It’s summertime, and summer means vacations! My sister and I are road-tripping across the country…all the way. We are starting our trip in LA then traveling through the southern states to get to Maryland to see our brother and his family. And our parents will be there!
On our journey, we are going through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. We aren’t staying in all these states, some will just be passing through. I haven’t been to 8 of these states, so I’m really excited to cross some more off my list!
With 3 kids in tow, we (well, mostly Claire) have had lots to prepare! I’ve looked up some fun sites to see on the way. I likely won’t post every day on here because we have some loooooong drives ahead of us but I will be posting on Instagram (@flamingoagogoblog) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/flamingoagogo/) daily.
During the long rides, Claire and I plan to compile our ideas about roadtripping, especially with kids. Plus, what we’ve learned along the way, and all the great places to stop! You can follow me on social media and get updates of our trip until I get time to write full posts!
First stop—Los Angeles!
UPDATE!!! Here are some tips that Claire and I compiled on the road.
Plastic baggies or packing cubes are a great way to organize clothes. For myself, I would put 2-3 days worth of clothing into one packing cube that I could take into the hotel each night, rather than my whole suitcase. Sometimes we did need to take them in and repack, but for the most part, I kept all my toiletries, pajamas, electronics and chargers, and a few days clothes in a backpack that I could take in. Claire did the same for the kids, just grabbed a plastic bag of each of them daily and it was easy to get in and out of the hotel quickly. Since she and the kids were gone so long, she also had a large set of plastic drawers, one per kid, with all their clothes. Each day she just could grab a small plastic bag for them to take in. The drawers sort of worked, her bin was a little broken so the drawers stuck but overall, it was easier than a suitcase to use.
Each kid had a kindle that Claire had already downloaded a Spotify playlist on and some movies, all different for each kid. Be sure to look for a Spotify premium deal so you can download music to play offline! She also had several different bins/plastic containers: 1 for all their entertainment (books, kindles, headphones), a small toy bin (with some existing toys and some new Dollar Store toys that the kids picked out before the trip to earn along the way) and a paper bin. I’ll explain more what we had in the paper bin in a bit!
The paper bin had pens and some activities for the kids. For example, we looked up “secret decoder sheets” where they have to solve puzzles to find a secret message. We had large USA maps, and every few states we’d get those out to color where we’d been. We also had versions with the state capitols, which we practiced daily. We had a few versions of road trip bingo. And of course, we had the license plate game! There was a sheet with all the state’s license plates on it and our mom had sent them stickers that were the same. So, each time we saw a new license plate, they could find the sticker and match it to their sheet. By the time we got to Maryland, we saw 48 license plates, plus a few from DC!
Claire had also gotten each kid a tray/basket from the Dollar Store. This was for meals and snack in the car, but it was also for them use when playing with toys (like cars) to keep them from getting lost (in theory). The kids could also flip them over and use them to write on when we had paper out. These were really handy for holding things and keeping the kids’ stuff gathered together.
Each kid also had a drawstring bag that had their blanket, a stuffed animal, and their bedtime stuff in it. Every day, they carried that into the hotel and packed it up the next day to take out. It was really handy to have those ready to go at all times. Because we were staying in hotels, we just had travel pillows instead of regular-sized ones and this was easy for the kids to use in the car too. Claire also packed their scooters and helmets so that they could get some energy out along the way if they were too rowdy for the car!
Claire had a giant plastic bin full of food ready to go, and every few days or so could go through to grab necessities for the next few days. We kept food in some smaller tote bags either up in the front by us or near one of the kids to grab for us when they needed a snack or lunch. It was easy some days for one of us to drive while the other fixed the kids lunch. We had a small ice chest to keep some lunch meat and cheese cold, as well as water; but otherwise we survived off things like beef jerky, protein bars, pretzels, veggie sticks, etc.
We used two websites, Roadtrippers and Atlas Obscura, to find things to see on the highway and in the towns. They have some great ideas and it was fun to find random places so we could give the kids something to look forward to!
A few months before the trip, Claire had bought an annual pass/membership to the Turtle Bay Museum in Redding. To get the whole family in was about $65 and for $15 more, she could become a member, and get into many more museums for free, so of course, she did it! One museum she got in free is in the Bay Area so we took a day trip down there. And then on the trip, we were able to get into so many places for free! It was great-nearly every town we went to had a children’s museum that we could get into at no cost. It was perfect-we were able to get some AC and give the kids time to play somewhere for them. It was really worth it. If you want to know more, let me know and I’ll get you in contact with Claire. Note that membership prices vary for each museum, so it’s worth purchasing at the museum with lower prices!