How to Create a First Aid Kit for Your Car

A first aid kit is important to have with you especially if you have children. Boo boos, scrapes, and falls are bound to happen. We are gearing up for some summer road trips and I realized that our first aid kit (I mean the first aid kit that I stole from my mother’s car last year when we were on a big family road trip!) was in very sad shape. The last few times we needed a band-aid, there were none to be found.

If you don’t want to make your own first aid kit, you can purchase one from a store like Target or Walmart. Small ones cost about $10 and large ones will run you about $20. The only problem I have with the pre-made kits is that they don’t really come with enough of the supplies I need. There are only a few band-aids and there are extra things that we end up never using. By creating your own kit, you can put in the supplies that you know you and your family typically use.

For about $25-30, I created a tailor-made first aid kit for our car and had enough supplies to restock the first aid kit that I keep in my purse or carry-on bag when we are out and about.

Supplies for my kit:

  • Antibiotic cream like Neosporin to clean up scrapes and minor wounds
  • 10 yards of Waterproof Tape to hold the gauze in place if a band-aid won’t cut it
  • Ace bandage because my family (well, except for my husband) is prone  to twisted ankles
  • Cleaning Spray like Bactine to clean up scrapes
  • Caladryl Lotion for my daughter because she is constantly covered in bug bites
  • Antibacterial Sanitizer Gel
  • Alcohol Swabs
  • Small Band-aids
  • Band-aids for knees or elbows
  • Gauze pads
  • Bug Spray

I thought about adding suntan lotion to the box, but we normally carry that with us. We often forget the bug spray and don’t remember until my daughter is scratching her already formed bug bites. You might want to add a pain reliever to the box but I normally have that with me when we travel so I decided that it wasn’t necessary to put in the kit. I stored the gauze bandages, Band-aids, and alcohol pads in a plastic bag so that the boxes weren’t taking up unnecessary space.

Put all your supplies into a small container that will fit under your seat or in the back of the car. I used a Ziploc container.

Once the first aid kit for my car was finished, I grabbed a plastic bag and stored the extra guaze bandages, Band-aids, and alcohol pads. To this, I added a few pain reliever pills and threw it in my purse.

Now when we are out and about and we have scrape or bug bite attack, I am prepared. What do you put in your first aid kit?

What to Expect When Taking Disney World’s Magical Express

If you are arriving in Orlando by plane for a big Disney World vacation or Disney cruise and are not renting a car, you will likely find yourself on the Magical Express. Because we live only seven hours away, it is much cheaper for my family of four to drive to Orlando for vacation so we have our car during the trip.

When I went on the Disney Fantasy Media Preview Cruise, I was going by myself. My family was staying at home because this was working retreat. This meant that flying was actually a less expensive option than driving once I factored in gas, parking fees, and drive time. I left out of Panama City Beach and took an hour long nonstop flight to Orlando.

Once you have decided to forgo the rental car, you have probably realized that the Magical Express is the best option financially, but what can you expect?

When I arrived in Orlando, I followed the directions to Disney’s Magical Express but somehow took a wrong turn. I flew on Southwest and our gate was about as far away from the Magical Express counter as you could get. After figuring out which direction I was supposed to go and following the directions in my Disney booklet, I made it to the Magical Express depot located in a lower level of the airport.

Disney World has ride lines and food lines organized well and the Magical Express is no exception. Once I arrived at the right spot, a cast member showed me which line to wait in to get checked in to catch the next bus headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, the property in which I was staying for one night. I only had a short wait because there was a Magical Express getting ready to leave.

The ride to the hotel was a bumpy one and I will admit that, for awhile there, I was thinking that this was the Not-So-Magical-Express. When I took the Magical Express to the cruise port , I discovered that part of my problem was that I was seated too far back.

What to Know Before You Go:

Disney’s Magical Express is free for guests staying in one of the qualifying Disney properties.

Wait times will vary. There are two separate lines that you have to stand in and then you may sit on the bus before it fills. Be prepared to wait and remember that this is a free option; be thankful when you don’t have to wait.

If you or a member of your family is prone to motion sickness, be sure to sit near the front of the bus and be prepared with a bag. It may be a bumpy ride.

