Large families have a lot of love to give, but they also can argue and scream at each other for days. So, if the thought of your entire family stuck in one care is the definition of your personal hell, you’ve been doing road trips all wrong! Here is a little guide that will allow you to have the best family road trip ever! From packing to fun family destinations and routes, you’re about to be introduced to a magical world of family road tripping.
Pack plenty of snacks
Assuming that you got all your personal stuff in the suitcases in the back (if you need a little packing guide, check this one out) it’s time to turn to snacks—the most important thing on every road trip! If you want to have a smooth ride without too many unnecessary stops, prep your snacks and drinks ahead. And think versatility! From chips and Cheetos to healthy options like granola bites, fruits, veggies and nuts, you must have everything. Buy in bulk and then separate into smaller servings to prevent your kids squabbling over sharing.
Make a playlist
Are you a musical family? Actually, it doesn’t matter because there’s nothing better than car concerts, no matter how you sound. So, get every member of the pack to make a personalized playlist and then mix all the songs together into one ultimate family playlist. If you have toddlers in the car, don’t forget to include a few kiddy songs—you all probably know them anyway.
Keep it fun
While screens are the preferred source of entertainment today, there are other options as well. You can relax, sit back and enjoy an audiobook (Harry Potter or anything by Terry Pratchett is entertaining for both kids, teens and adults) or you can try some old-school games. Alphabet Game, 21 Questions and License Plate Games are always fun. There are also various travel toys and games appropriate for toddlers. These will keep them occupied for hours and allow you to concentrate on the road knowing they are safe and entertained.
Check the internet before your trip and find all info beforehand. This will not only make your trip less stressful but also allow you to always stay fresh. Scope out the best restaurants, rest stops and motels along your way and mark the least expensive gas stations. If you know where your next stop is, it’s much easier to get organized and avoid getting too tired and sleepy. If you’re traveling long distances, it’s smart to take turns driving and ensure that your co-pilot is awake as well (they need to keep an eye on the kids and talk to the driver). Driving when everyone else is asleep is boring and dangerous!
On the long trips, you can try to keep your kids’ sleep schedule as normal as it can be by having designated times for slumber and naps. This way, everyone will be much less cranky!
Car sickness is almost guaranteed when the whole family is traveling together. However, if you come prepared with saltine crackers, some soothing mint tea and plenty of bags and wet wipes, you can avoid any mess and keep your car clean. While there’s nothing worse than traveling with motion sickness, these things will make the trip a little bit easier.
Where to go
Don’t have your route planned yet? Don’t worry! Here are a few amazing U.S. road trip routes that will take you through some of the most exciting regions of the country.
Utah’s Scenic Byway Highway 12
If you’re looking for something short but sweet, opt for Utah’s Scenic Byway Highway 12. Since it’s only 122-miles long, you can complete your trip in a day, but it’s much better to dedicate a few days to it in order to really appreciate all its beauties. This route will take you through Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national park, but you can also visit other places along the way. Even if you decide to cut it short, you’ll still see and do plenty of things.
Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone
This classic route will take you a little longer than the previous one (about a week or so), but it’s truly packed with all sorts of cultural treasures. You can start at the famous cliff presidential statues at Mount Rushmore and continue to the one and only Yellowstone Park. Take a few days to explore the sites like Old Faithful and try to spot as much wildlife as you can. After this, take a mini-drive to Grand Teton national park where you can spend another two or three days admiring mountain ranges and trying out some great hikes.
This is possibly the best known American road trip and one of the most famous ones in the world, so you and your adventurous family just must take it! This is a place that will take you back to the time of retro diners and vintage neon signs, so if you have an affinity towards photography, prepare to snap some amazing shots. However, keep in mind that Route 66 is loooong, 2,448 miles long, so it’s not for first-time road trippers. Luckily, you can pick a portion that’s closest to you and enjoy your shorter trip. For instance, the section between Chicago and Springfield in Illinois is just 200-miles long yet packed with amazing things along the way. From Old Joliet Prison to various museums and diners, you’ll have a blast on your short Route 66 trip.
Pacific Coast Highway
If you’re collectively obsessed with the ocean, the beach and amazing coastal views, then don’t hesitate to go cruising on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. From San Francisco to San Diego, this winding highway will cover many beautiful coastal cities like Santa Cruz, Malibu, Santa Monica and Monterey. Pick a few but don’t over-plan it! PCH is all about freedom and spontaneity, so stop wherever you feel like. However, expect your kids to love Santa Monica Ferris wheel and whale watching in Monterey, so don’t skip them!
See? If you plan well, pack well and pick good destinations, you’ll be looking at a fun and chill family road trip! Expect to come home with a camera full of photos and a mind full of precious memories.