our stress free roadtrip adventure with kidsIn 2013 we successfully road tripped to Myrtle Beach with the girls. A well-planned 5 hour trip that didn’t leave us zapped of energy afterwards. We stayed in Myrtle Beach around Christmas and it was the most relaxing trip I can remember having.

We started out this year with a spontaneous trip down south. Well, we knew we were going to take a trip somewhere between Christmas and the new year but we didn’t know when, or where.

One morning I woke up and checked my phone for cheap flights out of D.C. I found tickets to Orlando for $145 roundtrip, for a grand total of $587 for all of us, including taxes. A steal we thought! We booked it. Besides taking the kids to Disney World was on our bucket list.

Idealistically we assumed we could meet the requirements of backpack travel with small children. Then Ev found a one-week, unlimited mileage, car rental deal on Hotwire for $185! That meant we could travel at our own pace, stop at different cities, and not be restricted to airport food, security searches, and harried children and save $600? We couldn’t pass that up. We ditched the flights and reserved the minivan.

I confess; I’ve been hating on the minivan life, but it is AWESOME! We prepaid a spacious Chrysler Town and Country from Enterprise. Loaded with a rearview camera, a dvd monitor, numerous AC adapters, iPod connection, it even had an outlet!…the works! Did I mention the space? I will never overlook the ability to access the back from the passenger seat, to adjust audio to “back or front only” so Ev and I could have a conversation over the 20th viewing of The Lion King, or play music in the front while the kids slumber in the back; oh! And the girls having their own separate seats (Olivia couldn’t snatch things away from Ellie) with space in the middle to access our luggage, snacks, the kiddie potty, and the craft/toy basket in the rear. The minivan life is bliss.

The kiddie potty was a lifesaver. An idea I got from my mother in law. One day she asked me how we manage when the girls need to use the bathroom when we are out and about. I matter-of-factly told her we just stop wherever we can and let them use the restroom. Then she went on one of her usual OCD rants about how unsanitary public restrooms were, and we assured her that we lift the kids up, so they don’t sit on/touch the seat. Still this wasn’t a satisfactory answer…leading to her suggesting that we put a potty in the trunk for the kids. A potty in the trunk?? For what??! And how would I discreetly use said potty pulling it out the trunk and all? I brushed it off, smiled, and chalked it up to a “Julianism,” a term for all my mother-in-law’s old-school, old-country ways.

Her trick worked.

It was genius, really.

Unlike our trip to Myrtle beach which took an extra 3 hours because of all the potty stops, we were right on schedule this trip. We stopped on the side of the highway, let the girls pee in the potty in the back (the windows were all tinted for privacy), emptied it out, rinsed it out, and we were on our way!

We planned to stay on Hilton Head Island for one night, do a day-trip in Savannah the next day and make the easy four-hour trip from there to Orlando.

hilton head, SOUTH CAROLINA

WestinHiltonHeadIslandHiltonHeadFamilyRoadTrip2015 Road Trip Tips:

  1. Three DVDs are enough to keep the kids engaged for a 12 hour trip. My kids watched the Lion King, Frozen, and episodes of Olivia for our whole trip. I also downloaded all the Tinga Tinga Tales episodes for the girls on the iPad. That show is their new obsession and I adore the modern spin, graphic design on old African animal tales. The iPad bought us time in the hotels, especially in the mornings when Ev and I were catching up on some zzzz’s.
  2. Red Box stops are also an option. They are nation wide and you can return dvd’s to any one! If we didn’t have our videos we would’ve used that option. Now I have a reason to stop by the cheap DVD bins in Target, too. I can buy and save for future road trips.
  3. When they weren’t watching DVDs they were doing some puzzle or craft from the toy basket. I stocked that cheap, from the dollar store. kinetic sand and sand toys, puzzles, a hard surface or lap tray, books, crayons, coloring books.
  4. Take a small rice cooker. All of the resorts we stayed at had kitchens. Our minivan had an outlet. Mama was cookin’! I packed Earth Balance butter, in our cooler along with the water, homemade ginger lemonade, chickpea kale salad, bread, fruit…I could cook rice and dress it with butter for the kids. I could also make oatmeal, or cream of wheat in the morning. Don’t judge me. lol. I wasn’t paying for overpriced oatmeal, fruit, or some other stuff we didn’t care for. Besides, the last thing I needed was for Olivia to have an allergic reaction to some dish unknowingly cooked in peanut oil or something. Ugh!
  5. Snacks, snacks and more SNACKS. Put them all in an accessible basket.

FAmilyRoadTripTipswithSmallChildren

The kids LOVED road tripping! Ellie had her legs-crossed and eyes glued to the DVD screen or busy with a craft.

Road trips are economical, and can be fun if planned well. It will definitely be part of my mix in my grand scheme of seeing the world with my family.

Hilton Head is a beautiful place, even though it was just warm enough to walk the shore and chase sea gulls, it was peaceful. Especially during the off season.

Cant wait to share more from our #RoadTrip2015. Next up, Savannah, Georgia!

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