Planning a Family Road Trip

by Ann Douglas

Family Road TripSummertime is approaching quickly and with it Summer vacations and opportunities to get away.

Are you planning a long family road trip -- one that will be even longer if the kids end up fighting the whole way down the highway?

Here's how to keep that family holiday from turning into a "helliday" on wheels. Use these suggestions that come from veterans of family vacations past. While we can't guarantee 100 percent success, we do know you'll at least keep most of the hair on your head.

Turn the Kids into Back Seat Drivers

Get your kids involved in trip planning before you leave home and then turn them into back-seat navigators. If your kids have a say in the types of roadside attractions you'll be hitting along the way, they'll have something else to focus on other than how annoying their siblings are. Letting the kids navigate should dramatically reduce the number of squabbles and "are we there yet" whining.
Here's another helpful tool: You can create customizable, step-by-step driving directions that include mini-maps via maps.google.com.

Bring Your Own Activity Kits

Encourage your child to assemble activity kits that will make the time fly by when you're zooming down the highway or stuck in a traffic jam. Depending on your child's age and interests, he or she might be inspired to create an arts-and-crafts kit (include car-friendly arts and craft supplies like construction paper, kid-safe scissors, stickers, washable markers, stencils, pencils), a scrapbooking kit (load up on budget-friendly scrapbooking supplies plus a scrapbook that can be used to capture the highlights of the family trip), a games kit (purchase an assortment of inexpensive games that are designed for car travel).

Do-it-Yourself Entertainment Director

Insist that each child play "DIY entertainment director." School-aged kids should assume responsibility for keeping themselves entertained on the road. For some children, that will mean toting along a stack of books or magazines. For others, it will entail loading up their iPod with their favorite tunes -- or spending their allowance on DVDs for the road.

What other helpful tips do you have? What's been your lifesaver for family road trips? We want to know!

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.