Road trips may not be all that new and interesting to you: Maybe you drive to the same destination each summer to visit extended family, or travel to the same place for fall getaways. Don't reject the concept out of hand, though. Try varying the route, stopping at different parks, museums, historic sites and other attractions along the way.
Road trips make it easy to add variety to your summer excursions. Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and tourist attractions in Cherokee and Asheville, N.C., and Gatlinburg, Tenn., one year. Or see how many of the national parks in Utah, Arizona and Colorado you can hit. Wander among Mississippi River Civil War battlefields, ending with a stay in New Orleans. Is your time limited? Explore your state's parks and historic sites. Is time no object? Take the family on a cross-country expedition.
Campers have their own version of a road trip. Families perfect the art of rolling into a campground, setting up camp and starting an easy supper. Public parks usually have better prices and settings, but they fill up quickly and sometimes have fewer amenities. One strategy is to stay at public parks when possible, but work in stops at commercial campgrounds with full bathrooms and laundry facilities every few days.
Whether you camp or stay in hotels, plan well. Make reservations when possible. If you don't know how far you'll travel in a given day, wait until you have an idea, then call ahead. Don't focus solely on covering distance. Take time to see the sights along the way -- even the unexpected ones.
Think of educational ways to amuse the kids. Print copies of an outline map of the United States, minus state names. See how many state license plates you can spot, and have the kids write each one on the appropriate state.
Summertime traditions don't have to mean travel. Read on for more about making memories closer to home.