Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2-Month Road Trip, with Toddlers!

Hi Jamie

I have found your website very inspiring whilst getting our road trip ideas together. We are planning on a big 75 day trip exploring the USA with our two preschoolers, before heading to New Zealand .

As it stands, our trip is divided into three parts, and any thoughts, or advice you may have would be appreciated.

Part 1: Arrive New York, then hire a car to travel down to Washington DC via Lancaster, Amish country, etc.

Part 2: Fly to Florida and spend time down there with a hire car.

Part 3: Fly to Colorado Springs, and hire an RV. Travel across country: Moab, Monument Valley, Tuba City, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Las vegas, Yosemite NP, Morro Bay. Take coastal route up to San Francisco and beyond. Possible end point Portland?

It is Part 3 that we are not sure of.... Our main problem is we do not know where to finish so that we don't have to do much travel to either get to LAX, or Vancouver to fly to New Zealand? We have been recommended Colorado Springs, so thought that could work as the point to fly to from Florida, but you might be able to suggest something else? Thinking possibly cutting out Las Vegas (maybe not the best place to see with preschoolers in tow!?) and taking a more direct route to the coast? Any advice about doing this in a RV would be great to!

It is all very exciting and we have a huge USA map on the wall with post-it notes stuck all over it!

I look forward to your reply.

Best wishes,

Nichola, United Kingdom


Hi there Nichola --

Many thanks for your message -- that is one big trip you are contemplating !

First thought -- what time of year do you anticipate taking this trip? Summer I hope, for the most reliable weather -- though Florida would probably be nice any time of year.

I think your outlined RV route sounds pretty good -- is there a rental RV company in Colorado Springs that makes you want to start there? Otherwise I think Denver is easier to get in and out of by airplane -- from Florida, and/or flying on to New Zealand. One thing I have noticed is that round-trip rentals work out cheaper than one -ways, and since you have so much time it might be easier to work out a loop that brings you back to your RV starting point. You also get the benefit of being a little more familiar with your locales, rather than always heading to somewhere new.

I'm recommending this loop option for another reason -- if you come back to the Rockies, you could see the very spectacular sights of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons national parks, as well as perhaps some of Montana. In a 3- or 4-week trip you do all you describe, at an enjoyable pace, and then from Oregon head east via the Columbia Gorge into Idaho and Yellowstone (which I think would be fun for the little ones -- Old Faithful geyser is a real wonder of the world, and it goes off like clockwork - just about every hour on the hour!).

And not far from Yellowstone is the wonderful town of Cody, Wyoming, which has a world-class Wild West museum and one of the most popular rodeos in the USA. Again, great stuff for a 6-year-old's imagination, and future memories.

Las Vegas, too, is fine for kids -- there are plenty of family-friendly attractions (circuses, roller-coasters, and theatrical pirate ship extravaganzas staged right on "The Strip"! ), and it can be a good place to take a break from the RV. 24 hours is probably enough time to spend there, but if you're nearby it is definitely something to see. (Also, Las Vegas has huge, and sometimes very affordably priced, resort hotels convincingly designed to recreate or at least evoke the splendours of Venice, Paris, New York City and the Pyramids of Egypt.

Hope this helps -- and I hope you get a chance to check out my 900-page book version of Road Trip USA as well. It has a lot of info and ideas that aren't "up" on the website (and last time I checked the book is on sale at Amazon.co.uk -- 35% off! Free Shipping! Hard sell over... )


I also wanted to ask -- will you be returning from New Zealand after this great adventure? And has the big earthquake down there altered your plans at all? Living in California, recent events in NZ and Japan have made me fear the next "Big One" is coming our way. Sorry to end on a downer note -- I hope your trip comes together and that you have a great time! I still have fond memories of my own family RV road trip along pretty much the same route you outline -- and that trip was nearly 40 years ago.

Have fun, and Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen

Road Trip USA

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