If your family is like most, it’s always a juggling act to plan a family vacation that will appeal to everyone in the family. Dad wants to visit museums; Mom wants to hit the beach; your teenaged daughter wants to fly to Europe (without the family, of course), and the toddler wants to go to Disney World.
When money’s tight and the family can’t come together on one destination, there’s a great solution:long straight highway with truck in the distance the good old family road trip. Getting in the car costs a fraction of what it would cost to buy airline tickets, and the car makes it possible to hit a variety of destinations so that everyone gets their way, eventually.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Choose a route that suits family member’s interests. A path through a city and then through the country gives Dad a chance to see some museums and your teenage son a chance to hike. Don’t be afraid to split up in any given destination and meet back in time for dinner. If Mom and daughter want to do a little shopping, Dad can take the toddler to the zoo.
The beauty of a road trip is that it can be an inexpensive way to see many landmarks in one swoop. When you fly to a destination, you miss sights along the way. When you drive to a desti-nation, you can stop along the route to see local attractions. Let the family decide together on a few sights they would like to see.
Make a list and plan out a route that may not be the most direct way to drive but will be the most scenic. When you are on your way, meander a little. Be open to making a few unplanned spots. Sometimes spontaneity can lead to wonderful discoveries.
Keeping the Road Trip Affordable
Family road trips can range in cost from bare bones to downright luxurious depending on budget. Generally speaking, road trips fall into the on-the-cheap or at least affordable category. Remember, this vacation is about having time with your family to bond and enjoy each other’s company and it’s not necessarily about eating in 5-star restaurants, though those are always nice. With that in mind, here are a few tips for making the trip affordable:
- Pack Food – Since you are taking your car, you will have a decent amount of storage space. Pack easy breakfasts like cereal, granola bars and bagels. For lunch bring a loaf of bread and your favorite sandwich fixings in the cooler. Pack snack and drinks. Try to eat only dinners in restaurants. Restock from grocery stores along the way.
- Last Minute Hotel Rooms – Unless you have a camper that you can sleep in, you will need to find hotel rooms along the way. Be sure to bring along a laptop or Web-enabled tablet to find last minute deals for the hotels on your route. If your pooch is along for the trip, it’s good to remember that all Motel 6 locations accept dogs and cats with no additional fee.
- Compare Gas Prices – Since gas will probably be your largest expense on a road trip, finding the cheapest prices is important. There are many websites that can help find the lowest gas prices in an area, Gasbuddy.com is one. Break out that mobile device and make finding bargains a game and get everyone in the family involved.
One Worthwhile Extravagance
Now comes the modern twist to the old-fashioned road trip. You now know a few ways to make the trip easier and affordable, but there is one purchase that will make your life on the road more enjoyable: A portable DVD player.It makes travel with toddler children a lot more relaxing.
They plug into your cigarette charger and come with screens that attach to the backs of your seats; a life-saver during long stretches of open highway and at night if someone is having trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar bed.
When planned well, the family summer road trip will never find your kids asking, “are we there yet?” They’ll be too caught up in the great adventure to even notice the hours spent in the car.