If you are like me, you don’t like to be tied to just your local campgrounds, especially if you can get a whole week off of work. We love checking out new states, but super long drives can be a real drain on a vacation for kids, especially when you are going to cover distances that take more than a day of driving. We learned a new way to break up this driving when we took our trip to Texas over the week of Thanksgiving in 2009 and again in the spring of 2010 on our spring trip to Arkansas. I have figured out a way to plan a trip across multiple states and not be completely worn out from the long drive when we got home. In the past, if we were going to visit a place that required major driving to get there, (more than 10 to 12 hours) we would put the pedal to the metal with a straight through drive and get there as fast as we could, then do the same thing at the end of the week coming home.
What we do now, is shorten our stay at our primary destination to the weekdays and enjoy a weekend of camping somewhere halfway to our destination and again halfway coming home. For example, when we went to Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, which would have been about 11 hours of driving pulling the camper. We spent Saturday night at Lake Wappapello State Park in Missouri which was about halfway to Petit Jean State Park. We arrived early enough to Lake Wappapello to let everybody stretch their legs around camp for the afternoon and enjoy a nice campfire in the evening. We would have headed out Friday afternoon and spent friday and saturday night at Lake Wappapello, but the weather was absolutely horrible friday night and we opted to leave saturday morning.
We checked in at Petit Jean Sunday night and still had 5 nights and 4 full days to enjoy Petit Jean before checking out on Friday morning. I always try to get within 8 hours of home for the last weekend stop and Roaring River State Park in southwest Missouri fit that bill. We were able to spend Friday and Saturday night at Roaring River and enjoy the weekend at a whole new destination before driving the rest of the way home on Sunday. This helped us avoid an 11 hour straight drive home on Sunday and we got to enjoy another park and experience.
This method of splitting up long distance travel does two things for you; you get to break up the drive and see what a couple other places have to offer. The weekend stays are really no different than if you went camping for the weekend and headed back home on Sunday. I always dreaded being on the road all day, two days in a row. It’s never easy covering great distances while pulling a camper, and kids aren’t big fans of being locked in carseats for 2 days in a row. Shortening our midweek stay to add the weekend camping on each end, halfway from home, has really helped us out. This still gives you four full days at your main destination, which should allow you enough time to cover the main attraction and sites. If it doesn’t give you enough time, that just means you need to go back again!
What are some of the things that you do to split up a long distance road trip?