At this exact moment, thousands of parents are thinking about hitting the highway for a family road trip this summer. Destination? Anywhere but here. It’s an exciting prospect for kids, but it’s also fraught with difficulties, including sudden back-seat fights and frequent retreats to the iPod Zone.
Kids think road trips are cool, at least in theory. The mere suggestion that the family might be heading out on a week long odyssey usually ignites serious excitement. As soon as the wheels roll, of course, the anticipation instantly morphs into “Are we there yet?” The challenge parents face is to keep the excitement and sense of wonder alive, even on the long, potentially boring stretches.
Here are 12 tips gleaned from my own childhood memories and from conversations with parents, children and grown-up kids with road-tripping pasts.
Dredge up some family lore. Think of your road trip as a time to share some “family lore.” Every family has its own oral history, and road trips offer lots of together time, making them ideal occasions for storytelling. Dredge up those old favorite songs and games, too. As a child, I was an impatient traveler, and I am sure my folks find it amusing that I now make my living writing about the “magic” of taking road trips, but much of my enthusiasm for the road comes from those early family jaunts. Not only do I love the driving and the scenery, I can also sing dozens of vintage songs, play every car game known to man, and tell all the old stories passed down through generations of my family. I’m sure I whined, “Are we there yet?” often enough to drive my parents nuts, but those aren’t the memories that linger.
Brush up on your history and geology. Another gift you can give your children is a basic appreciation for the history and geology of the areas you travel through. Even if they grumble, squirm and roll their eyes, they’ll listen. I’m not the only one who can attest to the lifelong value of such discussions, including the sense of personal patriotic pride that arises from actually seeing purple mountains majesty, fruited plains and spacious skies. As an adult, I’ve became aware of just how precious this brand of knowledge is, and I now consider those family road trips some of the best education I received during my first 16 years on the planet.
Get low-tech. Which leads me to my next topic: DVD players, iPods and other electronic gadgets Call me a curmudgeon, but if these devices are used too often on a road trip, you might as well stay home. Nothing insulates people from their surroundings better than ear buds and a video screen. Take electronic gear along if you must, but limit its use if you want to create lasting road trip memories.
Hold a family planning session. Get a big map and plenty of highlighter markers, and then talk about the cool places that would appeal to all members of the trip. Gather information about your route from guidebooks and the Web. Discuss the scope of each traveling day, including how much time in the saddle and how much spent sightseeing and hanging out by the pool. Consider making each child responsible for a one day’s stopping places and restaurants. Including everyone in the planning process invests everyone in the trip and helps ensure a fun adventure for all. One of the most important topics to cover in the planning session is how often the kids will be able to rotate into the front seat. Make the right front seat, the “official navigator’s seat” and whoever is sitting there is designated as being “in charge” (at least for a few moments). The real treat is that it is much easier to see from the front seat and gets everyone involved. Of course, very young children should not be in the front seats because of the inherent air-bag dangers.
Make a trip clipboard. I recommend creating a trip clipboard to hold printed directions to the motels where you plan to stay; these are especially handy if you should reach a city after dark. (I use this technique myself on every road trip.) You can also include directions and information about specific sites and restaurants that you’re planning to see.
Check out your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is reliable and ready to go. Of special importance is a check of the tires, coolant and engine oil.
Pack a “Go Kit.” Include bottles of water, a fire extinguisher, beach towels, personal pillows, maps and atlases. And here are some more suggestions.
Pack a “Car Kit” for each child. Choose age-appropriate items including crayons or markers, pads of paper, bandanas, personal travel pillows, games, small toys, a few treats and the first day’s “travel allowance.” Travel allowances allow kids to shop in gift stores and tourist traps without begging for money at every stop. Maps of your route are also good for children old enough to read them. They can trace their progress, learn to navigate and even stop asking “Are we there yet?” quite as often. Put everything in a bag or other container that the child can also use to hold souvenirs, interesting “finds,” and so on; nylon lunch bags or small daypacks work well. Let the children know that they’ll be getting their Car Kits the day you leave home. That will give them one more thing to look forward to, and you won’t have any trouble at all getting them out of bed. You can add to the Car Kits as the trip progresses, giving the kids a little something to look forward to each morning.
