Road Trips

Experience the USA Via the Great American Road Trip

A road trip in the USA is an experience like no other. Don’t let the opportunity to see America in the family car pass you by because you are waiting for the perfect time. There is no better time than the present.

This past summer my hubby and I have been on more short road trips than ever before as we have tried to travel responsibly during a pandemic. It has been so much fun and we have been able to discover some real hidden gems and enjoy some new experiences.

Buckle Up, Buttercup

Pack your bags. Grab some snacks. Jump in the car. Gas up and get going on your adventure!

Buckle up to experience the USA via road trips.

The fact is that the USA is an amazing country and a road trip is the best way to get a taste and appreciation for that it offers. The USA is so expansive and there are so many regions and cities each with their own sub-culture and history. I am fascinated when I arrive someplace new and get learn their unique history, wildlife critters, and pop culture. No two places are alike if you stop to experience them.

Weekend Getaways for the Win!

For example, late last spring my hubby and I decided to do a long weekend in Richland, Washington. Although it’s a fairly small city, it is becoming a real up-and-coming place to visit. It is surrounded by wineries and has lots of outdoor activities like fishing, boating, paddleboarding, biking, and a 7-mile walking path along the Columbia River.

We stayed at The Lodge at Columbia Point. It was located right at the beginning of the 7-mile Riverfront Trail along the Columbia River. It was within easy walking distance of some fantastic restaurants like LuLu Craft Bar and Kitchen. (I highly recommend the fish ‘n chips.) It was a beautiful hotel, the staff were very friendly and attentive, and we had a view of the river from our room. An added bonus was the fact that they had free bikes for hotel guests to use if they wanted to take a ride. We enjoyed it so much we went back just six weeks later to see more of the area.

The walking path along the Columbia River had markers that gave tidbits of information about the area. You can learn about native species of animals in the area as well as some local history. For instance, did you know that during the Cold War Russian submarines would cruise up the Columbia River hidden from plain view?

Driving Around the Bend…

Road trips can take you north to south, east to west, kitty-corner from Washington to Florida…or any route in between. Does your bucket list include visiting each state in the USA? A road trip is the perfect way to knock out those bucket list destinations.

There are tons of books, magazines, websites, and blogs to offer advice on how to experience a road trip in the USA. No excuses not to get started. We will be offering our own articles on planning, itineraries, snacks, and lots of other great advice for road trips.

Is there anything specific you want to know? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below so we can be sure to include content you’ll find helpful.

Wanna take a foodie road trip with your sisters? Visit all the National Parks with the kiddos? How about a New England Fall Foliage with the parents? Surfboarding on a river (yep, that’s a real thing)? We have you covered!

Connecting the Dots on the Map

The opportunities and itineraries are pretty much endless. Wanna take your kids on a walk, bike, or drive through a tunnel cut into a giant sequoia tree? We’ll be discussing lots of options, so simply pick and choose the ones that speak to you! No two people or families are alike. That’s okay! That’s one of the things that makes this country so awesome!

If you only have time for a day visit, there are lots of little getaways near you to check out.

A perfect little day trip from our house is the little Bavarian village of Leavenworth. As you drive Highway 2 through the Cascade Mountains in Washington, you just might miss it. This little town used to be a lumber town. However, when the local lumber industry looked like it might be in trouble after the cross-continental railway threatened to take it out, the town had a German makeover.

Leavenworth, Washington, is the perfect little Bavarian town nestled in the Cascade mountain range.  See it via a USA road trip.

There are lots of great little restaurants serving bratwursts and wienerschnitzel. On a nice summer afternoon you can see polka performances, browse art outdoors, and visit all the cute little shops. During the summer, you can see an outdoor performance The Sound of Music set against backdrop of the alps of the Pacific Northwest.

If you enjoy the outdoors, take a whitewater rafting trip down the river. If you enjoy hiking, enjoy a short hike in the nearby Alpine Lakes Wilderness area or the Wenatchee National Forest. With all the available activities, Leavenworth makes for a great road trip destination in the USA.

Are Road Trips Good for Families?

I would say a resounding yes! How you approach a road trip like the length of time and the activities you choose will help you create the road trip perfect for your family. Similarly, awesome trends in the travel industry are making travel so much more family-friendly.

Read More: Trends in Travel Making Family Friendly Travel All the Rage

And if you have concerns about traveling with little ones, you can determine the best type of trip (and destination) for your family. With a little planning ahead of time, there is no need to worry about traveling with the kids.

