Friday, February 04, 2011

Oregon Trail, with Kids

Hi Jamie,

Just came across your website --- I want to get this book! I LOVE roadtrips!! Always have.

So here's my question for most ambitious question: Am I crazy to consider driving the Oregon Trail with my kids (10 and 12 and used to road trips!) during 2 weeks in March (last two weeks, one of which their spring break). The trip East would be just me driving, and then the trip back home to Oregon where we live would be with another adult driver. First, does this seem doable time wise? realistically?? 14 days? we could actually take 17 total possibly.

Would love any advice you'd like to pass along on this question. Thanks so much Jamie!

-Kelly & Kids :)


Hi there Kelly & Kids --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- sounds like you're planning a great adventure, and I hope I can help. Hope you get to check out my book, which has a lot more fun stuff, and is about 5 years more up-to-date, than some of the materials on the website

About your trip -- no, it's not crazy -- you could definitely make it "back east" and home again in 17 days. Are you thinking about going all the way to the tip of Cape Cod? If the weather cooperated, even that could be manageable at less than marathon pace.

But March is a complicated time to be on the road -- especially with kids, who in my experience will want to get out and run around, and not sit still for six hours straight. Because the days are already that much longer, March is miles better than say, January, but you can still hit some nasty blizzards -- which is part of the reason why baseball's Spring Training takes place in March amidst the wildflowers of Arizona, and not in upstate New York.


Since Spring weather will vary, and you won't be at all sure until maybe even a week or so before your trip, the key to happiness on such a trip would be to be flexible -- could you alter your plans if some big storms were forecast for the Rockies & Great Plains? Might your driving companion be able to fly out and meet you somewhere closer to Oregon?

Come summer I would definitely recommend the Oregon Trail route -- especially the trek between Oregon and Yellowstone -- but before you get set on the idea for this March, have a think about other trips you make: down the lovely Oregon coast, for example, which might be less stressful for you and the kids. After all, even the hardy Oregon Trail pioneers didn't brave the trek except in summer!

(Then again, they didn't have Gore-Tex parkas and cars with heaters, either).

Having done some winter travel with my own 12-yr-olds, March can be fun but is much more anxiety-inducing than June or July. And I wouldn't want this trip to put your kids off future road trips!

When I started writing I didn't mean to sound so negative -- so I hope I'm not scaring you off. But you did ask for my advice...

Hope this helps -- please let me know what you think.

Thanks again for writing, and Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


hi again Jamie --

YES, I most certainly DID ask for your advice!! :) And thank you so very much for taking the time to write me back!! I appreciated everything you wrote - and you have given me hope! I really want to take this trip, and in between me writing you and you writing me back I have decided that (as you said) March probably isn't the best month to do this in. For a couple of reasons, yes, some of the have to do with weather, but the bigger reason is I'd like to go and worry less about the time, and have warmer weather and go during the summer when we can enjoy it just a little more!! So now for spring break we're gong to drive down to San Diego and stop in Clear Lake in Northern California for a few nights as well. The Oregon coastline is beautiful and we've not done much of the California coastline. And yes, I did order your book, but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm VERY excited to get it! Thank you again so much for writing!

Happy Trails!

-Kelly & kids...


Blogger S.Thomas said...

My girlfriend and I are considering buying a 14' or 27' moving truck, packing it up with our stuff and driving from MI to Eugene, Oregon during the second week of Feb. Would it be horrible idea?

5:05 AM  

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