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Vacation Recap: Day One & Two.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Vacation Recap: Day One & Two.

Now that we're home and slightly settled, I'm ready to start recapping our vacation.

The first two days of our trip were our big travel days, driving 550 miles both days. Both days we ended up spending most of the day on the road and getting into our hotel late at night where usually all of the kids were sound asleep when we got in.

Day one was Minnesota to Elkhart, IN. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express that did the job. Meaning it had beds, a continental breakfast and a shower. It also had a pool but the pool was pretty shady looking so we didn't venture there with the kids.

Day two was Elkhart, IN to Mechanicsburg, PA. And we stayed in a Holiday Inn there. Before we left on our trip the management there contacted me and upgraded us to a beautiful room close to both pools and convenient to the restaurant. They also gave us complimentary onsite mini-golf which was so nice and complimentary breakfast. They had both an indoor and outdoor pool that we took advantage on day three.

The kids did great but it definitely took a lot of preparation.

We have often said our kids are great car kids, and they are, but we knew it would only be a matter of time before they started getting bored, restless and tired.

Add to that Miss E started a horrible diaper rash {her first one ever!} the day before we left.

These are some of the things we did to prepare before the trip that seemed to help us make it:

*I bought lots of fun snacks ahead of time. Things I knew the kids liked but maybe we don't usually buy. For instance, those mini breadsticks and cheese packs and some different cookies and trail mix, granola bars.

*Instead of buying everything in individual sizes, I brought ziploc bags so that I could pour some snacks in a bag and hand them out in the car to each kid. This worked great for dry cereal, chips, puff corn.

*We didn't bring any drinks on the road for us instead everyone (all six of us!) had their own water bottle for the road that we would refill when we would stop. All the kids had milk when we would stop for breakfast and dinner and could have what they wanted (within reason) for lunch. This was one of the best things we did because I can't even imagine how many juice boxes we would have gone through.

*To add a little kick to the bigs water, we brought some Propel and Kool-Aid packs they could pour in their bottles.

*Weeks before our trip I started stocking up on gift cards for different restaurants including McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks, Noodles... It was nice to already have some of the choices made where we would stop and already have it paid for so it wasn't taking away from our vacation budget.

*We have had a travel DVD player for a long time that we typically have put in the car when going up north or on long drives. We decided to invest in a second one that has two screens for H and E up front and then T and M shared the other one in the back. There are lots of mixed-opinions (myself included on that one) on kids and DVD players in the car. We use ours for travel only.

E doesn't watch movies or shows yet but I knew that even if something colorful and musical came on she would at least take some interest, and she did.

*Along that same vein, most states have the Redbox now so rather than packing a bunch of movies we grabbed a couple favorites and then hit up the Redbox on a daily basis across the country. Worked out perfectly and let the kids see some different movies.

*T and M have various electronics including Ipods, DS's etc and then the miscellaneous chargers. Add to that J and my cell phone chargers, camera batteries, computer cords, we had a lot of "junk" that would need to be kept nearby so I packed up one small shoebox size bin with all of the electronic gear (minus the laptop). This stayed between J and my seat and kept all the miscellaneous electronic items we needed along the way.

*I did all of the packing. By choice.

Knowing that we only had the space in our van and how long we were going to be gone (two weeks for J and the bigs, almost three for myself and the littles) I wanted to pack only what we needed.

*I packed one suitcase that was our "travel" suitcase that had everything we needed in it for our "road trip" portion of the trip. Everyone had enough clothing, pajamas and toiletries to make it until Thursday night when we got to Virginia Beach. It was so nice to have it all in one place and only have to worry about getting that (and the pack and play) into each hotel at night.

*Over the last several weeks (maybe even months?) we've stocked up on little surprises for each of the kids to enjoy in the car. When they hit that moment of being bored or cranky we'd have something to pull out. Highlights included: a travel checker/domino game for T and M, a superhero magic marker book for H, magnetic play set for H, a baby doll for E.

H was the easiest to find things for. T and M were mostly satisfied with their movies and electronics so needed less distractions and E was the toughest to think of things for.

A few of the things I packed for E were: an old wallet of mine filled with different cards and pictures for her to take out, rip up and throw around. This kept her busy for hours. Also, a busy book that had buttons, buckles and zippers and a couple old cell phones.

*We had no junk bags. Meaning we didn't led the kids pack up random backpacks of junk. We've done this in the past and they pack all sorts of things they think they might want or need that they never, ever even look at. Each night the only thing left in everyone's seats was their carseat (for H and E) and their pillows (for T and M). Everything else had a home up front with J and I.

*We anticipated stopping a lot. It's inevitable that someone's going to have to go to the bathroom ten minutes after we get gas, or someone's sleeping when we have a bathroom stop and then wake up thirty miles down the road having to go. We knew this ahead of time and went with it.

*J drove the entire thing. Day two as we drove through Ohio he asked me to drive and I did for about an hour. Besides that he drove the whole thing. I had been willing to drive but also had secretly hoped he'd take the lead on it so I had packed plenty of reading material for myself. Including, The Help, which is the best book I've read in a long time. If you haven't read it yet, go read it!

Mostly I think the first two days of our trip went really well. We all got along, we all had fun and laughed as we drove and the kids most of all just really took the big travel days in stride.

We could do it again. And I hope we do.

Disclosure: We paid for our trip ourselves but there were a few things other companies offered to us or took care of for us, I will share those as they come up through this series. Noodles and Company gave us a giftcard for dinner on the road and The Holiday Inn in Pennsylvania upgraded our room and gave us complimentary golf and breakfast but we paid for our room ourselves.


OpenID fritzfacts said...

We are planning a road trip for maybe next summer...bookmarking this post for sure!

So glad the driving went as smoothly as possible. All your ideas are great!

August 16, 2010 at 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Josh Healy said...

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August 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Jenny and Kyle said...

I am seriously going to print that road trip survival list right now and keep it forever! I love it!

August 18, 2010 at 5:41 PM  

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