So, you bit the bullet and finally agreed to your family’s request to take an All-American road trip this summer. Congratulations! This will go exactly one of two ways:
You and your family bathe in sweet relaxation and bond through a series of entertaining, enriching, and life-affirming experiences while creating shared memories that will only draw you closer as the world tries its hardest to pull you apart. In short, you will recall this as the greatest summer EVER.
– OR –
Your kids start arguing before you even hit the freeway and continue arguing non-stop for the next five days. Your dog (who you didn’t even want to bring in the first place) throws up all over your luggage because he ate three-quarters of the only straw hat you’ve ever looked good in. One hotel was double-booked, forcing you all to sleep in a parking lot somewhere in Panama City, Fla. Oh, and on the second-to-last day, your transmission blows during rush hour traffic 350 miles from home forcing your entire family to fly standby, just so you can make it back in time for work on Monday morning. As a result of all this vacation trauma, you never leave your house again.
All hyperbole aside, your family road trip can either be an experience you all enjoy or one that can’t end soon enough. Fortunately, with a little organization and planning you can avoid Family Road Trip Option 2 and instead make this a summer to remember.
Before You Leave
The first step in all this is to ditch the car and take an RV instead. Why? Because RV’s give your family room to spread out when they need a bit of personal space. And because you won’t be racing to make hotel and airport check-in deadlines, you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy your time away from your real lives.
Extra time plus extra space equals more vacation happiness – this is just simple math. Now that you’ve decided to road trip the right way, you’ll still need to deal with those infernal kids before they ruin this whole thing. And that starts before they even sit down.
If you own an RV, you probably already know where your kids will be sitting as you travel down the road, but that may not be true if you’re renting an RV. So before you sign the rental agreement, compare a few different models to see how the cabin is laid out.
Will your kids be sitting at a table? In chairs? On a sofa? Will they be able to see out the windows and watch the scenery pass by? After you’ve had the chance to compare a few different options, choose the model you think will best keep your family’s warring factions apart as the miles go by.
Road Worthy Activities
Once you’ve decided where the kids will sit, start thinking about how they’ll spend their time while you’re traveling. It would be easy enough to plant them in front of a screen and watch the hours tick away, but that really defeats the purpose of taking a road trip in the first place. Instead, try spending a little time preparing activities that will keep your kids engaged and entertained while you’re on the road.
Something as simple as a 3-ring binder filled with coloring books, travel bingo, and scavenger hunts can go a long way in warding off the are-we-there-yets. And don’t forget to pack healthy snacks and plenty of water to keep all that hangry griping at bay (this is vital because wine-o’clock can’t start until the RV is parked).
Another great way to get your kids involved in the process is to include them in the pre-trip checklist you’ll use to make sure the RV is road-ready. This helps kids learn how RV systems work and also shows them that vacations require a little planning and don’t magically appear from nowhere.
During the Trip
Even in an RV, long road trips can be difficult for kids. For sanity’s sake, carefully manage your travel time and the stops you’ll make along the way. A good road trip is as much about the journey as it is the destination, so plan to visit some of the local landmarks or attractions you pass along the way.
You can also make liberal use of all the rest areas dotting America’s highways for those all-important bathroom breaks. This will also give your kids a chance to burn off that restless energy and get them out of your hair for a minute or two – allowing everyone to reset.
As you’re traveling, take some time to show your kids where you are, where you’re heading, and how long it will take to arrive. After all, connecting with the landscape is the whole reason you’re taking this road trip. It’s also a priceless opportunity for kids to learn more about the country that’s beyond their own front door.
After You Arrive
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, the kids can help unpack and set up your campsite. This is another priceless opportunity to show them that great vacations don’t just happen. After you’re settled in, take a few minutes to demonstrate your RV’s safety features so kids know how to access and use the fire extinguisher, unlock the doors, and get out of the RV through a fire escape (trust me, they’ll love climbing the fire escape).
Now that you’ve landed in the Sunshine State, you’re free to explore your campsite and start making those strong family bonds and taking photos to show off on Facebook. You’re now well on your way to reaping the rewards of Family Vacation Option 1, and all it took was a little bit of planning.
Is your summer road trip taking you to Orlando, Fla.? You’re in good company as the city is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Though Walt Disney World is probably its most famous attraction, Orlando offers so much more for tourists to enjoy. Here are five fun things to do on your vacation.
Author Bio: The founder and CEO of Allstar Coaches, the largest luxury RV rental company in the U.S., Rob Tischler is committed to helping Americans experience the perfect road trip adventure.
Have you taken a road trip with the kids? What tips helped you stay sane and have fun? Let us know in a comment below.
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