Some of my fondest memories are of my brother and I crammed into the back of my parents minivan, eyes glued out the window at the stunning landscape passing by. As a kid my family was a road trip clan. We took the car to Florida almost every year, drove from Wisconsin to Mt. Rushmore and saw some of America’s national parks, traveled to the Grand Canyon and its surrounding states, while somehow making time in high school to take one last family road trip by flying out to Washington where we rented a car and drove down the coast to San Francisco.
Family road trips are different than a vacation. For one thing, they are not always relaxing. Being on the road can be stressful. Fights and irritability are unavoidable when you are spending hours in close quarters with your family. However this is why stopping and seeing the sights is so important. Often my family planned a loose timeline and daily goal but it was never concrete. If we wanted to stop at a waterfall we saw in Oregon, we stopped! Having an idea of how many miles you want to cover is important to getting to your destination, but the journey is so much more meaningful.
Our nation is a beautiful place. The diverse landscape of America will truly shock you. I think traveling and visiting other states gives kids the tools to understand how much opportunity is available. You are not required to live and die where you were born! Exposing kids to this while they are young creates a curiosity about the world. After my family took a road trip down the West Coast I could really see myself living and working there one day.
There is something so refreshing about having time with family, away from busy schedules and work. Spending time with my brother in the car, playing games and seeing the most amazing sights, helped us develop a strong relationship we get to enjoy as adults. For my parents, spending those days as a family allowed them to spend time with their kids before life became complicated and we started growing up.
I can’t say road trips are for everyone, but I can attest to my own experience. I look back on the time trekking around the country so fondly. These memories are my absolute favorites and they completely shaped me as a person. A road trip is also extremely flexible both financially and travel wise. If you can’t spend a lot of money, pick a destination or trip within your means and make the very best of it. On our car rides my mom and I always made picnic food and packed a cooler full of healthy, inexpensive snacks to save money!
I would encourage everyone to plan and go on at least one road trip with their family. There is no vacation that will bring you closer and be more educational. Some of my favorite destinations are the Pacific Coast Highway, the East coast, and Yellowstone National Park! Remember, sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the ride!
Find more travel tips for you and your family check out this article.