Anyone Along the Way…?

So it looks like this is the most likely route… Holy crap that’s a long way to drive!! Anyone with any tips or travel pointers, feel free to weigh in. I’m starting to get very excited, even though I’m overwhelmed too. Perhaps it’s because I got nearly fourteen pages written this weekend on my capstone- over half done, folks! Hooray! I have two more weeks to fine tune and write the rest, and I feel pretty confident that it’s going well. But that’s also why I haven’t been writing here. My fingers hurt.

Anyone else driven across the country before? I rode on a motorcycle from San Francisco to Sturgis one summer long ago when I was young and stupid, but I’ve never driven east of Iowa. I really think this is going to be a grand adventure. This girl is going east!

16 thoughts on “Anyone Along the Way…?

  1. First, get AAA – it is sooooo worth it. It’s not just for car trouble. You can get maps, trip planning help, discounts on hotels & attractions, and whole books of information on everything from here to there. We took a trip around the US with our kids a few years ago and it was invaluable. Also, once you get back past the Dakotas, things are just closer together (if that makes sense). We were able to drive for several hours at night after dinner and early mornings and then spend the better part of the day site seeing or in a park so we didn’t have to keep kids too confined to the car. We also used Good Sam for camping & showers and hotels every other day. You can get Good Sam directories to know what they offer at each site. Some have small cabins so you don’t have to tent camp. We tried really hard not to push too hard so we could all enjoy the journey. Our Great Adventure lasted 5 weeks and covered over 6500 miles and we could have stayed 5 more! You probably will not have the luxury of taking 5 weeks, but breaking up the trip really does help keep everyone happier. Also, take as few clothes with you as possible. We had only 2-3 changes per person and did laundry as needed (find a wash house in a smaller town and explore while the clothes are running). It’s not like anyone you see along the way will notice you are wearing the same shirt as yesterday! We also carried a cooler so we could stop at grocery stores for food & snacks and not have to each fast food – not just to save money, but because too much fast food makes us feel yukky and gross. Good Fortune to you all as you embark on your Great Adventure!

  2. Note: The 5 weeks was for the entire circuitous route, starting and ending in the Spokane Valley. We lived in East Stake for almost 20 years.

  3. I think AAA $75 for a year, Tracy.

    A good tip for travelling with kids and cutting down on the arguments: each kid gets a roll of quarters at the beginning of the trip. Any argument, whining, etc you lose one quarter. Whatever is leftover at the end of the trip the kid gets to keep!

  4. If you want to drive a few miles north of your planned route, you’re welcome to stay with us–we live just outside of Minneapolis.

  5. We did (roughly) LA to NY in 2.5 weeks, which seemed right. We stayed in hotels two nights, but camped or stayed with family/friends the rest fo the time. McDonald’s free WiFi was essential for finding those hotels, since you can book cheap places online minutes before you walk in, thereby getting better deals by finding the places that are more off-highway.

    I’ll second AAA; it’s more peace of mind than anything else, though. We also had a National Annual Parks Pass (, $80), which gets you into lots of parks for free, including waiving parking/camping fees. It might not be right for you, but since we needed it for backpacking too, it was right for us.

    My mom used to talk about how for long roadtrips she would pick out dollar-store type treats/games with her brothers and sisters, then her mom (my grandma) would wrap them up and put them in a bag, and every X hours (maybe twice a day) they would pick something out to share.

    Good luck!

    • Bean can get a lifetime National Parks pass (I think it’s called an access card) for free. We have one for Spence and we use it all the time. There aren’t many advantages to having an ASD kid — you’ve got to take advantage of them when you can!

      • We have one too! It is awesome! We just got it at the entrance of a National Park, didn’t take long….I can’t remember if we had to provide paperwork proof of a disability or not.

  6. I’ve driven cross country (NC to UT and back) by myself with my son who was three at the time. Sharalyn hit all of the major points.

    AAA is fabulous for the peace of mind, have money handy for toll roads, fast food playplaces are godsends, stop often and early so you’re not wiped out, and enjoy the trip! I wish I lived farther north so we could host you guys.

    Best wishes!

  7. Buy and EZ Pass. It will make paying tolls along the IN/OH/PA much easier, and you’ll be able to use it on toll roads in VA and MD when you get here too. We use our EZ Pass all the time when we drive from VA to MI.

  8. We’ve moved cross country multiple times with varying numbers of kids of all ages when we moved. The only tning I’ll add to what’s been said already is to leave as early as you can each day without undue stress, so you can stop late afternoon or early evening and still drive far enough to feel like you’re making progress – and so your kids have a couple of hours or more each night to unwind before they have to get to sleep.

    Oh, and healthy snacks (trail mix or something else your kids like) and sandwiches made with grocery store purchases are much, much better and cheaper than stopping and ordering food. You can buy stuff every couple of days as you travel.

    If you can swing a little further south to Nauvoo or Quincy, IL, we probably can find some people who would be willing to let you spend a night with them.

    • My car is small now- remember I got rid of the Suburban. I can only hold four people. I’m thinking of driving myself and then flying the kids. I don’t know yet. I don’t have a ton of options, but I’m working on a plan.

  9. Oh man, you’re going to pass right through South Bend! I wish we were still in Indiana! If that’s a good place to stop for you though, I have friends who read and love you and would love to have you!

  10. We make crazy ~5000 mile trips every year or two with our five munchkins in our minivan. They are great travelers!. I agree with the AAA (I always pay a monthly amount and then cancel it when our trip is over), and the advice of getting up early and stopping early (we often just throw the kids in the car with their pjs on at 5 a.m. and then drive for a few hours and make our first stop getting dressed and eating breakfast).

    Things to keep kids busy in the car that work for us: satellite radio (there’s always SOMETHING interesting), non-messy “craft” supplies (think pipecleaners, tin foil, anything to keep their hands busy), mad libs, a cheap digital camera, and color wonder markers. As far as snacks, beforehand I stockpile some healthy-ish snacks (granola bars, raisins, goldfish crackers, fruit leather, clif zbars) and prepackaged the ones that aren’t already in snack sized ziplocs. Then mixed them together and put the whole lot in gallon sized zips. Then we’d just keep one gallon sized zip “out” at a time, keep the rest in the trunk and we still had a nice variety.

    We’ve learned to always, always, always have water on hand, too. We’ve learned that the rest stops along I 40 through Death Valley have no drinking water. And, inevitably if your child gets sick and pukes, the nearest rest stop will be a “waterless” (read: hand sanitizer and paper towels) one. (That happened to us once in the middle of the night near Pueblo, CO!)

    Good luck!

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