One of my favorite adventures is the family road trip. Road trips often get a bad rap and many people avoid them out of fear. But I’m here to debunk the myth – road trips are a blast!
You will see and experience things on a road trip that you would miss altogether if you flew. My wife and I try hard to plan some good stops along the way. For example, we’ve driven 1000 miles down the east coast to Florida several times, and have stopped at Williamsburg, VA; Savannah, GA; St. Augustine, FL; and even South of the Border (everyone needs to stop here at least once…”Pedro says…” – for those that don’t know Pedro starts with his neon billboards 100+ miles out in either direction for this very hokey / entertaining tourist-trap road stop).
Family road trips also the source of many of our best vacation memories, funniest quotes, and heartiest laughs. I remember driving through hundreds of miles of nothing from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At the sight of a ranch entrance with its big timber pole construction, one of the boys cried out: “Look a Dude Ranch!”…to which the older brothers gave a slow and drawn out, “Duuuude”…the rest of the ride was transformed into a spot-the-dude-ranch-entrances game!
Aside from the fun and family bonding that comes from a road trip, there’s also practical economics. To fly our family of 6 round-trip 1,000 miles away, it will likely cost (2013 $): 6 x $400 (airfare) + $100 taxi/shuttle = $2,500…and that’s assuming I find an airline where check-in luggage is free?! Let’s say that I take our minivan on that same trip: ((1000 miles x 2 ways) / 20 mpg) x $4/gal + $20 in tolls = $420.
Flying will take 4-5 hours door to door….driving will take 16 hours. And when I drive…I can pack things like water bottles, snacks, loaves of bread, peanut butter, and other things that wouldn’t make it on my airline packing list. Bottom line: I may spend an extra day (of vacation) in the car, but I save over $2,000. This difference can make an otherwise unaffordable vacation – very affordable!
Below is a list of some of our favorite family road trips:
Long car trips are avoided by many families because they’re afraid of what they assume is going to be a nightmare ride. The truth of the matter is that the tone of the vacation is set by the parent’s attitude. I used to joke that it took me 3 days to decompress before I’d stop hollering at the kids and just start enjoying myself. But when I realized this was actually true, I tried harder to chill out from Day 1.
Let’s face it – we spend a lot of time and money planning vacations so that everything will be perfect and everyone will have a great time together. It’s hard to have fun, if you’re wound too tight on Day 1. Sometimes taking a break from Drill Instructor Dad has helped everyone have a better time.
The family road trip is the great American tradition that needs to keep going. It’s also a way to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars from the more expensive airline option.