Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum
DSFLA.JPG I do not like the cold, winter is not my friend. One of my favorite times to escape the cold New York winters (even though this winter was a pleasure!) is while my kids are off from school President’s week in February. Since we couldn’t quite afford to escape to some tropical island, we started to think about less expensive options. My best friend since High School happens to live near Orlando, Florida, which takes care of our accommodations, but flights nowadays are a fortune. So, we decided to drive. I know you are all thinking I am crazy with two kids (ages five and eight) to spend so many hours in the car. But we looked at it as an adventure. Quality family bonding time on the open road. And let me tell you, it was a huge success!
If you decide to drive down to Florida from anywhere on the east coast, here are some useful tips that will help you plan your adventure!
First, either buy or take out of the library, the book, Drive I-95! It was our bible for the entire trip. The book offers easy-to-follow mile-by-mile maps showing services on each side of I-95: motels/hotels, gas stations (even 24-hr ones), restaurants, ATM machines, auto mechanics, supermarkets, malls, golf courses, campsites and pharmacies. Fun stories – history on I-95, museums, trivia, towns to explore or places for kids – will entertain and entice motorists to discover someplace new. Having little kids who will have to use the bathroom at a moments notice, it was super helpful to know when the next rest stop or gas station would be. When you make a stop, be sure to let the kids run around for a few minutes. Many rest stops have grassy areas, perfect for a quick game of tag!
We split the trip into two days going down and two days coming back. We slept in Florence, South Carolina going there and Richmond, Virginia on the way home. The kids were so excited to all sleep in a hotel room together. I found very reasonable rates on hotels via Trip Advisor, with a hot breakfast included and an indoor pool so the kids could swim before we got back on the road.
I recommend packing breakfast and lunch for the first day on the road, to minimize long stops as well as unhealthy fast food joints. We also packed a cooler full of water and other drinks to save money and stay well hydrated. There is usually a Cracker Barrel restaurant every few exits you can can stop at for a meal, since it’s fun for the kids.
There are so many amazing places to see in the South. If you have the time, you can make a detour to Colonial Williamsburg or spend some time at the beach in Hilton Head. We went about fifteen miles off 95 to have lunch on the river in Savannah and drove around the historic town. Our friends who also drove down spent some time in Charleston, and loved it there too. On the way home we drove into Washington DC and stopped at all the major monuments, it was very cool.
The most important thing is to have fun! The kids will follow your lead. They watched movies and of course played video games, but we also played concentration, Geography, and the “A my name is…” game. We even listened to some good books on tape (101 Dalmatians is four hours long!)
I am so happy we drove I-95! We have private jokes we are still laughing about and made memories that will last a lifetime. Believe it or not, I would actually do it again!