The call of the open road, the sense that a memorable adventure is about to begin and the freedom to go as you please: there’s nothing quite like a good old road trip.
4.3 billion people flew on airlines in 2018, many more took trains and some 27.2 million boarded cruise liners. But there are some places you simply can’t get to without a car.
The road trip remains as popular as ever. In America, a recent survey found that 51% of all Americans took at least one road trip in 2018 and now a travel company has even declared the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in the United States, as National Road Trip Day.
There is perhaps no better, more affordable, way to see a country than to explore it by car. And when it comes to family holidays, it delivers on a number of counts; giving you the chance to be more spontaneous and take responsibility for your own itinerary as long as you can overcome the obvious challenges of keeping the children confined to the back seat for long periods of time.
But if you are wondering how to plan a successful and peaceful road trip, here are five reasons why we think it is a fantastic family holiday.
Your children will go back to school with so much more to talk about after your road trip. If you plan your route correctly and involve the children in deciding what you choose to see along the way, you can actually teach them about the country they are visiting without them even noticing. Active learning, where your children discover things for themselves, is the best way for your kids to learn and the best way of guaranteeing that what they do learn stays with them.
2. Time together
Perhaps the best reason to go on a family road trip is that it can really bring you together. This isn’t a beach holiday where you shove the children into the kids’ club for a fortnight as you recline by the pool. This is genuinely about spending time together. As one. These days seeing children glued to their devices at the table in restaurants is commonplace. The road trip is the antidote to that issue. Agree on a limit on screen time each day and make sure it is clear and unequivocal.
Of course, keeping kids occupied is essential on any road trip. But once you give them clear guidelines on their devices, they will enjoy the sights on the open road, the stops you make along the way, and also enjoy rediscovering the art of conversation. You will be teaching your children a skill that is dying out in their generation and, in doing so, you will bring your family together in a very special way.
3. Save money
Road trips can be a fantastic way of saving money when compared to your traditional package holiday. If you plan your route carefully (as well as where you will stay along that route) you can arrange to self-cater rather than spend money in restaurants. By packing correctly you can also save money on the route by not having to spend funds on beach towels, sunscreen and all the other little things that stack up when you put it all together at the end of the trip.
One thing that road trips are wonderful for is seeing a plethora of destinations through the windscreen of your car. From Canadian mountain passes, to the stunning Lakes of Northern Italy or the jaw-dropping Amalfi coast, to Highway 1 in California and Iceland’s Arctic Coast Way. You can even navigate your way through the Sahara desert - off-road. Road trips can take you around the world, allowing you to experience different climates and cultures along the way.
5. Less stress
No airport rage, no dashing through train stations, no scrambling to catch a ferry - road trips can actually be a way to take the stress out of your family holiday. Yes, of course, driving itself can be stressful, as can kids getting tetchy in the backseat, but with a few key tips you can make things easier. So, make sure you plan plenty of snacks. Then, give yourself the chance to take plenty of breaks along your route, get out of the car and stretch your legs, and finally, allow far more time than you think you will need to get to your next stop. Do that, and then watch your stress disappear on the breeze that ruffles your hair as you drive along!