Read More: What is the Best Type of Trip for Your Family? and Conquer the Top 4 Worries of Traveling with Kids

And always remember: The family that plays together, stays together!

Meet the USA via the great-American road trip! Create an itinerary that speaks to you. Sign up below to keep informed of all the latest activities and news in family travel.

    Family Travel and Reunions

    The 6 Top Travel Trends for Families

    Trends in family travel have changed a lot over the years. Some old trends are reappearing while others are disappearing.

    I’ll never forget how my first family vacations were made in a car. We were two adults and five kids trapped in an station wagon traveling cross country…no air conditioning, no seat belt laws, kids piled everywhere and poking each other in the ribs when we thought Mom and Dad couldn’t see us.

    My favorite spot was in the very back of the station wagon where I could lay down and sneak cookies my mother had baked and hidden back there for the trip. It was always chocolate chip cookies and whatever else she decided on.

    These road trips are decades removed from when they happened, I have lots of great memories, laughs, and stories to tell. That’s one of the best things about family trips, right? The stories of the shared experiences we’ve had with our family…even when they didn’t seem so funny at the time.

    Try to Think Out-of-the-Box for Family Travel

    This year is a fantastic one for families to get out and spend time together. There are more ways to travel than ever before. From a good old-fashioned road trip to reliving the stories of your family roots to vacations now include multiple generations…and even if they live half a continent away, grandparents are able to plan vacations alongside their kids and grandkids through the magic of the internet.

    And thanks to social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the younger generations are able to see destinations near and far, look up accommodations for every budget, and are often eager to help in the planning (even when their wallets aren’t as full as grandma’s).

    It is no secret in the travel industry that the past 10 years have seen the baby boomers as the most active generation of senior travelers in history. They are eager to pass their passion for traveling on to the next generation. They have found that skip-gen travel provides a way to enjoy special experiences and reconnect with other family members who don’t live nearby.

    Baby boomers are starting to realize that the “family reunions” of their days don’t interest their millennial grandkids. They are adjusting and adapting and redefining what family travel looks like.

    We are starting to see new trends emerge. Here are the top six trends in family travel:

    Trend 1 – Family Cruise Vacations

    Cruising is currently the fastest-growing segment in the travel industry. It’s popular because it offers something for everyone in the group – zip lines, escape rooms, music and live entertainment, family pools and adults-only pools. And the room choices…something for every budget from inside staterooms to two-bedroom suites with a grand piano.

    Taking cruises to Alaska is the perfect trend for the family who wants to travel and experience nature.

    Cruises are simple to coordinate and do not involve a lot of decision making. Our extended family has been lucky enough cruise to the Bahamas, Panama Canal, Alaska, and the Pacific Coast together. We will be checking something off Grandma’s bucket list soon. A cruise that stops at the Anne of Green Gables house at Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is perfect.

    Trend 2: Family Genealogical Travel

    One of the most recent family travel trends is what is being called DNA or Genealogical Tourism. This type of vacation allows you to trace and experience your family’s ancestry and heritage by visiting the land(s) of your ancestors.

    Shows such as Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? have made families eager to know more about how their ancestors lived. DNA tests along with websites such as Ancestry.com have made it easy to identify where in the world your family came from.

    Your great-grandfather came from the Sicily area? Go experience Sicily and see what life would have been like there and make Sicilian pizza with a local chef. It is just the way Great-Grandpa would have made it.

    This type of family has been growing so rapidly that in 2019 Lonely Planet named it the Top Travel Trend for 2019. Many tour companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering offering heritage-themed vacations for DNA/Genealogical travelers.

    Trend 3: Educational Trips

    In today’s family, many parents are eager to have their children enjoy educational experiences while traveling. An educational trip does not have to be dragging your kids through museums after museum. But if your kids enjoy that, by all means oblige them.

    You can go visit Colonial Williamsburg and experience what life would have been like in colonial days. Or take a whale watching day cruise with a naturalist to learn about sea life in its native habitat. Go climb through some historic forts…the possibilities are endless. Shhh…don’t tell the kids they’re learning something; they’ll never know.

    These trips and immersive experiences are not difficult to find. Many cruises and all-inclusive vacations even offer excursions that lets you and your kids experience the local history and culture of the places they visit.

