5 Cheap Travel Tips for the Holidays

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Image by Bert Kaufmann  used under Creative Common License. 

The holiday season is approaching and gathering disparate family members together becomes a number one priority. But getting everyone on board for the holidays isn’t always an easy task and paying for flights, hotels, etc. adds up quickly. Luckily, we’ve pulled together some expert tips for saving money during this busy season of travel.

Where to Book

For younger family members, there are a number of websites that provide student discounts, whether you’re flying within the US or from abroad. StudentUniverse is one of the more popular ones, but also look at STA Travel and Studentflights.com. For the rest of the family, using flight comparison sites like Expedia, Kayak, or Skyscanner can help ensure that you get the best deals available. If everyone is going to fly together, there are family discounts that can be applied at sites like Cheapoair and Cheapflights.com.

When to Book

Timing, as they say, is everything. Especially around the holiday season, it is important to think about when you are buying airline tickets. For instance, if you can get the family to fly on a Wednesday there’s a high chance the flights will be less expensive as it’s the least-travelled day of the week. Booking tickets between 7 and 21 days before a flight is usually when the cheapest prices are available, and looking for deals on the Tuesday before the departure date is also smart, as that’s when airlines most often release deals. One more tip for family travel during the holidays is to fly on the holiday itself – flights are significantly cheaper on Thanksgiving or Christmas than they are on the days surrounding them.

Where to Go

Image by amateur photography by michelused under Creative Common License. 

If your family is looking to spend the holidays away from home, there are some tips for finding cheaper destinations for your festivities. The first tip is to consider locations that are in off-peak mode. During the winter, especially, less people are travelling in general, and most are headed for the tropics – so consider doing the opposite! Finding a location that is off the beaten path is another way to save money. There are plenty of gorgeous destinations that aren’t full of tourists, but still have loads in the way of natural beauty and local hospitality. Whether you opt to visit a small town in Italy or a natural beach in Croatia, do the unexpected when it comes to holiday travel.

Where to Stay

One easy way to save money on vacation is to avoid cities and instead take a trip to the countryside. Whether you’re in the US or abroad, this rule holds true and, typically, cheaper accommodation can be found. However, there are a number of budget options to consider within the citie as well. Hostels have become an increasingly popular way to live comfortably while on vacation and now there are a number of family-friendly options that didn’t exist even ten years ago. Sites like Hostelbookers.com have tips for how to find the most family friendly locations and how to make sure everyone is comfortable while they’re there. If you’re looking for an option between a hotel and a hostel, look at Airbnb for places to stay. The site, and others like it, allow families to rent out rooms, apartments or even entire houses for days at a time. Renting an entire house in a great destination is a perfect solution for families who want to cook their own meals, have more freedom and generally feel like they are in a home away from home.

How to Go

Although traveling by air is one of the only choices for international travel, in most destinations there are alternate means of transportation. Train travel across Europe is a fairly common and budget-conscious option for families and bus networks crisscross most countries, often offering even cheaper price tags. Cruises are a great money-saver, as well, since most of the food and drinks are included in the price. Finally, if one or two members of the family are traveling to or from the airport or train stations, there are a number of ride-sharing sites and apps that provide quick and hassle-free transport.

I hope these tips help you find the perfect holiday destination this year! Share if you think so too!

A family that works out together. Perfect stocking stuffers for the family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Are you struggling with getting to the gym? I know that I've been having trouble getting out of the house and making an attempt to get to the gym which is why I love my new mats from MERRITHEW. I not only get to spend some time at home working out, but I also get to spend a little extra time playing with the kids.

 With my son now having his own personal 'kid' size mat, he loves to spend the time with me "trying" to work out with mama. But not only does MERRITHEW have great products for you and your kids but I found many things that would make perfect stocking stuffers for my friends and family that enjoy going to the gym.If you miss my perfect gift guide, don't forget to check it out.
I always seem to struggle when it comes to finding the perfect stocking stuffers. Opening my stocking was always one of my favorite things to do and now that I'm older I like to make sure I give the most perfect gifts. 
Don't forget to head over to MERRITHEW and check out all the special Black Friday deals they have going on. If I must say the kids mat is a must have.

How Asurion Premier Support can help you!

