Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

This weekend is the beginning of summer travel and road trips!

With the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) I want to share a few Summer Road Trip Safety Tips. I created a short video you can check out below but I really want you to get the main idea so your summer can be fun and safe.

NHTSA offers the following safety recommendations before taking to the road:

Regular maintenance: Tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns before they happen. If your vehicle has been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, it should be in good shape and ready to travel. If not, or you don’t know the service history of the vehicle you plan to drive, schedule a preventive maintenance check-up with your mechanic. View NHTSA’s interactive summer driving tips

Don’t drink and drive: Every 52 minutes, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash. Be responsible and don’t drink and drive. If you plan to drink, choose a designed driver before going out. Last year, NHTSA announced a new mobile app designed to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home

Buckle seat belts: All drivers and passengers should wear seat belts when traveling in a vehicle. Research has found that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.

Protect child passengers: Research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants (younger than 1 year old) and 54 percent for toddlers (up to 4 years old) in passenger cars. If you’re traveling with children, remember the best way to protect them in a car is to put them in the correct child safety seat for their size and age. All children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat. Visit Parent’s Central for more information on child passenger safety.

Avoid distraction: Distraction accounts for approximately 10 percent of fatal crashes and 18 percent of injuries – all preventable. Distracted driving can be anything that pulls your attention away from diving, including cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, and using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

Observe “Move Over” Laws: Move over and change lanes to give safe clearance to law enforcement officers assisting motorists on the side of the road. It’s the law in all 50 states.

Stay connected with NHTSA: Search for open recalls with VIN look up | Download the Safercar Mobile App for Apple or Android devices | Receive recall alerts by email | Visit us on Facebook.com/NHTSA | Follow us on Twitter.com/NHTSAgov | Watch 5-Star Safety Ratings crash tests on YouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA | SaferCar.gov

If you are on Twitter join the safety to talk about tire safety. Join us for the Tire Wise Twitter chat on Thursday, May 28, at 3 p.m. ET.

[Video] Holiday Travel Boredom Buster Mobile Hotspot

[Video] Holiday Travel Boredom Buster Mobile Hotspot

I took the AT&T Unite Pro by NETGEAR for a test drive through the back roads of Georgia. Having a mobile hotspot was really sweet on a road trip.

Holiday Travel Boredom Buster Solution

In our high-tech world it’s easy to bust the boredom during holiday travel. Planes, trains, and automobiles are the perfect place to have a mobile hotspot on hand for all the mobile devices. Save the expense of connecting to a public or airport network or spotty connection with your own mobile hotspot. (more…)

Rich Single Momma Retreating at Cohutta Springs

Rich Single Momma Retreating at Cohutta Springs

It’s that time of year again for Rich Single Momma to retreat at Cohutta Springs in the Georgia Mountains. The trip has a dual purpose. First is for rest and relaxation and the second is to bond with women in my book club.

Over the last three years my friends and I set out to prove that black people do read! We also proved that women, black women can be true friends, bond, and support each other. This kind of friendship is hard to come by so when you find it do whatever you can to cultivate it and make it stronger.

In a world with so much hurt, fear, and pain it is important to find people you can love, support, and have friendship with.

Getting Away with Women Who Read

This past weekend my book club escaped the busyness of life to a North GA mountain retreat just because. It was a fantastic time bonding with each other, affirming, and confirming that black women not only read but can actually enjoy each other’s company without any hidden agendas.

We went to Cohutta Springs retreat center in Crandall, GA. I’ve been to this retreat center many times but never stayed at one of the chalets. What a treat!

A Perfect Place to Retreat

Cohutta Springs Retreat Center Samantha A. Gregory

Chalet #3 is a beautiful 3-story get away with six bedrooms, 3 baths, a full kitchen and breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. It sleeps up to 16 people.

There were 11 ladies in all with nine of us staying for the weekend. We laughed, danced, ate, and talked throughout the entire weekend. Saturday morning we walked around the retreat area, took pictures, visited with the horses, and enjoyed the brisk, cold air.

I have to say that I have never been so relaxed after a vacation. It was no muss, no fuss, no schedules, but just pure relaxation.

Here are a few pictures to make you either jealous, or ready to book a retreat of your ladies group or family. 🙂

DSCN3149

Walking the long road to nowhere if we wanted to. The pastures contain horses that could either take us or leave us, LOL!

"linklove"

A couple of horses grazing

DSCN3087

It’s cold in November in the mountains but we braved it to take a brisk walk

cohutta springs retreat center lake

The lake in the middle of the retreat center with the fall leaves in the backdrop. So beautiful!

DSCN3053

The big dinner table with food prepared with love!

