*I wrote this blog before we were Florida residents, but it rings true and can be helpful for those who can relate and drive to their Happy Place! I hope you enjoy it! ~M
“We’re going to Disney World!” Don’t you love announcing that to your family when your trip is booked! It’s exciting! So, in the midst of planning a trip, you must decide, do we drive, or do we fly to Orlando? I’ve done both. I love Orlando’s Airport, the gift shops, the tram, the places to eat, etc. It’s great. But, there’s something to be said about driving to our Happy Place. It takes longer, but it’s cheaper to drive, at least for my family. So, we usually opt out of flying, and we drive instead. It’s 18 hours in the car for us to get to WDW, yes, 18 hours! So, you might ask, are they nuts? Not really, we just plan ahead and find things to look forward to about the long trip. I’ll share a little bit of how we do things when we’re road tripping to Disney World!
When traveling with children, you have to be ready to make things fun if possible, and get creative. I tell the boys the night before to pack their favorites for the trip. I let them have their own travel bags, which they stock up with coloring books, video games, movies, snacks, and whatever else they want, within reason, because we need room in the car for those Disney souvenirs that we’ll be buying! I did something new the last time, we brought the laptop computer and had a little travel bag FULL of Disney Movies to help pass the time! So, we were getting our Disney fix in ahead of time, by watching some of our favorite films in the truck!
Our journey begins by getting up early in the morning. When I say early, I mean EARLY, around 3:00 in the morning. We pack the truck the night before, so we just have to collect those last few things, and get the kids all set up and ready to go, then hop on I75 South, and taking it straight down to Georgia. It’s fun because it’s still so dark outside, and traffic is clear, so it gives us a good jump on our trip before the rest of the world is up and on the road. The kids fall back asleep, so they really don’t get too interrupted. By the time daybreak hits, we’re usually driving through the mountains in Kentucky, enjoying the scenery. That’s a good part, the scenery. We don’t have mountains where we live, so seeing them is a beautiful sight, all through Tennessee as well. Then comes Georgia. Oh boy. Georgia takes for-ev-er to get through it seems. Not sure if it’s because we’re almost to Florida or what, but it takes so long to see those Welcome to Florida signs! Getting through downtown Atlanta can also be a challenge. They have extra lanes, and you really have to watch the signs, or you may take a wrong turn. Seems like we always hit Atlanta during rush hour, and the freeway is like a parking lot. That’s also frustrating, because we’re just so darn eager to get to Florida, it’s a bummer. Time to bring out more movies or activities to do while stuck in traffic!
One thing I do love about Georgia, is that the further we get through the state, the sooner we go on what I call “Palm Tree Watch!” Just like with the mountains, we don’t have palm trees where I live either, so seeing our first palm tree is a big deal. It means we’re getting much closer to Disney, and that’s exciting!! Yes, I always start taking pictures once those beautiful palm trees come into view, I can’t help it! Once we get to the Florida state lines, we start watching for Disney billboards. It’s fun if you get the kids involved, and watch for certain signs or landmarks, to show that we’re getting closer to Mickey Mouse. They like it, and it makes things a little more fun. The second longest part of the journey is hitting the Florida Turnpike. Not only does it cost money to drive that way, but the road seems to take forever too. We have Disney on the mind, nobody’s got time for that turnpike business!
Once we get closer to Disney Property, we see a ton of Disney signs, and we finally have our eyes on the prize! Getting to Disney Property is like crossing the finish line, and it’s the best feeling. After being trapped in the car for so long, just stopping for potty breaks and food, it feels great to pull up to our Resort, get out and stretch our legs, and start getting into Disney mode! We’ve made it, Yay!! So, we spend the week in our Happy Place, have a wonderful time, and before we know it, it’s time to get back into the car and head for home. The ride home is nowhere NEAR as fun as the ride down. Everyone is tired, no one wants to go home, and the car is even more full than before, due to those souvenirs I mentioned earlier. It’s a downer!
The last time we drove home from Disney, we decided to take a different route. Instead of heading back up I75, we took the scenic route and drove towards the coast. We drove through states we haven’t been to before, took our time, stayed at a hotel in West Virginia, and made it more of an adventure. The mountains on this trip were even more beautiful and scenic than they were on the way down to Florida. We even stopped at what locals said was the World’s Biggest Flea Market” and walked around. They had fried “everything” on a stick, lots of booths and things to see, and it was a break from being in the car. That was fun. So, the kids got to see new states and new scenery, we made stops, and tried to make the painful ride home from Disney a bit more enjoyable. It’s no fun driving home from Disney World, so you just need to find different ways to make things a pinch more fun for everyone.
Road tripping to Disney World isn’t for everyone, but it seems to work for us. It saves money, which is good, that means more to buy Disney goodies with! It also gives us some added family time. I mean, we’re trapped in a car together for hours, it gives us time to talk and be together while we head to our favorite place. To me, that’s a good thing. I can’t wait until our next trip, till it’s time to get up and 3 in the morning and head out, knowing all the magic that waits for us at the end of our journey! The trip is as good as you make it, and if you keep in mind all the positive aspects, you can have a good time road tripping to Disney too!
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