Our Epic West Coast Family Road Trip

We’ve done a cross-country family road trip or two (or three) in our time but this west coast road trip in 2013 is by far the most epic. We crossed several things off of our west coast bucket list.

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

A ridiculously awesome road trip

 

The full trip is mapped out below. More than two weeks on the road and only 1 night in a hotel! Read this post to find out how we did it. In this post I’m going to round up the highlights.

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

Camping in Northern California

 

Camping among these epic trees was … well, epic. If you ever get the chance to visit the redwoods, don’t miss it.

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

Visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

And revisiting our old stomping grounds around the Monterey area. There are lots of free things to do in Monterey but we had the aquarium in our sights. We used to visit all the time when we lived in Monterey. In this post I share my insider tips.

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

Embracing our Inner Tourist at the Grand Canyon

 

YOLO and all that. :D Seriously, don’t come home with the same picture everyone else has. Make a memorable memory. The best road trips involve a balance of beautiful and silly pictures.

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

Discovering an Ancient Meteor Crater

 

Best accidental find ever. With all my research looking for road trip ideas you’d think I’d have come across this sooner. This whole section of Arizona is amazing. Painted deserts, giant canyons, petrified forests, ancient craters. Trust me, not all deserts are created equally and Arizona is where it’s at (we once lived in Tucson for a year).

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

 

Good Old Fashioned Graffiti

 

Turns out, it takes some actual skill to make Cadillac Ranch look good. This iconic road side attraction is neat but doesn’t quite live up to the hype. But, hey, great family road trips are made up of the good and the bad, amirite?

 

An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.

 

It takes a lot of planning to pull off an epic road trip on a budget but it’s worth every minute.

Have you visited any of these places? What’s your favorite road trip memory?

Looking for US road trip inspiration?

 



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Jessica

Cross Country Road Trip – Georgia to Canada

In 2012 we took a giant cross country road trip when relocating from Georgia to British Columbia in Canada. These are a collection of posts that I wrote from the road. They are not a guide so much as a journey.

 

Our giant cross country road trip from Georgia to British Columbia, Canada.

 

A cross country road trip in one week.

 

Part 1 – From Georgia to Tennessee.

 

Our first two stops were with friends in Atlanta and Tennessee.

 

Canada Or Bust

 

Part 2 – From Tennessee through Kentucky, Illinois, and landing in Missouri.

 

We knicked the corners of several states on this day.

 

Canada Or Bust Part 2

 

Part 3 – From Missouri to Nebraska to Wyoming.

 

In Nebraska we stayed with friends again and had a big slumber party. The story takes a turn then when I find myself using toilet paper on the side of the road.

 

Canada Or Bust Part 3

 

Part 4 – From Wyoming to Montana.

 

Beautiful scenery as we continue to head north and west.

 

Canada Or Bust Part 4

 

Part 5 – From Montana, through Idaho, to Washington.

 

The last night of the trip in cold Washington state.

 

Canada Or Bust Part 5

 

Part 6 – From Washington to Canada!

 

We did it! Once country in one week.

 

Agghh! We’re here! In Canada!

 

Whew. Not bad for a week, eh? I learned a lot on this trip. You can read about my top five tips for a road trip with kids here.

 

Have you ever done a cross country road trip or move?

 



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Jessica

How to Save Money on a Family Road Trip

How to Save Money on a Family Road Trip and other road trip tips.

Planning a road trip with kids? Here are the three best ways to save money on a road trip. Plus a couple extra road trip tips that will keep you sane.

 

We’ve done it several times. In fact, we’ve crossed the country three times with little ones. Yes, you’re going to threaten to turn the car around a time or two. But it’s totally worth it for the memories that are made.

 

Road Trip Money Saving Tips

 

Our family traveled more than 3000 miles in a week’s time this summer for our big fat Canadian move — and doing it frugally was our top priority.  So how did we do it?  I’m glad you asked.  Without further ado, the Bohemian Bowman’s top tips for a road trip with a big family.

 

1. Stay with friends.

 

How to Save Money on a Family Road Trip and other road trip tips.

This one thing can save you hundreds of dollars on a long road trip.   If it’s practical, map your route and stops according to friends who are willing to put you up.  We stayed nearly half of our nights on the road at the mercy and hospitality of others.  And more of those than not I only knew from internet friendships!

