Summer road trips: Tips for travel, delightful destinations

WASHINGTON — Pack the snacks and pick the playlist: With summer just a few weeks away, it’s time to start planning your road trips.

Parenting and travel writer Guiomar Ochoa shares a few destinations that are perfect for family fun — plus tips on how to stay sane in the car, where to stop along the way, and what to do when you reach your destination.

‘Are we there yet?’ Tips for taking road trips with kids

A little bit of planning and preparation can help make your road trip a more peaceful experience. Here are some of Ochoa’s top tips for traveling with kids:

  • Make sure to download all forms of entertainment — movies, TV shows, music and podcasts — on phones and tablets before you get in the car, in case you run into areas of spotty service.
  • If your journey requires an overnight stop before you reach your destination, make hotel reservations ahead of time. “Especially in the summertime, it’s important to try to find your halfway point before you leave and make a reservation somewhere because a lot of these hotels and motels book up pretty fast,” Ochoa said.
  • Be mentally and physically prepared for traffic. “It can be grueling on all of us, so you just need to prepare yourself for that. And you will find traffic, no matter what route you take — especially if you’re traveling on holiday weekends,” she added.
  • Slurpees? Soft serve? Ochoa said allow for splurges at gas stations and roadside stands along the way. “Sometimes, you all need a break, you all need to stretch your legs, and a little bit of sugar can go a long way as far as getting you to go another (hour or two) in the car.”
  • Pack lots of snacks for the car trip. Having something to munch on can help break up boredom. Plus, stocking up on your family’s favorite snacks ahead of time will save money at gas stations along the way.
  • Bring a pack of baby wipes with you. These will come in handy in the car and on stops. (It’s not uncommon for public restrooms to run out of toilet paper or paper towels.)
  • “And lastly, pack lots of patience because you’ll need it,” Ochoa said.

Ready to hit the road? A few favorite family road trips:

