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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Planning Short Family Trips – Five Things to Consider

My family and I recently traveled to Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC. We had a marvelous time and I look forward to visiting again. We planned the trip as a one day, overnight visit; driving up early in the morning and staying in town just that night. It’s nearly a four hour drive from where we live so turning it into a day trip would have been too hard on all of us, especially our toddler.

We had a lot of ground to cover in just one day, but luckily the Biltmore website provides you with suggested itineraries to help you plan out a day trip that allows you to cover the grounds efficiently.

Here are a few tips to help you plan for a long activity-filled day with a toddler:

The Drive

Tip: Ensure that you’re well stocked with snacks and activities to keep your toddler occupied for the duration of the drive. Breaks in the drive should also be included in the trip schedule so that they feel more like a part of the plan versus a loss in time. Even if a child doesn’t need to use the bathroom, allowing them to get out of the car seat to move around and exert some amount of energy makes for a more pleasant trip.

Our Plan: Maddie is quite the road warrior and can sit and look out the window for quite some time (thank goodness). About an hour into the drive we stopped to grab food, gas and use the bathroom. Along the way, Madison has tons of things to choose from in her book bag; a Kindle, LeapPad2, headphones, alphabet cards for tracing, pens, crayons, notebooks, play cookware, dolls, etc.

Nap Time

Tip: Plan your trip with your toddler’s nap time in mind. Skipping naps make for grumpy kids, so don’t take that chance.

Our Plan: We had a four hour drive to Asheville. We left the house by 8 am, knowing we’d get there by lunch time and that she’d fall asleep for at least an hour along the way. Maddie did just that and woke up just prior to our arrival. Talk about winning.


Tip: Children tire easily and so do adults, if we’re being honest. Taking breaks are absolutely necessary when traveling with a young child. They need time to just sit, to look around, to ask questions, to rest. Make sure that you’re giving them plenty of time to do that throughout the trip. You can plan rest times in advance or get a feel for when breaks are needed as you go. You know your child and what works best for you and your family.

Our Plan: We visited two places (Antler Hill Village, Pisgah Playground), took a break (Creamery - Outside), then visited two more places prior to leaving (Estate House, Gardens).

Family Appeal

Tip: Obviously, family trips should be heavily geared towards activities that will be engaging for the entire family. Determine what the place you’re visiting has to offer that will appeal to everyone in your household and build a plan to cover those areas so that everyone leaves the trip fulfilled.

Our Plan: The trip as a whole, visiting the estate, was one that both my husband and I wanted to do for a long time even before we had Madison. We knew we’d be covered just by visiting the house, so many of the other parts of the day were meant to appeal to Maddie. We made sure to cover the farm and playground for her, the ice cream parlor for us all, and a quick visit to the gardens for me.


Tip: Children are full of energy and get overly excited when you’re out experiencing new things. They tend to run a lot and with that can come trips and falls, and other types of accidents. Be prepared, just in case this happens by always carrying a small first aid kit with you.

Our Plan: Maddie tripped and fell during our trip, skinning her elbow. Of course, there were employees at the estate willing to help tend to her wounds but I came prepared and took care of it myself. I made sure to pack our mini-kit before leaving and was able to stop the bleeding, clean, disinfect and dress the wound on my own. I was able to calm her down quickly since I had the tools on hand to deal with the situation.

So there you have it! Five simple things to keep in mind when you're planning your next family trip.  If you're living in or near North Carolina, I highly recommend a trip to the Biltmore Estate.  We had such an amazing time and I'm certain your family would enjoy it too!

Find Joy,



  1. Great ideas! looks likes you had a great time! I don't have kids yet, but that's so good useful information! :)

  2. Great tips! Breaks are definitely essential for everyone!

  3. We try to plan our trips around nap time as well! We also stock the car with snacks and drinks (but not too many drinks because that leads to many bathroom pit stops!).

  4. great tips!!! I always forget to plan for the accidents like falling..

  5. These are some great ideas! My mom always tried to do the same for me when I was little and it really made the trip more enjoyable for me! Maddie is so cute btw :)

    Marie H.
    Progression By Design

  6. The photo right above "ACCIDENTS", I just love it. That's an awesome shot.

  7. Great ideas! my girls are 4 & 6, and we usually play a lot of I Spy games in the car :)

  8. Great tips. Biltmore at Christmas is one of our family traditions. So beautiful!

  9. Great tips--we always try to plan around naps too so that the kids are happier!

  10. I love this! So much planning and details to help other moms traveling with toddlers! (Awesome photos, too!) I want to come along on your next trip! LOL!

  11. Thanks for sharing this. I always make sure that my kiddos have things to keep them entertain in the car when were traveling.

  12. You are so lucky to have a great traveler with you! My boys tend to get sick of a toy after five minutes while riding in the car, which is annoying, but we still like to take road trips and explore.


  13. Great post, I am going to pin for later!

  14. What a darling little girl and such great tips for traveling with a toddler!

  15. I couldn't agree with you more. We have been traveling with our daughter since she was 18 months old and we took all of these things into account. You HAVE to pan, or it can ruin the trip.

  16. First thing, first. Your baby is one cute baby girl. You hit some very important points and I am not even a mom, ha! But being around with toddlers in a car is exhausting alone. Great tips!

  17. I don't have kids, but this is helpful for when I have to travel with my nieces!

  18. Take breaks! Thank you! I don't have kids, so maybe I don't have any room to talk, but I have worked at Disney World and they just get so over stimulated and exhausted and the parents are pushing to get their money's worth. It just ends up in a cranky terrible time for everyone.

  19. Great tips! So glad you remembered the kit so you could save the day before a major melt down.

  20. I just love that picture! It looks like you had some fun, thanks for the great tips!

  21. Breaks are critical for everyone. Sitting for such long periods of time is not good for the body. Great tips! We always make sure to stop, get out and play around during road trips.


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