If there’s one thing military families know, it’s travel. Getting from point A to point B is a way of life. Whenever we talk travel, the conversation always starts with the same question: Do we drive or fly? Sure flying is quicker, but that drive column has a lot of perks you should consider. If it makes your head spin just thinking about loading up the car with your troops, these tips may convince you to road trip with kids the next time your service member routs that leave chit.
Unless you’ve got a child under the age of 2, plane tickets are going to cost you, and that’s not even factoring in each family member’s luggage, your daughter’s doll and her luggage, and the family dog.
We know you want to bring all the outfits and all the shoes because you just don’t know what you’ll feel like wearing when you get there. When you drive, there’s no extra cost for additional luggage. Just remember to leave a little room for the car seats.
Plane tickets, luggage, airport parking, and car rentals add up fast and help make the case for a road trip with kids.
2. Scenic Routes
Maybe you’ve always wanted to drive through Big Sur in California on Highway 1, visit the Grand Canyon, or eat cupcakes with Chip and Jo-Jo at the Magnolia Silos. Driving allows for side trips and detours along your route.
Travel is a giant perk of military life. Even when it’s disguised as visiting family or moving, military families who choose to road trip with kids can take advantage of everything from national parks to roadside tamale stands in Texas to monuments in D.C. You’ll miss all of this while flying the friendly skies.
Maybe you planned to leave at the crack of dawn and drive until evening, making quick (but necessary) pit stops for gas and Taco Bell. Ambitious, are we? But, then, your baby cried for two hours straight and your toddler whined because she wanted a chocolate chip bagel, not a cinnamon raisin bagel (you monster). And, she’s been kicking your seat for the last 50 miles.
When everything is falling apart, consider stopping off at a park to get the wiggles out or even checking into a hotel for a night and starting fresh in the morning (with a chocolate chip bagel — not that your toddler is calling the shots). When you drive instead of fly, the possibilities for flexibility are endless. And that’s a good thing.
4. Forced Family Fun
This is mainly for parents of older kids, you know, the ones who have started to pull away and spend increasingly more time on their phones and with their friends? A road trip is your secret weapon for gaining a captive audience. As long as you remain the sole keeper of all electronic devices, the kids are yours. Who wants to go around the car and say their favorite type of candy — license plate game, anyone?
They might roll their eyes at first, but when you have hours upon hours of time together in a tight space, you’d be surprised at your children’s creativity. Take turns playing DJ and share playlists. The phones can be used as a reward when you’ve heard enough Ariana Grande and are over it. But, make them earn phone time with good behavior.
5. Character Building
Any sucker can board a plane and arrive at their destination by lunchtime, but it takes grit (which military moms have in spades) to plan, prepare, and execute a road trip. Have you ever navigated a sketchy rest stop along the I-5 or I-10 corridor with a baby and a couple of toddlers in tow? It doesn’t take long to appreciate the Starbucks bathroom.
When you coast into your final destination and fast food wrappers spill out of your car onto the driveway as your kids open the door, you can pat yourself on the back. You will know what you endured. You will know that you were almost run off the road by truckers at 2 a.m. and that you rekindled your love affair with the Big Mac.
Yes, flying is the easy way out, which there is certainly an argument for, but taking a road trip with kids is simply unforgettable.
Not sold on a road trip with kids, but not ready to pull the trigger on pricey plane tickets? See if a Space-A flight can get you where you need to go.
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