This June 26, 2015 photo shows visitors taking a horse carriage tour of Cape May, N.J. The city's hundreds of Victorian homes constitute what the National Historic Landmarks program calls “one of the largest collections of 19th century frame buildings” in the United States. Their gables, towers, domes, arched windows and inviting front porches, often trimmed in bright colors, create charming and whimsical streetscapes.  (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Road trip to Cape May, New Jersey There are a few different ways to get to Cape May, a charming Victorian beach town at the southern tip of New Jersey and one of the oldest vacation resort destinations in the country. One option is to drive north on Interstate 95 to Wilmington, Delaware, and then southeast to the destination. This drive takes about three and a half hours from the D.C. area. (AP/Beth J. Harpaz) 
An $11.5 million passenger terminal for the Cape May Lewes Ferry opened Thursday June 7, 2001, in Cape May, N.J. The terminal includes a glass enclosed bridge which connects to the ferry as well as a art gallery, gift shop, out door playground and miniature golf course. (AP Photo Chris Polk)
Road trip to Cape May, New Jersey However, travel writer Guiomar Ochoa said a really fun way to get to Cape May is to drive to Lewes, Delaware — a popular beach destination for Washingtonians, just north of Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany — and take the ferry to Cape May. (Stay a few days in Lewes and then a few in Cape May, or make Cape May a day trip during your Lewes vacation.) “This is great, especially if you have transportation-obsessed toddlers,” Ochoa said about the 90-minute ferry ride. “Honestly, kids are occupied the entire time. You can sit outside, you can sit inside, they have TVs, they have food — it’s just a really fun part of the trip and it gives kids an experience.” (AP Photo Chris Polk) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/CHRIS POLK)
This June 26, 2015 photo shows Leith Hall on Ocean Street in Cape May, N.J. The house is one of hundreds of late 19th century structures included in Cape May's National Historic Landmarks designation. The Victorian houses' gables, towers, domes, arched windows and inviting front porches, often trimmed in bright colors, create charming and whimsical streetscapes. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Road trip to Cape May, New Jersey Once you get to Cape May, there’s plenty to do. History buffs will find nearly 600 preserved, historic buildings throughout the walkable town; beach bums can access sun and sand with a beach tag ($6 a day for individuals 12 years and older); and trolleys transport visitors around town for free. (The ferry does allow cars if you prefer to have your car with you.) If you plan to spend the night, Ochoa recommends staying at one of the resorts in town or renting an old Victorian house. When hunger hits, head to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, or try Dellas 5 & 10 — an old-fashioned soda shop. Washington Street Mall is an open pedestrian space filled with retail shops and candy counters, and the Cape May Fireman’s Museum provides a free experience for kids. “You can walk the promenade, you can eat Italian ice, you can relax on the beach — you really step into a vintage place when you go to Cape May,” Ochoa said. “It’s such a nice escape and a completely different experience from Washington.” (AP/Beth J. Harpaz)
Mike Bradshaw finishes packing his van, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, in a park near Islamorda, Fla., while he prepares to leave the Florida Keys after a three week vacation wind surfing, as Hurricane Ivan's projected path forced an evacuation of the entire 100-miles Keys. He will go to North Carolina before heading home to Montreal, Canada. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
Road trip to the Florida Keys If you’re looking to get away for about a week or so and don’t mind a long drive, Ochoa favors a trip to the Florida Keys. With a journey this long (it’s about a 17-hour drive from the D.C. area to Key Largo), it’s best to have some planned pit stops along the way. A favorite among many who travel the I-95 corridor is South of the Border, a kitschy Mexican-themed destination that straddles the border between North and South Carolina. Take a photo with the kids and stretch the legs while browsing the shops. (AP Images) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/J. PAT CARTER)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR VISIT MYRTLE BEACH - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is best known for its 60 miles of gorgeous coastline with white, sandy beaches and welcoming ocean waters. According to a report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, released on March 18, the entirety of the area's ocean waters – from North Myrtle Beach to Garden City Beach – are clean and safe for the entire family to enjoy, just as they have been for years. For more information on the area and to plan your trip visit www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com. (Willis Glassgow/AP Images for Visit Myrtle Beach)
Road trip to the Florida Keys Another great stop you can use as a halfway point is St. Simons Island, a beautiful little island off the coast of Georgia. “It’s only about 10 miles from I-95, so you’re not veering too much from the I-95 corridor, and it’s really a picturesque seaside resort town with family-friendly beaches and tons of outdoor activities,” said Ochoa, who recommends the beachfront King and Prince Resort for families. When you get back in your car the next day, make a point to stop at the Florida Welcome Center, where you can grab a cup of complementary fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice and a handful of travel brochures. (AP Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2017, file photo, local residents and tourists enjoy a day at the beach in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla. South Beach can be a great place for parents and teens to vacation together, especially if they can go their separate ways at times for beach, pool, shopping and dining. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
Road trip to the Florida Keys “Let the kids get a couple of brochures — even if they can’t read, they can see the pictures and it might kill a little bit of time in the car,” said Ochoa, who also advises spending a night in Miami on the way to the Keys. “Let the kids enjoy the Latin flare of Miami. You really feel almost like you’re in a different country there, and let the family experience that. Let them have the Cuban food, let them relax by the beach,” she said. When you wake up the next morning, it’s only about an hour to Key Largo, and the drive is relaxing and scenic. (AP/Alan Diaz)
Tourists aboard the ship San Jose listen to tour guide Scott Buckley, standing by glass bottom, describe fish and features in the coral reef in Key Largo, Fla., at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1999. The ship holds 98 passengers and makes 3 trips to the coral reef 6.5 miles from the shore of the park. A new boat coming this spring will hold 150 passengers. Well over 100,000 people take the glass bottom boat tour every year. Along with the glass bottom boats they also have 3 snorkle boats the take approx. 60,000 snorklers and divers to the reef throughout the year.  (AP Photo/Mickey Krakowski)
