Father and children planning out their summer road trip on a map

Take a perfect road trip with the Hilton Grand Vacations tips and itineraries

Family road trip with kids. Do these words bring feelings of excitement and adventure? Or do they bring stress of planning and little voices whining “Are we there yet” from the backseat? Whether you’re driving to one destination or several, we want to help make sure it’s a well-planned adventure of a lifetime. Here are our tips (and a few road trip itineraries) to keep in mind when planning a family road trip with kids.

How to Plan Your Route

The idea of just loading up the car and hitting the open road with no real agenda sounds exciting and spontaneous. Having a plan of your stops, however, will save you time and money. Consider who will be riding with you in the car. Do you have small children? Teenagers? It might be easy for you to drive 8+ hours a day, but you might make your fellow passengers completely miserable on the way to your first stop.

    • Use an app like Roadtrippers to help lay out your route and plan for stops along the way. With Roadtrippers you can calculate fuel costs, time, and distance.
    • OnTheWay is another app you can use to plan your road trip. The app can show you rest stops and restaurants along your route, but it can also help you find interesting places to explore like roadside attractions, parks, and museums.
    • Check the traffic and weather before you depart. One route might be closed due to snow or flooding. If you are brave enough to drive through Los Angeles during rush hour, the 405 freeway will most likely be a parking lot. Using the Waze app can help you navigate traffic patterns and suggest alternate routes.

How to Stay Within Budget

Sometimes driving somewhere can cost you less money than flying, especially when you have to purchase multiple plane tickets. But even driving costs can add up if you aren’t prepared with a few strategies.

    • Look for gas stations with cheaper gas. You can use the Waze app to help you locate the best price, or the GasBuddy app.
    • Keep the packing as light as you can. The lighter your trunk is, the better your gas mileage.
    • Pack lunches and healthy snacks for the car. This strategy will help you manage nutrition for you and your family. It can also help you avoid constantly buying gas station snacks and fast food options that can add up.

family road trip with kids

How to Make Sure Your Car Is Ready to Roll

A few weeks before your family road trip with your kids, make sure that your vehicle is in shape for its journey. This is important for your safety as well as to maintain a healthy vehicle that won’t break down in the middle of nowhere. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-kept car is more gas efficient.

    • Check your fluids including oil and wiper cleaner.
    • Make sure you have all the proper tools you need to change a flat tire.
    • Get your car cleaned inside and out. Yes, it’s going to get dirty again out on the open road, but having a clean car is a great start to a big trip.

How to Pack Your Car Like a Pro

Pack clothes you might need first on the top of your suitcase. Sweatshirts, a pair of socks, sandals, and hats are all things you might want to pull out to wear in the car. If you are traveling with little ones, have an emergency set of clothes easily accessible, since you never know what might be spilled. Some other packing strategies include:

    • Fill a reusable water bottle with ice water to start your trip. You can always refill later.
    • Bring entertainment like music playlists, audiobooks, electronics, sticker books, small toys, and even old school “I spy” games.
    • Pack snacks where they are easy to reach. If you are traveling with kids, pack plenty of extra snacks. You will likely need them.
    • Have a trash bag handy. This prevents the door compartments from getting stuffed with wrappers, food, napkins, etc.

How to Stay Flexible

Each day of your family road trip with kids will offer its own challenges and opportunities. Keep a flexible state of mind to avoid stressing out over straying from your exact agenda. Road construction, accidents, and bridge closures can all affect your perfectly planned schedule. On the ‘opportunities’ side, you never know when something interesting or fun might pop up along the way. A roadside waterfall to explore, the world’s biggest baseball bat statue, or even a lifelike dinosaur gift shop.

family road trip with kids

How to Pick Your Destinations

Picking your destinations ahead of time can help you save money and the stress of trying to book something last minute. Consider how far you want to drive each day. If you are traveling with small children, stick with a maximum of five to six hours in the car. Try limiting your destinations so you can spend more time in each one. This way you can explore and relax a lot more.

Three Sample Itineraries

We’ve put together three itinerary ideas to help inspire your family road trip with kids. Click on each city for our recommended resort or hotel.

The West

We’ve combined our western HGV properties to craft the ultimate road trip. Each destination has so much to offer, from the lights of Vegas to the ski slopes of Breckenridge.

San Diego, CA →  Las Vegas, NVSalt Lake City, UtahBreckenridge, CO

family road trip with kids from San Diego, CA to Breckenridge, CO.

The East

For an east coast road trip filled with history, city lights, and even an international locale, try this popular route. Kids may especially love all the family-friendly activities in Washington, D.C.

Williamsburg, VAWashington, D.C. → New York CityMontreal, Quebec

family road trip with kids from Williamsburg, VA to Montreal, Quebec

The South

For a southern route filled with sunshine, theme parks, water sports, and pool time, try this drive. Hungry travelers may especially appreciate all the amazing food options in Orlando.

Orlando, FLSavannah, GAHilton Head IslandCharleston, SC

family road trip with kids from Orlando, FL to Charleston, SC.

Family road trips with your kids can be an unforgettable adventure. Spending hours on the road together is a great opportunity for quality time. If flying around the world via airplane is more your style, read on for tips about how to get affordable flights.

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