Traveling 25 hours south on the highway with two young children (ages 3 & 5) may not seem like a holiday to some people, but for our plant powered family it was a fun and healthy one! We had a lot of car activities planned for ride and once we arrived we had to have plenty of fun activities set up for the kids. Sticking to our plant-based way of eating and exercise regimes were challenging, but completely possible on a winter vacation of this kind.
Packing is never easy. Packing food for a plant powered family who is “Propelled By Plants” for a 25 hour drive, a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, staying at a hotel for three nights and not going to any restaurants, verges on insanity.
In the days leading up to our departure, we had plenty to be done in the grocery stores and our kitchen. The meals we prepared had to be cold or room temperature and not too messy for the car. We whipped up a huge batch of plant powered burgers, baked and wrapped them in foil. A double batch of protein packed homemade pancakes were divided and packaged into two separately sealed bags. Countless zip locks and containers of cut carrots, peppers, cucumber, celery, baby tomatoes and a big side of homemade hummus. We also had a few PB&J sandwiches, and some quinoa. The kids ate all that plus a few homemade pizzas and a bagel with faux-cream cheese.
Snacks are a must in the car. If we hear “I’m hungry, I want a snack” one more time we may throw this computer onto the I-75. We use KeepLeaf reusable snack bags to give out snacks. Almonds, cashews and pistachios are a hit in our family. We cut up a lot of apples, pears, strawberries and honeydew. We had natural popcorn as a treat for the kids (last year we bought a cute little air popper for $19.99 and it is so easy to use). Roasted chickpeas, kale chips, bananas and peanut butter also made appearances on our rides. Of course we never go anywhere, not even on a day trip, without bars. Amrita bars are an awesome snack as well as amazing fuel for exercise and they come in all kinds of flavors. Our kids love the apple cinnamon!
We met up with one of our friends from childhood who lives in Orlando. We have not seen her or been in touch until very recently. She took on the challenge of feeding our family a plant-based gluten-free meal, hitting Whole Foods and enlisted a staff member to be her personal escort. She learned so much about eating plant-based. We were grateful for the hot meal and that she went out of her way to accommodate us. She is going to make some changes in her own kitchen. It feels good to spread the knowledge. Thanks a million, Stacey!
Exercise is a big part of our lives. Throughout the drive we needed to get moving and stretching. I love watching Adam and the kids doing squats, jumping jacks, arm circles and other exercises at the potty breaks. People look and smile, but we know they wanted to join in! At the hotels the kids raced up and down the halls. We even let them jump on the beds a few times. We usually stop them before people anyone gets hurt!
Adam is extremely disciplined (as if you didn’t know). He gets out to explore the area with a run near the hotels. His RoadID gives me some peace of mind.
This year we got some fun and active days in. Naturally, the kids played in the pool daily with their cousins; swimming, jumping in the pool and trying not to run around the deck. They ran around on the beach and played ball. Adam was up early to hit the pool before it got crowded and he ran down to Hollywood Beach to see the crowds of people. Shush made it out on some runs and hit the gym for the exercise bike. The bike gave her some time to get further into The China Study, which she is thoroughly enjoying. It’s not as light as Something Borrowed, but she liked it.
Our favorite day was when we went to Oleta River State Park. We found this hidden treasure because Adam searched for a Meet Up to find a group of open water swimmers. Triathlon season is soon approaching people! This park has it all. We will be visiting it again in the future. They have canoe and kayak rentals, hiking trails, biking trails, swimming, fishing and more. We went to the beach to meet the swimmers. We could not find them but we each got in a swim while the kids played in the sand, ran along the shore and played imaginary football!
Naturally, we did a lot of grocery shopping. Publix and Whole Foods fed this family. We tried to buy our produce as organic as possible. Whole Foods had a nice prepared foods bar with vegan, gluten-free soups. Some are even part of the “Health Starts Here” initiative adding hearty vegetables and no salt. It’s definitely not eating on a budget, but you get what you pay for! We tried to stay away from processed foods but Daiya has a new gluten-free vegan pizza that saved the day when we had no running water.
Restaurants are a whole other kit and caboodle. Our family was quite easy going and let us choose the restaurants. Unfortunately, we had no clue where to go! The first experience was at The Olive Garden. We needed to make a choice with no Internet connection and we knew they had salad. The kids were able to have gluten-free noodles and we got stuck with iceberg lettuce house salad with oil and vinegar. Luckily, we both ate before we went out.
Our next experience was stopping at the Green Wave Café on the way to our cousins in Plantation. You should stop in. They have an excellent menu. We picked up a brownie and cheesecake to bring to our get together. Sweet Tomatoes was a perfect restaurant. A giant all you can eat salad bar is all we need. There was a huge variety, they did have a lot of other options, but the only things we could have was rice and sweet potatoes. We could have gone more than once. They were very accommodating. Our final eat-out-stop was The Yard House. The manager was so knowledgeable and she let us mix and match our orders. The spring salad with some warm rice hit the spot.
If you ask any of us, this was a successful trip. We were healthy, happy and well nourished (not just well fed…there is a difference – but that’s a different blog!).
Important tips for the car:
Bring scissors to cut food packaging, toy packaging…
Extra bags for garbage to be thrown away at each gas stop
Flashlight for dark hour drives
Bowls, zip-locks or reusable bags to give out snacks (KeepLeaf)
Plugs, phone chargers for car, generic plug for power outlet
Prepare a change purse with small bills and change for tolls and keep it in an easy to reach spot
Zip lock or envelope to collect receipts
Keep a record of timing or special notes on a paper or in your smartphone
Extra clothes and bags for kid’s accidents and extra adult clothes in case it gets on you
Baby wipes for any sticky messes
A bag of plastic cutlery
I try to dress my kids in clothes I would not mind tossing while driving. My daughter used to get car sick and it’s not worth keeping the clothes and cleaning them in the hotel sink!
Finally, here is our disclaimer….we are so sorry we use so much plastic on these trips. At home we do the best we can not to use one time use plastics and bags. Each year we are becoming better and better at eliminating waste.
If you have any other ideas for us, please let us know!
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