Texas Travel

Family Road Trip Survival Guide

By PAIGE SKINNER 12.7.15

You don’t have to be a member of the Griswold family to have your vacation dreams turn sour. Family road trips are often half fun and half battle. On one hand, it’s fun to explore different destinations and bond with your fellow passengers, but on the other hand, a long car trip can quickly become crowded, uncomfortable, and fraught with frustrations.

Whether you’re planning a short trip to Grandma’s house this holiday or traveling across the country to visit far-flung relatives, consider these tips before everyone piles into the car.

Making it comfortable. Whether the trip is for a few hours or a few days, it’s important to take turns sitting in the car’s backseat. It’s great for stretching out your legs and leaning back your head for a quick — or long — nap. Also bring a pillow and blanket if you plan on sleeping. Make a plan for passengers to take turns switching seats to help prevent conflicts.

Arriving safely. Besides the driver, at least one other passenger should be awake at all times. This helps keep the driver attentive while driving. Even when it’s daylight outside and a driver is well rested, driving for long periods of time — especially on long stretches of highway — can make even the most alert person drowsy. A companion who keeps the driver engaged will go a long way in making sure you and yours arrive safely.

Traveling long distances with children. Even if children are seasoned travelers, spending hours in the car gets tough. They are confined to a small space, headed somewhere new, and far from their usual surroundings. When planning for a road trip, think about each individual child. If one is more introverted, suggest he or she bring headphones to listen to music or books to read. If your child is more extroverted and enjoys social activities, plan some fun car games. It also helps to stop every few hours so children can get out and stretch their legs. Plan for shorter destinations or checkpoints throughout the trip — like a gas station where they can buy their favorite candy bar.

Renting a car vs. driving your own. Each trip is different, but there are some things to consider when deciding whether to rent a car or drive your own for a road trip. Think about whether your car is reliable and can take you hundreds of miles without issues. Is it the best type of vehicle for your destination? Also, take space into account. If the only reliable car you have is small and you are riding with several other people, renting a bigger car may be worth it to make the ride more comfortable.

Hauling safely. If you have extra luggage attached to your hitch, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. The normal rule of thumb is a two-second delay, but try a four- or five-second delay when hauling a trailer. Also, be mindful of the speed limit and try to stay under it. Towing a trailer can be dangerous if you go too fast.

Remember, it’s the journey and the destination that count in holiday travel. Best wishes for a safe car trip to you and yours!