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If you follow us on social, you know we're in Kentucky right now. We live in Maryland, but have plenty of family in Kentucky that we visit several times throughout the year. At this stage of life with littles, it's easier and makes more sense to drive the 12 hours instead of flying.
When the kids were younger and still in that baby stage, we would make the drive in one day. We could easily pull of the road at rest stops or gas stations to change a diaper or feed them.
Now that the boys are 6 and 3, I've decided to make our long car ride a real adventure. We now split the drive up into two days and spend those full two days having fun along the way.
Back in April, Owen and I took the trip to Kentucky and enjoyed stops at Sideling Hill, spent the night at a hotel, and then stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park. This was the first time we made a big trip out of it and it went great!
I decided to do this trip the same way, but this time with both boys (and no hubby with us)! Brave, right? Seriously, it worked out fantastic!
I wanted to share a few tips to help turn your long car ride into an adventure!
1. Book your hotel ahead of time
When you book your hotel before you start out on your journey, you'll save yourself stress and money! When I already know how far I have to drive for the day, it immediately calms me down. I'm also pretty frugal and stress out about making sure I'm getting a great deal, so booking on the fly once I've decided to stop is a no-go for me.
2. Keep your car healthy
If you're heading out on a long drive, the last thing you want is car trouble. Before heading out on any road trip, I make sure to have my oil changed at Walmart. I love that I can drop the car off at the Automotive Care Center and then do a quick shopping run for last-minute road trip necessities (can't forget the snacks!).
With all of these long road trips, the car will be at 75,000 miles before we know it! Right now, we use Pennzoil Platinum®: Full Synthetic Motor Oil with PurePlus™ Technology, but I know we'll be in great hands when it's time to switch to Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® oil.
Getting my oil changed with Pennzoil (oil that helps clean out sludge lesser oils leave behind) at Walmart definitely helps make all these road trips a success by saving me time and money.
And right now, Pennzoil High mileage is on Rollback – $4 off ($39.88 to $35.88)!
3. Don't be afraid to wander off the route
The thing about a long drive is that you cover a ton of ground. Something that is 30 minutes “out of the way” is still so much closer than when you live 8 hours from it normally. Take the detour and reroute to hit whatever spot you've been contemplating about and enjoy the trip!
We used to do the hop on and off the highway type drives, but now I have embraced the idea of going a little farther for something fun!
4. Relax the schedule
A long car drive is pretty stressful if you're constantly worrying about the schedule. Relax the schedule to make your trip a fun adventure, or better yet – forget the schedule!
The great part about breaking it up into multiple days instead of driving straight through is that we can spend more time doing things we want to do and not feel rushed about getting to our destination.
5. Choose active stops
We all know that meal stops usually mean you're sitting in a restaurant, a bench at a rest stop, or even sitting in the car. Long drives make everyone cranky and it's not just the kids. We all get uncomfortable after so long.
If you stop, choose stops that get you up and moving. I love that the boys are old enough now to explore on their own, have opinions, and actually get excited about things. Honestly, any of those brown signs (usually history or parks) your kids probably think are going to be boring will make great stops!
We stopped at Fort Frederick State Park on the way to Kentucky this time and the kids liked exploring the old buildings at the fort. And what kid wouldn't love to see a musket fired?
We even explored a cave at Carter Caves State Park! The boys had never been through a cave and it was a hit! We said we'll have to stop at one with Daddy on his next trip with us.
You can make your next long car ride an adventure of it's own! It's not always about the destination, but the journey! And don't forget to take care of your car and get that oil changed before heading out!