Whether you’re planning your first vacation or are an experienced adventurer, traveling with children can be a challenge. Without proper planning and preparation, even a local weekend getaway can quickly take a turn for the worse. In all of my experience planning and embarking on driving vacations with my family throughout the United States, I have found that these simple guidelines can make a huge difference, and will lead to an exciting, stress-free vacation that creates lasting memories, and strengthens family bonds. So before you go, run through this list to make the most out of your trip.
Do your research
I always ask family and friends for advice on places they visit or live. I look for discounts and deals on accommodations, entrance fees, and tickets. I research peak hours. I read all the blogs and print materials so I know what to look for and what to avoid. I always know ahead of time if a place is going to be closed for renovations, or if it’s off season. I know if a restaurant is child friendly and what the dress code is.
Plan for multiple routes
I drive while my husband navigates. And we’re always on the lookout for places to stop for a break, spots for a good meal, and places we can visit for free. And we try our best to keep ahead of the traffic. There is lots of apps and technology that makes travel easier and more enjoyable!
Eat and play with the locals
On all of our trips, we’ve only stopped a handful of times for fast food. We prefer to eat where and what the locals do. We like making new friends and learning firsthand what we should do and where/when/how we should do it.
Look up and out
While we like to use technology for navigation, bookings and reservations, we try to limit it everywhere else we can. Our kids get the occasional screen time in the car, but the best benefit of driving is the ability to look out the windows! We have learned so much about the culture of an area from the seats of our car. And the occasional rest stop.
I’m a planner. But I also like to show people I can go with the flow. Or at least attempt it. So I build in time for the unexpected places we stumble upon, and new friends we make. And those have been some of our best memories!