Family Life


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How to plan the ultimate family road trip

Kid waving out window - how to plan the ultimate family road trip 

With every summer vacation comes the dream of a family road trip: You’ll pile the kids into the backseat, whip out the map and hit the open road on the route to non-stop family bliss…or so, the myth goes. The truth is that Family Road Trips really aren’t all that different from any family vacation, except for the fact that you’ve squeezed everyone into tighter quarters without the option of escape and increased the odds that the toy they send sailing at each other will hit you in the back of the head instead. 

There are ways to make the trip a little less stressful. 

1. Get The Kids Involved

Let’s face it: On most vacations we tell the kids we’re going away, instruct them on what to wear and expect to wake them up when we arrive. Those aren’t things that lead to active involvement. Instead, get them interested by handing over the map or getting them to follow along on the app marking your route. Get their input before you leave by asking them to pick a destination to research and be in charge of.  The more they feel like they have a vested interest in where you’re going and what you’ll be seeing along the way, the more likely they’ll be engaged travelers when you get there.

2. Don’t Overplan It

When I say “road trip” do you already start seeing a dining room table covered in maps and brochures? They have their place but there is such a thing as going too far in your planning. Your day-to-day life requires so much routine; wouldn’t it be great to let go of some of that for a while? Instead of mapping out every moment of your trip, try leaving some things to whimsy. We’re on a 30-day road trip this summer and we only had a rough route planned before we left! (You can see it here). The details on where we’ll go, stay and play will fill in as we travel based on interest, social media recommendations and how we’re feeling that day. We’re using the app. It allows us to find somewhere to sleep but still keep the spontaneity levels high.

3. Expect More from the Road and Less from the Destination

When you’re flying to your vacation destination the flight is usually just a means to an end. On a road trip it’s different. You can choose a route that mimics an explorer or opt for road stops that cater to your particular interests. When mapping your route don’t just go with the shortest distance between A and B. Try to give some thought to what will make the route as enjoyable as the destination.

4. Get Help from the Apps and Tools that are Available

It’s a lot harder to get lost than it used to be, especially if load up on some apps and mapping tools that will make your journey easier. From mapping apps like to apps that track your reward points to parking apps that will ease the stress of city parking  – downloading the apps will mean you have everything you need at your fingertips to keep the adventures going.

5. Let Go of Perfection

Even the best of road trips are bound to have a few bumps. How you ride them out will make the difference between a good trip and a road trip nightmare. Bring an optimistic outlook, don your rose-coloured glasses and look at those bumps as great stories you’ll tell when you get home. You’ll find yourself quickly wondering when you can do it all again.


Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance writer in the midst of a 30-day roadtrip across the USA with her husband and two tween sons.  The trip is being done in partnership with You can follow along at #ExpediaRoadtrip and #globetrottingmama on social media.

a man carrying two children

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