How to book a Family Fly Drive holiday to the USA

December 30, 2017

Just how do you go about booking a fly drive holiday for the USA? We looked at a few options for our roadtrip…

Booking a Fly Drive family holiday

A fly drive holiday is quite simple:

  1. You fly to a destination.
  2. Hire a car.
  3. Travel around staying at different places.
  4. Then you fly back home, which may not be from the same airport that you flew into.

All elements that are easy to book yourself, and certainly things we’ve booked ourselves before, but not for this holiday.

Fly Drive Package Deals, and why we avoided them

Booking a Fly Drive Package tour
A few companies can create a ‘package deal’ for you. You can find these from companies such as Virgin Holidays.

they don’t always have accommodation where you want to go

They book the flights, the car, and you can choose from a brochure the accommodation you wish to stay in.

After much research (and a few phone calls to Fly Drive companies), we decided it wasn’t for us.

  • On our fly drive we wanted to see certain things and go on a particular route. The package companies don’t always have accommodation where you want to go, which can mean you miss the very things you want to go on the trip for.
  • Advice on where was ‘safe‘ to take the kids, and driving distances when you have a family, was a little bit vague or sketchy. I wasn’t going to spend that amount of money on big family road trip without knowing it was going to be good. The person on the other end of the phone (often a single young adult who has never been to your destination) will look at a map and think a 380 mile non-stop journey between accommodation is not a problem. They clearly haven’t travelled anywhere with kids.
  • Compared to booking it ourselves, a lot of car hire and accommodation appeared a lot more expensive when going through these Fly Drive package deals. Now I don’t mind paying for a service that puts everything together for me, but the package deals we looked at actually did very little for us; they just wanted my money.

The trouble with creating your own Fly Drive roadtrip

With the package deals turning out to be a bit of a disappointment, creating our own fly drive holiday was the obvious choice. However, some big questions still remained: where was it safe to take the kids (I had been warned about no-go areas in LA by several people), and what are the driving distances?

Using Roadtrippers app to work out route and places to visit
We worked out driving distances and times from Google maps, and then from a great app called Roadtrippers, which had the added advantage of showing points of interest on route. When travelling with kids its great to know there are places you can stop at to break up the journey.

there was a lot involved and it needed to be done right

However, despite reading a lot of guides and information, it became apparent that to book this trip, which was going to take a few years of savings, there was a lot involved and it needed to be done right.

This left us with only one course of action…

Using (a real) Travel Agent

this sort of dilemma is exactly what a real travel agent is for

Fortunately this sort of dilemma is exactly what a travel agent is for. Not one of many high street chains that just book things out of a holiday brochure for you, but an agent that will create your custom trip and take care of all the details for you.

Yes, doing it this way can cost more than doing it yourself, but as I said before, I don’t mind paying for a service that actually does something for you.

We are lucky that we have such a local travel agent at Peakes Travel Elite, and Claire Moore took care of everything for us. Not only had she done the trip before herself, she also has kids and understood limits on family travel.

So with understanding our budget and the places we wanted to see, Claire proposed some itineraries, and after a few tweaks, we had our road trip sorted. They even helped with the admin for the electronic visas required for entry into the USA (which I had completely missed in my ‘DIY’ research – oops!).

And when we did run into a bit of difficulty (more on that in a later post) they were there to help sort things out.

Our recommendations for choosing a travel agent

  • Find a smaller local firm that has good recommendations from friends and families. Make sure it is an agent that can create bespoke holidays rather than just book something from a catalogue.
  • Ask the agent if they have personally been to the place you want to visit. Ask how many people they’ve sent to that region. They may even have some testimonials.
  • Make sure you are clear about what you want to visit, the type of holiday, the amount of travelling that would be acceptable to your family.
  • If you ask questions about things, they should be able to answer, or go and find out and get back to you.
  • Ask what would happen if you run into difficulties. For example, on a fly drive holiday you are checking into many different places. What if something was wrong with your booking, such as the hotel has double booked you? Is there a service they have to support you?

USA West Coast Fly-Drive Series

Continue reading; click on the next article in the series.
  • Why you should do a family road trip

    A family road trip is a great way for your kids to see a bit more of the world. Though it's not always easy... Read more >

  • Booking a Fly-Drive Holiday

    Tips on booking a Fly-Drive family holiday. Read more >

  • Our Route

    The route and itinary for our family road trip in the USA. Read more >

  • Airport Hacks

    Airport hotels, airport parking, and flight delays. Read more >

  • Vegas, Desert, and Mountains

    Our first few days saw us acclimatise in Las Vegas, before heading out through the desert and Death Valley, before eventually reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains. Read more >

  • Mammoth Lakes

    We step out of our hotel and are taken by the magnificent beauty of the Sierra Mountains. Read more >

  • Tioga Pass

    The views over the Sierras could have been taken straight out of a copy of National Geographic Read more >

  • The Giant Redwoods

    These trees are immense. You feel as if you have shrunk when walking among them! Read more >

  • Yosemite Valley

    Yosemite is beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. Read more >

  • Welcome to San Francisco

    Arriving in San Francisco was.... interesting Read more >

  • Alcatraz

    A visit to 'The Rock' is a must when visiting San Francisco Read more >

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. How long did you go for? We were thinking of 2 weeks but don’t want to be racing around!

  2. never going again

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