Involve the Whole Family in Planning Your Next Road Trip

You’ve decided that you’re going to take a family road trip and are wondering if this is a genius idea or a colossal mistake. Because while you have a vision of life on the open road, your kids seeing the country, cultivating a love for travel; you also dread being trapped in a car with bored children, unimpressed by sites, chanting “are we there yet?” over and over before you’ve even backed out of the driveway.

So how do you make sure your road trip is filled with fun and adventure and not whining and misery? The key is to get the whole family involved in the planning from the beginning. Here are five ways to include your family in planning an amazing road trip that everyone will love.

Put the Destination up to a Vote

Sit down with a map and decide together where you want to end up. Give some specific parameters like length of the trip, miles and general geographic area. If your kids are old enough, have each member of the family research a destination and give a short presentation on why they think it is worthy of a road trip (food options, culture and entertainment options). Make it a friendly competition. After all destinations have been considered, put it up for a vote (secret ballot is a great method that keeps feelings from being hurt).

Plan Fun Pit Stops

Nowhere is the saying “it’s the journey, not the destination,” more true than on a road trip. Kids only have so much patience for long driving days, so help make each day exciting by planning fun stops. When planning your route, give a few options for stops along the way, leaving the ultimate choice up to the kids (or, if you have kids who can’t agree on anything, let each one choose a pit stop). Think beyond traditional tourist traps and be creative with your stops. Traveling in the Southwest? Take a half day to visit New Mexico State Fair, held every year in September. Taking a Midwest road trip? The Tick Tock Escape Games in Kansas City are an amazing experience for the whole family.

Choose Interesting Lodging

Involve the whole family in picking where you’ll rest your heads at night. Try to find places with some interesting feature. Spend a night in a hotel with an indoor swimming pool if you’re spending the rest of the trip in campgrounds. Your kids might be delighted by staying in a yurt at a state park. You will probably love having a few nights with some privacy, so look at renting a house or apartment on a website like Airbnb.

Appeal to Their Stomach

Food can be very motivating. Once you’ve decided what stops you’ll be making on your road trip, turn your attention to one of the most important decisions you’ll make every day — where to eat. Plan one meal each day (and let the others be a spontaneous decision) and rotate who gets to choose. In addition to the activities and lodging, your planned meal will be something to look forward to and anticipate during the hours on the road.

In-car Entertainment

There certainly will be plenty of times when you’ll all want to be doing your own thing, but plan a few games, movies or audiobooks to help pass the time. It’ll be easier to stave off the “I’m boreds” if everyone knows there are a handful of options that you’ve all agreed on ahead of time.

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