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The Daddy's Guide to Road Trips

There is something alluring about the open road. Every year countless families hit the highways for their great summer road trip. Whether it's heading to Yellowstone, the beach, or the Grand Canyon millions upon millions of people start out their trips with such promise, only to wonder what the heck they were thinking about by the end. I've been on a few trips like this myself. A drive from New Jersey to Florida sounds like a great idea at first, but by the end you swear that you will NEVER do it again.

But we do. After all it's the open road and there is a lot to see.

Having gone on numerous summer road trips with my family, I've found a way to make these trips a little more satisfying... for myself. Don't ask my wife or kids about them because I am sure they would have an entirely different opinion altogether. Here are ten simple rules to make your journey that much more enjoyable.

1. The arrival time that your GPS tells you is merely a goal.

If your GPS tells you that you will arrive at your destination at 5:34, then you better not get there any later than 5:25. The GPS only takes into account speed limits when calculating your arrival time. There are things like prevailing winds, traffic, and bathroom breaks that come into play. The trick is building up enough of a time buffer that if you do stop for any reason you won't be pushed behind that magic arrival time that the GPS gives you. However...

2. There is no stopping.

You need to pee? You are going to have to hold it. You want a snack? I packed you a cheese stick. That should get you through at least Barstow.

3. Bring an empty cup.

I have kids and they always have to go to the bathroom at the worst times. It's never at a rest stop, (not that I would ever stop at one) it's always as we are crossing something like the George Washington Bridge in New York City during rush hour. The point is, with an empty cup you always have a bathroom on hand.

4. Pack snacks, lots and lots of snacks.

Kids will only eat snacks and never a full meal. With snacks there is no reason to ever go to a place like Cracker Barrel where you know that you will never leave.

5. The destination is way more important than the journey.

Sure there is a lot to see on the open road, but you picked where you were going for a reason. Nothing will be as spectacular as the Grand Canyon on the way to seeing the Grand Canyon. No giant ball of twine, no Corn Palace, and definitely not the highest point of a state like Kansas. Pick your route and stick with it. Remember that GPS arrival time? If you get sucked into a place like Winslow, Arizona you will never get there in time.

6. The radio is mine.

I get to listen to what I want to listen to; it's one of the perks of being the driver. If you don't like that I want to listen to sports talk radio, then maybe it's time to take a nap.

7. The only time that you can stop is to get gas.

HOWEVER, nobody can leave the car but me. As soon as anyone else leaves the vehicle, a quick five minute fill up turns into a 25 minute shopping spree at the convenience store. We have snacks and we have a cup, there is no reason to get out.

8. There is no singing songs together.

We all enjoyed watching the Brady Bunch as they traveled to the Grand Canyon, but do you honestly think that was a fun car ride? If my family started singing "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain" I might have to drop them off at the next rest stop. I like music, but my kids singing voices are way too pitchy. Car radios exist so we don't have to listen to each other sing.

9. Give your kids a camera.

They can take pictures of this great country of ours from the backseat of the car. When we get to our destination, we can look back and see what we missed along the way. The pictures will be blurry and out of focus, but after 500 miles in the car, everything will look that way.

10. We get there when we get there.

Nobody needs to hear someone ask, "How much longer?" You can see the little arrival time on the GPS, that is when we will get there. Assuming that we don't stop to look at anything, buy anything, or do anything we will get there earlier than when it tells us we will. And that is the ultimate goal of the summer road trip.

Of course before you embark on your summer road trip you should check with your Insurance Connection agent to make sure your car is covered in the event of an emergency. Aside from getting gas, the only other time that are allowed to stop is if you are in an accident. Let us hope that doesn't happen!

- ​This article, by John Willey, originally appeared at

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