Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Road Trip Diary, DAY 1

In my next 18 posts (WOW that's a lot of posts, might have to combine a few), I will try to cover the amazing road trip we just came home from. This year our theme was "small but with a lot of character". We were hoping to see a lot but save some money on lodging while still having an adventure we knew would create tons of memories.

We chose to travel to Vermont and Maine. I started by doing some research on my 2 favorite vacation rental sites: and After traveling a lot with my children I have figured out a few things. One...I do not take my husband or oldest son Ben on road trips. They are not road trip material. They need to go from point A to point B as quickly as you can, preferably by plane and preferably a direct flight.

Picking the right group for a road trip is crucial because you spend a lot of time together and you want to come off the trip still liking each other. I have also learned that Sam does better in a home setting rather than a hotel. I know you always hear that children with Down syndrome are loving and cuddly but let me tell you, in Sam's case he also needs his personal space. And that personal space needs to be accounted for in the vehicle as well as where we stay. Sam has his own captain's chair in the van, he occasionally likes to sit in the back with the girls...I think to wrestle with them or annoy them...but most often while travelling he sits by himself. Renting a home gives Sam the comfort of knowing his boundaries, we noticed in hotels he tended to think of it as a big house with a lot of rooms and that he could go into any of those rooms which leads me to a favorite Sam story.

When we travelled to Mexico we stayed at a resort. It was very large and one day as we came back from using the pool, another family with about 5 children were also returning to their room. Sam fell into line with their children and proceeded to walk right in their room with them. The Mom and Dad didn't notice right away, so before they closed their door we told them "Wait, you may want to give that last one back." Well...they both turned and looked at Sam, the look on their face was priceless and they quickly rushed Sam back out to us. Jeff and I chuckled at their reaction, another vacation memory!!

Okay, once you have your travel companions picked out and you know where you will be going...there is this little thing called packing. My husband would be completely unaware of this step since he has never had to do it. I do love you honey!!

Don't try to pack everything in one day, spread it out so you can think about it but don't over think it. Easy to say...right??? Well, let's start with Sam. I figure out the clothes needed first, since that is pretty simple. We pack one bag for clothes and a few outfits in the hotel bag. The hotel bag is for the travelling portion of the trip before we have reached our destination. You don't want to have to dig out every bag each time you stop at a hotel...hence the hotel bag which carries a few outfits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, vitamins, nutritional supplements, chargers, bedtime book...and anything necessary for an overnight stay.

Next come the supplements, due to Sam's respiratory/immune system I usually try to use one of those big dispensers to help with the first couple days of the trip so I don't have to search/dig for anything. I make a note to myself to pack single serve applesauce in the cooler and a spoon which is how Sam swallows his supplements. Sam's supplements usually take up a full shopping bag along with his oral steroids, inhaler and chamber and his Baby Bee Skin Creme for his skin rashes. I also make sure I bring along an extra Benadryl Stick to help with bug bites, the first aid kit and his organic bug spray and suntan lotion. I bring along Sam's oils in case we have any respiratory issues or an illness crops up.

Okay, so now I feel like we have the crucial stuff packed for Sam. Then I think about what he needs to travel with and prepare a bag with his Ipad, building blocks, a few trucks/cars, some coloring books, markers and any favorite toys of the moment. Because I am a homeschooler, I also prepare a bag of school items I am currently working with Sam on....teaching moments happen every day.

Due to Sam's SCD diet I also have to plan foods that will travel well and bring along anything I may not be able to find elsewhere. I bring along, carrots/dip, nitrate free turkey sticks, nut and rice crackers, rice cakes, organic peanut butter and sugar free jelly, gluten free pretzels and some fresh fruit. We put some coconut kefir milk, fresh orange juice and almond milk in the cooler. I also purchase some Steaz sparkling green tea, a 6 pack of Zevia soda and a whole lotta water to help keep Sam hydrated on the trip.

The only thing left for Sam is anything special for the trip: swimming shoes (check out One Step Adjustable Swim Shoes, love these because they had them in wide and larger sizes and they are adjustable...for Sam's wide, low tone, flat feet they were perfect), swim belt (love the foam ski belts, good flotation but allows him to use his arms for swimming), flotation devices (favorite this year was Cabela's two person noodle chair).

Okay Sam's packed...only 2 more children and me to go!! YEAH...what was I thinking???

This year we were staying at a place that did not have electricity or running water so we had to pack some special items for that portion of the trip, flashlights, lanterns, bio-degradable shampoo, soap, wet wipes and toilet paper. I spend time arranging everything in the van to make sure lunches can be quickly made, toys, books, electronics can be accessed while on the road, nothing blocks my view and of course the girls and Sam have enough room to stretch out.

Brooke is the trip secretary and journals about our every adventure so hopefully I won't miss anything. The kids are always way too excited the first day so I try to do some of the travel at night, hoping to tire them out. Of course the day we are supposed to leave we are experiencing torrential down pours in the Milwaukee area. We left at 4:00 a.m. so we could get through Milwaukee and Chicago before the traffic picked up.

The first day of our trip we drove 854 miles and went through 5 states, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio & New York. We were cruising!!! The girls and Sam slept some in the morning and then were giddy for the rest of the day. We had a hard time finding a hotel in New York. Honestly, I never want to go to Syracuse again. We would get off the expressway, go through the toll and some how end up back on another expressway going through another toll but never seeming to get to a hotel. Sorry Grandpa, your IPass paid for way more tolls than was necessary in Syracuse.

When we finally got a hotel, Danielle and Brooke decided to freshen the hallway and room with Febreze (you have no idea how much Febreze we go through on a trip). Sam was as wound up as the girls and had a hard time falling asleep while I was so tired from driving I could hardly keep my eyes open. Sam proceeded to come down with a bad case of the giggle farts. Yes, you read that right, he would fart and then crack himself up until it happened all over again. Cute the first couple of times but got really old and a little smelly when I was trying to fall asleep.

Brooke and Danielle were entertaining themselves with sycronized leg movements on the bed, along with who could or couldn't (Brooke) do the splits and trying to figure out how Danielle could kick the wall behind her head when Brooke's legs didn't seem to go that way. They then moved on to stories about Mr. Potato Head, Sir Poopsalot and the majestic can along with unicorns and chipmunks thrown in some how, some way. Does complete delirium pop into your head at this point.

Their highlight of the day was when we stopped at the rest stop that had turbo powered hand dryers and their fascination of how it made your skin look like flubber which led to buying tickets for jiggle fest. Yep, senseless and mindless humor gets us through a lot of our road trip. Stay tuned for Day 2


  1. Your posts have so much great informtion for special needs families travel tips - I had to repost!!!

  2. Sue, I really enjoyed reading about your vacation - (backwards, though) It sounds like a wonderful adventure. You have energy!

    Jeanne Selep