A Must Do Family Activity in Topsail Beach NC: Ecological Marine Adventures

We just returned from our most recent vacation from Topsail Island, NC.  This is one of our fave vacation spots for lots of reasons.  We did a lot of things on this trip that we couldn’t fit into our schedule last trip.

Ecological Marine Adventures let’s you connect with the marine life in a new way.  They offer everything from 1 hour ghost crap hunts to week long summer camps and homeschool opportunities.  They even do parties.

We went to Topsail May 21 – 28.  When we looked on the site we did not see any ghost crab hunts available to schedule. When I visited their facebook page they had an update about someone finding a ghost crab. I decided to message them to see if they have any ghost crab hunts available. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask?  They were so nice and accommodating.  They opened up a date for us.  I booked it for my family immediately.

When the day came there ended up being two other families with us. The other families were so much fun and all the kids had a good time.  Our instructor educated us on ghost crabs, their evolution, and other interesting facts. They provide all the equipment you need for the ghost crab hunt.  All the kids had a chance to collect at least one crab but most caught multiple crabs.

Everyone from my 5 yr old to my 14 year old son had a good time.  Our group caught 42 crabs. Our instructor told us that the record was 44 but we set the bar for this year.   When my daughter caught her first crab she was so excited she started running in place and clapping her hands.

This activity is educational, it’s an active activity, and it’s fun for families.  If you’re wonder yes it was catch and release.  They were collected in a bucket and counted then released at the end of the hunt.  They also have surf and stand up paddle board classes, half day camps, and whole day camps .  They even host free classes on Tuesdays.

Check out Ecological Marine Adventures facebook page for updates on free classes and to see pictures from their classes.


Keep Track of Your Kids During Summer Break with MamaBear App

This post is sponsored by MamaBear App. Any opinions expressed are my own.  Prize is sponsored by Mamabear app

I’m a mom of 4.  I also have anxiety issue.  2 of my kids are teenage boys. They run around all summer with their friends, ride bikes, play football, and hang out with their girl friends.  My boys are pretty good about checking in with me via phone every so often.  Sometimes though there is a delay with replies if they’re into a football game or don’t here the text go off.

Admittedly sometimes I wonder if they really are where they say they are.  If I need to get a hold of both of them I have to send them each texts or phone calls individually.  For some reason, I have issues with my texts at times (I really need to talk to my carrier about that).

But there is an app called MamaBear that can help give me some piece of mind and it’s a lot more affordable than you might think.

 

What is MamaBear App?

It’s a family communication app.  You can add your whole family to the app.  Once everyone has the app downloaded you can do a lot of cool stuff with it.

  • Enter in safe places, like a grandparent’s house for instance, and when they stop at their house you get a notification that your child is there.  On the other hand, if there are places you absolutely do not want your child to go, you can plug those in too and the app let’s you know that they are there as well.
  • Monitor your child’s social media. You can put in keywords for the app to monitor and if those words show up in their social media it can alert you.
  • Send messages to the whole family with the family messaging system.  I actually find myself using this more than I thought. Even for little things like letting the family know when supper is ready.

  •   If you have a teen of driving age you can set speed notifications.  If your teen surpassed that speed you’ll get a notification.  lol I actually got a notification the other day when my 14 year old son was on the bus and the bus drove past our house!

  •  There is also text message monitoring. Unfortunately at this time it seems to only be for android users and we all have iphones.
  •  Maps allows you to see where your child is too.
  • Very affordable. There is a free option for ads which everyone can use.  But a paid ad-free subscription is available in monthly, 3 month, and 6 month subscription plans. 6 months is only $24.99 total.  For as much as this app does and the peace of mind it can give, it’s a real bargain.  More affordable than a lot of apps out there.

How can I get the MamaBear app?

MamaBear is available for both apple and android devices.  Visit mamabearapp.com for more info, subscriptions, and download links.

GIVEAWAY

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MamaBear App Giveaway 5 winners!


Planning for Emergencies While On Vacation

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

We’re getting ready to head to Topsail Island, NC again this year. We always drive. It’s about a 10 – 11 hour drive with rest stops for us.  The last time we drove down though, I saw something that will forever be blazed into my memory.

