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  1. Default 30 day roadtrip with my 6 year old son

    Hello there,

    For over a month now I'm busy planning a roadtrip that I wanna do with my six year old son. It's not yet sure whether his mother (my ex girlfriend) is coming along, or that maybe one of my best friends will be joining us.
    I must admit that if one of them comes along, I would feel a bit more secure, but if not, I plan to make the trip just with my son.

    Because of his school, our 30 day trip will be in August and so far I came up with a few idea's and possible routes.
    Actually I have one quite detailed itinerary, but every now and then I get some big doubts about that plan, considering I'm traveling with a kid.

    After reading a lot of other threads on this forum and the outstanding advice that's been giving there, I hope someone can also advice me and help me make up my mind.

    My plan for now is to fly from Amsterdam in Holland to Denver, CO. Here we will stay one or two days to adjust, pick up the car and buy the camping gear we didn't bring from Holland.

    Since I rather don't want to drive in an RV, I'm planning to rent an SUV or a van, in which I also plan to sleep some nights, whenever we don't feel like setting up the tent. Probably we will also stay in a motel every now and then.

    From Denver the rough plan is this:

    - White River Forest or Rocky Mountain NP (one night)
    The RMNP looks more interesting, but is a bit out of the way from our next destination, which is
    - The Black Canyon of the Gunnison (2 nights)
    - Colorado National Monument (one night)
    - Arches NP (2 nights)
    - Canyonlands NP (2 nights)
    - Monument Valley (one night)
    - Grand Canyon (north rim) (two nights)
    From what I've read the north rim has less crowds, which I do wanna avoid as much as possible. But then again, I'm not sure if from there I can visit the Havasu Falls and stay there for a night.
    Or would any of you suggest this hike unsuitable for a six year old?

    Also, the north rim seems to be giving better access to our next destination:

    - Zion NP ( 2 nights)
    - Las Vegas or Death Valley (one night)
    - Sequoia and King's Canyon NP (2 or 3 nights)

    Untill two weeks ago, this sort of was my plan. From Seq. or King's Canyon NP I would drive to Big Sur and from there head to SF and fly back to Holland.
    But then I calculated that this itinerary would take us like 20 days or so and right away I thought of an opportunity to head some place I initially really wanted to go to as well and which is Olympic National Park in Washington.

    I realise this is a long, long drive, but I can't shake it as a thought. Olympic NP, but also Redwood NP and the what seems to be astonishing Pacific coastline of CA, OR and WA look just so damn appealing, especially after the hot and dry SouthWest.


    I apologize for this story being soo long (and probably the misspelling here and there), but these are, I think, my main questions:

    Is it doable to reach further and go all the way from Denver to Seattle in one month? Or will this be too much of a rush?
    I'm willing to compromise and skip one or two places in Utah, so I have a bit more time on my way to Seattle.

    That brings me to one of my other big doubts. Are Utah and Arizona not too uncomfortable (for a child) during August?
    Is it better to turn everything around? Just stick to CA and the Pacific Coast Route, or perhaps head north from Denver to Wyoming, Idaho and then to OR and WA? (which also seems beautifull)

    These are a lot of questions and I sure have many more. But for now help with these (very luxurious) doubts and problems would be great.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Sammy Reynaert

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default a few thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There are a few things you do need to keep in mind for your trip.

    First, of course, is that if you go ahead with this trip with just the 2 of you, you will need to make sure you've got everything you need to travel without the mother. At the very least, that's going to involve a notarized letter giving permission for international travel.

    I'll also note that not only is Havasu Falls not accessable from the North Rim, it actually isn't part of the National Park at all. The falls are all located on Indian Reservation lands which are West of the South Rim.

    I'll also say that two of you sleeping in a mini-van or suv likely isn't going to be comfortable for anyone, and is not going to be condusive to having a fun trip.

    As far as the details of your trip. 30 days is a very nice amount of time for any trip, and it would let you see a whole lot. Certainly, if Seattle is a goal that is possible.

