On paper the idea seemed nothing short of crazy. 7 days, 4 hotels, 3 cities, 2 small children, (and a partridge in a pear tree). We turned an out of town wedding invite into a 4 day Disney vacation PLUS a 3 day site seeing tour of the south, ambitious I know. We could have very easily flown in for the wedding only. Just the two of us. A weekend WITHOUT the littles. Instead we chose to embark on an epic road trip adventure.
DISCLAIMER: This trip was NOT void of disappointment, crying, miscommunication or moodiness. We had setbacks; rental car contract mishap, missed reservations, and unexpected weather. BUT – despite all the chaos – this trip bonded our family. It brought us back together in a way I didn’t even know that we needed.
Here’s what I learned:
- Your focus shifts back to family. My family is always my top priority, but when your life is filled with cooking, laundry, cleaning, work, schedules, practices, and homework, the ‘family fun’ time unfortunately takes a back seat. We were so wrapped up in our usual routines that we actually hadn’t spent real quality time with each other in awhile. Exploring, laughing, running, talking, joking; I didn’t realize how badly we needed to relax and simply enjoy each other’s company.
- You are FORCED to work together and problem solve. We arrived to Disney in the pouring rain. Do we get out? Stay in the car? Wait it out? Go back to the hotel? Leave a day early? My husband and I, even after 12 years together, are not perfect communicators. This trip forced us to work on issues that normally we could skirt under the rug. We had to be decisive together. We had to talk out situations together. We had to play tetris with our suitcases every other day together. After returning from the trip we had big life changes come our way. We were more suited to handle everything because of what we had gained on the road together.
- Without everyday distractions, you notice the little things. The goofiness of my son, my daughter learning to clap, my husband belting it out to Moana songs. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was able to pay attention to things that go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I hope you’ll take this crazy idea and RUN with it. Explore a new place. Pack all the essentials (see below). Make an itinerary (but be flexible). And most importantly – enjoy each other.
Lastly, a few of my tips if you’re planning on taking a road trip with your littles this summer:
- Make snack bags for EACH day. Some of my favorites include: fruit pouches, dehydrated fruit, yogurt raisins and teething wafers. I prepared one big bag for each day.
- Leave a bag of extra clothes in the car. My crew travels in comfy clothes. Depending on when you get to your destination, your hotel room may not be ready for you. Instead of digging through the giant suitcases, I had a separate bag of clothes in the back seat. We changed in rest stops or hotel bathrooms. This allows you to make the most of your exploration time.
- Invest in a few NEW car toys/books.
- Allow your child to be the photographer. How many times on this trip will your child hear, “Look at me! Smile! Stand over there. Look this way. Smile!” ? FLIP the script. Let your children capture something that’s important to them. We’re currently “scrapbooking” (and I use that term extremely loosely) his pictures from our trip.
Do you have any road trip essentials I forgot? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your ideas!