Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Let’s face it, we all love family time and togetherness but even the best intention trip has tense times especially with small kids. Driving is tiring even for those of us who love to drive. Even the fun of seeing, learning, experiencing and doing becomes exhausting. I can remember on a road trip with my family to Glacier National Park driving back into the park for a second day I’m looking over and telling my wife suddenly I just can’t do this! I just can’t hike anymore. I just can’t drive anymore. I’m exhausted and I’m not enjoying myself. Instead of soldiering on like my trip was my 9-to-5 job we turned around, went back to the hotel, and found a massage therapist in the town of Whitefish, Montana that could see us both. The next day we woke refreshed and ready to enjoy the next leg of our trip.
Now when we travel for three or four weeks on a road trip we schedule rest days in advance. If you think about it in your normal life you don’t work for seven days. You have time to yourself, time for a little television, time for a walk by yourself, or time to just browse your phone or read. Sometimes when we’re traveling all day and were having a blast I have to remember to take a little bit of time just for self especially when parenting is involved with excited children. Also, If you are type A like me, you vacation as hard as you work, seeing this, experiencing that, all to the fullest extent sometimes actually killing yourself trying to have fun. I know my most exhausted days have been at Disney with my children. You’re having a blast but you’re so exhausted sometimes with blinding tiredness you cease to enjoy yourself.
How do we plan a rest day? A rest day might be a day to just hangout on the beach or around the pool and read. During a long trip my wife and I also schedule at least one or two massages. She keeps the kids and I go to the spa, then I keep the kids and she goes. Sometimes a resort with a spa is one of our destinations on a long road trip. For example this year both the Wynn in Las Vegas and Ritz Carlton Dove Valley in Tucson are destinations along with a host of national parks. Hiking and driving make for sore backs and remember you are on vacation!
Time for yourself need not be extravagant, thankfully almost every hotel has a small exercise room. Take a walk on the treadmill or lift some weights. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve simply walked around a hotel’s parking lot to get some movement after seven or eight hours in the car. In warmer months the pool also is a great choice for time for yourself, but I must admit to even enjoying a few moments to myself doing laundry!
Another way we break up long road trips is by planning mini-destinations in the middle of the day. This can even be a picnic lunch at a rest area or stopping to see a point of interest. We always try to see if a fun restaurant, downtown or even a park can be a rest stop. One of the best places we ever stopped was in Cordilain, Idaho allowing our boys to play on the largest playground I’ve ever seen with Subway sandwiches on the grass.
All of this to say, on a long three week road trip you must seek time for your own sanity or else someone may get buried in the dessert and it might be you!