Parent's Guide to Road Trips With Kids

  • 01 of 09

    On the Road

    Girl (6yrs) wearing headphones in car
    ••• Getty Images/MoMo Productions

    Road trips are an ever-popular way for many American families to take vacations -- the overwhelming majority prefer to shun the airport and hop in the car for summer getaways. A long summer road trip can be a great bonding experience, but too much time together cooped up in a car definitely has its challenges. Check out these tried-and-tested tips to make road trips with kids more affordable, less stressful, and a lot more fun.

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  • 02 of 09

    Download Some Fabulous Apps

    Hands scrolling on smartphone, inside car
    ••• Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

    Having the right apps in your toolbox can take your vacation from meh to marvelous. These indispensable apps for your best road trip ever can help you build an itinerary, find a last-minute hotel, locate cheap gas, and customize your in-car entertainment.

     

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  • 03 of 09

    Banish Backseat Boredom

    Twin brothers sitting in back of vehicle, fighting
    ••• Getty Images/Sue Barr

    Road trips don't have to slide into backseat squabbling and a chorus of "Are we there yet?" The trick is to fight boredom and keep kids engaged. When the going gets cranky, try these ​classic car games that have saved the day for generations of American parents.

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  • 04 of 09

    Embrace Old-School Fun and Games

    Brother and Sister Playing Cards in the Back Seat
    ••• Getty Images/Anna Peisl

    The best items to take-along for car trips will keep kids entertained without creating too much noise, taking up too much space, or making a mess. Here are several must-have travel toys and games for family road trips to keep that boredom in the backseat at bay.

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  • 05 of 09

    Crowdsource the Smartest Road Trip Hacks

    Mother turning and smiling at daughter in back seat of car
    ••• Getty Images/Sam Edwards

    Looking for smart advice? Pinterest is a fantastic place to find clever tips on how to reduce car-trip mess and stress. Take a look at these genius road trip hacks spotted on​ Pinterest.

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  • 06 of 09

    Eliminate Risk Factors for Car Sickness

    Transport sickness.
    ••• Getty Images/VOISIN/PHANIE

    If your kid is prone to car sickness, road trips can definitely be challenging. The good news? Thanks to recent research, more is known now about what can trigger motion sickness. Find out how to prevent motion sickness in children, products that prevent motion sickness, and things that can make car sickness worse. 

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  • 07 of 09

    Find Alternatives to Fast Food

    Mother and kids in car
    ••• Getty Images/Jupiterimages

    Fast food chains are quick, relatively cheap, and everywhere, so it's so easy to fall into a fast-food rut when you're away on vacation.  But with just a little planning, you can track down healthier, just-as-inexpensive options that are sure to please kids. When your family is on the go, put these healthier dining options on your go-to list.

    On travel days, keep a cooler packed with picnic provisions, healthy snacks, and beverages. You won't be at the mercy of whatever roadside food stops are available, and you're sure to save money. Choosing a scenic place to pull over gives everyone a chance to stretch and get some exercise.

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  • 08 of 09

    Get to Know America the Beautiful

    Happy children running from car
    ••• Getty Images/Paul Bradbury

    The best road trips reveal America the Beautiful, taking you to gorgeous places you just can't get to easily by plane. 

    Called "America's best idea" by the historian Wallace Stegner, the national park system offers families an affordable way to visit America's cherished and beautiful landscapes, view wildlife in their natural habitat, learn about geological and cultural history, and appreciate the great outdoors. Check out national park vacations with kids for ideas.

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  • 09 of 09

    Get Out of the Car and Cool Off

    Family at water park
    ••• Getty Images/kali9

    The key to a successful road trip is choosing your fun wisely. On a hot summer's day, there's nothing better than getting out of the car and having some splashy fun.

    Whether you prefer to float down a lazy river, splash in a wave pool, or zoom down water slides and speed coasters, there's a water park where your family can cool off in style. Here's a guide to water parks state by state.