If your idea of a road trip is the time it takes you to drive to the grocery store and back, it’s time to change your tune. Road trips should be long, drawn out affairs that make the most of the ease of getting from point A to point B without ever going through a scanning machine.
Sure, you may have horrible memories of being trapped in the back of your parents’ car, listening to hits from the sixties and seventies and playing “I spy” until your eyes crossed…but that was then! These days you’ve got your own family and it’s your turn to torture them.
Here are five steps to creating the kind of road trip you’ll enjoy and your kids will try to inflict on their own kids one day.
1. Multiple destinations: Nothing is worse than the dreaded “Are we there yet?” Increase your odds of being able to answer “yes, we are!” by having a few stops built into the journey. Heading to Orlando? Why not stop in Pittsburgh on the way? Build in a day or two to break up the drive and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you thought was merely a pit-stop.
2. Plan your entertainment: Do not, I repeat, do not rely on your car radio to do the heavy entertainment lifting. Music dead zones will cause your family to turn on each other faster than you can say “Classical Music is good for you!” Instead, load up those iPods with music and audiobook options to carry you through the rough patches. Get the kids to weigh in with their picks and favourites and then subject them to a few of yours. Packing headphones will also mean that the kids can tune you out when the 80s love songs get to be a little too much.
3. Add in some spontaneity: Let the kids pick which hotel you’ll stay in for your first overnight. Give them a budget range, a star range and a location and then set them free. The Expedia app on your iPad will give them all the info they need to hunt out the best bargains. If you get there and there’s no pool – they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
4. Stay connected: There’s a lot to be said about breaking free of devices but one of the real benefits of living at this particular time in human history is that we have the ability to tune right back in when we need to. Unless, of course, you didn’t charge your device. Avoid the bickering that is bound to happen when you’ve run into car trouble in the middle of nowhere and the phone battery/iPad/Android device is dead because someone wouldn’t stop playing Candy Crush, by carrying along an extra fully charged charging device. Keep it locked away for emergencies – and no, the new download for Mine craft is not an emergency.
5. Stop for meals but pack the snacks: No one wants to drive for eight hours in a car that smells like yesterday’s lunch. Pull over and explore the local mealtime offerings as you go. You’ll be able to use the break to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and give the driver a well-deserved break. In the car, keep healthy snacks and bottles of water to get you through the peckish times in between. An extra plastic bag in the car will help to keep mess to a minimum.