Reasons I LOVE road trips: flexibility, affordability, and the scenery!
Road tripping is our family's favorite past-time, but there was a lot of moaning and groaning (mostly from Mark and I) before we got it down to a science...
First of all, it's SO nice not to have to rush out the door so we don't miss our flight. Vacation is supposed to be fun! And it's not just about the destination, the trip should be wrapped into the excitement as well. Of course, we have goals, but we've learned to keep it loose. Rather than a hard deadline of 7 a.m., our goal was to be backed out of the driveway before noon. We did it too (even after we drove back to the house to get the phone someone forgot)!
From a financial standpoint, the cost of driving is way more affordable, which means we can put those extra funds into excursions and swanky one night hotels.
As for the scenery, we really enjoy the sights, taking the detours, stopping at state parks, and meeting the locals - who can always tell us what yummy snack the area is known for.
But how do the kids fair? They do just fine-because we prep and involve them.
This trip, the kids were unleashed in the local grocery store with a budget for snacks, both savory and sweet. They went slightly over their $30 budget ($30.26 to be exact) for our traveling brood of 5 (Dad stayed home this trip). While that seems like an unrealistic budget, it forces them to get creative with what we are going to eat. Keeping in mind that hearty proteins tend to keep them more full then empty carbs, I was pretty happy with the balance they chose:
Carrots and hummus (they recruited dad for help with homemade hummus as it was the more affordable option than the pre-packaged stuff)
Gouda cheese sticks wrapped in prosciutto (I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by this one)
Pigs in a blanket pre-cooked at home and portioned out
Bagels with maple/walnut cream cheese the kids tossed the cream cheese in our mixer and whipped it up themselves, adding the maple and nuts to taste
Trail Mix pre-mixed at the store
Fresh fruit, in our case, nectarines
Pretzels & Popcorn
Mini-muffins & breakfast bars
As for the scheduled stops, my son (10 y/o) and I identified the midway points to mark our overnight stays, while my 12 y/o daughter researched the top stops in each of the areas and just gave me the address.
By the time we got to our daily destinations, they were already privy to the historical value of our excursions.
I find that the pit stops tend to occur frequently early on, but once we are all in our groove, we can get in a good 3-4 hours before the next "Are we there yet?"
Oh, and car organization: a few super quick tips to stay proactive to potential problems.
1. Everyone gets their own snack bag. These are green bags with pre-portioned, equally shared, agreed upon snacks. No need for "Lucy's not sharing!" because everyone has their own.
2. In that green bag, put a plastic grocery bag for garbage. That's right, everyone gets their own garbage bag.
3. The shoe bag! A green bag (the one used for wine - with equal compartments) does the trick. It keeps everyone's shoes in order and in ONE place. During long trips, getting comfy is a must! But blood pressure can rise quickly when a kid desperately has to go to the bathroom and can't find her other shoe. The shoe bag has been solving this problem for our family for years!
That's it. Other than choosing the most epic Pandora station that everyone can caraoke to (see what I did there), you are all set!
Cheers to the miles and the memories!