7 Fun Tips for a Long-Distance Road Trip

road trip

As 2020 vacation plans were canceled across the country, many have turned to the good old-fashioned road trip to get away even if just for a few days. Whether you are traveling for a quick overnight trip or for a longer period of time, it’s important to make the drive part of the experience!. Keep reading for tips to make your long-distance road trip fun for everyone involved.

  1. Take lots of photos. Road trips can be filled with the wackiest of memories. Either with your phone or your fancy camera, document everything. From each state line sign, you pass to the wacky roadside taco stand you find, to the beautiful pull-off view that you stumbled upon by accident, taking photos will help you to remember it all.
  2. Listen to a podcast or an audiobook. This is the perfect way for everyone in the car to stay entertained together in a group activity, even the driver! If it is an especially long trip, have everyone in the car download a podcast or audiobook that they want to share prior to sendoff. It will be fun and eye-opening to listen to what your family members or friends pick out. Don’t forget to have a group discussion about the content after you finish, that’s the best part!
  3. Along the same lines, it can be fun to learn a new language as a family. There are plenty of apps or even CDs that you can play for the entire car to learn something new.
  4. Bring a frisbee, football, or soccer ball to burn off some energy when you make your pit stops. You can also get your blood pumping with stretches, jumping jacks, or burpees. Use an app like iExit or Playground Buddy to make the most out of your stops.
  5. Be flexible. Of course, you will want to plan your final destination, overnight stops, and must-see attractions along the way. But you should also leave time for spontaneity. If a weird sign or billboard piques your interest, why not see where it leads? Stopping at random places along the way will add to the memories.
  6. Have a road trip picnic. The temptation to grab a snack or a bag of candy at every gas station, as well as to eat out at restaurants or pick up fast food, can really add to the cost of your trip. It can also add to your waistline! So load up on snacks, drinks, and even premade portable meals before you leave. Find a rest stop or scenic pull off to stop at and eat along the way. The Roadtrippers app can help you find the perfect spot.
  7. Bring car activities like art supplies, decks of cards, or magnetic games for the kids. Or make up a scavenger hunt with items on the list they can cross off when spotted.

Road trips can be unpredictable, so don’t forget to laugh at even the messy moments along the way! Take a break from “real life” and enjoy each moment on your road trip to the fullest with those you love. And if you find your road trip destination becomes a new moving destination, keep Zippy Shell in mind! 

How to Build a Vegetable Garden at Your House

woman gardening

As we are all spending more time at home this summer, it may be the perfect time to start your first at-home vegetable garden. Gardening can bring a sense of order and calmness to the chaos of the year 2020. It is a fun activity that the whole family can get involved in to make the long days at home go by just a little bit faster. Plus, the end result is yummy home grown vegetables that will help boost your immune system!

Select and clear the area for your garden. The goal is to select enough garden space to meet your needs without taking away from your ability to enjoy your backyard with your family. You also need to take into consideration which vegetables you plan on growing as some plants take up more space. And don’t forget to check for sunlight. Most vegetables and herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Once you have selected your spot, make sure the area is free of grass, debris, and leaves. Dig or till up the soil before planting to freshen it up as well as allow roots to penetrate the soil more easily. Another popular idea is to use raised planting beds. They allow for a longer growing season with better drainage and fewer weeds.

Fertilize your soil. The more fertile the soil, the better your vegetables will grow. Unless you are purchasing pre-fertilized soil, most soil will not contain the nutrients that your garden needs to thrive. The only way to truly determine the level of nutrients in your soil is to test it. These are usually available for free or at a low-cost from your local cooperative extension.

Choose your plants. You want to select plants that will grow well in the area where you live and in the space that you have available. Of course, if you won’t eat it and you don’t have anyone to gift it to, there is no reason to grow it in your vegetable garden! When you are planting, make sure to give each plant room to grow.

Add some mulch. Applying a layer of mulch that is 2-3 inches deep around each plant will reduce weeds and reduce moisture loss through evaporation. If you use an organic mulch, such as bark, compost, or cocoa bean shells, it will nourish the soil as it decomposes.

