ADVENTURE FAM 101
ADVENTURE FAM 101
Wow, it’s official. We have crossed the country via road trip with our 2 toddlers 3 times AND LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT! We’re sharing a few products that have made life on the road easier, a few tips and tricks for visiting national parks with kiddos & how to manage expectations so you can have the maximum fun as a family! What’s that saying? “You only have 18 summers with your kids!” Thats so wild. But you know what else is wild? The fact that kids want a snack in the car every 3 minutes and it might make you pull your hair out!
A L I T T L E B A C K G R O U N D
We’re a family of 4 who loves traveling and exploring national parks with our two little boys. Ryker age 5 and Levi age 2. I would never trade the memories we have made as a family traveling and camping in our vintage trailer. Her name is Birdie and she is a 1966 Shasta. Super cool vibes but not a ton of amenities. So we have to get a little creative.
We’re currently relocating from LA TO FRANKLIN,TN. We think this change for our family is going to be life giving! We saw the vision for our family and we are just going for it! More green space, slower pace of life and so much more drew us to this beautiful new east coast life!
Favorite Road Trip Products
t h e b a s i c s
Create realistic expectations with your partner of what amount of time in the car is so able for your kids daily. We know if we drive more than 5 hours a day it’s usually meltdown central. So we plan accordingly. We often try and quit while we are ahead to ensure that once we get to our destination we have smiles (for mom and dad too).
I am always searching Instagram, Pinterest or google for playgrounds, farms or cool juice bars (doesn’t have to be fancy!) on our route. Remember, anything new and different is exciting to your kids. If you see a deer in a field make sure you have the built in time in your route to stop and let them observe, learn and create memories. Remember that’s what it’s about to them, not getting to your destination!
s n a c k s
We all know it gets its own category because for kids it’s a way of life! Make sure snacks are accessible. To you or them depending on their age. I always save a lollipop, fruit snacks or a desired snack for later in the day. I don’t pull out the big guns until I can see things going down hill. I always have grapes, cheese sticks, cashews freeze dried apples etc handy. If they want to eat all day in the car “OK, but I remember I’m the parent and I’m in charge of what I give them.” Too much junk = cranky kids.
a c t i v i t i e s
YES, MY KIDS WATCH THEIR IPADS ALOT. But again- I remind myself I’m the parent and I’m in control of when it’s time to take a break and do something else. I always grab each of them a handful of new toys from dollar tree and a blank notebook so they can draw. My boys are car obsessed so I try and have them choose a few cars to bring but i also choose a few larger cars that aren’t so easily dropped. After all I don’t want to spend my entire trip turned around picking up cars off the floor. Hello hurt lower back.
b o u n d a r i e s
I’ll just say it. I‘M NOT MY KIDS SNACK BITCH. Yes I can help them but I want to do it with a happy heart and not a resentful one. This is why I create car boundaries. I have time when “mommy is closed” and they know that I’m choosing to do with my time in the car what i wish. I think this is a good skill for us to model for them. Everyone gets to spend their time how they wish and boundaries for what you need are healthy. Ironically, my husband (the driver) seems to not need these and is rarely bothered (crickets...) If they want to show or tell me something I remind them about their notebook. They can jot in there and remember to tell me after my quiet time is over.
NATIONAL PARKS WITH KIDS
Repeat after me. THIS CAN BE FUN. Even if you are an indoors gal.
Whether your staying in a hotel, a campground or a glamping tent national parks are an inexpensive way to create fun family memories. They aren’t free but they are dang sure cheaper than Disney and are the perfect place to bond as a family. Watching my kids experience new things, develop new vocabulary, learn first hand how to try something hard and accomplish it is MAGIC!
FAVORITE FAMILY CAMPING PRODUCTS
GO EARLY in the day
Some national parks especially in the summer fill up really quickly. We have seen their entrances close by 10am due to being at capacity (Arches).
Some national parks require a shuttle ticket that regulates when you can access certain areas (Zion). Make sure to research ahead of time and snag shuttle tickets at 5pm mst the night before.
Go explore after 5pm. The rangers and the line will be gone so you can enjoy the last few hours at the park without waiting in a line or dealing with a ton of traffic.
TAKE A HIKE literally
My 5 year old has been hiking with us since he was 2 with his own feet! Yes if it’s a hike longer than 2 miles we still carry my 2 year old in a hiking backpack. Find a kid friendly hike and pack a few snacks they don’t know about and whip them out at the perfect time to keep their energy up. We just did a 6 mile hike in Arches National Park and my 5 year old said “wow look how much I’ve already done.” That guy is what it’s about. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS! Some things are tough and are worth the effort! I love making that a hands on lesson for my kids instead of something we just talk about.
Get the national park pass. You pay for a year and you don’t have to pay to get into any of the parks. if you don’t have this each park is around $35. So it definitely makes sense if you plan to visit more than 1!
Park Specific Tips from our travels:
Zion National Park: shuttle tickets can be hard to come by. But very worth it. We recommend a hiking stick & grippy water shoes if hiking the narrows. Our 5 year old still talks about this hike. We love camping at Watchman Campground inside the park. We have had great luck getting cancellation spots if you check around 8:30am each morning leading up to your trip.
Bryce Canyon: this is one of our favorites with kids because it’s small. You can do it in one day and most of the hikes are very kid friendly. They are basically a beautiful walk around all of the HOODOO’s. Probably the coolest landscape of the parks in our opinion.
Arches National Park:
the winds in arches are no joke!! I would recommend a hat with a strap under your kiddos chin since it is so sunny. This park is really large and there is so much to see. i would recommend bringing A picnic and not planning to leave the park for the day once you are in. The line can get very long.
Not a national park but the hub city for so many of them. We loved going into Moab for coffee, donuts and a brewery dinner. Here were a few of our favs. •MOAB GARAGE COMPANY (coffee)
•MOAB BREWERY (kids food comes on a frisbee they get to keep)
•FOOD TRUCK AREA (we had amazing green smoothies)
Glacier National Park:
We saw so much wildlife in this park and my kids loved it! I definitely recommend a kids Dramamine for this park as it is very windy. My kids call this “car candy”. There was a general store/ice cream shop outside the gates and we couldn’t resist a little afternoon treat.
Grand Canyon: We have been to the Grand Canyon twice but never hiked there. The lodge was closed due to covid so it was an uneventful rather quick trip for us. We camped at Mather Campground and it was beautiful. Deer walking through your campsite and not too far from town.
Yellowstone: This park is huge. I would recommend breaking it up into several days but as far as my boys are concerned the bison steal the show here. They are everywhere. We would pull over and just watch them for embarrassingly long and they loved it.
The Highlight of this park for us was traveling with our own canoe and exploring via the lakes. So beautiful. So tiring but worth it. You have to have your water craft inspected at each lake you take it to so the algae isn’t cross contaminated (or something like that?) so not sure if we would do it again but definitely epic to say we did it! This national park is close to Jackson Hole, WY and we loved camping outside the park and exploring everything WY has to offer!