If you do not put the luggage tags given to you on your bags before your flight, you will need to pick up your bags before heading to the Magical Express. If you do have your luggage with you, you might want to have a few dollars in cash to tip the driver who unloads your luggage.

If you do choose to use the luggage tags, it could be a couple of hours before your bags arrive. Have your swimsuit in your carry-on bag so that you can hit the pool when you arrive. Have a plan in place before you board the plane so that you have what you need if your luggage takes a few hours to arrive at your hotel.

The ride is not a short one. It took us 45 minutes from pulling out of the airport parking lot to arriving at my destination. My hotel was the last one on the drop-off list for this particular shuttle. Each Magical Express makes about four stops, give or take one.

Have you taken the Magical Express? What was your experience?

More hints and tips that I learned on my cruise on the Disney Fantasy:

Justifying the Cost of a Disney Cruise

Staterooms Available on the Disney Fantasy

Seven Mistakes Made by a First Time Disney Cruiser

Thank you to Disney and Traveling Mom for providing my cruise accommodations. I paid for travel there and back as well as other expenses. As always, opinions are mine and mine alone.

Never Leave Home Without…A Soap Box Full of Crayons

There are a handful of things that I always have in my magic travel bag of tricks. These are things that we never leave home without and if we do happen to forget the item it is usually a sad moment when we realize that it is missing. Every once in awhile I am going to share with you some of the things that we never leave without.

A travel soap box full of crayons!

I can’t claim this brilliant idea. We almost always travel with crayons. Both of my children fancy themselves artists and always draw pictures in their travel journals. We usually keep our crayons in a Ziploc bag or in a pencil box. Awhile back, I won a travel kit that came with crayons in the soap box. We have since replaced the crayons and the box but I think it is the best way to travel with crayons.

Living in hot, humid Florida, I am no stranger to finding a stray restaurant crayon melted to the floorboard or my leather seat. I love keeping the crayons in the soap box because it is compact, holds a twelve pack of crayons, and the crayons always have a home of their own, which prevents the seat from being attacked by a melted crayon. Now that my kids are older, we travel with colored pencils but the soap box of crayons seems to find its way in the travel bag more often than not.

What is one item that you never leave home without?

I am linking up to two of my favorite family travel blogs today, Walkingon Travels and Suitcases and Sippycups, for their Travel Tips Tuesday. I have a feeling that if we all lived in the same town, we would be fast friends!

Never Leave Home Without…a Deck of UNO Cards

There are a handful of things that I always have in my magic travel bag of tricks. These are things that we never leave home without and if we do happen to forget the item it is usually a sad moment when we realize that it is missing. Every once in awhile I am going to share with you some of the things that we never leave without.

A deck of UNO Cards!

UNO cards are easy to throw into my purse or carry-on bag because they are compact and are in their own little cardboard case. Once the cardboard case deteriorates, the cards can be stored in a small Ziploc bag.

The rules are easy to remember but you also make up your own. My daughter was able to pick up the game last year when she was only four and it is something that Big S and Little S can play together but it is also good for us to play together as a family.

It is quiet, it requires no other pieces and there is no need for a table if there is a place to sit on the ground. We have played UNO in the car, on the plane, in the hotel, and, during desperate times, it can easily be played in an attraction line.

What is one item that you never leave home without?

Books I’ve Read – January

As a mom, finding time to read can be difficult.  Reading is one of my favorite things to do and when I make time for my other hobbies I also make time for reading.  I am almost always with a book.  I take a book to my daughter’s dance class, my son’s soccer practice, the doctor’s office, carpool line, and more.  Traveling is no exception.  Before I got my Kindle, I used to pack several books because I didn’t want to run out.  I still love a good hard back book, but the Kindle is great for travel.

I have been trying to come up with a way to store a list of the books I have read.  I have tried Good Reads and Shelfari but I just am not down with the interface.  It is fun to see what my friends are reading, but not many of them use those programs and the constant emails and notifications can be irritating.  I just haven’t found the perfect way to maintain my list so I decided to share a monthly list on my travel blog.  Reading goes along with travel, right?!  Here are the books that I read during the month of January!

