Planning the Trip – With Kids

Planning Nov 12, 2011 No Comments

In the spirit of inclusiveness and family cohesion, we invited the kids to sit down with us for a couple of hours tonight to put together our first realistic itinerary.  It’s about time we started looking at making reservations for some places, but if we don’t know where we’re going to be, or when, it’s hard to make any more plans.

So it makes sense to take all of the wish listing we’ve done over the past two months, consult the calendar with a few dozen green circles upon it, and decide what we could visit, and what just doesn’t make the cut.

Sorry, Chimney Rock.  We almost had something, Idaho National Engineering Lab.  We just couldn’t fit you into the trip.

Here’s what we wound up with at the end of the night:

By the way, Google Maps is fine for doing some basic route planning, but there’s a lot more that goes into it.  How many days will we be spending in Durango?  Where will we be on July 4?  Will we be starting our Yellowstone visit on the weekend?  These are important questions!  The best I could do was put together an Excel spreadsheet that tracked from day to day where we would be, and how many miles we’d be traveling on the travel days.  It seemed to work pretty well, even with the rapid-fire changes coming at me from the impromptu planning committee.

It was fun to watch the group dynamic as we talked about our plans, and our destinations.

Domo didn’t care much about where we went, or the order, but wanted to to share fascinating facts and figures about each destination.  McGyver wanted to argue about which road we would be taking from location to location, and suggested that we make a “home base” in Cody, WY from which we’d travel 200-300 miles each day to visit places of interest.  Natasha, for her part, wondered, “It sounds like we’ve been gone a long time, don’t we just want to be getting home?”  Tracie, on the other hand, was more concerned with where we’d be on the crowded weekends than just about anything else.  Put it all together, though, and I think that we have all the bases covered.

We ended the night with a working itinerary and a few observations:

  1. We want to move as little as possible, but see as much as possible.  Day trips where possible from a central base.
  2. We want to limit our daily travel below 300 miles when we do move.  No point spending all of our time driving.
  3. This trip would be a lot easier if we could start and end in Denver.

Our trip, as it stands now, will visit 15 national parks and/or monuments, 16 campgrounds, nine states, 44 days, and 4400 miles.

But, alas, we will not be visiting the Bonnevile Salt Flats, home of the world land speed record.  Sorry, Domo.


Bret Shroyer lives in Minnesota, where he enjoys outdoor activities and road trips in all seasons. He and his wife Tracie raise their three teenage children to be honest, independent, financially savvy and well-traveled. Together with their giant poodle, the Shroyer family strives to find excitement in whatever life has in store today. Bret's day job as a reinsurance actuary provides the resources and the flexibility to lead his family in their common pursuit of adventure.

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