I read these excerpts from an article in the May 2015 issue of FamilyFun Magazine, published by Parents.com, and they really hit the nail on the head for what I endorse in a road trip:
Make Personal Connections
By Laura Billings Coleman
Our family’s vacation road map began to materialize last summer, when 9-year-old Finn asked for a membership to Ancestry.com (go figure). The two of us went right down the rabbit hole, turning up sailors and Puritan settlers up and down the East Coast, including in Groton, Massachusetts, the destination for an October family wedding.
Thus inspired, we took 10 days off from school for a study of colonial America, diving deep into the places tied to our forebears’ arrival in the New World. Starting on Cape Cod, we tracked familiar names around Massachusetts, from Concord (my tenth great-grandfather was a founder of that town in 1635), to Salem (where the wife of our eighth great-uncle was the first to be hanged at the witch trials), to Boston-area Revolutionary War battle sites (where some of our forebears fought as minutemen, and others sided with the crown). My three sons, ages 9, 11, and 12, dutifully documented their discoveries for their history teachers at home, but we were happy being tourists, too, watching whales, visiting art galleries, and eating lobster rolls.
New England in the fall is a fantastic destination for many reasons, but having family connections to uncover gave our travels there an added dimension that kept all three boys curious and full of questions. Seeing family names on gravestones — and even watching a reenactment of the trial of our “Auntie” Bridget Bishop in Salem — brought history home in a whole new way.
Build on a Child’s Passions
By Alisson Clark
Older kids can be notoriously hard to please on vacation. There’s no instant joy from a newly discovered playground, no napping in a stroller while mom and dad take in a museum. So when our son, Owen, started playing trombone in middle school, we planned a trip around his passion for jazz. Our destination: New Orleans, which offers plenty of kid-friendly opportunities to explore the city’s legendary musical heritage.
We arrived during a free festival that drew performers from around the world and began our visit watching a parade of middle- and high-school brass bands. We also saw drum circles and dance groups. And when a strolling band broke into an impromptu show on a street corner, Owen saw that performances don’t have to wait for an end-of-year school concert. Sharing music can always be part of your life.
We had envisioned the trip as a way to deepen Owen’s interest in music, but my husband and I learned things, too. Playing to our son’s expertise meant that he got to teach us (a great way to get older kids to open up). Not only did he explain the difference between a tuba and a sousaphone and what puts the swing in a swing rhythm, he shared more about band, and his life in general, on that trip than he had the whole year!