Planning for your vacation sets the stage for getting the most out of your vacation, even if your plan is to be as lazy as you can be.
When my family vacations we tend to plan in two stages. The first stage is all about thinking ahead to: what will we need for the trip and what will we need when we get there. The second stage is all about what are we going to do when we get there (activities).
Prizes make car games more fun. Wrap small, inexpensive trinkets or car-friendly art supplies in leftover wrapping paper and let the winner choose from a grab bag. It’s always a good idea to have consolation prizes so no backseat fights break out. Prizes don’t have to be “things”; they can be vacation honors such as choosing a restaurant or an activity. Prizes can also be well-timed snacks — especially if the snacks aren’t something that’s normally allowed at home. Small beach toys that can be shared make excellent awards.
Using Google Maps, print a one-page view of your driving route so kids can follow along. Visually divide the trip into small sections marked with an “x”. Each “x” indicates that it’s time for a snack, a prize, or a new game or activity.
Look Outside Games
State License Plate Checklist
Print out a list of state license plates and see how many you can spot while you’re on the road. To print out a visual list of the 50 official state license plates, just Google “official state license plates.” If you’re playing for a prize, give extra points for spotting a specialty or vanity license plate for that state.
Road Trip Bingo
Download and print any of the many free Road Trip Bingo cards on the Internet. You can also make your own by drawing or printing grids on half-sheets of printer paper. If you make your own, add a mixture of easy things to spot, such as birds and stop signs, as well as more infrequent sightings such as joggers and fire engines.
Travel Scavenger Hunt
Another great look-outside game is a travel scavenger hunt. You can download free checklists or make your own. See who can be the first to spot a cow, a lake, someone on a cell phone, someone wearing a hat, a church, and so on. The first one to collect the most things on the list is the winner.
Anyone who has driven to the Outer Banks on a Saturday knows how bad the traffic can be during peak season. Every year we hear reports saying the traffic was backed up 20 miles behind the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Everyone knows where the problem is. It’s the intersection in Kitty Hawk that takes you north onto highway 12 into Southern Shores. Traffic there bottlenecks and can add anywhere from 2 to 5 hours to your driving time. For guests who are staying south of this intersection there is a better way. If you’re staying in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or Nags Head with Outer Banks Blue here we have some time saving tips for you. During the peak vacation season, do not come across the Wright Memorial Bridge to get to the Outer Banks over the Wright Memorial Bridge during peak vacation season!
As most veteran vacationers to the Outer Banks know, traveling to the Outer Banks from the north and driving across the bridge will add around 3 hours to your driving time due to traffic. Google maps may say the stretch from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, the middle ground for our Kitty Hawk to Nags Head guests, will take you 2 hours and 57 minutes but in reality it will take you 5 to 7 hours.
Those of you who usually drive by, or near Richmond and then take Highway 64 to Chesapeake, instead take Richmond, VA to Edenton, NC. Yes Google maps will say the drive is 4 hours, which is 1 hour and 3 minutes longer, but when you consider the traffic it is actually a time saver. Most who are trying to arrive on the Outer Banks by crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge are averaging a 6 hours drive from Richmond to Kill Devil Hills, but if you take the Edenton route you may cut as much as 2 hours off your drive. You may still encounter some traffic once your arrive on the Outer Banks, but as everyone knows the traffic south of the Kitty Hawk-Southern Shores traffic light is rather light by comparison.
Not only is this route a time saver but it is also full of smaller roads through the countryside which may be a nice change of scenery from your average drive down the interstate.
Another alternative to these routes is to take I-95 South to US-64 East by Rocky Mount, NC. This path shows on Google Maps as being 16 minutes longer than the Edenton route, but it is mostly freeway and has a lot more gas stations and food to stop at along the way.
Even those of you who must travel through Chesapeake, due to where you live, can take advantage of this tip when coming to the Outer Banks on a Saturday during peak season. The problem where traffic occurs typically begins somewhere between the Virginia-North Carolina state line and Highway 158-Highway 168 intersection. With there being an additional hour and 14 minutes to go the Edenton route you will still save time when considering traffic.
