>U Mom Knows Best : May 2019

Friday, May 24, 2019

Summer Learning With The Electric Motors Catalyst

The ultimate kit for young tinkerers to think outside the box

              I received a STEM learning kit to facilitate this post.

 School may be out for the summer but that does not have to be the end of learning. They say that when kids take a long break from school it can hurt their learning as they forget what they learned in school. So I like to keep my kids learning during the summer break. I want my kids to succeed in school and that to me means providing my kids with opportunities to keep learning. Summer learning does not have to be boring for kids with books and worksheets. There are many ways to make learning fun for kids with activities and STEM learning kits. I make learning fun for boys so they will want to engage with the materials that I provide them. My boys love robotics and creating things. My youngest has a knack for building things and wants to invent things. He was to be an inventor or engineer when he grows up.

Check out some of the ways I help my child succeed in school

 One of the fun summer learning activity that I have for my boys this summer is a fun hands-on-STEM kit. The Electric Motor Catalyst kit from Tinkering Labs will teach my boys science, technology, engineering, and math. This exciting learning kit has over 50 parts in it and allows my boys to use their creativity to create over 16 inventions. The best part is the inventions don't take long to build everything is included in the box, even batteries. The STEM kit has examples that show kids what to build but it also allows for kids to build beyond those inventions.

Ten Challenges to get minds moving
 The STEM kit includes ten challenge cards with ideas to help kids think outside the box and take the include parts to make something like a machine to scramble an egg. I love that the challenges take 30-60 minutes to create as any longer seems to frustrate my boys. The ideas do not require kids to have any tinkering experience and are designed to get their hands and minds moving. 

A box of fun that teaches
 My boys were super excited to start creating with the Electric Motors Catalyst kit. The instructions were super easy for them and they did not need my help. I loved that they were able to work together and have fun. My boys stay busy for a long time and I loved that they were not on electric devices all morning. I was able to get work done while they created some cool machines that did everything from scrambling an egg to drawing a picture. Their gifted teacher would be proud to know that they were enriching their minds with learning during their summer break. This kit is just one of the many activities that my boys will do this summer to enrich their learning. We will also be visiting the children's Explora museum several times as we have a family membership. 

Storage bag included

 I loved that the learning kit came with a cloth storage bag so clean-up was easy. All the parts were available for my boy's next invention. The bag of parts then was easy to store in the box with the instruction books. The bag of parts was just the beginning of my boy's creation as they used their creative minds beyond the box and started adding other things to their inventions. Every time that my boys played with the Electric Motors Catalyst they came up with different ideas on how to build with the 50+ parts. 

What learning activities do your kids do in the summer?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What To Pack For A Fitness Conference

Sponsored post

  I am heading to California next month for a wonderful fitness conference and I am so excited. This conference is all about fitness and nutrition, some of my passions. SHINE is the newest Influencer event by IDEA Heath + Fitness Association. This event replaces Blogfest and will be held in Anaheim this year. I attended Blogfest in 2017 when it was held in Las Vegas and it was an amazing conference for bloggers who write about fitness, wellness, and nutrition. The Shine blogger conference is a great way for us influencers to light up our purpose and passions. It is also a great event to network with other influencers and brands who have the same passions of helping people take control of their health.

What do I pack?

 Shine is different than any other blogging conference, even those designed for healthy living bloggers so you will be packing things like workout clothes. This is the conference that you get to live in your fitness attire as you will be attending exercise classes and trying out all the newest fitness equipment. It is the one time that wearing yoga pants will make a great first impression. So pack your best workout clothes. This fitness conference is the perfect excuse to buy some new fitness clothes and some cute fitness socks.  It is also the best time to splurge on a new pair of running shoes. Of course, there are many other items that you will need to bring to this event and I have a great list of things that came in handy for me at my last fitness conference.

Fitness Clothes
 Since you will be attending a fitness conference for 4 days, make sure to pack enough exercise clothes for four days. I like to mix things up and I pack a couple pairs of yoga pants, some running skirts and a couple pairs of running shorts. I also pack things like tank tops, running bras, and cute matching knee-high socks. I also pack a pair of running shoes. I discovered this wonderful website that sells fun knee-high socks. Chrissy's Knee High Socks has a wide selection of custom socks that offer endless possibilities when it comes to putting together outfits with knee-high socks. There are so many ways to match socks to any outfits and Chrissy's Knee High Socks even has 185+ photos to show how to achieve the perfect look with knee-high socks. It seems that knee-high socks are the current trend for runners so I need to grab me some cute socks. I really love the pink socks with ice cream cones and the watermelon socks. These socks will look so cute with my running skirts. These knee-high socks are the perfect sports socks. I love that these socks are made in the USA! Chrissy's Knee High Socks has so many cute socks that I will have a hard time selecting which pairs of knee-high socks to purchase.