Road trip to the Florida Keys One thing not to be missed while in Key Largo is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park — the first undersea park in the U.S. Ochoa suggests taking a glass-bottom boat ride to get the snorkeling experience without getting in the water. “You can actually see the coral reef underneath. You can have a picnic there, you can do a little hiking if you want,” she said. Morada Bay on Islamorada is another can’t-miss spot in the Florida Keys. This family-friendly retreat has Adirondack chairs everywhere, a beach cafe and a memorable sunset. (AP Images) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/MICKEY KRAKOWSKI)
In this photo taken June 25, 2013 the sun rises over the Isles of Shoals taken from Star Island in Rye, N.H. Since the English explorer Captain John Smith spotted the islands just under 400 years ago, the cluster of nine small islands, five in Maine, four in New Hampshire, have evolved from rough-and-tumble 17th century fishing outpost to posh Victorian-era vacation destination. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)
Road trip to New Hampshire If you have business in New York or Boston, bring the family along and squeeze in a post-meeting adventure. Ochoa points to New Hampshire, where you’ll find mountains, beaches, lakes and more. “This is the place where you want to be outdoors campfires, stargazing, that sort of thing,” she said, adding that the state’s cooler climate is comfortable, compared to D.C.’s summer heat and humidity. (AP/Holly Ramer) (AP/Holly Ramer)
Sailboats participate in a regatta on Lake Winnipesaukee, Saturday, June 4, 2016, in Gilford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Road trip to New Hampshire If you’re traveling with young kids, swing by Story Land in Glen, New Hampshire. In North Conway, take the family on an evening moose safari. Train enthusiasts will love the state’s Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, which winds around Lake Winnipesaukee. There’s also the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which takes riders to the top of the 6,000-foot mountain. Near Hanover, New Hampshire, Ochoa recommends Lake Sunapee, where you can rent boats and equipment and take in the views. “They have crystal clear waters and pine trees that surround it, so it’s just a very peaceful, nice area,” she said. (AP/Jim Cole) (AP/Jim Cole)
Sun rays spill through a gap between the clouds and the White Mountains as the skies begin to clear above Bartlett, N.H., Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The first weekend of autumn is expected to be unusually warm with temperatures expected to reach the upper 80s. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Road trip to New Hampshire For accommodations, Ochoa praises the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa. She said it has large rooms and lots of hands-on activities to keep kids entertained, including daily farming experiences. “They have pony rides, you can swim, they have a private movie theater so you can even see a movie at night if you’re really tired, they have a campfire with the kids, so this is like your quintessential family resort, which is really nice,” she said. In the Mount Washington area, Ochoa suggests the Omni Mount Washington Resort, which is great for year-round travel, since there is skiing in the winter. “It’s not a big state, you can cover a lot of land in a pretty short period of time,” she said. (AP/Robert F. Bukaty) (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
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This June 26, 2015 photo shows visitors taking a horse carriage tour of Cape May, N.J. The city's hundreds of Victorian homes constitute what the National Historic Landmarks program calls “one of the largest collections of 19th century frame buildings” in the United States. Their gables, towers, domes, arched windows and inviting front porches, often trimmed in bright colors, create charming and whimsical streetscapes.  (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
An $11.5 million passenger terminal for the Cape May Lewes Ferry opened Thursday June 7, 2001, in Cape May, N.J. The terminal includes a glass enclosed bridge which connects to the ferry as well as a art gallery, gift shop, out door playground and miniature golf course. (AP Photo Chris Polk)
This June 26, 2015 photo shows Leith Hall on Ocean Street in Cape May, N.J. The house is one of hundreds of late 19th century structures included in Cape May's National Historic Landmarks designation. The Victorian houses' gables, towers, domes, arched windows and inviting front porches, often trimmed in bright colors, create charming and whimsical streetscapes. (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)
Mike Bradshaw finishes packing his van, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, in a park near Islamorda, Fla., while he prepares to leave the Florida Keys after a three week vacation wind surfing, as Hurricane Ivan's projected path forced an evacuation of the entire 100-miles Keys. He will go to North Carolina before heading home to Montreal, Canada. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR VISIT MYRTLE BEACH - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is best known for its 60 miles of gorgeous coastline with white, sandy beaches and welcoming ocean waters. According to a report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, released on March 18, the entirety of the area's ocean waters – from North Myrtle Beach to Garden City Beach – are clean and safe for the entire family to enjoy, just as they have been for years. For more information on the area and to plan your trip visit www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com. (Willis Glassgow/AP Images for Visit Myrtle Beach)
FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2017, file photo, local residents and tourists enjoy a day at the beach in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla. South Beach can be a great place for parents and teens to vacation together, especially if they can go their separate ways at times for beach, pool, shopping and dining. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)
Tourists aboard the ship San Jose listen to tour guide Scott Buckley, standing by glass bottom, describe fish and features in the coral reef in Key Largo, Fla., at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1999. The ship holds 98 passengers and makes 3 trips to the coral reef 6.5 miles from the shore of the park. A new boat coming this spring will hold 150 passengers. Well over 100,000 people take the glass bottom boat tour every year. Along with the glass bottom boats they also have 3 snorkle boats the take approx. 60,000 snorklers and divers to the reef throughout the year.  (AP Photo/Mickey Krakowski)
In this photo taken June 25, 2013 the sun rises over the Isles of Shoals taken from Star Island in Rye, N.H. Since the English explorer Captain John Smith spotted the islands just under 400 years ago, the cluster of nine small islands, five in Maine, four in New Hampshire, have evolved from rough-and-tumble 17th century fishing outpost to posh Victorian-era vacation destination. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)
Sailboats participate in a regatta on Lake Winnipesaukee, Saturday, June 4, 2016, in Gilford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Sun rays spill through a gap between the clouds and the White Mountains as the skies begin to clear above Bartlett, N.H., Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. The first weekend of autumn is expected to be unusually warm with temperatures expected to reach the upper 80s. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)


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