Written and photographed by Josh and Jenny Solars of The Happy Family Movement.
It’s unfortunate that the family road trip has gone the way of cassette tapes. Sure, there are still families out there that love to go on road trips, but we seem to be in the minority.
And hey, I understand… it’s not easy traveling in a car for hours on end with little people. But, I’m here to tell you, not only can you make it easier and tolerable, BUT you can make it FUN and ENJOYABLE! It’s totally possible… our family is living proof!
We took off on our first family road trip in the summer of 2009 with our three little kids— Max was 4 1/2, Ava was 2 1/2, and Lia was almost 1. We drove from Kansas City, Missouri to Durango, Colorado. Since then, we’ve road tripped to New Orleans, driven the ENTIRE length of Route 66, road tripped through the Great Smoky Mountains, driven from Kansas City to Washington D.C., and road tripped around Oregon.
Once we took that first trip, we were hooked. And over the years and throughout our many family trips, we’ve discovered some great ways to bring your own fun. Some of these were random moments of brilliance and others we simply stumbled across.
Five Tips for Family Road Trip Fun
1. Make a road trip playlist. If you have an iPod, just create the playlist in iTunes and then put it on your iPod. You can also burn a few CD’s. We recommend upbeat, fun, happy music to get everyone in a good mood. Songs that everyone can sing along to are a great choice too! Either way, don’t leave your road trippin’ tunes up to whatever radio station you can tune into at the moment… come prepared!
2. Get the Fun Finder. Anytime you need to get some fresh air, pull off at a roadside park or rest area and use the Fun Finder to help you decide on a fun family activity. And don’t be afraid to join in with the kids. Family road trips are all about memorable FAMILY experiences and that means YOU need to be involved!
3. Stock up on goodies. Before you leave, head to the Dollar Store or hit up the dollar section at Target. Load up on goodies like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, glow bracelets, plastic dinosaurs, and anything else that catches your eye. Stick all of your goodies in a box or a bag and take it with you on your road trip. Anytime you need some fun, pull over and pull something out of the bag. We’ve been known to bring out our goodies IN the car at times that we couldn’t stop.
4. Actively seek out cheesy gift shops and random quarter machines. You never know what amazingness you’ll find. When we were in the Southwest, we picked up a giant sombrero and used it as a photo prop. When we were in Colorado, we bought stick-on mustaches from a quarter machine. Look for adventure and fun, and you’re sure to find it!
5. Get The Happy Family Movement’s Adventure in a Box: Road Trippin’ kit. The kit comes complete with a manual that walks you through our planning process from beginning to end. That includes choosing where to go, what to pack (and what to leave behind), how to make the most of each day, and what to do when everything goes south all at once. (Hint: it involves our very best pulled-over-by-the-side-of-the-road-game.) The Road Trippin’ kit also includes activities with detailed instructions. Lots of ‘em. All wrapped up and assigned for specific times of day during a seven-day road trip. The activities build fun right into your family outing.
Josh and Jenny Solar are parents to three kids, Max, Ava, and Lia (and a basset hound named Banana). In addition to being full time photographers, they created The Happy Family Movement in the spring of 2011 to encourage and inspire family togetherness through memorable family experiences and simple ideas for happy family living. The overarching goal of The Happy Family Movement is to rewrite the way our generation views raising kids… to seek out a happy family and find the JOY in parenting all over again.
Join the Discussion
Doesn’t the Solar family make road trips look super doable and so much fun? Share your road trip experience with your little ones in the comments below. Any tips you could share? And don’t forget to check out our Top 12 Things to Bring on a Road Trip and read about this cross country road trip here. Happy road tripping!