 

In 2013 we took an epic road trip that included 13 stops. We spent only one of those nights in a hotel! We have, literally, saved thousands of dollars on our three cross-country road trips staying with family, friends, friends of friends, and internet friends.

 

How to save money on a road trip.

 

It’s true, staying with a host rarely affords the comfort and privacy that a hotel would, but it’s a lovely communal, stretching experience in our culture of selfishness and individuality.  And it saves you on food and lodging for a night, as it generally includes free dinner in addition to the standard continental breakfast. :)

 

2. Picnic for lunch.

 

Road Trip Tips

 

Not only does packing a picnic every day save you money on your road trip, it’s almost always more healthy than hitting up the drive-thru.

 

You can make this as complicated or simple as you like.  Personally, we went the peanut butter and honey route every day.  I didn’t want to have to worry about keeping things like condiments, cheese, or lunch meat cool during the day or finding space for them, so peanut butter was our preferred sandwich.  With a side of water and some trail mix.

 

3. Don’t go to McDonalds.

 

Road Trip Tips
 

Just trust me. (<- click for embarrassing bathroom story)

 



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4. Splurge on the suite.

 

Road Trip Tips

Saving money on a road trip for a big family can be tough. Hotels won’t typically house more than 5 people in one room for safety reasons, but never you fear – there’s more out there in the big wide world than just connecting rooms.

 

If you have 6 or more people in your family, stay in a suite. Suites not only give you at least two rooms to stretch out in, depending on the quality of the digs, you’ll also get at least a kitchenette or possibly even a full kitchen.  Which can save you even more money if you choose to cook your own dinner.  And the best part? Suites are almost always cheaper than booking two adjoining rooms.  Crazy, eh?  Do it.

 

5. Stop for the scenic moments.

 

Road Trip Tips

You can’t make all the stops and detours you’d like on a road trip, believe me I know.  But make the best of what you can do.  If you’re like us, it’s easy to focus too much on pushing your nose to the asphalt grind each day, pushing, pushing to cover more ground.  Don’t let the trip become a blur in the rear-view mirror. Make at least a couple of scenic stops to stretch your legs and your camera clicker.

 

 

 



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PIN IT!

 

How to save money on a family road trip. Three tips that can save you hundreds of dollars!

-Jessica

Agghh! We’re here! In Canada!

We did iiiiiiiiiiiiiiitt!

That’s right, 7 days, 3000+ miles, and only rare bits of sanity lost along the way … and we’re finally in Canada!

The last day of our trip had the most gorgeous scenery yet.  Really, the whole road trip just gets prettier and prettier and climaxes in the mountains of Washington with snow still on the ground right outside of your window and waterfalls cascading down rocks from rain and melting snow.

Which is completely impossible to capture on camera from a moving vehicle.

Oh, and with an excellent scenic pull off area.

But now that we’re finally here … well, it’s sort of anti-climatic. Maybe it’s because we hadn’t originally planned to cross the border yesterday afternoon but decided to push through at the last minute so my paradigm didn’t have time to shift.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve just gotten so used to the routine of the road that my emotional inertia is still willing me forward, resisting being stopped.  Maybe it’s just because it’s a lot to process, psychologically.  But I’m kind of just … sad to be here.  Or overwhelmed or something.

In a sense, the adventure is over (although, I know in another sense the adventure is just beginning).  It’s been a long time since I had to adjust to such a big move, and I think the adaptation is going to happen slowly, in layers.  Just trying to process the roads switching to kilometers instead of mph, and the vending machine not accepting my American dollars last night was a little too much for my brain.  It’s like weenie culture shock.  And now that this whole move-to-Canada thing is here in the flesh and not just an idea or a road trip, reality is setting in that we need to asap do things like .. um, find a job.  And Husband starts classes Monday, which also brings the carefree adventure to a close.

Also, this place is pretty darn big, y’all.   It’s been awhile since I had to adjust to that, also. I know that I’ll pretty quickly get used to the roads and learn how to get around town, but for today it’s just a big scary place that all looks the same.

Another weird stresser that you don’t expect is adapting, culturally.  I mean, you might expect if if you were moving to a 3rd world country, but most people treat Canada and America like tomato, tamahto.  But I find myself feeling paranoid and scrutinized.  This area is, supposedly, know for being “snobby”. And, I don’t know if you know, but Americans have a pretty international reputation for being loud and obnoxious, so I’m more aware of my children acting like children in the hallways of Canadian Days Inn, etc.

