Hi! I’m Charlene, here from Hess Un-Academy. I’m happy to be here with you today, sharing my experiences traveling with a large family. I have 7 wonderful kids, the oldest being 9. To say my life is chaotic would be an understatement. But do I love it? Absolutely!
One of the reasons we choose to homeschool is because we hate being tied down. Schedules and routines? No way, Jose! Give us freedom and flexibility any day. And with that flexibility comes the freedom to travel – whenever and wherever we want!
Okay. That’s not really true. Jobs and cash flow still dictate when and where we can travel. But because we don’t have to deal with public school schedules, our ability to travel is a little easier to come by than most traditional families.
Summertime is Travel Time!
But whether you homeschool or not, summertime is a great time to travel. And believe it or not, road tripping with my family is one of my favorite things to do.
Is the car loud? Yes.
Do we make a lot of bathroom breaks? Yes.
Does the drive take a FREAKISH amount of time? YES!
Do I Still Look Forward to Large Family Road Trips? Definitely!
Last week, we had another opportunity for a large family road trip.
Unfortunately, this road trip was not for a vacation. We were moving to another state (AZ to UT)
Fortunately, we are road trip junkies and we can make even an interstate move into a super fun experience.
Now traditionally, the drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City is around 11 hours. Not including bathroom breaks. If there’s one thing I didn’t want to do with 7 kids and 2 vehicles plus a Uhaul, it was stop at a hotel. So we decided to make the drive straight through.
We were planning on starting the drive bright and early by waking up at 6am and hitting the road. But for some reason, the husband and I just COULD NOT get to sleep! So at 2am we finally got up, loaded the sleeping kids into the car, and hit the road. (what can I say – I’m like a kid on waiting for Santa Claus when it comes to road trips – I get so excited I can hardly stand it – no wonder I couldn’t sleep!)
Turns out, it’s a good thing we left so early. We ended up pulling into the driveway at 11:00 that night. When you factor in the time change, that makes it a 20-hour drive. You read that right. A 20-Hour Drive.
Did I mention that since the husband was driving the Uhaul, (which was pulling the minivan) I was the sole driver of the Tahoe?
But minus the fact that I was exceedingly tired, (hello energy drinks!) it actually wasn’t too bad.
So How Did I survive a 20-Hour Drive with 7 Kids as (practically) the Only Adult?
Dark and Early and On The Road
Like I mentioned before, I was just too excited to sleep the night before our trip. I whispered into the night to see if the husband was also awake. To my great pleasure, he was. So we decided to just get up and get going. No sense lying in bed for another 4 hours not sleeping.
We woke up 7 sleeping kids, sent them to the bathroom and helped them buckle up. We had packed up the car and Uhaul the night before, so all we had to grab from the house was our bedding and toothbrushes, so we were quickly on our way. (let that be my first tip – road trips start out so much better when the car is loaded the night before)
A Wrench in Our Plans
Lucky us, not 5 minutes down the road (we hadn’t even hit the interstate yet) my 8 year old daughter started throwing up. Road trip with a sickie? Apparently that’s how we were running this circus.
Thankfully, she had a grocery bag she was able to use and was only minimally messy. Unfortunately, it was so early the gas stations were still closed so she had only a few wet wipes with which to clean herself up. But such is life. The girl’s a trooper and made the most of things.
Wanna know the biggest reason it took so long for us to make this drive?
It turns out the Uhaul we had rented could only drive 40mph up the hills. How many hills are there on the drive from AZ to UT? A LOT. And the truck maxed out at 60mph. Yay.
Just kidding. It wasn’t too bad. Of course, I’m a hopeless optimist and make the most of every situation. Thanks to cruise control, it wasn’t that bad. Just a little bit (a lot a bit) longer than originally intended.
So after we crept up a bunch of hills at 40mph and the sun was finally rising, the kids were ready to wake up (they had all slept up to this point, minus the sickie) and were ready to eat.
Breakfast on the Road
Now we happened to be traveling on a tight budget, and taking a family of 9 out for breakfast wasn’t in the budget this time around. But we’d purchased a bunch of pastries at the grocery store the night before. So we stopped at a rest area and the kids snacked on their goodies while the daughter cleaned herself up and I nursed the baby.
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful.
Road Trip Entertainment
The kids passed around a couple of travel games that I normally keep in the church bag. Including a Magna-doodle. This was a hit and the kids passed it around in 10-15 minute intervals for a good couple of hours, everybody patiently waiting their turn.
I alternated between rocking out to my Spotify station (downloaded for offline listening) and listening to an audiobook. Today’s feature was Anne of Green Gables. I’d been DYING to play that for my kids to listen to, and this seemed like the perfect excuse.
Audiobooks are one of our favorite parts about road trips. It’s so fun to listen to a story unfold! As good as (or sometimes better than!) a movie, and very travel-friendly.
What’s the Secret to Traveling with A Lot of Kids?
The secret to traveling with a lot of kids? ATTITUDE! It’s all about the attitude. It might get loud. The breaks will be many. The drive will be LONG. But if you are calm and patient (and have lots and lots of snacks!) it can still be a super fun experience.
Charlene is a fun-loving, field trip planning mom who spends her days feeding babies, teaching kids, and planning new content for her blog, Hess Un-Academy. She can frequently be found chatting with other adults on social media and baking and eating sweet treats.