I’m not new to taking road trips with different generations of family members. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. From trips to Mississippi with my siblings, parents, their mothers, and my great-grandmother to a couple of years ago with my three youngest children and my dad to the antics of this year’s epic Route 66 trip with my three youngest, my aunt and my grandmother, I seem to be drawn to such adventures like a moth to a flame.
So, do I think you should do it? The answer is a resounding yes. At least one time. After that, you’re on your own. Obviously, rules need to be applied, and you should have a plan before you go.
The idea to drive all of Route 66 came from a special that I watched on PBS late one night – probably while pregnant. I’m sure my grandfather was still alive, and I was dreaming of all of the stories that he could tell me while we rode along the mother road. We stopped along places that he would have had stories about and kept us enthralled for hours. However, I didn’t travel with my grandfather and children. I traveled with his widow and his daughter and his great-grandchildren. Different dynamic. After taking two HUGE multi-generational road trips lasting more than a week, here are my tips & tricks.
This seems like common sense type stuff, but I’m being serious. Traveling with my aunt and grandmother inserted an entirely new dynamic into our road trip routine than I had say with my husband or my dad. My grandmother is diabetic, and we had to make sure that her glucose levels were just right in order to keep on the road. She also didn’t want to get out and walk very much, so stops had to be short and sweet. That can KILL the vibe of someone like me and my children. We love getting out and exploring, and we could NOT leave my grandmother in the car while we did that. So we had to shift our mindset and work around her. It was a bit challenging.
We used a road trip app during our Route 66 trip. There are also a nice amount of planning apps you can use as a resource on your road trip. Some popular ones are:
Bring A Cooler
Another no-brainer right? One that seems to be able to fall under the “plan ahead” heading. Nope. We pack snacks in our bags and the kids are responsible for their own. With someone on a medically restricted diet we had to make sure we had snacks that helped her stay healthy, and things she could eat on the go. Driving 2500 hundred miles is difficult for a lot of people. There is no easy way to stop and eat every 2 hours for someone, so you bring the food with you. Planning ahead in this aspect also helps. Freeze the foods that can be eaten cold, and they can double as ice packs for the foods that just need to stay cold instead. Juices make PERFECT ice packs. We also hard-boiled eggs, peeled and then sealed them in a
Decide how you’re going to sleep
One of my desires, when I do this trip again, is to stay in cities when I get tired. It adds to the adventure, and it will allow us to see more of the mother road the next time. However, that wasn’t feasible with this type of trip. We booked hotels and some of our vacation properties ahead of time, and I made sure that each almost all of them had kitchen set-ups.
We had to stay budget friendly because 3 weeks on the road can get pricey. I stuck with places that I could use rewards points, and with our Worldmark Vacation Ownership properties when we could. Those gave us the most space, and the best comfort.
I will say, my aunt is as ride-or-die as my children and I and was fully ready to sleep in the car if need be. That’s a real road tripper there.
Decide your mode of travel
Will you be taking a coupe, sedan, minivan, passenger van or motorcycle? Believe it or not, your mode of travel is important.
We were happy about being able to drive in style and comfort with a loaner 2018 Kia Sedona. It has seating for 7 and all of the seats are made for long-term driving and riding. With captain’s chairs in the second row and reclinable third-row seating, no one was complaining about space or comfort. This is the way I like to drive. I also don’t do caravans. They stop too much or don’t stop enough. However, if *I* were leading the caravan, I’d be all in. Just remember that you don’t get to stay in the left lane of a two-lane highway forever. All of the luggage that we brought along fit nicely into our drop bottom trunk.
We averaged about 24 miles to the gallon on the highway, and there was plenty of space for extra blankets, backpacks, cups (11 cup holders in this vehicle
Everyone behind the first rows also has built-in sun shades that they could raise up when the beams from the brightest star in the sky interrupted the beauty sleep they were getting while I was in my road-warrior mode. Cars totally need transitional windshields because the setting sun is DISRESPECTFUL!
I’ll have an entire post up about how the Kia handled for the entirety of Route 66 so look out for it!
Patience. Patience, and more patience. There was a difference of 79 years between the oldest and youngest in our car.
This is probably the most important tip that I can give you. Traveling with different generations is challenging. There’s no other way to put it. My grandmother is 87 years old. My aunt is 59. My dad is 56. My kids are 18, 10, 8 and 8. My husband and I are 38. Each and every one of us has a different style of traveling. I like stopping and looking. I like taking photos. I like talking to the people who live in the city I’m stopping through, and those people on the road that I’m traveling. It’s an extension of humanity that I don’t get to see all too often sitting behind my keyboard.
My dad drives a bus, so he can sit ALL day and drive. And he drives the speed-limit because there is no need to rush to get where you’re going. As long as we have gas, and a comfortable car, he’s fine. He stopped almost every place that I wanted to in North Dakota – until it got dark. Because he wasn’t familiar with the roads, and had his grandchildren with him. Bump his kid. So we did things EARLY in the morning so that we could catch as much as we could before getting to our hotels for the evening.
My husband? He just wants to get where we’re going so that he can rest when he gets there. It drives me absolutely batty, but that’s his traveling style. We compromise, and I *may* have to offer up certain things in order to get him to see my way. Baked goods, an evening of binging bad Netflix shows. That type of stuff.
My grandmother? She’s a lover of just riding in cars. She enjoys the drive but doesn’t want to get out of the car. She likes looking out of the window and listening to the sounds of the kids laughing at movies they are watching or books they are reading, but she doesn’t want to get out of the car. Which made it a bit difficult for my aunt to enjoy the trip as much as I wanted her to. BUT WE IMPROVISED! And we realized – VERY LATE IN THE GAME – that wheelchairs are available at almost all of the large museums we went to, and we used them! So, check for wheelchairs! My granny doesn’t have a portable one, and we didn’t have the room, so we had to think on our feet.
My kids get tired, but they know the routine of a mom who writes about travel. I know their “tells” and I try to limit the amount of posing that I have them do. I’ve taken to taking candid photos instead of posed ones, and when they ask me to take pictures, I’m all over it. It works for us. Do what works for you.