39 Clues Books 1-4 – I am fascinated with the concept of 39 Clues.  The series was written by several popular children’s and YA writers but it flows together well.  Two children find out that they are part of a powerful family and have to discover 39 clues before the end of the series or something awful will happen.  The children travel all over the world, sometimes with their au pair and sometimes without.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Think Twilight for grown-ups with lots of history and literature thrown in to it.

Black Wind by Clive Cussler – I love Clive Cussler’s books.  The handsome adventurer always comes to the rescue.

Other Clive Cussler books read this month: The Jungle and The Wrecker

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – This book was recommended to me by Kristin over at Camels and Chocolate.  I read it in less than a day and can’t wait for the second book to be released later this month.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close – I have to admit that I downloaded this book because we share the same name. I get daily Google alerts (I have one set up for my name) about her book and I was curious.  I admit I was a little underwhelmed by the book’s ending but it was a quick beach read.

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris – Timothy Ferris has some interesting thoughts on how to lose weight and help make your life better.  I took a few diet suggestions from the book and am trying to apply them to our most recent food and lifestyle changes.

Six Wives by David Starkey – A book about the queens of Henry the VIII, how they became queen, and who they were.  I have been reading this book off and on for awhile and I finally finished it this month.

Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson – Jennifer and her husband pack up their family and move to Europe to learn more about where they came from.  The book is about how she and her family adjusted to their new life.  I had a hard time getting in to the book.  I started it, put it down and picked it up again and was glad I did.  I finally finished this book this month as well.  *I received this book from the publisher to review.

The Colonial Caper Mystery at Williamsburg by Carole Marsh – The Marsh mysteries take your children all over the United States.  The two main characters try to solve a mystery at each destination.  My 7yo and I really enjoyed this book about Williamsburg.  I will have a review up over at A Traveler’s Library in the next month or two as part of Family Travel Friday.

What is on my list for February?  Even though it is already the middle of the month, I will wait until the end of the month to share but I am currently reading The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larson and I have A Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare ready to read after that.

What are you reading?


Holiday Gift Idea: Series of Books for Middle School and High School Students

Over the past few posts, I have been sharing some of my favorite books (that come in a series).  These are books that were in constant rotation in my classes.  When I volunteer in the elementary school library, these are the books that get checked out before we have even put them back on the shelves.  Last week, I shared favorite books for PreK children, toddlers, and babies and favorite books for elementary school students.  Today, I share favorite books for middle school and high school students.  I am not going to lie…I have read each and every book on this list and enjoyed pretty much all of them!  I recommend that you read along (or read the book before) with your children.  Only you as the parent can decide what is and isn’t appropriate for your children.

Middle School

Brian’s Saga Series by Gary Paulsen is about a 13 year old’s survival after his plane crashed.  The first book in the series, Hachet, is a Newbery Honor book.  Other books in the series: The River; Brian’s Winter; Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt.

Inheritance Cycle Series by Christopher Paolini begins with the book Eragon.  Eragon is a fifteen year old who finds out that he is to be a Dragon Rider.  Eragon was recently made into a movie as many of the books on the high school and middle school list.  Other books in the series: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance.

Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson is about a fourteen year old named Maximum Ride.  She and her friends have wings and can fly.  In the first book, one of the members is kidnapped and the other fight to save her.  Other books in the series: There are currently seven books in the series.

Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz is about fourteen year old Alex Rider who is coerced into taking over his uncle’s dangerous work for the Britain’s intelligence agency, M16.  The series begins with Stormbreaker which is a favorite of my former middle school students.  Other books in the series:  Stormbreaker; Point Blank; Skeleton Key; Eagle Strike; Scorpia; Ark Angel; Snakehead; Crocodile Tears and Scorpia Rising.

High School

The River of Time Series by Lisa Tawn Bergren is historical fiction about a teenager who gets sent back in time to sixteenth century Italy.  She manages to not only survive but also thrive.  I picked up this book when it was offered as a free Kindle download for a few days.  As soon as I finished, I immediately purchased the next three in the series.  It is a good, clean read.  Other books in the series: Waterfall; Cascade and Torrent.

