Florida Road Trip 2013 – Travel Day And Miami
In my first post about our road-trip around the state of Florida, I wrote about the planning stages. If you missed it, you can read it here. This post starts with our travel day and the beginning of our adventure.
We packed up the car and headed from Birmingham to London. We had booked in at a Premier Inn near Heathrow. It was an early check-in the next day so heading down a day before was the safest option. We had booked one of the nearest car parks and just took the complimentary shuttle to the airport. We had packed as lightly as was possible for four people. I had put both of the kids’ clothes in one suitcase and Sukh and I shared the other. We always take a spare suitcase too when we visit the States to bring back all of the shopping!
I didn’t have a plan at all at this stage on how I would wash any items of clothing we needed again. We would never be in one place long enough for laundry so I decided I could easily buy some washing powder and conditioner and just wash what I needed in the bath. In the Florida heat, clothes would dry in no time. I am a person who needs a plan for everything. I surprised myself on how open I was just to go with the flow.
We decided to eat at the airport so we were literally only at the Premier Inn to sleep. Once we had checked-in and been through security, we had a big breakfast in the departure lounge and did a quick shop at Boots and WH Smith for drinks, snacks and books.
We had booked a Virgin Atlantic flight and usually go for the middle seats on a plane so we can all sit together. I used to be one of those people who insisted on a window seat (and still do if I’m travelling on my own or with friends) but since having kids I’m happy to sit in the middle as it gives the kids more room to stretch their legs over us if they want to sleep. And with a three-year-old at the time, it was only fair Sukh and I took it in turns to attend to his every need. Thankfully the in-flight entertainment was excellent, with a wide range of children’s films, TV shows and games. There was enough there to keep both of them entertained for the long flight either side of naps.
It was evening by the time we landed in Miami. The airport was hot and sticky. The AC had been switched off. I remember reading only a couple of weeks earlier about spending cuts in the city. The immigration line at any US airport I have been to has always been long but this was unbelievable. We had to queue almost as soon as we disembarked. The kids were tired and sweaty. Thankfully I had packed the trusty Trunki with summer clothes and as we waited in the queue, I quickly relieved the kids of their hoodies and jogging bottoms and into T-shirts, shorts and sandals. It’s surprising how easy it is to do without exposing them! I saw a lot of other parents doing this too and you could visibly see the relief on kids’ faces. I always pack a pair of sandals for myself too when we venture to a warmer climate so I was able to change out of my trainers too. I can’t believe how unbearable the queue was and everyone was getting agitated as to how long it was taking.
Two hours later and we were through. By now the kids were grumpy and wanted food and to sleep but Sukh and I attempted to keep them cheerful. We didn’t want to start our adventure with sad faces and bad moods! Once we refreshed with a couple of bottles of cold water, we headed to the Alamo counter from where we had hired our car. It was a basic Ford but the lovely gentleman offered us a complimentary upgrade to an Infiniti. We had hired a GPS and they had thrown the car seat for Shivam in for free.
It took a few minutes for us to get to grips with the car and for Sukh to become comfortable before we started driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. He had driven in the US once before in California and had got the hang of it more or less straight away. We punched in the address of the hotel into the GPS and off we went.
It wasn’t long before we were at our hotel, the Thunderbird. The check-in process was pretty straightforward and by now it was dark outside. We decided to head out for an early dinner because we had an early start to Orlando the next morning. We opted to eat at an Indian restaurant near the hotel. There’s just something about a plane journey that makes me crave spicy food as soon as we land. As much as we would have liked to have a long leisurely meal, we were all pretty tired by this point and headed back to the hotel for some shut-eye.
The kids fell asleep straight away while I packed away our used clothes and ironed outfits for the following day, always making sure a spare set was easily accessible too. This would pretty much be the pattern for the duration of our trip. We were on the road after all and would be in different towns and cities throughout so we would more or less be living out of our cases. Normally this would have me on edge as I’m one of those people who unpacks the first day we arrive anywhere. I like everything put away neatly so I can easily sort out mine and the kids’ outfits for the next day. I guess it’s also so we can feel at home and comfortable in a new hotel room. But this time I was quite relaxed about it all. We couldn’t do it any other way so why worry?
Sukh and I didn’t sleep well that night. The hotel was pretty noisy and the bed wasn’t very comfortable. The kids had slept pretty well and didn’t complain once when we woke them at 6am. That’s a plus point of going to the States. You’re wide awake nice and early, raring to go because of the time difference. We took a couple of photographs on the balcony of our room and off we went to the car. It was time to leave Miami and head for the first real stop on our adventure – Orlando.
Before we hit the road, we stopped off at a 7-11 and picked up some snacks and drinks for the car. Everyone decided it was too early to eat breakfast and last night’s dinner was repeating a little. We hadn’t been on the road long before Shivam was sick. It was a combination of the food, jet-lag and I guess just an early start. We pulled into a quiet street and started ‘Operation Clean-up’. Usually we would panic at something like this but Sukh and I were surprisingly calm. Sukh stripped Shivam down and handed him over to me at the boot while I washed him down with baby wipes and those handy bottles of water we had picked up, got him into some clean clothes, and rinsed through the clothes he had been sick on. Sukh cleaned up the car seat. Thankfully, most of it had gone on his clothes and not the car. Shivam drank a little water and fell asleep straight away, as we hit the road once again.
It was a pretty straightforward drive to Orlando. We stopped once for a toilet break and picked up some muffins and tea for breakfast. Once we had stretched our legs, we were ready for the rest of our journey. It seemed like no time at all when we arrived on International Drive.
A post on our time in Orlando is coming soon.