Monday, June 17, 2024
HomeHealthMake An Epic Family Road Trip Plan

Make An Epic Family Road Trip Plan

Summer is coming and what’s more fun than planning a vacation for your family? Longer days, a little less responsibility, and lighter schedules allow you to take a road trip and see parts of America you haven’t experienced yet. Our family has taken several road trips over the years and it’s always a great time to make some memories.

Whether you long for nature in national parks and campgrounds or long for fun and adventure in the big city, road trips are a great way to discover new parts of the country or old favorites. The best thing about the United States is that there are so many different geographies and areas of interest that you may not have explored. And since it’s a huge country, you can spend time each year exploring a new part of it.

But before you hit the road, don’t forget to plan. I made that mistake once on an 18+ hour road trip years ago! Planning is important when you have children and traveling is no different. If you put in the effort to plan a great getaway, you and your family will soon be saying, “That was the best road trip ever!”

8 tips for planning an epic Journey with your family

Traveling with kids is fun but it can also require a lot of planning and preparation. But don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed by trip planning. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to planning the perfect road trip for your family.

1. Make a road trip plan for where you want to go

The first step to an epic road trip plan is to decide what type of vacation you want.

Maybe you want to spend some time in nature and go camping. You could plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana or Arches National Park in Utah. Or if you’re looking to do some sightseeing in a city, maybe you want to visit Chicago or New York. There are beach vacations you can go on to Florida, North Carolina, or California. Or you could visit the mountains of Colorado or Washington.

As you plan, also think about how many places you will stay. Will you have a home base where you will take some day trips and then return home? Or do you want to make several stops and spend a few nights in each place? Need to fly somewhere and rent a car for your road trip? That allows you to see a part of the US that you can’t reach by car alone.

Another important factor is how long you can (and want) to be away. Do you only have one week left? Or do you have a whole month (or more) for a cross-country road trip? The amount of time you have will determine where you can go. Don’t forget to take travel time into account when planning how long you can be gone!

2. Plan your route

Now that you know how long and where you want to go, plan the route you will take. To do this, use an online map like Mapquest to include up to 26 different stops to create a route. Or use Google Maps if you’re going to fewer locations (up to nine). Choose your starting point, indicate the places you want to go, and end with your final stop. The software will do the work for you!

This is a good time to use online road trip planners. This one from AAA makes planning a breeze! Check out their library of road trip itineraries and find ones that fit your areas of interest. From New England to Arizona and even Hawaii and Alaska, it gives you directions and interesting stops to make. They’ll even help you find pet-friendly hotels if you bring your furry friends.

One thing to consider is finding scenic routes to your destination. If there are national forests or scenic byways on your route, plan to pass through them along the way. You can also drive one route to your location and then another route back. That way you can see even more parts of the country.

3. Find great places to stay

Where you stay will depend on the type of vacation you are taking. Do you need to rent a motorhome or a campsite? You can look for places to rent in national parks, state parks, or other campgrounds. Or is yours more of a hotel? Some have packages where you can save money and get more amenities.

Do you want to rent a vacation home? They are a good option when traveling as a family. You’ll have more space to relax and even put the kids to bed earlier if necessary. You will also have a kitchen so you can save money when eating out. Some even have swimming pools or game rooms with toys for the kids!

Use a wider search area to save money if it is an expensive area. For example, if you’re planning a road trip to Chicago, look to the suburbs to possibly save money. You won’t be in the city, but you can take the train into the city (it’s a fun experience!) and then explore the suburbs for a quieter few days.

4. Find fun things to do on the road

Don’t forget that the fun is in the journey, not just in the destination. Make time along the way to stop and see interesting things. The largest chest of drawers in the world? Check! The largest ball of yarn in the world? Check! A quick Google search with the name of the place you’re going (city or state) and “tourist attraction” will show you some interesting things you can see along the way.

This is also a good time to think about gas stations and rest areas. With little ones (and even moms!), bathroom breaks are very important. Stretching your legs is also important for everyone. Although it won’t always work perfectly and sometimes spontaneous stops are necessary, it’s good to be somewhat prepared for the stops.

5. Plan meals and snacks

Eating on vacation with a family can be a challenge. It is difficult to take a large group to eat. Sometimes it’s hard to find quality food on the road, and eating out isn’t cheap! Planning meals and snacks will help you save time, money and frustration.

Snacks are an important part of road trips (my kids always seem to be hungry in the car!). I like to eat healthy snacks that are within my reach. It’s especially important when driving through areas of the country where there aren’t many places to stop.

Meals take a little creativity and planning. If you’re staying in a rental home, RV, or hotel room with a kitchen, you can plan meals to cook. If you have a crockpot, you can have dinner waiting when you’re home from a day of exploring! In a hotel, you’ll have to be a little more creative with the foods in your mini-fridge or cooler. But you can always pack your pot and set it up at the hotel too!

When I’m on vacation, I love to make a meal plan and have groceries delivered to my rental home (if available) or stop by the store on the way. Or you can prepare your meals before you go out and take them with you!

When we go out to eat, I like to look for restaurants that serve fresh, whole foods. If you have dietary restrictions, there are great apps like Find Me GF to find gluten-free restaurants that users have reviewed. They have food establishments everywhere (even in Europe!).

6. Plan your entertainment

Don’t forget about in-car entertainment. Planning before you go will help make everyone happier, but it won’t stop the questions “Mom, are we there yet?”

Music is always a great way to pass the time in the car. Create a playlist of popular road trip songs or share your favorite songs from your childhood. Of course, there are endless playlists for kids. Make several and rotate them when you need a change of pace.

Podcasts and audiobooks are also an amazing way to entertain kids. There are so many great podcasts for kids available like Story Pirates and Circle Round. You can find children’s audiobooks online or at your library.

A quintessential part of road trips with kids is car games. Think about the alphabet game where you find the letters of the alphabet on billboards and road signs. Or the license plate game where you look up license plates for each state. There are so many options for car games. This post has a ton of great ones!

7. Pack your essentials

When packing your clothes and toiletries, don’t forget your car essentials. These are things you’ll want to have nearby in case you need them.

I like to carry all the important essential oils I might need in case of dizziness or alertness. It’s always good to have trash bags (especially if you have kids who are prone to motion sickness). Tissues are another good option to have on hand, as are baby wipes and homemade hand sanitizer.

Chargers are also a great thing to have on hand. I like to bring something with a lot of ports in case we have a lot to charge. It’s also nice to have one with AC outlets for charging things like laptops.

8. Go with the flow and enjoy!

This last tip is probably the most important! Even though you’ve spent a lot of time planning your road trip, remember to go with the flow. Any time you travel, things are bound to go astray, especially with kids. The best road trip plans can fall apart very quickly. This is when problem solving and positive thinking come in handy so you can make the best of any bad situation quickly.

Remember that your children are watching how you react to adversity. This is a good time to teach them that things can go wrong, but it’s not the end of the world.

Road trips are an amazing time to create family memories, good and bad (!). You will have stories to share for years to come and the connection is worth it.

Do you like to take road trips? What’s your favorite road trip planning tip? Leave a comment and let us know!

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