25 Ways to Stop Dreading the Family Road Trip

by Micaela Birmingham
Originally Published: 

My family logs close to 2,000 miles every summer on the road. Move over spin class, because the family road trip is the ultimate test of strength and endurance. Do I wish we had a private jet? Yes. Until then, here’s what keeps us sane along all those miles:

1. Caffeinate. Unless you are a masochist, have mug in hand and GPS the rest stops with coffee that is actually drinkable.

2. Celebrate the ride. Kids think the car ride is part of the vacation. Go with it.

3. Wear comfortable pants (bra optional). You’re welcome.

4. Take naps. Because when was the last time you had a nap?

5. Give the kids headphones. We all can indulge in Taylor Swift on repeat, but there are limits.

6. Screw rules. Aside from hitting each other or taking off seat belts, let the kids bring it.

7. Accept that 50% of the snacks you brought will be rejected, dropped, or spilled, but breathe. You rock for packing it.

8. Drive somewhere awesome. If grandma’s house isn’t your definition of awesome, build in a stop free of judgment and unsolicited parenting advice.

9. Fire up the screens. Let them watch, let them sing, let them play. They will be fine (and quiet).

10. Belt out a road anthem. Blast something you can totally sing and make your kids laugh until they cry.

11. Stop for ice cream. It must be done. Cup is advisable over cone for obvious reasons.

12. Pack like Marie Kondo. Don’t talk to your socks, but give yourself enough leg room to avoid a sciatica flare-up.

13. Reconnect. Remember that person you are traveling with—the one you never have time to talk to? Now is your chance.

14. Eat a civilized dinner. It’s inhumane to eat a meal from your lap. Stop the car at a restaurant, you barbarian.

15. Scrap “beating the traffic” and “making good time.” Chill, and get there when you get there.

16. Pull over to pet a horse. Major kid points won.

17. Clean your sunglasses. Things will look a lot better.

18. Declutter. Use those gas station bins to get rid of your empty coffee cup and the other soul-sucking trash lying around.

19. Color. Coloring books for kids and grown-ups are actually very relaxing.

20. Get your crunch on. Carrots. Popcorn. Fries (twist my arm).

21. Stop if you are tired. Motel 81 on the side of the highway will at least be good for some stories (and you will be alive).

22. Stop at any county fair within 20 miles. Prize winning pie is good for your skin.

23. Take embarrassing videos of your kids falling asleep. Their wedding days are around the corner.

24. Send postcards from random towns along the way. So much cooler than Instagram.

25. Eat a giant breakfast at a roadside diner. Embrace maple syrup as the fountain of youth.

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