Family Road Trips
Family road trip tips and advice
With the wide array of all-inclusive resorts and discount travel packages available today, the family road trip seems in danger of becoming a thing of the past. While a trip to Europe or the Caribbean or some other far-flung destination can be tempting, don't overlook the value and fun of traveling closer to home. Family road trips are an American tradition, and they're one that deserves to be kept alive.
Family Road Trip Planning
The key to a successful road trip is planning ahead. While there is a certain romance to simply jumping in the car and heading whichever way the wind blows, lack of planning is sure to make for an unpleasant trip when the kids are hungry, you've got no food, and there isn't a restaurant in sight.
Most road trips start with a destination -- a famous landmark or a relative's house -- or at the very least, a chosen direction. With this in mind, check out a map and plot a basic course. You might consider contacting triple A for updates on any construction and detours.
Once you have your course, figure out how long or how far you'll drive each day, and then book your accommodations along the way. Also research local restaurants, and plan to stop for bathroom and stretch breaks about every two hours.
Family Road Trip Games
You'll want to have some entertainment planned so the kids don't go crazy, or drive you crazy. Of course, these days, portable DVD players, video games, and other electronic devices can keep kids occupied virtually anywhere, but part of the point of a family road trip is to spend time together as a family. Prepare a few road trip games to keep you all engaged. Some old favorites are I Spy, License Plate Bingo (finding plates from each state), 20 Questions, Who Am I?, and Find 100 (identify an object, such as flags, and then count each one you see until you reach 100, but each item can only be used once, by the first person to call it). You can find dozens of others for free online. You could also tell stories or sing songs.
Other Family Road Trip Advice
A few other family road trip tips to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible:
- Keep a cooler with drinks and snacks to avoid stopping at every roadside stand, fast food restaurant, or gas station convenience store. You'll save time and money, and you'll eat healthier, too.
- Consider driving at night while kids are sleeping and traffic is lighter, and then sleep at a hotel during the day while the kids go swimming, watch TV, or take part in the hotel's daycare or kids' programming.
- Pack a ball, a jump rope, and portable sports equipment so that children can burn off excess energy at rest stops. Even a quick 10-minute game of catch while you're pumping gas can do wonders.