We recently drove to Florida from our home in Pennsylvania. We did not drive directly to Disney but it was still a 987 mile trip. We decided to try to make it down in one day. If it didn’t work we could always find a hotel in route. We left our house at 4:30 am and arrived at 9;30 pm. I traveled with my mother in law who rode shotgun and ran interference with the kids. We also had 3 kids with us ages 2 (almost 3), 4, and 7. Here is how our trip went.
We moved the kids right into the car in their pj’s around 4:15 am. We tried to get as far as we could before we stopped for the first time. I knew once we stopped it would be harder to get back in the car. The kids fell right back to sleep and didn’t wake up until around 7. Once they woke up I tried to hold off breakfast as long as we could. We packed most of our food and drinks in the car so around 7:30 am we passed them mini bagels with cream cheese or butter. This lead to our first bathroom stop at 7:45am. We were in Virginia already.
Our first bathroom stop was 15 minutes. We have a car potty called the Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus so I had the kids use that while the adults took turns running to the bathroom. It was much faster than taking all the kids in to the bathroom and cleaner too. We also handed out snacks, cleaned up etc. We were stopped for a total of 15 minutes. It was sort of like a race to get everything done and the kids had fun trying to do everything really fast. Before you knew it we were back on the road and we hadn’t wasted much time.
We continued driving for a while until we needed gas. We found a great gas station with a Dunkin Donuts (my favorite) in North Carolina. I put gas in the car while the kids used the potty and cleaned up a bit while my mother in law ran in to use the bathroom and get drinks. By the time she came back I was done with the kids and gas and ran in to use the bathroom too. It was another 15 minute stop!
Back on the road we went. To keep the kids busy we were watching DVDs. In fact a few weeks before we left home I told them no DVDs in the car until Florida. I also purchased/borrowed a brand new collection of DVDs for the kids to watch. I didn’t even tell them how many we had so after the second DVD they asked to watch the first one again. I didn’t introduce a new one until I was sure we needed it and I kept some on reserve for the way home.
Soon it was time for our lunch stop and we had to use the bathroom from all the coffee we drank so we pulled off at a rest area that had picnic grounds. After using the bathroom I had the kids run laps up and down the grassy hill while I made lunch. We ate quickly while the kids ran around. I didn’t make them sit and eat since they could do that in the car. Once they started complaining they were tired and didn’t want to run anymore I figured it was time to get going. They finished eating in the car when we got back on the road. Total stop time was 30 minutes.
We must have ran them hard because everyone (even my non-nappers) fell asleep. A good run and a full belly did the trick. They all slept for a couple hours.
By 4:30pm we were in Georgia and everyone was up and hungry. We stopped for gas and then hit a Dairy Queen for dinner and bathroom. We got some ice cream to go for being such good travelers and got back in the car for the last leg of the journey. This was the longest stop at 45 minutes but we all got a good stretch break that we really needed. We thought we were 4 hours away but it turned out to be 5 more hours.
For the last leg we had to break out a new movie but the kids were so excited once we got into Florida that it help motivate them to hang in there. We were almost there just a few more hours.
Overall it was a great trip and the kids did awesome. We pulled in around 9:30pm and the kids were excited to finally be in Florida. It was a long day but since we didn’t stay up all night driving we were in good shape the next day to get to the pool and have some fun.
The things that helped the most was:
Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus Red – A couple times one of the kids had to potty in between stops and we could do a fast pull over and use our potty. It was much faster then everyone getting out.
Meals in the car – We ate most of our meals in the car until the end of the day and that was a big time saver. We had lots of snack too including apple sauce you eat without a spoon.
It is healthy and helps keep them from constipation from sitting all day. Plus, my kids could eat these without making a mess in the car.
New Movies – I bought some used DVDs from Amazon for under $5 and borrowed some from a friend as well. You could also rent something from Red Box and return it in Florida.
Maps – I made a map of the country with my daughter and we colored every state we would drive through in a different color. As we were driving we could reference the maps to show them how far we have come and what we had left to do. The different colors helped me to tell them about the states since the 4 year old can’t read. You can print out free maps if you want.
I hope these tips help you and you have a great road trip wherever you may be traveling.