When I woke up on Dec 28 we still had not had any sort of accumulating snow for the year. To me this is great. I am not a fan of winter. I don’t ski or go sledding and I don’t mind mild weather for Christmas. Yes snow on the trees is pretty for a day or two, but my life would be fine without it.
When I woke up on Dec 29 we had just under 13.5 inches. Seriously overnight we had 2 months worth of snow (and not even a snow day for the kids since we are on Christmas Break.)
Mostly this much snow just makes me wish the vacation countdown would move faster and it gets me longing for that 20+ hour drive to the fun and sun.
People ask all the time how and why we drive. The why is easy. With a family of 5 the cost savings can pay for the vacation itself. Just for kicks I just looked up prices to Orlando on Expedia. The lowest price flight is currently $610 with an o.k. departure time but not arriving til 530 PM (we have now missed half of the first day of vacation) and we would have to leave Orlando at 9 am (that doesn’t work well with a teenager) AND a layover in Chicago- I am not a huge fan of O’hare and do whatever I can to avoid- which for 2 plane tickets is worth paying more but for 5- YIKES. I wont even start on it not being my choice airline… Anyway at 610 times 5 passengers we are at a total travel cost of $3051. The last time we drove my Suburban (July 2014) gas prices were an average of $3.40 per gallon. We spent an actual dollar amount of $693.44. We spend an average of $115 a night on hotels. The drive is completely doable with only one stop which would be $230 total. That’s a total of $923.44 travel for a savings of $ 2127.56. Gas prices are lower now and we have a mini van that gets better gas mileage so we potentially should save even more.
Yes if we would have booked flights further out they probably would have been cheaper.
Scott and I also enjoy the quality time we have together. Time to talk and catch up on life. Play the alphabet game, look for state licence plates, see the country.
But the bigger question is probably how. How do you do it with 3 kids.
- Be prepared. Have snacks and drinks. Games, activities, movies, headphones, books, pillows, blankets. Make sure DVD players and handheld games are charged and that you bring the chargers. Headphones for everyone- may be the single most important thing you pack. Do your best to make them easy to get to.
- Snack and drinks should be handy. Snack size bags and individual portions. It’s nice to have some healthy options as well. Eating on the road can grow old fast. By the time vacation is done you wont even want to look at fast food so pack some healthier options to alternate with the easy options. I think to have veggies and dip, fruit, sausage and cheese salsa and guacamole all packed in individual containers A small cooler with drinks that can be easily opened is great too.
- Be willing to make stops. Kids are kids they will need to use the restroom, and probably at different times. Stop at rest areas- typically a faster stop- but also a great place to burn some energy. Take advantage of gas station stops. Everyone uses the restroom whether they need to or not. Also let the kids get a snack (or slushie) once in awhile.
- Bring along paper towel, wipes and hand sanitizer. There will be spills and messes. Even my neat teenager spills on herself. Hand sanitizer is great for that gas station that you normally would not have stopped at but the crying 8 year old couldn’t wait any longer so you had no choice to stop at. There is always one and it’s nice to have in the car to use once you have washed your hands and still don’t feel clean.
- Take an alternate route. We have tried this a couple times. It changes the scenery and allows you to see more of the country and some times discover things you would not have seen before, but we typically prefer our normal route and knowing the stops we can make.
- Take the time you need. If you don’t think you can drive for 19 hours (with your stops) don’t. Those last few hours could be horrible. If you only want to stop one night figure out your half way point and if you get farther than that great. Or figure out what time you want to get to your destination and go from there. If you have an extra day plan a stop along the way. If we only stop one night we like to head out at 4 or 5 am and drive until 11 pm or 12 am. It’s a ridiculous long day but once the kids are asleep it seems to get easier for us again. This is definitely not for everyone.
- Don’t set your expectations to high. Siblings will fight. They will not pass things back to the other. They will also get along surprisingly well. Then they will gang up on each other. Then it will happen all over again. They will also need you to hand them millions of things-just expect that.
- If you do stop at night try to give yourself some time to relax. Put the kids to bed and spend a few minutes unwinding. We have spent many nights in the hallway outside the hotel room doing this. Even if its only a short time it really helps us. Pick a hotel with a good continental breakfast if possible. A good free start to the day always helps.
- Expect delays. There is something to be said about being planned and knowing you have a hotel to stop at for the night, especially during high travel times. But every time I do this we have a huge traffic delay that puts us 2 hours behind and we end up driving longer than we like because we are passed our cancellation window. For this reason we like to pick our destination and book a room about 2 hours before we are ready to stop.
- Take lots of fun pictures along the way.
- Enjoy your time as a family. That’s what vacation is about.