This is part two of a nine part series on traveling, camping, and roadtrips with kids. Head to part one to read the intro and scroll down to find links for the full series.
Everyone says that vacations with kids aren’t actually vacations, they’re trips, and I mostly agree, but after this last one, I don’t think they have to be. I say this as a mother of three who just trekked three kids, ages 15, 13 and 4 and myself across 7 states for 14 days and I can honestly, truly, say it was a vacation, not a trip. Why? We got fully and completely away from our day-to-day life, were totally present in and with nature, soaked in real beauty, laughed so hard we cried, and took a break from the emotional weight of our regular lives.
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s the definition of a vacation for me- a full and enjoyable break from the regular. This was that. There was work involved, certainly, and my diligence in planning paid off tenfold, but once we left our driveway we were fully and completely on vacation, and it was exactly what we needed.
Through this series I’m offering details for how we made this trip a vacation. Details start with route planning, then move on to choosing and booking lodging before covering what to do during the drive. I’ve also offered a full rundown of what we did in each National Park and provided a detailed packing list and the schematics of how I set up my Honda Pilot for a two week road trip.
I cannot emphasize enough how advanced preplanning, researching, and the right gear make a world of difference for traveling and adventuring as a family. Traveling with children is not like traveling with other adults or alone, there are people counting on you to keep them alive and fed, and their needs are generally entirely different, if not actually in opposition to, yours. While there are certainly folks that prefer to wing it and enjoy the spontaneity of last minute finds, for me personally, both for my peace of mind and so that I can enjoy our time- the more I plan in advance the more relaxed I am and the more fun my kids have.
Here’s what I’ve learned about planning through a decade plus of traveling and adventuring alone with my kids, with a new layer of insight gleaned from this last vacation: