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 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 know where we are landing after our tiring journey.
Tips on a road trip with kids and a dog:-
1. Remember to keep the dog's Immunization card along with his rabies certificate; it is sure to get checked on the US border.
2. Keep little dog food, bowls, poo bags, and a towel for him; we also used his old pee sheets to spread in the car seat if 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 pup to pee or poo.
4. Keep some American dollars with you to pay the tolls; they accept Canadian dollars at the initial two toll gates but later on, they wouldn't take it, and you may have to pay a 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 a Pet-Friendly hotel, our best choice was Best Western.
7. Best Western provides neat and clean rooms with a tea/coffee facility, it's pet-friendly, and many have a microwave and 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 two 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 is rich with spectacular landscapes, terrain, and countryside. Georgia is a green state, 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 three days.
The best way to drive is to leave very early in the morning; we left home around 4 am when there's no traffic and no rush on the 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 Switzerland's scenic drive, 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 the next day's drive. While both my boys were busy watching their DVDs in the car, our four-legged boy enjoyed the surroundings, standing at the window.
We started early again on the 2nd day, around 6:45 am. I'll be at a loss for words also; the sunrise was superbly magnificent. I've never seen such a 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 fell in love with this place's beauty and noticed that we were slowly heading down to North Carolina, away from the mountains. The view again from the top of the hill was amazing.
Hotel ChoiceBest Western, the room includes a tea/coffee maker, a nice clean room, and a bathroom with breakfast, and it was pet-friendly.
Location TipYou 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 of SC and did some shopping at Tanger Outlets and got fantastic stuff.
Some tips here:Make sure you feed your kids before heading about shopping; a hungry child can be dangerous for you.
It was also a bit cold at night; we still wore jackets, it was spring-like weather around 10deg. Downtown Savannah had some Historical and Government buildings; people enjoyed the Chariot ride, it was excellent.
Hotel ChoiceLa Quinta Inn, quite a small room, dirty, tea/coffee in the room plus breakfast, but we made a mistake in choosing one; I wouldn't say I liked it.
Location tipMake your choice to stay downtown, it doesn't take long to visit the city, and everything you need will all be nearby. It will make you less tired and help you prepare for the next day.
On the 3rd day we arrived in Florida, 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 Astronauts' stories, 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 willing to achieve it, no one can stop you. Kids will love this place, and if they are competent, 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 Astronauts' fantastic journey to space. They take you in the shuttle to show you the area which has a launching station etc. The best thing would 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 requested if we could cut a cake for everyone's birthday and celebrate together.
Some tips hereFlorida offers an excellent 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 the winter months as it's freezing here. Miami has world-famous beaches and many famous Hollywood movies filmed here, to name a few, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Casino Royale (James Bond films).
Islamorada is a place situated on one of the islands on the way to Key West. Though it did not have a beach, it was worth staying there.
Hotel ChoiceIslamorada 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 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 what you would want to do. Can you believe it??? Its 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 Parks, Orlando
It was my first born's 10th bday, and we decided to celebrate it at theMagic Kingdom in Orlando. Since we had recently visited Euro Disney in summer, it felt the same, although Disney Paris looks pretty new. Magic Kingdom was a more extensive amusement park than Paris, much more significant, finishing everything on a single day wasn't possible, and rain somehow ruined the experience. It was the middle of the week in October; we thought it'd be an excellent chance to finish our favorite rides, but nope, we were wrong; it was all full of people. I saw the cars from different states in the US. Nevertheless, we had so much fun being together. The next day we visited Disney Downtown, which was quite fascinating as well.
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 hereFast 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 visitedEuro Disney; it works out great.
Hotel Tip:We stayed atBest Western Premier in Kissimmee(Sanatoga Resorts); it was a beautiful resort offering 1-2 bedroom apartments/villas, we had spacious two bedrooms/duplex, big kitchen with most of the essentials, spotless and of course pet friendly, we loved it.Kissimmeeis around 25kms away fromWalt Disney,Florida, but worth it.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This place has a lot to offer; we kept hearing many ads on the radio for Myrtle Beach and decided to pay a visit while returning to Toronto. Lovely beaches, downtown, relaxing atmosphere, only the weather we chose was terrible; it was cloudy and cold. We tried to go swimming but couldn't stay there for long; the cold breeze made us colder when we were wet. The downtown was very friendly, suitable for sightseeing.
Hotel ChoiceWest Gate Hotels and Resorts, neat and clean room with tea/coffee facility, pet-friendly, no breakfast though, ocean view room was fantastic.
Being the United States' capital city, this place was busy, with a lot of traffic. We took a break for a few hours, visited theWhite House, Parliament, and other buildings. Many tourists had gathered outside the White House taking pictures; it's one of the city's most visited destinations. It was pleasant weather for walking.
Some tips hereYou 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 the White House from inside, you can get an appointment; it opens every day from 7 am-1 pm.
Our last night was somewhere inWest Virginiaagain; 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. We didn't stay long with a little boy and a dog and left for our final drive back to Toronto.
In 2 weeks, we visited seven states and drove around 7000Kms in the United States. It was an incredible journey; the meeting family was the main reason, but the road trip made it just outstanding. 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 travel 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), kids' 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 keep only those fruits with skin, banana, apple, orange would be a good idea. I would not suggest giving grapes or strawberries on the way; it may give your little one infections due to harmful chemicals.
5. It is always better to have two 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 pup.
7.. Remember to keep a waste box (If your child vomits) in the car to keep the garbage and a plastic bag to keep the trash.
8.. Restaurants/ cafes are available on most exits to have breakfast/lunch/dinner.
9.. Always keep some US currency with you even if you don't use cash daily.
10.. Pack clothes according to the weather. Sunblock and hat are a must.
11. Most important, don't forget to click as many pictures as you can take; they'll make beautiful memories for your future.
13. Wherever you go, collect a small souvenir to decorate 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 two portable DVD players for each one of them with a microphone. Toddlers will not be able to put on 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 if 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 provide him during lunch while you take a break and then heavy meals at bedtime. You would never want a cranky child.
I will be back with more stuff soon again, and I love you all.
Road trios are the preferred to commute and explore with family. Narration is quite good and also the tips... All the best for the next one....