DSCN3092

A quick selfie with our reading group behind me

Single Mom California Dreamin’ + My Walmart Blogger Day Event

Single Mom California Dreamin’ + My Walmart Blogger Day Event

My mini vacation was fantastic! Oh you didn’t know I was gone? Well I was. In fact I had my first trip out west ever in all of my 40-something years. I had a layover in Las Vegas (no it didn’t get to gamble or see the strip but the mountains were gorgeous) and then went on over to San Francisco.

Wal~mart Blogger Day

Let me back track a bit and tell you how I ended up out there. Early last month I got an invitation to the Walmart Blogger Day. Wooohooo!!!

Last week I went out to the Walmart Labs to hear about the new initiatives in the digital and real life world.

I was treated to firsthand look at back to school fashion, a delicious lunch make from recipes on the Walmart blog, and the Savings Catcher app. Also, I got to hear about the new affordable home fashions created by designers Libby Langdon and Courtney Novagratz. Shauna Miller, author of Penny Chic, was also there discussing how to look fabulous and fashion forward on a budget.

I stayed in a king suite at the Wild Palms hotel. It is an older hotel but the rooms were very clean and spacious. The wall were a bit thin but I was so tired it really didn’t matter much because I was fast asleep after a long day.

Wal~mart Savings Catcher

I think that learning more about the Walmart Savings Catcher was the best part of the day for me. I didn’t realize they had this new feature though a few people said they have seen the commercial but didn’t really believe it.

In a nutshell, Walmart will give you money back for your purchases. It works like this:

  • Log into your Walmart.com account on the Walmart App
  • Scan your Walmart receipt
  • Check back to see how much you have made
  • Cash in the amount for a Walmart gift card after you get $5 or more cash back

How does Walmart do it? Well they scan competitor sales and if there is something on your list that was a lower price, Walmart will credit you the difference.

So if  you bought a box of cereal for $3.75 at Walmart and Kroger had the same brand and size for $1.99 you would receive $1.76 credit. You might have several items that are on sale at other stores for which you’d receive credit.

At the end of the year you could have quite a large amount of money accumulated. You could even get a large chunk of cash for birthday and holiday gifts at the end of the year.

Recipes, Bling, and Hard Candy

I had my first black bean burger in San Franciso and it was delicious! Who knew?!?!? The recipe was from the Walmart food blog. In fact all the yummy food I had at the Walmart Blogger Day was from recipies from the blog. Here are a few pictures of the catered picnic-style meal.

The day would not have been complete without a little SWAG (Stuff We All Get). Walmart didn’t disappoint. I got my first chunky necklace which I think I looked pretty nice in. I admit I played it safe and got a crystal piece but it goes with mostly everything. The crazy thing about it all is Walmart is selling this costume jewelry for only $10. Pretty nice for dressing up a cute outfit or adding a little pizzazz to a casual ensemble.

The outfit wouldn’t be complete without a little Hard Candy. I’m talking about the brand, Hard Candy, which will be sold through Walmart stores. I had mini-makeover to end the day and I have to say it was different (I don’t wear a ton of eye makeup or lip color) but I was cute.

I was able to pick up a few full-sized samples to take home and play with. My daughter will likely do more experimenting than me but it is nice to have new makeup.

Great Day Overall

My day at the Walmart labs was so fun. I spoke to a few executives and enjoyed hearing about their jobs, families, and living in California. They were a great group of people.

I am planning to get back to California as soon as I can. I loved seeing the mountains and feeling the amazing weather. I want to take the kids out there too. Thought northern California was cool I really want to get to San Deigo for a little Southern California action! Smile

Here is the highlight reel from the day…

Perfect Vacation Destinations For Single Moms Who Want To Relax And Unwind

Perfect Vacation Destinations For Single Moms Who Want To Relax And Unwind

There is a saying that a mother’s job is never done and although this may be true, you still deserve a break once in a while. In fact, late deal holiday companies are perfect for vacationers who want to experience exciting travel opportunities in different parts of the world. Booking a holiday soon before you leave may present you with the opportunity to find some great deals. Furthermore, you have more choices than ever before when searching for what could suddenly transform into the holiday of your dreams. So, what are some of the most popular spots that will help you rest and recuperate?
 
France
 
France may very well be the most romantic country in the world. From verdant green hills bordering the Pyrenees to Paris and the Brittany coast, this country will captivate the mind as well as the heart. Expect to enjoy great food, stunning scenery and architecture that is famous throughout the world. 
 
Italy
 
 Italy is a passionate country and this is clearly seen in the cuisine and the embracing attitudes of the people that you will meet. While you may enjoy viewing the immortal majesty of Rome or the watery wonderland of Venice, never forget that northern Italy is perfect if you are simply looking to get away from it all and relax under the welcoming shadows of the Alps.
 
