If you think pulling together a complex trip is the kind of organizational nightmare that’ll make you feel like you’re in a bad remake of a National Lampoon’s Vacation movie — don’t worry.

Here are a few strategies we picked up along the way:

Don’t overplan. It’s possible to do too much research and plan for each moment. Leave some things to serendipity, otherwise your itinerary will get too cluttered and nothing about your trip will be spontaneous. And the spontaneity can be half the fun. After a few cross-country trips, we felt more comfortable winging it, and we made some great discoveries as a result. Like Deschutes National Forest, the dormant volcanic near Bend, Oregon, which we didn’t know about until we decided to pull over for a picnic lunch.

Simple is better. No matter how complicated your itinerary, there are ways to streamline the process to include the important information and exclude the extraneous details that will be insignificant until you arrive at your destination. For example, we whittled a list of recommended restaurants down to a hyperlink that we could access later, instead of trying to save everything to a document.

Share your itinerary. Letting people know where you are is helpful when you’re on a multi-stop itinerary. When your hosts know where you’re coming from, where you’re supposed to be, and where you’re going, you can avoid all kinds of trouble. That’s why car rental companies ask for your flight itinerary – they aren’t really interested in which airline you’re using. They want to track your flight so that if your plane is late, they can hold your rental vehicle.

Pad your schedule. Remember the 15-minute rule: For every one hour on the road you should plan 15 out of the car. (And not necessarily every hour; we would drive three hours and pull over for half an hour or so, give or take.) You need to stretch, eat and take a break from sitting. Also, you can never plan too much time for meals and national parks. If someone recommends half a day in a national park or forest, take a whole day. You won’t regret it.

Be flexible. Life is too short (and so’s your trip) to lock yourself into a schedule. If you see an opportunity to do something interesting, to make an unexpected detour, or to extend your trip – do it! Just don’t forget to share your new itinerary with everyone along the way. Our favorite detour? The Grand Canyon, a day-long diversion on a road trip from California back to Florida. It was way off our designated route. And so worth it.

 

Comments

  1. Acer Liquid E1 GPS
    http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/
    January 28, 2013, 10:11 pm

    Traveling with kids is absolutely difficult. Hence, it is very important to plan ahead before taking your next trip in order to make it lighter, less hassle and of course memorable.

  2. JJ Jhonson
    www.jakpost.travel
    January 29, 2013, 12:41 am

    Nice sharing. Really helpful. I don’t have kids, but i often do some nanny things. So this is helpful.

  3. Shirley S
    January 29, 2013, 8:22 pm

    True you have to be flexible w/kids, you never know what is going to happen next. Things that happen at home are going to be way worse away from home. That’s why we like to stay at rental condos or houses. Less stress at bedtimes in case the kids have crying issues. And we can stay up and kids can go to bed away from the noise. For instance when we go to Kauai we like using Kauai Vacation Rentals and Real Estate Inc. They have lots of properties to choose from and were affordable.

  4. holiday accommodation hervey bay
    http://www.bayhideawayresort.com.au/
    January 31, 2013, 10:35 pm

    Great post Christopher! This really is a useful article, there is nothing quite like taking children on travel. Thanks for the great share!!!

  5. Tyler Callantone
    Ogden, Utah
    February 4, 2013, 12:21 am

    Dinosaur National Monument and the surrounding Vernal, Utah area is awesome for kids. There is a ton of really cooldinosaur stuff to see. On top of that there is great river rafting, mountain biking, hiking and general nature oriented activities Dinosaur River Expeditions offers some excellent tours.
    http://www.dinoadv.com

  6. fawad hussain
    Pakistan
    February 8, 2013, 1:25 am

    most graceful

  7. Hank Webster
    DuBois, PA
    February 8, 2013, 8:19 am

    I have used your suggestions when my wife and I as retirees plan our “big” trip each year. It has never failed to make our outings memorable and pleasurable. This summer we are taking our two grandsons to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and have built your suggestions into our itinerary. Let’s go!

  8. Muhammed Rafeek
    Maldives
    February 9, 2013, 6:37 am

    Whether you are planning for a family vacation, or a holiday trip with your little ones, do not forget about Maldives, there are some best resorts with special treat and activities for your kids.

    No matter if you are energetic couples, you can escape to enjoy your private moments in resorts without any disturbance even from your little ones, because they will be busy in their own kids club activities, there are special trained peoples to care and play with your little ones.
    The following Maldives resorts are with kids club

    Anantara Kihavah
    Angsana Velavaru Resort And Spa
    Island Hideaway At Dhonakulhi Resort
    Anantara Dhigu Resort And Spa

    Reference : http://www.bookmaldivesresorts.com

  9. khairul
    bangladesh
    February 10, 2013, 7:55 am

    very nice

  10. Donna Salerno, CTC
    Anywhere You Want To Travel!
    February 15, 2013, 3:39 pm

    Good article Christopher ~ Thanks for sharing some valuable tips! Creating family travel memories is priceless ~ Having things planned ahead of time maximizes your time & your enjoyment! http://www.DonnaSalernoTravel.com

  11. Ruth abrams
    Santa Barbara, CA
    February 23, 2013, 5:55 pm

    We are planning to take our 4th grandson on an international trip this summer. He is 10 and pretty adventurous. We like to travel on family tours so the boys have company. Any suggestions or anyone wishing to plan a trip with their grandson. Perhaps we could get a small group together.

  12. mr. chris oleka
    Abuja Nigeria
    August 23, 2013, 12:06 pm

    pls can you send me your traveling details for a family of 5,want a holiday trip to kenya.

  13. Anita Stefanyk-Malo
    Edmonton
    August 28, 2013, 4:12 pm

    If your kids are quite young and you want to keep them excited and occupied … visit the dollar store and pick up a small toy for each 40 minutes or so of the flight. Wrap them individually and give them out a gifts when they look like they may be getting bored. Might cost you $20.00 but it will save you a priceless amount of stress:)