    Trend 4: The Great American Road Trip

    I love watching old home movies and looking at old family photos of our family piling into the car as we set out on the road for a good family road trip. A road trip is the American classic of all family vacations. It conjures up scenes that we can relate to from the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase.

    For a long time, families were moving towards flying to destinations, but we are seeing a huge trend moving back towards the road trip as family are rediscovering the combination of benefits of the bonding on the open road.

    A road trip allows for quality time with your family. And while some of you may be thinking it’s no fun listening to your kids tattle on each other…”he breathed on me”…believe me that in 15 years your kids will be laughing about spending seven hours a day in the car with their brother or sister.

    A road trip has more opportunities for spontaneity. Road signs often indicate opportunities to stop at a lookout for a spectacular view or driving by an historical landmark that you didn’t know existed. And with spontaneity comes increased chances for unplanned adventures.

    The National Parks are Great Stops for a Road Trip

    The most often visited places on a road trip are the U.S. National Parks. The Grand Canyon and the Smoky Mountain National Park have recorded record visitors the past few years. Lots of people know about the beauty and majesty of the National Parks, but it’s the the special programs offered by the National Parks Service like the Junior Ranger Program that makes these destinations even more fun for families.

    The trend for road trips in family travel allows the family to enjoy the parks like Arches National Park together.

    A few years back we did an family road trip with my brother and his family. After a long drive from Moab to Seattle (with a stopover in Salt Lake City), we spent five days hiking through Arches National Park…including a permitted hike through Fiery Furnace for which we were inadequately prepared for.

    We can laugh now, but it was NOT funny at the time as we were climbing through rocks like Spider Man in regular tennis shoes, t-shirts and shorts (one of us was even in flip flops).

    We enjoyed the Visitor’s Center and learning the fascinating details of how the rock arches were formed by nature. One afternoon we took a ride in a high-speed boat along the river and enjoyed a good dutch oven cookout for dinner. The boys rode bikes one afternoon while the girls went to the local quilt shop and went shopping. There was something for everyone.

    Trend 5: Family Skip-Gen Trips

    The term “Skip-Gen vacations” is fairly new and trending in the travel industry right now. But I’ve been planning for skip-gen trips most of my adult life. I have 22 nieces and nephews and have taken skip-gen trips with every single one of them.

    A skip-gen trip will speaks to those who want to take vacations with close their family members…think grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins…and allows them to bond through travel while giving their parents a little break in having to constantly hover over their kids while on vacation.

    I went into the travel planning business because I really enjoyed planning these skip-gen vacations. Years of planning and education helped me prepare to take this on professionally.

    The Travel Industry is Adapting for Skip-Gen Travel

    Cruises and theme parks have always welcomed skip-gen groups. Recently we have seen many tour companies willing to work with family groups to explore a new destination without having the hassle of having to plan all the details on their own. Families are looking more and more for experiential travel experiences.

    There are so many of choices becoming available in this growing segment of the travel industry. Tour companies are coming up with new tours and excursions all the time. They strive to offer something for everyone in the group.

    Trend 6: Family Volunteer Travel

    One of my favorite travel trend to see emerge the past few years has been that of travel tourism. Often, when someone thinks of volunteer tourism, they imagine taking their family on a volunteer trip to a third-world country. That’s simply not the case any more.

    You can take one day or one week of vacation and go do something that can have a huge impact. You can go help build a home with Habitat for Humanity or go clean up a beach.

    Visiting the theme parks in Orlando, go volunteer for an afternoon at Give Kids the World giving Make a Wish kids ice cream or helping with a craft project. It’s a fantastic organization that provides kids with life-threatening illnesses a to experience the Orlando theme parks at little to no cost.

    Families That Play Together, Stay Together

    I know that if you visit my website very often, you’ll hear me say this…a lot…but I believe this to be one of the truest statements I have experienced in life: The families that play together, stay together.

    The trend of traveling as a family can include a relaxing day at the beach.
    Family that plays together, stays together

    Whether it’s taking a cruise through the Panama Canal, hiking through Arches National Park, or heading off to Leavenworth (a little Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains) to devour some wienerschnitzel and shop among the local artisans…all of these opportunities have allowed me to bond and form happy memories with different family members.

    I treasure each and every opportunity I’ve had to go play with my family and extended family.

    Planning a family vacation can be overwhelming. A travel advisor that specializes in family trips can be very helpful in planning a trip as unique as your family. Use the “Contact Me” form if you’d like to set up a time for a free consultation on how I can help you plan your family’s vacation.

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