Sunday, July 3, 2016

Road tripping

After thirteen days of travel, the quiet and comforts of home welcomed us with open arms Friday night.  As we pulled into town, Allie exclaimed, "After I go to the bathroom, I'm going to kiss everything in the house."  Emily questioned whether or not she could remember what her room looked like.  While the kids had a fun, interesting adventure, almost two weeks was a long time to be away from home.  Especially considering the travel and moving around that occurred during the second week.



Two weeks ago, we packed up the van and I hit the road for Michigan with the girls, Grammy and my niece.  We opted to drive entirely through the U.S. and not shortcut across Canada, mainly due to the fact that I was traveling with a kid who wasn't my own and didn't have a passport.  I wanted to cover the entire trip of 840 miles in one shot and while it was an extremely lengthy day, we made it.  For the first six nights, we stayed at my grandmother's house.  Mamaw is a collector of sorts and her house isn't very spacious.  We all joked that this became the vacation of lost items, with at least three misplaced items each day.  One afternoon, as the girls were playing a board game, Mamaw called to them from the other room, "Have you all seen Pippi Longstocking?"  Being from the Generation After Millennials, the girls asked, "What does it look like?" thinking that another item had been lost.

So here's an overview of our itinerary:
  • 840 mile drive from Massachusetts to MI
  • 6 nights at Mamaw's house
  • 2 nights at a nearby hotel (Rich was flying in and with only bathroom at Mamaw's, we opted to move to a hotel)
  • 270 mile drive up north
  • 2 nights at hotel
  • 270 mile drive back to Detroit suburb
  • 1 night at hotel near Mamaw's
  • 410 mile drive to Buffalo, NY
  • 1 night at hotel in NY
  • 470 mile drive home
As you can see, there was a lot of movement that last week, but it was all good as it meant we were able to see a bit of Americana.


Thoughts on Road Trips

I traveled by car quite a bit in my twenties.  My friends and I would load up the Volvo, sometimes on a whim, and head off to see our favorite bands.  Now that I'm older with children, and I would have to add tired, the way that I travel by road is different.  I've read all types of tips on the internet when it comes to car travel with kids and my advice is to do what works best for you and your family.  For example, there are several family travelers who suggest hitting the road at night (8:00-9:00) so that the children sleep the entire way.  That obviously works well for their families but wouldn't work for mine because I need sleep as well.  Driving all night while tired wouldn't be very safe for us and also, when do you sleep?  That would just mess everything up.


For the drive to MI, we headed out at 5:30 in the morning.  The kids lost a few hours of sleep, which wasn't too bad.  Unfortunately, I didn't sleep well that night and a bird woke me up before 4:30 so I was much more tired than I had anticipated.  For any other travel during our trip, Rich and I agreed that waking up around 7:00, eating breakfast and then hitting the road seemed to be the best combination.  It didn't give us that head start but there was less grumpiness (adults included.)



I'm a pro when it comes to packing clothes.  Because we were going to be gone for two weeks, I knew I wasn't going to be able to avoid laundry due to the simple fact that the girls didn't have enough summer clothes to get through two weeks.  Well, if they wore a combination of dresses with shorts/shirts, we probably could have made it but due to outdoor activity, they mainly wore shorts/shirts.  While we'd had some warm and even hot days prior to leaving, summer had not fully hit and so the girls had been wearing pants to school half of the time.  As we approached our departure day, I realized that I couldn't even begin to pack because of the lack of clothes.  I was in the same boat as well.  I used to be in the office five days a week so I had no need for a full summer wardrobe.  During one of the last days of school, I spent a few hours at the outlet mall buying summer clothes for all of us.  Luckily, I hit some good sales.

Here's how I packed for the girls:
  • 5-6 outfits (shorts/shirts) each
  • 2 sets of pajamas each
  • 1 bathing suit each
  • 5 pairs of pants
  • Several summer dresses and rompers
  • A hoodie/light jacket for each
We also followed the three shoe rule, which states that when traveling, you should be able to survive with three pairs of shoes.  
  • Sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Flip flops
I cheated and in addition to my three pairs of shoes, I packed my running sneakers.  I ran two loads of laundry (lights and darks) midway through our vacation and we were fine.  



What I would change is all the other bags we had.  I have a small traveling case that I use for toiletries but in addition to that, we had several other bags.  It probably would have been easier to pack the van and move in/out of hotels if I had consolidated the bags into another suitcase.  The girls were responsible for packing their own entertainment and they each have a travel bag in which to do so.  My three decided to bring pillows.  And teddy bears.  And there was even a small, crocheted blanket.  Those pillows took up so much room but I didn't want to deny them that piece of home. 


Welcome Center in Pennsylvania on 90 westbound


Lake Erie in the distance


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