10 Ways to Ensure Your Next Family Road Trip is a Success

Family road trips don’t have to be a National Lampoon-esque disaster. Especially if you keep these tips in mind.

What comes to mind when you think family road trip? For me, it’s squabbling kids and things going wrong – the things that TV shows are made of.

What if I told you road trips could be awesome with a bit of prep work? With trepidation, we broke in our first minivan by taking our seven-, four-, and one-year-old on a road trip from Calgary to Vancouver Island. I was surprised at the amazing family memory it has become.

Unlike our pre-kid days, we couldn’t just jump in the car and see where the wind took us. Despite our mutual spontaneous personalities, we knew this trip would take some work before hand. If you’re considering hitting the open road for a family adventure here are the things that worked for us.

1 | Take your time getting there

We knew with three kids under eight things never go as planned. We decided to incorporate travel time as part of the adventure. We planned for one week at our destination and one week of travel time stopping for a three-day visit with the family on the way.

The hotel pool slides remain one of the trips biggest highlights for the kids. I’m not sure what it is with kids and hotel pools but it broke up a long drive and gave them something to look forward to after a long day in the car. We also had the time to stop for picnics, hikes, and even a wolf sanctuary.

2 | Optimize car time

I did so much prep work for this trip I actually bought a laminator. The older kids both had binders with games, coloring and activities. Pinterest supplied an unending stream of games and activities to do in the car. New markers and special snacks set this drive apart from just running errands at home.

3 | Create anticipation

Family discussions centered around our trip for weeks before we went. We watched videos of animals on Vancouver Island and perused the websites of places we wanted to go. We looked at maps, read books about whales and the ocean, and anything else I could relate to the trip. By the time we left, the trip was already special in their minds.

4 | Plan double the activities and places to eat so you can be spontaneous

Some people are planners and I greatly admire them, but my husband and I are more of a “what do you feel like doing today?” sort of couple.

We decided to cater to our personalities, but also the kid’s need to have some structure by loosely planning our days. We made a list of everything we were interested in doing. When we arrived, we checked out the weather, gauged how the kids were feeling and decided what to do each day. We limited ourselves to one big outing each day and planned for downtime to create balance.

5 | Prioritize finances

When we first thought about going to the Island I had in mind sitting on the lawn and relaxing while looking out over the ocean. We looked for places to stay that would feel like a home away from home. We quickly realized that with kids – and considering our budget – that probably wasn’t going to happen.  

We slashed our rental budget in half by staying in a small apartment and planning only to sleep and eat there. This gave us an extra few hundred dollars to pay for admission fees and eating out.

6 | Have a project or theme

Having something to collect tied the trip together for us. My girls knew they were going to do a school project on the trip so everywhere we went they took pamphlets. They also took videos and pictures to create a slideshow to send to their classmates.

My theme was coffee. I Instagrammed all the unique, independent coffee roasters we frequented each morning.

7 | Make it memorable with pictures, videos, souvenirs

We took lots of pictures at each stop along the way. A favorite family activity is still scrolling through the snapshots and remembering the good times we had. We also made room in the budget for meaningful mementos. The stuffed sea otter from the aquarium and tin of tea from our high tea experience still remind us of the trip.

8 | Plan for down time

I know myself and I know my kids. We all get easily overstimulated so I made sure that every day we had some down time, even if that meant coming back to the apartment and watching a movie.

We aimed for one restaurant meal a day, leaving the other to be something like sandwiches at the park. I had realistic expectations of how enjoyable eating at restaurants would be so we ordered in a couple times and just ate at the apartment. I didn’t have to cook, and they didn’t have to behave in a restaurant. Perfect.

9 | Know when to say no

There was so much to see and do and so little time. Although we budgeted a fair amount to activities, we also wanted to stretch that money. There were a few things we would have loved to do but weren’t necessarily something everything in the family would have enjoyed. By saying no we avoided some stressful parenting situations and have a list of things we can look forward to doing when we go back without kids.

