Florida Road Trip! Two days in a vehicle means Family time.

Our family has taken so many road trips, it’s hard to count. Some of them, being long multi-day affairs, like our drives to the state of Florida. We’ve done it many times – In fact, over 20 times in the last 18 years. We know the drill and it is somewhat routine now, but it always seems to be a new adventure each time we decide to drive to the sunshine state. This is not your ordinary road trip. For us, this means traveling over 1600 mi (2600 km) ONE WAY, in a vehicle. To some, a Florida road trip may sound like nails on a chalkboard, being stuck in a vehicle for that long, but it’s the way we roll.

Florida Road Trip Packing

We are a bit of a last minute crew. I wouldn’t necessarily say spontaneous, it’s more like let’s contemplate it for a long time and then bam, we decide quickly. Our most recent trip was no different. We made our final decision on Wednesday afternoon and we left on Saturday morning. Luckily, our work is relatively flexible so this type of planning (or lack of) can be pulled off.

After several trials at this, we have found a sequence that works well for us. We like begin our drive at 4:00 am on the departure day. Most of our stuff gets packed a few days prior to departure and waiting at the door to be loaded. We leave some toiletries and essentials left to be packed for the night before. On the evening before departure, we finish up the last of packing and preparations, including getting the food and snacks into a cooler.

Snacks are really important for a long drives and we always pack a snack that we CANNOT travel without. A fresh loaf of sliced bread and a new, unopened jar of Nutella. (My sympathies to all the people with tree nut and gluten intolerances). It’s perfect for that extra little pep late in the day, when we’ve been traveling for a while. Everything then gets packed into the vehicle and we try to get to bed by 9ish. At this point, our Florida road trip is ready to roll in just a few short hours.

Getting some Sleep

As someone who occasionally suffers from insomnia, this is not easy for me but I have figured out a trick. Starting around 6:00 pm, I slowly drink two glasses of red wine and it really puts me to sleep. I know that it’s probably the worst way ever devised, to fall asleep before a big trip, but it really works for me. My head hits the pillow by 9:00 pm and I actually fall asleep easily. My eyes seem automatically open up at 3:00 am, usually without an alarm – No hangover or groggy feeling at all. I am a bit of a lightweight when it comes to drinking, especially wine, so it doesn’t take much for me, and I am in no way condoning drinking yourself to sleep.

I hop into the shower shortly after waking up to make sure I’m fresh and awake. The rest of the house slowly wakes up and gets the last of their things ready and by the door. We drive-thru one of the Tim Hortons that is open 24 hours and pick up some breakfast (bagels), coffee and juice. The tires roll onto the highway heading south by 4:30 am.

The vehicle is quiet for the first few hours. It’s dark, there aren’t many vehicles on the road and the kids usually recline their seats and fall asleep. We get a few hours of good driving in before the morning light starts shining and begins to wake everyone. This usually marks the first stop of the day. A quick stretch, refuel and a couple of fresh cups of coffee and we head back out. Re-energized and ready for the remainder of our Florida road trip. Both G and I enjoy driving but I usually do most, if not all the driving during these long road trips. I really enjoy driving and it usually relaxes me.

First Target

Our goal for the first day is to make it to the Florida welcome center in Yulee, Florida. If all goes well, we arrive at 12:30am. That makes for a 20h30m trip the first day. It is a far distance, and admittedly, we are usually pretty tired by the time we get there. Our typical target is Southwest-Florida, so at this point in our trip, there is still about 6 more hours in our Florida road trip, so it is a welcome stop.

In the past, we would try to find a hotel to sleep for the night, but the last few years, we’ve parked at the welcome center, reclined our seats and slept. No, it’s not a five-star sleeping arrangement, but there is no worry about finding a clean, available hotel room. Better, there’s no need to haul our butts and luggage into the room at midnight. The center is security patrolled and there are many cars parked, doing the exact same thing as us.

We get a few hours of sleep and get back on the road to complete our final hours of driving. The actual welcome center doesn’t open until 8:00 am, which we usually miss. If you happen to get there during the normal business hours, they have information for practically everything to do in the state of Florida, PLUS, they serve free Florida Orange and Grapefruit juice. Highly recommended.

Memorable conversations

Yes, we might sound crazy, but here’s the thing. We have been doing this since the kids have been born. In our busy, hectic lives, we rarely have time to talk. I don’t mean, the typical “How was school?” or simple discussions that we try to fit in at the dinner table. I mean, real discussions, that you have both the time and a captive audience. Being in a vehicle for the better part of 2 days gives you just that. We have had some really in-depth conversations, where our kids have opened up to us. Conversely, we have opened up to them in ways that I am certain we wouldn’t have been able to do any other time. I have truly cherished those times.

The kids are at an age that they should probably be hating this sort of thing, being in a vehicle with their parents for 2 days, but they don’t. They may put up a bit of a fuss once in a while, but it is clear they actually enjoy this time as well. There will come a time where they may not want or not be able to take these long trips with us. I know I’ll be sad when that day comes, but I will feel better knowing that we had so many great moments together and created lasting memories. So whenever someone cringes about being ‘stuck’ in a vehicle together for 2 days, I proudly say that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I highly recommend taking a road trip of any length with your family or loved ones. It doesn’t need to be a long one for you to find memorable moments and unknown adventures. Pull out that map and look around to places you’ve never been to and pack up that car. Great memories await!

About Victoria 59 Articles
Just a girl who loves Travel, Technology, Fashion, Cooking and enjoying all life has to offer.

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