Friday, August 17, 2012

Disney Road Trip: How We Survive Nineteen Hours


 
And now, an excerpt from Chapter 7: Driving to Walt Disney World:  How We Survive 19 Hours....

I post often about Disney.  It's one of my favorite places in the world.  It ranks right up there with my mom's kitchen and a warm toasty fire on a chilly fall afternoon.

After having four kids, it's safe to say flying to Disney is too expensive.  If we went every few years we would probably just save the money and fly like birds on Jet Blue.  Or Delta.  Or Southwest.

But we try to go every year.

We live in the northeast, and our road trip to Disney takes about nineteen hours if we drive straight through.  Yes, nineteen long hours with four kids in the car.  It's enough to make some parents want to stick needles in their eyes.

In all seriousness, I do have a few tricks to get our family to Disney without any major meltdowns.  It's fairly easy, if you have patience and the will to drive nineteen hours.

1.  Pack coolers.  Stock your car with a cooler jam packed with drinks, snacks, fruit and anything else you'll desire for the trip.  Pack bread and PB&J, or grab deli sandwiches to bring along.  More on the lunch items in #8.

2.  In the cooler, pack a damp washcloth.  Nothing keeps you awake like a cold towel.

3.  Every child should have their own pillow to rest.

4.  Switch drivers after breakfast if you haven't done so already.  We have Hubby sleep before we leave, and I try to catch a few Zzzzz's during the first few hours on the road.  After breakfast, I drive a bit and Hubby sleeps.

5.  When you enter Florida, stop at the Florida Welcome Center.  This tradition was started by my father, and I cherish the memories of "Welcome to Florida" sign and the free fresh squeezed orange juice.

As always, any advice you need feel free to email!   Jodie@allgoodinmommyhood.com

Happy Trails!


33 comments:

  1. We are *this close* to driving it. 19 hours (same for us) with 4 kids makes my husband more than a little twitchy. And he HATES to let me drive - so of course I can't wait! Can I ask how much you think you save in driving vs flying, since we have the same number of travelers? You don't have to give me exact numbers - maybe a percent?

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    1. Of course I'll give you numbers! I think we saved about $800 driving last year. We try not to spend much driving, because it defeats the purpose of not flying! I'm pretty annoying with how frugal I am! The room on the way back was our biggest expense...we spent $100 and loved the hotel. So with two meals (McDonalds on the way down) and Ruby Tuesday on way home, along with pit stops and gas...I still estimate an $800 savings...not too shabby! You'll have to keep me posted on this one!!! :)

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  2. What great tips - and it makes an incredibly long trip sound so much more doable - and doable in a day instead of breaking it up. We are so fortunate to only be 7 easy hours away - it does tend to make my annual passes scream louder from the drawer where they are stored :-)

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    1. You are so lucky! 7 hours??? That is a dream!!

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    2. Another Disney LoverAugust 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      We have driven to Disney several times from Missouri (17 hours). One of the things I do is give the kiddos a ticket I made with each states name on it. They have to watch for the Welcome sign as we enter each state. When we enter the state they give me their ticket for a small surprise (sunglasses, coloring/activity book, small snack). We then discuss the state we are in, show it on the map. Not only is this educational, the anticipation is exciting and it breaks up the drive.

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  3. How early do you usually hit the road??

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    1. Hi Candace! We leave around midnight (Hubby takes a nap) and on the way home we leave at lunch and drive until dinner. We stay over to make the drive back easier.

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  4. You mention your Dad driving the motorhome- did you guys camp while at Disney. We are going camping the first week of October at Fort Wilderness and I wondered if you had any experience with it?

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    1. Hi Dana! My dad did drive the motorhome...oh man the memories are forever. :) We stayed at Fort Wilderness, but we did get cabins. I do have friends who drive their motorhome and stay inside the entire trip at Fort Wilderness. They LOVE it. I do like Fort Wilderness as well - but I haven't personally used the campsites.

      Good luck!

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  5. Wow great tips. We also drive from the northeast, usually leaving at midnight as well. One thing we do is put dark towels in the rear doors to block the windows. This allows my little guys to sleep through bright tolls, gas stops, and glare from some trucks. We usually stop around 4pm and get a hotel. I have driven straight through, and I'm a truck driver use to driving, but sometimes feel drained for a few days at WDW if we don't break. On the way home we drive straight home without stops. We also found that Hampton inns were pretty good for our stop, and provide a free breakfast. Full breakfast, not just cold cereal and babels. For a family of four that saves us some money and gets us ready for the road.