Keep your garden watered. A rule of thumb for watering is that plants need around one inch of water per week during the growing season. Sunny, windy conditions dry out soil more quickly than cool, cloudy weather. If you are still not sure, feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Attract the birds. For some natural pest control, incorporate birdbaths or birdhouses into your yard. Birds will help control the pests that frequently attack gardens, all while leaving friendly insects such as spiders or ladybugs alone.

We’d love to hear from you! Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community what you and your family are growing this summer.

Dog Breeds that are Great for Small Homes

dogs

Zippy Shell knows that pets are part of the family! If you are a dog lover living in a small home, we have good news for you. There are plenty of dog breeds that will thrive in small spaces. It is not just about the size of the dog, but also about their temperament. A dog’s energy level, noisiness, and even friendliness need to be taken into consideration if you are living in a small space that is in close quarters to your neighbors, as is the case with apartment living. Check out the breeds below that will adapt to your space and steal your heart!

French Bulldog

They are bred to be smaller than their standard Bulldog cousins, so they’re perfectly suited to a small space. A brisk walk each day will sufficiently keep them in shape, and they rarely bark. As a bonus, they have short hair that doesn’t need much grooming.

Yorkshire Terrier

These precious pups are the perfect size for a lap dog. They are easy to train, hypoallergenic, and they only require short walks for daily exercise.

Greyhound

Although on the larger side, they only need a little bit of space, enjoy naps, and they love short bursts of exercise. These beauties are loving, affectionate animals that enjoy a good snuggle and don’t bark very much. Plus, there are many retired racing Greyhounds that need homes!

Bichon Frise

These cuties are in the poodle family but much more petite. Bichons learn quickly and love just about everyone. They don’t drool, bark, or shed very much, but their social nature will require a lot of playful attention.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs love to cuddle and become very attached to their owner. Their size is just right for small spaces and they are very easily trained.

Pugs

Squishy faced pugs are playful and loyal pets. Due to their inactivity, quietness, and size, they make a good pet for homes of any size.

Dachshund

Dachshunds are the smallest of the hound dogs. They are joyful, lively, and have the cutest personalities. Their short legs allow them to be exercised entirely indoors, if needed.

Maltese

They are affectionate dogs who become very attached to their owners so you will have a constant companion! Another bonus is that they have no undercoat so they are not shedders.

Poodles

Toy and miniature sized poodles are a good size for a small space. They are intelligent, easy to train, and hypoallergenic.

As you are searching for a lifelong companion, it is important to remember that every dog is an individual. Put in the research time to carefully pick a pet that will fit your home, lifestyle, and personality.

5 Grilling Tips For Your 4th of July Barbecue

Grilling

With most parades and firework shows canceled across the country, 4th of July is going to look a little different this year.  Fortunately, we are still able to celebrate with our families at home. If you are planning to barbecue with your family for Independence Day, check out some of our favorite grilling tips.

PREPARE YOUR MENU AND SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Don’t wait until you are about to get the grill fired up to make sure you have everything you need. Stores are generally packed and out-of-stock on classic 4th of July foods and supplies, so make sure you get stocked up beforehand. Check your propane tank or charcoal supply in advance as well. Plan your menu and do your shopping a few days before.  If you plan to marinate your meat, get that ready the night before. It is also important to take the time to make sure your grill and all the grates are clean and ready to go.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Try to not overwhelm yourself with a complex menu. The more variety that you have, the more you will have to keep up with. It can be hard to cook multiple types of meat and veggies at once if they require different temperatures and cooking times.

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ACCESSIBLE

You should have all your tools and supplies that you are going to need nearby and accessible—clean pans to put the food in once cooked, a meat thermometer, spatula and tongs, aluminum foil, and a spray bottle in case of flare-ups.

