Travel Stories from America's Leading Road Trip Family

Southborough father writes trip guide with help from his wife,kids
By Lori Berkey Contributing Writer

The Community Advocate      September 7, 2007

Joe Cali of Southborough slides behind the wheel of the family vehicle as he and his wife, Wendy, their daughter, Christie, and their son, Josh, anticipate their next road trip together. Joe, with help from his family, has written a family road trip guidebook. PHOTO/LORI BERKEY


















Southborough - Josh Cali thinks it would be boring to vacation in one spot for a week. The Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) freshman has been going on road trips with his family since he was 2.

That's when his parents drove him and his sister, Christie, to Disney World to save on air fare. Although Josh doesn't recall seeing Mickey Mouse, his memory is full of fun times from the dozens of family car trips to 46 states and visits to 20 countries.

Two years ago, mid-trip, the family decided to compile their experiences into a manual for other families. In April, "The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip" was published by Author House. Josh and Christie's father, Joe, is the primary author, but the kids and their mother, Wendy, each contributed a chapter.

Christie, a junior at ARHS, is thankful for the chance to have learned so much on their travels, and said that being in the car together for long stretches has helped their family to communicate.

"Part of the fun is seeing the country, but also I just like the family time," Christie said. "I have a lot of friends and I go over to their house and they never talk to their parents or their brother or sister; they just ignore them. They stay in their rooms all day. But when you're on a road trip, you're always talking. You're constantly in communication, so you really get to bond with them."

Wendy is pleased that the trips allow the family to be together, and she also is glad to see so many places. Although the initial Disney trip was a money saver, she believes road trips are invaluable. "I think a lot of people think road tripping is what to do if you can't aff ord to do anything else," Wendy said. "But I think road tripping is wonderful. You don't have to do it just because it's all you can aff ord or it is what you can aff ord. It's a great thing to do."

Josh is also a fan of family car time. "I like the driving and all the places you stop along the way," he said, "not so much usually the destination, more like the driving and talking."

Christie said she's learned many life lessons from the trips, such as how to make the best of things and still have fun even when things don't work out as she may have wanted.

Joe said that when he was growing up, his parents were unable to aff ord trips, other than one vacation to Niagara Falls. His family drove straight through with no stops. Joe recalls looking out the window, dreaming of pulling off to see other sights. So he makes sure everyone in the family takes part in planning their trips.

Josh likes spur-of-the moment detours that would be impossible if they traveled by plane. He was especially happy on one trip when the family realized they weren't too far from Arkansas, a state he longed to visit. What turned out to be a lengthy drive to an open space with nothing to do wound up being great fun when they happened upon a restaurant where patrons had the chance to get a free 72-ounce steak - as long as they could eat it all.

Not every moment on the highway has been easy, though, Joe said. But whether it's getting lost or having the only food choices be unfamiliar cuisine, Joe said he's convinced that overcoming such challenges as a family fuels their ability to get along better in life.

The family has marveled over preservation areas in the country's national parks. In an eff ort to help sustain those areas, 100 percent of the book's profits are being donated to organizations whose mission is to protect natural resources and historic sites.

Joe said he didn't write the book to make money, but rather to help people experience the joys his family has had from road tripping.

"I have one simple hope," he said. "I hope that people just try it."

For more information about the book, visit www.ultimatefamilyroadtrip. com. 



Let Southborough author guide

your family vacation


Middlesex Daily News  June 28, 2007
Photo by Allan Jung/Daily News staff
Joe Cali of Southborough has written a travel advice book for families.
By Kate Olesin/Daily News correspondent
Southborough, Mass. -

To most, the words "family road trip" mean an endless car ride, museum after museum, and the dreaded words, "Are we there yet?"

Joe Cali of Southborough has given traveling families the solution to their road trip woes with his new book "The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip." "I trust that this book can help change the way you and your family think about vacations. And in doing so, it will change your life," Cali writes.

His approach? Teach good family vacation planning skills.

"Most travel books don't explain how to plan one (a road trip)," he said.

The book is based on Cali's four "vacation pillars": planning ahead, involving the whole family, discovering something new, and expecting the unexpected. The guide includes the family's own "Top 10 Road Trip Itineraries" and tips that families can use to make their drive a good one.