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  6. I am a single mom with two boys who are 6 and 7. We take my mom with us when we go. We drive 21 hours. I take a nap after I drop my sons off at school on a Friday morning in April. My mom goes to work for a while. Then she gets off work around 1:30 and I head to her house so we can pack the car and go over our schedule one more time. We never tell the boys when we are leaving so we show up to pick them up from school with our "We are going to the Disney World Resort" t-shirts on. They go in and go potty and change into their shirts. Then we get on the road. My mom starts driving. We drive for about 4 hours and then stop for dinner. After dinner we put in a movie and drive until 10 or 11, or until one of the boys has to go to the bathroom. We stop and they go potty. Then it's bedtime for them. The fall asleep in the car for about 8 hours. I start driving since I got a nap and drive from 11-7 or until the boys wake up and want breakfast. I usually stop for at least two potty breaks while everyone else is sleeping. We hit someplace like McDonalds with a playplace so the boys can play a little and then my mom drives so I can sleep. We usually go through a drive thru for lunch and hit WDW around 2pm. We get to our room and get the lay of our resort. We eat dinner at T-rex, swim a little and are usually all tucked into bed by 8pm so we can get up the next day and do MK when it opens!

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  7. It was so funny reading this. Our trip is about 18 hours and I drive 85% of it. My wife takes over when the sun comes up for a few hours.

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  8. Okay...I am SOOOOOOOOO thankful right now that we only live two hours from Disney!!!!!!! LOL Can't imagine 19 hours in the car going to Orlando. Bless you my dear!!! :-)
    39 Days til our next Disney vacation...whoooo hoooo, can't wait!!!

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  9. We live in PA and are heading down to Disney in November with our children, ages 7 & 12. We too are debating whether or not to drive or take the auto train like we did in 2011. Surprisingly the auto train is MUCH cheaper for us than flying and you get the added bonus of not having to rent a car in Orlando. We keep going back & forth about driving. I had made that trip several times with my family when there were no such things as Ipods, DSIs etc. and we survived. LOL!

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  10. I'm really enjoying your Disney Tips and Tricks and I loved reading about your trip via Car transportation. It will be a few years before we make it back to WDW. We have 4 boys, our trip down would be about 21-22 hours. My husband travels frequently for his job (in state) and usually stays at Holiday inn express or best western's so because of this we have their priority member cards. When we do plan on going back we can use the points we have accumulated for free hotel stays on the way down and back. Ok back to reading more of your awesome blog. :)

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  11. wondering how we're going to do in April. 23 hour drive for us with a 5 year old who has NEVER liked to sleep in the car (most kids just conk right out..not mine!). I also get very sleepy driving so my hubby is going to have to do most of the driving. Planning on leaving in the wee hours and driving 12-14 hours and stopping for the night, then leaving again early the next morning. I know it's going to save us money but wondering how our sanity is going to be by the time we get there. I know we'll be excited on the way down..but I'm kind of dreading the drive home!

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    1. You'll survive...but there is a bit of a "driving hangover" the first day in Disney! And the ride home stinks!!! We always book a room. :)

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    2. We live in PA too. We leave at 5:30 am from North central PA We stop for breakfast in Southern Pa. Eat snacks we pack along the way and eat dinner around 6:30 pm in Florence, SC. Drive to Walterboro, Ss getting there between 9 and 10. We eat a free hot breakfast at the motel then onto FLORIDA. We alway stop at the visitor's center cor the fresh squeeze orange juice too. If you have a points credit card you can turn your pointsinto gift cards for Cracker Barrel and eatfor "free" on the way to and back. We get to Orlando around 1-2 pm. This way your pretty comfortable and not too tired. We take family and friends with us most years and tnis seam to work well. On the way back we drive to northern NC and stay overnight there. We've been doing this every year for at Klein least 12 years.We have an of Disney timeshare that we love.

