Along the Way – Reflections on a trip across the country with little ones.

A couple of days ago I took a free and insightful personality test, a knockoff of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The questions were presented in a fortune style and when I came to this one "your travel plans are usually well thought out" –– I laughed out loud. My answer informed the program that I disagreed with them at the highest level. Maybe someday I'll answer that question differently but for now I'm happy to defer most of our travel planning to my kind and organized husband who, I should add, rather enjoys planning our travels. (I say most, because we did happen to recently experience a hilariously terrible AirBnB while in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It happened to also be my birthday. I can laugh about it ........... now. (smiling)

Last month we took our children on a trip that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. You might be tempted not to believe me when I say that the trip was wonderful in nearly every way. (New Mexico made up for in beauty what it lacked in accommodations.) But, I promise you, we would take the trip again in a heartbeat.  As with most things in life, experience was our kind teacher. And, just in case you might find yourself planning such a trip as ours, here are our unsolicited suggestions for it––

Utilize your space. | Initially we thought about purchasing a car top carrier but decided to pare down and forego it. Three storage containers fit across the trunk space of our Odyssey, leaving room for the rest of our luggage and gear to sit on top of them. Keep in mind what needs to go where–– what luggage will you need to take into the hotel each night? What needs to be easily accessed during the day? (Because there's nothing worse than needing something from the trunk when you're sitting in the front passenger seat!)

Plan for your meals and other foods. | The space between the driver and front passenger seat in our Odyssey was the perfect place for our food bag. Truly, I believe that snacks are the key to a successful road trip with little ones! We purchased these stackable, compartmentalized containers and they worked very well. We also purchased a small, soft-sided cooler for milk and other refrigerated items. With the food bag at arm's reach, I could easily fill up a snack/meal tray for our little ones throughout the day. Carrying these items with us eliminated many stops for fast food and padded our budget a bit for our dining out meals. Every evening we looked forward to enjoying a local favorite for a sit down meal. The dinner meals were a few of my favorite stops on our trip; they allowed us to relax, reflect on our day of travel, and, for our children, a chance to move around a little bit.

Be generous with your travel time. | Our children are 7, 5, and 2 years of age. We chose to extend our overall trip to lessen the amount of driving for each day.  On average we traveled four hours every day, with the result of a nine day road trip. We have no regrets for the path that we chose. Hashtag happy babies happy parents happy road trip.

Relax your schedule. |  We've all heard the phrase, "haste makes waste." I think those words can be very applicable to a road trip. We sometimes hurry through so much that we miss the best parts. Choose the later start time, say yes to the donut shop or one last dip in the hotel pool, definitely get mama her Starbucks, and let your husband look up a special coffee shop that's a little bit out of the way–– these seemingly little things lifted our spirits and sweetened our outlook for the long day of travel. On the other hand, don't be afraid to make adjustments when it would be helpful to the overall cause to do so. As we drove through New Mexico, we planned to visit the Aztec Ruins. In the end, we realized it was a bit more out of the way than we had expected and we decided to forego it. Next time!

Plan for your pet. |  We're fortunate that our dear Cal-girl is a seasoned traveler. However, as she is an elderly dog, traveling can easily take its toll on her. Shortly before our trip it came to our attention (pardon the tattling - she's eleven years old and still chews up her bed - we had begun finding chunks of stuffing here and there) that Cali was in need of a new bed; I bought the most padded bed I could find and I believe she was quite happy about it. In addition, we purchased these collapsible food and water bowls. To understate it, they saved the day(s)! Do take a moment to double check your pet friendly hotel's policy. We nearly lost $75 due to a lack of information on a hotel website–– the hotel was pet friendly but upon calling to reserve our room and double check their policy we learned about the $75 fee for pets over 12 pounds. And, if you read my previous post, then you would surely guess that, yes, due to extra snacks, Cali is indeed over 12 pounds.)

People are more important than things. | This is something I say to my babies frequently. (Specifically my boys. More specifically, when they're getting ready to pull each other's hair out over a Lego.) This is something that we tangibly tried to show them while on the road and we were delighted to spend the bulk of our in-between times with friends across the country. We made time for the beautiful and fun tourist destinations and the out-of-the-way scenic spots but far and away our favorite moments were spent with people. If laughter is the best medicine we are as healthy as horses. How good it is to be in the safety and joy of aged friendships.

Choose adventure. | A couple of years ago I came across the phrase, "attitude is the difference between an adventure and an ordeal." I've never forgotten it. May your road trip be all it could be, may you arrive safely at your destination, and may you find joy in the opportunities, in both the expected and the unexpected, along the way.

/1-Nashville night lights /2-driving into Salt Lake City /3-National Arches Park /4-Graeme splashing in the hotel pool /5-desert foliage in Moab /6-Cadillac Ranch /7-Wren Margaret writing "letters" to PopPop and Granna /8-Albuquerque /9-miss pouty pants in, as she says it, "Alquerque" /10-somewhere in New Mexico /11-nearly all of us (smile)


  1. Can I just tell you that I wrote an article on tips for moving when you have small kids yesterday, and yours is so much more helpful! real-life advice, love it, remembering it. Hoping we can see you guys in 2017!

    1. You're so genuinely kind, Shanna. I would love to see your article – I have a hunch I'll be needing some moving tips soon! : )
      I'm hoping we see you soon, too!

  2. Love your pictures, love your tips. And that is a fantastic quote!

    1. I want to print it out in big bold letters for my house –– you are right, it's a fantastic one!

  3. So beautiful, Sarah!....the pictures and the words :)) you've inspired me - I need to start blogging again !

    1. I would LOVE to see more posts from you! : )

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