When I was a kid I loved road trips! That may be because I didn’t really go on very many. But it felt like an adventure but also relaxing at the same time. Now that I’m older and wiser, my road trip glasses are a little less rosy. Two summers in a row we have driven to northern Vermont to visit family and go mountain biking. Through trial and error, we have come up with this Trail Family Road Trip Survival Guide. We hope it will be helpful to you next time you want to hit the road.
Just like you make a packing list for your trip, you want to make sure that you have all the supplies you need for a comfortable ride in the car. Pillows, blankets, and sweaters are a good starting point. Not everyone has the same comfort level for A/C and heat, so having covers helps to balance out your chillers and your roasters. These items make for more comfortable napping as well. We like to make our travel snacks special treats that we don’t normally buy. This gives the kids something to look forward to during the ride. The next items on the list are things to keep everyone entertained. These can include portable DVD players, books, audiobooks, and tablets. The caveat here is that you may have some family members prone to motion sickness. We found out the hard way that we have pukers. Even though it is audio entertainment only for our car trip, we make it work. Thinking through these things and making a list will improve the experience for the whole family.
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Now that the supply list is drawn up, you have to plan your route. Tim likes to figure out several aspects of the trip well before we hit the road. Questions to ask yourself are: How long to our destination? How many bathroom stops do we anticipate we will need? Are there any interesting sites along the way where we can stop? It is good to anticipate how many actual driving hours you are looking at so that you can plan some stops. On our Vermont trips we have stopped at Bromley Mountain and the King Arthur Flour Factory Store. These stops not only helped to get us out of the car for more than a few minutes; but they became part of our vacation. Make the most of the journey. Planning your route is another point at which you can improve your vacation with just a little foresight.
You have your supplies; your route is planned out. You know how much you are going to stop and where you will add in some expeditions. How do you add variety to those long hours in the seat? We had some music and audiobooks that the whole family can enjoy such as Greek Myths read by Jim Wiess. We also planned for a nap time for the kids during which Tim and I listened to a news podcast. Having planned meals and snack times also helps to create benchmarks in the trip that helps small children mark the time that has passed and what is left. The goal is to make the time enjoyable for everyone. You are on vacation to have a shared family experience and as the old adage goes, “Getting there is half the fun!”
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