10 | Make something to commemorate the trip 

My daughter made a big poster to show all the places we drove, visited, and stayed. It was fun to relive the trip, stopping to contemplate all the cool things we’d seen.

Photobooks are another great way to collect all the memories in one place. They tend to bring up the joy of the trip anytime you pull one off the shelf.

We don’t travel as a family very often, so when we do, I want it to be memorable and meaningful. I knew we succeed with this trip when my daughter asked if we could go again. When I told her we were thinking of Disney Land next time, she responded: “Oh ya, Disney Land would be fun, but I really want to go to Vancouver again!”

10 Reasons You Should Take a Road Trip with Your Kids

2,100 miles in an automobile with two kids might sound like a nightmare. But with a hearty sense of adventure (and humor) it could be the best trip ever.

I have twin boys who are four-and-a-half. They’re a mess. Chaos trails behind them as they run. People have equated them to an actual tornado. It’s impressive. 

They are raucous and loud – not the ideal road trip partners. In fact, driving to the grocery store ten minutes away is a test in patience and control on my part. I‘m pretty sure I’ve lost hearing in my left ear because of them and I know for a fact that the gray hairs that are currently lining my face are because of them. 

But when my brother announced his engagement and set the wedding date was set for January 1 in New Mexico, there was only one way we were going to get there: road trip.

I live in New Jersey. That’s far. Like 2,100 miles far. Plane tickets were way too rich for our blood and surprisingly, so were Amtrak’s, but I wasn’t going to miss my brother’s wedding. 

The idea of a road trip seemed daunting and I was incredibly nervous about everyone’s sanity sanity being trapped in a car for 2,100 miles.

It turns out, I didn’t give my kids enough credit. They were, in fact, great road trip partners. I underestimated how exciting the change of scenery can be. I forgot all about the firsts they would be discovering and the power of adventure.

We caravanned with my uncle and his family and we used walkie talkies and everything ; real “Smoky and the Bandit” shit. Taking into account the uncertainty of winter travel, we chose the southern route through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and finally into New Mexico. We even drove Route 66 for a portion of the trip.

The drive was a ton of fun. Much more fun than if we just went to an airport and flew across the country. Sure, you get to your destination a lot faster and probably with fewer actual concerns, but we would have missed the adventure. 

Here are 10 reasons you should set a course for a road trip of your own.

1 | The adventure. 

I am that parent: The parent who enjoys the journey as much as the reward. And so are my kids (I tend to think most kids are). A long road trip may seem arduous but the memories will stay with them forever.

2 | A practice in patience…for everyone. 

I practiced the art of deep breathing quite often. One might say that I perfected it. As for my kids, they learned that we can’t magically appear in different states. Although that would be awesome.

3 | Exposure and education. 

My kids were exposed to different cultures and different ways of life during our trip. They saw mountains and different types of architecture; they saw crosses on buildings (not common in the Northeast except on churches) and learned about the Mississippi River and the Arkansas River. We spent the day in Nashville  and saw the famous Cadillac Ranch in Texas.

4 | Family time. 

Look, there isn’t much to do but talk to each other when you are trapped in a car for six hours at a time. We talked and talked and talked!

5 | Packing and preparation skills. 

The boys were quite distraught when they realized about a thousand miles into the trip they forgot their Legos. Life skills people, I am teaching life skills over here.

6 | Learning to step out of their comfort zone. 

We had grown almost too comfortable within our little one-mile town. Things like pooping in a public bathroom weren’t even considered before this trip. Now they are masters of the poop, hand wash, and air dryer. Again, life skills.

7 | Reconnect with extended family (or whomever joins you). 

Cousins, aunts, and uncles played together and it was a reminder to all of us how important family is.

8 | You as the parent, see all these firsts through their eyes.

At four-and-a-half years old, a lot of firsts are behind us, and a lot more are way into the future.  This trip gave us an opportunity to experience a few unexpected firsts – a very pleasant surprise.

9 | You learn to slow down. 

