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4 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Cross-Country Family Road Trip

by Holly Riddle

Aug 3, 2019

Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com


Taking the family on a cross-country road trip this summer? It may sound like the perfect idea and a great chance to bond while exploring our great country, but, with a few wrong moves, your idyllic, classic American road trip could end up more like something from the National Lampoon franchise. Here are four mistakes you’re definitely going to want to avoid.

Trying to Do Too Much in Too Little Time

Yes, you may think it’s no big deal to see a national park in one afternoon and then drive five hours to your next destination, but will that actually be preferable when the time comes? Probably not. Remember that while road trips can seem easy when you’re plotting out your route at home, they can actually become quite tiring when you’re out there on the road. All that driving wears on you and trying to cram an entire national park into the span of a few hours can be stressful. Give yourself extra time on everything you plan to do and see (and add an extra half-hour or hour to your anticipated driving time as well — you never know when bad weather, traffic, road work or even just waking up late, will impact your driving time), so you never feel rushed.

Finding accommodations on the road.

Finding accommodations on the road. Photo: Eptian Savero Fitrahnsa | Dreamstime.com

Not Booking Accommodations Ahead of Your Trip

Don’t assume you’ll just arrive in your destination city and book a hotel upon your arrival. Look into places to stay before you even drive your first mile and see what your options are before you decide you’ll go to a particular destination. Many national parks — if they’re on your itinerary — are located in remote areas where hotel pickings are slim. Without proper planning, you could end up staying in a less-than-ideal property for a much larger price than you want to pay.

Not Packing Snacks, Drinks

Regardless which cross-country route you choose or the destinations you visit, at some point, you’ll likely end up driving through the middle of nowhere. And that’s exactly when your children are going to suddenly be starving. Take a freezer bag with ice and drinks, along with a small supply of snacks, with you. You can replenish your supplies at varying intervals along the way, and you’ll always have a quick solution when someone complains of hunger or thirst.

Not Taking Enough Photos

Yes, it’s a road trip, so you’re going to be snapping Instagram shots at every turn. But while you’re getting gorgeous panoramas of the landscape and shots of your kids seeing their first bison up close and personal, don’t forget to ask a few fellow travelers to snap a photo of the entire family. Most will be more than happy to do so for you if you’re willing to take their photo in return. You’ll find yourself thankful you did so when you get home from your trip and find lots of family portraits from all the great destinations you visited


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