We made it back from our trip and the kids had a great time. Thank you all for your messages and good wishes! I have lots of funny stories and travel tips to share!
We arrived in Boston on Saturday and drove home to Virginia in one day. We took around about way, avoiding Rt. 95 and the Jersey Turnpike and made it home in about 9 hours. That included four stops. The kids were tired from the cruise and did really well in the car. We did watch the move Lemonade Mouth three times, but it kept them quiet!
When you hear the word rest stop, what do you think of? Here in Virginia, they are little buildings off the side of the road that house restrooms and a few vending machines. They usually have some picnic tables outside and a place for kids and dogs to run. Some of the newer ones even have small playgrounds. Up North (especially on the New Jersey Turnpike and Massachusetts Turnpike) they are entirely different. They are one stop shops for all your travel needs. They have restrooms, gas stations, gift shops, vending machines and three or four food outlets. These rest stops are usually, (in my experience) very crowded, very dirty and very expensive. Driving home from Boston on Saturday we made our own rest stop off the highway and it was a great choice and a great stop! We pulled into a shopping center in Danbury, CT. I think it was off of 84. I had just woken up and really don't remember! This little shopping center had a Trader Joe's in it and a wonderful family owned pizza parlour. Trader's Joes is a terrific place to stop with kids when traveling. They have clean bathrooms and give out stickers to all kids (sometimes they have balloons too - but who wants a balloon in the car on a road trip!). For what we spent on our McDonald's breakfast off the Mass Pike, I was able to buy juice, lemonade (to go with Lemonade Mouth, of course!) and a variety of healthy snacks for the car trip! I left the store with a very full grocery bag and happy kids. At the pizza parlour they were very nice and very family friendly. I wish I could remember the name - if I think of it, I will post it! For less than what we spent on the McDonald's breakfast we were able to get pizza for everyone for lunch. They were very accommodating - cutting all the pizza slices in half for the kids. They gave us extra napkins and cups too. I used the paper cups to pass out the cereal and snacks we bought at Trader Joe's. Something else we did at the pizza place, was asked them not to heat the pizza. This was faster for us because the pizza was already made and faster for the kids - they did not have to wait for it to cool before they could eat.
Please feel free to share some of your travel tips!