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.
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
Chances are you know South Beach or have heard about the southernmost section of Miami Beach — 23rd Street to South Pointe Park. It’s the historic Art Deco district with stunning white and pastel buildings lining Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and beyond.
Tucked into the central coast of California is a trail of history waiting to be found by your kids. The Highway 1 Discovery Route through San Luis Obispo County snakes along the winnowy Pacific Coast Highway, CA-1, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The more than 100 miles of mostly protected coastline begins after a four-hour drive from San Francisco at Ragged Point, or about three hours from Los Angeles at Nipomo. The trail features 10 cities, connected by cliffs, carved by a moody ocean, and a slower pace of life. There are plenty of reasons to stop and walk into the past, preserved by those whose hearts still live there. Nature lovers will linger on the many trails to hike and picnic areas. We drove from Los Angeles with two 9-year-old boys to explore this part of the state.
Raising a budding Julia Child or Jacques Pépin? Or just looking for a more interactive family activity? Register your family (or kids) for a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America.
The coastal city of Dubrovnik, in the south, is perhaps the most popular destination in Croatia for families. The red roof tops of the white buildings are a strong contrast to the jewel-toned Adriatic Sea surrounding the city, making it a picturesque stop for many cruise ships. The city is known for being affordable for families looking for a seaside vacation.