When I plan a vacation, I typically include the whole family in the plans: me, my husband, our three kids, and sometimes even our pets.  It’s an event that involves months of planning, days of packing, and more than one or two frustrating moments along the way.  But when my husband announced that he had to work over the kids’ spring break, I freaked out.  The kids had created a spring break bucket list that included theme parks, attractions, mini-golf, and a trip to the beach.  The only way to check off their bucket list – take them myself.

I’m not going to lie, I questioned whether I could do it.  Nine years into this whole motherhood thing and I’ve never been brave enough to take all three of them away by myself, but after a little pep-talk from my husband and a bit of faith, I decided to dive right in.  I would be road tripping solo with the kids, and thanks to my friends at Toyota, we’d be doing it in the stylish Toyota Avalon Hybrid.

The very second it arrived my kids were ready to hit the road.  And so for 4 days we explored Florida, visiting attractions familiar and unfamiliar – Legoland, the Orlando Eye, mini golf, the Crayola Experience…we even managed to squeeze in their requested trip to the beach.

It was a blast and, if I’m being totally honest, a learning experience.  Here are 5 things that I learned from taking my kids on a road trip solo.

Hybrids will not only save you money, but they’ll save you time too.  Having never owned a hybrid vehicle, I’ve always wondered if it really made a difference.  Do you really save that much money owing a hybrid vehicle?  As I learned on this trip, the answer is yes. But it’s not just money you save, it’s time.  Think about it, every time you don’t have to get off the road to pump gas, gives you more time on the road to reach your destination and actually enjoy your vacation.  And with a variety of drive options – Sport, ECO, and EV – there are lots of way to stretch your miles and reduce your fill ups, while still providing a fun driving experience.  At 40 miles per gallon city and 39 miles per gallon highway, you’re not going to see much of the gas station in this car.  I might have filled this car up once the whole time I had it and we drove lots of miles.

Planning is helpful, but flexibility is key.  With my younger daughter’s birthday party happening the day before we left, I didn’t have a ton of time to plan the details of this trip.  Unlike all of those family trips where I planned for months and packed for days, I didn’t pack anything for this trip until the night before our departure.  Sure, we had a list of places we wanted to go and I knew where we were going to stay, but I didn’t know much more than that.  Turns out, we didn’t really need to.  

While our to-do list gave us direction, we didn’t feel confined to having to accomplish certain things on certain days, which was a very freeing feeling.  Each night we’d settle on what we wanted to do the next day and I’d gather the addresses to input in the Avalon’s navigation system.  If we decided to change direction or make an extra stop, it was easy to change the addresses in the navigation system or search by point of interest.  But in all honesty, we didn’t keep the navigation screen up on the display very often, my kids much preferred the audio screen or spit screen to channel surf for spontaneous dance parties (mid-road trip dance parties might be their new favorite things, for which I totally credit the Avalon’s awesome sound system).

We comfortably fit in a sedan.  When I told my friends that we would be taking the Toyota Avalon Hybrid on our vacation I was constantly met with the question, “Will you all fit?”.  Now, after a week in the Avalon, I can honestly say…YES!

And we didn’t just fit, we had plenty of room!  The Avalon easily fit the kids and their backed and backless booster seats.  To some, this might not seem like that big of a revelation, but for the first time ever, I realized that we’re at the point where we all fit in a sedan.  And if my husband had tagged along, that wouldn’t have been a problem.  The Avalon easily fits a family of 5, even with multiple kids in car seats.

Forget the clothes, pack snacks.  Okay, don’t forget the clothes entirely, but I assure you, my kids cared more about what snacks I packed than what clothes I packed for them.  And that’s unfortunate, considering I put zero thought into what snacks I was packing as I wandered around my kitchen with a tote bag or two minutes before we left.  It also explains why we ran out of snacks at the end of the second day of our trip.  If I could do it all over again, I’d pack each kid 1-2 outfits per day, a bathing suit, and some toiletries, then move on to pack snacks that would last the entire trip.  I’d probably also get the kids to pack a bag of snacks, so I know that I’m bringing their favorites.  Regardless of what your packing, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid has a nice, big trunk that can handle it all.

I can totally handle it!  Were there challenging moments on our trip?  Absolutely, but there are challenging, frustrating moments on family road trips, too.  Bottom line – I’d do this trip again in a heartbeat!  We had such a good time and got to visit so many places that we don’t normally go.  I’d much prefer that my husband join us on vacation, but the next time a solo road trip presents itself, I won’t hesitate, we’re going!

Have you had an opportunity to go on a road trip with your kids solo?  How did it go?

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