Now that we’ve reset the calendar to January, it’s time to make good on those New Year’s resolutions to travel more this year. Grab your family and friends and start plotting out your next road trip adventure with these handy tips.
Here are some of the best mom-tested lessons that I’ve learned from our 4,000-mile minivan road trip that might inspire you in 2017
- 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 is 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.
- 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 vacation rental. This way you can either eat in the car or at rest stops and save money on dining out on the road.
- 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.
- 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 the Ms. Pearl the giant squirrel at Berdoll’s in Bastrop, Texas.
- 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 treetop adventure at Cypress Valley Canopy Tours.
- 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.
- 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.
- Host a Road Trip Minivan Matinee: Load your DVD player, in-car console or iPad up with movies that are about taking a road trip. Some of our favorites are The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, College Road Trip, and of course my personal pick – Thelma and Louise.
- 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.
- 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 you 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.”