How to Road Trip: A guide to creating the best road trip ever – Part Four: The Journey

How to keep everyone Happy in the Car

The success of a road trip is often determined by the time spent in the car on route to your destination. It’s easy for everyone to be giddy with anticipation or happy once you arrive, but what’s the climate like in the car as you’re making the trip? If past trips have found you wishing you’d flown instead, these tips on how to keep everyone happy are for you.

(1) Treat your car companions like your pets

Feed them. Water them. Take them for walks.

Forget any part of this equation and your pooch would let you know. It’s the same with your family.

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(2) Have an entertainment plan…and a backup

If someone says they’re bored, you’re on borrowed time before a meltdown and or sibling-pinching incident is going to occur. You need a plan. Also, saying “Only boring people get bored,” is not a plan.  Have a few things stashed in your arsenal to help turn the tide before it comes crashing down on your happiness parade. Charades, a podcast you know they’ll love, that app they’ve had their eye on and you secretly bought but didn’t tell them… are all great options to get you over a hump.

 (3) Understand that not every moment has to be filled with sound

Appreciate those moments when everyone is so wrapped up in his or her own thing that silence falls on the car. You aren’t in a situation where anyone can go to their room and tune out for a while so respect it when they opt to do that through headphones or silence. Don’t feel you have to be teaching all the time. Leave them alone. They’ll be back to arguing soon enough.

(4) Never miss an opportunity to make your life easier.

At home you don’t let them watch more than half an hour of TV but you really could use an hour or two when they aren’t calling your name? Let them have it. Don’t sacrifice your sanity for rules you set yourself.

(5) Don’t hold them hostage

Your route plan said you’d drive seven hours today. It’s hour five and the family is restless. Do you push on or let it go? Let it go. Try to remember that your travel companions are the best judges of how much they can handle. Pushing on past points where they’ve told (or shown through their actions) that they’re tired, hungry or frustrated is just asking for trouble.  Better you call it a night and start fresh in the morning.

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Prev How to Road Trip: A guide to creating the best road trip ever - Part Three: Where to go
Next How to Road Trip: A guide to creating the best road trip ever - Part Five: Learn from my road trip mistakes

About Author

Heather Greenwood Davis

Heather Greenwood Davis is the award-winning writer behind GlobetrottingMama.com. Her photos, writing and personality are frequently found in international publications, radio programs and television shows including National Geographic Traveler (she's the FamilyTime columnist), O Magazine, Canadian Living, The Toronto Star, NPR, Canada AM and more. In 2012, Heather returned from a yearlong trip around the world with her husband and two sons (29 countries on six continents) and was named among National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s first “Travelers of the Year.” When not in an airport or on Twitter, Heather can be found in Toronto, Canada fighting for sunshine one travel itinerary at a time.

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