Taking a family road trip is a surefire way to make lasting memories. What better way is there to see all the natural and man-made wonders scattered across a continent than taking a road trip? But more than the sightseeing, being in an automobile together is a natural way to promote conversation and family bonding. Long silences cease to be awkward, and the talk can flow from topic to topic, letting everyone in the car share their thoughts and letting everyone get to know one another better.
However, sometimes, things aren’t always peachy. As with any family activity, there can be friction. No matter whether your road trip takes one day or one week, it is important to make some rules to keep everyone safe, and everything in order. Your road trip rules can include how to behave in the car, what to do out of the car and how to handle an accident.
Keeping the Kids Happy
If you are traveling with two or more kids, you will need to provide them with activities to keep them busy. Set up rules around who sits where. Each child should have his or her own container of activities and snacks. If your vehicle can play movies, agree on several ahead of time—this can prevent hours of bickering later. If you have them, you could also bring iPads or tablets to keep the kids amused for short amounts of time. If you don’t have enough iPads or tablets for everyone, consider a pre-road trip visit to your local library.
A long car ride can be a good chance to help your kids get into reading—so long as they don’t easily get car sick. Ask your children what kinds of stories they like, and try to find some fun books that fit their guidelines. If you had a book that was special to you when you were young, you child might even be interested in that too.
Be sure to take breaks every two hours so that the kids can stretch their legs and move around. Sticking with simple and fresh foods such as apples, peanut butter sandwiches and fruit snacks can help to avoid motion sickness and sad bellies.
Games to play on a family roadtrip
Having some fun road games to play may help to stave off the bickering between your children. Try an “I spy” game of road signs or license plates. You could also try and see will be the first to spot all the letters of the alphabet—in order—in the road signs, license plates, and even vehicle badges on the road around you.
You can bring games to play with you as well. A game such as Scattergories can also easily be played while traveling. Simple card games, such as go-fish or war, are also easy to bring into the car.
For more advanced entertainment options, you might consider looking into a portable chess or checkers sets. These travel sets use magnets to keep pieces on the board even during a bumpy car ride. Many children may not know how to play chess, but a long trip is the perfect opportunity to teach them. As they figure out how each piece works, and maybe even how to use it strategically, you’ll find that they’ve been engaged for hours as the time flew by.
If your kids do start to bicker, put on an audio book that they will enjoy or institute a period of quiet time during which the kids must put on their ear buds or headphones.
Make sure that your children remain in sight at rest stops and pit stops. If your kids have any valuables such as iPhones or other electronics, make sure that they are secured and hidden in your vehicle when you get out for meals. Consider instituting rules such as each child picks one restaurant or one place to visit per day, from a list of safe places that you have already approved. If you get into a car accident and your car is damaged or someone is hurt, consider hiring a lawyer to represent your case.
Children often respond well to structure and reasonable rules. While traveling, a few extra safety rules may be needed so that you can handle unfamiliar situations while on the road. By maintaining as much of your usual schedules and routines as possible and keeping the rules consistent, you should be able to enjoy a great family road trip.
About the author
Marlena Stoddard was born in California and received her BA from the University of Georgia. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, two kids, and a puppy.