It was roughly 4 am and we’re on the beltway near DC.  Not quite as much traffic to deal with at 4 am on the beltway as there would be during the day.  I saw a few cars pulled off to the side, I saw a motorcycle on it’s side and as we drove past I saw a person in a motorcycle helmet on the ground motionless. I won’t describe anymore because it was very shocking to see at 4 am.  I remember looking back at the kids. They had been quiet for a while so I was hoping they were all sleeping and they were. Thank goodness.

 

I’m someone who over-prepares.  But this situation got me thinking about what we would do if we were in an accident while on our way to the beach…or any time for that matter.  I took some steps for preparedness.

  1.  I filled out the health information on my iphone. I wondered if anyone really looked at that but I’ve been told that yes, if they can access it first responders will look at this information.
  2.  I changed some of my important contacts. Instead of having names I put things like husband, dad, etc to make it easier for someone else in an emergency.
  3.  When making a checklist of things to take on vacation, things like: health insurance cards, vehicle insurance cards, dental insurance cards, etc are checked 3 x
  4.  I let a few close extended family members know when we’re leaving or heading back. I do check in on facebook at certain rest stops to help with location finding.
  5.  I have the name and number of trusted law firms like Hunter Law, P.A. in my phone so I could call right away if I’m physically able.  I’d have enough to worry about at that time, I’d rather let the experts handle it.
  6.  Getting our vehicle checked and make sure maintenance is up to date before the big drive.
  7.   Keep a car safety kit in the car with things like road flares, jumper cables, etc
  8.   Take a baggie to keep in the car with things like car sickness medication, Tylenol, anti-diarrhea medication, and any other medication that may be needed individually. Make sure if it’s prescription medication you have it in the prescription bottle or have proof of the prescription.

What tips do you have to plan for a emergency while on vacation?


5 Ways To Save Money On Your Family RV Road Trip

If you’re a frugal person and if you’re planning a family RV road or camping trip, you’ll
probably find this article to be of much use to you.
Even though an RV trip should be cheaper in contrast to other travel options (such as flying and
staying in hotel rooms), that doesn’t mean that it’s an inexpensive endeavor. On the contrary, it
still is expensive.
Fortunately, there are a variety of methods you can use to save money on any RV road or
camping trip, and by using more than just one of these methods your savings can really add up to
a significant amount.

Here are five ways you can save money on your family RV road trip:

1 – Actually Plan Ahead
There’s just no better money saving tip than this one: actually plan ahead. Those who plan ahead
have much greater odds of saving cash versus those who just rent the first RVs or campgrounds
they see.
This means actually doing your research and learning about every RV that is available to rent so
you can compare rates. The same goes for renting campgrounds. A seemingly minuscule
difference of ten or fifteen dollars for daily rent can really add up, especially if your trip is going
to be a long one.

2 – Travel During Shoulder Season
‘Shoulder season’ simply refers to the time of year when travel costs, including rent and fuel,
tend to be much lower. It’s also known as the ‘off season.’ As an added bonus, you’ll also have
to contend with smaller crowds, which can always help make your trip more enjoyable.
Examples of shoulder season include late spring or early fall, when the large crowds are less
likely to travel than they are during the summer. Yes, this means that the weather may not be
quite as nice, through it may be worth to you if it means saving a lot of money.

3 – Avoid RV Parks and Campgrounds
Who says you have to stay at RV parks and campgrounds? Not only are RV parks often very
busy, which means you may not get all the privacy you desire, they also cost money.
A night at a decent RV parks with amenities such as laundry and Wi-Fi should cost between $30
to $50 a night. That’s cheaper than most hotel rooms, but it’s still an expense that can add up. A
week long stay at a RV park priced at $35 a night will cost you $245, for example.

