Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1

    Default Long road trip with kids

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been reading some of the great advice here and wondered if anyone has any thoughts on travelling with kids. My husband and I are are bringing our three sons (ages 10, 7 and 5) to the US (from the UK) for a 13 week road trip starting in Washington DC in September this year, working up the East coast via Philadelphia, New York and Boston to Toronto and then taking the train to Vancouver and driving south to San Diego, stopping in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas and LA. I'll probably have thousands of questions but at the moment I'm wondering about the Portland to San Francisco stretch. My husband wants to see a bit of the Rockies and maybe ski so we are wondering if coming inland to Salt Lake City, stopping at Boise is a possibility. We think it would be early December by that stage in the trip but I'm worried it's much too far to try and drive with the boys in the back. I think 3-4 hours in the car without a break will be their limit.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for breaking up the journey that would be kid friendly, either specific to the Portland to San Francisco leg, or in general?

    We are hoping that 13 weeks is realistic for this sort of route but I'd be really glad to hear from anyone who has done this kind of thing with young children.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default What an adventure.

    Hi Nicola, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Your trip is eminently doable. With 13 weeks you should not be rushed at all, enabling you to take the breaks you will need with the boys. What a great adventure for them. May I suggest that you get each one to keep a journal. Before bed each night get them to record their own most memorable moment of that day. This can be done in text, drawings, sticking in pictures from brochures, stubs from entry tickets, etc. (My then 2 1/2 year old grandson, now 4, still reads me his journal, which includes a circle drawn with a stick figure in it... which to him is the London Eye.)

    When you get to defining your route, you may find the Colorado Rockies Ski resorts will not be too far out of your way. But if they are not possible, and there have been good snow falls, then Lake Tahoe and/or the Sierras also have ski resorts.

    In both Boston and New York there are excellent children's musea, as there are in many other places as well. Any of these would keep your children amused for a day off the road.

    Since it is still many months, I suggest you get some good maps of the US, with details of the attractions along the various routes. If you are unable to get some good maps locally, you can get a good road atlas here. It will help greatly with the planning.

    Try to get each of the boys to have some input into the trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A couple things first about the logistics of your plan.

    Right now, you've got some things that could really make your costs skyrocket. First, it looks like you are planning multiple one-way car rentals. There are significant fees for renting in one city and dropping the car off in another, and that could become very expensive. Even worse, it looks like you want to rent a car in the US and then drop it off in Canada - and then do the opposite on the west coast. Generally speaking, one way car rentals across the border are not allowed, and in the rare cases where you can find a company that will do it, the costs are unbelievably expensive.

    I'd even suggest for the first leg of your trip, you may not want a car at all. The major cities on the DC-NY-Bos corridor all have severe traffic along with very difficult and expensive parking. Sticking to trains and mass transit could be much easier for your family.

    Alternatively, if you really want to rent a car and want to drive the first part, and train across the country, then you might look at the option of going from Buffalo to Seattle on the train - or at least find other options from Buffalo to Toronto and Vancouver to Seattle.

    As far as the Rockies go, you will see them as you take the train across the country. While there are lots and lots of great things to see in Utah, and that's an idea worth looking at, you certainly don't need to go that far to see amazing mountain sites. The coastal mountains and Sierra Nevadas all have amazing sites in their own right. For example, if you want to ski, there are some world class resorts around Lake Tahoe, and places like Yosemite and Sequoia are great places to visit, even in winter, although some areas can be closed due to snow.

    As far as traveling with kids goes, don't overthink it too much. Kids will generally follow your lead. If you act like something is too much for them, they will treat it like that too. Make sure they are involved in the planning, and let them make decisions about what to do and where to go. Also, if you'll be visiting National Parks, make sure to take advantage of the Junior Ranger programs that will be perfect for their age range.

  4. #4


    Thank you both for the replies.

    Lake Tahoe looks like the answer for skiing - I googled quickly and found a star wars ski experience at Sierra Resort, my boys would have the greatest fun with that! They will definitely be keeping a journal, but you are both right, I should involve them more in the planning so that they have some input and feel some of the excitement that we are feeling!

    Regarding car hire, we've been using the Kayak app to try to get an idea of costs. I'm not sure if the app is reliable but it suggests that a one way from Boston, over the border to Toronto starts at around £23 ($34) a day for a minivan. I'm not sure if those costs are reliable and if there are hidden costs that would be added to make it more expensive but if not, the rate doesn't seem too bad...

    On the other hand, rates from Vancouver are much higher and so it does seem much cheaper to collect from Seattle to drive south.

    Initially our plan had been to use public transport on the east coast but with 5 of us, the train fares were adding up and we like the idea of being able to stop if something catches our interest. Parking wise we are generally planning to stay slightly out of town, using Airbnb type websites so we can organise accommodation that includes parking but if the main routes to and from Philadelphia and New York are too heavily congested then maybe we need to reconsider.

    Thanks for all the helpful tips; we've got lots to think about here. I am now off to investigate the Junior Ranger programs which sound very interesting! :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by Enprime View Post
    Regarding car hire, we've been using the Kayak app to try to get an idea of costs. I'm not sure if the app is reliable but it suggests that a one way from Boston, over the border to Toronto starts at around £23 ($34) a day for a minivan.
    I would guess that's an accurate price, until you get to the additional taxes and fees, which could easily dwarf the actual rental price. Since Kayak is basically a giant search engine, where you book through another site, make sure you keep clicking through to find out exactly what's included in that rate.

    The Junior Ranger program should be available at every US National Park you visit, just ask about it at the ranger station/visitor centers. Also, if you're planning to visit several National Parks, look at getting the Annual Pass, which covers all entry fees (but not camping, tours, or non-federal land like state parks) for $80. It generally pays for itself after the 4th or 5th park, although each park's entry fee is different.

  6. #6


    That's a good point - we haven't taken the car hire bookings through to the final payment page so I imagine additional costs could be added, I'll have another look. On the East coast it was mainly between Boston and Toronto that we wanted to drive but perhaps we'll drop off the car before the border and hire another one in Canada if needed.

    I showed the boys the Junior Ranger web pages and they are excited about those - no doubt it will also cover some of the educational work I need to be doing with them so that is even better!

    Many thanks for all the great suggestions and help - it is much appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The junior ranger programs that I've looked at, have included a lot of science and social studies (particularly history, in some of them) for the upper elementary (3rd through 5th grade). If you're homeschooling during your trip, these programs could be the take-off point for a larger project after your trip is complete.


Similar Threads

  1. Long Island to niagra falls with 2 kids 10 and 8
    By rg1 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-14-2012, 09:50 AM
  2. a long road trip
    By deadcowboy in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-17-2009, 05:25 AM
  3. A month Long Road Trip
    By SamanthaLee in forum Off the Beaten Path
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-15-2008, 09:10 PM
  4. Month long road trip
    By fatso89 in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-26-2006, 06:08 AM
  5. Month-long trip west with 3 kids
    By Patty Barry in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-19-2004, 02:09 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name