Kids live life at their own pace. I find myself hurrying them often. This was a great opportunity to live in their pace.

10 | We bought fireworks. 

This may seem trivial, but when I was a kid we would always buy fireworks on our drive to Disney – just little things like sparklers, snakes, and small crackers. I got to continue this tradition with my boys. (It’s illegal to buy or own fireworks in the state of New Jersey.) 

5 Budget-Friendly Tips for Hitting the Open Road this Summer

On a family road trip, the good outweighs the bad, and even the bad always makes for a funny memory. Here are 5 tips for making the most of it.

The countdown is officially on at my house! My family limped, clawed, and dragged our way through the end of school to summer vacation. And now we’re ready for our road trip!

This is our first summer back in the U.S. after three years overseas, and one of our biggest takeaways from our time in Europe is the fact that the United States is . . . BIG.

Really, really big.

And after visiting more than 20 European countries, I’m ashamed to admit that the number of U.S. states we have visited pales in comparison, which brings me to our summer plans — the Great American Road trip! I’m talking national parks, national monuments, the World’s Largest Whatever, a few great diners, and miles of open road in between.

No strangers to the road trip, one recent summer, we drove 5,000 miles. In preparation for our upcoming “windshield extravaganza,” I’m reminded of a few road trip nuggets that’ve helped us along the way. No matter your destination, these tips can help make for a more enjoyable (and affordable) trip.

1| GET ON THE SAME PAGE.  

This is step # 1 for a reason. Let’s say your family loves a good road trip. They love the idea of getting away from it all — a few hours on the road each day, plenty of time at the destination to explore, hike, swim, relax and play, with leisure time to spare.

Meanwhile, you, who also loves a road trip might be thinking, we’ll knock out 600 miles today so tomorrow we only have to do 400.  We’ll see X, Y, and Z along the way, and get to the hotel by midnight.

See the disconnect?

Before you set out on the open road, ask yourself and your family these questions: How far do you want to go every day?  What are you hoping to accomplish on this trip? What do you think is a realistic amount of time in the car each day, given the attention span and abilities of everyone involved?

When I think about being on the same page, a purple sand beach comes to mind. On a previous road trip through California, my husband had a particular purple sand beach on his list of must-sees. We were already hours behind schedule, and by the time we finally arrived at this beach, it was DARK. One child was sleeping, and the other needed to be.

When I first realized how late we were going to be, I automatically assumed this beach was off the list. But as I sat in the car with my sleeping son and watched as my husband and daughter disappeared down a dark, wooded trail to the beach with nothing but a dim flashlight, I learned then and there to never assume anything.

The takeaway? Discuss these things before you set out. Manage expectations. Set limits. Give yourself permission to deviate from the plan when necessary. Figure out a set of rules that everyone can agree on.

(Fun fact: In the dark, purple sand looks exactly like regular sand. Truth.)

2| SHARE OWNERSHIP.

Give everyone ownership of the trip. With the exception of babies and toddlers who can’t yet tell you, Yes! We can’t wait to visit Niagara Falls, let everyone have a say-so in what you do and see along the way.

I find that my children are more engaged when they are involved in the planning and choosing of what we do and see. Provide travel books ahead of time for each person to browse, and then compile a must-see list.

For young children, take the time to tell them what’s available that you think they would enjoy.  There will likely be a lot of overlap in what people want to see and do, which works out great, but when each person also has the anticipation of seeing or doing their special thing that they picked, something extraordinary happens: the kids are more patient, more interested, and generally happier when we do something from their must-see list.

Also, depending on the ages of your kids, finding books that have some connection with where you are going is a great way to increase interest and engagement (think non-fiction, but not travel books for this). 

We did a road trip through Poland, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic and as we drove, we read aloud from an autobiography of a Holocaust survivor. It truly was one of our most memorable trips. Reading about an experience while being in the very place where it happened made the trip more meaningful for all of us.

