I'm no stranger to road trips - as a kid we took two to three each year from South Louisiana to North West Texas to visit family that was still up there. So now that Chloe is a little older I figured this was the perfect time to plan a big one for the three of us.
This was our Plan! From as far South Louisiana as you can almost get, through West Virginia and up to Pennsylvania, and back down through DC and Georgia. Ambitious? Yup. Worth it? YUP. And I learned A LOT for the next time we do it! And we will be doing it again, not sure when. But it'll happen.
First Lesson While Planning was to get a good app to lay it all out. I'm a visual person and I needed SOMETHING to guide me that way. This was no easy task - I tried pen and paper, google docs, all kinds of list making apps but NOTHING seemed to help my brain organize in a way that wasn't overwhelming. Then I found Roadtripper, and while I felt like it was a little expensive for a membership it proved to be invaluable. It mapped out the trip for me based on where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see (Lancaster, DC, and a small place in South Carolina were must dos while on this trip.) AND THEN I could find things along the way to see and it would reroute us if necessary. The app also shows you places of interest when you're zoomed out and as you zoom in you can find even more things! This is how I found the New River Gorge Bridge, Luray Caverns, and several other places we LOVED. We did so much more than we would have because of this awesome service, and finding places along the way to stop broke up the drive for the little one.
The second thing I learned while planning this trip was that even though a location is close it doesn't mean you have to cram it all in. We were so close to so many places we had never been before, or had the chance to go to before. New York City, Scranton (Office fan here) The Atlantic, Boston, but at some point we had to say 'not this trip'. Had we crammed all those places in they would have just been a blip instead of an experience.
The third thing I learned was be prepared. Pack entertainment items, as well as essentials like Toilet Paper, a first aid kit, and water. While traveling, Chloe broke out into hives all over her face. We still have no idea why, but we had a small First Aid Kit in the glove compartment filled with the items it came with, plus I added in a few items like pain killers, Neosporin, and Benadryl (both for kids and adults). It was a LIFESAVER to know exactly where it was and not have to stop on the highway to frantically dig for it. As for entertainment, that depends on if you get carsick or not. Luckily, me and Chloe are pretty sound in that department. Books (and a booklight!) and tablets with movies and series downloaded on it are a given. But I also got several activity books for Chloe as well. This Paint with Water one was her absolute favorite (and mess free since it just used water!). We also got a sticker painting book as well as a "would you Rather" book. Both of which were very much used on the trip.
Keep a look out for my upcoming itinerary (because I've been asked for it several times!), but keep in mind most of this trip was VERY loosely planned. We had an idea of the kinds of things we wanted to do and see and just rolled with it. This doesn't work for everyone, but I can tell you the things we loved and the ones we could have done without, and the things we REALLY wanted to do but couldn't due to me planning this trip in only a months notice.