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  1. Default Worcester, MA to Greenville, SC with two kids

    Hi,

    My husband is on a business assignment for a couple of months.
    I've got the itch to drive down from MA to SC to see him. Google puts it at around 950 miles one way. Husband will drive back home with us whenever we actually decide to go home, so I will only have to make the trip down by myself with a 4.5 and 2 yr old. I have a just about brand new Kia Sedona, so we'll have lots of room to pack gear (which is our biggest reason for not flying- we need 2 carseats, stroller, etc...).

    I've never done an extended road trip, although my girls and I drive about 200 miles/week in 50 mile stretches to visit family and have even done as much as 300 miles over 3 days.

    Is it better to bite the bullet and drive overnight when they will most likely sleep the whole ride, or try to do the drive over the course of 2 days. I plan on installing a DVD system before we go too :) I'm sure that will help alot.

    Any more advice/cautions/etc and what is the best way to plan my route besides just using Google. I also have a GPS to keep us on track (hopefully!) so I feel a little more secure on such a long trek.

    I have always wanted to make a trip like this but I want to make sure of course that I'll be safe and my kids will be safe and happy. Again, the return trip will be much easier because I'll have my husband to share the driving and help wrangle the kids.

    Thanks in advance!
    Bridget

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Don't worry, you'll be fine

    Welcome to the RTA forums!

    It's a good idea to plan ahead. Especially when you're traveling with children. However, it is very safe to do this trip. If you are safe driving from your house to the grocery store, you'll be safe driving to South Carolina.

    Many people here average 500 miles/day on a road-trip. That's not an unreasonable distance. However, with two little ones, it might be nice to spread it over 3 days. I doubt you'd need a 4th day but you can always play that by ear. You shouldn't have any problems finding hotels so I don't think I'd have any kind of set schedule. Just go with the flow and travel as long as you feel like doing that day, and as long as your kids can handle before everyone gets cranky.

    When my kids were little, we tended to pack them in the car in their pajamas in the very early morning hours and burn some miles before they woke up. But I don't see how this will work for you. Unless you get a hotel room with a parking space directly outside your room, you wouldn't want to be leaving one in the room while you put the other in the car, then leave one in the car while you go back to the room, etc.

    Oh, and planning to drive overnight while they're sleeping is a horrible idea. First, you need to sleep, too. Driving while drowsy is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Second, you wouldn't be able to make the trip in one, long overnight drive anyway. 950 takes 18 or so to drive, depending on traffic conditions, so you'd need way more time than one night. And then, how would you sleep if they're awake?

    So, I suggest that you simply get up and get going at the normal time you'd get up and go while at home. Plan for lots of stops. As I'm sure you know, kids need to use up their energy or they can get cranky. So I would plan for a stop every 2 hours or so. Look for a playground, park, beach, or other place where they can run and play for awhile. Enjoy these stops. When they seem like they've burned off their excess energy and will sit quietly again for awhile, get back in the car until you need to stop again.

    GPS units are nice but nothing substitutes for a good map.

    Of all the online trip-planners out there, I'm partial to the by AAA. You don't have to be a member to use it. Just go to www.aaa.com and put in your zip code. Then choose Triptik Travel Planner, then choose it again.

    Speaking of AAA, I love the security of having that membership for when I'm traveling. It has come in handy a few times. There are other emergency road service companies as well so, you don't have to go with AAA, but you might consider having something like that just in case you have a flat or something. With a new car, I doubt you'll have anything more serious happen.

    Don't sweat this trip. It's really not all that much different than a day trip near home. Hope this helps.

  3. Default This helped alot!

    Thank you for the advice!

    I was looking at TripTik last night and noticed that our route passes right around DC and I thought maybe I'd try to squeeze in an 'educational experience' there too.

    We do have at the most 4 days, I'd hoped to get there in two just to be able to spend the entire weekend with my husband, but another day of travel definitely won't bother me if it's easier overall on the girls.

    I have roadside assistance on my car, since it's new - I don't know exactly what it covers, so I was also thinking of getting AAA or my cell phone company also offers a plan at a very reasonable amount. I just know a AAA would also give me discounts, etc...

    I dont plan on leaving until June 7th. I still have a few weeks to prepare, so I'm glad I can really think through the details.

    I'm also planning to move the girl's carseats around - instead of keeping them side by side in the middle row, I was thinking of putting one on the middle on the left and one (the older) in the back on the right. Hopefully to eliminate "She's touching me!! She's kicking me!" etc, for 950 miles :)

    Safety is still my biggest concern. Should I plan to reach a certain hotel destination (something I'm familiar with, not just a random hotel/motel). Should I bother to reserve something or just 'road trip' it and go with the flow :) (worst case we could camp in our car).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Why not squeeze in anything you want?

    It doesn't sound like you have any time constraints so you could take as many days as you want. If you want an educational experience in DC, go for it. I question how educational it will be for your kids at their ages though. But I bet they would enjoy the zoo.

    I love AAA but you really might not need them since you have roadside assistance on your new car. Why not find out what your coverage will do for you before you spend the extra money. Maybe it also has discounts?

