Some of my favorite childhood memories took place on road trips. Every summer, my dad would grab the newest Atlas, my Mom would pack our neon clothes (hello 90s!), and they’d lay down the backseats of our station wagon for another trip to remember. You know the station wagon I’m talking about..the one with the wood paneling and the backwards facing third row complete with the luggage carrier on top.
Growing up, our destinations were everywhere from Paris, Tennessee to Yellowstone National Park. In 1996, we drove to Atlanta for the Olympic games. I know there were other trips sprinkled in there. While the destinations were always fun, the vacation fun started the minute we got on the road.
We would stop in St Louis and visit the Bowling Hall of Fame, one time we stopped in Chester, Illinois to visit the home of Popeye the Sailor Man. On every trip, we’d play the license plate game (we only found all 50 states once) and other road trip games. Not to brag, but I’m pretty proficient at the alphabet name game: My name is Alice, I live in Alabama, my husband’s name is Adam, and I sell Alligators.
I never fully appreciated all of the time and effort that went into these trips until I became a parent myself and attempted my first family road trip…and my parents did all of this back before internet, tablets, GPS, and in-car DVD players. I can only imagine the countless hours my parents spent planning the perfect route, actually calling hotels to making reservations, and planning fun stops along the way-all for us and for the sake of making amazing memories.
We’ve continued the tradition of yearly road trips with my parents. Our crew is a lot bigger now and we require a caravan instead of a single station wagon, but the trips are just as fun and memorable.
Over my next few posts, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite road trip destinations and some fun stops a long the way.
Here are some road trip tips:
- Pack snacks. Just about any problem on a road trip can be fixed with the right snacks at the right time. I always pack an assortment of sweet and salty snacks as well as juice boxes for the kids. Beef Jerky and Twizzlers are road trip necessities for us. Every trip, my dad makes a “road trip mix” that’s always different but always delicious. If your family road trips often, a fun snack that’s just yours is a great tradition to start.
- Bring an assortment of entertainment. Nothing is more frustrating than your child getting bored 20 minutes into the day. I have my kids pack a bag of toys, books, and their electronic devices. Variety is the spice of life!
bribesGifts. This one is seriously genius, and I give my parents full credit for it! Pack a small gift for each kid for each day. If they’ve followed rules, they get the gift at day’s end or the next morning before getting back in the car. For my kids, I usually pack blind bags, coloring books, etc. The key is for it to be something they can play with in the car, so it’s a reward and distraction!
- Have fun! Stop at silly or interesting attractions along the way. There are so many amazing things to see across our country, and if you don’t stop and enjoy the World’s Largest Truck Stop or Wall Drug, are you even living?
- Take all the potty breaks. Trust me…don’t risk it! If the kid says they have to go, find a rest stop!
- Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to change it. I’m not a fan of changes. I really like plans, but that has to fly out the window sometimes when you’re on a road trip! Be willing to go with the flow, and you may discover something even more amazing than your original planned activity.
Those are my main tips for an amazing road trip, but I know there are more great ideas out there. Comment and let us know your can’t miss tips for road trip success…or share your favorite road trip memories!