Family Car Travel

There's a reason why so many families tell and retell the stories of long-ago road trips in the family car. The truth is, being in such close quarters with the ones we love most can create some hilarious situations and wonderful memories, but it can also be stressful. Need some help avoiding motion sickness and keeping the peace between quarrelsome kids? Follow our tips for family car travel and make your next trip one to remember.

Before you hit the road, be honest with yourself about what you and your children can handle in the way of a road trip. While older children might be capable of dealing with 10+ hours in the family van, chances are your 4-year-old isn't. Generally speaking, young children should not be subjected to confinement in a car for more than six hours a day. This is just as much for your sanity as it is for theirs.

If your family car is better suited to in-town trips rather than long hauls, think about renting a van. A van will, at minimum, leave everyone enough room to create their own personal space. If your 8-year-old doesn't share his toys, chances are he isn't going to want to share elbow room either. If you decide to rent, make your reservation well in advance, especially during peak travel times. See our article on car rental tips for more information.

Start packing, at least mentally, a few days before you leave. Let the kids help pack their own bags if they are old enough, and discuss the trip with them -- kids are much better behaved when they know what to expect. Packed bags mean less confusion, less standing around and less frustration on departure day. This translates into a pleasant start to your road trip.

A great way to avoid the inevitable question (are we there yet?) is to give kids a map, or, even more fun, help them create their own. You can trace the route together and point out interesting landmarks so that they will have a sense of where they are going.