Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Driving To Florida From Iowa: The Good, The Bad, and The Great

I'll be the first to admit that when my husband first suggested (and insisted on) driving to Florida for spring break, I wanted to cry. Considering our final destination was Key West, that put us 24 hours away from home. I wasn't looking forward to driving at all. However, driving to and from Florida turned out to be the best part of our trip! We were able to make detours to visit family, make plenty of fun stops, and take as little or as much time getting around (and getting home) as we wanted. 

We made plenty of last minute hotel bookings because we had no idea where we would end up! The most pleasant surprise booking was our first hotel we stayed at just outside of St. Louis in O'Fallon. I hopped onto our go-to booking site, Hotwire, put in our needs and wants for the evening, and up popped a $54 hotel. I wasn't expecting much from this hotel, but it was a place to rest for 8 hours. The booking wound up being the nicest Super 8. It was clean, tidy, spacious, had a mini fridge, and microwave in the room, plus a free breakfast buffet in the morning. For a traveling family we couldn't have asked for much more. Our big stays in Orlando, Miami, and Key Largo were all pre-booked and paid for a while ago, so really we just used Hotwire for our quick overnight stays as we were traveling to and from Florida.

Arriving super late at Super 8. The first funny that happened was when I walked into the lobby to check in, the front desk person said, "can I help you?" I replied I was checking in, to which he replied, "oh hi Ashlen." Apparently he had been waiting around for me!
Then the side door to the hotel was stuck shut which left the minis and I stuck in the cold. I should also add it was 12:30 a.m. and we had woken the kids up from a dead sleep in the car to walk into the hotel (and carry their bags). The only thing we could do was shiver and laugh while Hubs walked around to open the door for us.

Taking a slight detour to visit family as we began our journey was the perfect way to start our vacation! My sister in law ordered pizza and had it waiting for us when we arrived. It was great to catch up, even if it was for a quick visit. We also ended our trip this same way.

While we were in town (Carbondale, IL), Hubs drove us around and showed us where he used to live, work, hang out, etc. when he lived down there. The minis enjoyed the quick tour before we set out on the highways to take some back roads into Georgia.

Elizabeth got her hair braided. A couple of hours later, I looked back as we drove and saw she had taken half of her hair out. It was really cute and crimpy. I asked if she was going to take out the other side. She smiled and said, "nope, I like it like this." 

We did A TON of driving this trip. The minis did AMAZING with everything! They happily looked out the windows, read books, played car games, and looked for license plates.

One of our unexpected detours took us (not far off course) to Metropolis. The hometown of Superman.

We had some late nights all of vacation. We had so much fun making stops along the way that we got in way later than expected. Luckily, we were all able to catch some sleep in the car.

We split our driving up into three days. Night #1 was Des Moines to St. Louis (a simple 5 hour drive turned into 7 with stops). Day #2 was St. Louis to Kennesaw, Ga (just outside of Atlanta, just over an 8 hour drive, but an 11 hour day with stops). Day #3 was Atlanta to Orlando (typically a 6 1/2 hour drive, but since we stopped and toured downtown it was a 12 1/2 hour day. Read about that here). Splitting the drive up left us plenty of time to make silly detours (ahem, Superman statue), sightseeing, and those silly welcome signs that we just can't pass up.

How set ups for pictures really look....

Road trippin' isn't for everyone, especially if you're short on time. However, we really enjoyed taking our time, losing a little bit of sleep, and seeing things we wouldn't have seen otherwise. The drive from Iowa to Orlando, FL is actually a fairly easy drive (especially if you bypass Atlanta and go around) and goes through some great cities to explore: St. Louis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta. While I may not have been on board with the whole driving aspect of this trip, it was for sure my favorite thing because of all of the fun we got to have along the way.