We love exploring new cities, touring historic sites and discovering new things as a family. Our kids have grown up knowing that when we see a brown road sign on the road, we are probably going to follow the sign and have an adventure. But not all families are growing up traveling and loving road trips. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next family road trip.
5 Tips for Family Road Trips
Eat like a local:
When we took a recent day trip to Nashville, Tennessee, we didn’t eat lunch at a chain restaurant. Instead we did a little research before we hit the road and found a small diner that features what some say is the best hot chicken in the city. The hot chicken was definitely spicy and tasty, but even better than the actual taste of the food was the opportunity to build memories with the kids. None of us will ever forget eating our spicy hot chicken in the van in the parking lot because the dining area at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack was packed.
Before you head to a new city, do a little research and find a local diner or restaurant to enrich your visit to a new area.
Play with fun pictures:
Sure, everyone can take a picture in front of the local landmarks with the typical smile and posed positions. But memories are made when you think outside the normal shots and do something a little random. When we were visiting the Parthenon in Nashville, my husband saw the opportunity to do some forced reality pictures. By standing far away from a large object, you can make the large object appear smaller than it really is. We had lots of fun trying to get the perfect shot of my family carrying the Parthenon.
Step outside your comfort zone:
Where do you typically go when you tour a new city or go on vacation? If everyone in your family can immediately think of the same answer, then it is time to step outside your comfort zone. We don’t typically tour art galleries, but on our visit to the Parthenon we discovered some unique things about Greek culture. If you have never been to the local baseball franchise near your city, check out the schedule. Check the local university to see if there is music recital going on.
Families often get into a routine with their activities. Do something a little random and you just might discover something you all love.
Unplug and Listen:
There’s nothing like getting away from the routine of work, email and laundry to help you focus on your family. When you decide to take time off for vacation, try to actually unplug. Disconnect from social media, don’t check emails so you can actually talk and listen to the ones you are with.
In our family, we collect magnets from the different historic sites we visit. Our refrigerator offers a snapshot of many of the places we have visited: museums, state parks, presidential libraries and famous people’s homes. These little souvenirs remind us of where we have been and prompt us to share our best stories of the trips.
My son collects e-pennies from different museums. These coins typically cost .51 and are a great source of pride for him as he shares his collection with visiting family members.
Some people collect sand from the beaches they visit and put them in small jars. I love the way we have displayed the sand and shells from one of our trips to Navarre Beach, Florida!
However you choose to remember your travels, find something that means something to you and helps you remember the special trips you take with your family.
Do you love to travel and explore new cities? Got any tips or favorite places? I’d love to hear!
Excerpts of this article first appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger 4/17/16.