Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weekend Recap: Redemption Road Trip

I wrote about our road trip fail the other month when we went to Vermont.  It took us so very long to get up there and it was torturous with the kids.  By my own admission, I did not plan well.  I had a lot going on at the time and ultimately we probably shouldn't have made the trip at all.  It was mentally and physically draining...not really what vacations should be about.

I owned the fail publicly on the blog and researched some tips (and pinned a few) that could help us in the future.  Today I am happy to report our recent road trip a monumental success.  

Here is what made this trip a great success and a wonderful family memory: 
  •  Prior Proper Planning: two weeks out I started creating a master packing list.  It is very comprehensive since I gave myself time to add items as they came to me.  I spent about 10 minutes a day for two weeks just reviewing the list.  I thought this was a good time to put together a master travel list to use going forward.  As something popped in my head, I made sure to jot it down.  This allowed me to run my "travel errands" throughout a two week period (not the day before!).   The packing list also incorporated all the food items we would need to bring and doubled as a shopping list.  I think the most critical component was not that I created a list but that I did it two weeks out and reviewed it daily.

Lists, Lists, Lists
  • Set Yourself up for Success: I created a To Do List one week out of everything that needed to come together for me to be packed a day or two before we were leaving.  I made sure to delegate tasks to my husband and kids.  This went a long way in keeping my stress levels manageable.
    My gorgeous pipe cleaner bangles
  • Planned Car Activities: we amped up our travel kit.  Normally I bring the kids DS which they never play.  They don't even play them at home.  Somehow I wound up with kids who don't play video games.  Based on the research I did I stocked our travel kit with the following items - drawing pads, dry erase boards, crayons, colored pencils, pipe cleaners, and a deck of cards.  Those pipe cleaners were the best addition.  My kids loved them.  The dry erase boards were another hit.  My 8 year old had fun with Road Trip Bingo.  You can find templates here or make your own.
  • Behavior Modification: I saw a blog post suggesting the use of clothes pins as a visual reminder of behavior.  If behavior was good, the clips were on the visor.  If behavior needed correction, the clips came down from the visor.  I was flabbergasted that this worked so well.  Like all behavior modification techniques, you need to change it up but I think I will get another trip or two out of this one.  I only had to pull the clips down once and they were devastated.  I just went the cheap, easy and undecorated route.  I had these around the house from the $1 section at Target.
    Quick and Easy.  Worked like charm.
  • Splurge for Sanity: - John and I are fiscal conservatives.  We make a conscious effort to be thrifty.  Sometimes in our thriftiness we don't always make the best decisions.  in the past we opted to save $80 (one way) or $160 (round trip) on the ferry.  Long Island has two ferries taking you across Long Island Sound.  This trip we were going from central Long Island to Mystic, Connecticut.  Last year it took us 5 hours due to insane Connecticut  traffic.  This time we "bit the bullet" and splurged on a one way ticket for the Long Island Cross Sound ferry from Orient Point to New London.  OMG - what a difference this made to the trip.  We drove an hour and a half to Orient Point.  Took the ferry for an hour and a half.  Then drove 15 minutes to Mystic.  By far, this is the best way to do this trip from my location.  Going forward we will definitely look to utilize the ferries more often. Note: we would have taken the ferry back but couldn't get a reservation.
    On the Ferry.  Worth every penny.
  • Breathe: I am pretty tightly wound.  I asked John to remind me that we are on vacation.  Making a mental shift allowed me to keep things in perspective.  "We are on vacation" became my mantra.  Pipe cleaners all over the car floor...'We are on vacation".  Kids whining while they try to get comfortable..."We are on vacation".  Little by little I am learning to not take life too seriously.  It is a work in progress.
Breathe..."We are on Vacation"
This was a short trip but it was a lot of fun.  The success we had in the car helped set the stage for a relaxing, adventurous, and enjoyable mini break.  If you are living somewhere near Mystic Connecticut, we recommend staying at the KOA campground in North Stonnington.  They had tons of activities for the kids at the campgrounds, our cabins were clean, the playground and pool kept the kids occupied for hours.  The A Team enjoyed riding their bikes all over the campground.  Mystic Seaport never disappoints.  The Aquarium is also an exciting place to explore.
Little A on the BOUNCY pillow!


Getting frames pronto!

It was a very happy trip.

Melts my heart...when they aren't
killing each other.

Mystic in the rain.

August goal of 5 sun salutations.
 Our next road trip is in October to Washington DC.  Since it will be a longer road trip, I am going to start planning NOW and gather ideas to make it a success.  Vacations that start with me in the right frame of mind are key to everyone's happiness.  I can handle anything life throws at me with enough sleep and proper organization.

Anyone have any good hotels, restaurants, and/or places to go around Washington DC?  Share your road trip secrets with us below.

Follow me and my Iron Family:


  1. Splurging for the ferry is an absolute MUST. Worth every penny in views, saving time, avoiding traffic on 95, and letting everyone get out of the car (especially kids). I think of it as PART of the vacation, as opposed to a travel expense. Kids get a chance to be on a boat, you can see a lot of our area's geography, it's just plain fun.

    The drive to D.C. can be rough or easy and all depends on traffic. Make sure you plan the best times to go and come back (Staten Island bridge traffic is killer on Sunday afternoon and evening). Where are you staying?

  2. Hey, Tara, it's Susannah's mom from Mrs. McG's class.

    For DC, you might try Amtrak. We took the Crescent from Penn to my hometown for a family reunion down south and it stops in DC, I know there are other trains, I think there's a high speed one. It's a fun adventure if you pack reasonably light, though the bathrooms sometimes leave a lot to be desired, depending on how long the train has been in service. We took LIRR to Penn, so we didn't have to drive into the city or park or anything. You might rather have your car in DC, though.

    I agree about the ferry, I talk my husband into it every time we're headed that way. Susannah and her sisters love it..

    1. Elizabeth - thanks for reading and thanks for the recommendation!