Other Clothes
 I like to also pack a couple other outfits beyond fitness clothes. The conference has a fun party on the first night so I will be packing a cute dress and sandals for this party. I will also pack the standards like pajamas, swimsuit, undies, and outfits to wear while traveling. Since I will be arriving a day early, I will be packing some shorts and a top so I can explore the area. This will be a perfect excuse to buy some cute knee-high socks that will match my shorts as I will make sure to wear my gym shoes when walking around town. These knee-high socks are the best casual socks for any day. I traveled to Anaheim last fall and I made the mistake of walking from the hotel to downtown Disney. That long walk gave me some blisters on my feet. So I will be wearing my running shoes and my cute knee-high socks when I go exploring the area.

Backpack or Bag
I like to bring a small bag or backpack when I attend conferences so I have something to carry my items like a water bottle, snacks, and phone. Since I am staying in a hotel that is a mile away from the conference, a backpack will come in handy for the walk to carry all the things that I will need for the day. I recently bought this cute tropical backpack and I used it on a train trip that my family took to visit my mom. This smaller bag has plenty of pockets so I can easily find my phone and business cards.

Phone and Charger

 Make sure to bring your phone and charger along with charging cords to the fitness retreat as you will want to take lots of pictures. Since you will on social media part of the time showing new products to your followers, make sure to bring a phone charger so your battery does not fail you. That way you don't have to be a wall hugger. I really like the lightweight phone charger that I featured on my fitness gift guide last year as it charges my phone up to 6 times.

Water Bottle
Since you will be exercising at a fitness conference, a water bottle is a must. You will be participating in exercise classes so you will need to drink plenty of water to replenish all that healthy sweating that you will be doing. Did you know that sweating is good for you? That way you can refill it often from the water stations. I received the best reusable water bottle in my swag bag from Blogfest and that is my favorite water bottle to bring to conferences. This metal water bottle keeps my water cold all day and is so easy to refill.

 Since you will be more active at a fitness conference, it is a must to pack healthy snacks. I like to pack snacks with protein and carbs so I have plenty of energy to participate in the workout sessions. Some of my favorite snacks to pack are dried fruit, nuts, and vegan protein powder. I always pack a shaker bottle so I can easily mix up my protein drink for lunch or after a workout. My favorite protein powder is dairy-free and tastes great when mixed in water. I love packing the Nuzest Real Coffee protein powder in my bag for traveling so I get my caffeine and 20 grams of protein in one delicious creamy drink. When you buy Nuzest through my link, you can save 15% off your order

The one product that I always pack when traveling

 Traveling always seems to mess with my potty habits as my eating is not always the same. That can lead to constipation and who has time for that? So I always pack my favorite prebiotic fiber supplement in my travel bag.  I just sprinkle the tasteless powder over my food or mix into a drink once a day and my gut is happy. The packets are so easy to pack!

Click HERE
Save 10% on Regular Girl with my coupon code MOMKNOBEST10 

Business Cards
  Since I will be attending a blogger conference, I will be networking with brands so business cards are a must. Make sure that your name and contact info is on your cards so the brands can reach out to you later. 

Pen and Note Pad
 I always get some get information from the sessions that I attend at blogger conferences so I like to bring a small note pad to write it all down. Sure a computer would come in handy for note taking but I like to pack light for fitness conferences as you tend to move around to different rooms throughout the day.

Running Belt
 My favorite accessory to wear to a fitness event is a running belt so I have somewhere to stash my phone, money, and hotel key. When I participate in the exercise classes, I don't have to worry about these items when I park my backpack in the room. The running belt also makes it so easy to grab my phone for taking pictures as it is right there on my waist.

