Have we got some great road trip ideas for you! Our family just finished up a long coast to coast family road trip. All told, our traveling party included Josh and I, Phil (of course), Grandma, Josh’s uncle Don and aunt Lynda, his brother Chris and our future sister-in-law Cari. Oh, and three dogs. Did I forget to mention that?
Road Trip Ideas #1: Pick up drivers along the way
Our travels started in good ol’ Long Beach, California. Chris and Cari flew down from Portland the day before, and the drive for day 1 was just a one hour jaunt out to Riverside. Our ulterior motive? To meet up with Uncle Donnie and his family. But more so to pick up Uncle Donnie for the drive. We had a relaxed easy evening having pizza and laughs with Aunt Yvonne and Josh’s cousins Michelle and Greg. Phil got to immerse himself in his cousin Thomas’ Hot Wheels collection.
The next morning, Uncle Donnie joined our traveling band of idiots to make way for Tucson, AZ. So far, so good! We took advantage of the La Quinta pool for a little end of the day relaxing, and were up and at em bright and early the next morning. Next stop? Las Cruces, New Mexico!
Road Trip Ideas #2: Take care of your pets
Pacing yourself on a long road trip is important, especially when traveling with dogs. Through the desert. In the middle of summer. We paused at lots of gas stations so the dogs could get out and walk around, and more importantly so they could get drinks of water. And also, so we could have an excuse to get tasty snacks ourselves.
Road Trip Ideas #3: Keep your sense of humor
It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling with a large group of friends or family or both. When you’re on a road trip with a large group of people, tensions can start to get a little elevated. People get tired. Emotional, even. Those are the most important times to keep your sense of humor. Because come on. You’re on a road trip and it doesn’t get any better than that. So suck it up, buttercup! Find something, anything to laugh at.
I really wanted to bring that armadillo home with me, by the way. If I had seen him at a roadside store, I would’ve. Unfortunately this dude was part of restaurant décor in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Oh you read that right! We made it to Las Cruces!
Road Trip Ideas #4: Visit family landmarks
Josh and I got to have a rare date night in Las Cruces. We were literally surrounded by family available to sit Phil for a while. So we went to dinner, and then drove by Josh’s old elementary school.
Even better was finding his early childhood home, and seeing how huge the little Christmas tree his family had planted has grown over the years.
Road Trip Ideas #5: Roll with the punches
We spent a few days in Las Cruces (see Idea #1 – we were on a mission to pick up my mom in law Carole and her sister Lynda as drivers). It was really great unplugging on vacation, and not knowing or really caring what was going on in the outside world.
Until we all realized that our plans to drive across the rest of the country on Interstate 20 was going to take us through Louisiana. And Hurricane Isaac was on the way.
So we rolled with the punches and planned an alternate route at the last minute. All of our prior hotel reservations? In the round file. Hours were spent poring over maps to plot a route that would (successfully) arc us over the inclement weather.
It’s so frustrating when your plans don’t work out… as planned. Ask Josh – I still have to work on rolling with it sometimes.
Road Trip Ideas #6: Have your road trip music ready
You better believe we had our “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed ready for driving through Texarkana! Music is one of the best parts of any road trip – here’s some of my faves that came up as we drove across the country:
“Country Roads” by John Denver
“D-d-d-d-don’t Stop the Beat” by Junior Senior
“The Heart of Rock and Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News
Anything by Marty Robbins sounds good on a road trip, but this time Phil told us to turn it off the second it came on. Because he listens to Marty when he’s going to bed, and obviously driving through Texas at 10am is NOT bedtime! He will let you play the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song over and over, though. True story.
Road Trip Ideas #7: Plan future road trips
As you travel, be on the lookout for future road trip destinations!
We found these cool watermelon festival posters in the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Hope, Arkansas – how fun would it be to go to that someday? I want to go to a small town festival like that where it’s so over the top everyone walks around dressed like watermelons or something. I went to a lobster festival in San Pedro a few years ago hoping for that and the most they had to offer were some lobster shaped hats. But a girl can dream.
Road Trip Ideas #8: Download the Mapquest App
Chris and Cari kept coming up with good places to pull off the road for breaks, like this Roadside Barbeque restaurant outside of Memphis. Don’t let the graffiti fool you, the food was delicious and the service was great!
But I kept wondering – how were they finding all these places to stop?
Turns out they had the Mapquest app on their phones! It’s great because it’s free, and narrates turn by turn directions so you don’t have to look down at your phone to read directions while driving. AND you can pull up a little menu that shows upcoming restaurants, truck stops, etc on your route!
Road Trip Ideas #9: McDonalds Play Land is your friend
When you’re traveling with a toddler, they don’t understand the whole concept of sitting in a car for extended periods of time day in and day out to get somewhere else. They need to get out and run around just like every other day.
So when you see a McDonalds is coming up, you stop. And you let that kid go nuts for a while. And probably buy him an ice cream cone while you’re at it.
Your own sanity will thank me for that.
Road Trip Ideas #10: Relax, and enjoy your family
In the end, you’re probably going to go crazy on your road trip. We finally made it to the east coast and we all almost killed each other at one point or another. But all told we had nothing short of an amazing time together.
Remember why you’re on that road trip, and enjoy your family.
Especially when they’re in the process of getting kicked out of the Days Inn in Birmingham, Alabama for getting stuck in an elevator. But that my friends, is a story for another day.
Like maybe tomorrow.
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