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Plan Family Auto Trips You'll Treasure

Family auto trips can become some of your most treasured memories … or your biggest headaches. How can you get the treasure without the headache? Mark Sedenquist, editor of RoadTripAmerica.com offers top travel tips:

Get ready

  • Hold a family planning session, with a big map and plenty of highlighter markers, and talk about cool places that would appeal to all members of the trip.
  • Consider "assigning" a day or a part of a day to each child to plan activities and stops for the family.
  • Have your vehicle checked out by a mechanic.

Get set

  • Pack a "Go Kit" with food, water, maps, warm clothes and blankets, a first-aid kit, and essential safety devices and tools.
  • Assemble electronic gadgets, such as rented or borrowed global positioning systems (GPS), DVD players and portable music players.
  • Pack a cooler with plenty of water and healthy snacks, including fruits and vegetables. Include enough ice packs to keep the cooler below 40 degrees for safety.


  • Remember that road trips become part of family lore; strive for a pace you'll remember as relaxed and whimsical, not overly ambitious and full of stress.
  • Preserve the element of chance—take the unexpected exit and make it a true adventure.
  • Take frequent breaks—get everyone to do the "chicken dance" at rest stops.
  • Eat in unique, non-chain restaurants when possible.
  • Make a point of meeting other travelers—talk about family adventures and share tips and ideas.
  • Be patient—drive fewer hours and spend more time lounging in the hotel pool.
  • Drive safely.

With everyone's participation in the planning, along with flexibility and sufficient distractions during the drive, you'll have trips to treasure.

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