Small Towel
 Since you will be working out and sweating, a small towel is good to have in your backpack. Other items that would come in handy are moist wipes, natural deodorant, and a hair tye. If your feet tend to sweat, an extra pair of socks is always a good thing to pack in your bag for the fitness conference. That gives you another reason to buy several pairs of these chic comfortable sporty knee-high socks from Chrissy's Knee High Socks.  I have so many favorites of these socks that I am having a hard time deciding which pairs to buy for this fitness conference. I really love that knee-high socks can be worn with almost any outfit. These cute socks would look great with shorts, skirts, and pants. I really love the pairs of knee-high socks with the ice cream cones and the ones that look like watermelons would go great with my watermelon leggings. So many awesome choices of socks!

Which pair of knee-high socks would you purchase?

knee high outfit ideas

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Interactive Learning In The Kitchen With Eat2explore

Make learning fun with cooking

      I received a food subscription box from Eat2explore to facilitate this post.

  As a mom to five kids, I have learned that the best way to help kids learn is to make it exciting and fun. That way kids will have no clue that they are learning. I am that mom who wants to help my child to succeed in school so they can get a good job later on. One way that I like to teach my kids is through cooking. Cooking can teach kids not only the skills that they need but also teach them math, science, and even history. Yes, you can teach kids history through cooking and make your kitchen an interactive learning place. You can make learning history fun for kids with Eat2explore. Eat2Explore is a fun subscription box for kids that includes tasting ingredients from other countries as well as fun learning materials so you can create delicious recipes with your kids while learning about other cultures. The best part is eating food dishes from other countries without having to hop on a plane.

Cooking Subscription Box for Families
 My boys were sent a food subscription box from Eat2explore and the theme for the month was Japan. This monthly subscription box was a great weekend activity for some quality time with my boys. My boys are starting to enjoy cooking and this food craft box is something that they look forward to just like the delicious Gramma dessert boxes that we get every month. The Gramma subscription boxes have helped my boys learn how to make cookies and the Eat2explore boxes will help them learn how to make healthy meals. My boys will one day move out and will have to cook so learning how to make healthy food is always a good thing.

What is eat2explore and is in the cooking subscription box?
Eat2explore is a monthly cooking subscription box that contains food from around the world so experience food from another country along with a history lesson. Your kids will learn about other cultures while tasting new food. This subscription box is the beginning of learning about people around the world.

What is in the box:
3 recipes (4 servings each)
essential spice/sauce mixes
shopping list for fresh ingredients
educational country brochures
educational activity sheets
fun cooking tools
flag pins, stickers, passport

Learning so much through cooking
 Kids learn so much through cooking. Cooking teaches kids math as they have to measure the ingredients. Cooking also teaches kids many basic skills like how to use a knife safely and how to use a stove. Kids also expand their reading with cooking as they read the recipes. The activity sheets that were included in the box will give my boys some learning like math, science, social studies, and science. My boys can do the activities while waiting for the food to cook. There is even a word search and a Hiragana Chart so my boys could learn how to write in Japanese.

Salmon teriyaki

Trying new foods
 The Eat2explore box included just the spices and sauce that we needed to make the international dishes so we had to head to the store to buy other ingredients like soba, salmon and green cabbage. These are new foods to my boys so they were excited to try them. Some of the recipes also called for meat but I liked that one had a vegetarian option. Since we don't eat meat, I will substitute fish for the chicken in one of the recipes and that way we can still experience the flavors from the sauces and seasonings. I really like that the recipe cards have pictures on them. This month the boys and I made the Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese cabbage pizza. It was super easy to make. The included sauces made this cabbage pizza so yummy. This pizza reminded me of tempura veggies that were made into a pancake. The recipe called for shredded cabbage but I made it easier and used a coleslaw mix. I also did not add the bacon. I do declare that our recipe looks very similar to the photo above that was included in the box. The boys are excited to cook the Salmon teriyaki with the toasted nori and Japanese sticky rice. We will cook this recipe next.

Where can I try out eat2explore?
You can find more information about the Eat2explore subscription box from around the world boxes and their monthly subscriptions on their WEBSITE. This box is a great way for the whole family to learn about other cultures.

What country would you like to learn more about?

Friday, May 17, 2019

FREE Core Hydration Water

FREE Core Hydration Water Receive ONE (1) FREE Core Hydration Water (30.4 fl oz). Available in most stores.

