Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Great American Family Roadtrip

In a time when people are needing to tighten their belts, and penny pinch, the great American road trip is becoming ever more popular. Once again, husbands are once more learning the art of packing every inch of the car with just about every item imaginable. Mom's are packing items to entertain the troops and minimize the "when will we get there"...dreaded chant. Children are...well they will complain about having to take the car and not fly.

Even though gassing up the car can practically eliminate the national debt, it is still a bargain over airfare, with taxes, fees, seat assignment costs, and baggage costs. So, the American family is hitting the road and seeing America again.

So what do you do to get ready? Its is a process that has gotten easier thanks to the internet, but was almost a lost art.

1) Research. It used to be you went to the library, AAA for a tripkitt, you talked to everyone you knew and got pointers and ideas. Now, we go to the internet and everything is at our finger tips. That doesn't mean planning will take no time.....

2) Talk to your family. See what things they are interested in doing and seeing. Have them make a list and then pick something from everyone's list. Make them involved in the trip and they will get excited about when they feel they have had a say.

3) Make sure your vehicle is ready for travel when the time comes. Take it to a mechanic, and have it looked at. Make sure you have a spare tire, jumper cables, and maybe a can of oil. Better to be safe than sorry. Pack a emergency kit, band aids, alcohol wipes, antibacterial ointment. Trust me, if you do not have one you will need it. Besides they cost only $8.88 at Walmart.

4)Have each person pack a back pack filled with things to help pass the time away. IPODS, laptops (for movies and games), books, hand held games, coloring books, puzzle books...then after they are done, pack a few more surprises in there to sweeten the deal. When they are tired of the backpack stuff resort to long time favorites the "Wheel on the Bus"," 100 Bottles of Beer" the license plate game, and "I spy" have been car crowd pleaser for generations. Here is a fellow bloggers own interpretation of the "punch buggy game"! Sorry this one made me smile! Love it!
the ultimate travel game

5) Keep a bag with a change of clothes and pj's for everyone, for any stopovers. You do not want to have to take out every piece of luggage when you stop. Add medicine and toiletries to this bag that are essentials, keep it handy in the car.

6) Pack a AAA card if you have it, credit cards, money and ID's in a safe spot.

7) If you are old fashioned do not forget the maps, (You should have one of where you plan to go to anyway) just in case your navigational devise goes on the blink. Oh, yeah and "Christopherson" our navigational $#@!*#!! often makes mistakes and likes to bring us over every toll bridge known to man. I bet the government is involved in that! So, it is best to have a map to fall back on in those situations.

8) Pack snacks! This is very important. They will get hungry faster than usual in the car. Pack, healthy snacks, like fruit snacks, popcorn, oreos (ok, maybe not so healthy there, but it is vacation) Also pack a cooler with cold drinks. That stuff is a fortune at gas stations and rest areas. Even though you may have no infants on the trip, have baby wipes handy. They are great for quick cleanups, spills and other disasters that happen on the road. Also keep small trash bags handy for trash and other items.

9) If your trip will take more than 10-12 hours you may consider stopping at a hotel for the night. Pick an area where you can find food, and a hotel with amenities like a pool to let the kids stretch out. Consult a travel agent for suggestions. Yes, they will help you book this kind of trip and give you many suggestions, if they are worth their weight in gold. It will be one less thing you have to worry about. Make sure you tell them where you want to stop, and your final destination and let them do what they do best for you. If you are a family of more than 4, then go for the many well priced suites hotels like the Embassy Suites or the Comfort Inn Suites. They often offer free breakfasts, that will help you save money.

9b) Now if you are crazy like our family and have mastered the artful switcheroo, and you take turns throughout the night getting to your destination, just be careful and have an backup plan in case someone is too tired to go on. Never drive tired. It is best to get there a little later than to put your family and other drivers at risk. Also, make sure everyone has their own blanket and pillow, so there are no squabbles over who has more blanket.

10)Make sure you enjoy the scenery and take in some of the local color. Drive through Mountain ranges, or over famous rivers. Get off the main road for a little bit and see the real country when you can. You will be happy you did.

11)Once you get to your destination, unpack and enjoy the rest of your vacation. Just remember to do it all again, on the way back, and give yourself plenty of time to drive back. Going home is not as exciting and quick as getting there.

12) Make sure you have a talk about the trip with the kids. Let them know this is more than a trip to grandma's, it will be a long ride. Set rules about personal space, loud music and sharing items.

13) Oh and most importantly, and something that has been passed down from generation to generation of car trip travelers...make sure everyone has gone to the bathroom before you leave the house. Even with that I am sure you will hear that someone has to go before the first hour is out. Be prepared!

We have made two car trips to Florida in the last year, and many others before those. We have lost no one so far, and we plan on driving again in the future. Heck, when the travel itch hits this family we never ignore it...

A good website for gas prices on your trip...
Gas Buddy

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Judy said...

Great tips! One thing I thought I would never resort to using, was those energy drinks for the long drive. Also, find one of those car chargers that "splits" so you can still use your GPS AND recharge your phone, or whatever other electronics you bring along.

Vanessa said...

Great tips! Almost makes me want to do a road trip!
Two sites that let you check the weather forcast for your route.

A great friend found them for me. ;)

Kady L. said...

Thanks for stopping by and following. I am now following you... great travel tips!

Anonymous said...

Now those were some things that you should really know...especially make sure everyone has a change of clothes and toiletries for overnight stops so you don't have to unpack everything. You are experienced travellers. Hi! I'm here from the FF blog hop and your newest follower.

Hope you'll stop by my blog and follow me too. Thanks! Can't have too many blogging buddies I alway say.


Mama Hen said...

Hopping by! I am new to your blog and have become a follower! I look forward to reading your blog! Come visit me at Mama's Little Chick.

Mama Hen

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks so much for linking up for our blog hop yesterday! I am your newest following and I would love if you would return the follow! :)