Family, Self

6 Ways Parents Can Survive A Road Trip With Kids

Photo: Frank McKenna via Unsplash
Travel Tips For Parents Who Are Taking A Family Road Trip With Their Kids

By Joni Edelman

The holidays afford those of us with a car and nearby extended family (or potentially exciting vacation spots) the ability (responsibility?) to get away from home for the holiday.

I hear your collective groan. Every time someone posts an enthusiastic #Roadtrip photo on Instagram, a kitten dies, because that’s what happens when you lie.

It’s not going to be fun. It is never, ever going to be fun until your baby-toddler children become teenage children.

RELATED: How Family Vacations Become 'Happiness Anchors' For Kids & Help Them Cope With Stress

Then, it will be fun because teenage children don’t ask you 752 times when you’re going to be there. Instead, they sulk in the back row of the Swagger Wagon, listening to whatever awful thing kids listen to and retreating into their hoodie like an angsty teenage unabomber.

Exhibit A:

It will make you feel better to refer to them as pensive.

Exhibit B:

So, depending on the age of your children, you have anywhere from 0-14 years of hearing “Are we there yet?” at a ratio of 1:27, per hours in the car. If your kids are all already teenagers, why are you reading this? Go pee alone for god sake.

If you’re reading this and you’re already on a road trip, I’m sorry. Bookmark for later and/or find the nearest Target. Here are 5 tips to survive the purgatory that is a road trip with children.

1. Books

Bring many. They will look at/read them for about 5 minutes. After that, you’d better have a backup.

It’s not that they don’t love books. They may be bitty bibliophiles in the making, but once they’ve been in a car for 7 minutes, all of that goes right out the proverbial, and possibly literal, window. You better bring your A-game.

2. Movies

If you don’t have a car with a DVD player, go buy one. If you don’t have $30 or 40K, buy a portable DVD player. If you don’t have $49.98 for a portable DVD player, call me. I’ll either give you $49.98 for a portable DVD player or start a GoFundMe.

Everyone should have a DVD player on, in, or around their automobile. The car TV is the second best thing that ever happened to travel, right after flight.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Survive Traveling With Kids (Without Losing Your G-D Mind)

3. Games/songs that don’t require anything but your brain/voice and the patience of job

Here are three of our faves:

A. Think of a word that starts with A, B, C, etc. Everyone in the car has to think of a new word. We have five kids and two adults. This gets pretty challenging. You go ahead and think of seven words that start with X (X-ray, xylophone, xeno, xi, xenia, and I’m out.)

B. Out of state license plate: you just look for a license plate that isn’t from the state you’re in. This game will probably be pretty hard in the midwest, because people just don’t vacation in Iowa.

C. Songs such as: "Row Row Row Your Boat" (in the round), "Wheels on The Bus," "Baby Beluga." Basically, anything except Barney. My kids love the Laurie Berkner Band. I do not. Ask them if they care (they do not).

D. Slug bug: this is the game we all played as kids, see a VW bug, slug the nearest person in the shoulder. Spanking. Not ok. Slug bug? Character building exercise. 

E. The quiet game: the winner is the person who is quiet the longest. The prize is the choice of a snack/song and/or your eternal love. You’d be surprised at how quiet a toddler will be for a cookie. If you can get your kids to play this game like five times in a row, congratulations, parenting level: expert.

4. And speaking of cookies: food

Buy all the food you never let them eat and use it as bribery. This is why I never give my kids fruit leather. You know how excited a 4-year-old is to have fruit leather?

Even the non-GMO organic red-dye-No.5-less variety is like manna from heaven to a child that’s never tasted the sugary delight that is a fruit boiled down and dried out to basically 100% sugar.

5. Treat bags

For parenting extra-credit, put together a bag they can open at a given mile marker, eg. We've gone 50 miles! You've earned treat bag #1. What you put into these treat bags is totally up to you. I recommend #6.

6. And Benadryl (the fact that it is basically a sedative is just a bonus)

Because your kids are allergic to the car, and you are allergic to their whining. Did someone just sneeze? I definitely just heard someone sneeze.

RELATED: If You Want To Improve Your Relationship, Hit The Road (Literally)

Joni Edelman is a writer who focuses on parenting, family, and relationships. For more of her family content, visit her Twitter page.

This article was originally published at Ravishly. Reprinted with permission from the author.