Even the book was a family project. Cali, his wife Wendy, 16-year-old daughter Christie and 14-year-old son Josh wrote short essays describing their family adventures. Cali plans to donate every cent of the proceeds to the places that have helped his family create their vacation memories. Those includes the National Park Foundation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Farm Aid and Habitat for Humanity.

The idea for the book came from conversations with family and friends.

Cali started to create sample itineraries for people who became interested in fun, family road trips. The demand became so great that he made time to write a book, although not always during normal waking hours. "Sometimes at 4 o'clock on a Saturday morning," he said.

Cali's childhood, unlike his children's, did not revolve around travel. But when his father gave 9-year-old Joe a book depicting places all over the world, young Cali was awestruck. "It seemed kind of like this really distant dream. It was so hard for me to imagine going anywhere," he recalled. Now, traveling is Cali's life. The Cali family has traveled to 46 states and 20 foreign countries, and plans to see more.

The walls of the Cali home are decorated with family photographs and collages depicting their journeys. The family has collected magnets from almost every place they have visited, proudly displayed in a frame on the kitchen wall.

Cali is the executive vice president for direct marketing and finance at Grand Circle Travel. He sends out the company's catalogs and takes a trip once a year to make sure Grand Circle Travel cruises, safaris or vacations are perfect for their 200,000 customers.

"I can't believe I actually make a living doing this," he said.

Before his travel days, Cali worked at New England Business Service in Groton for 12 years. He then turned his attention toward his real passion: seeing the world. Cali's favorite road trip took his family 22 days to complete.

That vacation - which the Calis call "The Great America West National Park Road Trip" - included visits to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners, to name a few.

Cali's work has taken him all over the world including the Galapagos Islands and Egypt, Italy, Spain, Australia, Russia, and many other countries.

The family's next adventure, slated for next summer, will follow the trail of Lewis and Clark, taking a little over two weeks to drive from Minnesota to Oregon.

His advice to first-time road trippers?

"Start small, do something about two hours away. Ask your kids what they want to do and work in something along the way. Bring plenty of entertainment. But my number one advice is: Just do it!"

"The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip" by Joe Cali, ($18.95) published by Author House, is available at online booksellers and local bookstores or by special order.





The Cleveland Plain Dealer 

by Jill Sell  

Family road trips create priceless memories

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Several years ago, vacationers Joe and Wendy Cali of Massachusetts and their two young children took a family road trip to Cleveland. They wanted to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and eat cinnamon sticky buns at Miller's Dining Room in Lakewood. They counted on complimentary tickets from a well-connected friend to see the Indians, and looked forward to a side trip to Cedar Point.

That was the plan. Unfortunately, Miller's was no longer in business, the baseball tickets fell through, and Cedar Point wasn't open because their vacation was during the fall when the amusement park was only open on weekends.

I read about the family's misfortunes in "The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip" by Joe Cali (AuthorHouse; $14.). The love for my hometown instantly kicked in and I was ready to rigorously defend Cleveland. But I didn't have to. The family chose other places in Greater Cleveland and Akron and had a good time.

Cali said the trip served as a great example of "how you can turn those little setbacks and surprises into an unforgettable experience." Road trips must be planned, but the number one rule is to be flexible.

Family road trips can be stressful. But "Woman's Day" magazine reported that 94 percent of American women who were surveyed still favored them. Sure, gas isn't cheap, but you don't have to go far to create priceless memories. Make up some extra money spent on gas by staying at a not-so luxurious hotel or campground.

Here are some tips from moms, me and travel experts to help make your road trip a success.

‚' Keep your driver's license, health and car insurance cards, roadside assistance card, cash, and a credit card in the front pocket of your jeans or shirt. There is nothing worse than discovering you left your purse in a rest stop restroom. Also, take along prescription medicines, as well as doctors and pharmacy phone numbers.

Kids aren't stupid. They won't believe it if you say, "If you don't stop misbehaving, we are going to turn around and go home." They know better. Instead, don't say a word. Pull over when you find a safe place and let the kids stop their bickering on their own before you put the car in gear. P.S. This won't work with a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.

