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There is a special kind of potential in a road trip:

The freedom of hitting the open road, being able to slow your travel, and having the flexibility to do what you want, when you want. While much of our travels in this modern world are simply about getting from point a to point b, a road trip is about stopping and smelling the roses. Bringing children on a road trip shouldn’t detract from the fun, but instead add to it. Here are a few tips for planning a great road trip for everyone in the family.

Plan as a Family

The best way to get your family excited about the trip is to enlist the entire family in the planning of the trip. Roadtripper is an amazing (free!) app that can help you chart a course AND find great attractions along the way. Simply enter your destination and the app will calculate trip time and mileage (and even approximate gas cost!). Next, view a map of your route and discover attractions, restaurants, outdoor recreation spots, and more along the way. Let each member of your family select at least one attraction that they want to see. This will help to keep them excited and engaged in the trip.

Factor in LOTS of Stops Along the Way

Don’t forget to slow it down. Actions like getting out the door in the morning, eating lunch, stopping for the bathroom (…and how many stops you may need to make for the bathroom…) could be quick stops or they could take forever. Your attitude toward these breaks is one of the best determiners of the success of your trip. Go with the flow and leave plenty of time for adventures.

Leave the Interstate

Yes, the typical fast food restaurants are conveniently located just off of most freeway exits, but driving even a few miles into the center of a town can open your eyes. Maybe you’ll see a 30-foot-tall Apatosaurus, an entire house constructed from beer cans, or even a giant gorilla holding a VW Bug (yep, these are all real roadside attractions). Leaving the interstate will also open your eyes to regional cuisine. Great food is a staple to any good road trip. Speaking of food, when you do stop at convenience stores and gas stations, check out the candy aisles. You just may find a new favorite.

Don’t Forget the Entertainment

Technology can be a huge help on any road trip! The ability to play movies, stream cartoons, and play handheld video games can keep the peace and help the miles to fly by. But don’t simply count on screens to entertain your family. Take a turn in the backseat. As you sit with your kiddos it’s a great time to go back to staple road trip games:




Wherever your road trip plans take your family, don’t forget: The joy is in the journey.

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Webster’s defines safari as “the caravan and equipment of a hunting expedition especially in Eastern Africa.”

But it is also defined as a “journey or expedition.

For the purposes of family fun, we will go with definition number two.

However, there are a few added elements to a family safari. You must have:

  1.  A direction

  2.  A camera

  3.  A beverage of choice for each participant

  4.  An attitude of discovery and adventure

Get ready for a family fun adventure!

A safari doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars and start with malaria shots and updated passports. You have a safari just outside your front door.

In our family, we have a special definition of “safari,” and if your family chooses to adopt it, we promise you will have tons of fun and make some etched memories that will last a lifetime. Family fun can be hard to come by as kids get older and schedules take over the calendar. But the kind of safari we are talking about can be squeezed in between swim practice and a birthday party, or a trip to the dentist and a visit to the grandparents.

Want an excuse to connect with your kids of all ages? Grab your best hat and let’s go.

The safari starts in your driveway.

Load up all your people and whatever you need for a day (or several hours if that is what you have available). Make sure someone has a camera to capture the moments and surprises. If your children have phones or electronic devices, leave them at home. This may cause irritation at first, but once you get going, they will get over it. The point is to be together and in the moment, not perfecting the photos for an Instagram post.

First stop is your favorite watering hole (or drive through) to make sure everyone has a beverage. Choose a direction. This should not be cause for a family feud. You can simply elect one person, perhaps the youngest, to choose north, south, east, or west. For advanced safari-goers, you may also choose double directions like northwest or southeast. Then your trusted safari leader, AKA driver, finds the closest road headed in that direction, and you’re off.

There are two keys to a successful safari.

1st- Only the navigator is allowed to use an electronic device, and this should be done sparingly if at all. Once you have chosen a direction, it is ok to get lost or just continue heading in that direction until time to come home. Searching for directions home is totally allowed, and even encouraged if you have a set deadline to be back to civilization.

2nd-  You must stop at every interesting opportunity, no matter how odd or simple it may seem. That strange store with the Godzilla statue out front, perfect photo opp. The restaurant with the parking lot full of pickup trucks, a must. The big field of cotton or soybeans or sunflowers you just want to grab a closer look at, yes. If there is one of those antique malls with stalls of fabulous junk, give each person a small amount of money and a time limit and see who can purchase the most interesting item.

This is a great chance to teach your children some fun ‘old school’ car games.

Fun games like license plate bingo, who has the most cows or horses on their side of the road, the ABC’s of the roadway, or other things you remember arguing with your siblings about from the backseat (with no seatbelt of course). Questions like, “What animal would you be and why?” or “If you could have any famous person to dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?” can be fun ways to kick off interesting conversations. Here are some more from you could even print to take with you.

In an age where it is harder and harder to carve out time to just be together as a family, a safari is an oasis for some family bonding and laughter1st-