This spring/summer, we’re traveling around the United States on a great family road trip (you can read all about it here).
Many of you have given the most invaluable suggestions and we can’t wait to pore over each one as we finalize our travel itinerary. Thank you times one million for taking the time to share! If you’d like to see where we are going and suggest stops, there is a quick form here.
I announced our fun travel news in the last Coffee Chat and am back today to answer a bunch of questions about the trip. Here it goes!
Q: Will you talk about your travel prep?
Yes, of course! We are excited to share our whole experience and have a small list of blog posts I’ll work on before we leave. Once we’re on the road, we’ll be documenting the trip and posting photos, videos and details about our adventures. We do hope you enjoy following along!
Q: What order are you visiting the cities?
When imagining our trip we had either a Fall route or a Spring route; head east across the top and then down around clockwise or head south and around counter-clockwise. Since we’re making it happen this Spring, we’ll begin by going south down the west coast, over to Arizona and New Mexico, south through Texas then hug the southern and eastern coasts and continue counter clockwise through Chicago, Ohio and on through Wyoming. We’re skipping some states (sadly), spending the majority of our time in coastal towns and the big sightseeing must-dos around the country.
Q: Did you use a guide to plan this or did you do it yourself?
We planned the trip ourselves. This trip has been a pretty front-of-mind dream for the last two years, so we’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about where we’d like to go. I had my wish list; Ryan had his. Thankfully, they matched up pretty well. We knew we wanted to see all the major things (Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon). Showing my family the most gorgeous little town of Seaside, Florida (where I had visited with friends) was at the top of my list, along with seeing a few southern cities I had heard such wonderful things about. Ryan was particularly excited about Washington DC (neither of us have been and we can’t wait to do it with the kids!) and New York City.
Many evenings have been spent reading articles, books, and travel blogs about the best places to see and truly every city has something wonderful to offer. Ryan created a google map for us to drop pins on every time we found a stop and then we just started figuring out distances (google was our friend) and looking for fun places along the way. Our goal is to limit our drive time to a max of 4 hours on any travel days. There are two or three days that are longer – like nine hours (ugh) but there just was no way around it.
Q: What will you be traveling in?
We bought a Class C Motorhome two years ago as we prepared for the trip (see it here). We’ve used it a handful of times and it’s great, but it may not be right for this trip. We’re currently in the market for a travel trailer that we’ll pull with our family SUV so that we’ll have a car to take on day trips.
There are so many options and yet finding just the right thing for our large family has proven mildly difficult. We have just under four weeks to decide on the best option … wish us luck!
Q: What will you pack to wear?
I’m so glad someone asked this question because as silly as it is, it feels like a fun project for me. Our space will be very limited which means our wardrobes will be quite small. We’ll probably bring about a weeks’ worth of clothes for each person, with a few extras (a nicer outfit for dinners out, a rain coat, an extra sweatshirt). Each of us will bring a pair of good walking/hiking shoes and flip flops. We’ll do laundry at the campgrounds. Now that we’re getting closer to our leave date, I’ll be going through our clothes and putting our packing list together. I’ll be sure to write more about what we pack as I figure it out!
Q: What about school?
The kids will miss about 7 weeks of school. Ryan and I were super nervous to meet with the school and figured we were going to have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to make the trip work with their education. As it turned out, our school district has been so willing to work with us and have made it extra easy.
Since the kids will be missing more than 20 consecutive days of school, we will un-enroll them from school and will technically be independently homeschooling. Our principal’s main concern was that the kids hit their end-of-year standards, and thankfully all four have so we won’t have additional school work to bring along with us.
We were truly so surprised at how school was a non-issue. It just reminded us that as parents, we have the power to decide how to educate our children. We’ll oblige by all of the state requirements, of course, and we don’t have a single worry that our kids will be negatively impacted by missing school (although they all love school and will be crying messes on our last day!).
When it really comes down to it, I can’t imagine a better educational experience for our kids than to experience culture, history and geography is such a tangible way. We know it will make a lasting impression on their lives!
Q: What about work?
Thankfully, having an online business means we can check in from the road (as long as there’s internet connection!) and we have an amazing team of people working with us to keep Maker + Ink, Paper Works, the blog, shop and classes going smoothly while we’re away.
Ryan retired this year from the fire service, where he was a firefighter for the past 12 years. Last summer, he had a pretty serious work-related back injury and we knew it was time to close that chapter of his career. He continues working behind the scenes with me at JDC (I love it!), doing small business consulting (which he is amazing at!) and is a real estate broker here in the Seattle area.
This trip falls at a great time as we transition into what’s next for our family, our businesses, and our ministry (which maybe will become clearer to us as we drive across the country?!).
Q: How did you budget for the trip?
Since we’ve been preparing for the trip for a while, we’ve had time to estimate costs and save accordingly.
Traveling for nearly 4 months with six people on a once-in-a-lifetime trip is not cheap. We started with a list of all of the possibilities, and have adjusted as we’ve planned (how much do we camp? stay in hotels? how many days on the road?) to keep it in line with reality.
We have a pretty basic spreadsheet with dates, where we’re staying, mileage between stops and costs. It acts as our planner and budgeting tool in one.
We’ve also done a fairly good job of hunting down discounts and memberships. We’re camping at several KOAs which offer a yearly membership, we have AAA which gets us better hotel rates and we bought a family membership to ASTC so we can visit science centers and museums all over the country.
Fuel will be one of our biggest expenses and hooray! gas prices are lower than they’ve been in years.
Q: Are you bringing your dog?
Sweet Atlas, our goofy labradoodle, will not be joining us. Ryan’s parents have graciously offered to keep him. The trip we’re planning is really not conducive to bringing along a pet, but we sure will miss him!
We clearly love talking about all of this, so if you have any other questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and I’ll reply back. Thanks again to all who have offered suggestions over on the road trip page!