Disclosure: Thank you to the brands that partnered with us as we made this trek. I only partner with brands I love and trust, and as always all opinions expressed are my own.
Since we went to the End of The Oregon Trail recently, I thought it would be fun to share all about our journey across the Oregon trail (with yes, two kids in tow.) We sat out from the Midwest last May to our new home in Portland, Oregon. Just a few weeks ago though did we finish the journey, and made it up to Oregon City to the end of interpretative center. In this point, I’m reliving the experience and sharing what we learned, what we’d do again, and what we would suggest skipping or altering to better serve your family.
Here is the path we took in this post:
Bloomington, Indiana to Kansas City, Missouri to Lincoln, Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah to Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon to Mt. Hood, Oregon, Seaside, Oregon, Cannon Beach, Oregon Astoria and beyond.
I know some people like to just drive and see where they get tired and stop, we had to be a little more realistic since our traveling companions were four and two years old. So, we scheduled our stops and reserved our hotels in advance. We just wanted to avoid any possibility of getting somewhere and learning there was no vacancy. That would honestly be my recommendation to do some planning in advance. We chose some children’s museum (like this one in Salt Lake City called Discovery Gateway.) Unfortunately, we were on a little bit of a time crunch because we had to get to my husband’s new job. So, we really only allocated a day to each stop (except for Idaho, where his parents live.) I’ve included a bunch of photos below with captions, but here are our tips:
Get audiobooks/download podcasts. I drove over 40 hours (because my husband was in his car.) so, I listened to career related podcasts, comedy books, and the boys and I listened to some quicker children’s books. The mix kept me focused and tuned in, when the kids were asleep you better believe I was listening to Ying Yang twins, but I tried to use the car time productively.
Don’t rush with kids. Give yourself plenty of time to get there, that’s supposed to be the joy of a road trip! Getting there should be HALF the fun. We packed lots of car activities (books, DVDs, coloring books, water magic books, and the boys had snacks galore.) We stashed some “bonus” items to distribute occasionally when they would get restless.
Try to eat at local places when you can. Our experience was that we couldn’t do sit down meals every time. We had to grab Subway and take it a park, but for dinners we tried to do a local sit down restaurant. We had barbecued meats in Kansas City and potato ice cream in Idaho. Regional food is really fun and can make for some great stories.
There is a reason “tourist spots” become tourist spots. Don’t ignore a place, because it isn’t uniquely local either. Hit up those landmark spots, when in rome baby!
Say yes when you can. Try to tell your kids yes to random things when you can. Like, maybe they want to explore that random building with the chicken on top. They will never forget it!
Save money tips: So, by staying at the same hotel chain when you can earn rewards. Don’t forget kids eat free nights when you can find them! Parks are wonderful, lakes, beaches, etc.
I love driving across the country, it was so relaxing and opened us to many conversations with my boys. We made so many memories as a family and it was a very affordable option for seeing so much terrain.
Would you ever drive across the country with your kids? Comment below and let me know!
The Astoria Column Idaho is one of our favorite states!
My husband was raised there so as a family, we’ve spent a lot of time there.