Ever thought you couldn't possibly take a road trip with your little ones? I use to think the same way until we embarked on a road trip from Massachusetts to North Carolina. We were going for a wedding. My daughter was 4 and my son was not quite 1. We considered flying, but thought how could we ever carry or pack everything we need for the kids to fit onto the plane, plus not to mention the cost!!
So like the natural planner I am. I sat down and mapped out our road trip! I'm not new to road trips but traveling with 2 young kids made me nervous, excited and scared. I had a million in one thoughts; will we have enough snacks, how do we keep our 11 month old entertained, what if we get a flat tire, do we rent a car or take our own? Ultimately we rented a car and made the trip just fine. So here are my tips on where to begin with planning a road trip and what helped us have a smooth ride!
1. Determine the distance: we used map quest and Google to figure out exactly how long of a drive we had ahead of us. 12 hours!! Yes 12 hours!!
2. Determine the best time to travel: once you know the distance and the amount of time it will take to get there figure out when is the best time to leave. We figured leaving at night would be best. 12 hours is a long time but our daughter typically sleeps that long anyway and our son was roughly doing the same. There bed time is 730pm. So we left around bedtime so they could fall asleep in the car. It took them a little while longer to fall asleep than usual because of excitement but eventually they did.
3. Plan out your stops ahead of time: because we were use to road trips and the route we were taking. We planned our gas stops and bathroom breaks ahead of time. We didn't need to stop for food overnight since the kids were asleep and my husband and I snacked on the food we brought to keep awake.
4. Plan your return trip: planning our trip back was going to be the trickier part because we check out of the hotel at 11am and the kids would be up most of the ride. What do we do?? We decided rather than make the 12 hour hike back we would stop in Pennsylvania and take the kids to Sesame Place. This broke up the ride back home and allowed the kids to see/visit another state (one of the great things about road trips). By stopping in Pennsylvania for a few days it gave us some relaxation before the last 6 hour stretch home! And we were able to create some new memories!
5. Book your hotels: we searched for the best hotel deals we could find using the usual sites like orbitz, Travelocity and expedia. The best price though was using a friends and family discount at Fairfield Inn and Suites. The kids loved the free breakfast and the variety was great! We didn't get bored eating the same thing. I love to look for hotels with breakfast included because it's one less expense you'll have to make on the trip. So if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who works at a hotel ask to use their friends and family discount!
6. Plan activities/outings: even though we were going for a Wedding. I researched the best things to do in Fayetteville and Raleigh, North Carolina with kids so that we could take advantage of our trip and create even more memories. We went to downtown Raleigh and visited the Marble's Kids Museum, went to an outdoor shopping mall, a Fantasy Lake Water Park and even checked out a few open houses for fun.
7. Rental Car: We rented a car because we didn't want to put all those miles on our car. And we figured God forbid something were to happen to the car, there's Enterprise everywhere, they'll come get us! The best price we found was through my corporate discount. At the time I was working for Liberty Mutual and we rented a minivan for 8 days for $500.00!! So again if you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone with a corporate discount ask them!!
With all the reservations made, planning done and kids in their car seats we were off on our first long distance road trip and a great time was had by all!