    These next two comments are more about parenting than road-tripping so use or ignore as you see fit.

    First, I forgot to comment on your idea of using a DVD player to entertain the kids. My first reaction is "no, don't do it!" Your kids will never learn to entertain themselves and just enjoy the sights along the road if they have constant entertainment in front of them. If you do decide to get one, I'd suggest using it only once-in-awhile. No more than two movies per day, preferably just one. I just think kids need to learn how to enjoy traveling. My kids got a bit bored when they were little so I would tell them stories or we would sing. It was fun to interact. And they learned how to sit and enjoy watching the changing scenery so that, by the time they were in grade school, they traveled well without lots of extra entertainment all the time. I'm glad we didn't allow unlimited use of entertainment (at the time, this was mainly things like hand-held Nintendos and stuff like that). Your call.

    Second, I don't think I'd move their car-seats away from each other unless problems erupt. It seems to me that they might enjoy playing with each other. If they start fighting, that might be a good clue to you that they need a break from the car. They just might have energy that they need to burn off by running around and playing. Of course, you could move the seats during the trip if this gets to be too much of a nuisance. But I think I'd start them off together to see how it goes. In the future, you might not have a car where they can be so easily separated and it seems like you'd want them to learn how to get along and interact well with each other when in close quarters. And, as they get bigger, the one in the back could still bug the one in the middle.

    Just a few thoughts from a mom who has been through all this already.

    It's always prudent to be concerned about safety issues. I'm a big fan of the Boy Scout's "Be Prepared" motto. But don't let it spill over into any kind of paranoia. Remember, the areas you're traveling through are someone else's home. They go to work, school, grocery store, and play in areas you're driving through every day without a bad incident. Just because it's unfamiliar to you doesn't mean it's not safe. Just use the same good common sense you use while in your home area and you should be just fine.

    Personally, I would just stop for the night when I'm ready, taking my cues from the kids. I wouldn't bother with reservations. If you have a certain hotel chain that you like better than others, you might swing by a local one and pick up a guidebook so you know where their other locations are. And you could always do a web search and write down possible hotels to stay at. If you join AAA, you can get their free lodging guides. Armed with all of this and a cellphone, you can easily call ahead for a hotel room that night once you have an idea of where you'll want to stop. Maybe the dinner time stop might be a good time for this. Stop at a park or something where the kids can play and you can make the calls. Don't do it while driving.

    I'm not as familiar with driving along the East Coast as I am the West Coast. But I would imagine there are ample hotels along the way to choose from. I doubt that you'll ever have to sleep in the car.

    I really think that calling ahead that day for a room, once you've pin-pointed how far you'll probably get, so you know where you're going to stay but, at the same time, aren't locked into some kind of schedule gives you the best balance. Since you're a road-trip novice, this seems a good way to balance the needs of your kids to enjoy the trip, too, while giving you some security that you'll have a room at the end of the day. I really want you all to enjoy this trip so that you'll go on many more of them during their childhood and create some wonderful family memories.

  5. Default

    I guess I was really thinking about the DVD player as kind of a 'last resort' option. My girls actually watch very little TV and we only have 3 kids DVD's but I figured on those long stretches where we "just have to get there" that it might be handy.

    I do appreciate your advice - I'm also starting to compile a list of "car games" we can play, which unfortunately as you said, is limited partially by their age.
    I definitely think they'd love the zoo in DC (or anywhere else) since both are big animal enthusiasts.

    I used to camp alot, which is probably why I said "Sleep in the car". I've always wanted to just do a road trip and sleep in the car whenever I find an area of interest to stop in. I do hope this leads to other "vacation" road trips as they get older and more patient :).

    I almost forgot - we did a 5 hour road trip last year - from home to Burlington, VT. The drive up took us about 9 hours because we stopped every couple hours to stretch, get snacks, etc. But on the ride home, both girls fell asleep (too much sightseeing in Burlington!) so my husband and I just pushed for the ride home. We may do that again in August, especially if this SC trip goes well - I LOVE to travel, but unfortunately my husband (who has to travel for work) does not feel as passionate and would rather stay home when he's on vacation!

    Sorry to ramble - and thanks again!

    Oh and I'm going to research the cost of AAA - my roadside assistance really just covers things relating to the vehicle (warranty issues, flat tires, breakdowns, etc) and nothing with hotels or trip planning.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Sounds like you're on the right track to me!

    Quote Originally Posted by jnbyoung View Post
    I guess I was really thinking about the DVD player as kind of a 'last resort' option.
    A totally appropriate way to use it. I know of folks who use it to the point where their kids just stare at it every time they're in the car. I just wanted to advise you to avoid that type of thing.

