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Family Road Trip Survival Kit

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Family Road Trip Survival Kit

As soon as the ink dries in your kids’ yearbook and the last school bus belches its last exhaust cloud, you recognize a tone-shift in your household. Liberated students abandon school-time routines and take to the streets—some with mischievous intentions—not unlike a massive prisoner release. You sense your own offspring are plotting to overthrow your position. You must craft a plan to establish authority and maintain power: GET EVERYONE OUT OF THE HOUSE, IMMEDIATELY.

Maybe the end-of-term scene isn’t quite as dramatic in your house, but opting to take your family out on the road is still a spectacular way to launch summer, build memories, and enjoy time together, around-the-clock. Let’s take a look at some common pressure points most people encounter during a family road trip and some ideas on how to avoid them.


If the view is uninteresting or the trip exceptionally long, it’s not uncommon for young travelers to feel dreadfully bored. The key is to plan ahead in order to prevent the onset of tedium.

  1. Play a pastime such as I Spy or the Alphabet Game, in which everyone searches for words on road signs, buildings, and other vehicles that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
  2. If you have an mp3 music player ask everyone to create a playlist comprised of no more than 10 songs and alternate airtime for each playlist.
  3. Incentivize to boost or maintain interest—an ice cream cone or extra airtime for their playlist.

Climate Control:

Choosing temperature settings in a vehicle is tricky because, more than likely, your passengers each have different internal thermometers. Here’s how to help everyone maintain comfort while on the road.

  1. Each person should dress in layers, including articles to be removed in a warm car or added as needed in a cold car.
  2. Keep things like blankets or a custom cooler with a mix of cold beverages on hand.
  3. Communication is important—check in with the passengers periodically regarding their comfort levels.

Digestion, Sleep, and other Inner-Clock Matters:

Inevitably, one person at any given time requires use of the bathroom, eating, or stretching his or her legs. When these needs occur regularly but separately in short intervals, the journey moves painfully slow. Let’s fix that!

  1. Have everyone cater to a given need at the same time—no waiting in the car at a rest stop.
  2. Go easy on snacks and beverages to avoid unnecessary stops.
  3. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Fighting Siblings and Other Noise Pollution:

Another source of annoyance during a long car ride is the sound of incessant bickering, window tapping, videogame beeping, phrase repetition (toddler speak), and much more. Consider these solutions.

  1. Order arguing travelers to take a break from each other, immediately.
  2. Practice the classic “re-direction” trick: instead of scolding noise offenders for irritating you, distract them with suggestions for alternative activities, like playing a game or choosing the next playlist.
  3. Choose a random word and ask that person to share a true story about that word: “Tell me a story about a cowboy hat.”

You may not be able to avoid hearing the three things most often uttered in a car—“are we there yet,” “I have to pee,” and (from under cupped hands) “okay, who did that”—but what normal family would? The best things about practicing these tips are you’ll set the tone for future road trips and, more importantly, you’ll be able to reward your beloved prisoners for good behavior instead of wanting to tie someone to the back bumper with a leash.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve discovered other fun or clever tricks to help long journeys go by smoothly and quickly. And drive safely!

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