I’m afraid of fitting some dumb, ignorant stereotype. My accent already makes me stand out again.  I got used to blending in with that in Georgia.  And I’m suddenly sorely more aware of my overweight status.  I was often times on the “small” side of the norm in Georgia, but people are all crunchier and fitter up here, y’all.  So I’m perfectly fitting the fat American stereotype, as well.  And I found myself cutting up food at our continental breakfast that I would normally just eat with my hands. Because, ya know,  I don’t want all the Canadians to think I’m a barbarian cavewoman and, ya know, maybe they don’t pick up strawberries and bite into them here, maybe they cut them up into refined bite-sized pieces first …

Anyway, that’s where my brain is today: complete mush and over analyzing.  And my body is not much better, I’m seriously feeling the jet-lag.  I could sleep all day.  Funny that I didn’t really feel it until I got here, guess it’s the body’s way of helping you keep your crap together or something.

In a little while we have to check out of our hotel and mosey on over to meet the owners/residents of the house we’ll be renting starting in July.  Gonna let the kids meet and greet and trampoline and such while the grown ups mingle and have lunch.  Then early in the afternoon we’re supposed to be able to move into our temporary apartment in campus housing at the school Husband will be attending.  We’ll be there for 5 or 6 weeks before we can move into our house.  I don’t know anything more about the apartment right now other than it’s only 2 bedrooms, but since we don’t have anything but suitcases, and we’ve been 1 and 2 rooming it on the road for a week, what’s another month and a half?

Tomorrow I hope to venture out into the big scary city and do something adventurous and crazy like buy groceries.

Pray me luck, y’all. Seriously.



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-Jessica

Canada Or Bust Part 5

 

Day seven of our cross-country journey is over and it may have been the best day yet.  Y’all must have gotten to praying or something after my tired post from yesterday because today was basically lowered down to me by angels.  No one fussed, no one whined, and the view was to die for. Four Year Old was the kind of adorable that makes single people want to make little Four Year Old’s of their own.

 

We finished out Montana, hopped over the panhandle of Idaho, and landed safely just inside of Washington state.

 

 

Had another scenic rest area lunch.

 

And, as usual, Eleven Year old found an animal to pet.  She finds one every day.

 

We officially had to pull out the jeans and hoodies about a day ago.  Because of how it’s cold.  Like super windy, 54 degrees, and rainy.  A far cry from the 80’s and 90’s we left in the swamps of Georgia.  Yay pacific northwest.

 

 

Anyway, we’re in Spokane Valley tonight and all doing well.  It’s flippin cold.  I can’t believe we’re almost there. Tomorrow we plan to finish out our state side travels so that Saturday all we’ve gotta do is cross that border and become official immigrants.  Weeeee.

 



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-Jessica

Canada Or Bust Part 4

That’s a long way, yo.

 

Today was day 6.  Six!  It really doesn’t feel like we’ve been on the road that long in most ways.  But in other ways … um, like my sanity, I’m starting to feel it.

 

Although we didn’t have any diarrhea ditches today, and the most dramatic thing that happened was one of Six Year Old’s infamous nose bleeds, in the backseat (that was a fun emergency exit), I’m just … tired.  I think the gradual time change is finally getting to me.  At 8:30 tonight my body definitely felt like it was at least 10:30.  Plus, I’ve been consuming much less caffeine than usual, which is sort of unfortunate, but I’m trying to restrict my fluids and reduce the number of restroom breaks.

 

Also, I’ve been getting a slow sunburn without fully realizing it.  Apparently, 6+ hours of indirect windshield sunlight a day eventually starts to burn fair-skinned people like meself. So I pretty much felt like heat was radiating off my face by the end of today.  Think it leached some energy out of my immune system or something.  I dunno.

 

Plus, the Wild Things are growing weary of the trip, I think.  Because of the no-air conditioner, windows-down, loud-car situation, they can’t talk to me easily all day.  Which is particularly hard for Four Year Old.  So by the end of the day all. they. want. to. do. is. talk.  But by then my brain is fried.  Like Capital Fri, Captial Ied.  Basically, I’m over stimulate and they’re … under stimulated?  So I need all this alone time and they need lots of attention.  Not a good combination.

