Road tripping with kids in the USA is endless fun, and one of the best ways to experience the states.
Here’s why we think you should hit the road…
1. Driving in the USA is simple
You might be a little apprehensive about crossing the pond and hopping into a car on the other side of the road (if you’re British like us), but hire cars in the USA are large, modern and really easy to drive – they’re all automatic and super comfortable, so you can just focus on the scenery.
Roads are also much bigger – one of the things that will probably surprise you the most about driving in the USA is the vast amounts of space. The bigger cities like LA are traffic-clogged and not much fun to drive in, but as soon as you hit the open road, you’ll often drive for miles without seeing many other cars at all.
Even if you’re not a particularly confident driver you’ll find it’s really easy going. Pretty much all cars have cruise control which makes longer drives a doddle.
2. Driving is the best choice
For some of our destinations, public transport is the easiest solution for travelling around, but attempting long distances by public transport in the USA is not so straightforward.
There are long-distance buses but travelling on them with kids and luggage is hard work and they aren’t considered particularly safe. There are trains too, but services are often not very frequent and the network is not extensive – it’s quicker to drive from San Fransisco to L.A than to take the train.
It’s really hard to get around without your own car in the USA, but if you don’t fancy driving all the time, there’s great public transport in the bigger cities like LA and San Fransisco to give you a little break. To get between major stops on your trip and the national parks, however, driving is the only way.
3. Safety is the number one priority
Luckily, driving in the USA is very safe. Car rentals are modern and come with all the top specification protection you’d expect. Things like side-impact protection, airbags for all passengers and anti-lock braking usually come as standard.
Most states have strict car safety laws – particularly when it comes to driving with children. California, for example, requires kids under two to sit in a rear-facing infant seat in the back seat and children under eight should be buckled into a booster seat or car seat.
But you don’t need to worry, when you book your USA hire car we’ll make sure it comes ready with any of the booster and baby seats you’ll need. Phew!
4. You’ll really enjoy the ride
Aside from functional stuff, self-drive family holidays in the USA are tremendous fun. The US is home to some of the world’s most epic scenery: rugged coastlines, soaring mountain peaks and tiny towns in the middle of nowhere. The USA is the spiritual home of the automobile.
There are spellbinding sections of old Route 66 with atmospheric little towns like Kingman and Seligman that are like movie sets, and the Pacific Coast Highway which runs along much of the California coastline offers vast panoramas of the shimmering ocean and craggy clifftops.
With a hire car, you can really get off the beaten track too. Many of the most spectacular spots in National Parks can only be reached with your own set of wheels. If you have older kids, why not hire a convertible and head out with the top down and your shades on!
5. It’s one of the cheapest ways to travel
The only real alternative for transporting you, your kids and your luggage any distance is a private car with driver. Obviously driving yourself works out a lot cheaper than this option. Distances can be quite long in the USA, but fuel is significantly cheaper than in the UK and Europe.
And even if you do use public transport, you’d pay out for a ticket for each passenger. If you’re driving you only have the one car, no matter how many are riding in it. So self-driving on USA family holidays often works out the cheapest way to go if you want to cover several different places.
6. You can carry lots more stuff
Travelling with kids – particularly younger ones – inevitably means you’re pretty loaded up with luggage. Even if you’re past the stage of pushchairs and child carrier backpacks, there’s swimming gear, hiking boots, maybe even a scooter or two to fit in bags. What’s great about having your own car is you can leave all that stuff in the boot. Stop for the night at your hotel or guest house and you’ll only have to unload your overnight gear. Now you just need to get organised about how you stow your stuff!
It’s also easy to pack snacks and drinks for the journey so if one of your gang is hungry you don’t all have to stop straight away. US hire cars are spacious with lots of pockets and storage space for books, toys and drinks. Each child can have fun organising their own things so they know exactly where to find them.
7. You get to spend more time together
Many of the families that book our self-drive holidays to the USA tell us they found the time in the car was surprisingly rewarding. You’re all together and there’s time to chat and share experiences. Games of I-Spy, singing along to favourite songs – being on a road trip together is fun and immensely rewarding.
So leave the iPads and DVD players in the suitcases. They might complain at first but you’ll soon find it encourages conversation (something parents with teens will know is often a rare occurrence!)
8. The choice is yours
We’re careful to build plenty of time into our driving itineraries, as perhaps the best thing about having a car rental for your family holiday is just being able to stop off wherever and whenever you want. Seen an epic view that just has to be photographed? No problem, just stop and spend time taking it all in.
Want a photo by that sign? We say, go for it!
And of course, you can stop for snacks whenever you fancy too. Why not pack a picnic and find that perfect spot with spectacular scenery, it’ll be just you and your sandwiches.
Before you book your trip we’ll work out the best routes with you and suggest side trips and stop-offs that we think you’ll enjoy.