Visit the library before you go, and find books tailored to your travels. Maybe you’ll be following the route that Lewis and Clark took when they came West — read about it along the way! Passing through the Sacramento, CA. area?  Maybe check out a book on the gold rush of 1849. Wherever the destination, there’s likely a book that would pair well and with a little planning, you can be prepared with some relevant materials for you and your kids. 

Include everyone in decisions about what and where to eat. Even very young kids can voice an opinion on what they feel like eating. And if they know that in two hours you’re going to be at the restaurant they helped pick out for dinner (thank you, Google), they’re more excited, and better able to resist the urge to ask, “Are we there yet?”

Pass the time by reading and sharing some basic facts about the city or area, pull up the restaurant website and read the menu (this also helps keep things on track once you get there), and talk about what you hope to see at your next stop.  It may go without saying, but the common-denominator here is communication. 

People of all ages do better when they are in the loop and know what’s going on!

3| GROCERY STORE PICNICS.

Eating out is one of the biggest costs of a family road trip. Three words — grocery store picnic —are the backbone of a successful road trip. Grocery stores are in nearly every town, no matter how small, and offer options for everyone to eat what they want at a fraction of the cost of a traditional sit-down restaurant.

Take your grocery items to a local park or riverfront and have a picnic. Let the kids play and run around for a bit before piling back in the car. When my family travels, the goal is to avoid eating in restaurants (this includes fast food) whenever possible, which helps keep costs in check. 

Bring some items from home that don’t require refrigeration. Peanut butter, a loaf of bread, crackers, oranges & apples are always staples when we travel .

4| CHAIN HOTELS.

Chain hotels, while sometimes lacking charm and local culture, are a great tool in the road trip arsenal. There’s comfort in consistency and predictability, and this is what chain hotels almost can provide.  Especially for children (and even for adults), the closer reality is to expectation, the better the outcome.  Since most chain hotels are pretty similar, this takes some of the unknown out of the picture, which for some can be a source of stress.

Other benefits to a chain hotel are that they are often located in suburban areas, just outside the city, so they can be easy to get to at the end of a long travel day, and they tend to be very close (walking distance) to public transportation. Parking is usually free, or nominal, and you can just leave your car and take the train or bus to and from the city.

Join whatever “priority” or membership club the hotel has, as there is always some benefit to this. If Wi-Fi is not free, hotels usually waive the fee for preferred members, and Wi-Fi is essential to planning your travel for the next day. Best of all, chain hotels almost always include breakfast — a variety of innocuous food that everyone will eat. EAT this food. You’ve already paid for it.

5| BE FLEXIBLE AND ROLL WITH IT.

Car trips are an adventure, there will be highs and lows. Your kids will pester each other when they get bored. You’ll get grumpy. You might drive the wrong way down a one-way street and find three lanes of traffic heading straight for you. We did. You’ll live through it.

Your car might develop vapor lock and stall out just inches away from a 1200-pound moose. Ours did. You’ll live to tell about it. 

You might contemplate jumping out of your vehicle moving at high speed when things get to be too much. Ok, we never did this, but we definitely considered it.

On a family road trip, the good almost always outweighs the bad, and even the bad always makes for a funny memory when it’s had time to fade a bit. Perhaps Dan Stanford said it best, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” 

You’ll also share countless moments and laughs, bringing you closer together. And your kids will definitely remember the journey – maybe even more than the destination.

Here’s to the open road. Safe travels!

8 So-Called Life Lessons Learned On “Fun” Family Roadtrips

There’s still time to load up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and hit the holiday road before summer ends. You’ll definitely learn something on this trip.

There’s still time to load up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and hit the holiday road before summer ends. And as anyone who’s ever careened down endless stretches of highway, crammed between a mouth-breathing sibling and far too much luggage can attest, the experience has plenty of life lessons to offer.

1. Nothing worthwhile is easy.


No one actually believes this. In fact, it’s patently untrue. For example, how hard is it to procure an ice cream cone? You dig up a fistful of quarters, walk up to the window and 14 seconds later, ICE CREAM. How easy and worthwhile was that?

