Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Preparing for the Great American Road Trip: Michigan to Wyoming

My number one bucket list vacation is to travel from Michigan to Wyoming.  The Great American Road Trip!  The main stops that have to be included are Mount Rushmore National MemorialYellowstone National ParkGrand Tetons National Park, and Jackson Hole.  Why is this my #1 vacation?  I think I mentioned before that my dad (who was separated from my mom since I was a baby) worked for the National Park service.  In the early years he did summer jobs at the parks so his resume included a lot of national parks across the United State.  He eventually settled down at Pictured Rocks, where he worked for several years until his passing.  During my elementary school years he worked two summers at Grand Tetons National Park.  I spent those two summers with my dad.  I have so many great memories of the area where we lived and the areas we explored.  I have been wanting to get back there to share with my kids the same adventures that I have such great memories of!  

I found out early on that this trip needed to be planned a year or so in advance.  So, here is what I did to get ready for this long road trip:

Total miles and hours involved just for the driving portion!

Closer look - ignore the alphabets.  That was to map out more detail of where I wanted to stop.
In a previous blog I explained how I contact each state to have tourist information (sales material) mailed to me.
You can read that post here.

Mapping out our stops in South Dakota.

Mapping out our stops in Wyoming.

I read a ton of travel books!

This one helped me find some "hidden gems" that I visited as a kid!

My kids are at the perfect age for this tip.
We read a ton of books that fit in with the areas we planned to travel to.
I LOVE hearing them bring up the stories/facts as we were on each trip!

This is a fun story about the flag that came in handy for our trip.

These helped us create an animal checklist of what we hope to see on the trip and how to identify them!

So much about the wild west!  The "If You..." books are really amazing!

The book we take with us to every national park.

Hotels are booked and we are ready to go!

Road travel and little ones:  

We plan to sleep at a new place almost every night.  So I packed the kids clothing in ziploc bags for each outfit.  You can read my blog post about this here.

My kids generally do well with road trips.  But we do need a variety of entertainment for this long one.  Some things we have packed are:  movies (ones that they haven't seen in a while but love), iPads (with Minecraft of course), Nintendo DS player (that they barely use so it is like a new toy for this trip), books, and arts and crafts.  To introduce new things during the trip I put some cheap toys/games in lunch sacks and stapled them shut.  Every now and then they were able to open a bag.  Each bag included something that they could both play with (like a card game or puzzle) or, if there is a toy in it, I have one for each kid.  Some of the things I put in the bags:  Hotwheels, small crafts, puzzles, soft Nerf ball to toss around in the car, Hangman sheets, bubbles (for rest area stops), parachute men (for rest area stop), pretty much anything they would like that I could buy for $1 or less.

This game is great for a road trip!

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