Florida bound; this trip was planned in less than a day and guess what!!!! This time our furry four-legged buddy was also accompanying us. Europe trip had actually made us a Pro of road trips. This time the distance was long but the reason was to reunite with the family after a long time. Our journey began in the 1st week of October last year.
Hotel booking websites are the best to use; we always book through them to have some peace of mind and we actually know where we are landing after our tiring journey.
Tips on road trip with kids and a dog:-
1. Remember to keep dog’s Immunization card along with his rabies certificate, it is sure to get checked on US border.
2. Keep little dog food, his bowls, some poo bags, and a towel for him, we also used his old pee sheets to spread in the car seat if in case he vomits.
3. Make sure to take breaks every 2-3 hours for everyone to get off the car and walk. Getting a snack and coffee would be great. And for your pooch to pee or poo.
4. Keep some American dollars with you to pay the tolls, they accept Canadian dollars at initial 2 toll gates but later on, they wouldn’t take it and you may have to pay fine.
5. It’s always better to hit early on the highway on long drives to avoid heavy traffic and office hours.
6. Book your hotel from before; you should know where you’re landing after a long and tiring drive. Since you have to choose Pet-Friendly hotel, our best choice was Best Western.
7. Best Western provides nice and clean rooms with tea/coffee facility, it’s pet-friendly, many of them have a microwave along with a small fridge.
As an enthusiastic couple, we suddenly planned for this 2200Kms drive to meet my brother in law in Florida. This road trip comprised with 2 stopovers and we made it to their house on the 3rd night. Since we left Toronto during fall, we were able to see gorgeous fall colors past New York State. West Virginia was fulfilled with spectacular landscapes, terrain, and countryside. Georgia was nice and green again and slowly we arrived in Florida State which was quite hot and dry. This way, we saw fall, spring, and summer-like weather in just 3 days.
The best way to drive is to leave very early in the morning; we left home around 4am when there’s no traffic and also no rush on US border. It was Saturday morning which made it easier to drive; highways were mostly empty. Our 1st stopover was in beautiful West Virginia, this state reminded us of our scenic drive in Switzerland, similar grasslands, and mountains. Enjoying those breathtaking views we did not even realize, we had completed our 6 hours of a journey for day 1. We witnessed the gorgeous sunset and it was time for us to rest and prepare for next day drive. While both my boys were busy watching their DVDs in the car, our four-legged boy was enjoying the surroundings, standing at the window.
We started early again the 2nd day around 6:45am. I’ll be at loss for words again, the sunrise was superbly magnificent. I’ve never seen such beautiful panorama in my life. The sun slowly coming up over the hills and the fog oozing over the mountains, I believe it was coming out from the river. I can still visualize that sight in my mind, amazingly stunning. It was a bit cold there (1deg) as well which could have created this scenery. I’d fallen in love with the beauty of this place and noticed that we’re slowly heading down to North Carolina away from the mountains. The view again from the top of the mountain was amazing.
Hotel Choice– Best Western, room includes tea/coffee maker, nice clean room, and bathroom with breakfast and it was pet-friendly.
Location Tip– You should only leave here around sunrise to witness the surrounding, driving in the dark will not give you anything.
South Carolina(Tanger Outlets)
Soon we reached South Carolina; our next stop was at Savannah, Georgia. We took some time in the middle at SC and did some shopping at Tanger Outlets and got amazing stuff.
Some tip here- Make sure you feed your kids before heading about for shopping, a hungry child can be dangerous for you.
It was also a bit cold at night, we still wore like jackets, it was spring-like weather around 10deg. Downtown Savannah had some Historical and as well as Government buildings, people were enjoying Chariot ride, it was nice.
Hotel Choice– La Quinta Inn, quite a small room, kind of dirty, tea/coffee in the room plus breakfast but this time we made a mistake in choosing one, I didn’t like it.
Location tip– Make your choice to stay in downtown, it doesn’t take long to visit the city and everything you need will all be nearby. This will make you less tired and help you prepare for the next day.
On the 3rd day we arrived in Florida state, we visited Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, it’s a must visit if you’re coming to Florida. We loved to be there, they inspire you so much in NASA. You get to experience stories of Astronauts, their struggle and hard work and finally making it to the moon and so on. They make you believe, everything is possible if you’re really willing to achieve it, no one can stop you. Kids will totally love this place and if they are really capable, they can make their way to NASA one day.
Quote- “We choose to go to Moon”.
-John F. Kennedy
Some Tips here- NASA offers free pet care at their entrance. You need a full day to be here and experience Astronaut’s amazing journey to space. They take you in the shuttle to show you the area which has launching station etc. Best thing would be to be here when NASA launches their next Spacecraft; it’ll be such a sight.
We reached Miami Beach the same night of visiting NASA, it was such a joy to meet the family. Holding my beautiful newborn niece in my arms was another experience. Since we were meeting after a long time, my mother in law had requested if we could cut a cake for everyone’s birthday and celebrate together.
Some tip here– Florida offers a very good climate for bike lovers, you can rent them if you want to. Summer in Florida can be undoubtedly miserable, choosing a travel time between October and April would be nice. Most of the Canadians visit it during winter months as it’s very cold here.Miami has world-famous beaches and many famous Hollywood movies have been shot here, to name a few, Goldfinger, Thunderball and Casino Royale (James Bond movies).
It is located on one of the islands on the way to the Key West. Though it did not have the beach it was worth staying there.
Hotel Choice– Islamorada Beach Resort, beautiful sea facing villas, small kitchenette with cutlery, plates, pots, dishwasher, microwave, tea/coffee maker, loved our stay there, will surely recommend.
