Taking the family on a road trip can be anywhere from Clark Griswold crazy to extremely boring to mildly annoying.
You know the drill: "Maaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhmmmm! Bobby poked me!" "Bobby! Stop poking your sister!"
But the whole point of a road trip is to have fun getting to where you're going. With kids, it takes a little planning and some sanity-saving gadgets.
Kids have short attention spans, they are strapped into confining (and safe!) car seats and they have to pee all the time. They're bound to get so bored or antsy they'll kick the backs of your chairs.
But you still want the convenience of driving your car and the freedom of the open road.
Road tripping with kids can be fun, if you follow some simple tips and plan ahead. Here are our top five for surviving a family road trip.
No. 5: Get a bigger vehicle
If you have one or more kids and two adults in a vehicle for more than a few hours, you need something bigger than a sedan. You will simply have too much stuff for a trunk.
Teens crave their own space, and while babies travel great because they generally like to sleep, they don't travel light. Your adorable baby needs 12 outfit changes (in case of spit up, diaper explosion, food spills, dirt), not to mention baby gear is big and bulky.
There's no question a small vehicle limits what you bring. AND even worse, it puts the kids too close to each other.
Inevitably there will be poking. And grabbing. And face-making. This leads to whining. And crying. And barfing.
And that's no fun.
So buy, rent or borrow a bigger vehicle. You'll save some sanity.
The next road trip necessity is sure to keep the young 'uns quiet for hours ...
No. 4: Bring videos along for the ride
This is essential. Kids will ask a billion times "are we there yet?" but if you plug them in to a video, they're blissfully quiet for hours.
It's really just sick how genius this is. You can rent a DVD player if your big-ol SUV doesn't have a built-in one. Or portable DVD players can be had for as little as $35. It's worth every single penny.
You could even use a laptop with movies or kids' shows on it. Or an iPod or iPad -- basically anything that plays videos and can use headphones.
Some kids love to watch a video over and over so even a 30-minute show can get you 90 miles down the road. Or a feature-length film will be golden.
Sure a glowing screen isn't the best thing for Junior but this is a tip you can be sure even overachiever parents use.
The next tip involves some basic human needs ...
No. 3: Make frequent stops