Now that summertime is around the corner, it’s time to let the sunshine in by planning one of the hottest vacations this year—The Great American Family Road Trip. Early May is the perfect time to call a family meeting (and don’t forget Fido) to start plotting out your next adventure! You’ll be ready to hit the highway with these mom-tested travel tips before the bell rings that school’s out for summer.
Top 10 Mom-Tested Travel Tips from our 4,000-Mile Family Road Trip Adventure:
1. Make a plan, but don’t stress: If you’ve got a time limit, it’s smart to plot out which city you’ll sleep in each night before setting off. My family doesn’t like to travel at night, so we wanted to be sure that driving time was eight hours or less per day. Make time for the unexpected. Take time to explore all the quirky little attractions along the way. Then watch as your days become hilarious sagas of driving, wandering and following your wild road trip whims.
2. Buy in bulk: You can save lots of money if you buy dry goods in bulk and pack these snacks for the car. We like to buy breakfast snacks, nuts, dried fruit or bring stuff to make sandwiches or meals in the van. This way you can either eat in the car or at rest stops and save money on dining out on the road.
3. Don’t research your stops beforehand: On a road trip, we like to stop a lot to take in the local sites. Make sure your schedule has extra room, so you can afford to enter a new city with no prior knowledge of what you’ll find. Being relatively clueless has benefits: when you don’t know what to expect at a stop, you can’t possibly be let down by what you discover.
4. Find the “world’s largest” everything: Okay, so if there’s one thing you’re allowed to map out, it’s all those places that claim to have the “world’s largest” version of whatever, because they make for some hilariously off-beat sights. One of our favorites was Ms. Pearl the giant squirrel at Berdoll’s in Bastrop, Texas.
5. Go Glamping: If you want to blend the outdoors with luxury, try glamping (glamorous camping). It’s one of the hottest trends in travel and you can find cool places to stay in every state from luxe cabins, treehouses, tipis and more. Discover awesome glamping properties across the country at Glamping Hub. We had an unforgettable adventure at Living Waters on Lake Travis in the Texas Hill Country.
6. Bring a real paper map: Although I rely on Google Maps, I’m really an atlas junkie. There’s nothing like having a hard copy map to teach your kids navigation. Then you can highlight the route and pin it up on the wall to show your kids how far you’ve traveled.
7. Give your trip a theme: Maybe you’re into historical battlefields, National Parks, Civil Rights museums or you’re just dying to visit cities featured in your favorite book. Give your road trip a theme and combine education with fun.
8. Make pit-stops to take college tours: If you’ve got kids in high school, incorporating college tours along the route can make road trips fun and productive. Go online and register for free guided campus tours or info sessions so your kid can get a chance to visit a university that’s on her list (or yours).
9. Make room for great finds: You’ll no doubt find great souvenirs along the way. Be sure you’ve packed light enough to bring them back. It will be such a bummer if your trunk is too full of suitcases to stow these cool souvenirs.
10. Make “Are We There Yet” Bags: Unlock the “are we there yet?” child within and use your pent-up creativity with these fun bags. Make a goody bag and label each with the name of the major city that you will pass. Each time you reach that destination, give your kid a goody bag with treats and activities to do in the car. That way the kids will know if they don’t have a goody bag, then “we’re not there yet.”