Summer is here, which conjures images of swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, and epic whiffle ball games.
There’s nothing I look forward to more than warm, lazy summer days.
You can’t talk about summer without talking about a summer vacation.
Some of the best memories of summer vacations when I was a kid include taking epic road trips with my mom and step-dad.
We would either hop in a car or our little camper and tour all parts of the west coast.
Places like northern California, Nevada and even as far north as Oregon. Much of my inspiration of taking road trips with my family is based on those memories.
That’s why incorporating an epic road trip as part of your summer agenda is a must.
Before you embark on your own version of the Griswold’s trip to Walley World, here are seven musts to make your family road trip epic.
1. Earn reward points while you are on the go.
Although the price of gas has tapered off in recent years, if you have a family of four or larger, family road trips can be very expensive. One of the ways to benefit is to take advantage of the reward points that travel credit cards offer. We currently funnel all of our personal and business spending to credit cards to take advantage of some amazing reward points.
One card to consider is the BuyPower Card from Capital One. The BuyPower Card will give you 5% Earnings on your first $5,000 in purchases every year, then 2% unlimited Earnings thereafter. Take advantage of these amazing Earnings, that don’t expire, to put towards the purchase or lease of an eligible, new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.
2. Have one major destination.
Anytime we take a road trip, we always have one destination in mind. Whether it’s to visit Pikes Peak, Lake Tahoe, or some national forest in northern California.
When my family and I went on our epic RV trip two summers ago, our main destination was the Grand Canyon. It didn’t matter what happened on the trip, it would be considered a success if we reached the Grand Canyon and back.
Having one major theme for your road trip gives it a general purpose so that the entire family is on board and excited about the destination.
3. Leave out the small details.
While I think it’s important to have one major destination in mind, you still can’t try to plan every single day and every single hour. You’ll drive yourself crazy.
Last year for our family’s spring break, at the spur of the moment, we decided to go to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. That was our main destination.
The part about what we were going to do when we got there? That was completely up in the air. We wanted to be spontaneous, and just figure it out as we went along. I can’t tell you how much less stressful that was, not sweating over the small details.
We still had a blast riding go karts, touring the Smoky Mountains and taking advantage of all the tourist attractions.
Take the stress out of your next vacation and be spontaneous.
4. Newer car helps.
I know, I know, I know. You’re saying to yourself, “What does a new car have to do with a road trip?” Hear me out.
I remember as a kid our car only had a cassette tape player. My step-dad would play his favorite cassettes over and over and over again. I didn’t have a personal stereo at the time so I was forced to sing along to popular songs from the late ‘60s.
Compare that to the SUV and the van that we have now which have CD players, USB ports, DVD players and TVs, which makes for much more peaceful road trips – especially if you have three crazy boys like we do!
If you are in the market for a new car, rewards credit cards like the Capital One BuyPower Card are great to invest in because you can redeem your Earnings whenever you’re ready to purchase or lease a new GM vehicle.
5. Car games pass the time.
Nowadays, tablets, DVD players and apps make trips much more enjoyable for mom and dad. But don’t let electronics be the only thing that occupies your kids’ time while in the car. Fun car games can be a blast and keep the entire family engaged.
Our boys love to play “I Spy” where one person finds something and then shares, “I spy something green,” and everyone else takes turns trying to guess what it is. We also play this game in a restaurant to pass the time until our food arrives.
Another game that is a blast on a long car ride is the Alphabet Game. In this game we take turns trying to find a sequential letter of the alphabet using road signs, license plates and buildings until we finish the entire alphabet. My middle son and I recently played this on a two-hour drive to St. Louis and he absolutely loved it.
6. Snack bags are a must.
We have three boys which are human trash disposals so if we had to stop every time we heard the words, “I’m hungry,” we would be stopping about every 7.5 minutes.
My wife and I both know that traveling with no snacks is setting ourselves up for family vacations purgatory. Snacks we pack include crackers, cookies and fruit snacks. You can also plan accordingly to bring fresh fruits and sandwiches packed in a small cooler. It is also important to pack water, juice or milk in the cooler.
Another must is packing baby wipes and a small trash bag. Kids have a knack for getting sticky hands in everything they do and believe me the car floor is a trashcan. These two items will save a ton of grief.
7. It’s About the Family
There’s nothing I want more than having the perfect family vacation, but what you consider to be perfect, might not be perfect for your wife and also for your kids. Make sure to put the family first. Make sure there’s joy in the time that you spend.
One of the things that we do at the end of each day while on family vacation is share our most favorite thing about the day and what we enjoyed the most. It’s fun to hear from our kids’ perspective what the best part of their day was.
It’s usually the simple things like, ice cream cones, a park playground or laughing at someone’s jokes.
It doesn’t always have to be epic in your eyes, just epic in your family’s eyes.
Have fun and safe driving!
Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! This is a paid endorsement. All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. Learn more about the BuyPower Card from Capital One.