Monday, November 23, 2015
This post was sponsored by Asurion as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

Can you believe the holidays are here? Time has gone by so fast, and I'm not ready. So many things to do and so much shopping to get done. In my family, everyone loves new electronics. The boys are getting to the age of getting their own small electronics, my husband always wants something new that has come out and, of course, I'm a phone person. I love getting the newest phone that is available at the time.

Being a blogger and a mother, I work off of my phone. From taking pictures of my children, social networking, and working on my blog, I need a phone that can do what I need it too. But what happens when I run into an issue and my husband isn't around to help me fix it? I call Asurion Premier Support of course. 

Asurion Premier Support is partnering with the country's leading wireless carriers to help people like you and me with our electronics. When you can't get your laptop to connect to the internet, when you can't get your photos off your phone and onto your computer (like me), Asurion comes to my rescue.
I've recently downloaded the Asurion Premier Support App on my phone and placed a call to see if they could help me figure out how to get my photos off my phone and onto my computer. For some reason, I had a group of photos that just wouldn't download onto the computer, and I didn't want to delete them from my phone and lose them forever. 

The gentleman who answered my phone call was extremely helpful, pleasant and knew specifically what was going on. He helped me and guided my every step of the way and I was able to get my pictures taken care of and off my phone. 

I am certain that I will be using Asurion Premier Support for all my new holiday gifts and setting up the new electronics for my children. It was simple, easy and took way less time than me trying to figure it out on my own. 

Make sure to check with your mobile carrier to learn more. 

Sprint: Total Equipment Protection
Verizon: Total Mobile Protection
AT&T: Pro Tech Support

25 Day's of Giving

Friday, November 20, 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CraftAmazing #CollectiveBias

Being a mom can be tough. We lose our patience (a lot); we're tired, frustrated, bored, and many other emotional feelings all wrapped into one. I've come to notice over the last couple of months that I feel like I'm not doing enough with my children and The Husband. That is why this Christmas I've decided I wanted to give back to them in a fun way. The 25 Day's of Giving. This is not only fun for me, though. This activity is a greater way for the children to count down the number of days until Christmas. 

In each envelope on this wall, Christmas tree we created is a to-do list for me. Everything from baking cookies with the kids to going to the park to letting my husband sleep in and making him coffee. I want to be a more fun mom and a better wife. Not that I'm not the coolest mom ever but there is always room for improvement, and this is a fun way to achieve that. 
Let's get started with what you will need to make your own 25 Day's of Giving. 
  • Head over to Walmart and find the Scotch® Expressions Tapes. 
  • 25 small envelopes
  • Thick yarn or twine
  • Scissors
  • Light's if you want them
  • Markers
  • Construction paper. 
  • Tacks
  • Scotch® Create
I found that this part was way more fun once the kids went to bed. They tend to get in the way, and my children love to do arts and crafts with me. This one I wanted to surprise them with the next morning. However, I did need my husband's help when it came to putting the tree up on the wall. 

The first thing to do is outline your envelopes with your Scotch® Expressions Tapes. You can do this in any order you want. Once you have finished, write the numbers 1 through 25 on the front of the envelopes. 

I wanted the top of my tree to have a star, so I decided to make my own. Using the silver Scotch® Expressions Tape I created my not-so-perfect star for the top. When applying the star to the top of the tree, I used Scotch® Create DBL Sided Tape.

Take your construction paper and cut it into 12 small rectangles to fit into your envelopes. Create your list of 25 ways to give and stuff it into your decorative envelopes. 

Once your have this step of the process over, now comes the exciting part of putting up your tree. Take your tacks and twine/yarn and place your first tack at the top and tie a knot around it. Cut off any excess yarn you may have. After figuring your spacing leave the tack out of the wall just enough to wrap your twine around it once for it to stay in place. 

Repeat this process until your tree is looking the way you want it to look. You are now ready to add your 25 Day's of Giving.

It should look something like this. I used paper clips to attach each day making it easy to remove when the time comes. 

Now it's time to add your lights. This part is easier than I had expected. Using the end of your tacks wrap the wire around the outside of the tack. Make it tight enough so that you're following the tree outline perfectly. 

A video posted by Erica Bodker (@ericaswalk) on

What do you have planned for this Christmas? I would love to see other amazing ideas for how we can give more! Looking forward to hearing from you. 

