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  1. Default Looking for advice for a 30-day cross-country summer trip - with 4 kids!

    Hi all! I'm new to this forum and am looking forward to learning more about what I'll need to plan a successful trip this summer. My husband will have a 30 day sabbatical starting in June, and we are looking to plan a 30 day crosscountry camping/bunking with relatives trip - with 4 kids in tow ages 12, 9, 5, and 4. Yeah, we're nuts, but always up for an adventure.

    Anyway, our basic idea at this point is the following: leaving home in Northern Virginia near Washington, DC, heading to relatives just outside of NY City over 4th of July, then on to relatives in Chicago, then across the north to see Mt. Rushmore and portions of Yellowstone. (Yes, I know that is a lot of territory there)

    Next, on down to Tahoe, then to San Francisco and down the coast (camping with the occaisional hotel stay) to LA and another family visit, then to San Diego for a few days for a longer break at my folks, then on to the Grand Canyon, back northward to relatives in Boulder area of Colorado, then end back near Williamsburg, VA for a few days at Busch Gardens/Water Country before heading home.

    Yeah, a lot, and we are kind of at a loss as to where to stop between Colorado and Virginia on the last leg - Gulf Coast? We've got friends/family in Atlanta.

    Looking for any advice.

    Our main objectives are to see highlights at each stop, focusing mostly on outdoor activities - hiking, hot springs, the occaisional horseback ride (iffy with the 2 younger ones, I know), just enjoying nature and the amazing sights of the nation.

    So, are we completelly crazy, or is this something that might be doable? We have a suburban and are considering loading that up with a camp kitchen, our huge 2-room tent, etc and driving that around - thought about renting an RV, but worried about gas and getting around in city areas/parking with such a sizeable vehicle. Interested to hear from others with far more experience! Thanks!
    Last edited by Mass Tim; 01-17-2009 at 09:37 AM. Reason: Added whitespace

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    The first thing I have to ask is - how many long road trips have you made in the past with everyone involved (or at least most of your family)? I'd make sure that everybody is up to it before heading out on such a large scale trip. Get everyone's ideas about what they want to do and see on the trip, and incorporate those into your plans.

    You might want to consider stopping in Kentucky on the way back, both to visit Mammoth Cave and for some horseback riding.

    The RV gas situation wouldn't be as much of an issue as driving through the city, though with a Suburban, you're halfway there! But if you're able to fit all of your gear comfortably into your own car and you are already comfortable driving it, then stick with that.

    I would recommend reservations for the Yellowstone portion of your trip as you may find it difficult to find a place to stay at that time of year. Otherwise, reservations most likely won't be needed elsewhere, but if it makes you feel comfortable, and you're able to stick to a timeline, I would also recommend it.

  3. Default great advice!

    All the kids are relatively experienced going on 8-10 hour road trips - we take them to NH every summer in one shot, and take a few 3-6 hour trips to the beach, as well as local 2-3 hour trips. Anything over 8 hours or so we'd plan to break up into 2 days. Great advice on making reservations at Yellowstone - I've heard that before that it gets quite full early on. Also, I think everyone would get something out of Mammoth Caves -aren't they the largest in the country, if not the world? Cool idea, and it would certainly break up that 21 hours from CO to GA! You've given us something to work with - thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default My, What Big Eyes You Have

    Just the shortest possible point-to-point distances for your basic itinerary is well over 7000 miles. Throw in the Gulf Coast between Boulder and Williamsburg and you're looking at nearly 8000. Even over 30 days, that's a lot of driving and 'togetherness' time with 6 of you in the vehicle. This is a difference in kind, not just scale, from your previous RoadTrips. I'm not suggesting that you forego this trip, not at all. But I am saying that it will require significantly more preparation and a different approach, particularly by and for the kids, than what you're used to. You'll have to average about 300 miles a day so keep that in mind and plan on driving about 500 miles on most 'driving' days. That will still leave time on those days for a couple of 1-2 hour stops at attractions while letting you build up a reserve so that you can take a day off from driving every 3 days or so to get some down time or see something in a bit more depth. Get the kids involved in the planning and let them choose a few of their own stops. Most of these will turn out to be stops you would have made anyway, but they'll then be invested in enjoying the time spent at a place they chose. Have them do a little research on their choices so they know what to expect and can be your own family 'expert' for that visit. Mostly just be prepared for this trip to get a little rough in spots and remember that even at its worst, it will be a memory your kids will never lose.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Sounds like a fantastic adventure to me!

    It's do-able but you all might find it far more tiresome after awhile than you thought you would. So my advice would be to allow yourself flexibility. If you find a wonderful spot you all enjoy, stay awhile. If that means leaving off other stops, so be it.

    I'm an avid camper when I roadtrip but it's either just me traveling solo or me and my husband. So put-up/take-down of my little tent is far less time-consuming than what you'll need to do with all those kids. I'm thinking you might want some room in the budget for nights at hotels when you just don't have the time or energy to set up camp.

    Also, if San Diego to see your folks is a must, you might want to have at least a weekly goal of where you need to be to keep on target to fit in a visit there.

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