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Are we there yet?

Tonight’s tip is all about driving to see the Mouse. Whether it takes you 4 hours or 24 hours, we all need a plan on how to keep our cool for the long ride. We have driven from WI straight through several times and we have also made two trips overnight as well.  We have a pretty fool proof plan that works for us, so here are some of the many tips we have compiled for the long road ahead.

First off, we always drive our own vehicle. We realize sometimes this isn’t feasible for some, but it has saved us money as the cost of a rental with the large number of miles we would put on was very expensive.  A week before we leave for vacation, we take the time to get a full tune-up on our vehicle to make sure we don’t break down along the way.

For long road trips such as these, we always pack an overnight bag with extra clothes for everyone.  We use it strictly for staying at a hotel on the way down, or if anyone gets car sick. Thankfully it is rare, but it has happened with our little one, which leads us to what we eat and what we avoid on the road.

First trip driving, we didn’t eat very well at all. We ate fast food, letting everyone eat while we drove to save time. Trust me on this, Fast Food will always tend to be the option, but now we pull over and make sure to go inside, eat, relax, and let our stomachs rest before hitting the open road again.  For snacks, we have found crunchy grapes, all picked, washed and bagged up, are great to hydrate and satisfy the body.  We drink bottled water and replenish at bubblers found in clean gas stations- soda we found bogged us down and made us feel very sluggish.

Because we start our drive in the late afternoon, our kids have a guaranteed night of sleep in our vehicle. Luckily we have a nice roomy van that we have worked out for both kids to stretch out and sleep comfortably. The last stop before night, the kids change into their pj’s, windows covered for their privacy, and snuggle into blankets and pillows we packed from home.  With both kids fast asleep, we discuss which one of us takes what shift to drive. While one drives, the other sleeps. This has worked out great for us.

As the sun rises, we stop for breakfast, having the kids once again change into fresh clothes and everyone has the chance to eat and recharge.  During this part of the trip, we pull out pre-made treats that we put together before we left home.  For our oldest its books she wanted, or an iTunes Gift card to add to her iPod. For the youngest it is coloring books, drawing supplies, a new Barbie maybe..you get the point. Its fun small items we picked up over time to get them excited and keep their minds off the long trip- it has been a fun tradition we continue still.

We arrive at WDW usually around 5 p.m, which is ideal for us. We planned on getting here at around dinner time so that we would have time to check in, unwind, walk around the resort, and get an early night’s sleep. We highly recommend that if you are making the long trek to WDW, to leave at a time that you can always get there around dinner or in the evening so you have the ability to have the following day fresh and ready to go.

We would love to hear from you. Have you driven to WDW? Where from and how long did it take you? Do you have a tip to help others? Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful Disney day!

Carl and Ellie Peters

5 Comments »

  1. love your blog- what a great and exciting adventure you’re having! we live probably a 15 hour drive from Disney and we always fly. every year i toy with the idea of driving, but it seems like such a terrible task, and i hate the idea of a 15 hour drive home after our vacation. it also would eat up a day or two each way- days i’d rather spend at Disney. i’m curious to know if you prefer to fly or drive and why.

    • Our first two three trips to WDW we flew. We always had wonderful non-stop flights that were rather inexpensive. When we decided to go back more often, flying four people started to get a little pricey. We had friends who had driven non stop from WI, which took them around 22 hours. I admit our first attempt to drive was miserable. Driving straight through it took us over 30 hours. We ran into some problems, but also planned poorly. Now that we plan much better and our children are a little older, we actually look forward to the drive. We have found that we can save about 50% on the travel cost, and it has actually become an exciting part of our vacation!

  2. We live in Chattanooga, TN so it’s about an 8 hr drive for us. We’ve driven it a couple of different ways; get up early in the morning, drive straight there and check in around lunch time, leave right after work and stop at a hotel and then get up and arrive first thing in the morning, well rested and ready to go.

    On the way back, we usually will leave early afternoon and get home that night. This allows for last minute shopping at DTD or use it as a last chance to ride our favorite rides (if we have an extra day on our ticket) and our upcoming trip, it will allow for possibly a last day breakfast at Chef Mickey’s before heading home.

    We usually pack our own snacks and bring water. Because we stay at the value hotels, we actually bring our own little fridge in the back (with an adapter that allows for plugging into the car and a wall socket) so we can keep drinks and sandwiches cold. Although we do still tend to grab something to eat along the way.

  3. I’m on the edge of my seat! I won’t get anything done today! I’ve just discovered you guys and it’s almost time for you to leave Wisconsin.

    Just wanted to say how much we love the drive. We’ve driven once (17 hours) and flown once (nice). My kids love the drive because we’re all packed into the car with snacks and books and movies, and we’re in there together. They love the togetherness, bless their hearts.

    But they also love to fly. Flying is an adventure in itself and, best reason of all, it gets us there quicker. Plus we get a couple of extra days at Disney World that would otherwise be spent on the road.

    My only question is: whether you drive or fly, how do you get rid of that melancholy feeling when you leave WDW behind? Ugh!

  4. Same as above! I just found you and started reading!! GOOD LUCK!!! I will probably be up all night catching up to the big move which is NOW!!

    Best wishes from PA!