Planning a Family Fun Itinerary

May 13, 2015

By Kyle McCarthy, Family Travel Forum

No more arguing with your husband about directions! When kids help in the route planning, they’ll guide you to all sorts of unexpected family fun. Here are some tips for planning the perfect route together.

  1. Get an overview of your road trip.

Amp up anticipation by gathering all passengers around an atlas (Rand McNally 2015 Road Atlas Large Scale has easy-to-read maps and mileage guides) to rough out your trip .

Use the KOA Trip Planner to find out about all of the campgrounds along the way to your destinations.

  1. Limit driving time to four hours per day.

Once you have a destination, ask the kids to use their math skills to divide the route into 200 to 300-mile increments.

  1. Don’t overschedule your vacation; wander and explore.

If your budget or vacation time is limited, consider a closer destination. The best memories often result from serendipity. There are more than 487+ KOA campgrounds – you are sure to find a KOA close to you.

  1. Ask each traveler to plan one activity along the route.

Giving kids a voice in vacation planning prevents the “Are We There Yet?” Steer them to Family Travel Forum and TakingtheKids for ideas, and to AAA Trip Tik to plot points of interest on a map.

  1. Establish a budget for each day.

Build resourcefulness and responsibility by establishing a kids budget. Designate tweens or teens to keep an expense report (and monitor siblings.)

  1. Engage your passengers by letting them pick some of the best routes.

A major Interstate may be the fastest line from Point A to Point B, but it’s rarely the most interesting. America’s Byways features the top 150 most picturesque, historic, unusual, or otherwise worthy roads, so allow time to stop for photos.

  1. Plan your evenings for fun and rest.

Use the KOA campground finder; if the nearest campground has a great pool and lots of family activities (and many KOAs do), plan to arrive in early afternoon. Trivago is helpful in comparing prices and finding same-day hotel bargains.

  1. Develop a strategy for who sits where to avoid squabbles.

With several backseat passengers, chart who’s sitting where, and for how long.  (Masking tape will designate each child’s “territory.”) We play musical chairs at rest stops: Blast the music, run around the vehicle and grab the nearest seat when the music stops. You can do it inside an RV, too.

  1. Design and discuss your discipline system.

Reward good behavior. With younger children, dispensing quarters for every X hours of goodness works well, and adds up to extra allowance quickly. Teens respond to negative incentives; take away headset time for every infraction and you may actually get to talk to them!

  1. Stock the vehicle like a home entertainment center.

Will you need to forfeit the radio for an iPod docking station? Are the kids allowed to watch the RV TV while you’re driving? Can they stock the cooler with sodas and popcorn? After every passenger writes down their wish list, collate ideas and come up with a mutually acceptable plan.

Soon you’ll be on your way! Find a KOA and start planning your next trip.


Kyle McCarthy is editor of Family Travel Forum. Find more camping tips on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

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