Expert Parent Advice

Taking the Whine out of the Road Trip

The Whine-Free Family Road Trip

Ahh – what could be better packing up the car for a vacation with the family? 

Well, It’s all fun until the backseat fighting starts. And the same questions over and over, “How many more minutes, dad?” It’s enough to make any parent want to turn that car around.

I’m Amy McCready with Positive Parenting Solutions and I’m proud to partner with Kids R Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.

Whether you’re headed out for family vacation or a holiday visit to Grandma’s house, the tips in this segment will keep your kids happy and preserve your sanity along the journey.

1. First – Keep a list of car games to play!

Don’t forget the classics - Name that Tune, Spot the State License Plate, and Twenty Questions.  We played them growing up and they’re still a great way to keep kids busy on long car rides.

Another fun game is Quiz the Parents – Turn the tables and let the kids quiz mom and dad on the state capitals or national landmarks.  Make sure you bring an atlas or reference book along for kids to use but they’ll have a great time trying to stump you.

When you’re traveling around the city, divide the car into teams and play Red Light-Green Light.  If you travel through a green light, the “green team” gets a point. If you stop at a red light, the “red team” gets a point.  It’s a great way to keep everyone distracted and having fun even in traffic!

2. Get creative!

Load up on Craft Supplies from the dollar store and let your kids channel their energy in creative ways.  Believe it or not, an inexpensive roll of aluminum foil can keep kids busy for hours as they wrap up their books and toy cars and make sculptures to display. They’ll have a blast!

Pipe cleaners and Post-it Notes are great to get their creative juices flowing and keep them occupied.

3. Don’t forget the entertainment! 

The biggest difference between the family car trips of yesteryear and today is technology and you should use it to your advantage! Audio books are wonderful for kids of all ages.  You can listen to a book the whole family will enjoy or let them take turns listening to their favorite story with your MP3 player and headphones.

A portable DVD player is a wise investment for long car rides. You’ll want to make sure you take a few of their favorite movies out of rotation a month or two before your vacation and they’ll be thrilled to spend a few hours of the trip watching an old favorite movie.  Be sure to set reasonable limits because too many movies will turn kids into backseat couch potatoes.

Entertainment is important – but don’t fall into the trap of entertaining kids the whole time.  You’ll set the bar way too high and you’ll be completely exhausted before you get to your destination. 

Make sure your kids have their lovey or sleep companion and schedule 20-30 minute blocks of “quiet time.” into the drive. That’s the time where they can lay back and rest their eyes or stare out the window but it will give all of you a little downtime.

What about sibling road rage? That’s a sure fire way to put a damper on any family outing. For strategies on how to handle sibling fights in the car, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

For ongoing solutions to your parenting challenges, visit us often at

I’m Amy McCready for Kids R Kids and I’ll see you next time!