We Love Road tripping.
As a family we love to take roadtrips. They are cheap and you can experience so many interesting things. Take a look at just a sampling of the road trips we’ve taken in the past few years.
A Mother-Daughter Texas Weekend to the Cadillac Ranch
A Mother Son Weekend in Orlando
Spring Break in the Florida Keys
Thanksgiving in Washington D.C.
Our Hurricane Evacucation to Mobile
And of course, we can’t forget our great move from Oklahoma to Georgia.
As you can see, Road tripping is in our blood.
We love to travel and have even more big plans to see the country, learn many things and grow as a family this year. We have several smaller trips planned for this spring and next fall. The one I am most excited about, though, is one monstrosity of a family road trip this summer. The kids are calling it-
“The Big Road Trip Adventure”
Over the next several months I will be sharing with you how I manage, as a single mother, to plan and carry out not just small weekend trips, but a three week cross country adventure that combines a college tour for the oldest with homeschool study for the others and a family vacation. I hope to do it all while considering the needs of my special needs son, and my extremely limited budget.
The first thing we needed to do was create our wish list.
At a recent family board meeting I asked each of us what we wanted to do on vacation this year. I took the top choices of each person and ended up with the following list.
- Samantha wanted to see my brother’s new baby and do a college tour.
- Joshua wanted something to do with Legos and to dig for diamonds.
- I wanted to visit my grandfather (who just turned 97).
- Daniel wanted to go to the zoo and play at the park.
Using these ideas I was able to sketch out a rough outline.
I know there are only a couple of places that truly cater to the Lego obsessed. One of these is the new Legoland Florida Resort in Winter Haven, FL. I also know there are very few places to dig for diamonds and if we truly want to get down to it, there is no place better than the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR. My brother lives in Moore, Ok and my grandfather lives outside Jefferson City, MO.
Samantha wants to get dual degrees in college in Music Education and ASL. This has severely limited her college choices. In fact there are only a handful of colleges that offer ASL at all (my views on the availability of ALS instruction are a whole other post.) The two schools she has narrowed to are Valdosta and Oklahoma State University. We are touring Valdosta over spring break, so OSU was added to our road trip adventure.
Daniel is much easier to please. However, I happen to know that one of the best zoos in the country is the St. Louis zoo. So we added that in.
At this point our map looked a little like this.
In case its too small to read this is 46 hours of driving.
I knew pretty much right away there needed to be more to this. As the initial planning stage continued I also employed the following considerations:
- I wanted this trip to be educational. I plan to use this as an extended part of our homeschool.
- In the interest of saving money, I wanted to take advantage of any relatives or friends I could tap to provide a place to stay.
- There is only so long that my boys will sit in a car without a break.
- I want every single day to have something fun and exciting planned. They should be looking forward to every day of the trip.
- As with everything that involves Joshua and Daniel, planning is key. I want to leave as little as possible to chance.
- My resources are limited. I need to be budget minded.
- Our time is limited. We cannot leave until Sam gets back from her choir mission trip and must be home before band camp starts. Also I have a set amount of leave and cannot afford any unpaid days off.
Many iterations and spreadsheets later, we settled on the following itinerary:
- Day 0 – Leave home after work and drive to Legoland (I call this day 0 because there is no planned activity this day other than driving.)
- Day 1 – Spend the day at Legoland Park. Drive to Lake City, FL.
- Day 2 – Picnic at Ponce De Leon State Park. Drive to my Uncle’s house in Mobile, AL
- Day 3 – Day trip to New Orleans. Mardi gras world. New Orleans kids tour. St. Louis Cathedral. Jackson square
- Day 4 – Day trip to Pensacola. Take in the USS Alabama. Possibly go to the beach.
- Day 5 – Drive to Vicksburg. Take in the Mississippi Petrified forest. Take in the Windsor Ruins
- Day 6 – Take in the Vicksburg National Military Park. Drive to the Diamonds Old West Hotel in Murfreesboro, AR
- Day 7 – Visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Visit the Kadoha Gemstone Adventure
- Day 8 – Drive to Moore, OK. Possibly take in the Chicasaw Cultural Center and/or Action Figure Museum.
- Day 9 – Day trip to Oklahoma State University. College tour
- Day 10 – Day with Family. Visit the National Western Heritage Museum.
- Day 11 – Visit old church. Lunch with friends. Drive to Tulsa, OK
- Day 12 – Drive to Aunt’s house in Jefferson City, MO. See the Winganon space capsule and the 3 corners (stand on 3 states). Tour Fantastic Caverns.
- Day 13 – 4th of July family reunion
- Day 14 – Day trip to St. Louis Zoo. Take in the St. Louis Arch
- Day 15 – Hopefully do the Missouri Penitentiary Tour (older kids)
- Day 16 – Visit the St. Louis Science Center. Drive to the Land Between the Lakes, KY.
- Day 17 – Take in the Elk and Bison Prairie the 1850s working farm and living history museum. Visit the Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory. See the Observatory Laser Show
- Day 18 – Take in the Parthenon in Nashville, TN. Drive to Atlanta, GA.
- Day 19 – Visit the Atlanta Aquarium and Coke World
- Day 20 – Visit the Okmulgee National Monument. Drive Home.
Here is our new updated map
Obviously an itinerary by itself does not make a successful road trip.
This equates to nearly 3,000 miles of driving, not including the day trips to New Orleans and Stillwater. 3000 miles, 3 kids, 3 weeks. Good thing I’m a planner. This may be my greatest planning challenge yet.
Stay tuned in future posts as we begin to hammer out even more details of budgets, boarding, boredom and baggage. In fact, if you subscribe you can be sure not to miss a minute.