Road Trippin' With Kids: Why Long Drives Are Better Than Flying
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
There was a time when packing up the car and embarking on a summer vacation with your family was the quintessential American family experience. Families took trips to the national parks, to campgrounds, across state lines and trekked across the country. But, that was the twentieth century.
Now, families are trapped in the vicious cycle of working more to provide the most basic necessities. Families struggle to get two full weeks of vacation together and almost always choose the most efficient form of travel: flying. But, as a lover of long drives (with kids), I'd like to share why road trips are still an amazing choice for your next family vacation.
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Let me preface with an important note (and full disclosure). My husband and I aren't a fan of flying. It's a fear of ours. Will we do it? Yes. Do we like it? No. I actually avoided flying for a few years and still need to take anti-anxiety measures leading up to flying. So there is that!
Here's another important factor why road trips work for us, our kids love long drives. I mean they LOVE a good car trip! And, they always have. When our daughter Mira was born, she would fuss and wail when the car was parked or stopped at a red light. But, coasting on the highway or on the open road, she quieted down instantly.
And, I still remember when my son learned to crawl out of his crib when he was two. We spent many nights riding along the coast of New Hampshire where we lived, lulling him to sleep! A car ride has always been our guaranteed back-up sleep aid. So, you can say we were a family built for long drives with kids! So, whether you've got kids like ours or share our same fears, here are five reasons why the road trip is a great alternative to flying for your next American vacation.
1. It's Cheaper Than Flying!
Flying is expensive these days. An average airline ticket costs about $400. Multiply that by a family of four and you're looking to part with thousands of dollars before your vacation even begins (Pray that your children are under two!) And, you'll need to research the cheapest date for your travel, the cheapest airline, and the cheapest airport. All to save you a few hundred bucks!
A round-trip cross country road trip will cost you about $400-500 or the price of one plane ticket! You can't beat that! Imagine what you'd be able to do with that extra money. Buy theme park tickets? Buy a guided tour at a National Park? Pay off a bill!
To get a sense of how much you could save go to the AAA website to calculate the cost of gas for your next family vacation! Compare it to your airline costs. I have a feeling, I know which one will win out!
2. There's More Room For Your Travel Gear!
We all know traveling with kids is an endeavor of stuff (as well as people!) You've got strollers and car seats, teddy bears and blankets, toys and books, possibly hiking backpacks and portable sleepers. This is on top of the clothes and the hats, little shoes and bathing suits. THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF when you travel with kids! For those who fly, you sometimes have to play the inni-minnie-minei-mo game to decide what you pack versus what you leave at home. Or worse, what you pack versus what you know you'll have to buy when you get there!
Of course, you can read a million articles on how to pack more efficiently but there will always be more room if you decide to drive. And, you don't have to worry about breast swiping anyone to get your stuff out of the overhead bin!
3. There's Room to Spread Out in The Car And It's Much More Private!
Seriously, this is the most important. It is much more comfortable and private riding in your own vehicle rather than flying. You can put your feet up on the dashboard rather than jostling for an armrest with a stranger. You can wear shorts, no make-up, or throw your hair up in a messy bun. You don't have to feel self-consious when you fall asleep! Am I drooling? Was I snoring? When your child has a meltdown (and trust me, they will), there won't be a dozen eyes judging you or passing on old wive's wisdom mid-flight. No, I'm not going to order a $15 bottle of rum to rub it on my son's gums!!
It's your space. It's your vehicle. You call the shots! Go ahead and recline your seat. All the way back! Blare your music. Stop at a rest area and use a regular sized bathroom. If your child is losing it, you can always pull over and regroup. Yes, flying will get you there in a quarter of the time but it's such a terrible inconvenience (and headache) with kids.
4. You Can See More Destinations in One Trip!
One of my favorite things about road trips is that you can stop along the way. We have driven up and down the east coast countless times and always stop somewhere new. On a trip from Boston to Florida, we stopped in NYC for lunch in Central Park! We made an impromptu decision to drive through the Painted Desert on our cross country road trip. And, we always stop in our favorite Washington D.C. checking out new museums and sights every visit. Whether you plan stops beforehand or just leave enough time available for side adventures, a family road trip gives you the opportunity to see numerous places in a short amount of time. And, more stops means more choices means everyone in the family gets to choose a destination. Let everyone (yes even the little ones) choose a destination along your route. Ya'll will have the best time reminiscing on whose stop was the best of the trip!
5. You'll Have Family Memories You'll Never Forget!
When is the last time you heard a family reminiscing about that great 20 hour plane ride? Exactly. Family road trips are a quintessential family experience because they bring the family closer together. Quite literally. It's close quarters. Maybe, you and your husband haven't even sat next to each other in a quiet space for a while. While the kids nap in the backseat, you have philosophical discussions you haven't had since before your first kid was born. You play classic road trip games from your childhood like the license plate game and I-spy, passing on family traditions. You have a two hour family jam session singing your favorite songs off-key. You eat so much ice cream! And, make a mess of your car. But, my goodness you make memories.
The family road trip is an intimate endeavor, just you and your family. There can be no greater gladness than a family making memories, sharing joy, and belly laughs.
If you haven't already, I hope you'll venture out for a long drive with your kids. Family road trips are seriously THE best and I think sometimes they get a bad wrap. Look for upcoming blog posts on how best to prepare for a smooth drive with your little tykes.