I haven’t been writing much over the last few days as I’m away with my family. We’re driving from New York to Atlanta and stopping along the way all the way down and all the way back up. I have so many posts to write, but I’m determined not to wile my hours away on the computer during this trip. I want to be fully with my kids on this trip, literally and figuratively. Wherever we stop, my son asks me if I’m blogging about whatever it is that we’re seeing, so I’m trying to really be here in the moment and focus all my time and energy on my them and read the three books that I’ve brought along. Of course, as a part-time travel blogger, I am paying very close attention to the places we visit so that I can document our experience here on this blog and on others. But as I heard many bloggers who were at the Disney Social Media Conference tweet so loud and clear a few short months ago say, “We only have 18 summers with our children.” Keeping that in mind, I’m making the most of this trip.
As I gear up to start writing about the places we’re staying in and visiting, I thought I’d provide a few tips on road tripping down south with kids. A lot of people could not understand how a road trip could even be a consideration for us, especially given the fact that we don’t have the easiest kids (who does?) but we decided on this trip early in the year and refused to back down. I know these tips sound like they are being made in gest, but I’m actually serious about each one:
1. Take plenty of food and water in the car, but know that you will not always be able to please each child. Sometimes, when they’re really tired and you missed your window, they won’t want anything. Just wait for the melt-down, it’s coming. As for healthy food and keeping up healthy habits on the trip, good luck.
2. Bring lots of activities in the car – bingo, Tell Me cards, movies, mosaics, books, work books and more. But know as much as you bring and as many verbal games as you play with the kids, electronics rule and your kids will play on your iPhone so much that when you actually need it to make a call, your phone will be dead.
3. Spend time in the car to educate your kids and have real conversations. After a while, you’ll realize that your 9 year-old knows more than you do. Maybe even your seven year-old.
4. Give yourself longer amounts of time to get from destination to destination. Avoid interesting conversations along the way, otherwise you will miss your exit and add time to each leg of the trip. This will happen again and again.
5. If you’re riding with a non-American, expect comments about how much nicer their native countryside is. Deep down, you’ll have to agree, having seen exactly what they’re talking about.
6. Know that if you or your partner/spouse is not American, you will not get what you order at a fast food chain. You will not be understood, so check your food before leaving the establishment. And your change.
7. People are much nicer in the south. It’s not a myth. I love New York. But the truth is that I kind of like getting my ice-tea refills. I like when my son doesn’t want what he ordered and the waiter brings out a new dish at no charge and says not to worry about it. I actually feel more New York than I should on this visit – I talk too fast and I have a loud voice. Hoping my southern soul comes out during the week and gives my family a preview of what I was like once upon a time.
8. Be prepared for your children stay up later than usual. It’s difficult to all go to bed at a reasonable time in one room, unless you’re also willing to go to bed super early while on vacation.
9. Don’t stay at Howard Johnson’s, no matter how much cheaper it is than the other hotels in the area. Enough said. Just don’t.
10. Too much time spent in the driver’s seat will make you crazy. You may start saying things you don’t mean. At that point, switch seats before it’s too late.
Lastly, I just have to say that there are too many Chick-fil-a’s in the south. And there are too many people eating in them. Either they’re not following the news or they are homo-phobic or they are just plain old addicted to the chicken sandwiches. I hope they are just ignorant.