How to Survive a Family Road Trip This Summer

Make everyone a happy camper with these tips.

It’s the one week out of the summer the kids look forward to all year, and family road trips are a way to create traditions and memories to look back on for years to come. But making a whole family happy can be quite the challenge. No matter how big or small your family is or how many generations are coming along for the ride, the key to a successful family trip is planning.

Family with map at RV near lake

Photo by: Hero Images

Hero Images

Pick a Great Destination

First thing’s first. Pick a place the whole family will love. Research beforehand to make sure the destination has entertainment and activities for all ages, so everyone has something to look forward to. Here are some ideas for different types of trips that are all great for families. 

Make the Car Ride Part of the Journey

Family looking at mountain view outside car

Photo by: Sam Edwards

Sam Edwards

With family road trips, getting there is half the battle. Long trips seem exciting at first, but cabin fever, car sickness and road rage can be very real sometimes. Try to look at the car ride as part of the journey as opposed to the means to an end destination. Research and get input from all passengers for what to see and do along the way. Allow a few extra hours of travel time, so you can stop at roadside attractions like museums, scenic spots for photo ops and great restaurants for snack breaks. Get some ideas for where to stop: 21 Family Must-Stops Along Route 66

Account for Entertainment

Planning for car ride entertainment is another key element to surviving a family road trip. Tell everyone to bring a variety of books, magazines and music to cover the entire trip. But make sure each person's entertainment items can fit in one backpack that they can each carry themselves - the last thing you want to do is haul around everyone's stuff. Bring enough sets of headphones to go around, so if not everyone enjoys the radio controller’s taste in music, they can opt out for their own podcast, audiobook or music station. Phones and tablets with games that don't require Wi-Fi are great for younger kids. Remind teens to download a couple of movies or TV episodes while on the home Wi-Fi, so when you’re on the road, they won't eat up the entire family data plan for the month or have to worry about a bad connection.

Woman riding in front seat of car driving through desert taking digital photo with smartphone

Photo by: Thomas Barwick

Thomas Barwick

If the kids get restless looking at screens or reading books, play road games such as “The Sign Game,” as my family calls it, where each person looks for words on billboards and road signs that start with each letter of the alphabet moving from “A” to “Z”. Whoever finds words for the whole alphabet first, wins the game. Another popular car game is "The License Plate Game," where each person has to spot a license plate from every state. The first one to make it through all 50 states wins.

Pack Smart

Fruit and Nut Bar

While a few stops along the way help break up the trip, you don't want to have to pull over every time someone needs a tissue, snack, headache medicine or any other inevitable item, especially if the route is a remote one. Don't crank the car and leave the driveway until you've checked these items off of your packing list: 21 Things Every Parent Needs in a Travel Bag

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