3 Ingredient Pulled Pork

Monday, November 16, 2015

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. All opinions are my own. #BrighTENtheSeason

Ever since I was a young child, my brother and I used to wake up around 5 a.m. the morning of Christmas to open presents. We would even open our presents and then take a nap before playing with everything. I know crazy right?! Even more crazy is now as adults we've made it a tradition to continue waking up early Christmas morning and open our gifts together.  I'm 26, married now, and I've never spent a Christmas away from him.

Even before the both of us had kids, we would meet up at my mom's house on Christmas Eve and spend the night just for our Christmas traditions.  With my house being in the middle of everyone (we live in different cities) everyone piles into my little house just to spend the time together. It's a madhouse.  Our time visiting with each other is interesting and cooking for everyone is even more so.

Feeding everyone can be extremely time-consuming. This year I have something special planned for everyone. With this simple five ingredient menu, I will not only spend very little time cooking but I will also be able to please everyone.

Ingredients: You can find all ingredients at Target and even use these amazing Cartwheel offers, too.

  30% off 12pack of Canada Dry TEN®, 7UP TEN®, A&W TEN®, Sunkist®       TEN™ Soda
  10% off 8pack 12oz bottles of Canada Dry®, 7UP®, A&W®, Sunkist® Soda and more

1. Buns
2. Round Pork Loin
3. BBQ Sauce of your choice
4. A&W TEN® Root Beer
5. Seasoning

Directions: The directions are very simple, and you will need a crock pot. If you do not have a crock pot, you can slow cook it in the oven on 200 degrees for about 9 hours.

Pull out your Pork Loin and season with your favorite rub or seasoning.

Pour your A&W® (full can) into the crock pot before you place your pork into the pot. You don't want to pour over the top of pork, you will want the pork to be sitting in the A&W TEN® (10 calories, full flavor) like a boulder sitting in the middle of a pond.  Place the pork loin with the fat side up.  The flavors and the moisture saturate themselves into the meat.  This is a key step because you do not want dry meat.

Place the lid onto crock pot and let cook on low for 9 hours.  Once cooked you will want to drain out your A&W TEN® and place the pork loin back into crock pot.  Using a two forks and your hands if needed (make sure they're clean) shred your pork. It will fall apart easily. Pour over your BBQ Sauce and stir until covered with the desired amount of sauce.

Now let's not forget our drinks. Being that this is meant for Christmas Eve, we have to add some ice cream into the mix. I decided to make an orange-vanilla ice cream float. Simply add your Sunkist to your ice cream and there you have it. Stir if you must or drink up the mouth-watering Sunkist and finish off the ice cream after.
I'm ready and prepared for Christmas Eve this year. My family is in for a treat and with me spending minimal time in the kitchen I will have more time with them. I cannot wait for this fun time of year and for our children to continue in our traditions.

For more great recipe ideas check out this link!

Don't forget to enter this amazing giveaway! ! From Nov 16 – Dec 12, (5) $100 Target GiftCards™ will be given away each week to those who upload an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter photo showing how they #BrighTENtheSeasonSweepstakes. All winners must be at least 18 years old.

#BrighTENtheSeason Sweepstakes


Thursday, November 12, 2015
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Looking to give the gift of health this holiday season? Perhaps you’re wanting to practice some self-love and be New Years’ Resolution ready? As global experts in fitness and Pilates, MERRITHEW has all the gear you and your loved ones need to stay happy and healthy.

Here’s a look at our top picks this holiday season. For over 100 health & fitness gift ideas, explore MERRITHEW’s complete Holiday Gift Guide.


The Fitness Circle® Flex is a lightweight, portable tool that`s easy to incorporate into your fitness routine. Featuring 4 mm thick, soft-grip foam handles, the Fitness Circle® Flex provides gentle resistance for upper-and lower-body exercises.
  • Compact design and easily portable
  • Perfect for beginners with its gentle resistance
  • Made with a lightweight, innovative plastic compound in fun, vibrant colors!

Add new challenge in your exercises with the Mini Stability Ball™ and achieve a full-body workout while improving posture! Strategically place the ball to tone hard to reach areas by creating levels of instability that activate your deepest stabilizing muscles and bring awareness to your form. Try using the ball in sitting, standing or lying work to target arms, abs, buns, and thighs. Add new dimensions to core and muscle activation in your Pilates, yoga, or functional strength training. Larger size creates a large base of support for users and accommodates larger body sizes. Check out MERRITHEW’s DVD library for great Mini Stability Ball™ workouts or use this online Mini Stability Ball Exercise Guide.

