Avoid consecutive long driving days

Although the occasional 10 hour driving day is often necessary and doable, stack too many of them back to back, and it's a sure ingredient for trip fatigue. Living on the east coast and vacationing on the west has made these long days at the beginning and end of each of our trips somewhat inevitable, but we do try to find at least one fun thing to do each day.

Since these long days usually involve traveling along the interstates, we often try to find something interesting along the way to break up the day. I have found Crossing America: National Geographic's Guide to the Interstates to be an invaluable resource for finding interesting things to do without getting too far off route.

Another option is to check into a campground early enough (at least by 5:00) so that there is enough time to stretch our legs and do something fun before dinner. It might just be a bike ride or a swim--just something to make us remember that this is a vacation and not a driving marathon.

Frank Marino on April 19, 2008

Love your website. Thank you very much for sharing. We are planning a cross country adventure for our family this summer and your experience and thoughts are very encouraging. We have 4 children, ages 10, 8, 5 and 2, and my wife thinks that I'm nuts and it will be too hard. We live in Long Island, NY and driving cross country in an Rv has always been my dream. Do you guys offer a seminar that I could bring my wife to? I took her to an RV show but she still is not convinced that it is a good idea.

Herb on April 20, 2008

Hi Frank - glad you found our website useful but I can see your wifes concern if you're planning on buying an RV and then immediately setting off with 4 children on a cross-country trip. I might suggest renting an RV first and taking a 1 week trip to some of the east coast destinations. (similar to what we did in 1998). It might be a little rough at first, but you'll learn alot about what works and doesn't work in both the RV, and trip planning with your wife and kids. Then you'll both know alot more about how to best plan a big trip with the 6 of you. Good luck, and contact us if you have any further questions.

Paul & Allison Willis on January 11, 2009

This year will be our second long journey to see the US. Upon researching places to go and things to do came across your website with some great tips and trip ideas. We made our first trip "to the west" from Kentucky last summer...loved it! We have made several small trips (one main stop) but never have gone anywhere to this magnitude. We have 4 children they, last summer, were 10, 6, 4, 2. We have a pull-behind travel trailer with a big truck. I was concerned also about the long days sitting sooo close together in the truck but all did fine. We usually alternated days..drove a long day in order to stay somewhere 2 days instead of driving several short days and always in the truck. We drove almost 6000 miles!!! We left Ky went up to Iowa (my sister lives there) headed to South Dakota to see the sights there stayed in Deadwood of course and played a lot of wild west adventures. Drove to Yellowstone, then to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, south rim of the Grand Canyon and cont. on south across to Texas and up to Tennessee stopping at several spots along the way of course. We all had a great time...from the time they saw the first Wall Drug sign they were hooked and knew they were on an adventure of a lifetime. We stopped for every corny roadside sight seeing attraction there was..to my husbands classic "do you really want to stop here" sigh. Looking this summer to treck through Tennessee and see Graceland (stopped last summer but just to sleep) kids remembered and want to see it..then to Texas ultimately ending in San Antonio for Sea World, The Alamo, River Walk..don't know what we will do on the way back..looking for some kind of beach..no luck at this time..prob. go down around Louisiana and up to KY. Any ideas would love to hear!! Keep traveling and journaling..love it and will look for more trips! Allison Willis from Richmond, KY

Herb on January 12, 2009

Hi Paul & Allison,
Sounds like you've got it pretty well figured out. And the best part is that you still have a lot of family traveling years ahead of you! Our boys will both be in College next year so our long family road trip travels may have to take a different form. However, Tommy is planning a tent camping road trip this summer with his buddies to the Grand Canyon with most of the major attractions on route. I know he'll take lots of photos, but I hope he will be able to generate a narrative so that we can add his trip to this website.

Thanks for the comment, and if you can add any updated information for future travelers on any of our other stops, please feel free to add your insight.

Safe travels, and keep us posted - Herb and Lolo

Marilyn on January 28, 2009

Hi Allison -- we too made our RV maiden voyage last summer from Tampa, FL to "the West". Fabulous trip!! Our 4 children were 11,9,7,5. Looks like we hit lots of the same highpoints as you! Saw Lolo's website to get ideas for this year's trip -- we're thinking up the East coast maybe into Canada. Wasn't sure that the "camping" lifestyle would suit me, but I'm really enjoying trying to make this summer's plan.
Good luck with your trip. Marilyn, Tampa,FL

Patrick on March 11, 2009

Hi, I've enjoyed looking at your site. We are planning a one way trip this summer from West Coast to NY (where we have family). We have 3 weeks for the journey and I am trying to figure out how far to go each day. My wife and I will be traveling with our 8 and 3 year old. I took a stab at mapping out our trip, where we do 3-4 hour drives almost every day for the 3 weeks. I'm afraid that doesn't really give us much time to enjoy the places once we get to them.
One of my questions is how many miles per hour do you typically drive in an RV. I'm sure the answer is different if on the interstate vs. a windy back road. For ease of planning I think most of our driving will be on the interstates. I just don't know if we will be averaging 55 or 65 MPH.
Also, from your experience would you recommend a few longer driving days, so that we can stay in one place for more than just an overnight.
Thank you again for sharing your experiences. It makes it less scary for us first timers.

Herb on March 11, 2009

Hi Patrick, I would definitely recommend a few long driving days - and then slow down to "smell the roses". If you look at our itineraries you can see that we usually start and end with 2 and sometime 3 full days of almost non-stop driving. On the interstates you can almost average 55 by traveling 65mph. The deciding factor is usually how much coffee the primary driver drinks, before he needs to pull over for a pit stop.

On the long driving days, I usually start driving at 7:00 or 8:00 AM latest and go till I'm ready to let Lolo take the wheel. This is usually around 2:00 or 3:00 PM. She will drive for an hour while I nap in the back. After an hour nap I feel ready to resume driving till we are ready to finish the day around 7:00 or later. Driving west you pick up an hour with each time zone so the days are a bit longer. East the converse is true so don't forget to include this in your calculations.

The maps on the front page of each trip also include the itinerary with miles driven and hours to drive. The numbers on the map are places where we spent at least one night.

Don't get tied to too rigid an itinerary though. You'll need to be able to cut back if necessary, and maybe pick it up a bit if everyone feels like it. You want this to be fun! We found out the hard way that too many miles without enough rest days can stress the family fabric. See Olympic National Park for the gory details.

Good Luck - and be sure to comment some more when you have visited a few of the same trip stops.