Africa
 
Are you fond of nature? If so, then Africa should certainly be on your itinerary. According to many travel guides, this vast continent is one of the top destinations for anyone who wishes to catch a glimpse of one of the last untamed regions in existence.
 
Spain
 

From the rugged mountains of northern Spain to the steamy temperatures of Andalusia and the glittering wonders of Barcelona, Spain could be exactly what you are looking for. Single mothers can enjoy countless tourist attractions, sumptuous Mediterranean foods and a sun that is rarely hidden by clouds. Spain is ideal if you do not wish to travel far from the United Kingdom but still desire to transport yourself to a region that is a world apart.
 
These are only four examples of some great destinations for single moms. Last-minute bookings may also be able to save you a great deal of time and money. With so many holiday options to choose from, you can rest assured that you will not be disappointed!

Our Family Adventure to Universal Studios Orlando

Our Family Adventure to Universal Studios Orlando

The family with Gru and a Minion from Despicable Me moive photo 20130823_100255_zps849ae645.jpgOur year of travel continues. This time we went to Universal Studios Orlando and the Family Forward Retreat. It was really a treat for us because we had never been to Universal Studios. Being a parent blogger I had the opportunity to learn about the Family Forward Retreat organized by the Mom It Forward team. They are a great bunch of ladies that went all out to make our time amazing.

The retreat was all about building strong families no matter what kind they are. We fit right in as a single parent family and showed how we too can be a Super Hero Family (the retreat theme).

On the Road to Universal Studios Orlando!

We got on the road for the 7-hour drive on Wednesday morning. I rented a car from Hertz rentals and had quite an interesting experience. I will tell you about that in another post. Despite the challenges we ended up with a 2-level upgrade through USAA’s member perks.

We drive down to Florida in the sporty 2013 Impala. I really enjoyed driving that car seeing as I’m a speed demon. Fortunately, I didn’t get any tickets. The ride was smooth but not very family friendly. It had the space but no cup holders in the back, uggghhh!

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

We survived and made it to the beautiful Royal Pacific Island Resort where we were to stay. Talk about beautiful! See the pictures below for evidence of the paradise we stayed in.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

When we walked into the Royal Pacific Resort we were greeted by friendly faces from the valet to the front desk staff. The manager came out and personally said hello and assured us that we could come to him for anything we needed.

This was a massive property complete with a zen-like water garden off the lobby, plenty of shops, several restaurants that we splurged on. The breakfast buffet was heavenly. I think I like the large floor to ceiling windows that brought the outside in.

We stayed in a double bedroom that was comfortable. I can’t say our view was all that great because of the construction going on at the time. We honestly didn’t spend much time in the room because there was so much to do. It was our official crash pad. All in all I would definitely want to go back and I’m sure the kids would too.

Pre-Planning with a Budget

I made a budget for food and gas before our trip. Thanks to my convenient Bluebird card I was able to stay on track for the most part. I admit I did get a little wild with my spending, but the bulk of my expenses were safely tucked away on the card so I didn’t have to tap into my regular checking account.

Family Forward Fun

The first part of the trip was spent with the other families at the retreat. It was a very well organized event that incorporated every member of the family. I liked that my kids were just as much a part of the retreat as I was. I’ve gone to other conferences were they’ve had to basically fend for themselves or be bored waiting for me to finish my seminars. This family retreat was truly family focused.

There were family activities and crafts we could do together. It was fun to come up with unique ideas for our crafts. The presenters were very good and kept the kids’ attention for the most part.

I think the most fun thing we did together was the photo booth. We got to show our silly side in the pictures. Snap Photo Booth did an amazing job. We got to go through the booth two times so we had twice the fun.

 photo familymatters_zps9f2a59a2.jpg

We had our first chance to step into Universal Studios when we got an exclusive viewing of Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Island of Adventures. It threatened to rain but it held off long enough for us to taste the surprisingly delicious Butter Beer and interesting Hogwarts desserts at the Dessert Party.

 photo 20130821_211414_zps3250f9f1.jpg

One of the best parts of the trip was going to see The Blue Man Group. I have never been to a show like that before. I’ve wanted to see them for years but never got the chance until this trip. From start to finish all of our senses were engaged. We laughed, yelled, and danced. It was a booty-shaking party. The kids and I even got to take a picture with one of the Blue Men. It was interesting that they don’t even speak when they are not on stage. Maybe it’s all the blue paint, LOL!

The family with a member of the Blue Man Group photo at Universal Studios Orlando

The Family Forward Retreat is definitely one I would attend again. I felt closer to my kids and could feel they were happy and content to be there bonding with me and each other.

Here is a slide show of our entire trip. I believe Universal Studios Orlando is definitely the best attraction for older kids and adults hands down.

Have you been to Universal Studios Orlando before? What was your favorite ride?

The post sponsored in part by Bluebird by American Express