At least a few times a year we embark on long road trips. As neither my husband or I particularly like to drive, we had to come up with a way to make them bearable. Getting in the car and driving all night was not something we could do – the few times we tried it, we wound up exhausted the next day and essentially missed the first day of our trip. Talk about stressful!
Luckily, I’ve found a way to make the trip enjoyable. So much so that my kids would prefer to drive than fly! How did we do it?
- Attitude. This is the most important part – by simply reminding ourselves that the journey can be as fun as the destination, we hit the road with the right mindset. We’ve come to look at a road trip as a chance to relax (versus work), see something new, and have some great conversations.
- Try new restaurants. It’s a rare trip that we don’t break out Yelp when we start to get hungry and search up local restaurants. Once everyone starts getting hungry, I open the app, switch it to map view and start searching for places twenty minutes ahead or so of our current route. We’ve discovered awesome dive bars, amazing breweries, old-school drive-ins and everything in-between. The rule is it can’t be more than ten minutes off the road we are traveling, and it can’t be a chain. Other than that, anything goes. Yes, it adds time to our trip, but we’ve created a fun memory, enjoyed much better food and had some fun while getting to our destination.
- Plan an interesting stop or two. If the trip is really long, I’ll check ahead of time for things to do along the drive. We rarely drive more than 8 or 9 hours in a day, so adding an hour for a quick attraction is totally doable and combine that with a restaurant stop and it feels more like a vacation day versus a driving day. Some of our favorite adventures were taking a dairy factory tour in Tennesee (In Athens, TN if you are interested) complete with scrumptious ice cream cones at the end, visiting the location of the six million paper clip project (which was so powerful we still talk about it) and stopping at the Russell Stover’s Outlet on our way to Orlando.
- Be flexible. Aside from attitude, this is probably the most important part of enjoying the journey. If the weather is awful or you feel too tired to drive, change your plans and stop earlier – you’ll eventually get where you are going. See an interesting sign alongside the road? Why not stop and check it out? We have been known to stop to do everything from picking strawberries, visiting a local winery or even checking out the World’s Largest Golf Tee. These type of spontaneous moments are what memories are made of.
What do you think? Do you enjoy road trips? How do you make them fun? Since we won’t be stopping them anytime soon, I’d love to hear more ideas!
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