Exp 06/02/2019

This Friday, May  17th, 2019– ONLY, you can load a coupon to your Kroger (or Affiliate) Plus Card for a FREE Core Hydration Water
Although 05/17/2019 is the only day that you can load the coupon, the coupon offer is redeemable through 06/02/2019

What is the Free Friday Download?
Every Friday, you can download a digital coupon for a FREE item! This offer is available exclusively to Customers with a Smiths Food and Drug or other Kroger store reward card.

How does it work?
Visit this page on Fridays.
Download the digital coupon for the product between 12am-11:59pm PT. You can view your coupon under the "My Coupons" section of your digital account or the Mobile App.

Redeem your coupon in-store within 2 weeks.
Your coupon will automatically be applied at checkout when you use your Shopper's Card.
Remember to check back the next Friday for a new offer!

Don't forget to save even more money with other great coupons under the Savings & Rewards Tab!

Can The NIRA Skincare Laser Device Reduce My Wrinkles

Can laser help my skin look younger?

                    I received a NIRA Skincare Laser to facilitate this post

 As I get older, I am starting to notice the wrinkles forming on my face. Those fine lines around my eyes seem to be getting deeper and I am not liking that one bit. So I am doing everything that I can to keep those wrinkles away. I am doing things like exercising and eating healthy food as well as using anti-aging products as I want my skin to look young and beautiful. Admit it, we ladies do not like wrinkles and getting older.

Discover Eight Healthy Things To Keep The Wrinkles Away

 I am willing to try most anything to keep those wrinkles. Notice I said most anything as I am not willing to go under the knife for plastic surgery or do Botox. I probably would not at this time do a chemical face peel either. I am willing to try skincare products that are natural and have non-toxic ingredients in them. I am also willing to try an at-home skin care laser device to see if it can help reduce the appearance of my wrinkles and fine lines. I like the way my skin looks but those fine lines are starting to bother me. For the most part, the fine lines are not noticeable when I look at pictures of myself as I tend to not smile big in pictures. Once I smile big it seems that those deep lines are noticeable. Those wrinkles are also very noticeable when I look at myself in the mirror. If you look at the below picture, you can see those ugly fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. Sure I look good at 54 years but I don't want my skin to start looking older.

Professional results in the convenience of your own home

  So when a company called NIRA reached out to me and asked me to try their Skincare Laser device, I was intrigued. I did my research before I responded back as I wanted to make sure the laser device was safe to use. I had heard about lasers for other things like the eyes but never for using on the skin. So I was glad to discover that this professional-grade medical device was safe to use at home and on my own schedule instead of having to visit a skin doctor. I was also happy to learn that this laser device could give me youthful radiant looking skin in just 2 minutes a day. 

I don't have time for wrinkles

The NIRA Skincare Laser is the most advanced anti-aging device on the market, delivering fast, professional results in the convenience of your own home and on your own schedule. Other products on the market have been complicated, painful and incredibly expensive. The NIRA Skincare Laser is the only safe, natural solution at less than half the price of other at-home laser treatments. The NIRA Skincare Laser is the most advanced natural skincare solution that is safe, affordable, and easy-to-use, with NO pain and NO redness and has been FDA Cleared and clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

 When I did my research on the NIRA SkinCare Laser Device, I was glad to find out that I only needed to use the anti-aging device 2 minutes a day. That meant 1 minute around each eye. The website for NIRA also said this device is pain-free and that I could see results in as little as two months. If I continued to use the wrinkle reducing device for longer, I would see those fine lines and wrinkles be less noticeable.

What are the Benefits of NIRA:

Clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Promotes collagen growth

NO Pain & NO Redness

Brightens and evens skin tone

Gives skin a lifted, younger look

Professional results at home, at a fraction of the cost

Easy to use

2 Minutes per day

Safe for ANY SKIN TONE from light to dark.

Three Step a Day for Healthier Skin

 To use the NIRA Skincare Laser Device all I had to do was follow 3 steps a day. I had to first wash my face. That was the easy part. Then I had to treat the skin around my eyes with the hand-held skincare laser device. Then I had to hydrate my skin with the NIRA Advanced Hyaluronic Acid Serum. That seemed simple enough to me.

Does the device hurt?

 The NIRA skincare device did not hurt. When I place the laser on my skin it felt warm. I liked that the device made beeps to let me know that it was working and it even counted the beeps for me so I knew when I had done 40 laser pulses on each eye. It was simple to use, the hard part was me remembering to use it every night. I place the hand-held skincare laser by my toothbrush and that helped me to remember to use it every night. Sure there were some nights that I forgot to use the NIRA device but when I did, I used the laser device in the morning as it only took 2 minutes.

