A road trip is a great way for family members to bond. It’s also a great way for family members to get on each other’s nerves. Kids especially get restless on long car rides and before you know it, the repeating chorus of “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” can make your automobile feel like a rolling torture chamber. Keep the little ones from staging a revolution with these helpful tips:
A good way to save yourself a lot of headaches later is to be prepared ahead of time. Don’t wait until the day you leave to pack the car, and have everyone agree on where they’re going to sit beforehand. For longer trips, decide if you’re going to drive through the night or get some sleep at a hotel. Pack a cooler with snacks and drinks. Double-check that your vehicle is in working order. Get a good night’s sleep.
Know the route you’re going to take. Know where you’re going to stop for food, gas, and bathroom breaks. But most importantly, know that something is bound to go awry at some point and throw you off your schedule, so plan accordingly.
The open road is full of all kinds of alluring detours. In Kansas, you’ll see signs for the Largest Ball of Twine in the World. In South Carolina, billboards hyping the South of the Border start appearing long before you’re anywhere close to that disappointing statue of a man wearing a sombrero. Gift shops and tourist traps dot the roadsides, leading bored kids astray with their tacky decorations and overpriced knickknacks. Don’t let your little ones give in to temptation.
Don’t let yourself either. Your inner real estate flipper might think a trip to the Rio Grande is a good time to scout El Paso houses for sale, but every second your kids aren’t hiking those famous trails they’re probably going to be complaining. Stay on target.
The surest way to avoid a mutiny is to keep your crew occupied. A wandering mind rebels, but a little entertainment goes a long way toward making the time pass quicker. The night before you leave, make up a road trip playlist full of songs the whole family loves and can maybe even sing along to. Bring a portable DVD player and a couple movies, or load up a phone with fun apps and games to fill in the lulls between pit stops.
Not every distraction needs to be high-tech. After all, if the point of a family trip is to bond, that’s not going to happen if everyone but the driver has their face glued to a screen. Classic travel games like “I Spy” or “Would You Rather?” are a good way of sharing laughs with your family. What’s more, spending so much time together helps you catch up with your kids. Ask them about what they’re learning in school, what they’re looking forward to about the road trip destination, or anything else they might be interested in.
Sometimes the best part of a vacation is the things you learn on the journey there.