Why You Should Totally Plan a Fall Family Road Trip

The content of this post is sponsored, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer vacation is a thing of beauty. There are no lunches to pack. No mountain of notices to read. And please let the record show that I am profoundly in favor of two straight months when my family does not have to put on pants before 8am.

I guess you could say I’m summer’s biggest fan.

In fact, if summer vacation were a person, it would be Dr. Derek Sheppard. Warm, inviting – but taken from us far too soon. If you were wondering, yes, I have personified all school holidays to an apropos Grey’s Anatomy character. It’s a super fun party trick.

My only gripe with McSummer vacation is I always feel like it’s over before it’s even begun. We kick off the first few weeks of vacation with a bang, but before I know it – I’m back, slowly meandering through Target, mindlessly throwing three-ring binders and pencil pouches in my cart, as a single tear rolls down my once sun-kissed cheek.

So that’s how we ended up four weeks into the school year and headed for the beach. Did my first grader miss several days of valuable instruction time? Yes. Did my preschooler lose an opportunity to acclimate to the routine at his new school? Totally. But I’m willing to bet on a stack of sand dollars that the memories we made this week will more than make up for it because early-fall road trips are the new summer vacations. Here’s why:

There were zero lines.

Some people are really good at waiting in lines. I am not one of those people. You’ve never seen a 32-year-old woman regress emotionally faster than when I am confronted with a situation that will require me to stand in line for more than 10 minutes. So I was incredibly thankful that not only was there zero traffic as we cruised down the highway, but there was nary a wait to be found at any of our favorite beachside hangouts.

Also worth mentioning was the fact that there were the exact right amount of other families with kiddos around. We all know that it’s no fun to be the only family at the beach with little ones, because you’re always worried about disturbing those trying to actually relax, but if your vacation destination is crawling with kids – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I am here to tell you guys, an early-fall vacation comes stocked with the perfect amount of other families. Just enough so that your children are engaged with new playmates, but not so many that you want to pull your hair if you get splashed one more time.

Apparently, when you take an early–fall road trip, lines and crowds just are not a thing!

We were all so ready for a break from the new school routine that even the 7-hours in the car felt like a treat

For us, August and September usually feel a little stressful, because like everyone else, we’re trying to synch-up with our new school year schedule. After almost two months, we’re just about settled into our new routine, but definitely felt like we could use a breath of fresh, non-school related air.

I credit this need for a break, along with our loaner (and completely crumb-free!) Mazda CX-5 for our first EVER meltdown-free road trip. Thanks to all the room in the trunk, our kids had enough of their own space in the backseat and no one felt like they were sharing their space with all of the supplies Mom over-packed. It was definitely the best family suv we’ve had the privilege of taking on a road trip with our kiddos! And, get ready for this…

We made the 7-hour trip in… 7:30 hours.

It’s true that my kids may have resented the access my husband and I had to the 90’s Pop XM station, but I want the record to show that we may have had one of the best-ever sing-a-longs to “Everybody Dance Now”.

That in and of itself made the trip totally worthwhile.

Nobody needed the aloe I brought

Like most moms of young children, I am an excellent a making preparations for vacation. It’s not a gift I’ve always possessed; it’s seemingly something that switched on when I became a parent.

Travel Pre-kids: I basically bought a new hairdryer every time I left the state.

Travel with Kids: I am essentially a mobile Super Walmart.

So of course, when gathering supplies for our beach trip (which looked eerily similar to how I would prepare our family for the apocalypse), I included a 54oz. bottle of body lotion with soothing aloe. Obviously. However, because our trip actually took place after the clock struck autumn, we walked away from our vacation with nary a new freckle or a sunburned cheek. This is highly unusual for our family of fair-skinned children and olive-skinned grownups. I’m not super good about following that whole “one application of SPF 35 isn’t sufficient for an entire day on the beach” rule.

I’ll learn. One of these days.

Our fall road trip was so successful, we will most likely end up making it a yearly tradition. And because we’ve apparently gotten so good at hitting the road, for our next classic American road trip we may just set our sights on the Golden Coast!


  1. I love this plan. To be honest you had me at “no crowds” because that is what steers me aways from summer vacations. So not a fan of crowds! We are hoping to plan a little mini getaway with the kids in a few weeks. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Looks like fun! When I was young, my parents would take us down to Disney every Fall. It is hard now to vacation during the year because it needs to be approved by the school. Def need to take the kids on a road trip though anyways.

    • We had to write a note to “excuse” it, but thankfully our kiddos are young enough that missing school wasn’t a huge deal 🙂

  3. I have some friends who always go camping in the fall. They love it. The weather is still amazing but the sites are empty!

  4. Fun! I took a 13 hour roadtrip with my 1 year old twins and 4 year old for a ski trip in New Mexico last fall. Let’s just say it was not ideal…haha. Hoping to go on another road trip when my twins are around 3.


  5. We started taking vacations in the fall or right after the holidays and have found them to be so much more enjoyable! No lines is a big deal!

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