Follow along for three months to see if the NIRA works to reduce my fine lines and wrinkles

 I am going to be using the NIRA Skincare Laser for three months as that is the recommended amount of time it takes to start seeing results. I will be making a video every month and taking pictures also. I am excited to see my skin transform to a more youthful healthy look. For now, I invite you to check put the NIRA Skincare Laser and find out more about how it works. The website is filled with plenty of information and pictures of before and after faces of people who have used the NIRA. There are also videos of the results that others have experienced. So click HERE to find out more about the NIRA Skincare Laser Device. This skincare device has a 60-day money back trial

Watch a video to find out more

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Best Gifts For Babys First Birthday

                      I received toys and books to facilitate this post.

  It is hard to believe that my first grandchild is going to be celebrating her first birthday in a couple of months. It seems like yesterday that the baby was born and I wrote about becoming a grandma for the first time. My granddaughter is growing up too quickly. I wish that I could stop time and keep her little but that is not going to happen. So I will enjoy her and look forward to more grandbabies. I will also remember the day she was born, every time I snuggle with my soft sherpa photo blanket. Maybe that is why I have five kids all spread out in ages so I will be able to enjoy lots of grandchildren.

 This little girl brings such joy to our family and I am lucky that my daughter and son-in-law live nearby. That way I can see her often. Her uncles sure do enjoy holding her and talking to her. I think one of the best parts of being a grandma is being able to spoil my grandchild. So just like Christmas, this cute little girl is going to get lots of presents. Maybe she won't chew on her birthday presents like she did at Christmas. Since I have five kids and my youngest is 11 years old, I have plenty of experience in buying baby toys and I like to buy unique baby gifts for baby's first birthday. Some of my favorite baby toy brands are LeapFrog and Vtech as these toys are so cute. These brands of toys are always The Best Educational & Fun Gifts For Babies & Toddlers. So I love buying age-appropriate toys from these learning brands of toys. Check out some of the toys that my grandbaby will be receiving for her first birthday.

Toys for first steps

 My grandbaby is learning to walk so I will be giving her a Vtech Stroll & Discover Activity Walker™ for her first birthday. This walker grows with her and can be enjoyed for many years. Mom will love that the activity walker can be used for floor play and those first steps. Once the baby masters walking she will still enjoy pushing the walker around the house. This activity walker has so many buttons to press and I love that it has two speeds on it so the walker will not move to fast while the baby is learning to walk. The activity panel is removable from the walker so the parents can take it with for those long car trips. That way my grandbaby can press buttons and spin gears while in the car. This learning toy even has a removable cell phone so the baby can pretend to call grandma. You can find this toy that teaches colors and numbers at all major retailers.

Easy to assemble

 I decided to help the parents out and assemble the activity walker for them. It was super easy to put together and I did not need any tools.

Keeping baby happy in the stroller

 I remember when my kids were little and how once they learned to walk they never wanted to be in the stroller. Our daily walks became frustrating until I learned how to keep them entertained in the stroller. Moms need these daily walks for exercise and for some Me time so I got my grandbaby a Butterfly Counting Pal™ learning toy. This plush learning toy attaches to the stroller and keeps baby entertained so mom can go for a walk. This cute colorful toy also helps the baby fall asleep with soft, classical melodies. There are so many fun things on-the-go activity toy that baby can rattle, squeak, turn, or crinkle all while developing her fine motor skills and learning things like numbers and colors. This learning toy is available now at all major retailers

Books are always awesome

 Books always make great gifts at any age. Books help kids learn so much and the gift of books for baby's first birthday will help them enjoy reading. Reading to babies will help them later on when they are learning to read. I read to all my kids when they were babies and they knew how to read by first grade. My daughter loved books when she was a baby and I remember her 2nd birthday when grandma gave her some books. The books were the first gift that she opened. My daughter had to look at every book before she would open the rest of her presents.

 So I discovered these cute books for my granddaughter that are about space and the ocean. These adorable picture books are a fun way to introduce the smallest readers to STEM subjects. Nerdy Babies: Ocean and  Nerdy Babies: Space invites toddlers to travel to the bottom of the ocean, or in the far reaches of the solar systems to answer questions like...How deep is the ocean? What does it sound like in space? The author, Emmy Kastner, is a former teacher and fully understands how important it is to present science as fun at an early age. I just love the bright colorful pictures in the books and I know that my grandbaby will enjoy looking at them while her mom reads to her.

