So, we have been home now for a week (we arrived home LATE last Wednesday) and I am SO excited to finally get around to sharing our small town kids // big city travel series with you! If you are brand new to this blog, here is the scoop: our small town family of five from Tennessee recently took a five day road trip to NYC with my best friend, her husband, and their two gorgeous girls. Five kids. One seven year old, two four year olds, and two three year olds.
I asked if y’all had any questions about traveling with kids last week on the blog’s facebook page and you guys and gals came up with some great ones! Today I am tackling the brass tacks of being in the car a LONG time with children, staying in hotels, getting good rates, etc.
Beth asks: “I would love to know how to get the best deal – hotel, transportation, food.
Also, what are you actually able to see on a short trip (logistics of getting around)?”
Jennifer asks: “Of course there are questions, you visited 5 states, in a car, with 5 kids! You all sound like super heroes! Did you take multiple vehicles? How in the world did you fit kids and luggage and strollers inside, neatly? And speaking of your proposed question, what did you do to prepare? Did you pre-pack plenty of snacks? And not to be too nosy, but I’m freak about finances, so of course all I see are dollar signs in this trip, I’m sure you all did this reasonably but I’d love to hear your secrets!”
We did not tell the kids until two days before we left. Why? Because if you tell them we are going to the PARK a day in advance they drive you bonkers crazy about it. So, as soon as we let them in on the secret, Eden pulled out an atlas and began charting the course. On the way there, we drove from Tennessee to Virginia (about a 4-5 hour drive), woke up the next day and drove from Virginia to Pennsylvania (about the same amount of driving) and we visited the Hershey Factory in PA (more on that later!), and then the third day we drove from Pennsylvania to NYC. And yes, I drove in NY traffic. And it honestly was not as bad as I made it out to be in my head. Everyone is a pretty terrible driver there. SO I fit right in.
The kids did really well in the car. (Blessed. And BLOWN AWAY, if I am being honest). I did not plan a bunch of toys or coloring pages, but the drive was so pretty, we honestly just talked the whole time, or napped, or snacked, or watched DVDs we borrowed from the library.
We drove through SIX states in all. On the way home (last Wednesday) we drove a STRAIGHT fifteen hours. Total miles on my van from the trip as a whole? 1,545 on the ol’Kia. And we were never more excited in our lives to see THIS sign:
A few things: choose hotels that serve breakfast. Hampton Inn hotels have amazing breakfasts, including eggs, ham, breakfast potatoes, bagels, cereal, juice and coffee for no extra charge. And the COFFEE is pretty much 24/7 downstairs. And it is SO good. This means that you only have to pay for two meals that day instead of three. If you stay in a hotel that does not serve breakfast, pack granola bars and fruit. Keep in light and inexpensive. Search for good rates online and don’t be afraid to call and simply ask. Gas prices are lower than they have been in years, so that greatly contributed to the price savings on this road trip.
Also: on the road? Bring a cooler. With ice. I took out the seat in the middle row of the van for extra cargo space. Put lots of waters and other drinks so you are not paying 5 billion dollars for a 20oz Sprite on the streets of New York. The final hotel had a KEURIG so we packed coffee pods and disposable travel cups and creamer that I put in the hotel fridge. Pack small lunches like Lunchables, portable fruit, like GoGosqueez or Buddy Fruits and grown ups things like
Lunchables grown up wraps and DRIVE. Just drive, baby.
And yes. Those are my children on a luggage cart. Also? Traveling for five days in a car with five humans means we packed pretty much every article of clothing we own. I packed the kids’ clothing in one suitcase and my and Brandon’s clothing in the other. Here is the secret: DO LAUNDRY IN THE HOTEL:
That’s right. Once we arrived at hotel #2 (Pennsylvania), we grabbed that bag of quarters and laundry detergent we packed, and Tasha and I had late night talks in the laundry room while our clothes hit the reset button. Now we had enough clothing to get through the trip!
Want to know the sights we saw in NYC and how we navigated the city with so many littles? That post is tomorrow!