The Great American Road Trip – Hopes, Fears, and the Plan

Road trip, lego car, lego family I’m excited to kick off the month of May with my plan to cross off one of the items on my 100 Things List: The Great American Road Trip. At the end of this month, my family and I will embark on a cross-country trip traversing fifteen States.

However, before getting into the logistics of the trip and our plan, I want to address my hopes and fears for this travel series.

My Hope for this Series:

At it’s best; this series will do three things. First, selfishly I want it to be a record for my sons of our travels and experiences together. To be a time capsule for the stories that pictures can’t capture.

Second, I want it to inspire. To encourage exploration and foster the idea that the world is a lot bigger than what our day-to-day experiences tell us. I once heard Andrew Zimmerman (of Food Network’s Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmerman fame) say, ‘we are at our best when we travel. Our most patient, our most understanding, our most inquisitive and curious.’ (I may be paraphrasing a bit.)

Being exposed to travel at a young age helped foster my curiosity, patience, and understanding. I want to inspire those values in others, most of all my boys.

Third, I want this series to help me view travel differently. By documenting our trips, I want to alter my perspective of our time together. Not view the inconveniences of travel from the grid of an impatient father. Rather I want to see these inconveniences as shaping my boy to be patient and understanding versions of themselves.

I don’t want to be so focused on a travel agenda that I quash my kid’s natural curiosity. By putting on my blogging alter ego, I hope to change how I approach our family trips. I hope to be the best version of myself and inspire my boys to be the best versions of their selves.

My Fear for this Series:

travelAt it’s worst this series will be the blogging equivalent of the 70’s family who would invite you over to look at a slide show of their family vacation. Only you won’t have to pretend to feign interest in the 5th picture of the teacups at this quant little B & B we stayed at.

You won’t have to prop your eyes open with toothpicks to prevent yourself from falling asleep, you can just click onto another blog. No need to humor me, my analytics will tell me that I’ve crossed the line. If that happens this series will be revamped or scrapped.

I also have some anxiety about live blogging the trip. Up to this point I’ve generally had the opportunity to edit my work well in advance of posting. Now I intend to blog from the road with unknown Wi-Fi connections. A hectic schedule of driving, sight seeing, and family visits. I don’t want it to feel slapped together. And I don’t want to feel stressed to produce something just to produce it.

Blogging from the road is an added challenge. If the results end up doing an injustice to the series, I’ll head back to the drawing board and again either chart a new course or rethink the entire undertaking.

The Plan

With my hopes and fears out of the way, let’s move on to the plan.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Archway to the West
  • San Antonio Area (Visit my wife’s sister and her family)
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Southern California (the purpose of the trip is to surprise my brother on his 40th birthday)
  • Mount Rushmore

Arbitrary Goals:

  • I hope to spend no more than 5 hours in the car on any given day (with the exception of maybe the first day and the last day or two). Two boys with a lot of energy stuck in a car for 10-12 hours just isn’t my idea of a fun vacation. I don’t mind taking a little longer to get to our destinations.
  • Limit the use of technology (iPad, phone, etc.) to a total of 5 hours for the whole trip and only on driving days. Technology has made it a lot easier to travel with kids. Putting on a movie or a video game will pacify/entertain them for hours. But for me, the point of the Great American Road Trip is to connect with my family. Play car games, sing to music together, and talk. I want my kids looking out the window and seeing the country, not starting down at a screen.
  • Learn something new about every State that we visit.
  • No Fast Food. This one will require some planning. Outside of the convenience, there is just nothing appealing to me about fast food. It doesn’t taste that good to me, and I never feel good after I’ve eaten it. It costs way too much for what you get: $7 for suspect “beef,” a stale bun, greasy over fried potatoes, and a half-gallon of sugar in beverage form. No thank you. I’ll happily make a few fresh sandwiches accompanied by fresh fruit from the grocery store.
  • Create a State specific care package for my kids to open as we cross the boarder of each State. This won’t be anything too extravagant, likely just coloring pages of quintessential things from each state. Maybe some facts to learn, such as State Capitols or the State motto.

I’d love to hear from you. What suggestions do you have about roading trips in general or road trips with kids? 


  1. I look forward to reading this. I don’t have many memories of road trips with my family, even though we went on a few while I was younger. Bits and pieces of memories, but nothing substantial.

    1. That’s been the discussion in our household when we’ve been planning our travel. We want our kids to remember our trips, so we’ve tried to figure out the right age to start traveling with them. As they get older, we’ll likely go on more exotic trips since they’ll be more likely to remember them.

  2. Ok – first off, I can’t get over your awesome use of legos. You have some serious talent, sir. 🙂

    As for the blogging bit…DO NOT WORRY!! We love unscripted, real life, writing. It doesn’t have to be fomrated perfectly to make an impact. Haha – just ask me! My writing is ok but my grammar and punctuation are for shit. You’ll do just fine on the road. Because my job is on the road I often write in a note then copying paste to WP. It is better for me than accidentally publicist something that isn’t quite ready for publish. Back to the road trip…

    I am so excited for you and your family!! What an awesome adventure. I am seriously envious of your 5 hour electronics goal…my BFs kids use data just to go to and from school!! It makes me crazy but as the non parent in the household of two teens it’s a difficult line to walk. Anywho, in that regards I wish you the best. 🙂 Keep us posted on everything!! You are getting to do the trip that most people only dream of. Let us live vicariously.

