An epic adventure – essential tips for a fantastic family road trip
Some of the most memorable experiences that families create involve vacations, trips that make lasting impressions on family members both young and old. Most people would love to travel to coveted destinations, deplane, and soak up the sights and sounds up close and personal. But the reality is, for a single father looking to make the most of a trip with his children, financial limitations might make this an impossibility.
It might be necessary to load up the family car and plan a family road trip that falls within your budgetary parameters. Driving may not be your first choice (especially if the kids aren’t of driving age yet), but you may find it’s the best way to have an experience that would have been impossible from 30,000 feet, especially if you follow these tips from single Dad Daniel at dadsolo.com.
Create a budget
One of the nice things about going by car is the flexibility it offers. You can extend a trip or cut it short if necessary. What’s more, you can take side trips because you’re not constrained by flight plans or someone else’s agenda. However, like anything else, it requires enough money to make it happen, especially if plans call for an extended trip. Creating a budget will establish some milestones and help keep you on track financially.
Use websites like Priceline and Agoda.com to get a feel for what you’ll incur in accommodations, figure your gas budget based on mileage and length of trip, and look for ways to cut food costs. Consider setting aside 10 to 15 per cent to account for unplanned expenses. If renting a car is outside your budget, consider buying a used car to avoid putting miles on your primary family vehicle. You’ll save money on repairs and limit wear and tear and you can always sell the vehicle once your vacation is over. Look online for the best deals and bear in mind the terrain where you’ll be driving.
Invest time in pre-trip planning
Here’s where you’ll create your itinerary and maintain your planned departure and arrival dates. This will make it easier to stick with your budget. If you’re staying in five or six different hotels along the way, decide where you want to spend the most time and arrange your budget accordingly. Take advantage of any discounts, such as AAA or online coupons, to save as much money as possible.
Opt for venues that offer free continental breakfasts so you don’t have to spend as much money on restaurants, and feel free to take food along with you. Consider reserving shorter stays toward the end of the trip and consider all options. If Airbnb is a possibility, look into it if it’ll save you money. Or, if everyone’s willing to camp out a night or two, be ready to pitch a tent and take along your sleeping bags.
Be mindful of length of trips
Take stock of your kids’ durability and how long they’re willing to stay in the car each day. There’s no point in planning a 12-hour drive from point A to point B if it’s going to make your children miserable. And think through your kids’ ages and whether they’re apt to fight in the car due to boredom or frustration. It may be that you can only realistically drive a few hours between stops just to break up the trip. And think through how long you can realistically expect to drive. Remember, this is your trip to pursue however you like, so don’t feel like your initial itinerary is set in stone.
Road trips are fluid experiences, so treat yours as such. If the kids see a sign for a zoo or a place with lots of video games, give them a couple of hours off doing something they really enjoy. You’ll probably roll past a lot of parks and playgrounds along the way, so don’t hesitate to let your children stretch their legs when needed.
A road trip is an odyssey of discovery, a way to bond with family over a shared experience and create memories. For a single father, it’s a chance to get close to your kids. Take every opportunity to make your family vacation an epic experience.
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