I have an aversion to traveling on holiday weekends, but when friends invited us to use their lake house in northern Pennsylvania this past Memorial Day weekend, we couldn’t say no. It was a good chance to get out of the city for some special family time and soak in some nature.
It was, technically, our first road trip as a family. We’ve taken our time hitting the road with S and H; they don’t love being in their car seats for long, and for their first year home, we preferred to avoid unnecessary meltdowns. But we figured the “about three hour” trek to Eagle’s Mere, PA, would be a manageable baby step. Of course, that driving-time projection was according to our friends, who are not only familiar with the myriad winding roads you have to take to get there, but never have young children riding in their back seat. It took us five hours each way, which included stopping to eat, and some unexpected road work.
Also, I forgot how long it takes to pack for a family — and for this trip, in addition to our personal belongings, we were bringing groceries, bedding, games and art supplies in case we had rain, snacks for the car, etc. (I realized when we got there that I have a ways to go when it comes to mastering road-trip packing: We brought way too much — especially in the clothing department.)
All this meant that we left later than intended and arrived later than expected, which gave us only one full day there. But we made the best of it and had a fantastic time: We hiked (there are so many beautiful parks up there, with waterfalls and hiking trails galore) got some beach time at the lake, had a first-class cookout, and roasted marshmallows in the fire pit. The weather was gorgeous the whole time, and our friends’ house was the perfect getaway place. If there’s a next time, we’ll make sure to spend at least two full days up there, but we’re still glad we went.
The girls had a blast, and while the trip there was a bit of a bear — they began whining “Are we there yet??” about an hour into the trip — the way home went much better. Napping helped; so did stops at Cracker Barrel. (I think the girls may have enjoyed the rocking chairs out front more than the biscuits.)
Are you a road-tripping family? What are your tips for making them enjoyable — or at least tolerable — for young children and parents?
Images: Zoe Saint-Paul and B