Wednesday, August 23, 2017

4 Our Favorite Road Trip Tips!

We have created a bit of a summer tradition of heading down to Florida as a family to celebrate the final days of summer break. My in-laws have a place near the beach and it has become our favorite vacation destination and a trip that we all look forward to each and every year.

We will fly if airfare deals pop up, however, we typically opt to drive the whopping 24-hour route. We enjoy the scenery, the downtime in the car, the cost savings and having our own vehicle for the twelve days we are roaming around the Gulf Coast. The trip continues to get easier and easier, so today I thought I would share a few of our favorite tips for taking a family road trip.

I am sure it is no surprise that my number one tip is to make a list and check it twice. I have a ridiculously bad memory so I rely heavily on lists. And forgetting to do something or to bring something can definitely put a damper on the trip. I have offered a travel checklist in my Etsy shop for years, and recently updated the printable to a fillable and savable version. Being able to type in my list and save the contents to reuse is so convenient. And I really love that I can store it online and access it on my tablet/phone anytime.

The list is broken down into categories that keep track of all of the tasks we need to do to prep the house and plan for the trip (put our mail on hold, put together instructions for the housesitter, take the car in for an oil change, etc...) and also has packing categories. The categories include Clothing, Toiletries, Accessories, Technology, Carry-On Bag and two sections titled Miscellaneous, which I use for our snacks and meals and also our beach bag. I put together the list to include the entire family and just add a ( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 ) after the items that apply to everyone. And because I can save it and use it for different occasions, it works well for both flying and automobile trips.

A minimum of two of our trip days is spent in the car because we drive straight through each way. The better I can be about packing snacks and activities, the fewer stops we have to make and the more relaxed the trip is in general. I try to bring enough food to feed our family of five for dinner, breakfast, and snacks in-between. Anything that we don't eat during the drive just transfers into our beach bag and cooler when we arrive in Florida.

For our dry foods, I use a latched and lidded bin and fill it with snack size bags of popcorn, pretzels, seeds, crackers, granola bars and fruit pouches.

I found reusable food containers at the dollar store and they couldn't be more perfect for organizing the contents inside of our cooler. We start by portioning out veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese sticks, dips, and sandwiches/wraps.

We find that wraps keep well and are a great size to fit two per person inside of one container. We make them right before we leave; wrapping them up in deli paper and marking them with washi tape. #professionalsandwichartists

The cooler is always placed in the far back seat next to one of the boys and they are the ones responsible for grabbing the items and handing them out. In the past, it would become a slushy mess as the ice melted and the contents were rummaged. The small bins protect the contents so nothing becomes soggy or squooshed, and this time I decided to use freezer bags to divide up the ice. That one small idea was AMAZING and completely changed how we will forever pack our cooler.

All of our beverages are stored at the bottom of the cooler, as well as the smaller container of snacks. Once the lid was added, I stacked the remaining lidded food bins.

A ten-pound bag of ice fit nicely into 5 gallon-sized freezer bags. My ultimate goal was to keep the cooler cold but dry, and I figured that when the ice melted, it would be easy to change it out at a gas station by just removing and refilling the bags. So I added three of the bags on each side of the stack of bins...

And the final two bags on top.

This truly couldn't have worked out any better! We used this method throughout the entire trip and everything stayed wonderfully cold and there was never a mess inside of the cooler. In the past when one thing was pulled out of the cooler, the ice would cave in and things couldn't be put back easily and digging through the ice was hard on the hands. Who knew simple ice packs would be so exciting?! I seriously was giddy over this light bulb moment.

When we arrive back home after our trip, we wash out all of the bags and bins and keep them stored inside of the cooler until next time.

The majority of the items we eat are basic finger foods, but there are a few things that require utensils. Those were all placed inside of a lightweight bin along with wipes for hands and the car.

I had a leftover stack of party treat bags and they worked really great for corralling the utensils and straws.

Awhile back I realized that craft cases work beautifully for assembling a good first aid kit. I stocked ours with bandages, cleanser, cotton pads, a thermometer, pain reliever/fever reducers, vitamins, and medications. With three boys and a clumsy mom, this is always a helpful kit to keep on hand and was used a few times while we were away.

And we always have a bin filled with change and small bills in the center console of the car to prepare for any road tolls.

We each pack a small backpack or weekender bag for clothing and a second small tote for personal items and travel activities.

Each boy brings a grade appropriate workbook, a reading book and a journal, along with fine tip markers for writing and coloring. They also use a hard-sided pencil box to hold their headphones and charging cords for their tablets/phones. A few small travel games round out the contents of their drawstring backpacks.

Every bit of space matters, and we have been able to reduce the bulk of our sleeping linens by using standard-sized throw blankets and 14x20" pillow inserts. The smaller pillows work just as well as standard sizes, but take up about half of the space in each seat. And when we get back home, they are easily vacuum sealed and stored inside of a suitcase until our next adventure.

If you have younger kiddos, I have found these inexpensive trays from IKEA to be huge car trip sanity savers. They work great for meals and small activities, are easy to clean, and fit under most seats. Another road trip helper for littles are these free activity printables I created a few years ago.

download road trip activity printables FREE here

These are just a few of the ways we prep, make room in our car, drive long distances with content kids, organize our snacks and meals, and stay cozy along the way! I wish I could say that our entire trip went off without a hitch, but it just wouldn't be a Jones family vacation without a few hiccups, adventures and stories to tell. All the organizing in the world doesn't prevent you from unknowingly filling up the car with bad gas (and then breaking down for a full day because of it), but just imagine the jokes a car full of boys made out of that experience... Ha!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

16 Do It Yourself: Planked Ceiling

Our son's bathroom project is falling into our typical snowball trap. I prefer to blame it on our climate and location... I mean, snowballs are inevitable up here in the Midwest, right?. The original plan was just to swap a few fixtures and maybe paint the walls to take the room from a feminine guest bath to tween boy bath. But one idea led to another and now we are making some bigger changes than we initially planned (which I totally love). The first being a fantastic planked ceiling!