What are your favorite gifts for baby's first birthday?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gramma In A Box Butterfly and Blossoms Cookie Box

Check out this month of goodies in the Gramma in a Box

                                I received a Gramma in a Box to facilitate this post.

 Every month my boys get a fun craft box of make and eat sweet treats from Gramma. This monthly subscription box for kids is one that my boys really enjoy. My boys love that they can decorate cookies and make other delicious treats without any help from mom. This food craft box is always so fun and of course, the treats are so fun to eat. Sometimes, the boys create the desserts by themselves and other times, I join in on the fun. Every month the box of treats has a different theme and this month the theme was Butterfly and Blossoms. When this box arrived, I opened up and got excited when I saw the butterfly cookies and all the pretty colors of frosting. I told the boys that I was going to help them decorate the cookies this month. I also told them that they would have to share the frosted butterfly cookies with me. I think cookies taste so much better when shaped like butterflies.

use code 10off to save $10 off your first box

 The monthly Gramma in a Box always includes baked cookies with frosting and sprinkles as well as two easy candy crafts to make. The monthly subscription box is always packed with enough ingredients to make up to 20 finished products. So there is always plenty of treats for the boys to share with mom and dad. I love the Step-by-step instructions with illustrations are included in the treat craft box as that makes it so easy for my boys to create the recipes without any help from mom. The box comes with almost everything that kids need to have fun cooking. The only supplies that the boys need to gather from the kitchen are usually spoons, plastic knives, and a bowl to melt the chocolate in. These boxes are so fun for everyone in the family. Gramma really puts a lot of love into these fun sweet craft boxes. These cookie craft boxes are a fun monthly activity for kids. Check out  "How it Works" for more information.

Gramma does all the work. You have all the fun!

 My boys and I had always have fun creating with the Gramma In A Box! This fun box had some delicious food crafts that were all so fun to make. Every Gramma food craft box always has unique treats in it. This monthly box was my favorite food craft box. I think the boys both agree that their favorite box was the Beach Party Treats one from last year. My boys always look forward to discovering the theme of the month. Last month the theme was Easter treats and the month before that was for Saint Patrick's day. The month before that it was Valentine's day treats

The delicious cookie craft box always has frosting and sprinkles

The best part is eating the treats


 The Gramma in a Box subscription cookie craft boxes is so much fun. They are always a great craft activity for my boys. Each month I look forward to this special food craft time with my boys. My boys enjoy making and eating all the sweet treats. The cookies are always my favorite part of the craft boxes. The price of the subscription boxes are amazing and you can try out one box before committing to a monthly subscription. With my special coupon code 10off, you can save $10 off your first box. That makes your first box only $10.00!  

 So you need to buy one of these awesome make and eat treat boxes for that special kid. To get the Gramma in a Box for June, make sure to order by June 3rd. Head over HERE to buy one of these amazing delicious food craft boxes and have some fun cooking time with your kids in the kitchen.

Everything (almost!) you need to decorate cookies and make 2 candy crafts (15 to 20 finished items each month). Taxes included - Free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S.
Cancel any time

use code 10off to save $10 off your first box

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Seven Tips For Taking The Amtrak Train With Kids

Traveling by train can be enjoyable and save you money

Sponsored post with Dealspot and Backpacks.com
I received items to review to facilitate this post.

   Most people don't consider the train when traveling with their family. They tend to think of the train as a long boring ride but the train can be preferable to air travel when considering expenses. The train can also be way more enjoyable than traveling by car. Taking the train can save you a good amount of money over flying and costs about the same as traveling by car.

The things that I like about taking the train is not having to worry about traffic or weather delays. The train may add some time to your travel time but the perks of the train are so worth it. Some of the perks of the train include being able to walk around the train and not having to be confined to a car wondering when your next bathroom break is. On the train, they have plenty of bathrooms and you can use it on your schedule. If you are usually the driver for those long car trips, you will like being able to take a nap on the train.

