Taking a road trip is one of America’s most classic vacations. There’s just something about loading the family in a car and heading out on a road trip. But not all road trips are created equal and not all families look forward to this kind of vacation. For our family, though, we love the excitement of seeing what is up around the next corner. If you are looking to take a road trip for your next vacation, then these tips are for you!
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Road Trips for All Ages
How old is too old to take a road trip? Well, I know for a fact that even at age 97, you can enjoy a good road trip! I talked to my Grandmother recently who entertained us with tales of one of her mini-vacations. She left her home in central Kentucky, traveled to see the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, ate a picnic at Bernheim Forest, visited family and ate out at several restaurants. Then, of course, she had to stop by Green River Lake to enjoy the scenic views while relaxing and enjoying the rain. Add a few other scenic stops and time visiting with several other family members and she had a great five day mini-vacation.
Take a few minutes and hear about Grandma’s road trip to North Dakota!
She is living proof that there is no age limit on adventure and excitement or the joy of getting in the car heading out to see something new.
But there are some definite things to consider when you are planning a road trip.
Make a list of some of the things you want to see. Include lots of possibilities. Find out the open hours for each possibility. Know if there is an admission charge. I heard one traveler call this list her “could do” list. Put everything on a piece of paper (or in an online document) that you ‘could do’ on this trip. Include all the details so you can then decide as you go.
Know your possible destinations but remember that a good road trip allows for change of plans. You may find that you want to stay longer at one place and skip the next side trip adventure. If it rains, be prepared with a backup option.
When you see a brown historical sign on the side of the road, don’t be in such a hurry that you have to miss the chance to explore. Recently, my husband and I were driving through Kentucky when we saw a sign for the Nostalgia Toy & Train Museum. We ended up finding a Kentucky treasure that we plan to take the kids back to visit.
Take a map or GPS
Before we go on a trip, we will enter the address of all the possibilities we can think of before we leave the house. That way we can just punch in possible destinations to see where we want to go next. Before GPS, we would take maps of the state we were visiting. Even with GPS, we still keep a real map in the glove compartment for backup.
One way we save money on these family outings is by planning our meals.
- Eat a quick, filling breakfast at home (oatmeal, eggs, or a quick waffle).
- Make a pot of coffee and fill the mugs at home.
- Fill a cup of juice or chocolate milk and take on the road.
- Breakfast savings – about $15
- OR eat breakfast at the hotel if included.
- Snack on pretzels, granola bars, fruit, peanut butter or bologna
- Drink water with koolaid packs
- Eat in the car or at a roadside picnic area
- Lunch savings – at least $15
- Since we’ve saved at least $30 on meals for the day, we can splurge and eat out at a restaurant or we can pocket the savings if we are close to home and eat from our own kitchen!
***One thing to remember: Some restaurants have lunch specials. So you may want to swap and eat at a nice restaurant for lunch and then snack for supper.
Be prepared with boredom busters
We always take things like notebooks, pencils, books, music, books on cd when we go on road trips. Occasionally we will allow the kids to play electronics or watch a DVD but on shorter road trips we try to keep them engaged with family.
Take Stretch Breaks
No matter what the ages of the travelers, plan to take regular stretch breaks. You can stop at the Rest Areas on the interstate, a local park or just a fast food restaurant.
What’s your favorite road trip tip? I’d love to hear!
Heading out on your next road trip to DC? Make sure you think about how much it’s going to cost to go to Washington DC!