In Road Mode

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Family Vacations, Summer 1996

In Road Mode

Don't stay cooped up: seven day-by-day itineraries for an out-of-car experience
By Bob and Lee Carol Giduz

Our Favorite Places | Inside Skinny | Essential Gear
Last June, we loaded up our three children--Hannah, 11; Baker, 8; and Molly, 6--and took off on a sanity-testing 4,500-mile road trip. We were looking at two weeks of ten-hour days in and out of the car with the kids, who, like most siblings, go from harmony to hysteria in a matter of seconds. We knew the trip had major disaster potential, but somehow, by making up the rules en route, it now ranks as one of our best family vacations.

We covered 400 to 500 miles each day, with a lunch break and at least two sight-seeing stops, one of which included a short hike to burn energy. (The highlights were Colorado's Great Sand Dunes, skiing in the still snow-covered Rockies, President Harry Truman's house in Missouri, and Hallmark's card-making exhibit for kids in Kansas City.)
We involved the children as much as possible in the logistics because we wanted to do this trip with them, not for them. All five of us rotated through daily tasks outlined on a chore chart--menu planning, shopping, setting up camp, cooking, washing dishes--and each night we'd all pore over the next day's route. We learned not to let bad moments escalate into bad days, and that an unscheduled stop or enforced period of silence can be a quick fix.

Now when we travel by plane, we peer down at the ground, half wishing we were cruising the roads. While flying has the advantage of getting you to your destination quickly so the vacation can begin, a car journey itself is the adventure.

See Also:
The Zen of Car-Camping

Copyright 1996, Outside magazine

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