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Are we there yet?

How to turn long drives into added vacation fun.

Child looking out of car window

Don’t let a long drive quash the excitement and anticipation of this year’s getaway even before you arrive at your ultimate destination.

Is “Are we there yet?” an all too familiar question on your family driving vacations? Are you hitting the road this summer but dreading the many hours of togetherness? Extended time in a vehicle causes boredom and fatigue, often leads to arguments, and can be a safety hazard. 

The road can be your friend if you embrace it and consider the trip an adventure and an opportunity to experience new things. If you are so focused on your destination, you may miss the chance to discover and share some interesting things along the route.  

Here are some tips to break up a long road trip and keep you and your fellow passengers alert and entertained, ensuring you arrive at your destination happy and safe, ready to enjoy family time together. In other words, make the journey an adventure and part of the vacation. 

Always Choose the Scenic Route.

Often, road signs offer an optional scenic drive. Take the extra few minutes to see what’s around the bend. Exploring the unknown and getting off the beaten path can be fun, and you might be surprised at what you find—a cascading waterfall, a beautiful shoreline, or a breathtaking view. Take the road less traveledotherwise, you’ll never know what you missed.

Eat Local.

Stopping for meals or snacks is an excellent way to break up a long ride. Hunger can make you grumpy and restless. When selecting where to dine, take the time to look for a great local spot. You can always eat at a chain restaurant at home, so why not try something new? Check out something unique or a specialty in the area. A Philly cheesesteak, a Chicago hotdog, or “the world’s biggest ice cream cone.” The local folks know what’s best. How do you find a good place to stop? Google it, or simply look for the place where all the cars are. 

Avoid Peak Traffic Times.

Road trips can test everyone’s patience, so arrange your travel through large urban areas to avoid peak commuter traffic times of the day. A little extra planning can save lots of time sitting on the highway, conserve gas, and keep tempers in check.

Stop and Start.

This one may be obvious, but make frequent stops to get out to stretch and clear your heads. Too much togetherness is not always a good thing. Remember riding in a crowded backseat? That may be where the term sibling rivalry began. 

Go To Summer School.

School may be out for the summer, but it doesn’t mean vacations can’t be educational. Seek out sites of historical importance along the way, and bone up on your geography as you motor across the country. Expand your science knowledge while exploring caves and other natural wonders. Learning hands-on helps retain knowledge better than sitting in a classroom. 

Experience Stranger Things.

Remember as a kid passing road signs for the wild and wacky attractions where your dad or mom would never stop? Be the cool parent and take a few minutes to embrace the weird and wonderful world of kitsch. Check out the world’s largest dinosaur display, Corn Palace, or Carhenge. There are fun and wonderful surprises in every state. Your family will talk about these quirky displays for years to come. 

Celebrate at a Festival.

Many communities have seasonal or themed festivals that are fun for the whole family. Whether it’s a summer watermelon festival or a town’s anniversary celebration, you can be a part of it all. Research the areas you will be passing through to check schedules and find something that interests you. 

Make it a Picnic.

Explore a local farmer’s market and pick up some regional goodies as an alternative to restaurant dining. Have everyone participate in organizing the meal, then find a local park or scenic spot to chill out and make a picnic lunch. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best.

Watch Out for Road Crews.

Summer is road repair season. Crews work day and night, so please take extra caution when driving through marked construction zones. Accidents can be avoided by slowing down and paying attention. Don’t ruin your vacation or someone’s life by being distracted. Everyone wants to get home safely.

As you pack up and get ready to have some summer road fun, remember that life’s too short—make some memories that will last a lifetime.