Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Our summer travel adventures

I've been quiet on the blog this summer :) They are now 9, 7, 6 & 5 which is still a very full time job! 
Summer. It's an awesome thing. It's a frightening thing. My kids don't do great with extended periods of time without a consistent routine. So summer can be a challenge at times. This summer I started a new! Although most of the time I lament that our extended families all live far away, the one advantage is that travel to see them gives us some new adventures + a free place to stay! So this summer's agenda became visits to family in 4 states:

North Carolina
New York

The first two states were individual trips, the second two states were put together in a 55 hour road trip! Our saving grace? Kid's podcasts! (More on that later.)

First stop was The Outer Banks in North Carolina. 9 cousins + surf + sand = win win!

Our next trip was to NYC. We had a very special reason for our trip there! As you can see, two of our children joined our family through adoption. But we have worked hard to maintain personal connection with their first family and so it was a joy to travel there and spend some time with some of them, including their sister.

Governor's Island was an awesome find! It's a $3 ferry ride (free for kids) to a car-free island with playgrounds, slides, a 30-park hammock, food vendors + a great view of the Statue of Liberty.

Maintaining connection with their first family is a whole blog in itself, but it is a beautiful gift to see these siblings spend time together!

Next it was off to Minnesota! I grew up in Minneapolis and my siblings all still live there. My kids had a great time with all their aunts & uncles. Also, travel tip....scooters are great! They fold compactly, but are great for saving little legs on treks. 

One more 15 hour car ride and we arrived in Denver, where my parents now live. The beauty of the mountains is so spectacular!

We did tons of biking and hiking in was the best!

My husband was able to fly out and join us in Denver, just in time for the 25 hour ride home. :) Which we stretched out into a 5 day drive to make it less difficult.

Riding the street car in Kansas City, you never know what creatures you'll run into!

Our next stop was St. Louis which had lots of fun options. I think if we do this drive again, we would definitely stay longer in this city. The City Museum was highly recommended!

Our final destination on the way home was the Ark Encounter. It's a life-sized ark according to the Biblical record and wow, it was big! They also have a small zoo outside, restaurants, zip line tour + more. Tickets are a lot for adults ($48!), kids are more reasonable at $15. But overall, it was an interesting experience!

 So, a 55 hour car does everyone keep their sanity? 😉 That is the question! We definitely had our moments of insanity. The biggest difference in our travels now is simply that our kids are getting easier in travel as they get older.
We try not to rely on screen time, but we did get a kindle for each of our kids in traveling. The thing I love about kindles is that you can do a variety of activities on them - movies, music, books & podcasts. So we would rotate activities on them. Our kids really fell in love with podcast listening this summer - and actually learned some cool stuff! Their favorite podcasts are:

Brains On
Wow in the World
Smash Boom Best 
Story Pirates
Short & Curly
Fierce Girls
Stories Podcast
Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
This Podcast Has Fleas
Highlights Hangouts 
Eleanor Amplified 

Travel is one of my favorite things to do with kids. I know that my travels throughout high school and college really helped expand my world view and I want my kids to experience the same. We don't have unlimited funds and often look for free things to do in the places we visit. We try to pack a lot of our food or stop at grocery stores. We're definitely always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. The more we are able to do this, the more places we'll be able to travel. Everyone had their own rolling suitcase which they were able to manage on their own. The nice thing about summer travel is that summer clothes don't take up as much space as bulky winter items!

So, till next summer, when I hope we'll be able to experience more travel adventures!