This is a forgotten post from our final 2 weeks on the road last July. Feels like a lifetime ago. Enjoy!!!
Road trippin’ with three kids and a dog is not for the faint of heart. Now that we’re finally settled in San Antonio for a bit I’ve had some time to process life on the road. Here are some of the tricks I learned to get us from one destination to the next in one piece (arguing siblings optional).
Don’t Drive more than 5 hours per day
Five hour days were our long days and we split them in half with lunch and a site visit in between. You can use a dog app to find restaurants that are dog-friendly. That tip I got from a friend AFTER we arrived in TX. Bring Fido.com
My husband used booking.com for our hotel stays. The trip started as slow travel, but a back pain flare-up left us scrambling to get to our final destination. We had plans to visit my childhood nanny, but it was an additional 8 hours of driving. Sadly, but for keeping sane, we cut our week in Arkansas out.
Luckily, friends in Austin let us crash with them for a week! They have 4 kids and run a tight ship. It was fun for my children to see how another family operates. For the most part, they fell in line. For the adults, watching 7 children at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table was enjoyable! The kids kept each other entertained.
Eating authentic food in places like TexasArkana and Memphis, TN was important. My kids aren’t big on BBQ but they tried it! The cultures across the United States are so diverse. I’ve been itching to show my kids a new world in Puerto Rico, but there have been plenty of cultures to soak up along this south to the west journey.
Nashville was a place where I had to be more open. I’ve never loved country music, but I did grow up with Patsy Cline records in the house. I know all the words to “Crazy” and “She’s Got You” and would sing either shamelessly in my youth (teaching killed my voice but it was lovely).
Seeing the Patsy Cline museum was interesting (her death was tragically similar to Richie Valens; she died in a plane crash at 30). But, I wasn’t excited to go into all the country music stars’ bars (AKA honkey tonks).
Fortunately, my daughter was. She was dancing up a storm in Luke Bryant’s place! If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have gone inside. Gimmie a Blues bar in Memphis all day, please! But, I reminded myself to be open, too. And it was a bonus that kids are allowed in bars before 9pm. Nashville nightlife was overpriced but exciting. The main street reminded me of Las Vegas for country music.
Little Rock, AR
We didn’t stay long enough for a decent sense of the culture in Little Rock. We met a talented artist whose work I would describe as Black empowerment on tiles. Think Black Panther meets art deco. He was inspiring, told us which museums to visit and even talked to my eldest son about his art career. His advice: keep at it because it takes decades to hone talent.
A Word about “Pin-Up Moms”
The highlight for my children was the pool at the hotel, but we also toured the Military Museum. I was enlightened by the birth of the “pin-up mom” exhibit. The newspaper clippings and magazines of the era alluded to Post World War II soldiers who came back with perfect ideals of the ultimate woman. The term bombshell was born from shapely women painted onto the noses and sides of bomber planes during the war.
At the same time the fantasies were “taking shape “ many women took factory and other wage-earning jobs to replace men during the war. These wives had to then leave their jobs and newfound independence as soon as the war ended and soldiers returned to civilian work.
Many might have felt expected to fulfill the pinup fantasy, yet still be present moms (pregnancy was imminent once the man returned home) and homemakers. I feel this is an image we have been trying to shake ever since. Obviously, this exhibit struck a chord with me.
Random Meals and Snacks
To save money and ourselves from picky eaters on the road we often bought snacks, a bottle of cheap bubbly to share at the hotel and called it dinner. But, I’m not a big drinker, there was always booze left over.
There were at least five times where I washed down a random snack with leftover champagne from a mini-fridge as I was checking out of a hotel room at 9am. That sounds like a bad movie but, hey, I’m just being honest.
Maybe it was the best way to prepare for my 5-hour drive with a dog, dirty laundry and tired kiddos. My advice:
Do make sure to rotate snacks and hide them, so new snacks are “discovered” throughout the trip. And always have enough for each child. NO one feels like sharing when they’ve been riding in the car all day and the 4-year-old didn’t nap, AGAIN.
Use a Water Filter and Make sure the Bathroom door locks
We saved ourselves so much money on water bottles by bringing our 2-gallon Berkey water filter and refillable rubber-coated glass bottles on the road. My affiliate link to Berkey is here and linked under resources. Saves a ton of money.
Make sure the bathroom door locks I hope is self-explanatory. I will add that every 5th night or so we rented a suite so the hubby and I could have our own room. It’s very unromantic to stay in close quarters with your kiddos for months straight. I don’t know how RV families do it. Keep the magic alive, ya’ll. Texan accent optional. 😉