Last night, we arrived home from a week-long road trip to drop off Killian at Ave Maria University. (More on how he came to the decision to transfer in my 7 QTs on Friday.) It was an amazing trip; long, bittersweet, and filled with beautiful memories.
But, let's back it up a bit to the word "long".
Chicago to Ave Maria, Florida is a 21 hour drive.
We chose to break it down into a 2-day drive each way. That makes it just bearable. Our 2 high school kids had already started back to school, so they stayed with my parents, while the 4 youngest (and Killian!) came along. Knowing that I would have those younger kids to entertain without the help of fun older siblings, I began furiously pinning road trip ideas back in April, and I found some real gems!
I would love to share my 5 favorite sanity-saving road trip ideas with you today....
1) The dollar store is your BFF. I bought small cookie sheets for each child to use as trays for snacks and activities. This idea proved even more ingenious when I found magnetic games for the 4, 7, and 11 year old. But, what about 2.5 year old Will? Read on!
2) Magna-Tiles are from Jesus. I have sung the praises of Magna-Tiles before, but I have never loved them more than I have this past week. Will can play with them for long stretches of time, and because they are magnetic, the cookie sheets were the perfect "play table" for them: no dropped pieces! They also were a nice, quiet toy to play with in boring hotel rooms.
3) Pack intelligently. We knew that the first couple of nights we would be moving from hotel to hotel to hotel. I decided that I would pack a couple of outfits for each person into a smaller suitcase, so we could leave the bigger suitcases in the car until we arrived at the hotel with the longest stay. And, always include swimsuits on top! Hotel pools were the perfect way to get kids to work off the restless energy they had built up all day in the car.
4) Take the free breakfast! No matter what, choose a hotel that serves a free breakfast! Aside from the money-saving feature (we figured we saved $42 each day), it's super nice to stumble down from your hotel room to a ready-made breakfast (some of us may have dined in our PJs...).
5) Ain't no shame in bringing a potty chair and a roll of paper towels! Will was at a crucial point -- no turning back! -- in his potty-training when we embarked on our trip and hadn't yet mastered "holding it". Having his little potty chair in the car saved us from having to stop eleventeen-hundred times that first day. And, the roll of paper towels sure came in handy as poor Will puked his way through Atlanta on our return trip!
I learned lots of other tricks -- as well as, some ideas that did not work so well -- and I'd be happy to share those if anyone is interested! Just ask away in the combox!
More on the decision, the trip, and beautiful Ave on Friday!