Some Tip here– Staying in the Key West can be very expensive, you can break your journey here before you reach the Florida Keys, there are many beautiful hotels and resorts which offer water sports as well.
If you are an adventurer, love scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports plus nightlife then driving to Key West Island is just you would want to do. Can you believe??? It’s just 160Kms from Cuba but you’ll have to take a ship to land there, When the giant red ball of the sun plummets into the blue of the sea, as it often does in the tropics, it sends radiant pink, orange and purple-blue fingers across the evening sky. The sunrises, too, are spectacular enough to arrest a camera’s eye, as the ever-growing glow spreads beams of glistening light over the sea. We got to witness one in Islamorada beach resort.
Walt Disney Resorts, Orlando
It was my big boy’s 10th bday and we decided to celebrate it at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. As we had recently visited Euro Disney; it felt actually the same although Disney Paris looks pretty new. This one was huge amusement park compared to Paris, much bigger, finishing everything on a single day wasn’t possible and rain somehow ruined our stay there. Most of the shows were canceled, it was the middle of the week in October, and we thought it’ll be a good chance to finish most of our favorite rides but nope, we were totally wrong. It was again full of people; I could see the cars from different states in the US. But we had so much fun being together. The next day we visited Disney Downtown which was quite nice.
Pet Tip:- Since dogs aren’t allowed in the park, you could leave them at the Pet-boarding near Disney, they charged us 40 USD.
Some tip here– Fast pass is available for most of the top attractions, you can get them at the Fast pass counter, free of charge, this will save your time and cover most of your favorite rides. We didn’t know about it when we visited Euro Disney, it actually works out great
Hotel Tip:– We again stayed at Best Western Premier (Sanatoga Resorts) at Kissimmee, it was a beautiful resort offering 1-2 bedroom apartments/villas, we had spacious 2 bedrooms/duplex, big kitchen with most of the important things to use, very clean and of course pet friendly again, loved it. Kissimmee is around 25kms away from Disney but worth it.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This place has a lot to offer; we kept hearing a lot of ads on the radio for Myrtle Beach and decided to pay a visit while returning back to Toronto. Lovely beaches, downtown, relaxing atmosphere, only the weather we chose was wrong, it was cloudy and cold. We tried to go for swimming but couldn’t stay there for long, cold breeze was making us colder when we were wet. The downtown was very nice, good for sightseeing.
Hotel Choice– West Gate Hotels and Resorts, nice and clean room with tea/coffee facility, pet-friendly, no breakfast though, ocean view room was fantastic.
Being a capital city of the United States, this place was busy, a lot of traffic. We took a break for a few hours, visited the White House, Parliament, and other buildings. Many tourists had gathered outside the White house taking pictures, it’s one of the most visited destinations in the city. It was nice and pleasant outside for walking.
Some tip here– You can walk your dog with you even in those high-security zones; the only problem is you can’t enter the buildings with them. If you want to explore White house from inside, you can get an appointment, it opens every day from 7am-1pm for visitors.
Our last night was somewhere in West Virginia again, we wanted to visit the famous Grove City Mall in Pennsylvania on the way and took a little longer route through PA. While passing, we crossed beautiful Pittsburgh; it’s on our list to visit next. Grove City didn’t seem like offering great deals as we had heard off, a lot of rush, so many people. With a little boy and a dog we just didn’t stay longer and left for our final drive back to Toronto.
In 2 weeks, we visited 7 states and drove around 7000Kms in the United States. It was a wonderful journey; meeting family was the main reason but road trip made it just wonderful. It was indeed a tiring journey but we made so many memories of it.More Tips on the Road Trip with Dog and young child and a toddler:-
1. Road trip to the US will save you a fortune if you are traveling with family, it is much more cost-efficient. Gas in the US is much cheaper than in Canada, even hotels on highways are cheap.
2. Always book your hotels for one side of your visit; you could always book for the return later.
3. Keep enough water bottles, fruits (carry a cool box), snacks, kid’s favorite snacks in the car, you can find most of these things at the Gas station. Long drives make you more hungry and thirsty while driving.
4. Always make sure to keep only those fruits which can be peeled, banana, apple , orange would be a good idea. I would not suggest giving grapes or strawberries on the way, may give your little one infections due to harmful chemical being used.
5. It is always better to have 2 drivers rather than one; the person sitting with the driver shouldn’t fall asleep in any case. It makes the driver also sleepy and can cause an accident.
6.. Always take frequent Coffee/ washroom breaks for the kids and your little pooch.
7.. Remember to keep a waste box (In case your child vomits) in the car to keep the garbage and also a plastic bag to keep the garbage.
8.. Restaurants/ cafes are available on most of the exits to have breakfast/lunch/dinner.
9.. Always keep some US currency with you even if you don’t use cash on daily basis.
10.. Pack clothes according to the weather. Sunblock and hat are a must.
11. Most important; don’t forget to click as many pictures you can take, they’ll make beautiful memories for your future.
13. Wherever you go, collect a small souvenir to decorate it on your shelf at home and for memories
13. Keep them entertained throughout the journey, music DVDs and favorite rhymes seem to do the trick. We bought 2 portable DVD players for each one of them with the microphone. Toddlers will not be able to put the headphones so you may have to listen to their songs.
14.You can consider keeping Gravol for your child to give him before a long car ride in case you think he can puke, it will help him sleep and avoid spoiling the car. Make sure your child is fed and napped in the middle, best to feed him during lunch while you take a break and then heavy meals at bedtime. You would never want a cranky child.
Will be back with more stuff soon again, love you all…