About 18 months ago, we made the decision to take our little family of four, plus three pets, out on the road for an epic, cross-country road trip.
Slowly, the plans took shape with some tweaks to how long we would be gone, and which destinations would make the list.
But, here we are now, finally on the road.
We’re about 6 weeks in, and I’ll continue to come in and edit this post as we go along with the details of our route and which stops we make along the way.
Our U.S. Family Road Trip Overview
Who: My husband and I, our two girls (ages 11 and 12), our two dogs (Golden Retriever and terrier-mix), plus our senior kitty who gets lots of special treatment due to her age and health.
What: Road trip across the U.S. in our 37ft travel trailer which we pull with a Ford F350. We travel in the truck when in route, then set up the travel trailer when we’re ready to park.
When: We started in mid-February and plan to travel through the end of July when our oldest daughter starts back at school.
Where: We set out from our home state of North Carolina, then we made a quick drive down to Florida to officially start the trip. Since we’re heading out in the winter, we needed to start in the south.
How: We are continuing to work while we’re on the road. I earn money from this site, and my husband works as a technology consultant who works remotely. We sold my car, since we’ll only need one vehicle while we’re on the road. And, we found a family who needed a short-term rental to rent out our house (fully furnished) while we’re on the road. We are homeschooling the kids while we travel.
Why: Long before we had the kids, we knew we wanted to travel with them. The next thing we knew, the kids were almost grown and, aside from moving around a little, we hadn’t done the traveling and exploring with them that we had always dreamed of. We were both in positions that would allow us to work from anywhere with an internet connection, so we decided to go for it! This time with our kids is so important to us, and we want to create memories and experiences with them that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Plus, this time together is a great opportunity to bond with our two tween girls who are growing up so fast.
Family Road Trip: Florida to Texas
Our Florida Bucket List
We grew up in Florida, so we went in knowing which experiences we wanted to share with the kids. None of us are big into theme parks, so the big ticket parks in Orlando never made it onto our list. We managed to complete about half of the items on this list during our trip through Florida.
- St. Augustine
- Kennedy Space Center
- Snorkeling in the Keys
- Air-boat tour in the Everglades
- Swim with the manatees in Homassassa Springs (it is illegal to touch them, but you can swim with them in the springs)
- Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City (we were there in February)
- Destin Beaches
Our Alabama Bucket List
We knew that most of our time in Alabama would be visiting family, but we still had a few places we wanted to see while we were there. Unfortunately, we had to cut our trip short because of bad storms coming through, and we didn’t make it to any of the places on our list.
- Edmund Pettus Bridge
- National voting Rights Museum
- U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville
- Little River Canyon National Preserve
Louisiana Bucket List
Most of our time in Louisianna was spent visiting New Orleans. We were there during Mardi Gras and there was so much we wanted to do in the short time we were there. We used Rover.com to find a pet sitter for our furry family members and booked a hotel right in New Orleans.
- Mardi Gras
- French Quarter
- Bourbon Street
- WWII Museum
- Garden District
- Jazz at Preservation Hall
- Go on a steamboat river cruise
- Eat crawfish, gumbo, and jambalaya
- Go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee
We had a great time experiencing New Orleans during Mardi Gras. We weren’t staying in the French Quarter, and the crowd was pretty tame overall in the area we were in. Of course, we did take a walk over to where the real party was happening, early in the day, and the kids definitely saw some interesting sights!
We got masks and ate delicious pralines, and even managed to see some parades.
Texas Bucket List
Texas is just such a huge area to cover and there was so much we wanted to do there!
- Cadillac Ranch
- Dinosaur Valley State Park
- Palo Duro Canyon State Park
- Texas Air and Space museum
- National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
- The Alamo
- Visit the Stockyards
- See a rodeo
- Visit a dude ranch
- Canyon Lake Gorge
- Space Center Houston
- Big Bend National Park
The weather had a huge impact on the areas we ended up spending time at. We skipped out on most of northern Texas because of tornadoes and huge, record breaking storms in the area. I believe they were calling the system a “bomb cyclone”. We wanted nothing to do with it!
Where to Next?
Now that we’re out of Texas we plan to go through New Mexico to Arizona, up to the Grand Canyon, then head to California! We’ll head north through California up to Oregon and Seattle, and then start making our way back east.
Interested in taking your family on an RV road trip?
Here are some RV road trip tips for families:
1. Try renting before you buy
We started by renting a travel trailer from Outdoorsy.com and had a very positive experience with it. The trailer came with everything we needed, so we could focus on having fun. You may even find that it makes more sense for you financially to rent an RV for the time you need it instead of buying one outright.
2. Plan loosely
We have a general idea of where we want to be during which months, but we tend to only book our stays a few days or weeks out at a time. This helps us have some flexibility to change our route based on the weather or if we decide we want to leave someplace early or stay longer.
Sometimes we miss out on good spots doing it this way, but for us it’s worth it for the flexibility.
3. Keep some provisions on hand for times with no cell or internet
This happens way more often that I had imagined it would. Thankfully, we have a real road atlas for when we can’t even access maps on our phone. Keep a spare tire (or two!), plenty of water and snacks, and maybe even some extra gas.
4. Purchase a National Parks pass
The pass is around $80 for a year and will get you into National Parks and National Monuments for free. This really adds up if you go to a few throughout the year and is well worth the money. The parks are so beautiful and the pass will pay for itself after visiting 2 or 3 National Parks.
5. Make use of free parking
If you have a self-contained RV, meaning you can cook and use the bathroom inside it, then you can “boondock” for free at some really interesting places.
One of our favorite purchases for our RV trip has been to join Harvest Hosts. This allows us to park overnight for FREE at participating wineries, museums, and farms!
You can also find free parking off the beaten path with the Bureau of Land Management. We haven’t taken advantage of this free RV parking yet, but hope to during our trip at some point.
6. Document your trip
We are trying to remember to take lots of pictures. On a trip with lots of stops, its easy for places to start to blend together. Having a lot of photos to look back on will help keep things fresh! We’re also having each of our kids create a photo book with their own pictures to document their memories.
A travel journal, a blog, even a nature journal are all good ideas.
Have a fun family road trip
If you have any questions or recommendations for destinations add them to the comments below!
You can follow our trip on Instagram, where I update where we’ve been periodically.