Today we left for our long road trip! We decided to dead head it down to Florida, taking three days to get there. We’ve only been on the road one day and I’ve already learned some very valuable lessons!

Lesson One:
If you have children you will not leave on time. We were going to leave at 9am, we had our bags packed and everything ready to go the night before. Then we realized we forgot a few things, the kids were rangy and needing attention, we had to pack and then re-pack the car because not everything fit at first. Things just don’t always go as planned!
If you plan to leave an hour later than you think you need to leave then you’ll be on time or ahead of schedule. If we had thought we were going to leave at 9 and we planned on a 10am departure then we would have been right on time.

Lesson Two:
If you are going to leave on a Saturday be sure to leave early (see lesson one). We got stuck in the worst traffic which ended up putting behind a good two hours (see lesson one). Traffic crossing the border is bad on a Saturday, especially mid-day!

Lesson Three:
This one will be an important lesson to you if you are an iPad owner from Canada and you want to buy a data plan in the US. We wanted to purchase a data plan through AT&T for our iPad so that we would be able to be online no matter where we were. It is very expensive to do data roaming from Canada. I went to the AT&T store and got a SIM card for the iPad. They told me I need a US credit card to activate it. I had heard I could buy a gift VISA card. I went and bought one and tried to activate the data plan. We couldn’t get online so we decided to wait until we got to a coffee shop that had WIFI and try again. We drove two hours down the road and tried again. I spent an hour fiddling around with trying to get this account up and running. I was bummed it wasn’t working and I wasted a precious hour on this nonsense! (see lesson one).
Finally after visiting two AT&T stores and a call to Apple we figured out that the gift card wasn’t working because it wasn’t attached to an address like a normal credit card is. Now here is the big lesson – call the VISA card help number and ask them to add a zip code to the card. You can use the zip code of a hotel you are staying at. Then you will be able to activate your data plan. Simple! But it took me a LONG time to figure this out! You’re welcome 🙂

Lesson Four:
Hotel coupon books really do save you a lot of money! We were looking online at hotwire, travelocity and expedia and we were trying to decide where to stay for the night. All the hotels were over $125. This was just for a stop over hotel in a non-touristy place. Then we picked up a hotel coupon book – we used these constantly on road trips pre-kids – we found a Hampton Inn for $79. This same hotel was $159 online. We walked in, asked if they accepted the coupon and they smiled and said, ‘of course we do, let me get you checked in.’ At least this was a pleasant end to a loooooong (but not very far traveled) day! Plus, this hotel offered a complementary hot breakfast. We woke up to waffles, biscuits & sausage gravy, eggs, cereal, toast and more!