Pack electronic devices. Consider a CB radio, portable DVD player, GPS receiver, audio books and inverters. Electronic entertainment devices can be helpful if you’re stuck in a traffic jam or you’ve exhausted all other options. Audio books are a great way to be entertained and yet remain alert and focused on the tasks of driving. Many companies now offer rental GPS units, which are both useful navigational tools and a source of information about road conditions. Portable CB radios with magnetic mounts allow you to be in touch with other drivers on the road and to get accurate weather reports.
Pack good eats. Though the kids may argue this point, it is not necessary to stop at every fast-food joint along the way. In fact, it is possible to get good nutrition on the road. Make sure everyone drinks twice as much water as they might at home. Take a good cooler along and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepare road trip snacks and consider packing a road trip picnic.
Eat and greet. Eat in unusual local restaurants at least sometimes, and make a point of speaking with locals or other travelers.
Keep it fun! Avoid vacationing at the same hectic pace as you live at home. A relaxing pace will be remembered more fondly than an overly ambitious one. Take the advice of a local or get off the highway at an unplanned exit and see what is to be found “around the next bend.” Drive fewer hours and spend more time lounging around the motel pool. By allowing time for serendipity, you will re-capture the wonder of the road trip adventure.
Got toddlers? Roadtrippers who are younger than five years old can sometimes present additional challenges. Consider organizing the traveling day so that you reach the motel after 8:00 pm, when the children are likely to fall asleep more easily. Pool time can be done in the morning. Spend the extra $$ to get as comfortable a car seat as possible. Plan to stop every two hours and let the little guys run, play, and blow off as much energy as possible. For more ideas, MomsMinivan.com has several good tips and suggestions.
As parents, you can design a family road trip that will give both you and your children memories to last a lifetime. Grab those markers and a map and start planning your escape!
Comfortable ride; roomy interior; huge trunk and folding seatback; available front bench seat; lots of standard features for the money
For 2012, the Chevrolet Impala gets several notable updates. Last year’s standard 3.5L V6 and optional 3.9L V6 have been replaced by a new direct-injected 3.6L V6, which uses variable valve timing and makes 302 horsepower. It’s linked to a new 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition, a new grille has been added, along with new fog lamps, and dual exhaust tips are now standard across the line. The interior features new woodgrain trim and a new leather shift knob and new 16-inch wheels are available. Red Jewel Tintcoat has been dropped, but Black Granite Metallic and Crystal Red Tintcoat have been added (at extra cost). Luxury Edition Package has also been dropped from the line, as well as fog lamps on the LT model.
The Chevrolet Impala is a favorite with fleets, offering a roomy, conservative sedan design that’s been kept updated with modern features and options. For interior space it’s still one of the best vehicles in its class, with room in back for three adults and a front bench seat available. Chevrolet also claims that the Impala is unique in its segment with the ability to fold the backseat forward for large items. Ride comfort and overall quietness are also strengths. The Impala offers a lot of features for the money.
