Summer Family Road Trips

Tammie Dooley from Solo Road Trip.

After arguing the case for solo road trips and sharing her firsthand tips for new campers, Tammie Dooley tackles the topic of summer family road trips.

Texaco gas station
Texaco gas station. Photo by Jason Williams.

“Prior to a road trip with the kids, I listen to the training montage on the Rocky IV Soundtrack.” – James, from Louisiana.

The summer of 2009 may be the summer we rediscover the open road as the solution for the conflicting need of frugality versus the promise of rejuvenation. To extend the initial promise of the nostalgic memories Dads everywhere dreamily envision as they herd the brood into the family sedan for a view of roadside Americana, we spoke to a couple from Oak Grove, Louisiana. James and Angela, a road tripping couple with 5 sons ranging from 4 to 13 years of age, are brave and bold with their act clearly together. Their thoughts on how to plan a road trip with children that’s rewarding for all, follow.

The summer of 2009 may be the summer we rediscover the open road as the solution for the conflicting need of frugality versus the promise of rejuvenation.

The Preparation Stage

For the preparation stage, they recommend:

The Honeymoon, NASCAR, and Green Acres

Once the preparations are complete, and the initial “load” has taken place, James separates each one-way leg of the trip into 3 levels – the Honeymoon, NASCAR, and Green Acres.

The Honeymoon
The Honeymoon being obvious, he recommends taking advantage of it by doing specific planning for the upcoming sights or destination. “It’ll be the only time you and your spouse can have meaningful conversation. Make the most of it.”

During the NASCAR stage “the decibel level begins to increase, action figures begin maiming each other, games become louder and arguments over rights to certain toys emerge.” James says “You have to act quickly. Instead of arguing with the kids, frequently stop the vehicle and make some seat changes. Change the dynamics! The kids aren’t going to change their wants/needs so it’s up to you to outmaneuver them.”

At the NASCAR stage James predicts is the time when one or more of the kids will need to be disciplined. At the first sign of backtalk, calling names, or a general crappy attitude, “you must act swiftly.”  He adds, “And please, pull over to a rest stop to do it.”  “Make sure all the kids are witness to this, otherwise, you’ll be pulling over again in a few miles for another child’s errant behavior.”  Then he adds, “Fellas, once everyone is back in the vehicle, kiss your wife, tell her you love her just before getting back on the road. It sends a strong message that we parents are a united front and in control of this wagon!”

“At this point, you can call for nap time citing everyone’s poor behavior. It’ll buy you another 1-3 hours counting wake up time.”

Green Acres
Now for the Green Acres stage. “Your behind is tired, your legs stiff, and patience is running low. The newness of movies has faded, attitudes are seriously souring and even the adults are irritable.”  He recommends finding a rest stop and weather permitting “get everyone out of the truck and have the kids play tag, hide and seek, etc. Run some energy and boredom out of them. When we all get re-loaded, I don’t allow them to watch movies or play their electronic games, preferring instead to interact with them utilizing the old fashioned games of counting cars, identifying license plates, pointing out cows, horses, ducks, trucks, railroads, i.e., the “green acres.”

At this point, the kids are settled enough for a movie or electronic games. “Sit back, put some music on, and coast into your destination listening to your favorite tunes.”

About the author:

Tammie Dooley’s preferred mode of travel is on foot or by 4WD. All done solo, of course. Her blog, Solo Road Trip, is an attractively designed invitation to follow along on her journeys.

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Discussion »

  • #1Clay Mama

    The ideas are so good from the preparation to, during, and finally the arrival. This couple knows how to manage the show! I love the way he breaks it down into levels, very entertaining and so informative. I’ve a feeling the rowdy guys know that Dad means business, also! Another article beautifully written and presented by Tammie. I look forward to her next one!!

  • #2abby


    My boyfriend and I (28 and 26) are flying to nyc this summe and are going to do an east coast roadtrip down to miami and back up to nyc. We are happy to go a different route on the way back and maybe stop in tennesse and alabama. On the way way back we will probably only have 3 days maximum to get back to nyc. The trip as a whole will last 3 weeks but 3 of the days will be spent in the bahamas. can anyone advisde where we should stop or visit on our roadtrip (north to south or south to north). we have a rough idea but want to make the most of it. we are not into museums, and stuff like thart but we do like doing activities but again we have limited budget so any help would be appreciated!


  • #3christiangeorgeacevedo

    I always make solitary road trips and I like the feeling of the summer wind kissing my cheeks. It’s very relaxing just to sit down and watch sunset at different places where I’ve visited; there’s simply the difference in their color. But the best in road travelling is that I get to meet new people, new ideas, and new culture. Learning, indeed!

  • #4Tammie Dooley

    Abby, send me an email to [email protected] and we’ll discuss this in more detail!

  • #5Tammie Dooley

    christiangeorgeacevedo: that’s what it’s all about — DISCOVERY and LEARNING!

  • #6Dan

    I love taking road trips. Traveling is the best way to clear your mind and lift your spirits. It is also a good way to enjoy your family meeting new people.

  • #7Claudia

    Road trips seem like so much fun! Havent done one yet, they way they organize their road trip is amazing. Thanks for the tips!!

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