Looking for Family Road Trip Ideas? Check These Out!

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One car, five people, 400 miles, 842 bathroom breaks. A formula for disaster? Not if you have a smart plan.

Whoever said “Getting there is half the fun” probably never drove cross-country in a minivan with three cranky kids and a carpet of crushed potato chips underfoot. But piling everyone in the car is still not only a cheap way to go, it’s also an American tradition: According to AAA, in 2012 between 85 and 90 percent of summer holiday travelers made the journey by car. And though extended vehicular togetherness always has its pitfalls (we’re looking at you, “The Song That Never Ends”), a little pretrip strategy should help you ride it out in peace.

Plot the Course Together
Get all passengers involved during the planning stage—yes, that means the small fry, too. “When parents say, ‘We’re going to drive from Chicago to San Francisco,’ kids can get stressed-out, because they don’t know what to expect,” says Elizabeth Foy Larsen, a mom of three and a coauthor of Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun ($15,

Before long trips, Larsen’s family sits down with a map to discuss which cities might make good overnight stops. Each person gets to pick an attraction that he or she would like to visit along the route. That way, everybody has something to look forward to.

Set a Realistic Timeline
This isn’t The Amazing Race, so don’t schedule eight-hour driving days, which will tire kids and adults alike. Larsen suggests five to six hours on the road, plus multiple breaks. (AAA recommends stopping every two hours or 100 miles.) In the middle of the day, break for a couple of hours. “Even if a stretch isn’t particularly exciting,” says Larsen, “you can surely find some reason to stop”—a park, a kooky attraction, a diner with a decent ice cream list.

To find out what’s along the way, download the apps Road Ninja and Roadside America. For local restaurant recommendations— including such regional specialties as New Mexico green chili cheeseburgers—go to Factory tours can also be surprisingly interesting. (At, you’ll find a state-by-state list of places that make everything from potato chips to baseball bats.)

Looking for more travel destinations? Then checkout this article with travel destination ideas that could be of interest to you.

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Looking for Family Road Trip Ideas? Check These Out!
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