    However, I would caution that it seems like you might be a little too focused on yourself. All of the places you've listed are great and scenic places, but I think you're forgetting about the attention span of the average 6 year old. Odds are, he's just not going to be able to appreciate these places all that much, certainly not if you are just going place to place, touring national parks every day for a month. That's not to say that you shouldn't visit many of these places, and its not to say that kids can't enjoy exploring these wonderful places, I just think you might be lacking in balance. Plan to spend a few days just exploring a zoo, or a museum, or spending a day at a lake or on a beach so he isn't tired and bored from doing the same thing every day. It's probably worth noting that Disneyland isn't far off your path. You're going to know your own kids interests better than any of us, and maybe you have factored that in, but just don't see it reflected in your post.

  3. Default

    Quick thoughts, I'd research that hike to Havasu Falls pretty thoroughly. I've never done that so can't be the voice of experience, but just from googling around found that the canyon is closed to tourism right now, though they hope to open May 1, and they experienced a bad flood in 2008. . It also looks to be about a 10 mile hike one way which would be way too long for my 7 year old. You know your kid, though, so maybe, but I would proceed with caution.

    I would pick Rocky Mountain National Park as a stop, because those mountains are just stunning and unlike anything around where we live, but maybe you've seen a lot of the Alps, etc.

    Black Canyon of the Gunnison doesn't do a whole lot for me, but your mileage may vary. You might want to consider just knocking that back to 1 night?

    Temps in Arizona, and I imagine in Utah, in August and any time of year, really, vary greatly with elevation. I would guess it could be a 30 F degree difference if not more. The National Park Service has good weather info on their park sites.

    As for North Rim vs South Rim and saving time. It's about 3 hrs to the North Rim from Zion and about 5 to the South Rim. The North Rim is more forested and less populated and cooler. The South Rim has more people, hotels, hotter, more scenic overlooks, etc.

    While you're in Colorado you might consider throwing in a trip to Mesa Verde. It would be unlike anything else on your itinerary so far.

    I think if you have the time and it sounds like you do a trip up the west coast to Olympic is certainly doable.

    I don't think I saw Yosemite on your list. Have you been there before? Well worth a trip IMO.

  4. Default

    Hi Michael and Panchodog,

    Many thanks for the advice and good to hear from you that it's possible to go all the way to Seattle.

    I did thought of Mesa Verde, but also thought it was a little bit off route, just as with the Rocky Mountain NP.

    After reading your comments though, I have to say, I start to doubt again about where to go in Utah and Arizona.
    Perhaps you can tell me which places over there are a must and best suitable for a child.

    Living in a crowded city I very much long for a feeling of solitude and space, but I guess you're right, Michael, that so far the trip seems too much centered on myself.
    I did however plan some relaxing days around a lake (Powell and NP in CA) and at the beach. but still...

    I also thought of Alcatraz in SF and maybe try some whale-watching in OR or WA (though I'm not sure it's the right season.
    How about Dinosaur NM in CO? Is that worth the detour? Any other tips about places that are more entertaining for a kid than the average NP, I would be very grateful for.
    Maybe I do need to start thinking about throwing in a bit of Disney, although the traffic around LA is sort of a nightmare for me.

    About Yosemite, no I've never been there and I might visit it as well. But for some reason though, I feel it's either that or Sequoia and King's and then I have this vision that the latter is more quiet. I could be totally wrong offcourse.

    As for sleeping in an SUV or minivan; I thought of bringing an airmatress and placing it in the back.

    Again guys, many thanks and best regards,


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by Sammy View Post
    As for sleeping in an SUV or minivan; I thought of bringing an airmatress and placing it in the back.
    Don't even entertain it!

    I did exactly that, for much of my trip, and was very comfortable indeed. But I was on my own. The back of even a medium van is not that big - and I cannot imagine sleeping two as well as having your luggage.... minimal as it may be.

