Tips for Preparing for Your First Family Road Trip

The great road trip has fast become a quintessentially American tradition, accounting for nearly 39% of all vacations taken. From the Pacific Coast Highway to Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia (where I grew up traveling to), there are a plethora of gorgeous natural areas to drive through and stop for a few days. Road trips appeal to America’s love of independence and freedom. It can be extremely liberating to let your wishes be your guide, and to take every day as it comes, sleeping in your very own RV or booking local hotels with charm. If you are keen to take your very first road trip and you need some advice for traveling with children, keep these considerations in mind and enjoy a fun-filled bonding experience with those you love.

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Choosing a Destination that Appeals to Everyone

Because a road trip enables you to visit more than one site, ask everyone in your family to come up with their own ‘bucket list’ that covers the general area you are visiting. If everyone feels like they have chosen at least one top destination, the trip can be a little more satisfying for everyone involved. There is one proviso when it comes to lists, of course. Some places are particularly magical and may entice you to stay for longer than envisioned. For this reason, you should keep your bucket lists fairly ‘loose’ and agree to slightly alter your route if you become enamored by a new spot.

Selecting and Preparing Your Vehicle

If you are traveling with children (and let me tell you: you haven’t travelled with children until you’ve traveled with 3-year-old twins!) or simply taking a road trip spanning more than a long weekend, a spacious RV-style vehicle will certainly make travel easier and more convenient. On the one hand, items like strollers, toys, and other essentials can be easily stored, as can sports equipment and sportswear – including items like boots, thick coats, and the like – without worrying about space. Check your vehicle maintenance book and ensure that your oil and filter are clean/new, change your spark plugs if need be, ensure spare tires are in good working order, and obtain extra items such as car belts and other essentials. If a maintenance check is due in the next few months, pull up the date slightly to ensure you don’t go over the stipulated mile count. 

Planning Your Date with Nature

Road trips enable you to pause by a lake, take a dip, then get back in your vehicle and visit a well-reviewed restaurant. When planning your trip, make sure to research into beautiful natural sites along the way. Many Americans have what nature author, Richard Louv calls ‘nature-deficit disorder.‘ This term is simply a reminder that with most people spending 90% of their time indoors, they are deprived of the stress-busting, mindful benefits that time in the Great Outdoors can bestow. To really immerse yourself in nature, plan a few activities, checking out local trails, adventures (think canyoning or white water rafting) and sports (does your family feel like picking up a new sport, such as water skiing or kite surfing?). If you will be passing through national parks, a national park pass will definitely be worth purchasing.

Opting for the Right Entertainment

The idea of taking a road trip is often to bond with loved ones while visiting new places at a leisurely pace. However, it is logical that there are moments during the day that may involve a lull. Bring entertainment to fill in the gaps between your visits. Consider old-school board games, cards, and other non-technological means to engage in play together.

Road trips are indeed one of the most independent ways to travel there is. There is nothing like waking up when you wish, choosing your destinations as you go, and making new friends along the way. First and foremost, ensure your safety by having a tune-up and being proactive when it comes to the replacement of vehicle parts (instead of pushing your RV or car to the limit). Be prepared for the unexpected, seeing the latter as a gift rather than a bugbear.

Where’s the last spot YOU traveled to with your family?

It is not always possible for me to respond to each blog post comment. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

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