Yesterday we left Kansas City to see my sister and her family in Virginia!
My kids have never seen the beach (except for Wiggles when he was 11 mos old) so everyone was pumped up…but it started with an 18 hour drive. 18 hours with 4 kids! I knew I needed to prep.
I’m not a pro at all on traveling with kids, but I know that any good road trip has lots of snacks and games. So we went to Costo to load up on food. I contemplated bringing a cooler but decided that would be too much trouble, so we ended up with a variety of prepackaged snacks like fig bars, animal crackers, granola bars, pretzels, cheez its, etc.
Next I went to Five Below and Amazon to find travel games. I spent a fair amount of money here, but my kids range in age from 3-11 so I needed a variety of things to keep each of them busy. The biggest hits for the little kids ended up being the Water Wow books and scratch art (and a kindergarten work book for Wiggles, he loved that thing), while the big kids liked magnetic checkers and travel Bop It. We also went to the library and checked out about a dozen movies and even a few audio books, which the kids ended up liking for short periods of time in between other activities. We put both the snacks and the games in big plastic bins and let the kids access them pretty much at will, though we did have to cut Miss Diva off from the fig bars or she would have eaten every last one in the first hour!
(Sorry for the low picture quality- I took these on my cell phone at 11:30 PM in my car parked in the hotel parking lot…)
Finally I went all Pinterest mom and put together a travel journal for each kid. They each included notebooks and a pencil pouch stuffed with pencils and pens, crayons, dry erase markers, tape, glue sticks, and scissors. The Husband thought I had gone off my rocker for packing glue sticks, but they kept 3-year-old Sassypants entertained for a solid hour, which is totally worth a few minutes of pick up as far as I’m concerned! The big kids journals also included maps, an itinerary, and various road trip games I found online…tic tac toe, license plates, would you rather, scavenger hunts, etc. (If I were a good blogger I’d post links, but I’m just an average blogger with limited blogging time, so get Googling!). I put all the games in sheet protectors so they could use the dry erase markers and play again and again. The problem with that was that they erased very easily, so if they wanted to take a break and finish the game later, their previous work would be gone…so if I do journals again, I think I’ll just print multiple copies. The biggest kids were not that into their journals so they barely looked at them, but the little kids loved them- kind of the opposite of how I thought it would work! My little kids are very creative and spent a lot of time drawing, taping, etc. I did most of the driving so didn’t play with them much; I think if I had engaged my big kids in the games they would have been more into them.
We left Kansas City about 2:30 PM. We didn’t have a plan for when we would stop, we just kept driving until we got tired, which ended up being around Frankfurt KY at 1:00 AM our time, 2:00 AM local time. I was surprised at the vast openness of our route (I-70 and I-64); we would go hours without any hotel options- so we had to be strategic about where we stopped. We booked a Best Western and I had reservations when we pulled up; it was a motel with outside entrances. We checked in as the kids were starting to stir, drove around back to the room, and unlocked the door only to find it locked from the inside. We sat there, kids sleepy and Sassypants starting to cry, wondering what to do. The Husband fiddled with the inside lock, trying to push it over so we could get in, when we heard a tired voice say “You’ve got the wrong room!” We quickly apologized and went back to the front desk to find another room. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it bothered me- I mean, what if they came to the door with a gun or something?! Luckily the second room was unoccupied and decently clean, so we settled in for a few hours sleep. In the morning we ate and the kids swam to burn off some energy before we started off for the next 9 hours.
The drive has been very scenic, with the rolling hills of the Appalachian Mountains. We crossed the Licking River and I licked The Husband’s hand to celebrate it. Diva is so sweet; she gets so excited and has the most expressive face, and just loved seeing the mountains, the valleys below, and the clouds settling atop the hills. We talked about the horses in Kentucky, the coal miners in West Virginia, saw the capitol building in Charleston, gawked at the Arch, and sang lots of songs in between. We also made it through six movies! The husband hates to drive and I kind of like it, so I did most of the driving and didn’t take many pictures. (And by not many I mean none at all). I thought the kids got some good ones on the tablet, but after looking through it I realized my sweet children do not have a future in photography.
I have been so proud of the kids this trip! Wiggles and Diva are generally good car riders so I wasn’t very worried about them, but Smiles, Sassypants, and The Husband…not so much. We generally struggle with driving just a short 2 hours, so I didn’t have very high expectations for this trip. But they’ve been well behaved, haven’t complained much, have only fought minimally, and have just overall been rock stars. The snacks and games really helped. I could tell The Husband was getting annoyed at noise levels several times during the trip, but he had the good sense not to say anything.
We switched the dates of our trip after making our lodging reservations, and the place we’re staying at wasn’t available tonight, so we’re staying in a random hotel in Suffolk (where my sister and her family lives) tonight before heading to Virginia Beach tomorrow. The Husband was ready for some quiet, so I dropped him off at the hotel and took the kids to visit with my sister and her husband for a bit. Hopefully the kids will sleep well tonight as we have a full day tomorrow- I can’t wait to see their faces as they visit the beach for the first time!