 

Anywho, only a couple days left, at any cost.   And, no matter the stress, the scenery has been pretty.

 

I had intended to say a lot more words tonight, but that’s all I got.  Pretty pictures of mountains.  And I”m done.

 

Hopefully I’ll be more articulate tomorrah.

 



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-Jessica

Canada Or Bust Part 2

Sooo, this morning we left Mandy and her bona fide crew in Tennessee.

Today was much longer than our first two days and, consequently, much more boring.

 

We managed to snag at least corners of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. I’ve driven through Illinois in the summer at least twice now (the first time on our move from California to Maryland) and I have to say … it doesn’t exactly titillate the senses.  No offense to Illinoisians.  South Georgia is boring to drive through, too.  It takes one boring stretch of road to know one, I guess.

 

And it probably wouldn’t be quite so boring if we weren’t such poor hillbillies on a road trip.  Because it was too expensive to get our air conditioner fixed, we have to travel with the windows down.  (Btw, the trip has been marvelously cool so far)  Which makes our journey awfully loud.  So we can’t listen to the radio or anything fancy like that. (Although we did splurge and purchase cheap headphones for each of the Wild Things to listen to their donated gameboys and dvd players)

 

The highlight of today was briefly passing through St. Louis. We couldn’t stop because we had a goal to make today, but we did spend a few minutes desperately trying to capture the perfect arch picture through a Durango window on the freeway.

 

And we stopped at some random state park in Kentucky to eat our standard peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

 

Overall the trip has been good so far.  The aforementioned windy loudness makes for occasionally annoying stretches when Wild Boys in the 3rd row want to ask inconsequential questions that you can’t quite make out so repeatedly ask them to yell at you while you crane your neck backwards to read their lips.  But what’dya gonna do?

 

Tonight we’re staying in the middle of Missouri somewhere in a high class Quality Inn.  It’s the first hotel we’ve had to stay in and I surprised myself by asking for a discount and landing the stinkin’ Presidential Suite on a Sunday night in June for slightly less than the price of two conjoining rooms.  Though let’s be honest, no president is ever staying at the Quality Inn.  Still, it’s a heckava lot nicer than your standard hotel room and the kids thought we were basically royalty. Tiffani from Free Play Life would be so proud of my price negotiating.

 

Annnd, tomorrow we’re aiming for the middle of Nebraska where we’ll be staying with Vanessa from Natural Family Today and her sister Aadel from These Temporary Tents (both are writers for Christian Unschooling, also).  Oh, speaking of which (sort of. not really) I had an Unschooling Portrait go up at the end of this past week so you should go check it out.

 

I have several posts scheduled or guest posted out this week and in the next couple.  I won’t be around to promote them much though, so I hope you find them.  (Btw, did you read The Seeking Pastor’s guest post this past Friday about taco bell and Jesus?  I hope it doesn’t cause your girlfriend to have to change your relationship status to “it’s complicated”.)

 

ANYWAY, I really have to get off of here now and go to sleep.  Because of the whole #CanadaOrBust thing.  Hope to update y’all again soon .

 



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 -Jessica

Canada Or Bust

Soooo, yeah.  We’re officially not in Georgia anymore!  Sorry that I can’t update much from the road, we didn’t have access to internet the first couple of days and I have to be careful not to eat through my pitiful little dumbphone data plan.

It’s going great.  The first night on the road we stayed with my long time pen pal bff in Atlanta.  We’ve been friends since 5th grade. We stayed up talking until I ’bout lost my voice.

Today we took our lazy time traveling to Tennessee to stay with Mandy from A Bona Fide Life and her crew.  I haven’t snapped a picture of the two of us together yet, but here’s a sweet pic of her and Hunter.

The 7 bona fide bohemian Wild Things had a blast together and didn’t fight a single time all afternoon.

And only sustained minor trampoline injuries.

We even managed to get them all bathed and asleep at a reasonable hour. With a healthy amount of shadow puppet action.

Our first couple of days of travel have been pretty easy but tomorrow we have to get up and off much earlier because we have more ground to cover.  Our aim is to be somewhere halfway between Murfreesboro, TN and Hastings, NE tomorrow.  Easy enough, right?

Anyway, that’s all I got for now!



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-Jessica