Let’s talk vacay!
Last year, Hubs & I packed up the kids andtook them on a 2-week adventure through the Midwest, going through 9 states and 1 Canadian province and all 5 great lakes along the way!
We went to the National Museum of the US Air Force, Chicago (Willis Tower & the Shedd Aquarium), the Wisconsin Dells, The Painted Rocks, several waterfalls, a shipwreck museum, the Soo Locks, Mackinac Island, an automotive museum (comlete with a collection of player pianos and theater organs), a professional baseball game, a wedding recpetion, 4th of July parade, a Harry Potter escape room, a farm (we got to pet a calf), Niagara Falls, and a number of National Parks (the kids earned 2 Junior ranger badges!). Mid-trip, we took 5 days to stay in one place and visit family.
It was intense but tons of fun!
|Donuts from Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago
This year, after being quarantined for 2 months, our state (and the neighboring states) are slowly starting to open up. It was time to visit family, as responsibly as possible.
For the first trip, I planned for weeks and weeks to make sure we had everything we needed for such a long trip. This year, I planned and packed in 2 days. The opportunity to travel came up suddenly, so we mobilized quickly. I was very thankful that I’d done a trip like this before, so that I could plan and pack that quickly.
|Chicago Style Pizza in Chicago
For both trips, the big question was food.
So how does a foodie pack for a trip like this?
The trips each had unique challenges.
Last year, we took the long, scenic route, taking 6 days to our halfway point where we stayed with family. It was July, and averaging 95 degrees over the course of the trip (imagine how hot that car was!)
|Twice, I accidentally fed the kids ice cream for dinner...oops
Everything had to be packed and easily accessible in my “older than my kids” trailblazer, along with 2 weeks worth of luggage.
To keep costs down, I told the kids that we would have continental breakfast at the hotel, we could eat out for one meal, and the other would be picnic-style.
Which meant, of course, thatI had to pack a week’s worth of picnic items in coolers!
|Harry Potter themed cake I made for a wedding reception on the road!
Each night we hauled the coolers into the hotel, dumped the water (since our ice had melted in the heat), and refilled the ice. We were a well-oiled machine by the end!
This year, we kept the trip as short as possible, but with over 1,000 miles to cover, it still meant 2 full days of driving through 4 states at varying degrees of opening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were able to secure a hotel ahead of time, so we knew we’d have a place to stay, but food was a complete unknown. Unlike last year, we couldn’t rely on continental breakfast from the hotel, so I baked pumpkin chip muffins and peanut butter and apples as a breakfast option (it turned out that the hotel provided bag breakfasts, but not much of it was what my family would eat, so I was happy to have my own breakfasts packed).I also had no idea if restaurants would be open (it turned out that in all states we traveled through had drive thru and curbside pickup available), so I planned that all meals would be picnic style.
We also packed facemasks, disinfecting wipes, and plenty of hand sanitizer. Public rest areas were a must (and often our picnic areas), so we wanted to protect ourselves and others as much as possible. Each time we stopped for a picnic, we also took a 15-30 minute walk/hike (depending what trails were available) to keep us active.
|Nonperishables packed for the 2019 trip
Being both a mom and a foodie, I wanted us eating well, even on the road.
So here’s what we packed:
Yep, we packed a lot into the car, both times! One meal per day was planned as more of a “cheese and crackers” type meal. Since I was packing for 2 significant meals each day, I wanted variety. Before we left for the trip, I made extra homemade pizza and packed it as a cold pizza option. On the way home, we had extra takeout pizza that we brought with us. Also on the way out, I roasted a chicken, pulled the meal off the bones and brought that a great protein option. That not being an option on the way home, I purchased a cold rotisserie chicken at the grocery store before we left and did the same.