However, once you’re a parent, this is the generic bullshit wisdom that tumbles effortlessly from your face.

2. Getting there is half the fun.


It’s also three-quarters of the fighting, two-thirds of the bathroom emergencies, and seven-eighths of the getting lost.

3. Know when NOT to stop and ask directions.


Use discretion here. But if even the stray cats are waving you through stop signs, for godsakes, just keep driving.

4. The only people who are more insufferable than your immediate family members are your extended family members.


Want to appreciate the idiosyncrasies and occasionally infuriating behaviors of those you are required to live with? Spend a week with an uncle who clips his toenails in the living room and a set of nieces and nephews whose only vocal inflections are variations on whining.

5. You’ll pass a gas station every mile until you actually need one.


Rumor has it, this line narrowly missed out to the one about spoons and forks in Alanis Morrisette’s 1996 smash hit “Ironic.” Ok. That’s not true. But don’t even try to tell me it’s not more universally applicable.

6. Secure the luggage properly.


If you’re going to go to the trouble of packing it all, it only makes sense you’d do the best you could to make sure it reaches your destination.

7. Once you’ve put in the hard work, don’t take no for an answer.


You’ve earned this. Come hell or hostages, THIS FAMILY IS GOING TO HAVE FUN, DAMMIT.

8. Park near the exit. 


It doesn’t matter how friendly the folks are at whatever concert/amusement park/sporting event you’ve descended upon. When that joint closes and you’re all attempting to vacate the parking lot at once, NO ONE IS YOUR FRIEND. In fact, if given the right equipment, that same dude who sang every lyric to the cover of the Beatles “All You Need is Love” would straight up DRIVE OVER YOUR CAR to leave first.

So do yourself a favor and get some exercise while you’re at it.

Bonus: Call ahead.


Seriously.

On the Road Again? Pack These Foods.

Skip the fast food and unhealthy roadside fare on your next family road trip and bring these snacks instead.

Growing up, our vacations were road trips to visit family in Toronto or Virginia. Six hours of sitting side-by-side-by-side with siblings, parents and, sometimes, my grandmother—often in a sedan. All of us listening to 1) the same radio station, unhappily; 2) my dad calling every other driver a bastard, and 3) each other repeatedly inquiring how much longer we had to go. So I mostly have repressed the details of these dreadful drives (just kidding, Mom! Love you, Dad!)—but I’m pretty sure that road food meant stopping, halfway, at a McDonald’s in Buffalo or Breezewood.

Now, as a parent, the family roadtrips I plan—to visit my parents, or my husband’s—are double, even triple, the length of those I took as a kid. We allow videos, received happily; we travel in a giant van; and I pack plenty of road food and eating supplies, like this:

Everyone brings a water bottle. And each individual is responsible for refilling it, as needed, at stops.

Pack sandwiches on good bread. We do turkey, cheese and mustard (with a PB&J for our pickier kid) on whole-grain bread,  wrap them in aluminum foil and store them in a small cooler. I’m typically not a sandwich-for-lunch person but there’s nothing better on the road. Packing our own saves money, time—and us from having to settle for fast food, or one of those pre-made sandwiches that always seems weirdly cold and soggy.

Rely on ready-to-eat veggies: We like carrots, cherry tomatoes and snap peas. My kids never eat more vegetables than when they’re captive in a van, hungry, with few other options.

Bring whole fruits that travel well. Apples are great, and pears and grapes and clementines. I always bring a big Ziploc bag to contain cores and peels without mess.

Supplement with snacks. I usually bring one salty and one sweet. Pretzels and Pirate’s Booty are popular with our crew. Often, I pre-portion single servings into baggies (so I don’t house the whole big bag). I also bring two stainless steel bowls, with lids, for easier eating by kids. For a sweet, I pack my go-to homemade chocolate-chip (or leftover [fill in the last holiday] candy) cookies, which I mostly always have stashed in the freezer.

