Papiblogger Manny Ruiz packing the car for a road trip

Western USA,
25
July
2014
|
07:00 AM
America/Chicago

Are You Ready for an Epic Road Trip?

Seasoned road-tripper, Manny Ruiz, shares travel tips from his seventh annual family road trip.

 

Papiblogger, Manny Ruiz, and his family shared details of their family road trip in July 2014.They covered more than two thousand miles! In hindsight, they wish they could have added a few extra days to their trip so they could have driven less every day (they averaged nearly 250 miles a day!) and had more relaxation time and felt less rushed. Here were their updates from the road...

 

Hitting the Road  (Update: July 2, 2014)

Manny Ruiz, aka PapiBlogger, has made road trips a family tradition. In 2014, Manny, his wife and their four kids headed to Utah, the Grand Canyon and Colorado for a trip that was a great adventure. Manny and family started the tradition in 2008 and now have more than 30,000 miles across the United States under their belts.

“These trips help to build memories for our family,” said Manny. “When I was young I went on one road trip with my parents and it stuck with me.”

After crisscrossing the country, Manny and his family are “seasoned pros” when it comes to family road trips. Tip number one in Manny’s book; a quarter of a tank of gas should be treated as an empty tank…since you never know where the next gas station will be located. You don’t want to spend a day of your family road trip stranded or walking miles in the heat to fill up your tank!

Manny and family also prep their car before taking off on longer trips by checking fluid levels, tires, packing an atlas (in case you are in a part of the country without strong cell reception), and ensuring they have emergency essentials in their trunk. Making sure your vehicle is in good condition will save you a lot of headaches down the road, literally!

When it comes to traveling with his four children, ranging in age from 14 to two-years-old, Manny takes an education route to prep for the vacation. Manny and his wife, Angela, teach their children about the unique history and cultural significances of the places they visit. They also make sure to pack healthy snacks along the way and bring books, toys and electronic devices to keep the boredom away on long stretches of road.

But you never know what can happen on the open road. And the Ruiz family knows that better than anyone else. Whether it’s trips to the Emergency Room (during one road trip, two family members landed in the ER), or car doors coming unhinged (strong winds on the Oregon Pacific Coast caused damage to their vehicle), or luggage flying off the roof of a car (fortunately no one was hurt when the roof rack flew off the car on a Texas highway), the family sticks to the mantra: “Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome” so they are always prepared for the unexpected.

 

Checking In Halfway (Update: July 17, 2014)

At the half-way point and five days into their 11-day trip, Papi and family noticed a few important things. Electronic devices to keep the kids from getting bored are absolutely essential. “Having the kids occupied in the car is very helpful – it could have been really, really bad without electronic devices,” said Ruiz.

Flexibility is also key. They got a late start from Monument Valley (a trip "wow moment") and they were heading toward Zion National Park in the Utah Mountains in the dark. They were tired and made the decision to stay at a hotel two hours from the Park so they did not drive fatigued in the pitch black through unfamiliar mountains. It was an audible, but even the hotel staff at Zion National agreed Papiblogger it was a wise and safe call.

And precisely the type of situation Papiblogger plans for by building a few road trip “bumper days” into the itinerary. Essentially a “bumper day” is a day left unplanned so it can be used to get some much needed rest or to do something spontaneous with the family. In this instance, he realized he probably should have built in one more “bumper day” so he and his wife did not have to drive fatigued.

Some other key Papiblogger takeaways:

  • Because many of the areas they traveled had some unpaved roads, it’s great to have an emergency trunk kit just in case..
  • It helps to have an SUV made for rugged terrain. “On a previous road trip, we had a vehicle that wasn’t made for the terrain and we were literally stuck in the sand.” Driving through national parks, Manny highly recommends having a proper vehicle for potential off-roading.
  • Sun block! You can get sun exposure even while driving in the car through the hot desert.

 

Eleven days and hundreds of miles later…. (Update: July 25, 2014) 

Two tips vitally important to the Ruiz family vacation were:

  1. Don’t drive drowsy!
  2. Bring electronic devices to keep kids from getting bored.

These two tips kept the family safe on the road and kept the tantrums to a minimum!

Despite a few fits, their trip was an epic success! The family fell in love with Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park was the highlight of their trip. “Bryce Canyon has beautiful rock formations; they are so majestic,” said Papiblogger. “And to me, Utah is the most scenic state in the country, full of unexpected beautiful scenes.”

And it wasn’t just the natural beauty of the region that made this trip memorable for the family of six. The Ruiz kids got to be a part of something very special. Outside of Bryce National Park in Utah, the three oldest kids were in a real rodeo! Briani, five years old, rode a sheep; Elena, ten years old, rode a calf; and Jonathon, 14 years old rode a cow. All three kids did a great job but Briani surprised the thousand plus crowd by staying on her sheep the longest!

aerial view of utah rock formations

A few tips Manny and family leave us with until their next road trip:

  • The ever popular drone, while great for capturing beautiful bird’s eye view images, wasn’t a great road trip addition. It was big and clunky, and was more of a hassle than a plus.
  • Never go without shoes! Your drone might go haywire and you may have to climb after it without said shoes! OUCH!
  • And be sure to include yourself in all those vacation pics and videos. Manny realized once he got home he was barely in any of the pictures and videos of his family. Next time he will make sure he makes an appearance too!

To see some amazing video of the rodeo visit PapiBlogger.