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare will be a favorite if your child liked the adventure and excitement of The Hunger Games and the magic of Harry Potter.  In the first book, City of Bones, fifteen year old Clary gets wrapped up in the world of the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons.  Other books in the series: City of Ashes; City of Glass; City of Fallen Angels.  Cassandra Clare has also written another series called Infernal Devices.  Those books currently include Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is hot right now with the first movie to be released in 2012.  Personally, I can’t wait for the movie and I hope they are able to do the book justice.  Sixteen-year-old Katniss lives in the poorest district of a post-apocalyptic world.  Each year, two children are chosen from each district to perform in an annual event called the Hunger Games where only one person survives.  Other books in the series: The Hunger Games; Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Though the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was published over fifty years ago, it still remains a fan favorite.  The trilogy is about Frodo and his quest.  The adventure begins with The Fellowship of the Ring but I recommend that you introduce The Hobbit as well.  Other books in the series: The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

When the Harry Potter series first became popular, I was teaching middle school.  My middle schoolers couldn’t get enough of the wizarding series.  Those middle school children are now in their mid-20s, Harry Potter remains a popular series and is still widely read.  Other books in the series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add the Twilight series to this list because it is still very popular.  With the recent movie release of the first part of the fourth book, its popularity is still a constant with the tween/teen population.  Join a teenage girl as she meets up with a group of vampires and a group of werewolves.  Other Books in the series: New Moon; Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.

Share your favorites in the comments!

Holiday Gift Idea: Series of Books for Elementary School Students


*Stay tuned!  We will continue this series with middle school and high school book choices soon!

Books make fantastic gifts for travelers. Even if your child hates reading, they could probably be grudgingly convinced to listen to you read a story!  Yesterday, I posted about favorite books for PreK children, toddlers, and babies.  Today I am sharing favorite series of books for elementary school-aged children.  I volunteer in my son’s library every week and these are the books that we cannot shelve fast enough.  Kids come into the library and grab these books off the cart before they even make it to the bookshelves!

I have not read all the books I have listed, though I am working my way through the pile.  I recommend that you read along (or read the book before) with your children.  Only you as the parent can decide what is and isn’t appropriate for your children.


Junie B Jones by Barbara Park – Junie B. is a spunky little girl who finds herself in many predicaments.  The series begins with Junie in Kindergarten.  In book 18, she becomes a first grader and continues with her hijinks.  The first book in the series is Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus.  The third book is called Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth.  When my son began reading the books, I read a few of them and made sure that he knew that language like that was not acceptable in our house and just because Junie uses it doesn’t mean he can!  It doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Other books:  There are over 30 Junie B. Jones books so there should be plenty to keep your little reader reading!

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osbourne – In the Magic Tree House books, a brother and sister pair named Jack and Annie discover a magic tree house full of books that takes them on journeys all over the world.  Together, they have adventures and solve mysteries.  Other books: There are 46 books in the series with number 47 to be released at the end of the month and number 48 to be released in July of 2012.  There is also a nonfiction series of books called the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers that cover topics discussed in the fiction books like twisters, dolphins, mummies, pilgrims, polar bears and more.

39 Clues is a series written by a number of popular authors, many whose names you will recognize like Rick Riordan (author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series), Linda Sue Park (author of A Single Shard), Margaret Peterson Haddix (author of the Among the Hidden series which I recommend for middle school students) and more.  In the first book, Amy and Dan’s grandmother dies and they discover that they are part of the most powerful family in history. The source is hidden in 39 clues around the world,, which they set out to find.  We literally cannot keep these books on the shelves.  The students are waiting for them before I have even checked them back in.  I had a few minutes of down time and read the first few chapters of Book One.  It was definitely captivating and I plan on reading through the series with my son.  These books are commonly checked out by 4th and 5th graders.  Other Books:  There are eleven books in the series.

Nate the Great by Marjorie Sharmat is another current favorite of my second grader.  Nate is child detective who solves all sorts of mysteries (I am finding a recurring theme of solving mysteries while having adventures!).  Other books: There are twenty six books in the Nate the Great series that have been published over the past thirty years.  There is another series of books about Nate the Great’s cousin, Olivia Sharp.

