Thursday, July 3, 2014

Real Life on the Road

Posted by Sara

Enjoying life on the road.
We have seen some amazing things on this trip, but it’s easy to fill the blog with all the sights and skip the day to day experience of driving 7000 km, staying in hotels and eating on the road.

These are definitely ‘first world problems’ but after 17 days on the road, we are all getting tired of squishing 5 of us into one room hotels and struggling to eat healthy meals for a reasonable cost. 

We use a combination of old technology and new technology to get us where we're going.  We haven't gotten lost ... so far.
Our favourite family hotel is Residence Inn by Marriott.  They are the only hotel we have encountered with a 2 bedroom suite which costs only a bit more than a standard hotel room.  We get 2 bedrooms, each with a queen bed and en-suite, a living room with a pull-out couch for the third kid (don’t have to lug in the blow-up mattress & pump) and a real kitchen.  We also get 3 TVs, one in each bedroom and one in the living room, so we can all watch our own show instead of trying to find one show that all 5 of us like.  In addition, they serve a fantastic complimentary breakfast with the traditional continental selections as well as hot food, oatmeal, muesli, fresh fruit and make-your-own waffles.   We always grab a banana each for the road.  With breakfast for all five of us, we pretty much make up the difference in the cost of this hotel and one that doesn’t have breakfast.

A man enjoying the freedom and independence of the road.  And Scot.
Many of the National Parks we have visited haven’t had a suite hotel nearby so we have had to make do with a traditional 2 queen bed room with one kid on the floor.  Not that we can really complain while having a good roof over our head but it does get tiring after a few nights of us all sleeping in one room what with a  few snorers and a few restless sleepers (you know who you are).   We all need to go to bed at the same time and there is only one bathroom for all 5 of us to share.

The mornings get a bit crazy.  For some reason the kids have vetoed sharing the bathroom to expedite our getting on the road.  “No, I will not brush my teeth while you are going to the bathroom.”   Picky, picky.  Why not?  For the nights we stay in standard one room hotels, our favourites are Holiday inn Express and Hampton Inn & Suites.  Mainly because the rooms are all neat and clean and the breakfasts are good.

Eating on the road is a challenge.  It’s hard to avoid the pop and the deep fried food choices unless we are willing to pay a lot more.  Often better choices aren't available, even if we want them.   It’s also hard not to get lured into eating more just because they offer us big portions.   Psychologically, it’s hard to walk away from 1/2 a plate of leftover food that we have just paid for.  We made a couple of family rules to help us out.  Only water or milk or lemonade while on the road and we push the plate away as soon as we are feeling full – no eating more just because it is there.  Of course we break the rules occasionally but at least they help us to stay a bit on track.

Taking a break from the road to hike in Bryce Canyon.

Breakfast is easy as we always pick a hotel with complimentary breakfast.   The breakfasts are really great.  We usually do some form of fast food for lunch.  Our favourites are Subway and Mexican food as they offer the healthiest choices but we are often limited by what is nearby at noon every day.  We try to do a sit down dinner most nights but have to be careful of our menu choices.  Luckily most restaurants in the States have a kids menu so that helps with the costs but they mainly offer the same 4 items.  Katie has been eating mac and cheese at least 3 times a week.  Christopher vacillates between the kids’ menu and the adult menu.  Luckily he has really expanded his food choices this year so he can usually find something besides his standard chicken fingers & fries.  Pizza is an easy, cost-effective choice that everyone likes so we end up eating pizza a few times a week.  We usually average about $100/day on food - $35/lunch and $65/dinner. 

Hiking Bryce Canyon.
Our driving days vary greatly depending on what there is to see on the way.   We find anything more than 5 hours/day of driving is definitely pushing it.  The kids spend a lot of car time on their DSs and i-pods.  Scot and I call out every time there is something interesting to see and they all pop up their heads for a quick view.  We also listen to pod casts (mainly CBC Laugh out Loud, and three NPR shows – Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and Freakenomics.)   We all enjoy them.

DS's make the miles go by.

At any rate,  the trip has been amazing but we are certainly looking forward to getting home to our own beds, being able to cook our own food, and having a bit of space from each other.

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