A big tip to beat a lot of traffic is what day you check in on. Typically, most people vacationing on the Outer Banks choose to rent from Saturday to Saturday. If you switch up your check in day to a Friday or Sunday Check in traffic will be much less.
If you are crossing the Wright Memorial Bridge no later than 9:00 am then you are usually in the clear. Most days traffic doesn’t tend to get congested until around 10 am. I know 9:00 am sounds early, especially if your rental won’t be ready until 4:00 pm, but it’s more enjoyable to find something to do on the Outer Banks rather than sit in traffic for hours.
If you arrive to the Outer Banks before your Outer Banks vacation rental is ready try grabbing a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. The beach is full of great local cuisine that we recommend everyone try (Top 8 Favorite Place To Get Breakfast on the Outer Banks). One of the best early arrival tips we can give you is to plan like you will arrive early. Pack swim suits and beach chairs to be easily accessible. If there is still time to kill until you can check into your rental you will be able to get to the beach gear easily and have a beach day until you can unpack the rest of your luggage.
We hope these tips can help you on your next trip to the Outer Banks. If you have any tips that we’ve left out we would love to hear them in the comments!
Today’s Memory Monday brings a bit of mixed emotions as we mark the unofficial end of summer today. While we have great memories of Summer 2014, we also are going to miss the warm weather, calm seas, and fun outdoor activities that summer provides.
Today’s Outer Banks Blue Realty Memory Monday brings us a picture of one of those summer memories a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic!
|Another beautiful day starting on the OBX!|
Janet Adkins of Danville, Virginia who stayed with us at the property “Looking Glass” in Nags Head brings us this great photo. Nothing like an Outer Banks sunrise!
Also today we thank Jackie Tilitsky of Fredericksburg, Virginia who has stayed with her gang for a few years now at the “Klein Cottage” in Southern Shores. She provides us a great Memory…a family reunion picture. We love seeing families gather together on the Outer Banks and Jackie’s photo is a great one. .
Thanks Jackie and Janet for wrapping up our summer memory Mondays with these wonderful pictures!
All the best from the beach!
By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services
|Lay Low and hang out in The No Wake Zone!|
|Dog days of summer….swing on down to the Outer Banks|
Thanks Linda for sharing your photo memories with us. We look forward to serving you and your family again soon!All the best from the beach!By Tim Cafferty, President, Outer Banks Blue Realty Services
Before you make your way to one of the many Outer Banks vacation rentals, however, you’ll want to take note of this sage advice. Not only can these 10 tips help you arrive in one piece, but they can also save you money and ensure all have a pleasant trip.
=&0=& Safety first is the best rule when traveling whether it is to the next town or across country. Before you load yourself and your family into the vehicle and take off to the Outer Banks, make sure:
- the oil levels are sufficiently high
- the tire pressure is optimal
- you have plenty of tread for the trip
- any mechanical problems have been fixed
- your windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled
- you have a jack and roadside safety kit in your trunk
=&1=& Snacks and meals on the road often turn into junk food feasts because fast food and gas station snacks are the most convenient. However, they are also expensive and usually have little to no nutritious value.
The alternative is to pack your family’s favorite snacks in a small cooler that can fit within easy reach (think backseat, floorboard, etc.). Go one step further and create a picnic lunch that you can all share at a rest stop along the way.
=&2=& The Kids Activities Blog offers a huge list (40+) of car-friendly things to do. One favorite is to create a map from your home to your vacation rental and have the kids fill in the sights/signposts as they go along.
=&3=& In today’s electronic world, it’s crucial that all our tools and gizmos are available and ready for use. Make sure you pack phones, tablets, GPSs, laptops, car DVD players and others, including their chargers. It might also be worth your while to invest in some car adapters (USB to car charger, AC to car charger, etc.), which can usually be picked up online for just a few dollars each.