If you are headed out on a family road trip for your vacation this year, you are not alone. According to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker in 2014, more than 44 percent of families traveled to their vacation destination via car. Although those families are saving money on getting there, they are also increasing their travel time.

For some families, the idea of sitting in a car together for eight hours does not sound like a vacation. Yet for other families, getting there is half the fun. If you are looking for ways to make your next road trip more enjoyable, check out these eight survival tips.

Play a Game Choose a classic road trip game that you played as a child - 20 Questions, Road Trip Bingo or the License Plate Scavenger Hunt. Pack board games like Trouble or Battleship (where the pieces stay in place) or card games like Apples to Apples that can be played without a table. Bring a small dry erase board and play Pictionary. Place a pair of dice in a clear sealable container to keep them from getting lost while you play dice games like Dice War and Odds and Evens.

Get Creative As you pass each mile and the rush of everyday life falls away, give your kids an outlet for their creativity. Purchase sticker scenes from Oriental Trading ($5.25 for a set of 12) to create their own beach, farm or dinosaur scene. Foam sticker mosaics is the less messy version of paint-by-numbers and can be found at your local Walmart. The kids can even decorate the car windows with Crayola's special washable window markers and stencils.

Listen to Books on CD Take a break from electronic stimulation and let your child use his imagination while listening to a story. Find something the whole family will enjoy. While your family might like a fiction series like Harry Potter, don't overlook non-fiction books. Check out true stories about inspirational teens, sports heros or a person who ties into your vacation destination.

Start a Conversation Families are so busy these days that they often don't have the time to catch up. Not sure how to start the conversation? Get a little help from games like 'Would You Rather?' or 'Never Have I Ever … ' or pick up a box of TABLETOPICS. You will be amazed what you learn about each other and yourself.

Busy Books When my kids were little, I filled binders will fun printables - coloring pages, maps, word searches, mazes, tic-tac-toe boards and so on. I also packed a simple sketch book and colored pencils so they could create pages for themselves. If you have a long trip, consider creating a busy bag which includes a few small toys like matchbox cars or simple crafts.

Snacks Throughout the year, our children make healthy eating choices, but when we are on vacation, we allow a little junk in our diets. Pack a bag of special treats - the things you usually say no to during the year. While you want to limit sugar since you will be in a small space, consider letting them choose a slushee at the gas station or get fast food for lunch.

Make the Most of Stops Kids and parents alike need to run out some sillies after being in the car too long. Try stopping at a McDonald's Play Place or a rest stop with playground equipment. Pack a Frisbee, a small ball, a bottle of bubbles or a pack of sidewalk chalk and take a 30 minute break. A little fresh air and space to run will make it a better trip for everyone.

Allow Movie Time We always pack a small DVD player on trips and stop at Redbox (found in most Walmart stores along the way). Depending on the length of the trip, the kids can each pick a movie or agree on one to watch together. This gives everyone some wind down time after lunch or helps get through the last leg of the trip.


Two Easy Road Trip Dice Games:

  1. Odds and Evens

    Multiple Players - Three Dice

    Place three dice in a sealable clear container to keep them from getting lost in the car. Each player takes a turn rolling (shaking) the dice. Players get one point for each even number rolled (2, 4 or 6). If the player rolls a triple even number (all 2s, all 4s or all 6s), the player gets double their total score. When a player rolls an odd number triple score (all 1s, all 3s or all 5s), their total points are zero. The first player with 100 points wins.

  2. Dice War

    Two players - One Die

    Each person takes a turn rolling the die. The person with the higher number on their roll subtracts the lower number thrown by the other player and his score for that round is the difference between the two numbers. For example, if one player throws a five and the other throws a three, the person who threw the five will get two points. The winner is the highest score after 100 rolls or a set time.


Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three teens. Her children are seasoned road trippers and enjoy the car ride almost as much at the destination.