GET OUTTA TOWN!
Go away for the weekend on one tank of gas.
One of the easiest ways to make summer even more summery is to plan a weekend getaway on top of your bigger vacation. We’re talking about a one-tank road trip that takes you and the kiddos up to three hours away for fun and adventure but gets you back in time for day camp on Monday. Here’s how to gear up for a successful jaunt:
CREATE A RADIUS MAP.
Pick up or order a paper road map and set a max driving distance of, say, 150 miles. Draw a circle around your starting point so you can see at a glance all the fun places you can reach by car from your location. Got your destination? Head to a site such as Roadtrippers.com, which can suggest a route and help you navigate points of interest along the way, including everything from funky roadside attractions to historic landmarks. (Bonus points if you find stops that piggyback on your kids’ current obsessionsñ train museum, anyone?)
Book your hotel ahead of time to avoid hunting around for a room with sleepy (read: cranky!) kids in tow. Room77.com lets you search by amenities, such as free breakfast and a swimming pool, and allows you to quickly compare nightly rates across the Web. Now is the perfect time to stay in a less expensive hotel—kids are often happy to just splash around in the indoor pool, and many affordable hotels have one.
PLAN, BUT BE FLEXIBLE.
Book your lodging and map out a rough itinerary, making time for unscheduled stops along the way. Not everything worth checking out is listed on Tripadvisor, so pull over for dog parks and fruit stands that catch your eye. Look to locals such as hotel front-desk clerks and coffee-shop baristas for hidden gems and for tourist traps to avoid. Julie Furst Henning, owner of the travel blog Road Trips for Families and mom of three in Eugene, OR, adds, “I like to go to garage sales. I ask about the best places to eat and the most fun playgrounds for kids.”
STOCK THE CAR.
Snacks can make or break any family road trip, but most healthy options, such as cheese sticks and yogurt tubes, are good only for as long as they’re cold. Luckily, with a short trip, a sturdy cooler will keep grab-and-go snacks and drinks chilled for the duration of your adventure. No need to replace ice along the way. You’ll also want to pack in-car entertainment, but we challenge you to think outside the movie marathon and leave the ipads at home. Shorter rides are a great time to try out no-mess crafts like lanyards, finger knitting, and homemade busy books. (Check out our “Crafts You Can Make in the Car” video on our Facebook page for the how-tos.) Off you go!