Planning a family vacation can be difficult as there are often many interests and age groups involved, so pleasing everyone may seem impossible. However, many families find that a road trip offers an ideal way to experience many different areas and activities while still bonding together as a family.
Taking the time to plan ahead and stay flexible during the trip is critical to ensuring that the vacation is relaxing and interesting for all involved. Follow these five easy steps for creating a memorable family road trip.
1. Plan an Itinerary
Discuss ahead of time what is most important to everyone and create an itinerary, but leave space each day for unplanned activities. Logistically, it is easy to know what will be done each day as the family travels because attractions will be visited along the way.
Keep in mind driving time, unexpected traffic, and leaving enough time for meals and other stops when making the schedule. Incorporating an app such as the free Trip Planner by GPSmyCity (iOS, Android) allows for creating an easily accessible itinerary which can be shared with the other travelers, and the app includes packing lists and activity suggestions for the area.
2. Stock the Car
A road trip invariably requires a good bit of time spent driving in the car. Car snacks and drinks help to keep extra stops to a minimum, so get everyone to pick a few of their favorites for the trip.
Small children require activities, books, and toys. Get them excited to travel by checking out library books about the places the family is traveling to and bringing the books in the car. Traditional road trip games such as I Spy and license plate bingo are easy to play with the whole family. Modern parents know that smartphones also offer a multitude of games for all ages and watching movies in the car can offer quiet time for everyone.
3. Have Down Time
A family trip is all about togetherness, but even the closest family can start to feel the stress of traveling in close quarters, sleeping in the same space, and spending every bit of the day together. While on the road it may be difficult to get some down time, but upon arriving at a destination allow for time for everyone to explore a bit on his or her own.
If traveling with young kids it may be best for those with different interests to go along with an adult who shares that passion. Forced togetherness for the entire trip will only result in bad memories. Agree on a meet up time and location for later in the day, a meal such as lunch or dinner can be a great way for everyone to come back together and share about their experience.
4. Be Flexible
Even the best laid plans have a way of falling through. Any number of factors from weather, road conditions, or simply the interruption of a much needed naptime for a little one can affect how the plan works out in reality.
It is important for family members to have some flexibility. An outdoor concert or show can be rained out, so have a backup plan.
On the way home consider what worked best on the road trip to the destination and what could be changed to make the trip home even better. Tap into resources such as the Greatest Drive GPS Road and Trip Finder (free for iOS, Android) which shows scenic roads to take based on recommendations from other users.
Taking a different route home makes it seem like a new trip with fresh sights and local attractions to take in. Before making any big changes make sure they work for everyone.