The Amber Brown collection by Paula Danziger (Parents: You might remember reading her book The Cat that Ate My Gymsuit when you were younger!) is realistic fiction about a little girl named Amber and her friends and family.  Our favorite book from the series is Amber Brown is Not a Crayon which is the first in the collection.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney might sound familiar because of the recently released movie based on the book.  With the November 2011 release of the sixth book, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is in constant rotation.  The book is based on a middle school student so I recommend it for older elementary or middle school students.  Other Books:  There are six books in the series.

Carole Marsh’s Real Kids, Real Places mystery series books are not only fun to read but are also educational.  The books take place in real places and there is a mystery to be solved in each one. There are forty eight mysteries that are set in places like Mount Rushmore, Hollywood, DisneyWorld, the Twin Cities, Yellowstone, Hawaii, Mount Vernon and more.  Other Books: Carole Marsh has written lots of books but another travel series that caught my eye is Around the World in Eighty Mysteries where there are mysteries to be solved at Big Ben, Dracula’s Castle, Mt. Fugi, the Great Barrier Reef and more.

Share your favorites in the comments!

Holiday Gift Idea: Book Series for Babies, Toddlers, and Pre-K Children

*Stay tuned! Tomorrow, I will share favorite series of books for elementary, middle school and high school students!

When all else fails and I can’t come up with a gift idea, I head to my favorite bookstore and buy a book or a gift certificate for the recipient.  Even though we allow handheld video games and electronics during our travels, I still limit the time that each child gets to spend playing them.  Books are always first on the list of things to pack.

Buying books before a road trip or vacation are some of my favorite memories from my childhood.  Before every trip, we would head to the bookstore and be allowed to pick out a certain number of books to take with us.  When we got home, my mother would confiscate the books and hide them.  I can still see that fresh new pile of books stacked high in my mother’s closet, taunting me to take one and steal off to my room where I could start reading.  But, oh no, we couldn’t touch those books until it was time to pack up our backpacks for our trip.

As a teacher, I tried to read anything and everything that came across my desk.  It helped me keep up with what the kids were reading and it kept me semi-cool in their eyes when I could discuss Twilight, Crank, or Harry Potter with them.  Now, I volunteer in my son’s library and I have been trying to keep up with the books that are currently popular.  Here are a few series of books, both recent and old favorites, I have seen in constant rotation at the library.  If you buy the first in the series, I highly recommend being ready to stop by a bookstore to buy the next few!

I have not read all the books I have listed, though I am working my way through the pile.  I recommend that you read along (or read the book before) with your children.  Only you as the parent can decide what is and isn’t appropriate for your children.


Brightly colored board books are what will fit the bill for your baby or toddler.  Though some of these are more author collections rather than a series, the books will still be appreciated.

Any book illustrated by Eric Carle – We particularly loved the books written by Bill Martin Junior like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You See.

Susan Boyton wrote our all time favorite nighttime book, The Going to Bed Book.  We also loved Moo, Baa, La La La!  My five year old still asks me to read that book sometimes!

Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth – Children love to run their hands over this book where they get to count the ten little ladybugs as they disappear.  This book came with us everywhere for several months!  Other Books: Ten Rubber Duckies and Goodnight Sweet Butterflies by Dawn Bentley


Pete the Cat – If you asked me to recite Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes right now, I could sing the entire book.  Both of my kids adore Pete the Cat and his adventures.  Other books: Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes; Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons (out in 2012)

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is a catchy book about that silly mouse that keeps wanting more and more!  Other books: If You Take a Mouse to the Movies; If You Take a Mouse to School; If You Give a Pig a Party; If You Give a Pig a Pancake; If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Herbert is one of my favorite children’s books of all time.  I love the beautiful illustrations and the moral of the story.  Other books: Rainbow Fish and the Whale; Rainbow Fish Finds His Way; Play with Rainbow Fish

Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann is one of my daughter’s current favorite books. She LOVES pink…pink walls, pink bedspread, pink, pink, pink, The book is full of pink, pink, pink so it is perfect! Other books: Silverlicious; Goldilicious; Purplicious; there are also a number of I Can Read books

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor is frilly and fabulous.  We don’t have many of the Fancy Nancy books, but we do have all the holiday ones.  I always purchase holiday books for the kids and somehow my daughter’s books have all been Fancy Nancy books! Other Books: Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas; Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy; Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom…will there be enough room?  This catchy book teaches letter order and the other book in the series teaches numbers.  This is a favorite of my son still even if he won’t admit it.  Other Books: Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is the only book on this list that I haven’t read but my kids think they are hilarious!  They have read them at school and have told me all about them.  I have them on my list of gifts that I still have to pick up! Other books: Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog; The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

I got a little carried away in my excitement to share favorite books with you that I ran out of room in the post.  Tomorrow, I will share favorite series of books for elementary, middle school and high school students (unless I get carried away again and have to extend the post into a three part series)!

