Summer is approaching and for many families, it’s time for a family road trip! While there are plenty of places in Tennessee to explore, nothing screams “family fun” more that Orlando, the theme park capital of the world. For many, the idea of a road trip is an instant headache; the planning, crying, and age-old question… “Are we there yet?” We’ve put together a fool-proof plan that can make the day-long drive more bearable. We even discovered ways to make the trip more affordable! Make your family road trip from Chattanooga to Orlando with our tips. Planning Like a Pro
The best way to avoid a headache behind the wheel is to be as prepared as possible. Before you tell your children where you’re headed, do some research first. Knowing the path ahead of you is a great way to decide whether or not to tackle the entire drive in one day.
Basic research begins with the drive. How long of a drive is it? (A little over 8 hours if you take I-75). Is there any road work that might throw you off course? What is the weather going to be like? Should you consider adjusting your departure date?
Based on the information you find, your next decision focuses on your vehicle. Is your car in good shape for a road trip? When was the last time it was serviced? While a sedan may work well for local commute, longer trips usually require more room. Consider renting an SUV for the trip and save the hassle of taking your car into a mechanic to get it ready for the trip.
Of course, some research should be done on the pit-stops you will make along the way. Look up the scenic rest stops along your route! We think finding a local BBQ joint for lunch is a great idea!
If you decide to split the drive into two days, decide which town you want to stay in beforehand. Atlanta is the first major city along the way, but it leaves majority of the drive for the second day. Stopping in Macon is both convenient and does a better job breaking up your trip. Do some research to find the right stopping point for your family!
Finally, based on all this information, create a loose schedule for yourself. While no one can completely predict the future, it will be good for your family’s sanity to have an idea of how far along you are, and when you’ll reach your destination.
The second most important step for surviving a road trip is to come prepared. Anything can happen on the road, and its best to be ready for it all.
Start with the basics. For us, the first is food. No road trip would be complete without an arsenal of snacks! Avoid spending extra cash at gas stations by bringing a cooler full of store-bought, premade snacks. Also consider the mess factor, and decide on foods that will be the easiest to clean up. Bring plenty of water and juices! Yes, that will require more frequent bathroom breaks, but dehydration will quickly ruin a trip!
It’s easy for passengers of any age to become bored on road trips. Bring entertainment ideas is a great idea. Download some audio books, podcasts, and movies for the passengers to enjoy. Don’t forget the chargers! There are also fun car games to play that are great for family bonding.
Ensuring the comfort and wellbeing of passengers is also a necessity. Be sure to bring plenty of pillows and blankets for those who decide to take a nap. Make sure you have a first aid kit for emergencies, a spare tire, and tools in case of a car malfunction. Again, anything can happen on the road and its best to be prepared for it all.
Making Rest Stops
Regardless of how many days you decide to drive, take plenty of breaks from the road. Both the driver and the passengers need to get out and stretch their legs now and then, so skipping these breaks may do more harm than good.
We encourage you to stop at unique destinations! While a gas station just off the exit may be more convenient, consider stopping at more scenic areas. The southeast is full of beautiful places to visit and explore, and many of them will keep you on the right course for your final destination.
Once you reach Florida, consider stopping at the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. This National Natural Landmark near Gainesville at Florida’s northern border the park is most famous for is 120-foot-deep sinkhole. Bring your flashlights and spend some time exploring the caves and caverns is this one of a kind rest stop from the road.
Find Low Cost Activities in the Orlando Area
Once you make it to Orlando, it’s time to for the fun to really begin! In addition to theme parks, there are dozens of other fun family activities.
Start at Disney Springs, a family friendly center near the Disney Hollywood Studios. Disney Springs is filled with restaurants, shops, and music venues. Visit the iconic Orlando House of Blues or catch a performance in one of the many common amphitheaters and squares. Make it in time to see the main Disney event, Christmas in July, for a real family treat!
Take the crew to one of the many mini golf courses all around Orlando. There’s a wide array of themed mini golf courses to choose from, such as pirate, neon, glow in the dark, and alien. If you are looking for some high quality, brand name mini golf courses, Disney offers some of them for a slightly fee. Nothing says family fun like a fully immersive experience at a themed mini golf course!
Finding the Best Place to Stay
Of course, part of every vacation is figuring out where to stay. Luckily, as the family capital of the world, Orlando has plenty of reasonably priced hotels. Don’t lose any sleep over a questionable place that your family may hate – find one that everyone will love!
For example, check out the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites. The kids will love the full waterpark, complete with water slides and and playground. Another great hotel with a water park is the CoCo Key Hotel, close to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Orlando. The kids will love the chance to soak up the sun in these great pools and truly embrace the summer.
If your family prefers to stay outside a resort, consider renting a vacation rental. With services like AirBnb, renting a vacation home is easier than ever. And due to its reputation of being a resort destination, there are plenty of independent homeowners with vacation rentals for those not interested in using a third party.
Before you know it, Chattanooga will be far from your mind as you soak up the sun in Orlando. Surviving a ride there is a snap, as long as you head out prepared. And remember, enjoy yourself – it is a vacation, after all!
By: Guest Contributor Lexi Carr