Getting Real with Shadra Bruce 

Are you ready to load up your car and head out on the road for a month with your kids? We are! We took this year off from traveling (the year before we were in Europe for a month, the year before that we moved cross-country from Utah to New York, the year before that was a cross country road trip, the year before that was a move from New York to Utah – you get the idea).

Road trips can be expensive, what with eating meals out, paying for outrageously overpriced gas, and staying in hotels – hence the year off to save. As seasoned road trippers, here’s some tips to help you have the best road trip ever.

Save on Food and Hotel Costs

Eating every meal in a  restaurant while on the road can be ridiculously expensive. We take a cooler with us stocked full of food we can eat on the road. It’s one of those Coleman coolers guaranteed to stay cold for five days in 90 degree weather and it works. Wherever possible, we choose hotels with kitchenettes and free breakfasts, then shop at the local grocery store when we get to town and prepare a meal in. We still end up eating an average of one meal a day in a restaurant, but we have learned that when you’re on the road, keeping it simple is better. We skip the expensive sodas and have water; often, Dave and I will split a meal because we like to eat light when traveling.

We also have memberships with every hotel chain we are likely to stay in. We earn points, save points, and use points for free stays as we go.

Plan Ahead

As much as possible, we plan the trip and route in advance, know how many hours a day we’ll be driving, only drive every other day, and have an idea from the kids what they’d like to see and do at each stop. We are also flexible and know that things change. On our first road trip in 2012, we planned a stop in Colorado Springs. AS we headed into Colorado, Colorado Springs was completely on fire and the road was closed. We had to reroute to Pueblo and skip that part of the trip. Pueblo was not nearly as fun, but being a 70s child who grew up with the ads on TV telling me to write to Pueblo, Colorado to get whatever government pamphlet was being offered was a satisfying moment.

Canada & the Northern U.S.

This year, we’re planning to launch our road trip from Montreal (yes, this is just an excuse to spend a couple of days in Montreal). We want to see some places in Canada we haven’t seen before, travel across the northen part of the U.S. and the southern edge of Canada, and (no offense to Nebraskans) avoid driving through Nebraska (yawn). There’s only so many times I can be excited by the switching yard in North Platte. We dip down to Hot Springs (my mom’s hometown) to see the Mammoth Museum.

Pacific Northwest

Having grown up mostly in Idaho, the Pacific Northwest is my home – but the kids and Dave have never seen Seattle and none of us have been to Vancouver or Victoria BC. They are definitely on the list this year! And of course, traveling through Portland and down the coast of Oregon is a must. Dave and I got engaged in Seaside; we try to make it back there when we can.

Northern California

On one of our West Coast trips, we did the Sideways trip and drove from San Diego to Buellton, California (home of The Hitching Post) and then up to LA and Disneyland. This time, we’re going to see Northern California. We’ve never been to San Francisco and still need to go to the Sacramento Zoo. From there, we’ll cut over to Sparks, Nevada to see friends and family.

The Road Home

The road home isn’t completely planned yet, partly because the plan is to leave Parker in Salt Lake, where he wants to move. Since I will be crying all the way home from that, it’s hard to think of places to stop…but we are hoping to hit Cincinnati to catch up with an old friend, but we’ll have to see how it all turns out.

As you can see, we’re a year away from this trip and already knee-deep in the planning stages. By the time we’re six months out, I will have most of the hotel arrangements made and more details about each town we’ll be visiting. AS always, we plan to share the trip with you, along with everything we discover to make road tripping easier.

The planning is half the fun, so let the travel bug bite hard!

MomsGetReal will be putting together a travel guide featuring our favorite products related to travel. If you’re interested in being included, please get in touch with Shadra.