Piling in the car and heading out for a road trip is the most classic of family vacations.   But, hang on. Why should mom and dad do all of the work? Last summer, we gave our teen and tween aged daughters the responsibility of back-end construction and execution of  the 2.5 week itinerary.  Suddenly, they weren’t tolerant back seat participants but pedal- to -the- metal drivers. The goal? An entertaining road trip that gives kids with a sense of ownership in a family tradition.

Stanley Park, Vancouver

We were bound for the Pacific Northwest. After I set the course of the trip- Vancouver, Seattle, San Juan Islands, Glacier National Park and Bozeman- my daughters were tasked with researching the nuts and bolts of the trip (weather, hotel addresses)  as well as supplying a wish list for where they wanted to eat and which activities they wanted to try. Then, they had to sell the choices to us.  For years I have created worksheets for my kids to guide the research of proposed destinations. They always complain. But, upon arriving at place and recognizing something they have read about, the aha moment is worth the investment.

Overnight Amtrak train to Glacier from Seattle

Capturing the majesty of Glacier National Park

Their technology obsessions were particularly useful. Why? Circumstances forced them to swap drop mindless snapchat and silly games to keep us on track.

Riding horses, Montana

Here’s how it played out. After consulting travel sites and apps (Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Yahoo Weather) they created an itinerary on a shared Google Doc. Then, they input the data into TripIt. With all of the addresses in place, they downloaded navigation apps  (Citymapper, Amtrak, Google maps) to make the adventure as efficient as possible.  Both girls researched restaurants (Open Table, Urban Spoon, Eater) and kept track of the trip digitally on Live Trekker. Periodically, all photos from phones and cameras were downloaded onto Dropbox.

Scootering around San Juan Islands

Our road trip was a success. And, the kids have graduated to tour guides.