Thursday, September 22, 2011

Driving to the World

Sleeping to WDW
The other day on facebook, I asked for topic ideas, questions, etc...  When a few people asked about tips for driving to Florida with little ones, I had some obvious tips, but seeing that our longest drive with Noah was 4 hours, I knew I needed to ask some experts.   I turned to my friends over at the Magical Blogorail and asked them for their tips.  And, as I'd hoped, these other amazing parents, bloggers, and Disney-loving people gave me some fantastic tips to share!

First, I'll start with my standards - 
  • DVDs - whether you have one in your car or buy a portable one (they're only like $50 these days), this is a lifesaver.  We're lucky enough to have one installed in our car - talk about a lifesaver!  
  • Snacks - Just like on an airplane - they help to calm down my fussy boy!
  • Books/toys - for the littlest ones, toys with lights and noises are great, but past that 6-9 month mark, small toys, cars, books, or whatever they love at home, they'll probably love in the car as well!
Now onto the pros:

Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse has done several long distance drives and offered her experience:
  • Jodi prefers to leave at night, stopping only for gas, restroom, and nursing/diaper breaks if necessary
  • Find a good stopping place - break the trip up into 2 days - they loved to stop at the beach for a relaxing afternoon/evening.
  • Jodi and her family love stopping for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel.  With good Southern food, clean restrooms, a fun store, and rocking chairs with checkers, the entire family can enjoy a relaxing meal after a long night on the road.
  • If you've got a little one rear-facing, have someone sit back with them, whether a parent or an older sibling, to help entertain or soothe as needed!
Heidi from Ramblings, Reflections, and Reviews had some fantastic and creative tips:
  • Go with the technology - DVDs, ipod, portable game systems
  • Create workbooks for the kids - look online and you can find plenty of free Disney coloring pages and worksheets!
  • Stop at the $1 bins at Target or the Dollar Stores and stack up on little trinkets/toys/snacks and give 1 hourly or at different intervals.  **Jenn's thought - a toy every state line!**
  • Play family games, like the License plate game, Would you Rather?, I spy, etc...
  • Always break up the 18 hour drive into 2 days
Mary from Capturing Magical Memories made me laugh with her lesson learned:
  • With a 16 month old - don't drive straight through the night!  Instead of sleeping, her son stayed up all night pointing out the other cars - "light, light!"  **That would definitely be my son**
Tricia from Return to Disney likes to leave early and drive in chunks:
  • Leave around 4-5 a.m. and drive for 4 hours, stopping for breakfast.  With little kids, find a local park and let the kids burn some energy for an hour.
  • Drive for another 4-5 hours and stop for a late lunch, avoiding crowds.  Find another park and run around before getting back in the car.
  • Stop for the night around dinner time, check into a hotel, then let the kids burn some more energy in the hotel pool.  They're so exhausted it makes up for a day of mostly sitting in the car!
Mike from My Dreams of Disney has a driving tradition-
  • Mike loves to stop in Savannah, GA - a beautiful and fun non-Disney city.  It's a great place to stop for the night and a fun place to be!
Deb from Focused on the Magic knows more than how to take amazing pictures.  She's driven to WDW from NY and NJ and has her tips!
  • Leave in the middle of the night and stop for the night in GA
  • Enjoy a day of R&R before heading into the resorts and starting the Disney exhaustion
Amy from Growing Up Disney has yet to take her 3 month old daughter to WDW, but has done long car trips with her 3 year old daughter, including a cross-country move while pregnant!
  • They left on a 600 mile trip after an early dinner, driving for 4-5 hours before stopping at a hotel.  Admittedly, it was hard to get DD3 to sleep in the hotel, but it helped the driver!
  • Rules go out the windows on long drives - worry about brain rotting and calories another day - bring on the DVD's and snacks!
  • All about new toys, books, dvd's.  Cheap is fine, new is key!
  • Her best tip - stop as much as possible.  While pregnant, they took 4 days to go from OK to NC with a non-car day in the middle!  And, whenever possible, try to let the toddler run around as much as possible on stops!

If you've got the time and are planning a long drive, try to stop for the night.  You'll be thankful the whole family isn't miserable when you arrive at the Happiest Place on Earth!

I would like to thank all of my Magical Blorogail people for their tips and tricks!  I hope they help you as much as they've helped me.  And, as always, if you have questions, article ideas, or anything else, you can ask me over at twitter, facebook, or leave a comment below!!


  1. What a wonderful idea you had asking for everyone's opinion...I love that! Plus you have some wonderful information here.

  2. We've been so lucky to get cheap plane tickets - direct flights on jet blue most recently we got all 3 tickets for under $600! Good luck and hope these tips help on your drive!

  3. I much prefer to fly! I have no desire to take a 2 year old on a 1000 mile road trip anytime soon.. but when we have 2 over 2 - paying for 4 plane tickets? May happen eventually, but now, no way!

  4. We still prefer to fly (for us the hotel, mileage, extra meals and 2 extra work days would cost more than the flight) but I like these tips and especially how you linked back to each blogger than you consulted.

  5. Thank you for the fabulous tips. I really appreciate it. We are now leaning towards a disney drive instead of the easy but expensive 2 hour plane trip. Thank you for the great tips.