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  1. Default Buffalo, NY to Fort Dodge, IA with 4 kids

    Planning our first big road trip, with our 4 small kids. From Buffalo, NY to Des Moine and Fort Dodge, IA. Return trip will be to Philly and then back up to NY. We have scheduled events in Ft Dodge, Des Moine and Philly, but would like to plan some inexpensive fun things to do along the routes to burn some kid energy. Not looking for monuments or "stop and see" type things. Looking more for relaxing, fun memory making or fun shopping.

    I-80 and I-90 will be a big chunk of our trip. We don't want to expend too much travel time getting to these bonus stops. Any ideas for me?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default 'Logic' and the Alternatives

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's start with the answer you asked for. There are countless places to take short breaks from the road along every Interstate, US, state, and local highway. You should show your children your route and encourage them to find parks and other attractions near to it that they would like to see (and are free).

    I'd also encourage you to think about that route. While I-90/I-80 is the way that all software will send you and that looks the 'best' at first blush, it does have problems. You will pay heavily for using it both in the form of tolls for the New York State Thruway, Ohio Turnpike, and Indiana Toll Road; as well as in stress as you navigate Cleveland and Chicago. Leaving I-90 on the east side of Cleveland and taking I-271/I-71 down to I-270 around Columbus to I-70 west to Indianapolis and I-74 to the Quad Cities to rejoin I-80 is admittedly a bit longer, but can still be driven in two days with short stops and an overnight around Crawfordsville IN.

    The same is true of your return to Philadelphia. You could follow I-80/I-74/I-70 all the way into Pennsylvania and then stay on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when I-70 splits off to head for Baltimore/Washington. Ultimately the decision on which way to go is up to you, but you should at least consider the alternative(s) to what mindless software tells you.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Making memories.

    You don't mention the ages of the children, but another way to make the trip interesting and memorable for them, is to, before bed , get each one to write a journal, recording their most interesting or memorable part of that day. Even a preschooler can do this in drawings and pictures from tourist brochures, etc. You will find that they will not necessarily choose the same moment, but whatever they choose, is valid.

    Great to look back on in years to come.


  4. Default

    Good points about alternative routes. Will pass along suggestion to chief navigation officer aka husband. ��

  5. Default

    Kids are 8 and under. I will def try to encourage journaling. I attempted it last vacation and it was treated like boring homework so I dropped it. �� might try letting them have a disposable camera to photo journal, but I risk a roll of pictures of the back of a van seat.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    You can get pretty cheap digital cameras, even ones made for kids, at this point. They might even be cheaper than the cost of the disposable camera and developing! Either way, it's a great way to let them have their own memories of the trip.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Join in.

    Journalling with young ones works best if you keep your journal as well. And limit the time. 10 - 15 mins should be enough to record the most memorable moment, and why.

    By all means, get them a camera of their own, and then print out the photos to add to their journals. Leave appropriate blank pages, and try to keep a record of which photo was taken where. (That's the most difficult - lol.)

    With the eight year old, the oldest of four, I know what you're talking about. My oldest had just turned eight when number 5 was born. But I still wish someone had told me about journals in those days. The grandchildren, most of whom travel extensively, have shelves full of journals.


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