When we were kids, summer vacations always consisted of the family getting into a car and driving somewhere. We usually went to upstate New York. Because there were so many of us, I don’t think flying anywhere ever crossed our parents’ minds.

This summer, as more people are vaccinated, and regulations loosen somewhat around the country, families will be returning to the annual ritual of taking summer vacations.

Jim recently spoke with his friend Steve Squeri, the Chairman and CEO of American Express. Jim always enjoys the opportunity to catch up with Steve and hear his insights. Steve shared that he is seeing pent up customer demand expressing itself and that travel is coming back.

The travel site Tripit says road trips are the trend this summer, and to us that makes sense because families are still cognizant of keeping the kids safe from COVID, and car trips are a way to do that. According to a Tripit survey, 83% of respondents said they’d be ready for a road trip with a personal car by June.

We thought it would be fun to take a road trip down our memory lane, while also giving you some tips as you start to head out on the highway this summer toward your favorite destinations.

Planning the trip

As kids, we didn’t have much say about where we wanted to go; however, our parents understood that we liked returning to the cabin in upstate New York each year. Everyone knew what they were in for. We also had to take into consideration the fact that our parents’ friends would usually join us, and they had seven kids, and would stay in a cabin next door.

That made 12 children, and at some point, the parents allowed the older kids to bring a friend, so now we are up to 15-20 of us! Honestly, I don’t know how the mothers did it; however, the fathers figured out a way to partly avoid the mayhem. They would work during the week, and come up on the weekends, and get out just in time before their nerves started to fray.

2021 year of road trips and how to plan

Many of you are probably deciding where the family, and perhaps other family and friends, should all go this summer, particularly if you are all driving. And there are so many considerations to take into account.

The Washington Post accurately predicted that 2021 will be the “year of the road trip.” The article includes tips such as making sure COVID safety is still on your radar, having a destination in mind early – and being prepared to improvise in case your destination of choice is too crowded, planning longer stays ASAP, and packing with intention.

Keeping the family fed in the car

Back when the McCann family embarked on our trips to upstate New York, Mom always ensured that we had some snacks but nothing special stood out to us. Boy, do we wish Moose Munch was around in those days!

For your family car trip this year, our team offers some creative suggestions that will keep the kids, and the parents, well fed while on the road.

On “The Table,” Harry & David’s blog, we offer ideas about food to help bring the family closer together and provide a little variety outside of the standard fare. We offer fun ideas for summer road trip snack boxes.

Road trip snacks are different from normal snacks in that they need to be stored in an easily accessible container for travel. You also want the snacks to not be highly perishable, like milk, so that you don’t have to worry about it spoiling while sitting for a few hours in the car, especially if it’s hot out.

You could of course just throw all your snacks in a bag and call it a day, but we love grouping them into themed snack boxes for extra road trip fun. It’s an easy way to enjoy an assortment of different flavors. Plus, this way you won’t get bored from just eating a bag of chips.

You’ve arrived. Now what?

Many of you will do what the McCanns did and travel with friends or other family members, which allows all the kids to entertain themselves by playing together, and gives the adults the chance to catch-up, in between chasing after kids!

Sometimes family gatherings can get a little complicated – they did for the McCann crew — and while, admittedly, that can be part of their charm, there’s always the possibility of uncertain moments, and a lull in the proceedings. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan a few fun games that bring the family together and keep everyone entertained.

In our blog, we write about fun games to play at your next family reunion, which can easily be adapted for road trip vacation fun-time.

If 2020 was the year of the board game, we suspect the Summer of 2021 will be the Summer of the car game.

What are your favorite car games? Our community reflected fondly on the license plate game, name that tune and punch buggy. What’s your favorite car game?

The family is getting together, and that means engaging in fun activities, bonding over shared experiences, and making great memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Regardless of what you plan to do on your summer vacation, we wish you lots of fun, quality family time, and activities that provide life-long memories. There is no doubt that we, and the rest of our crew from those days in upstate New York at the small rental house, look back on those vacations with great fondness.

We hope the same goes for you.

Have joyful and safe summer travels as you head out on the open road!

All the best,

Chris and Jim

Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.


Jim McCann is the founder, CEO, and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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