Why my family prefers the train
 My mom lives in a small town that is not near a major airport so airfare to visit her as a family can be quite expensive. So in the past, we have traveled by car to see her but have never liked the 14-hour drive that it requires. The last trip that we took to see her and dad, we stopped halfway for the night to make the trip more bearable but it was still not a fun trip being stuck in a car with kids. So I decided to compare costs and time to see if the train was a good option for our upcoming trip. I was surprised that the train was able the same cost, even with us having to rent a car as kids 2-12 ride the train for 50% off. The train only added 4 more hours to our trip and considering that we would be sleeping on the train that was just fine with us.

Tips for traveling by train with your children

1. Buy Discounted Kid Fares
We checked out Amtrak and discovered that they have kid's fares that can save a family a ton of money. Kids under 2 always ride for free on the train and kids 2-12 pay half-price when traveling with an adult (each adult can travel with one kid at half-price). So being that I had two kids and three adults, we saved 50% on two tickets.

Amtrak also offers many other discounts to help your family travel for less:

Group travel: Travel with 20+ friends and family members to receive an additional discount off the normal fare
Active duty US military personnel, their spouses and their dependents: 10% off
Promotions: Amtrak always has deals and promotions throughout the year so you will want to sign up for their emails. It was through an Amtrak email that I discovered a deal to save up to 35% off four tickets and that made our train tickets even more affordable.

How To Earn Reward Points And Travel For Free   

2. Check Bags for Free
Amtrak allows you to check two bags (up to 50 pounds) per person for free. Also, if you are traveling with kids under 2, you can check anything related to the child, such as a stroller, diaper bag, travel bed, etc for free. Those items do not count against your two check bag limit. Think of Amtrak as the Southwest Airlines of train travel! You can also carry on 2 person items and 2 small suitcases.

3. Bring Activities to Occupy the Kids
While riding a train is fun in itself and looking outside can keep kids entertained for hours, I also suggest bringing some activities too. I love that the train has pull down tables so kids can set their items down.

Some recommended train activities include:

Tablets: Similar to an airplane, a tablet can be a great way to pass the time. Amtrak does offer free Wi-Fi on most trains. Make sure to load up the tablet with movies and games. On most trains, almost every single seat has an outlet to keep your electronics charged — and remember to bring headphones so your kids do not disturb other passengers. I really like the Playtime Pad when traveling. This 7” HD Kid Safe Tablet comes preloaded with plenty of educational games, videos, and songs. The tablet is enclosed in a  kid-safe durable silicone case so it is made for traveling. I really love the parental controls on the tablet so I can set time limits and control what my child does on the tablet. This tablet has the same features as most other tablets like a camera and it can connect to the internet. I can add other games to my child's entertainment through the Google Play store. The parent's side of the tablet is password protected so I have complete control over my kid's entertainment. Most of the games are geared for kids under 12 but my boys still enjoy playing the games. Since this kid-friendly tablet has internet access on it, I can easily add games to it from the Google Play Store.

Coloring books: Coloring books and crayons are a favorite no matter what age.

Games: If you are able to grab seats with a table, there is plenty of space to play cards or any other travel game. Unlike air travel, you will not have to worry about turbulence, so pick your family’s favorite travel game and go play. This could be the perfect opportunity to actually finish a game of Monopoly!

DVD player: Bring with a portable DVD player and some movies. Movies are always fun to watch while traveling and will keep the kids quiet for hours so you might be able to get a nap in.

Books: My boys still love for me to read to them and a long train ride is a perfect time to read to them. So bring plenty of books.

4. Arrive About 45-60 Minutes Early
 Unlike air travel, you do not need to arrive at an Amtrak station too far ahead of time. If you are checking bags, they need to be checked 45 minutes before the train departs. Give your self some time for a bathroom stop before boarding the train. I recommend being near the train gate about 30 minutes before the train arrives so you can get on the train when it first arrives as  Amtrak also doesn’t have assigned seats. That way you will have enough time to ensure your family can sit together. You do not want to be the last people boarding a packed train!

5. Pack Food

 While most trains offer food, you can save money by bringing your own food. That way you have food that the kids will enjoy. I recommend bringing a soft cooler filled with drinks and food. Remember you can carry on 2 smaller bags and 2 smaller suitcases. The night before you travel, freeze snacks like yogurt, apple sauce, and fruit pouches. That way these items will keep the other food cold as well as reusable ice packs. I like to pack other snacks like peanut butter sandwiches, dried fruit, granola bars, Pressels, crackers, and nuts. Make sure to pack plenty of food and water so you don't end up having to buy an over-priced sandwich from the snack car. My kids really love Tree Top apple sauce as it comes in amazing flavors like strawberry and mango. The best part is you can eat it without a spoon!

