Family road trips can be great bonding experiences or they can be miserable. We’ve definitely experienced both ends of the spectrum in my house. One particularly heinous trip involved construction on the freeway, so it took longer than anticipated with a car full of bored and hungry kids. Ever since that bad experience, we’ve worked hard to make family time in the car as enjoyable as possible. Here’s how we do it:
Prepare. This is huge for us—I make a big list of everything we’ll need for a road trip and make sure it all gets in the car. I use this list for the things we’ll need to make the trip fun, like extra snacks and games. I always bring more of everything than I think we’ll need, just in case we get stuck somewhere.
Plan as a family. As my kids have gotten older, they’ve gotten much more opinionated about how they spend their time. To help things go smoother, we plan our road trip activities together as a family. That way my kids can bring books and games that they enjoy. When the older kids are happy and excited for the trip, it is infectious to the rest of the family.
Be silly and spontaneous. As great as it is to have everything planned and prepared, some of our best car moments have come when we get silly and just let things happen. From spontaneous dance parties to laughing fits from silly jokes, we try to keep things relaxed and not too planned.
Get out of the car. Even the most enjoyable family will go a little stir crazy after being in the car for a long time. We stop every few hours for a bathroom break or for a chance to run around or get a trip. A break from the confines of the car keeps everyone happy and lifts everyone’s moods.