I’m honestly not sure there is a topic I enjoy discussing more than a good road trip plan. Seriously, don’t ask me about it unless you’re prepared for at least a 20 minute monologue detailing our itinerary!

Every trip is different. Once in a while we plan things totally on the fly. A great example of this is found in my post on The UP when I mentioned that we loved the area so much we decided to stay an extra night/day. Despite the lack of outfit changes, it was such a great and memorable decision to spontaneously change up our trip.

A boat tour of Pictured Rocks would not have been possible if we hadn’t changed our plans- we were surprised to find all the tours booked on day 1!

For the most part, though, I do put quite a bit of time and thought into planning our road trips. Our upcoming summer trip is no exception!

To tell the story accurately I have to go all the way back to October:

Brent and I decided that we would fly out to Denver, Colorado with the kids for a week this summer. We looked at dates, flights and some activities we wanted to do in the area. But then, I got a little idea…

What if we took a mini-vacation, within our vacation?

I looked into the possibility of spending a couple days driving up to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park. And, naturally, we’d have to spend some time in Wyoming too.

But then my husband suggested that it might also make sense to lengthen the trip and go visit some family in New Mexico. So the logical plan became flying into Albuquerque, driving up to Denver for a week, and then heading to South Dakota. But we couldn’t agree on a city to fly home from at the end of the trip.

One thing led to another, and somehow I got Brent to agree to road trip the whole thing.

Over the next month we planned out all of our big stops and the tentative dates that we’d try to hit them. We decided that our whole itinerary was do-able in a 3 week time frame. Obviously we would love to spend unlimited time everywhere, but we came up with a realistic plan that worked for us.

At some point we presented the road trip plan to our children and the first thing Mary Grace said was “ooh, we’re going to be SO close to the Grand Canyon, can we PLEASE add that to the trip?”

It’s pretty hard to explain to a 10-year old why going 12 hours out of the way on a 100+ hour road trip makes a big difference. And before we knew it, we’d somehow agreed to make it happen.

A rough idea some stops along our route!

At this point, we have our dates pretty locked down. And our blocks of time somewhat set for each area. We’re starting with the major stops: Dallas, Albuquerque, The Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon, Denver, Mount Rushmore, Omaha and Little Rock. And then we’re filling in as time allows with all the places along the route.

We’ve set aside this weekend to do some major planning with the kiddos. I really want them to be a big part in selecting our activities for this trip. Here’s a few ways I’m going to “help” them plan:

  1. Roughly sketch our route on a map to give them an idea of the states we will be traveling in and through.
  2. Get out all our copies of Little Passports. Every month we receive information on a different state. The kids LOVE going through the books and learning all about the various highlights of each state. I think these will be the best resource in helping them come up with some great ideas! (There is currently a Little Passports’ “Sweet Deal” if you sign up for a subscription.) 
  3. Encourage them to closely look through our Passport To Your National Parks book to find all the National Parks along our route. We all love getting our book stamped and it’s a fun way to see lots of interesting, natural and historic areas.
  4. Narrow down all our options by selecting our top activity for every state.


From there I will have the fun, but difficult task of putting it all together! I can’t wait to share with everyone how it all falls into place.

As an exciting “bonus” feature of this post, I’m going to attempt to do our first ever Facebook Live this weekend as we plan. Hopefully this will give you a realistic glimpse into our planning. I have no doubt there will be at least one fight or attitude problem among the kids, and/or a few major mishaps in the camera angles.

If you haven’t already connected with Mom With A Map on Facebook, be sure to do this today so you don’t miss out on what promises to be an entertaining first attempt at live video!

You might also enjoy reading:

Road Trip Recap: From How To Why

Travel Rewards Credit Cards And Why You Need One

Best Trips For Young Kids

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