Family Time Calendar: Family Road Trip

Thinking about taking a road trip with your family this summer? Emily Kaufman, author of The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel (Broadway Books, 2006), shares her favorite tips!

Road trips are not just for Ken Kesey and his band of merry misfits. Since the 1950s, many families have created wonderful, lasting memories on trips they have taken in their cars. Of course, cars are now roomier than ever, with every conceivable amenity, from retractable cup holders to built-in DVD players. But I have found that it's not necessarily the amenities that make for a pleasurable road trip; it's your state of mind. Essentially, if you all pile into the car with the expectation that the trip is going to be long, boring and uncomfortable, then it probably will be. On the other hand, if you plan ahead, bring some entertainment and accept the fact that you will probably be in the car for a number of hours, then you stand a much better chance of enjoying rather than abhorring the travel time.

Here are some tips that have worked for me and my family, as well as many others:

As always, be prepared
Being prepared for a road trip means outlining your route, getting the necessary directions and calculating how long the trip will take you. Remember to utilize satellite direction programs such as MapQuest, OnStar or other GPS systems if you are not sure of your route. And remember your cell phone and its in-car charger. If you don't have a car charger, get one!

Once you know the approximate mileage of the distance between your departure location and destination, then you can decide how many stops you probably will need and if you want to split the trip into one, two, or three days. Take a look at a map. Are there any interesting cities, towns or sites on the way? You may enjoy stopping and discovering something new. Arm yourself with information beforehand about the various towns on your route to help you decide whether to stop or not. One of the Morrison family's most memorable trips occurred when they were driving from Houston to El Paso, Texas. Driving across Texas is not what you would call interesting -- lots of desert, one-pump gas stations and an occasional Denny's come to mind. But this time, they were looking at the map of Texas and decided it might be interesting to visit the Big Bend National Park. Situated in the southwest corner of Texas, Big Bend is a formidable terrain that abuts the Mexican border. Not always in the camping mood, Terry, the mom, agreed to take the detour because her husband and kids were so excited to see such rugged countryside. Not only did they get a taste of the Wild West, but they also learned a great deal about this state's history and its connection to Mexico. It was truly a memorable road trip for them.

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