Lucy Riles: Most of my favorite childhood memories have involved roadtrips -- from tubing in Zion Canyon National Park to hiking the Grand Canyon, from climbing mountains in Colorado to coasting the waves in California. So why would this summer be any different? New husband. New dog. New tradition. Based on years of experience, here are my tips to ensure that your next family roadtrip is a blast ... not a bust!
Life Is a Highway: Sit down with your family to decide which places you want to visit. Since the summer is peak season for most national parks, you should really try and make hotel/camping reservations months in advance. Although hitting the open road and landing where you land sometimes sounds like a fun adventure, it won't be after the kids have been in a car for eight hours and it's dark and the GPS is wrong!
Little Deuce Coupe: Make sure your AAA membership is renewed, the car is checked and you have packed a roadside kit along with a first-aid kit ... just in case! Don't pack so much that it weighs down the car. Try to fill up every time you stop, to avoid running out of gas in remote areas. And if you are driving through the desert, keep the windows rolled down and put on the heat instead of the AC. I know it sounds crazy, but this can really prevent your car from overheating!
Can't Buy Me Love: No need to stop at every fast-food restaurant along the way (although stopping at a local diner every once in a while is a fun way to mingle with the locals). Fast food is both unhealthy and can get expensive fast. Instead, buy food in bulk ahead of time. Pack some good snack foods/fruits/veggies for the car, and include staple breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Make sure that the meat and milk do not go bad after a certain amount of days -- the last thing you need is someone getting carsick!
Thank You for the Music: Before the trip begins, each family member gets to create an iTunes playlist of all their favorite music. Then, on the road, everyone's playlist will be rotated in. This is a fun way to let everyone feel special, and expose yourself to music you would otherwise not have given a chance. In 1994, my older brother Tony played country music the entire trip from California to Chicago. I thought it'd be pure torture, but the opposite happened. I have been a huge country music fan ever since!
On the Road Again: Now that the car is packed and the kids are buckled in, it's time to hit the road. Be prepared with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Mad Libs and sketchpads. For the adults and teens, great books are key.
R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.: Our country has some of the most beautiful landscapes, sunsets, wildlife ... explore it all. This is a great way to visually expand your children's minds, exposing them to Mother Nature in all her glory -- the colors, the textures, the pure air and clear skies. If your family camps, build campfires, tell stories and roast marshmallows. If you're more of a hotel family, ask the front desk for hidden local treasures to explore.
This Magic Moment: This is a perfect opportunity to capture your family together in unique places, so be sure to take lots of pictures and videos. Try to be creative with your shots, and be sure to take some candid pics, which always capture a classic moment!
What family roadtrip suggestions would you make?