It’s the vacation time of year again. Like most families, we vacation by family road trip. It’s what we’ve always done and it really is our favorite way to travel. Besides being a relatively affordable trip—with a family of six, gas is almost always cheaper than any other mode of transportation—we get to see the USA, spend time together and be relaxed. We’ve learned over the years not to plan too many hours in the car on any one day and to be agreeable to stops. Whether it’s a photo stop (yes, we have LOTS of these), a sight-seeing stop or just a leg stretcher, we’ve factored in stopping time for all our travel days.
One thing we don’t stop for fast food. We like to pack a cooler with our daily lunch, and take everyone’s favorite snacks and lots of water bottles. If we’re not staying with friends or family, we generally plan one restaurant meal per day in a sit-down eatery. We al so make sure everyone has things to do in the car—puzzle books, books to read and some handheld electronic games or music players are our kids’ top choices. They also like to play travel games like the license plate game and cows & graveyards.
Road tripping has also taught our kids to travel light. I am not a fan of the car-top carrier, so everything has to fit in the back of the van—that usually means one small duffle & one daypack per traveler.
Since we’ve nearly always driven old cars (my current car is 15 years old & we’ve driven it to Florida, South Dakota & Utah in the last two years with no problems), we’ve learned that proper vehicle preparation can make all the difference for a road trip. At the end of this post, you’ll find a nifty infographic that will give you the rundown on prepping your vehicle for the trip.
This summer, the agenda called for a trip to visit family in Utah. It’s a trip we’ve made many times before, but often we just need to get there and get home as quickly as possible, so we haven’t always made time to explore between here and there.
This year, we decided to change that. Even though I-70 is my favorite freeway drive (except in the winter-here’s why), we decided to take an alternate route this time. We opted for US-40, taking us through Steamboat Springs, Dinosaur National Monument (a family fave) and Vernal, Utah, on our way to visit family in Utah Valley.
From there, we took US-89 down the middle of Utah, stopping off at Spring City (to visit my ancestors in the cemetery), Manti and Bryce Canyon and then traveling through Zion to make our way to Grandma’s house in St. George—making it definitely an “over the river and through the woods” trip. Once at Grandma’s we made day trips back out to Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Cedar Breaks and Kodachrome Basin for hiking and photography (I could hardly call myself a photographer and NOT visit Kodachrome Basin, right?).
Stopping in Manti we discovered it was Manti Pageant time. Since we’d never been, we decided to stop in on our way back to Colorado. Thanks to one of my wonderful online friends, we had terrific seats and a great visit, and finally got to experience one of the events that has been on our list for years.
We opted for the easy route home, taking I-70 across Utah and Colorado, breaking up the trip with a little sightseeing at the Colorado National Monument (in case you’re counting, that’s two national parks, three national monuments, two state parks, an LDS church historical site, and a city park–in Steamboat Springs) and dinner at our favorite Grand Junction eatery, Starvin’ Arvin’s. We would have had three national parks but there were fires near Rifle Falls both on our way out and our way back so Rifle Falls will have to wait for another adventure.
How about you? What’s on your vacation for this summer? Are you planning a road trip, a staycation or something more this summer?