Family road trips can be fun and create long lasting family memories.

A Florida Car

Our family has taken road trips in the past, but never one from New York to Florida. I was excited when fellow YOLO mom, Diana, was willing to be a guest blogger and share a “play by play” from her road trip to Florida and the parenting life lesson she gleaned from the experience.

“Initially I was helping to fulfill my husband’s wish. For years he has begged and pleaded to drive to south Florida. He always had fond memories of driving with his family and friends. I myself had never done the trip… in fact I adamantly refused, resorting to tantrum-like behavior when needed. After much “discussion,” (basically if we wanted to go away after Christmas, we drive) the craving for sunny and 75 degree weather reigned strong….the decision was made (although not fully embraced) to do the drive.

I researched and planned everything out. For two months I relentlessly polled (and complained!) to anyone and everyone I knew about their drive experiences to Florida….with kids (one of whom notoriously gets car sick, the other is bored driving around the block!). We decided on the best time to leave, where we would stop for gas and bathroom breaks. And most importantly what we could do in the car with the kids to make the trek tolerable….for all of us (ME!)

With my research all gathered and courses mapped out and planned, we fine tuned our fun activities for the car. Luckily, Santa knew of our journey and delivered many travel-size games, maps and license plate sticker books. He also heard that the kids loved, with crazed passion, the Full House television series….he brought the 8-season, 16-disc box set for entertaining, along with a few other movies.

Our journey began at 3am….sharp. The kids remained in their pajamas,went to the bathroom and got in the car. No movies or electronics until our first anticipated gas stop in Virginia. After about an hour, they were fast asleep in the car. They didn’t wake up until we arrived for gas, food and bathrooms in Virginia. We stretched, they got changed, used the bathroom and took our food to eat in the car. Our first movie…Annie…was scheduled to start in an hour. Not a peep during the movie!!!! And one of the two kids fell fast asleep immediately afterwards. The rest of the trip went just as well…with the exceptions of the nasty I-95 bathrooms (South of the Border…need I say more for those who’ve experienced Pedro’s domain).

We made such good time (less than 6 hours) to the Carolina’s, we decided to skip our scheduled overnight stay in Savannah and motor along.

After 19 hours (door to door) with three gas and bathroom breaks (Virginia, South Carolina, Jacksonville), two movies (Annie & Million Dollar Arm) and several episodes of Full House (and a new love for all things Uncle Jesse circa his Kokomo Beach Boys days) we arrived at our destination (Delray Beach, FL)…with happy kids, who weren’t bored or carsick, immeasurable and countless laughs, stories and memories to last a life time.

I can truly say I had the best time! My husband was right!! The memories that I took away were unknowingly worth more than the convenience of an airplane flight.

For those of you thinking this is absolutely insane, a one time thing…the ride home was just as great…although the seedy bathrooms along the highway were worse northbound!!

What I took away from our journey…YOLO (You Only Live Once)…trying something outside your comfort zone can be a lot of fun, can create long lasting memories and great laughs. My family enjoyed the trip so much…..we did it again in February. Of course our bathroom choices were much more selective this time around.

A Florida Journal

My family memories of this trip are incredible. I started our initial trip with a handmade journal (made from palm tree and flamingo -patterned duct tape) to check in and record our thoughts on an hourly basis. This initially was going to be my proof of how awful the trip was going to be…documentation for my husband that we did it and never will do it again. Our journal (which we continued on our second trip) is worth gold to me! Lasting memories preserved for life! And proof that I was happy to be wrong:)”

Sounds like such fun. Makes me want to start planning a road trip for April when the kids are off from school again.

What road trips have you been on? Any funny stories?

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NOFO (North Fork, NY): Road trips should have fun activities for adults and kids.

nofo

As summer is just around the corner, I am going to stick with the road trip theme and elaborate a bit on a fantastic road trip we took in the spring. It was a perfect mix of fun for adults and the kids… I am a big fan of TripAdvisor and am always gathering tips on my smart phone when people I meet provide recommendations.