    I used to camp alot, which is probably why I said "Sleep in the car". I've always wanted to just do a road trip and sleep in the car whenever I find an area of interest to stop in. I do hope this leads to other "vacation" road trips as they get older and more patient :).
    Actually, that's not a bad option once in awhile. I prefer my tent so I can stretch out and enjoy the campground but I've slept in the car a few times in a pinch. A few around this forum do it regularly. I'm thinking it might not be the best situation with the age of your kids though. If you think you will do it, do it right and do it safe. A safe location is important. Most folks use 24-hour truck stops with staff on the premises all night to keep a watch out for you. I suppose a regular gas station/mini-mart that is open all night would work but they aren't typically used to people sleeping all night in their parking lot. Truck stops are used to that as truckers do it all the time. Truck stops also tend to have nicer, bigger restrooms for you to freshen up in the morning, and an on-site restaurant with reasonably-priced meals. They have showers, too, that you can rent. Some will only allow real truckers to use the showers but increasing numbers are allowing road-trippers as well (from what I hear anyway).

    I almost forgot - we did a 5 hour road trip last year - from home to Burlington, VT. The drive up took us about 9 hours because we stopped every couple hours to stretch, get snacks, etc. But on the ride home, both girls fell asleep (too much sightseeing in Burlington!) so my husband and I just pushed for the ride home. We may do that again in August, especially if this SC trip goes well -
    I always tended to drive as long as I could when the kids were asleep, too. I just don't think it's a good idea to try to drive all night. Especially when you're the only adult. You will get drowsy at some point. Heed that and stop for the night for safety's sake. And, if you did drive into the wee hours, would you be able to get up with the kids when they awake in the morning and be fully alert? When your husband is with you, it makes more sense.

    I LOVE to travel, but unfortunately my husband (who has to travel for work) does not feel as passionate and would rather stay home when he's on vacation!
    LOL...my travel bug is far bigger than my husband's, too. That's why I've got some solo road-trips under my belt!

    Oh and I'm going to research the cost of AAA - my roadside assistance really just covers things relating to the vehicle (warranty issues, flat tires, breakdowns, etc) and nothing with hotels or trip planning.
    I have never been happy with the TripTiks I've gotten from AAA. Some people love them. I use them for ideas but I really just prefer to do my own planning. I really do like the website planning tool I provided info on in an earlier post. The discounts are nice and they do add up. I actually think the best thing is all the free guidebooks and maps they offer. Those pay for my membership each year right there, and then the rest is just bonus.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Be the Tortoise

    Since your husband will be with you on the way back, I think I'd save most of my sight-seeing and educational experiences for the return trip when he can give yiou a hand and you all can enjoy it. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the drive down, but I'd aim to make this part as easy on yourself and your daughters as possible, so that you arrive in a good mood. To that end, I'd tend to avoid big cities, in particular, New York and Washington if I could, and make several stops a day at smaller parks and fun spots to give the girls some quality time out of the car roughly every 2 hours of driving time.

    So, You can stay on I-84 out of New England and across New York well north of NYC and make your first stop at the New England Carousel Museum just past Hartford and a short (6 mi.) drive west down CT-72 (Exit 34). You can return the to I-84 the way you came, or after a short bit of backtracking on CT-72, turn right and go south on CT-229. Another 2 hours of driving would bring you to Port Jervis, NY, where you can take US-209 south through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area where you could let the girls run in a beautiful setting. You'd come out the other end and be able to get on I-80 west. Just south of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, you would get on I-81 south. You'll be following that for a long while, so this might be a good place to spend your first night on the road.

    On your second day, you'd just continue southwest on I-81, one of the more scenic Interstate routes, with possible stops at Memorial lake State Park at exit 85 just after the junction with I-78, and at Jim Barnett Park just off exit 313 in Winchester, VA, and a second night's stop around Lexington, VA.

    Your third and final day of driving would then start out continuing down I-81. There are a couple of Virginia State Parks at exit 105: New River Trail and Claytor Lake. Shortly thereafter you'd head south on I-77. Along the way, there's Lake Norman State Park at exit 42. Then all you have left is the final run down to Charlotte to pick up I-85 into Greenville.

    Such an itinerary and schedule has you getting to Greenville in three semi-restful days, the girls are never 'cooped up' in the car for more than a couple of hours at a time, and they're having a 'girl's adventure' on the way to see daddy. Hope that helps.

    AZBuck

  8. Default

    That sounds so lovely! I appreciate such a detailed plan - I can't wait to go now :)

  9. Default Update

    Just wanted to update :)

    Our other trip never panned out, school scheduling and my husband was far too busy to enjoy a visit from the crew.

    We are going to be doing our Burlington, VT trip as planned (we leave Sunday!) and then I might possibly be driving to SC on the 15th or so as long as our Burlington trip goes well. My husband's biggest worry appears to be whether or not he'll be able to sleep with us all in his hotel room when we get there on the 18th.

    I'm going to use most of the ideas that I got from here - I really am excited for this trip and my girls are too!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default What????

    Quote Originally Posted by jnbyoung View Post
    My husband's biggest worry appears to be whether or not he'll be able to sleep with us all in his hotel room when we get there on the 18th.
    Thanks for the update and I, for one, hope that all you get some quality sleep and drive-time!

    Have fun.

    Mark

    P.S. I spent about four months in Worcester, a few years ago. Very nice place to call home.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-04-2007 at 11:02 AM. Reason: left out a word

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