Road trips are an iconic element of family vacations. But let’s be honest: They can be stressful, with disputes over Spotify constant bathroom stops, and whiny, snoring children.
The meltdowns aside, family road trips can be delightful and satisfying, like the families listed below can attest. The following is their story of making it happen while traveling through some of the most beautiful places on Earth, starting from The Riviera Maya to Amalfi and the Coast of Capri.
A trip through five national parks.
The most-read writer Jo Piazza embarked with her family of five on a massive road trip across two states lasting ten days and visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. To begin the trip in Denver, The family hired a camper van resembling Outdoorsy’s log cabin, an online rental service for RVs located at an airport.
“There’s really nothing like rolling into town in a log cabin on wheels with your windows down blaring ‘Sabotage’ to make someone’s day,” Piazza told me.
The first stop was Rocky Mountain National Park, a massive success due to its easy trails and ranger-led excursions. “We especially loved the trails around the tundra area because we were on the lookout for pikas, which my son is obsessed with,” she explained.
After that, we visited the Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado and Utah border for a few hours to make up for the long journey. The park is home to a wealth of dinosaur bones accessible in person. A visit to The Quarry Exhibit Hall is an absolute must to understand the lay of the land and see more than 1500 bones. From there, we headed to the next three days to Moab, Utah, home to two national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. “Both of these would take days to explore for someone without kids,” Piazza explained. “But we won’t be able to plan lengthy treks. Our kids have yet to do it. Therefore, we viewed these excursions as a sort of “preview.”
Instead of cramming with sights to see, Piazza and fam took the time to relax, driving to picnic spots and setting up for a couple of hours to let the kids relax and play. They went, and not trekked, to the most critical scenic viewpoints. However, the trip wasn’t without action and activities, such as the Moab Cowboy Country Offroad Adventures 4×4 excursion, which visited the Allosaurus footprints on Arches — a big hit with youngsters.
Jo’s road trip advice:
- Are you looking to avoid crying, kids, and tired children? Only drive up to 3 hours in one trip.
- Playlists were an all-family activity: “My kids have eclectic tastes, so [we cycled through] a mix of show tunes, The Beastie Boys, and Imagine Dragons.”
- You can put your strict schedule–and even your ego– aside. “If they want to sit in the sand at Arches National Park and play with their plastic dinosaurs instead of taking a hike, let them do it,” Piazza said. Piazza. “We are trying to grow travelers, not check things off a list.”
A slow drive on Mexico’s Riviera Maya
Alexis Rich and family in the pool at Coba, Quintana Roo, Mexico (L), Alexis Rich and daughter standing in the stone doorway in Coba (R)
Image: Alexis Rich
In the summer of 2008 in Philly, Philadelphia-based tourist agent Alexis Rich took a 10-day road trip around the Riviera Maya with her family with her two children (4, eight, and 4).
The first stop of their plan is Holbox, where they parked their car rental at the port on the mainland before taking a ferry to the island, where golf carts rule the island. The top of their four-night vacation was visiting the uninhabited, flora-filled island called Cabo Catoche, which they explored by snorkeling and fishing. (Rich believes this trip could take too long for kids younger than (unless they’re exceptionally patient).)
The next step was a 3-night trip to Coba located in Coba. It is known for its undiscovered Maya ruins sites. They stayed in Coqui Coqui, an elegant hotel close to the stunning archaeological site. The first day was visiting Coba Ruins, located in the Coba Ruins, in which the family was introduced to the past of the Maya and modern Mayan communities. After that, the family headed to the nearby Valladolid for an excursion for a day to visit Cenote-based dips.
Cenotes, specifically, was a substantial popular item. “We loved them all,” said Rich. “They’re all inexpensive to visit; the ones off the side of the road that is near Coba and Valladolid were great because most of the time, we had them all to ourselves.”
Alexis’s road trip advice:
- Be sure to visit famous places early, particularly with young children, to minimize crowds and maximize the time you spend (and their enthusiasm).
- Meet with locals. The Riches sought out a local family for an excellent swimming spot. They got the recommendation for what was later revealed to be one of the most favorite cenotes-the cenote Tankach-Ha near Coba. It was entirely to themselves.
- Rent that car. “It provided us with so much extra freedom,” she explained, adding that it was worth the cost to take some detours on the road and then zip off on day trips.
A quest to trace our ancestral roots to Central Italy
Regan Stephens, a journalist from Philadelphia, spent one time in Rome during the summer with her wife and three daughters. After spending a week exploring Rome, it was decided to go on an excursion towards Ascoli Piceno, about three hours away from Rome in Italy’s east region. In this place, her great-grandparents were born and lived before making a move to America. United States.
The family booked a car to Rome that they picked up from the central station for trains. (It was not a smooth ride but. “We waited in line for about an hour and a half, and in that time, two people were helped in front of us,” Stephens stated. “If we had stayed, it would have been another two hours.” Then they made the traditional Hail Mary and switched to another rental car company.) The first destination at the time was Perugia’s Domus Volumnia, an inn in an 18th-century house where they enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in the outdoor pool while drinking champagne spritzes. “[Our] two younger girls loved playing on the swing set in the owner’s private backyard,” Stephens stated.
They ate breakfast at the pool at the hotel later in the day and then headed off to Ascoli Piceno. “The drive through the mountains was challenging, especially for our youngest daughter, who gets carsick in less twisty conditions,” Stephens said. Stephens admitted that the stunning views made the drive worth it. The family spent the entire day at Ascoli Piceno with Stephen’s local friend, taking advantage of The olive festival and eating plate after plate of fried olives stuffed with meat.
They stayed the night in a room at the historic palace, now a hotel Palazzo Guiderocchi, and served traditional cakes for breakfast before returning to Rome. “On the way back, we stopped at a gas station to fill up and stocked up on Italian road trip snacks like San Carlo tomato-flavored chips and Mulino Bianco cookies,” she told me.