Last Thanksgiving, I had a big Disney trip planned for our family. I love going down there immediately after that holiday and before the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I always find the crowds to be super light, and the weather is still a pleasing 70-something, compared to the 30s and 40s we’re starting to see at home. But as you know, there’s this annoying little thing called a global pandemic going on, so we canceled.
Then around the holidays, I saw a Harry Potter themed special come up for Universal Orlando. It was so cheap that I felt like I had to snag it and hope for the best come Spring. I bought cancel for any reason insurance and decided we’d drive from Virginia to Florida. Never in a million years did I think I’d go to a Flordia theme park over the wave of Spring Break holidays, but with the park in theory being capped at 35%, we decided there was no better time.
It’s a secret through, and I am so excited for the kids to find out. We’re breaking the trip up in two days, so we don’t even have to tell them on day one. We’ll let them think we’re just going to Savannah and that’s it. I’ll have a follow up post on our Universal experience, for sure. But today, I’m focusing on the things I’m doing to prep.
- Tablets/screens: My older two each have tablets, and I will download movies for offline use from my MoviesAnywhere app, which I am obsessed with. Until very recently, I still buy a lot of Disney DVDs with the digital codes, so we’ve got a great travel library that doesn’t require any internet or bluetooth connection.
- A portable DVD player: I’ve got a toddler who needs to be entertained, but I can’t trust him to hold anything for the trip. For less than $50, I bought a portable DVD player to strap over the headrest, so he can watch movies/shows. I found a few free Thomas the Train DVDs from my neighborhood Facebook group and will bring along a few of those to hopefully entertain him.
- Snacks! I’ve bought individual sized goldfish and veggie straws, plus some chocolate milks (a treat for our kids!), and other small snacks like granola bars. I’ll cut up some apples for day one too since my boys are obsessed. My husband is usually a stickler about the kids eating in his car, but those rules kind of have to go out the window when you’re driving for 7+ hours in a single day!
- Backstock: To borrow a term from The Home Edit, make sure you have extras of everything on hand! One time my middle kid threw up on a back road during a 4 hour road trip, and I had NOTHING to clean it up and no easily accessible clothes for him. We had to drive another 10 miles and luckily found a Walmart where I could stock up. Then we had to take out the car seat and wash it in a hotel laundry room at midnight when we finally arrived at our pit stop that night. Diapers, clothes, towels, flashlight, waters etc. And I love having some extra large ziplock bags or grocery bags for when there is a mess to clean up.
- Non-screen games: Inevitably the battery will die, the sun will be too bright, or they’ll get bored and just need a break from routine. I recently got a printer (only a year into quarantine!) and use the HP Ink program, which is ahhhh-mazing. I use my color ink all day long and print out bingo cards, list of the 50 states for license plate games, and other I Spy activities! It’s a great way to get kids looking at what’s around them. Who will be the first to spot a palm tree and know we’re really getting close!? I also grabbed this Rand McNally 3-in-1 book off Amazon for $9.99.
Most importantly – bring chargers, snacks, and stop early and often to pee! And have fun!