In the past four years, we’ve driven over 6500 miles with our kids. Sound like a living nightmare? Strangely, it’s not. My kids are good travelers. But I’ve also put some rules in place that make things go a lot more smoothly.
- Have an agenda. Kids don’t like ambiguity. Actually, neither do most adults. I always map our route and make our hotel reservations in advance. Even though it takes some time upfront it’s a great relief to have a plan when we get in the car and I’ve found it contributes greatly to marital harmony. (Of course you don’t want to talk to me in those days I’m making arrangements. Crabby.)
- Use a repeatable process. Years ago I decided I couldn’t pack for five people. I made a list (yes, it’s in Excel) that we use every year when we pack. I hand the kids the list, they gather their stuff and I give it a quick check before they put it in their suitcases. During the trip, I keep note of things we could’ve used and things we forgot and add them to the spreadsheet when we get home. That way I’m ready for the next trip.
- Give them a budget. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of the trip is the begging. You know, for every piece of junk or trinket they see along the route. I no longer want to police their purchases. Nor do I want to feel like a human ATM machine. I put aside an envelope with cash in it for each child. Once we’re on the road, they’re free to spend it on whatever they like – but once it’s gone, it’s gone. It usually takes one episode of buyer’s remorse for them to get the hang of it, but once you get through that it’s a great system.
- Make a two-year plan. This is my best tip of all. If you can, have your next year’s trip in mind while you’re on the road. We typically travel the same way (west) which makes it easy. Along the way, I pick up maps and information on interesting site and activities. When we get home I have a folder full of stuff for my next year’s planning.
We’re gearing up for another trip in August. And I’m planning to enjoy it.
Have any tips for travel? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.