Well, I am working with Swiss cheese for brains, but somehow I want to try to get this down even at this late date.
We took a family road trip/vacation from August 22 to Sept 6 (ish) this year in honor of Bob and I being married 20 years. I will work out each day as a separate post, but here's the overview.
I started planning this beast the minute Bob gave the go-ahead, beginning with reservations IN Yellowstone National Park made in October of 2015. Even at that advanced date, I booked the only 2 cabins left for the entire season; that was what determined our dates and the route of the rest of the trip.
Another determining factor was that we planned to bring our dog with us. That narrowed our hotel choices considerably. As it turned out, we got an offer from my aunt to keep the dog while we traveled. This allowed much greater enjoyment for the trip, and I *could have* gone back and changed all our hotels, but never got around to it. One thing I tried to convince myself of (over and over) as I was selecting routes and rooms, was that if what I picked was "good" for us, it didn't have to be the absolute best possible choice. This made it possible to make decisions and move forward.
So, knowing how things get lost and mixed up, I started way early in my planning, made copies on the computer, and printed it all out. I bought several paper folders, labeled each one to represent 2 days of vacation, and hid them so the children wouldn't lose them. In each folder went the state highway map for the area we would be driving, my printed directions, our hotel reservation confirmation letter, and any info I could find about possible roadside attractions/stops/points of interest along the way. There was a single page "overview" to remind us what was coming up the next day or two.
I made an effort to alternate between hotels with 4 total beds and those with 6 total beds (sometimes a big room with a sofa bed, sometimes 3 rooms). I tried to get pools, especially in boring areas. This almost worked, but we'll talk more about that later.
To make packing easier/possible, we went light. We each had 4 pair of clothes, including one set for cooler weather, 1 swimming outfit, 1 extra pair of shoes, and 1 jacket. We took a cooler, a stroller, a couple of camp chairs, and lots of food. Taryn found some travel games, and made a packet for each person, as well as 2 decks of cards for playing in the hotel. We brought 2 cameras and 1 laptop. (And for the first day, a standard Poodle, crate, bowls, food, and toys. HOW??? You may ask. Well, somehow a brainstorm hit, and we bought plastic totes. We fit 1 days' worth of clothes into a single tote (plus extra diapers, wipes, first aid kit), and they stacked very nicely behind the back seat. Smaller totes held paperwork, picnic supplies, and food, and easily slid under various seats. It really was genius. Of course, totes aren't approved for airline travel, but I highly recommend them for road trips.
Every 2 or 3 days someone would spend a few minutes cleaning out the van and restacking everything, and it worked really well. We kept our rule of no eating in the car except for the occasional Tootsie Roll when absolutely necessary.