Hit the Road This Summer: Planning a Family Road Trip

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A family road trip is a great way to spend time and create memories that will last forever. And, if you do it right, road tripping can also be more affordable than you think. School is almost out; how about packing up and piling in the car? Here are a few tips for planning the family road trip of a lifetime.

Pre-Trip Prep

Space is limited in the car and as difficult as it may be, you need to pack light. BootsnAll provides a list of packing-light pro tips; some highlights:

  • Pack ONE week’s worth of clothes (including underwear) and stop at a laundromat if you need to
  • Buy travel-size toiletries or put products in ziplock bags to save even more space
  • Don’t bring electronics you don’t need

Additionally, make sure you bring sunblock and sunglasses. When you pass through a place like Seattle, where it’s typically overcast, you probably won’t worry about getting burned. But some places like Las Vegas or Phoenix have harsher sun and you don’t want anyone suffering with a painful sunburn. Also, while sunglasses are stylish, they also serve an important function for your eye health. A significant amount of sun passes through the car windows and prolonged harsh sunlight exposure on unprotected eyes can put you at a higher risk of cataracts. Make sure your children wear sunglasses as well. If you have Oakley shades, you can even buy replacement lenses in case yours are damaged.

Kids in Tow

Sure, you might want some parents-only time, but it’s not a family trip without your little ones. Fewer adults are traveling with children, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In 2012, 26 percent of domestic leisure travelers traveled with children compared to 31 percent in 2008. But seeing the views from the backseat can be one of childhood’s greatest thrills, and being in the car is a great way for your family to spend time together. As long as you pack adequate snacks and entertainment, your kids should have a blast.

Enjoy the Ride

During those long stretches of road, you’ll need to keep everyone engaged. If you have music on your phone or iPod, play Name That Tune. Also, check out this list of car games for kids from Parents.com.

Don’t be afraid to make spontaneous stops. A fun family road trip is about the journey as much as the destination. And remember to make “stretch stops.” Everyone will be a lot more cheerful during the ride if they can stretch from time to time and keep their blood moving.

Mapping Destinations

At a loss of ideas for where to go on your family trip? What better way to spend your time than to tour the U.S. national parks. The National Park Service offers detailed information, maps and available activities for every national park in the country. You can also learn the history of each park and find volunteer opportunities, if you happen to live near or frequent one in particular.

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