Holiday Travels: Surviving 2,500 Miles on the Road with Kids

As I mentioned in my last post, my little family and I are in the midst of our epic road trip. Decreasing temperatures, gloomy skies, and icy roads drove us south for the holidays. I’m beginning to think all this will be more than worth it after looking at the forecast for Christmas day.

Our home in St. Paul, MN is predicted to have a Christmas low of -7 F and a high of 2 F. Melrose, Florida, where we’ll be spending Christmas day, is expected to have a high of 63 and a low of 43. I’ll let you decide which location will be more enjoyable.

When we decided to drive from Minnesota to Florida, my husband and I looked at it as an opportunity to spend quality time with the kids and each other while showing them some of this great country we live in. As our departure date approached, I began to worry about driving clear across the country with three small children. I imagined myself curled up in the corner of a hotel room rocking back and forth, crying and muttering to myself “almost there, almost there, almost there”.

I had to have a plan of attack. This was going to be fun, but it was going to take some work. The first step was mapping out a good route. Our first destination was Dalton, Ga which is in the northwest part of the state. From St. Paul, it was about 13 hours of driving to Dalton. I decided to split this leg of the trip into two days. We had plenty of time, so taking our time wasn’t a problem. Our first stop would be Bloomington, Il, which was almost 7 hours away. This would be our longest stretch of the trip. We stopped for lunch at a Panera in Wisconsin Dells (eating in the car) and paid a visit to a giant green dinosaur next door. The kids got matching dinosaur rings as a memento. It w    as fun driving through Illinois. There were wind turbines everywhere. The kids tolerated my teachable moment for about 2 minutes before they were back to their games. 

The next day, we drove 6 hours to Nashville, TN. I had some fun roadside stops planned, but it was rainy and my daughter got extremely carsick (I’ll spare you the gory details). We had planned for a fun night in Nashville. The kids love coming out late with us when we’re on vacation and this had been what my daughter was most looking forward to. However, a sour stomach kept her hotel bound with me while my husband and son went out on the town. The next day, my daughter was feeling good enough to go out and we got to explore a little of Nashville. We mainly stuck to things that were free since everything was so expensive and we weren’t sure if the kids would even enjoy themselves. We had a delicious breakfast at a place called Biscuit Love, took the free green line bus to Broadway St, and walked across the pedestrian bridge. There was a fun little park on the river that the kids played at before heading back. It was a cloudy day, but a welcomed reprieve from cold Minnesota temperatures. 


Day 3 was a quick 2 1/2 hour drive to our family in Dalton, Ga. While in Dalton, we took a day to visit the Tennessee Aquarium in nearby Chattanooga, TN. The kids had a great time. This is by far my favorite aquarium. It’s spread out, has lots of interesting exhibits, and even has a butterfly garden. The rest of our time in Dalton was spent grilling steaks, opening early Christmas presents, playing poker, laughing, and catching up. Sadly, our time here is over and we are about to leave for Macon, Ga and begin the next leg of our trip. 


Stay tuned for more adventures from the road…

2 thoughts on “Holiday Travels: Surviving 2,500 Miles on the Road with Kids

  1. You are brave! We are definitely not up for cross-country road trips with our kids yet–not that flying is much better. It sounds like they’re doing great, though! Crossing my fingers for you that the carsickness bouts are over.

    I went to the U of MN and lived in St. Paul for a while afterward, so I can understand wanting to get away from the weather! Have a blast in Florida 🙂

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