Chicago to Atlanta with kids

There is always something exhilarating about attempting something slightly crazy. Or maybe that’s just me. When I set off with my boys on our winter road trip between Chicago and Atlanta, the adrenaline was definitely pumping.

During the next six days, I would spend more than 24 hours driving. In anticipation of this, I had an arsenal ready: two huge bags of snacks; 19 books from the library; a backpack, blanket and stuffed animal for each kid; and my husband’s permission to rent as many videos as would fit on my iPad whenever the need arose. We had even managed to “mount” the iPad with a makeshift luggage strap for in-car viewing.

We had some insane moments but overall a great time.

Here are the highlights. We pulled out of Chicagoland at 6:30 a.m. Kids had breakfast in sacks and happily munched as we made our way to Indianapolis (3 hours).

I had the perfect pit-stop planned. Traders Point Christian Church opens the doors of “The Park” to the public seven days a week for free. This indoor playground was the perfect place for my boys to burn some wiggles. I’m telling you: it was incredible.


My boys loved the play space, the basketball courts and the climbing wall.


Then we drove 4+ hours to Bowling Green, Kentucky. A luxurious hotel awaited and I was so tired I let the kids watch TV show after TV show and ordered pizza.

The next morning I woke up to find that my youngest was sick. I convinced myself that his upset stomach was due to fatigue until he, you know, all over the hotel entryway as we were checking out.

By then I figured that I had already checked out, so there was nothing to do except ask the friendly hotels staff for extra bags and start driving toward Georgia.

We used several bags in the first hour (stopping each time to get cleaned up), but then he fell asleep and I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe we could take the next planned stop after all: Raccoon Cave in Tennessee.


We stopped. The boys loved it. They impressed everyone on our tour by knowing the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. I wish I could take credit for this, but I really have no idea where they learned it.

Next stop was our host family in Georgia. Unfortunately, the last time we stayed with this family we had had several episodes of throwing up on newly-installed carpet. So I wasn’t super excited to be pulling in with a sick kiddo, but what are you going to do?

Thankfully, that part of my youngest’s sickness had worn off.

My husband flew in that evening and graciously got up with the kids as needed so I could get some much-needed sleep.

Discipleship International launched. It was amazing to see how everything came together. And a blessing to be there for it.

The next day the boys and I started driving back. We drove to Nashville, Tennessee. We crawled into our hotel and collapsed.  I made a mental note never to stay at this hotel again. ‘Nuf said.

The next day we were off to Indianapolis. Since the boys had loved Raccoon Cave so much, I decided to take a little detour so we could see the most famous cave in the U.S.: Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. It added an hour of driving, but since they had all just seen Ice Age and wanted to see a mammoth, they were game. 😉

Given the icy weather, we ended up getting a private bus ride and tour of the cave.


The boys soaked it all in.

IMG_2212And then they soaked in some Coca Cola and enjoyed the warm fire at Cracker Barrel.

On to Louisville.


We made the final trek to Indianapolis and stayed at a luxurious Sheraton (thanks to Hotwire). The concierge took one look at me and gave me a free movie voucher. I think he was panicking about noise and the other guests. Or just being nice. Anyway, we appreciated it.

We splashed in the pool, watched our movie and then slept the best we had slept all trip. It was finally time to go home.

I noticed on my final day of driving that major snow storms were sweeping across the cities I had driven through the day before. God had protected us and we made it safely home. Here is the car before I went through a car wash.


1,500 miles. Five states. Great memories. On the final drive I started planning my next trip. “If with God’s help we could handle this —where could we go next?” Stay tuned. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Chicago to Atlanta with kids

  1. 🙂 But don’t you want to see the Cubs play again? “Go Cubs go, go Cubs go….” (Just wanted to get that lovely song in your head for the next year or so…)

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