JUST LET IT COOK (NO SQUEEZING)

Once you get your meat cooking, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. One common mistake is pressing down on the meat and squeezing out the fat, which will drip down causing flare-ups. The goal is to keep the fat in the meat, so don’t press down on it! Try to keep your flipping to a minimum as well.

REST YOUR MEAT

Once your meat has reached the appropriate temperature, allow it 5-10 minutes to rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it nice and moist. We know it is tempting to jump right in once the food is done, but trust us, this extra time will make a difference.

ENJOY!

Grilling out is a favorite pastime for a lot of us, especially on celebratory days. We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. If you have any other grilling master tips, we’d love to hear them! Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and the rest of our Zippy Shell community.

If you have an upcoming local or long-distance move, or you are in need of mobile storage, give us a call at 888-947-7974. We would be happy to talk with you and provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate. You can also use our website to reserve your move at your convenience.

3 Steps to Setting Up a Home Gym

home gym

Around the country, gyms have been forced to either close or drastically make changes due to the pandemic. This may have you entertaining the idea of working out from the comfort of your very own home gym. If setting up a home gym seems like a daunting task, let us be your guide.

The Space

Find a space in your home that you can dedicate to workouts. It doesn’t have to be a lot of space. You can actually exercise in an area as small as 6’ by 6’. Utilize a spare bedroom, office, garage, or even a back porch or patio. If space is limited, the key is to pick workouts that don’t take up much room. Pushups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jump roping, and yoga don’t require a ton of room, yet still, produce results. As much as possible, clear your exercise space of clutter and distractions. Adding a mirror is a helpful tool for feedback on your form during exercises and it will help your exercise area feel larger than it actually is! Stock the area with towels, water bottles, a Bluetooth speaker, and anything else you might use during your workouts.

The Equipment

You don’t have to buy everything all at once. Start with a few key pieces and then gradually build up from there. Here is a list of simple, multi-purpose equipment to get you started:

  • Exercise mat – An exercise or yoga mat makes floor exercises way more comfortable, especially if you are exercising on a hard floor. A mat can save your knees while doing stretches or push-ups and save your back during core work.
  • Jump Rope – A simple jump rope can provide you with a fun way to warm up and increase your stamina, endurance, and coordination.
  • Resistance Bands – This is an item that is often overlooked in the gym, but resistance bands are easy to store and very versatile. You can use resistance bands to increase flexibility, promote better form, build up your strength, and they are a great way to add an extra challenge to everyday exercises.
  • Kettlebells – A kettlebell’s weight is not distributed evenly like it is with dumbbells. This means kettlebell exercises are going to require a strict and controlled form and body mechanics which will improve your overall performance. Use these power horses to improve overall strength, core power, balance, flexibility, and coordination while also sculpting healthy and lean muscles. 
  • Stability Ball – Using a stability ball in your workouts forces you to focus on staying stabilized on the ball. This triggers core muscles, as well as stabilizer muscles, helping to improve muscle strength and posture.

The Routine

Due to stay-at-home orders, you can find a TON of live-streamed exercise routines right now. Many utilize just your own body weight to get fit. Check out this list of easy at-home exercises you can do today!

When setting up your home gym, you may find the need to remove and store furnishings or other home items. Zippy Shell is still here and working to cover all your moving and storage needs. We can easily store the stuff you don’t need right now to help you stay fit at home.

6 Tips for a Successful Virtual Meeting

Virtual Meeting

As many of us have been working from home, virtual meetings are becoming more common than ever before. For some, this is a tool that has been used even before we were social distancing. For others, it is a brand-new territory. We have seen many mishaps making the rounds on social media, and even Saturday Night Live released a parody of a virtual meeting gone wrong. Take a look at some tips we have found useful in running a virtual meeting.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

If you are new to video conferencing don’t expect it to be perfect the first few times. There are a lot of moving parts in this type of communication and it can take an attempt or two to get it down. Take some time on your own to test the video conferencing tool and get familiar with the different tools it offers.

