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Pros & Cons of a US Family Roadtrip

Road Trip - Colorado Music Festival

If there’s one trip that inspires more talking points than anything else, it is our annual US road trip. You know the one, we pick a US state at random (occasionally driven by what food we want to eat), conjure up a two-week itinerary and book it.  With two young kids in tow, it’s not the easiest trip but it is SO MUCH FUN.  If you are weighing up the pros and cons of a US road trip with your little ones, here’s my two cents…

THE CONS

  • A road trip can get expensive.  We tend to do a mix of hotel, motel and airbnb but it does add up. Factor in longhaul airfares for a family of four and car hire for two weeks and it is not cheap.
  • Planning a road trip is time-consuming.  When traveling long distances with young kids, in a short space of time, you need to be organised.  I spend hours browsing through travel forums, reading guidebooks, searching the internet to devise the perfect itinerary.  I book most of our accommodation in advance and also note down what attractions/restaurants we should visit.  If this has put you off then why not copy one of my US road trips? I’ve got them all on the blog, from where we stayed to where we ate.  You are welcome.
  • You really need to know how to drive. Somehow I don’t think a road trip by Greyhound would be as fun.
  • If you are looking for a relaxing vacation then this probably isn’t for you. Whilst I don’t have us moving cities every day, we are typically on the go every 2-3 nights.  We get used to living out a suitcase and it’s quite fun changing location so often.  That said, I do try to factor in a few relaxing nights at a resort hotel where I can e.g. the Hyatt Tamaya on our New Mexico road trip. If it has a Kids Club it gets extra points.
  • Eat too much of the local food and you will get fat.  We always over indulge on our US road trips but it’s part of the fun e.g. Car-B-Q, see below…
    Texas BBQ in car

THE PROS

  • Although some things like airfare to the US can add up, you can keep costs down elsewhere. Rent a camper van, cook for yourselves and stick to the National Parks instead of expensive cities to save money.
  • If you like organising and travel, you will love planning your road trip.  There’s nothing better than the feeling you’ve finally nailed your route!  FYI we are still planning our Louisiana road trip for this summer and I still haven’t quite got it sorted.  If you have any tips, send them my way…
  • You get to hire a badass car.  Particularly fun for us as we don’t own a car in Hong Kong.  I also find long distance driving is a great way to switch off and stare at the scenery, especially if the kids are being well-behaved in the back.  Here are my tips on for staying sane on a family road trip.
    Daisy on car
  • Traveling in the US is extremely family friendly.  You can find attractions to suit all ages and budgets.
  • Eating in the US is straightforward. Most restaurants have kids menus and waiting staff will greet your kids with crayons and toys!  Not a sight we encounter often living in Asia.
  • A roadtrip inspires quality family time.  I love spending all our days together from eating every meal to discovering a new city.  That said I do like to buy a bit of peace and quiet by popping to a hotel gym or bargaining with my husband to have a child-free 30 minutes in a shopping mall.  
  • Grocery shopping is cheap.  We don’t want to have to eat out every night and if I’m staying somewhere with a kitchen, it’s nice to cook our own dinner and breakfast. It’s always good to know that Target and Walmart are usually just a stone’s throw away if we need to stock up on activities for long car journeys or new clothes.
  • The food!  The main driving force behind our US road trips is that we like to eat large american food.  From huge cinnamon buns in Austin, Texas to mountain pie in Colorado, our US road trips satisfy our quest for big American food.
    Cinnamon bun

 

1 comment

  1. Tara

    Great tips! We tend to travel really cheaply, which usually means camping and cooking. When we budgeted our last road trip, it was actually cheaper to go than to stay home, especially when we rented out our house for the summer.

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