    1. Super awesome to have the Miss Mazuma stop by my site. I’ve seen you around the twitterverse and am thrilled to have you check out my humble little site.

      I appreciate the words of encouragement about blogging without the safety net, who knows maybe I’ll write better with the pressure (probably not, but dare to dream).

      As for the 5 hour electronics goal, we’ll see how well that goes over. It’s a little easier at their ages, I’m not sure I’d be quite so ambitious if they were teenagers. But I figure the longer we keep them from the electronics the better, I’m sure they’ll more than make up for it when they’re older.

      Thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you around here or the twitterverse again!

      1. Awww- such a nice response! I too refer to my blog as my humble little site…I wonder when and if that will ever go away?! Maybe after it turns one year old? Maybe after FinCon? Maybe after my first hate mail?? I don’t know! For now I rest easy knowing I am in good company. 🙂

  3. This will be interesting.
    I totally agree with you about fast food. We always pack an ice chest and have sandwich meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetable to munch on. We also cart along a water bottle/ double insulated cup for each person to stay hydrated.
    One indulgence is the Skittle game. Periodically at a gas stop we will buy a bag of skittles and you have to identify the flavor based on the taste. No looking. I’m sure the red dye number 5 is giving us all cancer but splitting a bag of skittle between a whole family can’t be that awful. I guess you have to trust your sibling not to give you something else besides a skittle to put in your mouth also. 🙂
    Have a great time! Road trips are the best. If you want any out of the way fun stops in the San Antonio area email me. That’s my stomping ground.

    Tom @ HIP

    1. Hey Tom, Thanks for stopping by, I’m a fan of what you are doing over there at High Income Parents! The skittles game sounds awesome, I’ll definitely give it a shot. My boys will love any game that gets them some candy! We may need to do it near the end of one of our drives so they can get out of the car and burn off the extra sugar!

      I’ll check in with my sister-in-law to see what she has planned for us while visiting her in San Antonio, if we have some extra time I’ll defiantly hit you up for some suggestions. I appreciate the offer!

  4. Very cool… I’m doing a Utah national park road trip with my daughter this summer and I like your idea about a care package. I wonder if I could put something together on the cool things in each national park we are going to visit… Found you through a link on Ms. ONL’s twitter feed.

    1. Awesome trip. I’ve heard Utah is beautiful. We’ll be driving through Utah, but sadly won’t be able to spend a lot of time there. We’ll have to come back on another trip. I’m glad you came across my site and hope you have a great trip! I’d love to hear how it goes.

  5. How old are your boys? The thing I love most about travel and exploring is learning the history of the place and the stories of the people who lived there. Maybe you can add fun and interesting facts about people who built the state you’re going through, and how they overcame state specific challenges.

    We always travel with a big cooler full of fresh foods, though we also have some junk snack food as well for the longer drive days. We haven’t done more than the west coast together, though. We’re saving our multi-state trip for when JuggerBaby is bigger and won’t just be a prisoner in a car seat who can’t enjoy anything about the road trip.

    Have fun! I always love it when money bloggers also share their travels. It seems like that’s the entire point of being good with our money: so we can live life!

    1. My boys are 6 and 7 (soon to be 8). Yes we definitely have a few history lessons planned along the way. I’ve picked up a couple of kid friendly books on a couple of the bigger sights, but will supplement with some of my own research. I’m also hoping to tap some local knowledge and get to know some fun facts that don’t always end up in books.

      My wife and I were just discussing the food plans for the trip and a cooler full of food was topic number one. But we’ll definitely have to mix in some fun foods as well. I appreciate you stopping by and hope you check back to see how the trip goes!

  6. We are road trip fanatics, so I’m really excited to see the updates!

    Great call on the “5 hours a day of driving” rule. One of the things we’ve learned along the way is that the joy is in the trip itself at much (or more) than the destinations. We’ve loved all of our trips but have been stressed out when we pushed the travel above 7 hours a day.

    I love the “state care package” idea! We are hitting the Northeast later this summer and it might be a fun time to build this into our approach.

    All the best and safe travels!

    1. Thanks Chris! This trip is really sneaking up on us, just a week and half to go, still lots of prep to do, but I’m really excited. Hopefully the updates are entertaining, I’ll be sure to share the successes and failures with keeping our kids entertained and let everyone know how the State care packages work out.

  7. What & when r ur plans for Vegas? We may be able to host you & the family for a very informal BBQ & swim if we aren’t camping when u r in town. Let me know if u’d like to stop by while u r in Vegas.

    1. That is super awesome of you to offer! We’ll be in Vegas on June 2nd, but it will be a really tight schedule when we are there. I think we get in around 4:30pm, then have an event at 6:00pm and have to leave first thing in the morning to surprise my brother for his 40th birthday! So sadly I’m not sure it’s in the cards for this trip.

      I planned this trip before I started this blog and had I to do it all over again, I would have built in more time to connect with the community I’ve began to find through this site. I’ll be sure to incorporate that for future travels. I can’t tell you how cool it is that you offered and I’m bummed that it won’t work out!

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