Road Tripping Cross Country with a Toddler, a Dog and a Stubborn Husband

I absolutely love road trips! Always have. My very first experience with a cross country road trip was with my Dad. We drove to Florida for my high school graduation gift/trip. It was one of my favorite trips of all time! We drove from Wisconsin to Bonita Springs, Florida only stopping for gas and bathroom breaks and a very brief nap stop at a Rest Stop along the way. We packed loads of snacks and beverages and activities to keep us occupied.

Now here we are present day and my love for road trips remains the same. Unfortunately Justin does not share that same love and excitement and tends to be a bit grouchy and stubborn. But we still go on small road trips here and there to satisfy my enjoyment of them. Usually they’re just day trips to explore various parts of the state. We call them “adventure days” to add some extra excitement for Hunter and try to take them at least a couple times per month. But cross country trips are a whole different animal.

We’ve been on on multiple cross country trips to and from Wisconsin with Hunter. The first one being our move to Arizona. But this holiday season will be our first cross country trip that he will remember. Not even two hours in and we’ve been asked countless times “are we there yet?” and “why can’t we just fly to Wisconsin and get there faster?” We’ve also had to make our first emergency roadside potty stop because the first Rest Stop we came to was closed.

Emergency Potty Stop.

I should also mention that I’m an over-packer. To think that I thought that we could fit two weeks worth of stuff for all three of us into one suitcase is laughable. Between our stuff, the dogs stuff and all the Christmas gifts we are packed to the gills! But because this isn’t my first rodeo we are packed strategically and are well prepared for the unforeseen and unexpected. We’ve got loads of snacks, beverages and activities to keep us occupied.

Experience and overpacking will all come in handy as Justin is insisting that we drive straight through yet again this trip. It’s important to point out that any time we’ve tried to do this in the past has resulted in everyone being cranky and over tired. Not to mention resulting in the most grouchy form of a husband to ever have existed. But I being happily optimistic and extremely excited for the adventure am just going to go with the flow and enjoy the experience.

Arizona – Depending on the route you take there is so much to see. The varying landscape as you cross the state is just beautiful. But man does that temperature drop as you near the state line! Definitely need to be sure to have the winter jackets handy before entering New Mexico. We made the mistake of having our coats in the bed of the truck and only having light sweatshirts in the truck. Our first pit stop in New Mexico was so so so cold without jackets! Our bodies are not used to 32 degree weather any longer that’s for sure!

New Mexico – Not much to see until about Albuquerque. The city lights break up the monotonousness of night time driving. Unfortunately most rest stops are closed this time of year so truck stops are your best bet for a bathroom break and opportunity to stretch your legs.

Texas – Our time in Texas was brief. At this point we had been on the road for 12 hours. Hunter was hitting his limit and starting to spiral. It didn’t help that for some reason he and I got hit with random allergies out of nowhere so we were stuffy and sneezing something fierce throughout our time in the state. Thank goodness for my overpacking skills…saline Boogie Wipes to the rescue! Apparently according to Justin the towns we drove through smelled like pigs and piss but I was too stuffed up to smell a thing! Thank goodness!!! Shortly after Hunter’s meltdown he fell asleep. Coolest thing we saw was a Toot n’ Totum. Thought it was a unique name for a gas station. Never seen one before. Oh I should also mention that at this point of the trip Justin’s stubbornness really started to shine. He was still insistent that we drive straight though. Jesus take the wheel! We didn’t make it much further before Hunter started having night terrors.

Texas Toot n’ Totum

Oklahoma – I slept through the Oklahoma panhandle but before I dozed off I did catch a glimpse of the moon. It was HUGE and shown brightly resembling the giant grin of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. After a couple of night terror episodes with Hunter we did end up parking at a truck stop at the Oklahoma/Kansas state line so we could all get some rest. Thankfully I packed plenty of blankets and some neck pillows so we could all snuggle up in the front seats of the truck for a few hours before hitting the road again.

Kansas – I was on point as driver and got to enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the sunrise all to myself while Justin and Hunter slept. Hunter woke up in such a great mood! He didn’t remember a thing from his terrible night prior and that made me happy. Justin and I were pretty grouchy at this point. The snacking and fast food stops were starting to hit me and made me feel like garbage. I don’t remember much of Kansas other than the sound of the radio playing softly in the background while we zoned out.

Missouri – By the time we hit Missouri I was starting to go coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. I was dancing and singing along with the radio and desperate to find a comfortable position. It didn’t work but I am certain that I gave the other cars we passed a good laugh at my crazy antics. Justin even cracked a smile here and there though he won’t admit it. Any and every stop we made was filled with a good old fashioned snowball fight and the occasional snow angel with what of any remnants were left behind from the previous snowfall all led by Hunter.

Iowa – We’re almost there! Nothing noteworthy to mention really. We were all kinda hitting our limit. Dubuque however was super cute and industrial. I wish we had driven through during the day so I could’ve seen more. The second our wheels hit the Dubuque/Wisconsin Bridge to cross the Mississippi River Hunter was cheering with excitement.

Welcome to Iowa!

Wisconsin – We have arrived!!! We are exhausted and hangry and so beyond ready to get out of this truck but we are on the home stretch. Only about two more hours to go! Hunter kept Justin and I positive with his excitement that we were actually in Wisconsin! The lack of snow is a little bit of a bummer for little man. Thank goodness all our Missouri stops included snowball fights. Annnddd…we FINALLY made it!!! Oh my gosh I almost forgot…Athena!!! I haven’t mentioned her at all this entire trip because she did the BEST out of all of us! She slept the entire way. But we did have the BringFido app downloaded and ready to go in the event we did need to stop at a hotel during our trip. It’s the fastest and easiest way to find a place to stay that accepts pets of any kind. I highly recommend. Now to unload our stuff, get some much needed rest and enjoy the holiday festivities!!!

If you live in or have visited any of the states we drove through let me know in the comments below what things there are to do and see! We make this trip every other year for the holidays and would really like to include more stops along the way that involve some sort of activity to break the trip up a bit more.