Here are the highlights of a perfect day trip with the kids to NOFO:

  • Catapano Dairy Farm– Peconic, NY – This is a goat farm and they make a nice assortment of goat cheese and other gift items also. This was the first stop and was fun for the kids since they could pet and feed the goats.
  • Croteaux Vineyards– Southold, NY  Our next stop was our favorite vineyard in NOFO – When you enter the tasting room area outside, it is magical. It is like taking a mini vacation to Provence. While children are welcome, they are asked to stay close to their party to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. This vineyard specializes in Rose wine which is light and perfect for the summer. Note: Limousines and buses (large parties are not welcome) which provides for more of an intimate setting from the other vineyards.
  • The Lunch Truck – Southold, NY – After our wine tasting, we were hungry and stopped at the food truck located behind the famed James Beard award winning North Fork Table and Inn. We grabbed some yummy pork pulled sandwiches for the adults and the kids enjoyed some fancy hot dogs with fries. We sat outside on a picnic blanket and enjoyed the afternoon sun.
  • By Aldo Coffee – Greenport, NY – By now we needed a little caffeine hit and this coffee house with actual coffee beans roasting in the front of the shop did not disappoint. Delicious coffee and cappuccino and the best biscotti ever .
  • Carousel – Greenport, NY– The kids were looking for some fun again so we visited this old carousel built in the 1920’s located close to the water. You can catch the brass ring and catch a free ride – $2.00/ride
  • R/T Boat Ride to Shelter Island from Greenport, NY – We could see Shelter Island in the distance and decided to take a R/T trip boat ride as foot passengers. $4 R/T per adult for the boat ride and the kids were free. It was a beautiful day and it was just about a ten minute ride with a nice breeze in our hair and the sun starting to set. It was fun for the kids (like a train ride to the city). It was getting a bit late, so we decided to immediately turn back and return to Greenport. Today was more about the boat ride vs exploring Shelter Island.
  • Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices – Greenport, NY Before our trip back home, we loaded up on some Italian ices which were a delightful way to end the day.

PS – Other great places to try: Eriks’ in Southold, NY for breakfast or lunch – tasty food, reasonable prices and kid friendly; Lavender By the Bay, Marion, NY – we picked up an English Lavender plant and it is doing very well in our backyard. They provided great planting and care instructions.

So what is the parenting life lesson? It’s all about balance. Road trips and family vacations are not all about the kids. If the kids want to have fun, the adults need some fun too. YOLO (You Only Live Once)

 

Holiday shopping : Buy games which promote time with the family.

Game PhotoIt’s Cyber Monday. I realize that, but you all know what you need to do. Look at your holiday list, find deals, shop online and spend more time with your family.

My blog post focus for today is to share with you my top 5 favorite family games:

1) Table Topics – set of 135 clever questions cards that ask a different question, from lighthearted fun to thought-provoking. No rules, just great conversations! (I have multiple versions of this game – I bring it out at family/friend gatherings, road trips, wine and cheese parties – it is always lots of fun and you really get to learn wonderful things about family and friends)

2) Apples to Apples – game of hilarious comparisons ( We just played multiple rounds of this game at Thanksgiving. It’s great fun!)

3) Sorry – excellent board game that is simple to learn and play, but is also fun for people who like complex strategy. ( Always an “old school” favorite. It is a simple and easy game to play in a reasonable amount of time. )

4) Yahtzee – The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. ( I love this game because it is so compact and easy to take with you when you travel. When I was a child, we used to play this game at the beach. It is also a great game for teaching math skills.)

5) Monopoly – I think everyone knows this game . One goes around the board buying properties, building houses and hotels on your properties and trying to drive other players to bankruptcy. (It is great for teaching math skills using the play money, but the game can take forever to play. You can always put a time limit on it.)

During this holiday season, think about purchasing an actual board game vs a $25 gift card to purchase online games. You choose: Load games on an electronic device and have your child sit in a corner to play video games by themselves or interact and play a game with others? Family time is precious. Enjoy the gift of time. Play some games and laugh with your family and friends!