    The child will be ready for bed, when you are probably just thinking about dinner.

    And where are you going to park? You can't just pull-over anywhere.

    It can be quite hot in August, in some of the places you will be visiting, and there is no worthwhile insulation in a motor vehicle. Leaving the engine and aircondioning going all night, is just not an option. Neither is leaving the windows open. You will not get enough rest... let alone sleep.

    Frankly, remembering each of my children at six, and now seeing my grandchildren around that age, I get the feeling that this trip is far too ambitious for a six-year-old. You may think he will appreciate it, but I am more inclined to think that you will end up with a very unhappy little boy.

    If this is meant to be a bonding trip, you could end up with a son who will never want to go on another trip you organise. Why not plan this trip for four or five years hence, when he will appreciate it as much as you perceive he will now.

    [In 2012 I will be taking my (then) 10 year old grandson from Boston to Australia to meet his cousins and other relatives, and show him where his paternal heritage is. It has taken a lot to wait this long, but he is now so eagerly planning it, that I know we will both enjoy the fourteen days he will be away from home.]


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Is it actually lawful?

    Sleeping in the back of a vehicle requires the removal of the back seats. In your case, this may not be as straight forward as you think.

    Given that your son is only 6, and as such, is not permitted to travel in the front seat, not even with the required restraints, if back seats are available. It might be a good idea to check with the authorities if, in this case, you will be allowed to remove all the back seats.

  7. Default

    Well, some vans have fold down seats rather than take-out seats, but it's not a chance I'd be willing to take with my child unless I had no alternative. That said I did do it when I was young and foolish. I hope to set a better example now that I'm a real grown up. Since I have daughters I especially don't want them to think that sleeping in their cars is okay in most circumstances. I don't think it's safe for males either. I do think in a crowded truck stop parking lot that is patrolled by security is not too bad, but just pulling off to the side of the road is not safe. Anyone remember how Michael Jordan's father was murdered sleeping in his car on the side of I-95?

  8. Default

    Many thanks for the advice you've been giving me.

    I do think I need to set something straight here, though.

    I started this thread by saying I plan to rent an SUV and one in which we might sleep in for some nights.
    I realise this might suggest I'm willing to park the car anywhere alongside the road and just go to sleep together with my son, but this is not what I meant.

    Although I long for a certain amount of solitude, I, just like you and any other parent, am very much concerned about my child's safety and therefore I wouldn't park the car anywhere else than on a campingground.

    The idea behind 'sleeping in the car' was that it would be sort of a backup, and as I mentioned, "for whenever we wouldn't feel like setting up the tent".

    I was seeking for advice and maybe it is, even as just a backup plan, still a foolish thought.
    Anyhow, I should have made myself more clear in that, so that there wouldn't be any misunderstanding.

    I also didn't have to read then about the murder on Michael Jordan's father, as I'm planning a roadtrip with my son.

    I'm sure you meant well, but this reads (also since you don't seem to address me anymore) as if you wanna point out how irresponsible some folks can be (though I never said anything about just pulling off to the side of the road), instead of warning me against certain dangers.

    Since I started this thread, I hope you understand I take this a bit personal and I hope you understand my need for writing this.

    Again, many thanks for the advice.


  9. Default

    I'm sorry, Sammy, I didn't mean to offend. Since you're coming from Europe I wanted to make sure you understood that bad things can happen here that might not happen there. I think it's better to be safe than sorry. Other people have different opinions, though, and I'm sure there are some folks on this forum who think it's no big deal to sleep in your car. I, personally, since I'm now a parent wouldn't feel safe doing that—YMMV.

    One thing you should check out is the child safety laws in the states you will be going through. I know in my home state a child is required by law to be in a booster seat until 8 yrs old or 80 lbs and can't ride in the front seat due to airbag dangers. It varies by state, though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If I'm not mistaken, even states with front seat laws waive them for vehicles that do not have a back seat as long as you can deactivate the passenger airbags.

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