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Top 3 family road trip travel hacks

Taking your family on a road trip is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll share together. The stories and memories made on those trips will last a lifetime. Cranky children tired of sitting still can make the trip itself feel like a lifetime too! Don’t despair! Road trips can indeed be fun for everyone with a little advance planning and creativity. Let’s review our top three family road trip travel hacks.

Boy in car

Plan for stops 

Not just stops for bathroom breaks and food - though those are important too. Plan for stops just to get out of the car and move around a bit. Yes, it will add to your travel time but it will make that time more bearable for everyone. Rest areas or roadside parks are perfect for these active breaks. We also recommend packing a few extra things in an easy-to-reach spot to make the most of this time outside of the car:
  • Jump ropes, frisbees and balls
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Bubbles
Bonus tip: Kids don’t want to get in the car? Have a bag of surprises and let them pick one as soon as they are in the car and buckled up. Wrap them up in newspaper so they feel like a gift. Ideas? Library books. Small toys from the dollar store that they can use in the car - magnetic board games are great for older kids. New coloring book & crayons. Car bingo cards. A new movie (if you have a DVD player in the car).

Play some car games

Declare a low-tech time period when you put away all tablets, smartphones and other devices. Try out some of these tried and true car games to help pass the time, get some laughs and do something different.

Car Trivia: Bring a set of trivia cards and have a family contest to see who can get the most right. Have young children? Break into teams to keep things fair. Winners can earn trinkets, stickers, activity or coloring books, food treats (make this one extra fun and let the winner pick a treat the next time you get gas), extra minutes of hotel pool time or stay-up-late time.

Traditional road-trip games: 20 Questions, the License Plate Game (print off a checklist here), and I Spy.

Alphabet Hunt: Using billboards, road signs and the sides of semi trucks see who can find each letter of the alphabet the fastest.

Alphabet story game: You can make this simple for young children or add on lots of choices for older kids. For example, for younger ones pick one topic (animals, food) and take turns naming an item in that topic for each letter (ape or apple). First person starts with A and go on down the alphabet. For older kids, make it more of a story. For example, taking turns with each letter of the alphabet fill in the blanks: A my name is ______, I live in ______ where I love to eat _______.

Look for adventures along the way

Sure everyone is most excited to see grandma and grandpa or visit the amusement park at the end of your trip but who says the fun has to wait until the end? Examine your route and look for fun attractions that don’t take you too far afield to make the trip itself feel like a vacation. You can likely find things that only add an hour to your day. Or you can add an extra day and break up the drive with a longer adventure.

  • Explore a new park.
  • Visit a president’s home.
  • Tour the corn palace or the largest ball of string. 
  • View a natural wonder. 

A few bonus ideas to keep everyone entertained

  • Read aloud to your children or borrow some children’s audiobooks from your local library.
  • Family sing-along. This can be a great chance for Mom & Dad to play some of their “classic” favorites and entertain the kids with some new-to-them music.
  • Map it! Give the kids their own map or atlas and let them use markers or stickers to keep track of your route and destination. 

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Baby girl with pony tail in white