My family has always enjoyed traveling.
My firstborn wasn’t even a year old before my husband and I would buckle him in his car seat and drive to Washington D.C., Virginia Beach and Canada. Becoming a family of little ones didn’t slow us down or hinder my husband and I from taking family vacations, normally in the form of road trips.
My oldest son is now 20 years old and ready to move out. He’s been looking for houses or apartments to rent.
My 18 year old son just swore in to the United States military and is awaiting orders to ship out for boot camp.
My 17 year old daughter, my baby, is filling out an application to be accepted as a missionary after she graduates from high school next spring.
My babies are preparing to fly from the nest. I feel like I’m in a race against time to plan one final amazing family fun road trip before my family begins a new chapter in our lives that may include girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses and even grandchildren.
I am in the process of planning a cross country road trip, from Ohio to California. I want this to be our best trip ever with a mix of fun, classy, quirky but all memorable stops. It’s not easy, but I think I’ve come up with the perfect road trip and I’ve decided to give you a glimpse of the planning process.
Here are some tips to help you plan a memorable family fun road trip.
No one wants their vacation to end with the pressure of high credit card bills. My husband and I carefully evaluate our budget prior to selecting our destination and work to plan within our means. Our budget dictates how we will travel, how far we can travel, the type of tourist attractions we decide to visit, the lodging we select, food options and the length of our trip.
Determine your budget and plan to stick to it.
After you determine a location that fits within your budget, it’s time to plan the really fun stuff, it’s also easy at this point to become overwhelmed by all the options available.
Print out a map showing the route to your destination.
I’m very visual and though I appreciate technology, I love to have things on paper. After I print out my map, I begin plotting the stops we will make. Our drive to California will take about 34 hours. I know from experience that my family needs to stop about every four hours to stretch our legs or we get a bit cranky. Cranky travelers do not equal a fun road trip.
I can look at the map and plan accordingly. On this trip I know that we’ll pass through a major city about every 4-6 hours. I’ll do some research online and with some of my favorite travel guides and create a list of possible tourist attractions to visit at each stop and plan out where we plan to sleep for the night and begin making reservations.
Involve the family.
I know from experience that if everyone has an input as to where to go and what to see, then the blame does not fall on one person’s shoulders when an attraction or experience doesn’t live up to its expectations. Each person in my family is encouraged to plan at least one stop along our trip. This takes some of the pressure off me and gives each family member a sense of “ownership” of the trip.
Create a travel theme.
On this particular trip my family has selected a road trip theme to help us narrow down the vast options available. Since we will have the opportunity to travel along Route 66 during some of our trip, we’ve decided to make this a “Retro Road Trip” and visit as many roadside attractions, diners and mom & pop motels and hotels as possible.
Leave room for flexibility.
I’m excited for our trip and the theme that we’ve chosen, but I know that it’s important to remain flexible and not plan to the very last minute. It never fails during the course of a road trip that my family will find an attraction that we want to visit that’s not on our original list. I always leave room for those type of experiences.
Try something new.
A family vacation is the perfect time to try something new. Whether a new food or activity, new experiences lend themselves to incredible memories for years to come.
On this trip, we hope to see a great blue whale, the Cadillac Ranch, the wigwam motel in Arizona and we’ll end up at the Hollywood Wax Museum, the longest-running wax museum in the United States. It has been the most visited indoor attraction in Hollywood since 1965. You can follow updates and details about the Museum’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2015 at the Hollywood Wax Museum Facebook page. Paired with a visit to Pink’s Hot Dog Stand, I’d say we’re in for a special treat. I can’t wait.
What steps do you take to ensure you plan a memorable family fun road trip?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
© 2013, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.