Tips for a Fun Family Road Trip

Does a lengthy road trip with the family have all the appeal of do-it-yourself brain surgery? Does beating yourself on the thumb with a sledgehammer seem to be a pleasant alternative to hitting the road with spouse and children in tow? If so, it might make good sense to tap into the secrets of world traveler Irv Gordon, the only known person to have driven two million miles in the same car. His top-line advice: make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.

Gordon, a 62-year-old retired science teacher from Long Island, has taken more road trips than just about anybody. He gained worldwide visibility recently when he turned his two millionth mile in his shiny red Volvo P1800 while driving through Times Square. He's the kind of guy who takes delight in driving to Philadelphia for lunch, Montreal for dinner, or California just for the fun of it. He says family car trips are nothing to be afraid of.

"Some folks are stressed at the prospect of driving 500 miles with a car full of hyper family members," he said. "Why worry? Road trips can be the most wonderful time to re-connect with your family and with this beautiful country in which we live."

All of which is easy for Irv to say, but how do you go about turning several hundred miles of driving into an enjoyable and memorable experience? Gordon suggests you get off the Interstate and have lunch in a small town.

"When the Interstate system was built in the Fifties, it bypassed thousands of wonderful small towns, but they haven't gone away," he said. "So when you exit off the Interstate to grab lunch, don't just stop at the first fast food joint you see. Drive into the nearest town, usually about a mile off the Interstate. Eat at their town diner, talk with the locals, relax with the family, fill up at the local gas station -- you'll never forget it."

Gordon also recommends taking the time to shop in a new town. And he suggests that visiting "roadside attractions" is a must.

"Visit shops that you don't have in your own city," he advised. "You can buy gifts for your family and friends back home that they otherwise wouldn't be able to find. Don't skimp on roadside attractions. It breaks the monotony and guarantees laughs."

A very pleasant man, Gordon suggests interaction with others along the way, rather than sealing yourself in a metal cocoon and making the miles disappear uneventfully. In that spirit, Gordon recommends you buy a CB radio.

"Remember the fun you had when you were a kid and your parents had a CB in their car?" he asked. "Guess what, CBs didn't go the way of disco; you can buy a portable one for your car for less than $50. It's fun to listen to the banter, plus you can get weather and traffic updates."

And while we're talking about radio, don't hesitate to dial in the local A.M. stations as you drive through the hinterlands.

"When I learned that people were taking those new portable DVD players on road trips, I almost lost my mind," Gordon said. "If you really want to be entertained while on the road, crank up the A.M. dial and tune into the local radio stations to enjoy their local flavor, programming and music. You may also catch a song you thought you'd never hear again."

As a final bit of advice to avoid monotony and boredom, Gordon suggests taking a different route home.

"When you go home the same way you came, you'll see the same buildings, signs and towns, only from the other side" he said. "If time and the maps allow, go home a different route. Your return won't be tedious and the sites your family sees will double."

After driving his P1800 more than two million miles, it's a miracle Gordon himself isn't seeing double. Still, he breaks his own Guinness-certified world record every time he drives to the mall.

A native of Boston, Driving Today contributor Tom Ripley has driven extensively across Europe and North America. He currently resides in Villeperce, France.