Kids & Gators

The Florida Everglades – Explore by airboat, see alligators & crocodiles & soak up nature.

We ventured off as a family of five into the Florida Keys during spring break, March 2013. Here we were, two small children, a teen and a minivan.

FYI: I absolutely hate flying-I will drive anywhere to avoid airlines.

A trip to the Florida Keys is no joke when you’re driving. That’s 25 hours from Texas to Florida, in a minivan, with small children! Who wants to be on that ride? I DO! Road trips with children are underrated. When you think of a long drive, you think kids get cranky, they need to potty EVERY second, they are always hungry and easily bored.

If you plan properly my friends, a road trip can be the best part of the family vacation!

I am a planner. I live by a strict schedule. I will research every stop along the way and plan our road trip with the kids in mind, myself & my husband. I am proud to say I’m that parent that makes a travel binder. Yup! I create a binder with all the needed maps, pit stops, museums, ticket information and lodging in one nice, organized little book.

We decided this trip was very much needed and we had no time to waste until we laid our bums in the sand. So we drove straight through, leaving Texas right at bedtime so that the kids slept a good ways. My husband & I are big on saving time & money so we packed up our Yeti with a whole lot of goodies for the trip. I like to pack ham & cheese sandwiches, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chips, trail mix, dried fruit snacks, water bottles (no sodas) and fresh fruits. This eliminates stopping constantly and splurging at gas stations. Let’s be real, a gas station stop can easily turn into $50 in gas and another $30+ in junk food.

As we drove through the night past Texas towards Florida, our children slept peacefully in that Windsor minivan. My husband & I kept each other going with great conversation and the occasional car karaoke belting out every song we loved from Willie Nelson’s “On the Road again” to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”.

Once day light hit and the kids were up, we kept them entertained with car games for the whole family. Our family loves to play Eye Spy & tell jokes that require thinking. We also like to have a list of history facts about places we pass along the way. This opens the kiddos up to conversations about history and learning. We stopped only a few times for potty breaks until we reached Florida. Now stopping for a restroom break with kids requires careful consideration. You don’t just stop at every backwoods gas station. We always look at the surrounding area and reviews if any are available.

I am a sucker for adventure and thank goodness my family is all in with me! I could not travel to the Keys without exploring the Florida Everglades!

Our family was very happy to hit up the amazing Everglades Alligator Farm! This awesome spot is located in Homestead, Florida. They offer a variety of fun for the whole family. We quickly booked our airboat ride down the Everglades! Not only do you get to see a vast amount of awesome nature & all it’s glory but you get a tour guide who knows this land. Our tour guide made sure we not only spotted as much wildlife as possible but he shared survival tips for that “just in case” scenario. The kids ate up every bit of it! Not gonna lie, I was hoping we’d get stranded so I could put those tips to use. 😉

After the 60 minute ride, we headed on over to the stage area where we sat and watched their handlers feed the alligators, educate us on alligators and crocodiles and they even let us handle a baby alligator! Can you say WIN! Our kiddos couldn’t get enough!  This place had it all! You had the opportunity to venture out on an airboat, handle a baby alligator, watch a show, visit the breeding pens, shop in their loaded gift shop and picnic.

This place was very well worth the trip and their ticket price was a steal!

A few recommendations for mommas: The humidity is crazy in Florida and down the keys. Wear little to no makeup, don’t expect curls & do’s to last all day. Pack a ton of sunblock, those rays bounce right off that water & most definitely watch for falling coconuts ~ no joke, one fell from a tall tree and just barely missed our little girl’s head by a few inches. Take lots of pictures! Water proof cameras are not really needed, I placed my Canon in a zip lock when on the boat rides, I never travel with a purse, I use a small travel backpack that can fit the essentials.

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