Cool Mom’s Guide To Long Road Trips with Teens and Tweens

I’m going to start by saying my kids are fifteen, thirteen and ten and tend to be in an anti-Mom mood most of the time. If you are reading this and you have teens, you know, if your kids are younger, hang onto your britches and enjoy how easily they are distracted by something new, like a box of crayons and singing songs.

In April we drove 15 hours to South Carolina, not our first rodeo, but I still learned a thing or two and wanted to share.


  • Make them pack their own “car” bags- water bottle, snacks, book, headphones, etc. Each kid having his/her own music to listen to saved all our sanities.
  • You yourself pack a kid’s car bag with extra snacks 🙂
  • Buy/unearth your neck and or travel pillows- teens don’t nap you say…or do they?! They do on long road trips.
  • Make sure any autistic kid you have with hearing sensitivities has noise canceling headphones.
  • Shove a few plastic bags in the car door for trash and/or upset stomachs from motion sickness and bring the Dramamine.
  • Travel wipes too!

During trip:

  • Leave early, as in when the kids can still get in some sleeping hours before sunrise. We left at 3 a.m.
  • Have a sense of humor! They will moan and groan sometimes and smiling at them or cracking jokes helped a lot. Joking about our creative stories involving the cars and people around us was a life saver during traffic times.
  • Involve them. Obviously if they are under 16 they can’t drive, but let them be involved in some of the route choices, where to stop and give them a heads up about what’s coming up along the route.
  • Have a clipboard, pencil and some worksheets printed out. This is something I use to do when they were little, but now I just change up what I print. I found on Pinterest some activities, such as a list of states to circle when we found the license plate for that state (found a ton!), a map of the U.S. so they could highlight the states they have been to (especially helpful when crossing lots of borders) and fun facts about the location hot spots we were headed to.

Trip home: this was harder since we were all a bit overtired and not nearly as excited because we were ending our vacation:

  • Save some of their favorite fast food restaurants for the way home, something to look forward to.
  • If returning to school after the trip, count down the days until the next vacation and/or end of the school year. If it’s summer, talk about the fun stuff planned in the week or two ahead.
  • Expect at least one tantrum per person, adults included :/
  • Make sure everyone is well hydrated, even if it means more potty breaks. I always find after a trip we tend to be dehydrated, combat it before even getting home. Everyone feels better.
  • Don’t plan anything for the rest of the day upon getting home, even the day after depending on when you get home and how long the drive was. Learn from me here please. It never goes well.

Hope these lists are helpful! What would you add?

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