        I discovered these amazing thin & crispy pretzel chips that I like to snack on when traveling. My favorite flavor is Sriracha but if you don't care for spicy these delicious, can't stop eating them pretzels, also come in Sea Salt, Everything, and Sesame. I loved that they are a baked snack that is vegan and have no GMO's or preservatives.

The one product that I always pack when traveling

  Another item that I like to pack for traveling is an amazing Prebiotic Fiber & Probiotic Blend so kids don't experience tummy problems. This tasteless powder mixes easily into drinks and foods like applesauce. Regular Girl is Fiber and probiotics in one easy to pack product. It keeps everyone regular in the bathroom as traveling tends to mess with our bodies. Just one packet a day keeps your belly happy. So enjoy your vacation and not have to worry about the irregularity in the bathroom department. Regular Girl is all natural, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free!

Save 10% on Regular Girl with my coupon code MOMKNOBEST10

6. Pack a Blanket and Travel Pillow
  Even if your train trip is not overnight, I recommend packing a blanket and travel pillow. That way kids can still take a nap. I also recommend packing some extra clothes for just in case. Instead of bringing a bulky pillow, pack a travel neck pillow like the ones you bring on the plane. These take up less space and are just as comfy for kids to use. I love wearing my Sleeper Scarf so I do not have to lug around a bulky travel neck pillow. I look fashionable with this fancy scarf that has a built-in inflatable neck pillow. This scarf comes in many colors so that even guys can look awesome while traveling. The scarf is so easy to wear and once you sit down in the train all you have to do is unzip the back of the scarf and blow up the enclosed inflatable neck pillow and relax in comfort. 

7. Bring a BackPack 

 When I travel, I always bring a backpack as my smaller carry-on item as it is easier to carry than a bag. Wearing a backpack frees up my hands. I like to carry my computer in my backpack also as it is easier to carry that way. When I travel with my kids, I have them carry their own backpack. That way they can carry their own items to keep them entertained as well as some snacks. A backpack would be very useful for the train so you can carry your valuables like your money and computer on your back when you have to visit the bathroom or walk to another train car. That way you do not have to worry about someone taking your items. I like to buy backpacks and bags that are unique so they are easy to spot, especially for the backpacks that my kids bring to school. I also let my child pick out the backpack, that way they will enjoy carrying it.

  Make sure to get a backpack that fits your child so it is comfortable for them to carry. One place that I really love for buying my backpacks and bags is Backpacks.com. They have a huge selection of backpacks for the whole family, including ones for kids. They have so many unique styles and patterns to select from. I had a hard time deciding which backpack I wanted as I wanted several different ones. This website has all the name brands like Jansport, Eastpak, Swissgear, and many more. The prices are better than what you find in other stores. I recently bought this HERSCHEL SUPPLY CO DAWSON fashionable smaller backpack and I love using it for travel. It also makes a great purse. This cute tropical bag has lots of pockets so it is easy to find what I need. I love that it even has a pocket for my smaller travel computer. The internal pockets offer lots of organizational capacity and would make great for a backpack diaper bag for new mothers. This bag is so lightweight and so pretty to carry. This backpack will be the perfect size for bringing with me when I attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in the fall. Before you know it, summer will be over and your kids will need a new backpack for school. Maybe you need a new computer bag or a new gym duffle. This awesome store also has totes, small bags, and so many styles of backpacks.

Use my code MOMKNOWSBEST15 and save 5% off your backpack. Head over to Backpacks.com and check out all the awesome backpacks and bags that they carry.

Bottom Line
 I find traveling on Amtrak with my family extremely stress-free. My kids are not required to sit as still as on the plane. They are not confined in a small car. We can get up and walk the aisle as much as they want. You can even walk to another train car. There are plenty of bathrooms on each train car so kids can go potty when needed. Kids can sleep comfortably on a train as the seats recline. The best part is we can travel for way less.

 Oh, and when making your Amtrak purchases, make sure to use a credit card that earns bonus points on travel. That way you can earn more points to use towards hotel stays and other travel trips.

Does your family travel by train? What are your tips?

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