Our Vacation to Colorado: 10 Hours, 5 Kids, No Electronics

Recently, our family had quite the adventure. 

We took the kids on vacation....


And I know that doesn't seem like that big of a deal...but there's 5 kids in our family. That's alot of kids. And 10 hours on the road is a long time.

And to top it all off, I decided we were going to go sans electronics. No IPods, no "Can I play on your phone" and no Kindle, pads, tablets, DS, etc. Note: I am not saying there is ANYTHING wrong with electronics and kids. We love them!

 However, with 5 kids, we simply don't have enough electronics to go around and I couldn't stomach the thought of trying to referee the sharing of said electronics for 10 both ways hours from the front seat. No. Thank you. 

So, I came up with a No Electronics Plan. But more on that later. First, a quick vacation recap:



 I was ecstatic about our vacation. My kids and I had never traveled anywhere further than Kansas City (2 hours) so I was super excited to explore with them! 

We headed to Denver first, where we spent the day with cousins of our at the Downtown Aquarium. 



It was fun, even though super expensive to get our whole family in. The kids had fun, the girls met "real mermaids" and R1 got to climb a coconut tree and they all loved the 4D movie so everyone was happy. There are over 500 sea creatures, so there was something fun around every corner.

Along the way, we found a carnival, so naturally, we had to stop: 




The REAL gem of our trip was hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove into Estes Park, parked at the Visitor's Center and took shuttle buses to Bear Lake, where we were able to hike up, up, up until our little hiking hearts could hike no more. The kids just wanted to keep going and going. We hiked around Bear Lake, then next to Nymph Lake and finally, to beautiful Dream Lake, which literally took my breath away. It was amazing. The kids thought it was so amazing that there was snow on the ground in June. We kept passing hikers with all of their gear, whose faces lit up with smiles when they saw our clan hopping up the trail. 



And the views? There are no words. 


I could have stayed for days. On the way down the mountain, I already wanted to go back. I can definitely see us making Estes Park a family vacation tradition. I loved seeing all the amazing views for myself, but watching our kids enjoy it doubled the excitement all over again. 

The way home was slightly more dramatic than I would have liked...I will spare you the details of how one of the 7 year olds managed to tangled himself so bad up in the seat belt strap that we had to pull over and extract him. Oh, and about how we got a flat tire in the middle of No where, Nebraska. 

But the important thing is we all got home in once piece. 
Are you wondering exactly how we survived the "no electronics" pledge?



I can't lie, it was pretty amazing. I can't believe it actually. But there was ALOT of planning ahead. 

First, I went to The Dollar Store to stock up on things that were going to keep the kids entertained. 

My plan was this: 

Each child would get their own "Road Trip Box" filled with goodies. 
Every time we had to stop for gas or bathrooms, the kids would have an opportunity to get their box "filled" IF they were on good behavior during the trip. That meant no whining, no physical harm to a sibling and always being kind and helpful.  If any of those rules were broken, that child's box would be taken away for 10 minutes. 

So how did it work? Like a charm, I tell you. On the way there, only one of the kids got her box taken away but after that, she snapped out of it and we were on our way. Whenever we stopped for a rest or gas, I would "fill the box" with a new treat for everyone who had followed the rules and been a trooper. No one wanted to miss out on whatever new goodie they could get when it was time to "fill the boxes." We had a lot of traveling to do and there were a couple of whines when they found out we had another hour in the car, but once they remembered the boxes, they were excited and helpful to get on the road. 

Here's what was in the boxes to start with: 

Notepad
Markers
1 Tiny toy (Shopkins) for the little girls
1 Lego kit for the older kids (see below)
Post Its 
Fruit Snacks
Cup of Cookies


What I filled the boxes with along the ride: 

Masking Tape in fun prints- This was a HIT. The kids put it on the outside of their boxes, on the windows and the leather seats. It's no too sticky and doesn't leave a residue, so it's mess free. The girls made jewelry out of it and made letters on the windows. Literally, they played in silence with the tape for well over an hour. 

Kaleidoscopes

Sticky hands and maze games from the party favor isle at Target. 

YoYos 

Trail Mix 

$5 DVDs- (we did use the DVD player in the Yukon)

I also got 2 shower caddies from the Dollar Store to put in the seats since it would hard to reach the kids if they needed anything. I put wet wipes and extra snacks in those. 


Here are the Lego Kits I put together: 

I bough a pencil box and then hot glue Lego bases to the top and filled the pencil box with a new $5.00 Lego toy. They had fun building the set and putting in on top of the box and were able to built without dropping the pieces. 


These small little boxes helped make our vacation even more enjoyable, which almost seems impossible, because it was so fun. We loved seeing the joy on the kids faces and their excitement in every new thing was infectious.

 I can't wait for our next adventure!