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Tips for a Low (Or No) Stress Family Road Trip!

Updated on September 2, 2014

Starting Off

It's early morning day one, and you're ready to begin your road trip. The cooler is packed with snacks... It is packed right? if not head back inside, and make sure to load up your cooler with some pop, a refillable water bottle, ice packs, and some healthy or fun snacks - my favorite travel foods are fruit smoothies, string cheese and chocolate!

This will be the easiest day of your road trip. Everyone is excited, the cooler still holds snacks, and you haven't gotten sick of one another yet. If your trip is more than one day however.... I recommend you continue reading. After moving from New England to Nebraska to South Dakota and making the Omaha-Badlands trek on multiple occasions, I can tell you boredom WILL set in at some point during your trip.... be ready when it happens!

Before You Leave....

The best time to plan for road trip boredom is before it happens. This is especially true if you are traveling with children. Here are some of my pre-trip suggestions:

1.) Visit a website such as or to learn about the fun, kitschy and unusual sites along your driving destination.
2.) Let them help... If you are traveling with children, giving them something to help with could certainly help ease their boredom. For older kids you could give them a task such as "navigator," and for younger kids this could be as simple as allowing them to pack their own small box or bag of toys for in the car.
3.) Surprises! Traveling with your young son? Pack a new matchbox car that makes a surprise appearance sometime late afternoon when he's getting cranky. This same principal can work with anyone - a new CD by your husband's favorite artist, a special snack that you usually don't purchase, a new book or magazine for an older child. The possibilities are endless... but the trick is to wait until it's needed.
4.) Bribes... Okay so I'm usually not a big fan of bribing, but when my sister and I went on vacation as a child my mom came up with what I considered a genius plan to get us to behave and not bicker with one another. We loved to purchase penny candy at the end of our trip, and usually my parents would give us each a few dollars to spend at the candy store before leaving the beach for home. One year my mom gave us all of our penny candy at the beginning of the trip however... we each received $2 in nickels in a little baggie. If we were mean to our sister, one of our nickels would become hers. Whatever we had at the end of the week was our penny candy money.

Still Bored.... Here are 20 More Boredom Busters for your trip!

1.) Play 20 Questions
2.) Play the "I Spy" Game
3.) Play the Alphabet Game
4.) Count Roadkill.... there were 150+ on my 500 mile drive last weekend..Eeew.
5.) If you're in South Dakota.... count Wall Drug Signs
6.) Cheer and honk your horn whenever you cross into a new state.
7.) Play a word association game.
8.) Sing silly songs
9.) Try to find a new radio station in each place you drive through
10.) Stop and visit a kitschy/toursity road side stop just because it looks cool
11.) Take pictures with random roadside signs... (i.e. Caution Prairie Dogs Have Plague; State Entrance Signs; Signs with Cool Pictures etc. etc.)
12.) Listen to a book on tape/CD/MP3 -- check out your library for great free options
13.) Try to find license plates from as many states as possible.
14.) Play categories.
15.) Quiz your kids on spelling words/state capitals/whatever else they're learning.
16.) Learn a new language! Pop a language learning CD in, and learn to Hablo Espanol in your coche!
17.) Play the silent game (cause Mom and Dad need some fun too!)
18.) Tell old family stories
19.) Play a trivia game... this one may take some advanced planning, but a fun trivia game will make it easy to sneak some learning in to summer vacation.
20.) RELAX AND HAVE FUN! Really. Take a deep breath. Count to three. Take another deep breath. Remember how much you love those children who have been obnoxiously fighting for the last 72 miles, plaster a smile on your face, and simply carpe diem and enjoy the trip!


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    • profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Glad you found the tips worthwhile Aufait, I've taken a few road trips and more of them were as a kid than with kids, so glad for your vote of approval.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      I've made a lot of long road trips over the years. Some with children, some not. You have a lot of great ideas for making a happier trip here.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      I'm glad you liked the tips oceansunsets. The snacks one is such an essential in my mind! Even on a long trip it is still less costly to stop at walmart or a grocery store every few days to restock snack food than to purchase everything from roadside stops. And yes isn't the number of Wall Drug signs crazy! Even just between rapid city and wall I would be in the double digits counting those signs!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Wow, these are great tips! I had to chuckle at the one for counting Wall Drug signs if you are South Dakota! That is a good one, as I literally couldn't believe how many we kept passing. My husband always says that he grew up eating at rest stops from a cooler. Why don't more of us do that still? Its a smart idea, healthy, and would save money. I like your ideas for snack foods too. Great hub!

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks Thelma, glad you enjoyed the Hub. Games alwyas make the time pass more quickly on a roadtrip - with or without kids :)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Thanks for sharing your tips and for following me. Traveling with kids is sometimes very tiring when they kept on asking "when are we going to arrive?". Something to play is always a good idea to bring with when traveling. Voted up and useful;-)

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Very true vespawolf. I think when the trip is long enough no level of preparation will save you from a few "Are we there yet?" questions. Especially when young ones are involved.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      This brings back memories of pleasant (usually) driving vacation our family took when I was a child. Even though we took activity books and snacks along, there was always the inevitable "Mom, when will we be there?" question every so many miles. Some things never change! : ) These are great ideas and very helpful. Voted up!

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks robie! I agree that hiding the phone is definitely a good (and safe) thing to do while driving! Especially if you're in a state with strict cell laws. I usually have mine plugged into the charger and play music through my Pandora app when I'm in places where I don't know the radio stations.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I am definitely into roadtrips and I love your good advice-- especially the list of boredom busters. On a long drive by myself, I also like listening to audio-books and I hide my iPHone at the bottom of my purse and do not turn it on till I get out from behind the wheel. Voting up and useful

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi Glassvisage, I agree, snacks are key! I found the websites while preparing for a roadtrip a long time ago, and they certainly manage to make things interesting. I mean, who doesn't want to see the worlds largest rocking chair or ball of twine!?

    • glassvisage profile image


      6 years ago from Northern California

      I definitely bring snacks! :) Thanks for sharing this. I'd never heard of the road trip websites and they look like a great place to start!


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