In contrast to this, boon-docking (or parking your RV on public parks outside of RV parks)
doesn’t cost you anything. Sure, you don’t get all of the same luxuries that certain RV parks
come with, but what you do get is more space alone to yourself and possibly several hundred
dollars of saved cash in your wallet. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

4 – Don’t Eat Out (At Least Not Often)
Eating out constantly is one of those seemingly harmless expenses that can really start to add up.
If you’re serious about saving money on your trip, then bringing your own food and preparing it
in the kitchen your RV provides you with will be a much more cost efficient option.
Not only that, but you can also prepare foods that are already cheaper to make. For example, it’s
probably cheaper to make chili and soup that feeds everyone versus making cheeseburgers for
each individual person.

5 – Compare Fuel Stations
Fuel is one of the largest expenses of any RV trip and you simply can’t avoid the fact that
motorhomes are not the most fuel efficient vehicles on the planet.
But what you can avoid is paying for fuel at a gas station that is priced higher than another gas
station just around the corner.
When the time comes to fuel up, use a fuel app to research all fuel stations within a certain mile
radius. Even if the difference between stations is only one to two cents a gallon, that can really
add up when you consider the fact that RV’s hold a lot of gallons (as in around a hundred and
fifty on average)

Saving Money On Your Family Trip
These are just a handful of the ways you can save money on your RV trip. Using each of these
methods together, you should easily be able to save several hundred dollars, if not over a
thousand, for the trip.

 

Guest Post by Susan Melony


How To Save Money On A Trip To The Bahamas

How To Save Money On A Trip To The Bahamas

Everyone deserves a vacation. The Bahamas is an ideal destination for budget travel. Whether you are

traveling for Spring Break or simply taking a much-needed vacation, here are some money saving tips for

your Bahamas vacation on a budget.

 

Shop Around for Flights

When booking a flight for your Bahamas vacation, allow plenty of time if you want to find the best rate.

Start your flight search up to 6 months in advance for best results. In addition to checking discount travel

sites like Expedia and Kayak for flight rates, be sure to check out smaller airlines like Spirit Airlines. This

ultra-low cost carrier specializes in deeply discounted rates to places throughout Florida, the Caribbean,

South America, Mexico and much more.

Find the Right Hotel Room

Now that you have your flight secured, the next step is to book your accommodations. If you are traveling

solo, use a discount travel site to find an affordable room at one of the many resorts and hotels in the

area. To minimize your food and beverage expenses, try to find a room with a kitchen. This allows you to

purchase and cook your own food if necessary.

If you are traveling with friends, consider using a vacation rental site like VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by

Owner). Prices start as low as $100 a night for a property that sleeps 5 or more. Properties like the

Westwinds Club, Westwinds II or the Best Western Paradise Island resort all offer full kitchens and top-

notch accommodations.

Have a Food Plan

Food and drink are two of the biggest expenses when traveling away from home. To help minimize the

impact of this expense on your travel budget, plan your meals ahead of time. Sites like FoodStore2GO

allow you to order groceries and have them delivered ahead of time. This can save you valuable vacation

time trying to find and navigate a supermarket nearby. Packing healthy and affordable snacks is also

a great way to stay in shape while traveling. Saving money and staying fit, a two-for- one deal!

Make a schedule of what you plan to eat and drink each day. If there is some wiggle-room in your travel

budget, leave a meal or two for dining out. The rest of your meals should be prepared in your room. Once

you have finished the food schedule, make a list of the groceries you will need. If you do not choose to

have your groceries delivered, make sure you map a nearby grocery store prior to arriving.

Figure Out How to Get Around

Scooters are a popular and affordable mode of transportation in the Bahamas. Before you arrive, call a

scooter rental company and arrange for a scooter to be available at the airport. Scooters rent for as little

as $25 a day, much cheaper than a taxi.

Another option is to take advantage of the local public transportation system. Jitney busses are

available for travel throughout the island at just $1.25 each way. The number 10 will take you from the Western end

of the island to the downtown area. While downtown, be sure to check out hot spots like the famous

Straw Market, the Queen’s Staircase and Marina Village.

That is it! Follow these tips and you are well on your way to enjoying a budget-friendly Bahamas vacation.

 

Logan Peterson is a writer and contributer for USS Sports Machine