Steve Griswold, all-around awesome dad and owner (along with his wife, Lisa) of PixieVacations.com, has recreated the Wagon Queen Family Truckster (yes, just like the one from National Lampoon’s Vacation) for the road trips he takes with his family. They took a drive along the remains of iconic Route 66 last year, and he’s offered Skyscanner – and our readers – some sage advice to make your family vacation a great one.
1. Experience the journey, not just the destination
We traveled over 2,800 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, to Wally World (Six Flags Magic Mountain) in California. Of course we stopped at The Big Texan to take the 72oz steak eating challenge, we painted Cadillac’s at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Where else can you give your kids spray paint to show off their artistic talent on a statue of 10 Cadillac’s created for the public to paint?
Did you know that the Spinach Capital of the world is in Alma, Arkansas? Neither did we, but we stopped in this little town and drove down the classic Route 66 looking main street and enjoyed taking photos and playing in the fountain with our kids. There’s even a status of Popeye in a little courtyard garden.
These little side trips are what you will remember on your vacation, so don’t race by them, enjoy them and make them park of your trip.
2. Make a packing list, and check it twice
You don’t want to forget your cellphone charger, camera, medicines, or sunglasses, so make a simple packing list before your trip.
We start making our list a week before we travel and add to it as we think of things. We then highlight, or check off, each item as we start to pack. By marking everything off as you pack it, you can be sure to not forget the sunscreen for the kids or those other hard to remember items.
3. Keep the kids entertained
If you’re taking a road trip there can be lots of hours spent in the car. On our 10-day road trip on Route 66, we spent over 38 hours in the Truckster. That’s a long time in a cramped car with a four- and nine-year-old. I have to say having a cigarette lighter and ashtray in every car door of the Griswold Family Truckster was a blessing in disguise. Each kid now has a place to plug in their electronics. But the idea of a road trip is to see the sights, while also playing family road trip games, filling in coloring books, and other activities while you travel. So get some Mad Libs, and share those road trip games you use to play with your kids, punch buggy can hurt after ten days.
For long hauls a movie or two can also help. Redbox is prefect for this. We would rent two movies in Memphis, drop them off in Oklahoma City, then rent two more. You can find Redbox movie rentals all over the place and rent and drop them off all over the United States.
4. Be safe and prepare for the worst
During the first Griswold road trip up to Chicago I learned a valuable lesson, be aware of your surroundings from the weather. I’m from Florida and have never driven on ice, or in snow, and we were taking a two-day road trip from in the middle of winter. The car was fine but I stepped on a patch of ice at our hotel and landed face first on the asphalt. Of course I didn’t plan for any accidents, and all we had were Hello Kitty Band-Aids. I was bandaged up for about a week and the first day I was covered in Hello Kitty from our kid’s first aid kit. So pack a real first aid kit, some bottled waters, charge your cellphones, and bring a fire extinguisher. Plan for emergencies just in case they happen. Your vacation should not be a Griswold Vacation movie riddled with road-side disasters, but be prepared so you have the peace of mind and can enjoy your trip.
So pack up and explore America on a classic road trip, or hop on a cruise ship to see the Caribbean. Wherever you travels take you, create magical memories for years to come and share those experiences with me, I’d love to hear about your adventures.