How to Have a Kick Ass Road Trip in 3 Easy Steps

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Published in Hot Topics, Thriving Thursdays





The summer travel season is only a few short weeks away.  Families will pack the cars and campers with gear and head out to see this great land.

Along the way….thousands of families will have THIS moment…

*colorful language warning, put on your headphones if little one’s are near!


My family packs up the mini van each year and heads to Montana to visit my dad and his wife.  We drive 7 hours and often do it in ONE trip.  Every once in a while, we stop half way and spend the night at a really great hotel with waterslides.  That’s a treat!

More often than not, we do the entire drive in one day, stopping for bathroom breaks and lunch.

Road trips can be stressful for even the most peaceful family.  Siblings jammed up against one another into a car with little leg room and even less room for personal space.

Show me a road trip and I’ll show you a family that has heard wailing from the back seat…




It takes a steely nerved parent to gracefully maneuver the winding roads of summer road trips.

I want to give you some hope!  You can have a kick ass road trip and it takes 3 very simple steps!

1.  Take Technology!  Okay, we’ve all read the doomsday posts on how bad technology is for kids and how it’s impeding their ability to actually look up.  I want to give you full permission to dig deep into the technology vault at your home and load up the mini van with the iPads and game boys this summer.  If you decide to set limits on it, choose limits that are easily enforceable.  Don’t expect your kids to gaze out the window for 8 hours!  Our kids are used to constant input and a road trip can sound the bell of doom if you don’t at least have some kind of plan in place for how you are going to tackle 8 or 10 hours wedged into the car with kids.

Decide that once per hour they can set down the electronics and play a game or chat with mom and dad.  Determine what kind of music or movies will be preloaded onto the iPad.   Many libraries all over the country now have digital lending libraries and  you can download access to books and movies for a limited time.  Find out from your local library.  Is TOO MUCH technology a bad thing?  Of course it is.  Is loosening those rules on a road trip perfectly okay?  YES!

2.  Make it FUN!  I dare you to take 3 or 4 of your most annoying coworkers, shove them all into a mini van and take a cross country road trip with NOTHING to do but stare out the window or at each other.  I guarantee someone will lose their diplomacy in a matter of minutes and all niceties will be OUT THE DOOR!  The same rings true for kids.  They are used to having their own space, their own things and room to do what they want to do without a younger brother or sister pressed up against them.  Create a playlist on the iPod.  Ask each kid to choose 5 to 10 songs and put them on shuffle.  Have a contest to see who can guess the most number of songs, the correct artist, guess the next song to come on the shuffle.  Have a car karaoke contest.  Find instrumental songs only and make up crazy songs to the melody.  See who can get the most big rigs to honk their air horns.  See who can find the most wild animals as you drive through the mountains.  Play I SPY within the confines of the car.  Play memory games.  The list is endless on how you can engage your kids and keep the conversation flowing for more than 15 minutes.  Download a car bingo game from Pinterest.  Print out the google map of the route you will take and get the kids to keep you on track and navigate.  

What ever you decide to do to keep yourself and the kids entertained, be sure to let your silly side out.  Smile and wave at strangers passing by.  Put on a funny hat and see how many strange looks you can get from other cars on the road.  It’s not like you will EVER see these people again!

3.  Have a PLAN and PLAN for FUN!  Stop trying to make a marathon run across the country in record time!  This makes our kids miserable and drives us to the brink of insanity!  Make stops along the way.  If your route takes you past the world’s biggest ball of string, stop and take a look.  If you can peer over the edge of a canyon at a rest stop, do it!  These memories and photos will never be available to you again, so take advantage of them now!  Have a techy kid?  Why not ask them to be the family “Instagramer” and document the entire trip on a family Instagram account.  Prolific Facebooker?  Put one kid in charge of uploading a photo a day and coming up with a crazy status to go with the photo.  There are so many reasons to “stop and smell the roses” along the way.

Make plans to stop at least once and eat “road food!”  Sure a cooler filled with sandwiches and fruit is nice, but don’t you crave a roadside dinner hamburger and milkshake once in a while?  How about a crispy green salad at the best mom and pop diner on the planet?  These meals and so much more await the road tripper brave enough to stop off the beaten path and grab a seat in the restaurant.  I guarantee you, nothing tastes better than a melting ice cream cone on the side of a road in the middle of a road trip!


Summer is a time to relax and let the rules loosen!  The same should apply for family road trips.  Let go of the perfect expectations and let your kids be your tour guide on the road trip.  Allow for the possibility of fun and silliness while you trek across the great country you live in.



Tell me, what was your greatest road trip ever?  Do you have a photo?  

Hope on over to our Facebook Community and post your epic road trip photos for us!








Photo 1 Credit: By Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, published on 24 February 2013 Stock Photo – image ID: 100142100

Photo 2 Credit: By imagerymajestic, published on 11 July 2012 Stock Photo – image ID: 10091908

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