Our first experience with driving down to Walt Disney World was in August 2009, and because it was our first time, we were a little apprehensive, not sure how all five of us and our “stuff” was going to fit comfortably into a family car for a 21 hour trip! As it turns out, it was the event that memories are made of. With three drivers, we had great experiences, we were able to rotate out drivers and got a lot of great pictures. Of course no picture is better than this one:
As we approach the 40-day mark, we wanted to share what we are doing to get ready for the long drive. This time we will have two drivers and four people, which will give us a little more leg room in the car, which we will need to transport the two laptops, portable DVD player and netbook. We are fortunate in that we have sizable trunk space, which mainly will hold our clothes and the personal items that cannot be put in the moving truck. We do plan to use the space saving bags that can be vacuumed shut to hold our extra clothes. We will arrive in Clermont on July 25; however the moving truck may not arrive until August 1st, so we need to bring all our summer clothes with us.
AAA: We highly recommend signing up for AAA if you are considering long-distance travel. It provides peace of mind that your regular car insurance roadside assistance can’t offer. It also offers discounts for lodging and other businesses, as well as the free Trip Tik personalized itinerary and maps for all the states you are traveling through. We do have GPS on our phones, but we discovered the phones aren’t always accurate, so it’s nice to have a back-up written plan. With AAA, we find that the membership fees pays for itself yearly, even if we don’t plan on traveling long distances in a particular year.
The Next Exit: This is a book that provides a complete guide of what is available in terms of food/gas/lodging/camping/shopping amenities at every interstate highway exit. We found this invaluable for our 2009 trip, and have purchased the 2011 Edition. It runs for about ten dollars on Amazon. If you purchase the online version for $14.95 from www.thenextexit.com , you will be able to download a free iPhone app.
Snacks/Meals: In 2009, we planned a picnic lunch for our first meal. We decided to stop in Indiana, just after crossing the state line. We typically buy deli ham, swiss cheese and chips: things that are non-messy but convenient to eat. We plan to make this our Friday dinner meal, and we will also have a small soft cooler that we intend to fill with soda and snacks. We bought it at Big Lots for under $20, and it’s perfect because it’s more narrow than a typical cooler and will fit between the kids perfectly. This will help prevent paying gas station prices for drinks and snacks, at least for part of the trip.
Tune-Up: We will be bringing the car in on Thursday for an oil change and to make sure it’s in good condition for the trip. In particular we are having the air conditioning system, shocks and exhaust looked at. We just met with our insurance agent and he recommended dropping comprehensive and collision coverage on our car, but we plan on keeping it at least until we get settled in Florida.
Sun Pass: We were on the fence as to whether we needed Sun Pass, or if we would just pay the tolls as we pass through them. With living in Clermont, we don’t anticipate that we will need to pay tolls when we go to Disney (Clermont residents please correct us if we’re wrong), but we would need to pay tolls if we travel in to Orlando or make trips to the coasts. We decided the convenience of Sun Pass is worth the purchase of a transponder unit. (We preferred the transponder to the sticker for personal reasons).
We are really looking forward to the drive, not only because it brings us to our new home, but because we enjoy road trips, and plan to use Twitter/Facebook to document our travels. We’re thankful that we were able to sell our second car, and bring only one car to Florida, which saves hugely on expenses, and also allows us to experience the drive together as a family.