RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

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Tips for a Great Family Road Trip
(Continued from page 1)

Southernmost Point!
Chad Whitney & family at the "southernmost point in the continental U.S.A."


Pack a "Go Kit." Include bottles of water, a fire extinguisher, beach towels, personal pillows, maps and atlases. And here are some more suggestions.

Pack a "Car Kit" for each child. Choose age-appropriate items including crayons or markers, pads of paper, bandanas, personal travel pillows, games, small toys, a few treats and the first day's "travel allowance." Travel allowances allow kids to shop in gift stores and tourist traps without begging for money at every stop. Maps of your route are also good for children old enough to read them. They can trace their progress, learn to navigate and even stop asking "Are we there yet?" quite as often. Put everything in a bag or other container that the child can also use to hold souvenirs, interesting "finds," and so on; nylon lunch bags or small daypacks work well. Let the children know that they'll be getting their Car Kits the day you leave home. That will give them one more thing to look forward to, and you won't have any trouble at all getting them out of bed. You can add to the Car Kits as the trip progresses, giving the kids a little something to look forward to each morning.

Pack electronic devices. Consider a CB radio, portable DVD player, GPS receiver, audio books and inverters. Electronic entertainment devices can be helpful if you're stuck in a traffic jam or you've exhausted all other options. Audio books are a great way to be entertained and yet remain alert and focused on the tasks of driving. Many companies now offer rental GPS units, which are both useful navigational tools and a source of information about road conditions. Portable CB radios with magnetic mounts allow you to be in touch with other drivers on the road and to get accurate weather reports.

Pack good eats. Though the kids may argue this point, it is not necessary to stop at every fast-food joint along the way. In fact, it is possible to get good nutrition on the road. Make sure everyone drinks twice as much water as they might at home. Take a good cooler along and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepare road trip snacks and consider packing a road trip picnic.


Eat and greet. Eat in unusual local restaurants at least sometimes, and make a point of speaking with locals or other travelers.

Keep it fun! Avoid vacationing at the same hectic pace as you live at home. A relaxing pace will be remembered more fondly than an overly ambitious one. Take the advice of a local or get off the highway at an unplanned exit and see what is to be found "around the next bend." Drive fewer hours and spend more time lounging around the motel pool. By allowing time for serendipity, you will re-capture the wonder of the road trip adventure.

Got toddlers? Roadtrippers who are younger than five years old can sometimes present additional challenges. Consider organizing the traveling day so that you reach the motel after 8:00 pm, when the children are likely to fall asleep more easily. Pool time can be done in the morning. Spend the extra $$ to get as comfortable a car seat as possible. Plan to stop every two hours and let the little guys run, play, and blow off as much energy as possible. For more ideas, has several good tips and suggestions.

As parents, you can design a family road trip that will give both you and your children memories to last a lifetime. Grab those markers and a map and start planning your escape!

Mark Sedenquist



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