What to Watch in Summer Road Trips

A drive through the red-rock landscapes of Sedona and other southwestern vistas is part of National Parks Revealed’s “Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families” itinerary.
A drive through the red-rock landscapes of Sedona and other southwestern vistas is part of National Parks Revealed’s “Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families” itinerary.

Back in the 1950s, a famous Cunard Line advertising slogan promised that, “Getting there is half the fun.” That may still hold true for cruises, but long cross-country drives with bored and restless kids in the back seat is a different story. One solution is to get your clients to their destination as soon as possible (by air, presumably), and have a rental car waiting for them so they can explore at their leisure.

If the itinerary still involves considerable in-car time, find a make and model that will accommodate the number of members in the family — and then suggest one that’s a bit roomier, especially for the kids. They may decide that the bump-up in rate is worth it. You won’t get rich from the additional commission, but you may enrich their experience and help ensure they’ll come back to you to book next summer’s vacation.

Also, since self-drive vacations usually start in one place and somewhere hundreds of miles away, a rental car may again be the preferred option, as companies generally offer one-way rental options, so your clients can choose to fly back home from the last stop on their itinerary.

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National Parks Revealed — a member of Signature and Virtuoso — is launching a number of self-drive (as well as guided) trips this summer, including The Natural Wonders of California for Families. This 10-day experience takes the whole family through six National and State Park areas, as a bonus there is also a stop in the Big Sur region. Guests will start the journey in San Francisco before visiting the village of Pt. Reyes Station and the Pt. Reyes National Seashore; tule elk are often seen in this area. In Redwoods State Park, a guide will educate the family on the famous trees.

On day four, it’s off to Yosemite. The kids will be taught about the natural significance of the park by an actor/guide dressed as John Muir, the original pioneer that discovered the area. The trip also includes a drive on the scenic Highway 1. Tip: Ask if the rental car comes with a GPS system or if one is available to rent; cell service can be spotty in the great outdoors.

Another itinerary available from National Parks Revealed is The Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families journey. This is suitable for families with both younger and slightly older children, as there is a range of activities in store. Older children will love the opportunity to go on a four-wheel drive in Sedona Canyon Country and star gazing with a local astronomer. For younger “Jurassic Park” fans there is also time to take a hike to see fossilized evidence of dinosaurs. This trip can be crafted as a self-drive or chauffeured experience. Consider renting a green-friendly vehicle, after all this trip is about appreciating nature.

National Parks Revealed also offers Great American Road Trips, with evocative names such as California Dreamin’ – Highway 1 and Get Your Kicks – Route 66 that visit national parks, monuments, preserves, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, recreation areas and more.

Route 66 is also the focus of a self-drive tour from Kuoni, running from Chicago to Los Angeles with 10 city overnights in between, including St. Louis; Santa Fe, NM; Flagstaff, AZ and Las Vegas. Among several other such programs from Kuoni are Classic Mid-Atlantic and the cross-country America the Beautiful, both offered in conjunction with Insight Vacations. Other companies that offer self-drive programs include Auto Tours USA, Intrepid Travel and Southwest Adventure Tours.

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