For families across the United States, the winter season is a great time to travel. The extended holiday break provided by Christmas and New Year’s, combined with a host of extended weekends thanks to Martin Luther King Junior Day and President’s Day, provide ample opportunities for a long road trip or just a quick weekend getaway. Though spring break typically brings to mind warm, sandy beaches, for many schools of all levels throughout the country, spring break is more of a “late winter” break than anything else. Cold temperatures, precipitation and unpredictable weather are the nature of winter travel, no matter your location.
There are many steps you can take to prepare yourself for winter travels, whether you’re heading to Key West, Florida to celebrate your spring break in the first week of March or heading up to enjoy the snow in the mountains for a long weekend in February. The first, and most important step in planning a successful, winter family vacation, is ensuring that you are prepared for the weather. There may be a plethora of options to check the weather, but it is always difficult finding a trustworthy source. Weather Underground is an app that uses real time, crowd sourced weather data in order to give users the most accurate weather predictions possible. Having a good idea of what the weather will be makes it possible to ensure you pack the right gear and clothes. Keeping warm and comfy is especially important with children!
Doing your research prior to your trip will help to ensure that your trip is a success. Knowing where you are going is an obvious tip, but figuring out the best tool to do so is not as evident. Waze, a traffic and navigation app, also uses real time, crowd sourced traffic data, to make sure that you are on the fastest route to your destination. If your kids are the type to ask “are we there yet” every few minutes, making the drive as quick and painless as possible is a must!
Keeping passengers (specifically, children) entertained for extended periods of time on the road is another key piece of a successful family road trip. Once everyone has tired of the timeless “License Plate” or “I Spy” games, you must look to Plan B. In 2018, Plan B can be a variety of things. Whether it is a book or some sort of electronic tablet, make sure you have something else in place. Many people have short attention spans these days, so having options is ideal. Cars like the Chevy Suburban, a premier family hauler that has withstood the test of time, feature many. The incredibly long list of available options includes rear seat entertainment, Apple Carplay, power outlets to keep devices charged, in-vehicle Wi-Fi, rear climate control and heated seats, and weather-proof floor mats. Each of these options make a long, winter road trip much more comfortable.
Doing your homework prior to your road trip is a necessity. Imagine planning a trip to one of the country’s many National Parks, only to find out that the flagship feature you were hoping to see was closed for the season. Though a road trip can easily be adapted to changing conditions, it would be very difficult to stomach the disappoint of not seeing what you had initially hoped to. Research is especially crucial when traveling to an area you have not visited in the past. Whether you’re heading to an amusement park, festival, or the beach, don’t let anything surprise you! Do your research before you go to ensure that you don’t end up like the Griswold family in the 1983 film National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. Give that a watch to see what happens when you don’t do your proper research!
Though it is important to research your destination thoroughly, it is also important to remember that a road trip is not just about where you are going, but also about how you get there. The old cliché “half the fun is getting there” definitely rings true. A family road trip is a great way to experience a new part of the country. The regional differences within the US are amazing. From food and culture to music and climate, crossing the country by vehicle is a unique experience that every American should have at least once. One of the best parts of a road trip is stopping at any weird roadside attraction that you encounter. Specifically within the southeastern part of the country, road trippers can visit a mermaid theatre, an underground cave system, or even an alligator farm! Planning is key for a successful road trip, but don’t forget to enjoy the drive on your way!
A road trip is an amazing family experience and something that families of all sizes and ages should strive to take. Crossing the country, or even the state, by car, affords road trippers plenty of time to make lifelong memories. The country is full amazing people, places and things and a family road trip is one of the best ways to experience them all. So do some research, pick a place, plan your route, load up the car, and hit the road – new experiences are waiting!
Author: Jeremy Alderman
Author’s Bio: Jeremy is an online journalist who focuses on travel, pet-care, and family lifestyle-related trends. He is passionate about everything sports, as well as board games, his family, and the great outdoors. He can often be found splurging in episodes of Game of Thrones with his new mini-Aussie puppy, Cooper.