Flex Massage Stick $24.99 USD


Designed with 12 reconfigurable massage wheels, the Flex Massage Stick is a must-have tool that effectively massages large muscle groups to improve circulation, loosen fascia, remove knots, and alleviate pain. The flexibility of the stick allows you to hug the contours of the body while the independent rollers manipulate muscles and fascia. This self-care tool is ideal for anyone in need of a restorative lift, from athletes to pain sufferers. Rearrange the wheels for a perfectly targeted massage for improvements in performance, flexibility, recovery, and injury prevention. Hypoallergenic, nontoxic and phthalate free this lightweight and portable device easily dissembles for cleaning. Check out this Flex Massage Stick Exercise Guide.

Folding Travel Mat $39.99 USD


Easily pop this lightweight, versatile Folding Travel Mat in your carry-on tote or even a large purse for portable fitness. Weighing just over one pound, this exercise mat is durable enough to be machine-washed. Made with 100% eco-friendly PER, the Folding Travel Mat will last longer than most mats made of TPE and/or rubber. Featuring a smooth surface on top and a textured surface on the bottom, this is the perfect option for exercisers who are always on-the-go.


Sculpt and shape your physique while targeting arms, shoulders, upper-back and lower-body! Used on the Mat or Reformer, these easily-portable Fitness Circle® Toning Rings help maintain proper alignment and increase challenge. The Toning Rings are made of NBR covered springs and are weighted to add resistance for upper and lower-body exercises. Use individually or together to add variety to your workout. Check out this Fitness Circle Toning Rings Exercise Guide.

Eco Yoga Mat $59.99 USD


Keep your earth karma in check with this Eco-friendly, biodegradable yoga mat. Stay rooted in your practice on this 3 mm (1/8") yoga mat that delivers cushioned support and a strong tactile grip. Weighing just 2.2 lbs, this lightweight mat is as easy on the planet as it is on your back.

Free of PVC, latex and synthetic rubbers, the Eco Yoga mat is made of non-toxic, recyclable TPE foam and is free of harmful glues. The mat's closed-cell construction creates a hygienic barrier to bacteria. Check out this Eco Yoga Mat Exercise Guide.

Like what you see?

Shop these great products during MERRITHEW’s Black Friday sales event Nov 26-30th for up to 50% off & free North American shipping! Sign up now for early access and a chance to win $250!

All Photography & Content © Merrithew Corporation, used with permission.

Making the switch to LED bulbs

Well good morning peeps, I hope you all had a good Veterans Day this week! 

I've had a rough couple of nights. For some reason, my one-year-old has been waking up like crazy the last couple of nights (her crib's in our room still) and I'm not sure if it's from teething or she might just be going through a phase where she can't sleep. I'm not sure, but I do know that I have to be one sneaky mama when walking into my room at night to try not to wake her. She's by far the most light sleeper of all my children. 

Being sneaky hasn't been easy. You see for some reason I only like to use our bathroom when needed. My husband hates it because he likes to take his time (like most men) on the toilet but mostly because turning on the light at night time can cause Ryan to wake up. That's one of the reason's we've decided to change to LED bulbs throughout the house. I love the fact that we can now change our bathroom to a switch where we can dim the light when needed. 

But that's not the only reason we've decided to change to LED. I mean really?! Have you see the quality and clarity of LED bulbs? I know if you're anything like me and like your makeup, I have to have clear, bright light when doing my make up. There is nothing worse than walking outside in the bright sun and realizing you have streaks or worse on your face because of the lighting in your bathroom. Or what about when you're trying to pluck your eyebrows? Let me just say that LED has been a life (makeup) changer when it comes to clarity. 

Not only do I now get to dim the lights at night when my daughter is sleeping, but I also get to have more bright and clearer light when doing my makeup. Now if you're needed something more concrete to convince your husband I have that one for you too as if sleeping more isn't enought. Wait for it... Wait for it..... 

You SAVE money. What, what!!!! Who can look into buying something and not get it when you find out that in the long run it can save you money? I know with my husband, saving money is a big deal. Ok with me too but I was more concerned about the dimming and brightness. Please take a look into this and see how amazing it can be for your home. 

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