We're not going to tell mothers that it is wrong to let fidgeting kids watch a DVD in the car, especially while driving on a long boring highway. But on-screen entertainment should not be playing the entire trip. There's a whole new world outside that car window.

Choose worthwhile DVDs, such as TripFLIX, an interactive DVD for kids 6 to 12 that features 25 kid-friendly places to visit in the United States. Or try the new 20Q Harry Potter and Simpson versions of the handheld electronic game. There's also LeapFrog's Tag Reading System for kids four to eight years old.

When driving where there is more to see than just highway exit signs, ask everyone to unplug.

But remember that half of the fun of a road trip is getting there. Sharing the sight of cows grazing in a green field filled with dandelions, watching dark clouds dance over the moon at night, or pressing your head against the car window to see tall buildings are experiences to be shared.

The Kids Activity Tray by Case Logic holds a coloring book for kids in car seats. The company's Kids Headrest also makes a droopy, sleepy little head more comfortable. Forget the wadded up blanket or jacket.

Sure, the kids will whine and say the trip is boring. But when I ask adults if they could take a road trip, many say they wish they could replicate the one they took as kids. Traveling with your family might be "embarrassing, humiliating and a waste of vacation days," according to your teens, but give them a few years and they'll have a different perspective.

I think the ultimate road trip item to take along is someone who knows where he or she is going. I have a glove compartment full of outdated road maps that aren't folded, just crumpled into a ball. I am not good at map folding or reading. I once followed what I thought was a highway but turned out to be a county line.

So, we'll be looking at navigation systems and GPS technology in a future column. If you have a comment about a system, please email me.

Jill Sell is a freelance writer with expertise in the local car culture. Jill can be reached at jillsell@en.com.


Travelsmart Newsletter

TravelSmart Newsletter

June 15, 2008 Edition

 TravelSmart Book 

The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip

By Joe Cali
Published by Author House

Reviewed by David Lubchansky

Travel professional Joe Cali, with the help of his wife Wendy, and kids Christie and Josh, have compiled a uniquely organized guide for anyone planning to take their family on that 'ultimate road trip,' or for the armchair traveler who wants to read about unusual and unforgettable road trip attractions, including the World's Largest Office Chair or Ketchup Bottle.

But primarily, this book is about how taking a family road trip can change the way you and your family communicate and have fun together.

The 334-page paperback contains lists of attractions, road trip restaurants, great places to stay and other interesting stops. It's also full of amusing road trip stories that the Cali family has encountered on their many journeys.

The recommended trip itineraries, step-by-step trip planning advice, family approved sites, restaurants, attractions and must-see events in all fifty states give a practical spin to the book.

What makes this book unique, however, is that the advice is unique, and given from a family perspective, not just from that of an individual. The Cali's planned their trips as a family team, always making sure each member was taken into consideration when choosing destinations and attractions.

It's fun reading whether you are preparing for a trip, on a trip, or even just dreaming about taking one. Readers will enjoy and experienced travelers will certainly relate to many of the encounters the family has experienced on their many travels. This book is great for parents who want to take a road trip with their kids, and for grandparents who want to take grandchildren on a uniquely memorable experience.

Note: Mr. Cali is donating all of the net proceeds from the sales of this book to organizations that help to preserve our world, including The World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. National Parks.

And by the way... the World's Largest Office Chair is in Anniston, Alabama, and the largest Ketchup Bottle is in Collinsville, Illinois. Read the book to find out more!

 Posted by Ralph Ranalli July 11, 2007 11:31 AM


A Southborough man and travel executive has just released a family road trip travel guide written with help from his wife and two teen children.

The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Family Road Trip was written by Joe Cali and has chapters authored by his wife, Wendy, daughter, Christie, and son, Josh. The family has taken more than 20 road trips to 46 states and visited 20 countries.

Cali is the Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning for Grand Circle Travel Corporation . The book is available online and in stores. For more information, visit www.ultimatefamilyroadtrip.com.

--Jennifer Rosinski


Other Media Mentions

USA Today "Life" Section, April 11, 2003

Boston Parents Magazine, June 2009

National Public Radio, June 2008