Last month, we packed up our crew and headed out on a road trip to Texas! People always ask me how I can stand traveling with so many kids. The truth is, we pretty much always travel with my inlaws, which makes things SO much easier. Pauly and I have the younger set of twins with us, and the older set rides along with his dad and stepmother right behind us. We pack tons of (mostly) healthy snacks, water, books, and of course handheld electronics. Our family is old school (read: cheap) so one of the kids’ favorite devices is my 17-year-old’s ancient Nintendo DS. She has an even older Gameboy with the curly worm-light, but I haven’t tracked down enough game cartridges to make that worthwhile. Anyway. Splitting up the kids makes things SO much easier, and traveling with the grandparents means the kids make twice the memories – plus, we have a built-in set of babysitters in case we carve out a minute to go drink a beer on our own. Win!
We decided to hit the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX (near Dallas) because our children are HUGE fans of waterparks. There are locations throughout the US, but none very close to our home in Denver. We could have probably traveled to the Kansas City location a little more quickly, but if you know my husband and his family, with their SoCal roots, we had no choice – we HAD to go to Dallas, because they have In-N-Out Burger there!
Our trip was uneventful and downright pleasant. Denver to Dallas is about a twelve-hour trip, which we split into two days. We made sure to stay at a hotel with an indoor pool so that our kids could burn off some energy before bedtime. I killed time texting back and forth with my teenager, who was at her dad’s house for spring break. And we tried to take in a few Texas landmarks on our way to Dallas, including The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo. We didn’t kill a 72-ounce steak at the Big Texan, but we did have a lot of fun – the kids enjoyed the shooting gallery, fun scenery, and the traveling musicians. It wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had, but it was by far the most entertained my children have EVER been at a steakhouse! Here are some photos of our travels – click to enlarge!
Our first day in Dallas was Easter Sunday. I mention this only because my husband and my father-in-law were both dying to eat at In-N-Out, and we headed straight to the restaurant before we even hit the hotel. The look of utter disappointment and sadness on their faces when they found the doors closed and locked was EPIC. So, word to the wise: In-N-Out is closed on Easter! We made our way on over to the Great Wolf Lodge, which is what the kids wanted to do all along. Waterpark, glorious waterpark!
Where do I begin when talking about the Great Wolf Lodge? Well, um…for starters, it is GIGANTIC. I heard someone describe it as “Vegas for Kids” and that is spot on. The hotel is HUGE. Many floors of guest suites, two restaurants, a bar for the grownups, an actual STARBUCKS, a spa/salon, and a large gift shop and convenience store. The entire bottom floor features a huge arcade, a place where you can create your own stuffed animals, a kids’ spa/salon, and a snack bar. In addition, you and your kiddos can play MagiQuest® throughout the entire hotel. Of course, if you aren’t in the mood for any of that stuff, you can always do what we did, and spend 99% of your time in the fantastic indoor waterpark. When you’re ready to fall into bed at night, just flash your wristband and your guest suite door opens right up.
And what about those guest suites? The suites are perfectly designed for families. We were traveling with four adults and four children, and our suite had a bedroom with two queen size beds, a bedroom with a king size bed, and a living room area with a pull-out sofa. Everyone slept comfortably, and I never felt like we were on top of each other. Oh, and did I mention our suite had two full-size bathrooms, complete with a GIGANTIC walk-in shower? All four of my littles showered together every night, which worked out beautifully. Our suite also had a lovely little kitchenette, with a large counter, sink, microwave, and fridge. Each bedroom had its own TV, and there was a larger TV in the living room area as well. Fantastic.
This trip was SO much fun. The kids traveled really well and I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend spring break. Here are some quick tips for making travel easier when road tripping with kids:
- Plan to spend more time on the road when you have kids with you – they need lots of bathroom breaks and the occasional gulp of fresh air!
- Keep a bag close by (not in the trunk) containing wipes, napkins, Dramamine, extra clothes, and plastic bags. I’m not sure if my family is unique, but I have yet to make a single road trip where somebody didn’t barf. On that note…
- Keep the vehicle cool, if possible – warm air seems to really aggravate little tummies.
- Pick hotels with an indoor pool and a continental breakfast. Swimming burns up a lot of energy, and if you have a lot of mouths to feed, you can’t beat a continental breakfast. (I usually snag an extra apple or two for the road!)
- Pack lots and LOTS of healthy snacks, portioned out in individual bags. And make it clear that fuel stops are for going potty, not buying bags of chips. This saved us SO much money.
- Relax and HAVE FUN!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we did make it to In-N-Out! My husband was SOOOO HAPPY.