Family RV Trip

Grimmes Go West!  Part 1

This Spring Break we decided to change it up a little bit and try something we’ve never done before - RVing.  And by “this Spring Break trying something new” I mean, we decided to actually do something for Spring Break instead of just taking the week off from school at home.  #homeschoolerproblems.  

The trip evolved from wanting to go somewhere warmer but realizing getting our family of five anywhere costs a fortune, let alone somewhere warmer.  Until the idea of a Family RV trip popped into mind. If you’re willing to drive to some of the bigger rental locations you can end up with quite a deal and save on gas mileage to wherever you’re headed.  We found a great deal for picking up a large RV in Denver, Colorado with CruiseAmerica so we decided to start our trip mapping there and work our way down to Arizona, stopping along the way for hiking and sight seeing, then looping back up through the Grand Canyon on our way home.  For the next four weeks follow along for a multi-part series where you will find our daily recap and itinerary which will include helpful tips for traveling with kids, links to sights worth seeing and where stopped along the way.  And, if you’re wanting a few more pictures check out #grimmesgowest on Instagram!

PS: It. was. so. much. fun.  And somehow hysterically and unintentionally lined up with a large portion of our history and geography curriculum for this year.

Pre-Trip:

Get your kids involved in the planning!  And packing :)  

Look at the map together, check out some books from the library and pick out sites everyone seems interested in.  

Pack only the food needed for the day trip to Colorado- snacks, anything that might go back in your fridge, but go easy on the meal prep before you get the RV.  

Day 1:

Illinois to Colorado

Overnight stay at Drury Inn & Suites

Our house is full of morning people which in the case worked to our advantage.  We managed to get our act together and out the door by 5:18am, only 18 minutes behind schedule!  

The drive time to our hotel was about 14 hours, and we made it in 16 1/2 hrs with stops for breakfast and all the potty/gas breaks.  We stayed at the Drury Inn & Suites, which is pet friendly and VERY reasonably priced considering you get a free breakfast buffet (legit breakfast buffet - not toast and bagels) and free appetizers and drinks every night.  Another bonus is their indoor/outdoor pool which was a huge blessing for the kids after driving all day!  It was our first time staying at this chain and we’re obsessed!  Clean, great sized rooms, plenty of space for 5 people + a large dog to stay in.  It’s conveniently situated across from an extensive shopping center so groceries and any other miscellaneous items can be picked up before you leave town.

For the kids:

-I let them each pick out one DVD/show to watch which added up to about 3.5 hours total of screen time.  

-We’ve found it best for our family to leave really early in the morning and stop around 7am for breakfast out.  

-I stocked up a few of our favorite snacks (Trader Joes for the win - their chocolate filled short bread cookies.  Well.  You’re welcome.) and packed a homemade lunchable for everyone to cut down on costs.  It was a great way to get rid of some things from home.  

-Each child gets a small bag/backpack to pack a few car trip items in, including search and finds, books, rubix cubes, markers + sketch pad, and our new favorite MAD LIBS!  

-The three year old packs in this [target link to hanging bag] because it hangs from his window and keeps things from falling out of his lap on the regular.  It’s stocked full of stickers, cars, planes, markers and he usually doesn’t like to play with any of it!  So, that’s fun……

-I picked a few readlouds for the van that everyone would be interested and downloaded some new audibles.  

-When the inevitable happens and everyone has a meltdown at the same time, turn up the music and have a dance party!  

-By the time we have 3-4 hours left everyone is DONE so we stop one last time and let everyone pick out their favorite snack.  In the name of attitude changes, $.75 goes a long way, friends!  

All in all, it was probably our easiest drive to date with three kids!

Iowa is lovely and the change of scenery was such a treat.  The only thing we really enjoyed in Nebraska were all the snow geese that seemed to be migrating at the time - other than that it was very….dull… sorry, Nebraska!!  Then in Colorado, approaching the mountains at sunset was incredible.  There were DEFINITELY cranky moments, grape throwing, spilled food, lost water bottles, toy cars thrown to the front seat and unexpected potty breaks but I tried to make a point to engage in games, reading and sightseeing with the kids (It’s so easy for me to see car time as “mommy break time”) and it helped a ton.  It also helped to set some expectations in advance with the kids- dividing the car ride into portions, not watching all three shows at once, allowing for a nap time, eating lunch together, etc.  

Favorite car games:

Mad Libs!

ABC game - find a letter along the drive for every letter in the alphabet, you can’t move on to the next letter until you find the current letter

Animal guessing game (someone thinks of an animal and everyone else asks yes/no questions to try to guess what animal they’re thinking of)

 

Favorite Audibles:

The Happy Little Family

Frog and Toad

 

Favorite Read Alouds:

Secret Zoo

U is for Utah, an Alphabet book

Road Atlas - not even kidding.  

 

Favorite Usborne Picks:

*A super sweet friend of mine became an Usborne rep right before the trip so I stocked up on a few new books.  The Bear Grylls options are my favorite for boys!! (Bear Grylls Survival Guide, Extreme Creatures, Adventure series) As are the Wipe Away options for littles.  

 

Stay tuned for next week's post which will include days two and three of our Family RV Trip!