The Impala is a roomy, front-wheel-drive 4-door sedan that comes in LS, LT and LTZ models. All trims now include a standard 3.6L V6 engine that features variable valve timing, is FlexFuel compatible, and makes 302 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, which allows it to hit 30 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. With a rather conventional MacPherson strut-type front suspension and trailing-arm rear suspension, with a stabilizer bar in back, the Impala is tuned to bring a smooth ride yet handle reasonably responsively. The body and suspension systems were designed to include some significant sound-deadening measures, which make the Impala quiet on the highway and over coarse surfaces. Depending on the trim level, the Impala comes with either a front bench seat or two individual buckets. In back, there’s enough room for three adults across, and the seatbacks fold forward for a full pass-through to the trunk for larger cargo items. There’s a storage tub under the rear cushions. And a sunroof is available. Side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Impalas, along with GM’s StabiliTrak stability control system and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. There are LATCH child-seat connectors in all three rear seating positions. Even the base LS model includes keyless entry, cruise control, power windows and locks and air conditioning. LT models get larger machined aluminum wheels, a remote start system, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth hands-free. At the top of the range, the LTZ comes equipped as a more sophisticated, somewhat sporty sedan, with upgraded wheels and W-rated tires, heated seats, heated mirrors, a universal remote, and Bose audio. All sound systems include an auxiliary input. The available remote-start system in the Impala is claimed to work up to 200 feet away, and will pre-heat or cool the vehicle. Also included in the Impala is the latest Gen 9.0 version of OnStar, with improved voice recognition, along with Direction and Connections services and Turn-by-Turn navigation, which allows you to beam route guidance from a call center into the vehicle.
I regret to inform you of our family’s decision to permanently close our Saturn Dealership in Toms River, NJ. I want to begin by thanking all of our customers for the tremendous support you have given to our family business and the wonderful team of employees that have worked diligently at Saturn of Toms River over the past two decades. The personal relationships that have developed over the years make this decision that much harder. By now I am sure that you are aware that General Motors has decided to phase out the Saturn brand. As a result, the time has come for us to cease operations out of the Saturn of Toms River facility since we no longer have Saturn vehicles to offer for sale. More so, the decision to allow other GM dealers to perform Saturn warranty repair work has drastically affected our ability to maintain our day-to-day service and parts operations. We tried to go above and beyond in working with our customers by operating as an exclusive service and parts facility for more then 3 months, but the time has come to end this chapter of our business.
I want to assure you that your Saturn vehicle warranty remains in full effect so you will continue to receive service and parts support from GM. While you no longer will see us in our Toms River location, you are still part of the Maguire Automotive Group family, and we invite you to join us at our other dealerships, Windsor Nissan in East Windsor, NJ and Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ. In fact, you can still bring your Saturn vehicle to us for warranty repairs since Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, New Jersey is a Saturn Authorized Saturn Provider. Your Maguire Loyalty Reward dollars, as always, are redeemable at any of our dealerships locations. You can expect the same high level of service and integrity that has made Saturn of Toms River stand out among all of the brands in the Toms River auto market. Our experienced Saturn technicians will continue to provide you with the best care, honoring all of your warranty and service contract commitments just as they were in Toms River.
I truly hope that we see many of you in Bordentown or East Windsor, as the Saturn stores have meant so much to our organization in developing the way that we do business that has set our stores above the competition. On behalf of everyone that has been involved with Saturn of Toms River, thank you so much for an experience that has truly enriched our lives.
The fire sale initiated for Saturn and Pontiac cars for the December sales, has aroused the curiosity of many, this has been stated by two Pontiac dealers on Wednesday. General Motors has announced $7000 rebate on every Pontiac or Saturn Manufactured car that moves for rental or service fleet. Some dealers are not entirely sure that this is a good deal. The idea is to increase the sales by inducing buyers with lower rates. This decision to suddenly hike up the sales of Pontiac and Saturn cars has been made since General Motors has decided to bring an end to their nameplate, despite a major amount of restructuring done this year. General Motors deal with Penske Automobile Group regarding the sale of Saturn nameplate has also fallen through.