Coffee stops are fair game. Re-caffeinating on the road, in our book, is simply being a responsible driver—and navigator. Safe travels!

 

 

How a VW Westfalia obsession became my family’s best adventure

THE VOLKSWAGEN WESTFALIA camper van has been a symbol for the freedom of the open road and exploration since it was first introduced in the 60’s when the split window microbus had a pop-top installed in the middle of the van.

This simple modification was undoubtedly added so hippies following The Dead could easily stand up to change back into their dirty bajas after a quick skinny dip and a doobie in a roadside spring.

These vans have been through a slow but predictable evolution since those early days, but there has always been a nod to the generation of hippies that made them the icons that they are. Like those that drove them back in those days, the buses were unreliable and quirky, but they were also simple and charming .

There’s something about these vans that makes you think you could actually shrug off your responsibilities and live on the road.  This feeling has been the main draw for me.  I have owned three “Westys” and this is my love story.

When I was growing up, there was a guy down the street from me that owned a baby diarrhea brown 1980 Westy.  While cruising around on my Mongoose, I would often confess to the other neighborhood kids about how much I loved this guy’s van.  They used to laugh and say things like “No thanks, I’ll take a Countach or a 911.”

Just like them, I had supercar posters on my wall. But I was constantly curious about the life that this 40 something bachelor had built around his van.  I jealously watched from a few doors down every summer Friday as he loaded it up with expensive outdoor gear and a hot yoga instructor way before yoga was cool. I convinced myself that someday I would be just like this guy.

Fast forward to when I was 16. I approached my idol to see if he’d be willing to sell his weekend machine (which had developed some significant rust by this time).

He said yes, but for $5000. $5000 seemed like a TON of money for a van that was made during the Carter administration.  I had $2000 saved up from my paper route and summer job, so my dream would have to wait. (Probably a good thing –a 16yr old boy with a van with a built in futon would probably also quickly have a pregnant girlfriend.)

After buying a 1993 Eurovan with a tin top and a manual transmission as a consolation, I finally bought my first Westfalia for $3500. It was a rusty 1986 model with mismatched tires and brown velour interior. It was amazing, and I got to work right away making it my own.

inside-busIt became a bit of an obsession. I wanted to take what was already an incredible vehicle and make it even better. I spent an entire summer honing my new love of carpentry and completely customized the van’s interior.

My best friend, my brother, and I took the bus we affectionately named “The Turd” on a football pilgrimage hitting up games at two of the country’s hallowed stadiums, Notre Dame and Lambeau Field. We made it halfway across the country and back always wondering when it would break down.

It finally did break down while going through a toll booth during rush hour in Chicago.  We had to push it to the side of the road while enraged working stiffs on their way to boring status meetings honked and jeered. Luckily, the battery cable had just popped off so we were on the road in no time.

After learning that stopping to pee all the time was a real problem, I installed a urinal. This led to unwanted window washings for unsuspecting tailgaters, but was a godsend on cold nights when sleeping in the van.

So many awesome memories with my group of friends revolved around that bus. To this day, whenever we get together the times we shared together on the road in the bus always come up as the fondest of memories.

After many more camping and road trip adventures, I sold the bus to its next faithful steward for $8500.  Not a bad profit for a 20 year old bus with an unknown amount of miles.

What once was the perfect road trip vehicle for my buddies and I has become the best family vehicle of all time.

I purchased a 1990 Vanagon Westfalia Multivan (one of the rarest configurations) in great condition for what some would think was a crazy amount of money right after my son was born. It had been way too long since I had owned a bus and as a new father, I was overcome by the desire to get out there and explore New England with my family.

When the summer weather looks nice, we load up the van with all the things you need to bring a little one on the road and head out. Sure, the Westy is an awesome road trip vehicle, but it’s also amazing for just doing things around town. The thing is HUGE! You could easily fit an entire neighborhood’s weekend costco run into it.

full-vw-bus-pop-top

You don’t have to be going on a camping trip to take full advantage of the Westy. Nothing beats the Westy for day trips.  It has a fold down table so when your kid’s head starts spinning like the girl in the exorcist for lack of food, you can pull over, pop the table, open up the fridge and enjoy a comfortable lunch instead of having an apple sauce pack smashed into your car seat. The floor itself is gigantic and flat, so changing a diaper is incredibly easy and you can do it in complete peace.

