How did you do that with two little ones? A friend of mine asked when I informed her that we were on a 13 days-13 states-family-road-trip back in March. I know it’s already summer but it’s also vacation time for a lot of families. And so, I am sharing this little adventure that we did just in case some of you are wondering what it’s like to take little children on long roadtrips. Well, I had an appointment in Washington DC that week so we decided to turn the opportunity into a family trip. Little Lady was 4 years old and Little Man was a year old. Little Lady had also been bugging us to see “Mr. Obama’s house”. It wasn’t all beautiful weather, in fact we got caught in the middle of a tornado. Unexpected events like that made the trip quite scary but it also brought us closer as a family and made us appreciate the time we had together.
Day 1. We woke the children up quite early in the morning, about 4:30 AM. They were still sleepy but we managed to changed their pajamas to comfortable travel clothes and began our journey from Florida to Georgia, passing through South Carolina and making a stop in North Carolina. We got to Charleston, North Carolina before lunch and went straight to visit the Billy Graham Library. The place is pretty neat. The cafe had some really good food, much to our delight. The atmosphere was amazing and the people/volunteers were friendly, actually super friendly.
Day 2. The next day, we drove up to Washington, DC and stopped by the Philippine Embassy to file my papers. It was quicker than I expected. With time in our hands, we went about town, grabbed some lunch in the bustling DC area and went to visit the White House and the tower before it closed for the day. The flowering trees had just started to bud. We found a hotel just outside of DC.
Day 3. We decided to stay another day in Washington DC so we could take the kids to the museums and the zoo. We had a fantastic experience. Do you know that entrance to the museums and the zoo in the DC area are free? We paid for parking but to think that there was no fee to get into all those beautiful museums was enough to make our day. We enjoyed the tall bridges and tunnels around the town, too.
Day 4. We headed to our next destination – West Virginia. We passed through some beautiful mountain ranges which was a nice surprise. I couldn’t help belting out the old country song, “Country road, take me home to the place where I belong…West Virginia, mountain mama…take me home country road…” as we were cruising the mountainous slopes and dark, seemingly endless highways. We did lose phone connections the whole time we were there. We stopped for lunch and all I could remember is that people were kind.
Day 5. We stopped in Lexington, Kentucky to spend the Sabbath hours. We also thought about going to Ohio since it’s just an hour to get to the closest city. However, hubby noticed that our car’s tire thinned out pretty bad from all the rigid beating it took from the mountain roads. We had to take the car to the shop and had new tires installed. We were excited to see horses but time was getting late.
Day 6. Nashville, TN was our next itinerary. However, we did not know how the children would feel with the long trip. We decided to detour to a quaint little town called, Franklin. We walked the strip of historical homes which was a nice experience.
Day 7. Arkansas. We wanted to try the Hot Springs but had a bit of an interesting experience with hailstorm, etc. It was nice and sunshiny when we got through the welcome sign in Arkansas. We’ve watched the weather channel talk about flooding, so seeing the sun bright and happy that morning was a nice surprise. We were right in the middle of the road when the sky suddenly turned so dark and quarter-sized hail started pounding down our car. We received notifications on our phone warning us of a tornado in the area. All the vehicles had to make a stop because it was too risky to move. We saw a car on the ditch as the water by the side of the road was rising, too. It got so dark, we could not see anything. All we saw were blinking red lights. At that time, all I could think of was pray. We prayed and thought of a plan in case things go out of hand. After 5 minutes or so, the big truck in front of us started moving and we followed carefully. Then all of a sudden, right in front of us was bright, dry road as though nothing happened. Looking behind us was dark, wet, and gloomy. We couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, danger was behind us!
Day 8-10. The night in Arkansas was uneventful. The rain has stopped and so it was a perfect day drive straight to Dallas, TX to meet with family. We celebrated Mom’s birthday and visited our favorite Asian restaurants and shops. Our folks love taking us to the Dallas Arboretum whenever we go see them. It really is a great time to visit the park at this time of year especially with all the tulips budding. It’s very pleasurable to the senses.
Day 11. We left Dallas for Louisiana. The whole state looked so flooded. Water was so high that the trees along the road were 2/3 submerged in water. Rain has stopped but the water has stayed. Some houses and cars were also underwater. We drove through and spent the evening at a hotel there.
Day 12. We passed through Mississippi and Alabama and took pictures of the ship. We spent the night and went to church the next morning in Pensacola, FL. We usually stop by the Naval Air Base but we had recently made a trip there a few weeks back so we decided to skip it.
Day 13. Florida. Home at last. It was a lot of driving and more adventurous-laden than we expected, but it was worth it. Sometimes, we just need to get away from what’s regular and spice things up a little bit by allowing ourselves to go on spontaneous adventures. As we were pulling into our driveway, Little Lady woke up and said, “I thought we were going to stay in another hotel tonight”.
We praise God for His traveling mercies! As much as I enjoy going on adventures, I delight at the thought of being in the comfort of my home, the familiarity of my surroundings and the joy of being able to work in my garden again. Based on our experience, going on roadtrips with children is not much of a difference than traveling with none. It’s all about planning. How did we do it with little children? Here are a few tips here:
- Make Plans. Just like everything else, a well-detailed plan makes things smooth and saves money. Where to stay, what to eat, and how much.
- Travel Light. Make a list of items you need and itemize each one. Pack items in ziplock bags for easy access. We usually have a couple of big traveling bags. One we leave in the car for later use, the other one we bring inside the hotels. The kids have their own little backpacks for their favorite toys and books.
- Leave Early. While the kids are still asleep, we pack up our van and let the kids sleep in until it’s time for us to go. Once we get them into the car, we usually get 3-5 hours of quiet talk.
- Eat Well. We always pack our rice cooker with us, just in case we crave for rice during the trip. For us, it’s a necessity. We are Asians, after all. Eating well is important so we don’t have to go to the drive through all the time and avoid getting sick.
- Rest Well. I know this one is tough when you’re on vacation. We do our best to sleep early to regain some energy for the next day’s adventures, especially when we have to be on the road for hours.
- Get the Kids Involved. One of the exciting things is to let the older children be part of the scheduling process. For this particular trip, our 4 year old wanted to see the zoo. It meant a lot to her. So for the duration of the trip there was no whining, no complaining because she had something to look forward to.
- Be Flexible. At times, other things may come up. Be ready to change to options that’s best for your family. Always be safe.
What are the necessary things you do to prepare for a trip? Please share with me in the comments below.
Thanks for visiting today,