Family vacations are on the rise again and according to a recent Bing/Impulse Research survey, when planning a vacation, people are equally as influenced by the recommendations of their friends as they are by where out-of-town friends/family live.
If you're going to hit the open road for a wedding, reunion, or some family fun, here are the things you need to know to have the ultimate family road trip.
You know that old saying that it's not about the destination, it's about the journey? Keep that in mind when planning a road trip. It's not about getting from point A to point B in record time, it's about enjoying the little things along the way.
- Do your homework. A little trip prep can go a long way toward getting the family excited about the idea of a road trip. Find a good map, and research general information about your route. Highlight areas or attractions that appeal to your family's interests and have pictures ready to show.
- Hold a family meeting. Get everyone in on the fun by letting the family help plan the trip. Show them what you've already found and ask what they want to do on the trip. Consider letting each person be responsible for planning one leg of the trip—from what attractions to see and where to eat, to ideas for things to do in the car. One fun way to explore your options is with Bing. It gives you instant access to the feedback of your Facebook friends who live in your destination area, helping you make a more informed decision.
- Plan your stops. One of the biggest mistakes road trip rookies make is driving too many miles in one day. Generally speaking, younger children won't do well being in the car for more than six hours a day. So give yourself plenty of time for breaks by searching for rest stops, picnic grounds, and parks along the way.
- Packing Checklist
- Treats bag for each child (games, favorite toys, books, music, drawing materials, etc.)
- Surprise distractions—keep a few fun items handy to use in times of need
- Pillows and blankets
- Snacks and drinks
- Small cooler for easy access up front
- Larger cooler with refill items, stored in the back
- First-aid kit
- Road-side emergency kit
- Wet wipes, paper towels or napkins
- Trash bags
- Electronics charger and/or extra batteries
- Camera and video camera
- Laundry bag for dirty clothes
- Rolls of quarters (for tolls, gumball machines, etc.)
- Updated maps or navigation system
- Packing practice. A week before your trip, conduct a dry run by packing the car with everything you plan on taking. Then have everyone take their places in the car, giving you a chance to see if you over-packed or need to rearrange things to make more room.
- Car readiness. Make sure your car is in road-ready shape. AAA recommends that you have a qualified mechanic give it a thorough check-up to make sure it's safe and in good running order. If your car is on the small side, you may want to consider renting a larger vehicle so everyone can ride comfortably.
Here are a few more tips for when you finally hit the road:
- Set a technology time budget. Nothing can ruin family time like everyone spending all their time engrossed in electronic devices. Set a time budget for everyone—adults included—that lets each of you enjoy your own music, games, and movies without sacrificing your time together.
- Expect the unexpected. Give yourselves time—and permission—to discover things not on your itinerary. Take that unplanned exit, stop and take pictures of a beautiful view, and ask a local about interesting things to do. You never know what types of adventures are around the bend. Be open to the possibilities.
Road Trip Resources
- Search for travel-related information and Facebook friends' recommendations at Bing.
- Get fun road trip ideas with the Road Trip Books series.
- Discover family-friendly destinations at The Best of the Road, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, or the National Parks Organization.
- Enjoy the journey by finding out what's along The Lincoln Highway or Route 66.