First things first, let’s talk snacks. Just like the van needs fuel to keep going, so does the family—in the form of granola bars and fruit snacks, that is. A little bit of planning and some clever packaging can save you time, money and sanity as you roll down the road.
Rather than taking full bags and boxes of favorite snacks, we take a little bit of everything. The secret? Plastic craft organizers with lots of compartments. We load up ours with marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate chips, Cheerios, Larabar Minis, Chex Mix and Fiber One Fruit Snacks for kids, but they’re totally customizable for each passenger. How easy and fun is that?
And whether you’re traveling across town or cross country, here’s our list of the Top Ten Road Trip Snacks to keep in the car—trust us, you’ll be thankful you have them.
Now it’s time to dress the part. Outfitting the family in matching shirts is an old tradition that’s seeing new (and stylish!) light, thanks to online custom apparel sites like CustomInk.com. We’re big fans of this cheeky and customizable Are We There Yet t-shirt, but they have tons of options to choose from and you can even design your own! Just think how easy it will be to find each other when you pull over to the crowded roadside attraction and you’re all decked out in the same thing!
Tablets and smartphones might be the greatest cures for backseat boredom mankind has ever known. Load them up your family’s favorite apps, plus a few new ones to explore, and you’re practically guaranteed fewer are-we-there-yet groans.
We can’t say no to any app from Toca Boca (especially the cooking one, Toca Kitchen) and we’ve logged more than a few hours on National Geographic’s Weird But True! app—winner of a Parents’ choice Funstuff Award. For a full roundup of apps for all ages, check out Commonsensemedia.org list of Best Road Trip Apps.
Roadside attractions are as American as apple pie. They add to the adventure and are almost always worth the stop if for no other reason than to use the bathroom and stretch your legs.
RoadsideAmerica.com is the quintessential online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. (It’s how we found out about Barry Smith’s Toilet Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.) Use it to help plan you next trip and let the quirky fun begin!
If visiting all 157 of the world’s largest roadside attractions found in the USA is on your bucket list, look no further than Wikipedia.org. (If you ask us, the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minn., is totally worth the trek!)
There’s always a chance to volunteer, even on roadtrips! Teach kids the importance of paying it forward by doing exactly that. While in line at the gas station, offer to pay for the family behind you. The same idea works in line at drive-through coffee shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
For extra fun, have kids make signs that say “This tank was brought to you by the Johnsons on their 2013 family road trip.” A little kindness goes a long way in making someone’s day!