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  12. We've driven down to disney a few times... a whole 24 hrs away! Love the tips! I have yet to do it with my 3 & 5 yr old, but think this year we'll give it a go. Airfare is just way too much money. We stayed at the Cabins last year (and flew down), and didn't have a vehicle. Found we spent more money eating food at the parks because we didn't have a vehicle to go get groceries. thanks again for the tips!

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  13. We are heading to Disneyland this year (19 1/2 hour drive to dl or dw for us) will be using some of your tips. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully next year we will get to head to Disney World. This is our very first disney trip and we thought we would start with dl first. Thanks for all your road trip tips!

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  14. hi! is this the florida rest stop from alabama? thanks

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    1. Well she said they live in the Northwest, so I assume they take I-95 pretty much the whole way. By that logic, I'd assume it's the Georgia-Florida Border nearest to 95.. Camden County or something.

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  15. My husband and I are giving the kids (ages 11 and 5) a trip to Disney as a Christmas gift. We will be leaving by car just after Christmas and celebrating New Year's at the Magic Kingdom. I'm sure we will use some of your tips along the way. I especially like the idea of a "surprise" after breakfast. We have planned our departure times, to and from, similar to yours. We want to stop somewhere on the way home, but aren't sure where. It's a 15-16 hour drive for us. Can you tell me what hotel or city/state you rest in on the return trip?

    Thanks for the great ideas!

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    1. If memory serves, we stopped in Florence South Carolina. Nice little hotel there, we stayed at the Winngate. Have fun, so exciting!!!

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  16. I absolutely LOVE the "surprise bag" idea. Luckily we only have to drive from NC. but with a 4 yr. old and a 1 yr. old it will be challenging. Also, Thank you for the "FL welcome center and the free fresh squeezed orange juice" idea. We will sure make it our tradition starting this year (our first of many years Visiting Disney World).

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  17. This will be our first trip to Disney. We live in Indiana and will be making the trip down on Christmas. Our girls are both six and we are surprising them with this as their Christmas and birthday present this year since they are so close to each other. We have about 19 hours to drive as well and I plan on driving most of the way. I feel like I have read enough blogs and pinned enough things that as long as we dont forget anything it will be one heck of an experience and the best trip we could take. Thank you for the great advice, we will be using it as an example for our own trip.
    Disney Surprise 2014!

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  18. We live in the Northeast as well, (so, a similar time frame and route). Do you take 95 all the way down through NYC, NJ, and the DC area? I am trying to figure out the time of night to leave to avoid that rush hour nastiness. The one thing I hate about long road trips is the city traffic congestion.

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    1. HI Catherine! We do take 95, and we leave in the middle of the night (11pm) to hit DC by 2-3am. We hate rush hour too but have been able to avoid it by leaving by 11pm. We drive thru the night and are in the Carolinas by morn. Have fun!

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  19. One great tip I learned about a car trip from PA to FL with kids (from the show Jon and Kate Plus 8....) To help offset the "Are we there yet" and "How much longer" questions, put a sticky note on the visor for every hour you will be traveling and remove at the bottom of the hour so kids have a constant visual reminder of how much longer it will be. I use a different colored sticky to mark the halfway point.

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  20. This was a great read, i am actually heading to Florida in a few weeks. I usually fly but now i have a family of 5 and flying isn't to cheap....i am also drying for the North East I am a little worried as i have a very hyper 3 year old. Thank you all for sharing

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  21. Ok... I so want to do a road trip. Airfare for our family of 6 (one under 24months, so free) is $2700. Ouch. I estimated a longer drive there and back (no overnight driving, 3 nights at hotels there and back) and the cost is only about half that of a flight. Considering I have an ebf baby, we'll be stopping every 3 hours to feed her. I also HATE airports.. but I love Disney and am willing to brave the flights (or drive) to get there. I am all for overnight driving (kids sleep... fantastic idea) but my hubby isn't so keen. Oh man, I just want to go back so bad!! (the time we are planning for will see us with a 7yo, 5yo, 2.5yo and 10month old)

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  22. So We are getting ready to drive from the Vally Forge PA area to Fort Wilderness campground in our Motorhome. This is our first driving tripto WDW. Everything says it is a 15 hour trip , but a few people say no more like 20. We are going to try to make it in one day by leaving at 3:30-4:00am. If we make it we make it. What are your thoughts.

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Throw in your two cents!