It’s also amazing for events where there will be multiple families around. Every year, we go to the balloon festival in Stowe. Our bus ends up being home base for a bunch of families who want to go to the festival, but are dreading chasing their kids around in a crowd.  We park in a field, bring our own food and drinks and the balloons fly right over us.  We even have a chemical toilet in the van so the ladies can use it in privacy.

As before, I’ve been a little obsessed with modifying the van by making improvements that make it even better than it was when it was made 25 years ago.  We’ve added a deep cycle marine battery system so we can have power when we need it without draining the battery that starts the van.  We’ve also added USB ports throughout the van for charging devices, a 12volt fridge/freezer so we always have fresh food on hand, and dimmable LED lighting throughout the cabin so we have just the right amount of light when we need it.

This bus is so much more than a means of transportation.  It creates smiles wherever it goes.  I do almost all of the work on it myself and I’ve learned so much by keeping it going.

I think it’s going to serve me well as a way to teach my son about basic auto maintenance and the value of getting your hands dirty and learning how things work.

vw-bus-winner

The bus is 25 years old, so it’s not as reliable as it could be, although it has yet to leave us really stranded.  The bus is extremely underpowered by modern standards.  How does 90 horsepower in a 5000lb vehicle sound?  That was 90 horsepower when it was new, I can only imagine we’re working with about a whopping 75 now.

This lack of propulsion means that in many cases you’re almost forced to take the secondary roads if you want to actually keep up with traffic. What some would find annoying has turned out to be one of the best things about the van.  The license plate even says SLOLANE.

Beautiful VW Westy

When you’re in the bus, you’re not getting anywhere in a hurry, so your state of mind changes.  It’s refreshing to take your time and appreciate the journey as you cruise through all the little New England towns that were passed by when they built the interstate.

If you want to experience what it’s like to own a Volkswagen Westfalia, there are a few outfits that rent these wonderful vehicles.  California Campers, Dragonfly Vans, Wicked Westys, & VWsurfari all rent vans.  Some of these providers will rent for a little as one day.

However, I would highly suggest trying a van out for at least a long weekend if you’re really interested in a Westfalia. Driving one around with the family is a really smart move to consider before dropping some serious coin on a van in great condition.

One advantage to owning a van with a “cult” following is that there are no shortage of other Volkswagen fanatics out there who are more than happy to help out.  The online community scene for classic Busses, Vanagons and Eurovans (the Vanagon’s younger front-engine sibling) is huge.

Websites like The Samba have made owning an old vehicle like the Vanagon alot easier. The Vanagon & Eurovan community on The Samba has helped me keep my van running more than a few times.

The people involved in the community are plentiful and super helpful.  You can get advice on anything from how to find the right van for you to how to do a complete engine conversion.  There are also a ton of really great ideas and how-to tips for how to accessorize your van for your specific needs. I turn to The Samba every time I head out the garage to tinker with my van.

When you’re in need of parts, there are some really great, knowledgeable suppliers who are more than willing to help out. The top ones that come to mind are GoWesty and BusDepot.

I’m looking forward to years and years of adventures with my family in our bus.  Every time we use it, even if it’s just for a trip to the grocery store, it gets us thinking about where we should go next.

My wife and I find ourselves researching cool spots where we could take a day trip or break away for a weekend.  For me, this is bus is so much better than a Lamborghini.  Anyone with enough money can buy a fancy car, but because this bus is something I can enjoy with my whole family, it’s more than transportation.

It inspires us to do more things, go more places, and take our time while we do it.

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Own a T1 or T2 VW Microbus, Vanagon, or Eurovan? Enter our VW bus photo contest!

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