The factory rebate for Pontiac’s new models has already reached $6500, according to Fred Ferrara, General sales manager of Fairborn Buick Pontiac, GMC. He has also stated that the rebate will only apply if the cars are moved into the rental or service fleets for thirty days or thirty thousand miles. There are chances of making higher savings regarding taxes with brand new cars as compared to used cars. This has led to consumers invest in a new car instead for tax savings. Ferrara currently has only one Pontiac G6 coupe left on his lot. The remaining model will also sell in a short period of time. Buicks and GMC cars have also now picked up on the sales. Owner of Reichard Buick Pontiac GMC in Dayton, Gene Reichard claims that this fire sale has generated a lot of interest since it is a good offer. In two months, Reichard has sold 130 cars of Pontiac make. Buyers are not availing $6500 factory rebate, but also an additional $7000 rebate as well.
Get $10 off on servicing on your Chevrolet and Saturn. Hurry up now. Valid up to 11/30/2009
Do not forget to take the coupon
The General Motors’ decision to wind up the production of the brand, Saturn, dealt a major blow to many of the dealers countrywide. According to the GM’s reports, the U.S. sales for Saturn from January to October this year marked a collapse of 62 percent from the same period of 2008, which is down to 63,839 vehicles. The sales in October fell to 57.8 percent or 3,623 vehicles.
Today the company has around 9,400 Saturn cars as inventory as reported by the GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, Susan Docherty during a sales conference call. She said that the company does not expect any obstacle in the sales of the outstanding units.
Docherty had said: “Starting next week, we’ll have a print campaign which features that product. In the next 90 days, we’ll have cleaned up that inventory. I’m not worried about it at all.”
However, the dealers are more worried on selling the remaining units after the Saturn sales came to a screeching halt last month when Penske Automotive Group withdrew from the deal to take over Saturn.
A Saturn dealer at the Motor City Auto Center in Bakersfield, Calif., who had sold 21 new Saturns in September, however, managed to sell only seven units the last month. The General Manager John Pitre who has 51 Saturns in stock thinks this fall will take a minimum of five months for him to sell off the remaining units.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” Pitre said. “It’ll probably take six months to locate and secure another franchise for that facility, so we want to keep it up and running for that amount of time.”
The GM, in the meantime, has initiated a new incentive program until the end of the month wherein the consumers can get either $4,000 off of any 2008 or 2009 Saturn or 0 percent financing for 72 months to augment the sales of the inventory. They also have introduced a loyalty mailing to current Saturn owners that offer an additional $1,000 in cash, not considering whether they trade in their Saturn vehicle
The decision to wind up the production of the General Motors brand, Saturn, has brought in a period of anxiety to the minds of the people in the small town of Spring Hill, Tennessee. The withdrawal of the retailer, Penske Automotive Group, from buying the brand Saturn renders many jobless. Jill Lajdziak is one of those people who witnessed the whole lifetime of Saturn, from its pre-launch era to its death. Lasjdziak, who joined Saturn before the launch of the first car in 1990, continued with her contribution until its demise last month.
Lajdziak will take a vacation until her retirement from the General Motors Company at the end of this year, said the spokesman John McDonald. The job of bringing a great era to a close is left to the GM’s general manager of the retail sales support, Steve Hill.
The last few weeks saw a group of hopeful people keeping a close watch over the deal between the Penske Automotive Group and the GM. The withdrawal of Penske came as a shock to many as it was followed by GM’s announcement to stop the production of Saturn. The show comes to an end when the “dealers are able to sell their inventory and wind their dealerships down,” McDonald said.
Lasjdziak, who is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor of arts in business marketing and management, began her career with GM in the year 1980 as the district sales manager with Chevrolet. She became the manager of the retailer division of Saturn in 1986.
Her passion for cars grew from growing up with her father who was a Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealer in a small Wisconsin town. She started her small “career” by assisting her father in washing new cars at the age of three. When she was interviewed by Procter & Gamble at the early years of her career, who asked where she sees herself after a period of five years, she commented, “I want to be working for GM.” The interviewers reply to check out this option brought a major break in her career.
Twenty three years of Lasjdziak’s career was spent in the different managerial level jobs with Saturn. In 1999, her contribution got rewarded when she was made the general manager of this brand.
Today, the demise of Saturn brings a glorious end to the career of people like Lasjdziak.