Many of our rooms have textured walls and textured ceilings. Womp womp. I am over them. Our son's bathroom is basically an 8 ft x 8 ft box with a notch for plumbing and storage. It was the ideal candidate for a ceiling treatment that would make a wow factor, be easy on the budget, and wouldn't take up multiple days and weekends that we don't have.

We did a small shiplap treatment in our laundry room some time ago and learned a few things from that installation that swayed us to do things a little differently here.

S T E P  O N E 

Measure! We measured the ceiling lines and set off to our local home improvement store to source material.

S T E P  T W O 

Consider your options. There are quite a few options when it comes to ceiling plank treatments. You can do individual tongue and groove boards, standard wood boards, or a sheet of material that you cut down on your own. We opted for the final option because of cost. We looked at individual boards in a variety of sizes and the cost was about 3-4 times as much, and the boards were also quite thick. Cutting our own brought the cost down, and also offered us the flexibility of determining the plank width. The one downside to cutting your own boards is ensuring that your lines are nice and straight over a long distance.

We purchased two sheets of 4 ft x 8 ft x 1/4 in smooth plywood.

S T E P  T H R E E 

Source wall moulding. I knew that capping our edges around the room would be that final touch to the project to really take it up a notch.

We purchased four 1 in x 2 in x 8 ft primed trim boards.

S T E P  F O U R 

Gather materials. We found the following tools to be helpful with this project:

  • Tape Measure
  • Saw Horses
  • Straight Edge
  • Clamps
  • Circular Saw
  • Sanding Blocks
  • Mini Rollers
  • Primer and Paint
  • Chalk Line
  • Caulk Gun for Construction Adhesive and White Paintable Caulk
  • Miter Saw
  • Brad Nailer

S T E P  F I V E 

Cut the planks!

Once again, we used a thin, sanded plywood which cuts nicely and is easy to prime and paint. Last time we experienced a small amount of chipping, but this time we were working with a newer saw blade which we figured would help clean up the cuts. We decided we wanted our planks 6" wide which was a total of 16 planks across the ceiling. Instead of attempting to cut 16 boards exactly the same and perfectly straight, we clamped together four boards and ran the saw less.

This worked out beautifully! We clamped our straight edge on each end of the boards and ran our circular saw down the entire 8 ft length with ease. The good blade ensured very little fraying occurred.

S T E P  S I X


We used a sanding block to sand down all of the board tops and edges prior to painting.

S T E P  S E V E N

Prime and paint.

Last time we installed the boards first and painted second. It wasn't ideal and working to keep paint out of all of the grooves was also pretty time-consuming. This time I wanted to try painting everything first and installing the boards second. We waited until there was zero rain in the forecast, and spread out all sixteen boards on saw horses and our outdoor tables. We rolled on a coat of primer, and then two coats of white paint and primer semi-gloss bathroom paint. A quality microfiber roller will help with achieving good, smooth coverage. We used a brush on all of the edges for the primer to be sure everything was nice and sealed and then were able to speed up the process by using a roller on the edges for both coats of the paint.

S T E P  E I G H T

Locate and mark ceiling joists.

We wanted the planks to be as secure as possible so we determined the location of the ceiling joists and marked them accordingly by snapping a chalk line.

S T E P  N I N E

Measure and cut!

We measured for each board just in case our walls weren't perfectly square. Then cut them to length with our miter saw.

S T E P  T E N

Glue and Nail

To be sure there was no sagging, we added a few rows of construction adhesive to the backside of the board prior to affixing it to the ceiling.

We used tile spacers along the edge of the board, knocked it into place and nailed along the chalk line, as well as a few areas between.

Repeat all the way across the ceiling.

S T E P  E L E V E N

Measure, cut and install trim pieces.

For this project, I selected a very clean trim board vs. a typical crown moulding. We did basic 45-degree miters around the entire perimeter of the room.

S T E P  T W E L V E 

Caulk and touch up paint.

With all of the nailing and installation, the boards became dinged up in a few spots and of course, we had fresh nail holes that needed to be caulked. Once the caulk dried, I used a brush to touch up paint the boards.


That's it! The wood cost us $54 dollars and the paint and primer quarts were another $30. We had everything else on hand to complete the project, so for under $85 we created quite the statement in this itty bitty space.

This room still has a long way to go. We decided we would like to remove the fiberglass shower and install floor to ceiling tile and replace the shower fixtures. The walls have been painted Sherwin William's Nimbus and I absolutely love the warm greige color and how it pairs with the cool navy already in the space. The shower curtain is amazing and it is from here.

We have also removed the old built-in cabinets on the opposite wall from the sink and have to sheetrock that in and add some floating shelves.

Another small upgrade we made was swapping out his previous bathroom fan with a Bluetooth version. I found a 70 cfm option at Home Depot for under $100, but it doesn't look like they offer it online (they do have this one available). Our son thought the new planked ceiling was great, but this?! A fan that allows him to play his favorite music while he showers? Why didn't we do this ages ago? He loves to sing and this made showering and brushing teeth and all of those other daily "chores" so much more fun for him!

We are really excited to see how the rest of this project pulls together (especially with art and accessories). As a reader mentioned in the last update, it will be hard to top our favorite, mega-sweet guest bathroom. But we will certainly try!

Check out our son's most recent bedroom update here and the DIY wood framed mirror here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...