This summer, we set out on an epic family road trip that took us through nine states in 11 days! I know. We’re crazy. But actually, I kind of loved it!
Our road trip took us all the way to Yellowstone National Park, with some amazing stops along the way to visit family, drive the Rocky Mountains and see nature’s beauty on display at a glacier lake in the Grand Tetons. Honestly, I looked forward to this trip for nearly a year before we took it. I planned. I calculated. I googled. I anticipated.
And then, just a few days before we left, I second-guessed it all.
Could we really do it? Five people in one van for 11 days? Maybe I had over-estimated our capacity for adventure.
Thankfully, the trip was a great success and we’re already dreaming of our next one! Along the way, we definitely had some laughs, some stress and some incredible views of God’s creation.
Road Trip Funnies
- Kids these days have no concept of channel surfing. No concept. Neither do they understand how to watch TV commercials. And I quote, “But we already saw that one!” “Where did my show go?!”
- Apparently, pressing the elevator buttons and getting ice from the hotel are the highlights of childhood.
- Our youngest was convinced that we were going to have a snowball fight. We had tried to tell him otherwise. And then, driving above the tree line in Rocky Mountain National Park, we saw snow!
- Less than five minutes after entering Yellowstone National Park, we saw a huge bison right along the side of the road. We’re all going crazy and taking a million pictures! By the end of the next afternoon, we’re like, “oh, it’s another bison…”
- You can get crazy sun-burned in 75-degree weather. True story.
- Some of the geysers at Old Faithful put off quite the smell of sulfur. The kids had a field day with that.
- Nine-year-olds insist insist on buying ugliest shirts ever…and then wearing it constantly!
Road Trip Lessons
Someone will be upset about something at least 25% of the time. It might be one. It might be the other. It might be you!
>>Enjoy the 75% of the time when everyone is (semi)getting along!
Childlike wonder shouldn’t be rushed.
>>It should be encouraged and shared. Answer the questions. Read the signs. Let them take the ten-millionth picture with your phone.
Nature has an amazing ability to inspire.
>>Get your kiddos outside and let them explore! It’s good for their souls — and for yours.
There will be snacks. So. Many. Snacks.
>>Give up the fight and throw another bag of Cheetos to the back seat!
My children’s’ ability to watch movie after movie after movie is impressive.
>>Say yes, over and over!
Something will go terribly wrong. Like the 2-story, 3-bed cabin supposed to house your own family and other extended family members that actually turns out to be 1-story and extremely, let’s just say, cozy…
>>Make the best of it and learn to laugh at your mistakes.
Road Trip Hacks
Popcorn! A great hotel room snack. It takes up nearly no luggage and is something fun and new after a long day in the car.
Tomorrow’s clothes as PJs. Pack each day’s clothes as a set and have the littles put them on after their nightly bath. Then they’re already ready to go in the AM and you can get your bags (mostly) packed up the night before.
Pack your suitcases in sections. We had one big suitcase and a few other small ones. We had all of our toiletries in a backpack and then I split up the clothing by sections of the trip and that way we only needed one suitcase and the bathroom bag each time we stopped.
3 1/2. There is something amazing that happens at that age! We’ve done a lot of trips over the years, but my youngest being 3 1/2 has been a game-changer!!
Free stops & lunch in the car. Do them. All of them. Rest stops, lookouts, visitors centers. We saw a volcano in the middle of New Mexico, waterfalls in Idaho and gorgeous canyons in southern Utah. And we saved a TON of money by eating PB&J!
Snack bags. We actually made up little baggies for the first few days filled with different snack options. The kiddos got their bags in the AM and it was up to them to pick when and what they wanted to eat. They loved it, and so did we!
Plan, baby plan. And then be flexible! I had a whole binder of information and driving times and places to see. And some of the best stops we made weren’t even on my list!
Are you considering a family road trip?! I would say — most definitely — to do it, and let us know how it goes!