BE PREPARED

Before you start your virtual meeting, you should ensure that you have everything you need within reach and your laptop or phone is working as needed to avoid any technical issues. You also want to make sure everyone else in your household is aware of your meeting and set expectations for noise levels and interruptions. Another good tip is to make sure you schedule your virtual meeting far enough in advance that your colleagues have time to get set up on their end.

BE CLEAR WITH EXPECTATIONS

It can be mortifying to show up to a meeting and be put on the spot if you are unprepared. Before the meeting, send out an email to your colleagues with a detailed agenda of what needs to be discussed or any questions that need to be answered. If each person is responsible for a certain assignment, include that in the email as a reminder. This will allow each person logging into the meeting to be fully prepared.

CRYSTAL CLEAR OBJECTIVES

Before the meeting is over, make sure nothing was left out. Someone should take and email notes that include everything discussed and everything that has been assigned to each person. This will allow everyone to have a concise list of expectations and objectives for the upcoming week.

ESSENTIAL STAFF ONLY

It can be tempting to invite everyone in the office but keep the virtual meetings for those that need to be there. Not everything requires a video call and can be done more efficiently over email. If you have several people on the call that have nothing to do, or the information is not relevant to them, you can leave them out of the meeting.

LOOSEN UP

While it is important to maintain a professional environment even when video conferencing, there is some wiggle room. In a regular work environment people can chat and catch up with each other, so there is nothing wrong with setting some time aside at the beginning or end of the call to find out how everyone is doing and coping at home.

Don’t forget Zippy Shell is ready to answer your call with any questions about local or long-distance moving and storage. Give us a call at 888-947-7974 for a free quote today!

10 Ideas for Family Fun at Home

kids

If you are looking for some different ways to have fun with your family while self-isolating, look no further! We have all been getting stir crazy over the past month, but we have some ideas to make the long days at home go by just a little faster.

Write letters. Many nursing homes and senior facilities around the country have restricted visitors. Help your kids write letters and draw pictures that could be sent to a local nursing facility near you. They will surely help bring a smile to someone’s face.

Have a spa day. Extend an invitation to your family to join you for a day of primping and pampering.  You don’t need fancy tools to have a relaxing day. You can take a warm foot bath using plastic bins. Pull out all your nail polish for manicures and pedicures. You could even follow a YouTube tutorial for a new hairstyle or make a natural face mask using different food items you may already have in the fridge. We hear avocado and honey is great for the skin!

Have a themed movie marathon. Challenge your family to create costumes and snacks with what is already available in your home. For even more excitement, invite your extended family or friends to join the challenge and marathon via videoconferencing.

Learn something new. This would be a great time to learn something new as a family. Whether it is a new language, skill, or craft—if you have internet access—you can choose just about anything.

Start a YouTube channel. Taking videos during self-isolation will be a great way to spend time as a family while documenting the fun times you have together. You can keep these videos private, or you can share with the rest of your family and friends who will likely get a kick out of seeing your family’s shenanigans.

Try a new recipe. With restaurant services limited, we are all spending a lot more time in the kitchen. This is the perfect time to try some of those recipes we have been saving on Pinterest over the years. Let everyone choose a new recipe and make a big meal out of it.

Put on a play. Find an appropriate play that fits the ages of your children and start learning lines! Put together costumes from clothes you already have and spend some time building some background props. You could even write your own play if you are extra creative.

Grow something. If you can find the items you need to get started, planting a garden together can be a fun and fruitful activity. If you are unable to start an outdoor garden, try growing herbs on your windowsill.

Make plans for the future. There’s no question that this has been a difficult time and it’s been especially hard for children who went from seeing their friends every day to being at home. Spend some time together making plans for things you would like to do in the future. It can be as simple as a belated birthday bash on a road trip to a new place.

No pressure. No matter what you and your family do for fun, it’s okay if it doesn’t look like what other people are doing on TikTok or Instagram. The most important thing is your family is safe and happy. Do what comes naturally to you with no added pressure. We’d love to hear from you! Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community what you and your family have been doing to pass the time during self-isolation.