I have a lot of memories from family road trips growing up: my little brother locking himself in (and us out) of the car at the sight of bison in Yellowstone, laying out at night in the mountains above Death Valley and watching a billion stars, waking up to 3 inches of rain in our tent at a KOA in Sioux Falls, SD, horseback riding around the bluest water I’d ever seen at Lake Louise in Canada, and many more.
As a kid, these trips were great adventures that helped me learn through experience. As an adult, it has taught me something about my parents that I never knew… they were frickin’ crazy!! Or rather, we must have driven them crazy, and yet they still chose to drive us cross country. We were lucky boys! But seriously, back to the crazy. Who sits down and says, “You know what sounds like a great idea? Locking ourselves in a moving vehicle, drive 12 hours with a single 5 minutes stop to get gas, and see what happens!”
Well, we did. Wanting to tackle a road trip adventure like countless families before us, my wife and I got brave (or crazy) and took a 2 week trip throughout Washington, Oregon, California & Nevada. I took a few moments to tweet of our adventures along the way, but now that we are done I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on it more.
Here are a few take-aways I wanted share:
- Plan up-front, but once you hit the road hold on to those plans loosely… allow yourself to be spontaneous
- Find a lake, jump in it.
- Let the kids be a part of the decision making process on daily activities
- Make memories so great that you won’t need to write them down to remember, but take a million pictures anyways
- You’ll spent a hundreds of dollars visiting amazing places, but their favorite part of the trip will be swimming at the hotel pool… and that’s ok
- Play lots of car games, but a DVD player and snacks will save your sanity on those loooong drive days…
- Make new traditions, and the sillier the better!
- Expect the unexpected. Don’t get upset if things don’t go according to plan, just roll with it (I know, easier said than done)
- Explore! Get off the beaten path, find great local treasures most people miss
- Accept now that your kids WILL fight and try to drive you crazy at times, but it will be 10x worse than normal because you’re trapped in a car together. However, DO NOT leave them at a roadside rest stop with bus fare to get home. The Judge might understand, but he will still have to send you to jail. Instead, breathe and go to your happy place.
- Let your kids learn by experiencing our country firsthand, they won’t forget those lessons.
- …and lastly, Pilot Travel Centers are still the Taj Mahal of gas stations
Do you have any great family road trip stories? Leave a comment to share about your experiences!