Share your favorites in the comments!

Family Travel in Your Own Town

The word staycation has always made me cringe; however, I see nothing wrong with family travel in your own city or town.  There are so many great things in your very own city that you probably haven’t even thought about exploring yet because work, school, or just wanting to spend your day off on the couch always seems to get in the way.  We are going out of town this year for spring break, but for the past few we didn’t.  Work schedules, ball schedules, and saving money for later trips kept us home.  Staying home for your family vacation does not mean that your vacation has to be completely miserable!

Read Guidebooks for Your Area

Have you ever looked at a guidebook for your own city?  If not, stop by the library or spend an afternoon in a bookstore.  Jot down some activities that you haven’t had time to experience.  Look for activities and restaurants that take you out of your comfort zone.  For me, that meant trying activities that are in a neighboring town twenty minutes away.  We don’t take the time to drive over so there are a lot of great activities that we never get a chance to do.

Involve the Kids

When you are planning your stay at home family vacation, ask the kids if there is anything that they have really wanted to do.  There might be some great park, movie, or other activity that their friends keep talking about.  Use this opportunity to explore something you have avoided because of time or cost.

Find a New Park

If your kids are still at the age where they enjoy a good park, then head to your local Parks and Recreation (sometimes called Leisure Services) website and find a park that you have not been to yet.  Look for a park that offers something that your favorite park does not. 

Try a New Food

Just because you aren’t traveling to another region or country doesn’t mean you need to stick to the same old food.  Try a restaurant that serves a dish you have never tried before.  Pick a restaurant that you might have avoided in the past because of the crowds, the wait, or the length of the drive to it.

Don’t Wait Until Your Vacation

You don’t have to wait until you have vacation time to explore your own town.  Head out on a weekend and explore a new nature trail or visit a new playground.  We have been visiting a new playground twice a month and my children love guessing what kind of equipment will be at the playground!  Just enjoy the time spent together as a family!

Check Engine Light Blazing on a Road Trip? Head to Auto Zone.

check engine lightWe road trip a lot…short trips only an hour or two away to 15 hour days.  I love the picnics on the road, the forced family fun in the car, and the children’s excitement when they spot something they have never seen before.  We don’t love car problems though.  Unfortunately, they are inevitable.  We have changed tires on the side of the road and in various parking lots.  We have been at the mercy of small town mechanics who have thankfully always been helpful and honest.  We have had to leave the car in the capable hands of tow truck drivers when we were only 20 minutes away from home after a five hour drive.  When I look back at events that seemed so traumatic, we have actually been very lucky.

Now, let me give you a little background on my car.  When it was just over three years old (less than a year ago), we had to rebuild the entire transmission.  My car and I are not always friends.  As I pulled into my driveway after the seven hour drive from Orlando, the check engine light came on.  I wanted to scream.  To make matters worse, my husband’s check engine light came on this week too.  We decided to get his car fixed first (ouch!) since we knew there was a real problem. 

I mentioned to a friend that the check engine light was on but that the car seemed to be running fine.  I didn’t want to take it in and shell out the money it will cost.  She told me that Auto Zone stores will check your engine for free and will give you a print out of what might be wrong with the car.  You may already know this, but I didn’t so I wanted to share!  Yesterday afternoon, I headed to our local Auto Zone and had the car checked.  They were very informative and let me know that I didn’t need to race right over to the mechanic for this particular problem.  It still needs to be fixed but it can at least wait until we get my husband’s car out of the shop!

If you are ever on a road trip and your check engine light turns on, try to locate an Auto Zone nearby.  There are Auto Zones throughout most of the South and East Coast as well as the West Coast.  They will check the light, you will know if you can continue on, and it is all free!

Photo Courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker.