Last year we took the time to go on an extended car trip around the Great Lakes, our destination was an Island on a lake in Northern Minnesota and then back to Rhode Island in two weeks. We drove the Trans-Canadian Highway through the tops of the Great Lakes, it's kind of funny even when you look at the map, there is ONE road through Canada and while you are on that road it certainly feels like it's the only road for miles around. We stopped to eat from 'chippie trucks' whenever we could and then we hit local diners and such for dinners. As soon as you come down through Thunder Bay, Canada and back in the USA it's an immediate change of scenery, and instead of just driving through beauty, you can feel the change in the United States. Roadside stops in Grand Marias really stood out for their smoked fish sandwiches and small health food stores.
Just in case you think that you need to prepare yourself for a trip like this, we are here to say that you don't! (although it IS a good idea, it's not necessary). So if you find yourself with some time this summer, without plans, and not much money I would completely suggest a car trip. And don't worry, your kids will be so excited about the trip that you won't need to plan for entertainment as much as you think you do! Let them in on the map directions (I would even get a map so that the kids can follow the progress on their very own), finding signs for directions, exits, and number of miles to the next stop. When things start to get rowdy in the back seat, make a pit stop, let them help clean the windows on the car, take a bathroom break, and even take the moment to chew a stick of gum, you will be amazed at the troopers that you have along with you!
Our drive took two weeks and we had to hustle it on the way back a bit, so give yourself time to relax and drive at a good pace so that when you stop you can enjoy yourself a bit and not have to take off early in the morning. We planned a mix of camping and staying in small hotels along the way and this broke things up a bit and worked out very good. We found the camping in Canada really amazing, beautiful and natural, while in the USA it was slightly more crowded. But if you do your homework on the towns in which you would like to stop, I am sure there would be a treasure in each day! The point is to not expect too much and just plan on keeping it cool with your family and rolling with the punches.
Wovenplay's Sun Suit is Carina's "favorite summer piece of all time!" and on her packing list!
As for what to bring, don't pack all the practical stuff you would 'think' that you would want on a car trip. In that I mean have some fun and bring the crazy stuff... On a road trip, this is where you are out of your element and have a good time! I have a friend who is an amazing Womens Clothing designer, she is super chic, always... when we traveled to Sicily together she would wear Prada to the beach, I thought she was nuts but really... if you have the stuff you just have to wear it, don't let it sit in your closet! This is especially true for kids clothes, they will outgrow it anyhow and you don't know how cool a totally worn out Makie dress can be while camping or playing at the beach, why not look completely amazing all the time instead of just for a wedding! (expensive also means that it's made well in my book!). We also don't bring along tons of games and things on road trips, yes, I think that the correct games and learning apps loaded by a parent onto an iPod touch is great, but on the other hand a slinky bought at a gas station in Des Moines, Iowa can become all the rage! (if you brought it along it wouldn't have that appeal). Our kids both have an old fashioned radio with earphones (we use these wonderful ones by iFrogz that are colorful and the kids LOVE!).
Good Luck and maybe we will see you this year as we plan to camp our way through the Grand Canyon... somewhere around there... let us know if you have any ideas!
Very warmly - Carina
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