such (we don’t know anyone who writes letters nowadays). It is kinda like its name; some sort of box or container on or near our home that someone, usually a person called a mailman puts mail. Some people actually have a mailbox, called a Post Office Box, located miles from their homes. We wonder why they do that, hmmm? Who would have thought? I digress. Anyway our prediction is that this means of mail delivery will go the way of the pony express very soon. We no longer get newspaper delivery and opt for online access for that too. We could go on more about this, but we won’t get on our soapbox. … at least not right now.

Person holding stack of forwarded USPS mail.To circumvent this outdated way of receiving bills and other paper things we use online resources if available. We know that does not work for everything, so we volunteered our son to become our mail service. We presently use temporary   USPS Mail Forwardingand forward our mail to him. The minimum length for filing a temporary change-of-address is 15 days. The initial forwarding period is restricted to 6 months but can be extended up to 1 year. Our son gets our mail and peruses for important stuff and then copies or scans and sends to us at some secret outpost somewhere. There are other services available so just search the internet for RV mail forwarding and you see 58,400,000 opportunities to view.

Provide an “RV float plan” *. When we used to boat, it was imperative to let folks know our plan and contact information. We do the same for our long term journey. We also keep in touch with family and friends regularly. We use www.RVTripWizzard.com which allows us to download a spreadsheet of our planned route and campgrounds. This spreadsheet is easy to update with additional information.

* An RV float plan is an overview of an RV journey that can give family and friends a head start in looking for an RVer if he or she fails to reach his or her destination.

A float plan document should include:

    • Description of the RV
    • Number of persons and pets traveling
    • Destination, including the general route to be taken
    • Contact information
    • Timeframe of the outing

 

Preparing the Home

We have a relative or friend check our home periodically. They can check for any abnormalities and alert us (remember the “float plan”?). Everyone has a mobile phone these days so contacting us is easy. They can text photos of any issues too.

We live in a community with an active monitored entry gate. We think it would be wise to alert the guards that you’ll be away and provide a list of folks allowed at our residence.

Some folks turn off the main water supply to their home to ward off possible flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure. We don’t turn off the main but turn off the hot-and-cold water valves on the washing machine hoses. That’ll prevent flooding should the hoses burst while away. Our insurance company really gets peeved when we turn our home into a swimming pool. We like to keep our timer-controlled sprinkler system operating while were gone so we don’t return to a wasteland.

We make our home appear occupied while were gone by using smart WIFI bulbs and WIFI electric shades on timers. These too can be controlled from anywhere.

We have WIFI security cameras that we can monitor from, you guessed it, anywhere. Again, as long as we have internet access.

We have an on-demand water heater so there is no need to turn it off. I can turn the heat down, however. That would be a deterrent when the party goers in our home jump in the shower. We can hear the screaming now.

We will unplug any electrical devices that we don’t want on. For our televisions, computers, sound systems, and other electronics that are plugged directly into the wall, we’ll pull the plugs in case a power surge happens while away. Unplugging electronics can also save you some coin. All of these electronics are drawing power even when they’re not in use. Plus, that vampire voltage adds up. Kinda like Dracula. The Department of Energy estimates that the average U.S. family spends over $100 annually to power devices that are turned off or in standby mode.

Clean! What is the first thing you notice when you return from a long trip? The home smells. In the large majority of cases, the reason for the empty home smell will simply be lack of airflow through the property. Dirty things will stink too.

Clean more! If the home has been left for a number of days, weeks or months, with all the doors and windows locked up, then this will create a stale scent. Older furniture and furnishings (such as carpet) and uncleaned spaces can add to this odor. So, we pay special attention to this.

We’ll clean out the fridge. We’ll put as much useful food on the RV that will fit or give it away. We’ll throw away food that will expire while were gone. We clean up any mess and wipe down the shelves. If we don’t do that, we’ll return to a horrible smell. Remember, when our food’s forgotten, our home smells rotten. But what you might not realize is that some foods can absolutely ruin your refrigerator when they go bad. We’re talking about smells so powerful that they’ll forever foul our fridge, leaving inextricable odors  that stick around until the day you finally junk it.

Clean even more! It’s also critical that we wash our dishes, empty our coffee pot, and take out the trash before we leave.  Just imagine what our kitchen trash will smell like after a month or six of warm summer air.  Whoo-wee! On the topic of garbage, we’ll arrange to have our garbage cans taken to the street. Thank you helpful neighbors!

We’ll clean the garbage disposal by running a half-cup of vinegar and water in it.  Some folks also recommend putting a little baking soda in sink drains and toilets to further avoid the stagnant water stink.

We’ll clean and vacuum the home.

We’ll wrap the toilet bowls in saran wrap to prevent sewer fumes from entering our home.  We’ll be sure Just to put a big black X on the saran wrap to prevent an accident.

 

We’ll put drain stoppers on all the sink drains to alleviate dry drain. Dry drain sounds like a physical condition, but it is much worse. When dry drain happens, the sludge, slime and all the other debris inside the drainpipes also dry out. This can cause a clogged sewer line or drain and the smell of sewage wafting out of the drains. Ain’t nothing better, right? Remember we live in Florida, and we don’t want any cockroaches the size of small pets or boa constrictors or gators making our home their home. It’s really inconvenient to have to call Rocky Jim Jr to take care of that horrible situation.

We’ll take pictures to share with our family and friends. Not. Naturally you might think taking pictures is what you do once you’re on the road and exploring new places.  While this is certainly true, we also should take pictures of our home and possessions prior to leaving.  In case of a fire, flood, or other disaster, these photographs will prove what you had, and in what overall condition it was in. While you will hopefully not need these images, having evidence of this information can make or break travel plans.

June through November is hurricane season in Florida. We put away the

outdoor furniture and anything that can blow away including some plants and some of the yard art away. We don’t want them blowing into the next-door neighbor’s home or into the next county at the speed of a bullet.

Our storage procedure for our vehicle is a bit different. Tesla has a great app that allows us to do multiple functionss while we are away. We have a Tesla Model 3. It is recommended that we keep our car at a 30 to 50 percent state of charge while storing it, that we open the car and letting the interior breathe from time to time (hopefully there’s no old food or anything else suspect inside from the party!), and that we put extra air in our tires to alleviate flat spots. Our other vehicle, Jeep Grand Cherokee will be towed behind the coach so that we have transportation once we arrive to our destinations.

 

Returning Home

What goes up must go down or in our case, what leaves must come back.

Remember all of our electronic gadgets? A day before we return, we will lower the air conditioner temperature, turn on the Neato vacuum cleaner, set the lights for our arrival. Ah technology! We’ll alert the folks that watched and took care of our home so we could take this fantastic journey.

Since we took the time to prep our home for a long term trip, we feel confident that our home will be taken care of!

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