Summer often leads to time away, perhaps on the road or by plane, and with a little planning (see my list below), it can be a very enjoyable time with family and friends full of memories, fun, and warm sunshine!
Over the 4th of July holiday, we totally escaped into the gorgeous hills of Ohio and everyone loved it! After quite a few hectic, busy, and albeit stressful couple of weeks, it was time to relax and reconnect. Or should I say disconnect?
Knowing that a long weekend was on the horizon, we wanted to get away and go somewhere that was new and exciting. What I didn't expect was to be in the middle of a gorgeous forest, completely disconnected from the modern world, and (dare I say!)...relaxed! Now, I have to admit that there was a brief moment of panic when I realized that we were staying in a cabin with no cell connection. Who does that and how does that even happen in today's day and age? But it does exist - thank goodness!
My work life revolves around technology - emails, texting, social media planning, tracking trends. It can get overwhelming since there never is a complete end time to my work life. Honestly, I have to force myself to disconnect during the weekends. It's sometimes easier said than done but this time, there was no choice.
If you're not from Ohio, you may not realize what a beautiful and diverse state this is. Being from the Cleveland/Akron area (hey, LeBron!), we have our share of joke names such as "mistake by the lake" but if you really take a closer look, this state is pretty darn spectacular! Just a few short hours from Cleveland, you feel like you're in a whole other world.
We ventured to Hocking Hills, which is about one hour southeast of Columbus. After the hustle and bustle of the rush hour city traffic, you are able to escape to a quiet, lush, tranquil land of waterfalls, amazing rock structures, and peace.
This was definitely a different way for us to celebrate the Independence Day holiday and we certainly took full advantage of appreciating the awe-inspiring natural spaces that make up the great land of the United States.
What made this trip so great was that after a lot of road trips, we have finally figured out what works for us. It took some trial and lots of error, but we may have figured a few things out. So, I've put together a list of Top 10 Road Trip tips. Feel free to try them out for your next adventure!
Top 10 Road Trip Tips (when traveling with kiddos!)
1.) Make a list! It's the BEST way to keep track of things when you are packing for more than one person! * if the kiddos are older, make a list for them, too! They'll love it (hopefully!)
2.) Take a few surprises - pack them in your purse or carry-on. Don't pass them out until needed, but it will give you and your kiddos a little entertainment (and sanity!). Puzzles, coloring books, a new small game are good ideas. * nothing messy...I learned this one the hard way. Silly Putty cannot be completely removed from a remote control...just saying.
3.) Snacks! Like hungry little bears, kiddos seem to always be hungry. So pack their favorite snacks for the road and watch them get excited about food!
4.) Adjust your expectations. Remember when you would jump in the car and try to beat your fastest time to the state line? Yeah, that's not gonna happen when you travel with kids. They have to go potty, they have to move around, they just plain have stop more often than adults do! Enjoy the adventure. If you relax, they will too.
5.) Pack extra outfits for everyone - you'll thank me for this one when the baby's diaper has exploded up her back for the 2nd time and you then realize that yes, you are covered in poop, while standing at the baby changing station on the toll road. Not that this has ever happened to me. 😉
6.) Games, games, games! They need to be entertained! Play "Count the trucks!" (as easy as it sounds!), bring alphabet and number magnets with a cookie sheet. They'll love it and you won't play 28 letter pick-up every two minutes.
7.) Bring a BIG cup - no, not to drink from (well, maybe not). A big cup will help you with bath time. It's not until you get to the hotel that you realize how much you miss your convenience items from home. This will help with rinsing your child's hair or washing baby in the sink, when you forget to bring the compact baby tub (remember that list I mentioned earlier?).
8.) Bring a few comforts from home - night time can be a challenge for little ones on the road. Bring their favorite pillow or stuffy to offer them a little comfort during sleepy time.
9.) Speaking of night time - bring music. Especially if you're staying in a hotel, bring music as a distraction from potentially noisy hallways. It will help everyone sleep better.
10.) Last but not least...RELAX. You're on vacation. Enjoy the time together and the not-so-perfect moments. It makes the memories that you'll cherish forever.
I hope you have a chance to go on a little family adventure in your area this summer. This was a quiet, tranquil place where we played, hiked, and talked like we hadn't in a really long time.
I know that we will cross this gorgeous bridge of togetherness again very soon and I suggest you do the same.
Oh, and yes, there was a celebratory cocktail (see recipe below), so
HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!
Cheers to this beautiful land that we are blessed to call home.
Red, White, & Blue Cocktail recipe
1 oz. of vodka (white)
1 oz of Island Punch Pucker (blue)
2 oz. of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sangria Mocktail Juice (red)
Layer in a glass of your choice, stir slightly, and enjoy!
Until next time -