Robert Lutz, the vice chairman of the marketing and communications of the “new” GM, who was a keynote speaker at the 46th Annual Northwood Auto Show’s kickoff dinner, mentioned the future vision of the company. He expressed the GM’s plans to return to the future of the automotive industry.
Robert Lutz, who first began his employment in GM in 1963, has led all of Chrysler’s automotive activities for twelve yeas and spent another twelve with the Ford, the last as the executive vice president of truck operations. GM re-appointed him in 2001 and even though he was to retire this year, he continues with his contribution to the “new” company.
He expressed his views about the automotive sector as, “I feel like the industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution.” He said the future lies in the latest technology and in EV like new Chevy Volt.
Lutz emphasized the excellence of the GM’s products repeatedly during his speech. “The world does not realize how great today’s GM products are,” he said. “Our products are equal or superior to the competitors.” The company is now on its way to a “may the best car win” ad campaign these days.
When it launched an ad that stated that the GM cars enjoyed a better mileage than the Toyota cars, the latter asked GM to withdraw the advertisement. Lutz said that he will race a Cadillac CTS-V against the comers with stock four-door cars to prove the Cadillac is the fastest sedan in the world as a part of the promotion program.
He utilized the opportunity to reveal the pictures of the latest models that GM is manufacturing or proposes to produce in the future such as the Cadillac CTS Sportwagon, GMC Terrain and Chevy Cruze. He also stated the company’s plan to produce the concept car, Cadillac Converj during the dinner meeting.
Lutz highlighted the Chevrolet Camaro during the meeting where the company focuses on the fuel-efficient models, even though V-8 is better selling today. The company is on the look out to break-even at those markets that they had struggled recently by aiming at the younger crowd.
When he was asked whether the company has plans to fight through the “Government Motor” image, Lutz commented that the role of Government is virtually nonexistent during the bailout period. “The way it is organized now it’s like any other company. The best way to shed that image is to make a lot of money quickly and buy back the government’s stock.”
Lutz is hopeful of the ability of the hybrid versions of bigger vehicles like the trucks and SUVs in meeting the future fuel economy laws of the country.
The decision to close down the GM brand, Saturn, by the company after the attempt to sell it to Penske Automotive Group fell through, came as a major disappointment to the people in the small town of Spring Hill, Tennessee.
The first car of the brand Saturn, a red S-Series that was launched in 1990 is still kept for display in the factory premises. The factory and the town have hosted many tours and reunions for the Saturn car owners as a part of their promotion programs. The City Hall has the walls decorated with the photographs of the old town of Spring Hill before and after the arrival of the brand, Saturn, depicting an era of development.
The residents and the Mayor credit GM’s Saturn for the major developments the town has witnessed over the period. But later, the locals saw GM rolling off Saturn from Tennessee in 2007 to replace it with the building of Chevrolet Traverse that is now on its way out. The company has made plans to transfer the production of Traverse to a plant in Michigan, closing down the Spring Hill factory.
This decision of the General Motors to wind up the factory has left the residents in a state of perplexity. A few, who had remained hopeful of Penske’s ability to revive the brand, were unable to understand its decision to pull away from the deal. Others are still in a shock over the fall of the auto giant GM that can leave many locals jobless. One of the local residents put the blame on the federal government calling it responsible for the fall of the automotive industry in the country.
The locals are also wishing for a revival of the economy that can put back the things to its normal state. To quote a resident, Dinwiddie, who is confident of the future of Spring Hill, “I have to believe the plant is going to come back. It all depends on the overall economy. I hope that Americans start buying American products and start supporting the American auto manufacturing industry and if that happens, we’ll get a product in this plant.” He has sent invitations to President Obama and the auto recovery czar to have a tour of the plant, which he thinks will result in it being operational.
Whatever be the future of the plant in Spring Hill, residents are sure of their ability to wade through the times of misery.