Every summer, my family travels to Upstate New York and New Jersey, where both my husband and I were born and raised. We've driven the 1,300-mile trek (with two kids) almost every time we've traveled in the last 15 years rather than flying. The majority of our friends and family are skeptical of our sanity, but seasoned road trippers are not. Nothing matches the freedom and flexibility of the open road for this group– road trippin' rocks!
Here are some reasons why a road trip should be your next vacation:
No one else is needed, so get in your own vehicle with your own family. When you go on a road trip, you are the captain of your own ship. There's no need to be concerned about rowdy passengers on an aircraft or viruses from strangers in the cabin.
2. Create your own timetable
You make the timetable once you're in the vehicle with your travel pod. The stringent regulations and time limitations of airports and flights are no longer in effect. Did you leave the house an hour later than expected? You're in big danger if you're flying. So what if you're on a road trip? You can easily make up the time with a shorter lunch break.
3. Car rentals are exorbitant
While road trips may certainly be done in rental vehicles, the experience is much more cost-efficient when you have your own vehicle. Since the Covid-19 epidemic, vehicle rental costs have risen dramatically, owing to the fact that demand for car rentals in the United States now exceeds supply. The average vehicle rental price in May 2021, according to The New York Post, was $63.75 — up 50% from pre-pandemic prices. Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise all predicted that the August 2021 rates would be moreover $100 per day.
My family's expenditures for each leg of our New Orleans - New York road vacation — two hotel stays, five dinners out, and five tanks of gas in each way — are less than half the cost of a rental vehicle plus airline tickets for the same time (3 weeks).
4. Don't forget to bring your creature comforts
You can load up a minivan (or whatever road trip rocket you're driving) with food, beverages, and hand sanitizer, but your choices on a plane are severely restricted. Nothing beats a mom-bag filled with everyone's favorite munchies and a mini-cooler stocked with Kool-Aid and La Croix (our favorites: pistachios, peanut butter ritz, dates, and chewy bars). Travel cushions, fleece blankets, yoga mats (for optimum stretching at each stop), and a portion of my 8-year-old daughter's stuffy collection are all part of our road trip ride. That wouldn't fit in a carry-on!
5. The destination is the journey
It's an amazing experience to be in the vehicle with someone as America's landscape changes colors and forms. Yes, the near proximity often necessitates the usage of noise-canceling headphones (for everyone except the driver). Yes, you can view incredible sights from an aircraft. That intimate closeness, however, cannot be duplicated. Even though our children have been on road vacations since they were infants (they are now 8 and 12), they still get thrilled when they see state welcome signs, mountains, farms, and sights like the Wytheville, Virginia Balloon Water Tower, and the Mason-Dixon Line.
It has become customary to spend the night along the route. We love strolling along the Tennessee River and swimming in the hotel pool in Chattanooga (Tennessee), while in Winchester (Virginia), we visit the shops and restaurants of Old Town.
6. Make a pit stop at exit eateries and rest spots that are seldom frequented
Road trips often necessitate stops just off the highway exit, which may result in extremely restricted options (especially in rural regions). Our family looks forward to the simplicity (and predictability) of dining at chains as New Orleanians pampered by some of the world's finest restaurants. Some of our favorite restaurants are Cracker Barrel (and its gift store), Waffle House, and Red Robin. Rest spots often provide interesting picture opportunities as well as complimentary travel brochures (perfect for road trip reading). The Virginia Welcome Center (look for the big "love" sign) is our favorite stop.
7. Make the experience more game-like
Our daughter counts the various deer she sees along the route in Upstate New York (the current record: 10). We also play a game called "species of the day" (today it was a snake, yesterday it was a fox). Anything on the road may be turned into a game: collect various state license plates, count the number of Honda Odysseys you see (including your own), study the highest peak, or play interactive applications together (our favorite: Exploding Kittens and Clue).
8. Compose your own music
Start your own playlist or search Apple Music or Spotify for car trip music. My kids now know all of my favorite 90s pop songs as a result of our travels. They've also learned to anticipate a karaoke-style rendition of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" every time we pass through West Virginia. As a result, when Mom isn't sleeping, we've learned to cope with demands for Jo Jo Siwa, Post Malone, Imagine Dragons, and Demi Lovato.
9. There are plenty of books, naps, and movies to choose from
I'm fortunate in that my spouse enjoys driving and that I'm a great passenger. When I'm not sleeping, daydreaming, searching up locations for our next trip, or on snack duty with the kids, I read books and listen to podcasts. On their iPads, the youngsters enjoy viewing their favorite movies. Road trips require you to leave your to-do list at home, even if you are the main driver. There are no errands to do, no home to clean, and no meetings to attend. It's really wonderful to be free of these responsibilities.
My family didn't understand how important road vacations were until we couldn't do them because of the epidemic. We missed the rituals, the camaraderie, and even the monotony of driving mile after mile. Most importantly, we squandered the opportunity to create new memories.
To have and keep, road vacations are like picture albums – huge collections of mini-trips and shared experiences. Even if the locations remain the same from year to year, the memories will be unique. As your children mature, so will their views, interests, and ability to drive long distances. Don't dismiss it until you've given it a go; even if you don't get hooked to the freedom of the open road as my family did, you'll remember your journey for a long time.