Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Family Roadtrip Tips

Every year, our family goes on a 2-3 week camping odyssey with our four kids and our pop-up camper. We go without an itinerary, hoping that we'll find a place to camp and fun things to do every day. In the past 9 years, we've camped from Maine to Seattle and from Michigan to Texas. 

This year, we followed the Mississippi River down through Iowa, Missouri, Memphis, and Mississippi to New Orleans. Then, we traveled west to Austin, Texas and back north through Oklahoma and Kansas.

Of course, it's important to have a great selection of healthy snacks, books and travel toys (we can help with that!) for each kid before you start out. But, here's some of our more quirky roadtrip tips:

1. Yes you can wash cloth on the road! Remember to bring your favorite detergent, a large wet bag, and lots of quarters.

Laundromats also usually have wi-fi, too, so they're a good place to catch up on the emails.





2. Every so often, leave the freeway and wander into a town and find the playground. Almost every town has one!

Small town parks are also a great place to have a picnic. We pack a cooler with fixings for cheese or peanut butter sandwiches, so everybody's happy.









3.  Seek out Farmers Markets, Food Trucks, and Festivals. They're a great way to get to know a new city with lots of activities for kids!

From left: at the Saturday Farmer's Market in Kansas City, getting tacos at a food truck in Austin, and eating crawfish (bugs! says Ellie) at Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans.




4. Non-toxic washable markers + a notebook = hours of car seat entertainment. At least it did for our Ellie, who filled up most of her notebook on our 2 week trip.

Sometimes she asked us to draw a cat first, then she would take over.










5. On this point we may be biased, but we always seek out indie toy stores when we visit a new city. They're always near other kid-friendly spots like parks and restaurants and their staff can always make great recommendations. Plus--a few new toys for the road!


Ellie playing a guitar in Austin and Duncan goofing with funny glasses in San Antonio.



6. Keep track of your progress! We've been adding stickers to our pop-up camper for 9 years now and we all get pretty excited every time we get to add a state. A journal or paper map would work great, too!

From top: Duncan and Riley in Oklahoma, Ellie in Texas, and Duncan in Kansas.










7. Collect squished pennies! Seriously--not only will you get a nice memento of your visit, but you'll also be able to escape most touristy gift shops for only 51 cents.
















8. Last but not least: Bring a baby carrier! There are so many awesome places to visit that are not stroller friendly. Wear your baby or toddler and you'll both see more and navigate crowds much faster!

Here's Millie and Ellie in New Orleans.


That's it! Happy travels to you this summer!

--Millie, Dan, Abby, Riley, Duncan, and Ellie
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