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27 Things to do on Your Next Family Road Trip


Sorry about gas prices. Feel free to grumble and grouse at your next fill up and then let it go. Don’t let that extra expense drag you down each time you pull up to a gas pump. 

Beyond that, here are a few trip tips learned over the years by the Payleitners. Here are 27 things to do on your next family road trip. 

27 Things to do on Your Next Family Road Trip

  1. Actually, go on a road trip. I know. It’s work and you haven’t planned one in forever. Do it. Trust me. You won’t regret it…I don’t think. It’ll be a way to bond and create family memories like never before. 
  2. Schedule some down time. (Don’t come home exhausted needing a vacation from your vacation.)
  3. Make sure everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt. Don’t make a game of it. Don’t say, “The car won’t start unless the seatbelts are fastened.”  (That’s a lie they’ll figure out soon enough.) Just say, “Seatbelts!” And that’s that.
  4. Once a day, let the kids choose where to eat.
  5. Say no to any restaurant you’ve already eaten at three times!
  6. Ask for an extra children’s placemat so you can do twice as many mazes, puzzles and connect-the-dot games!
  7. Even at restaurants, hold hands and say a brief, non-showy prayer of thanks for God’s provision and your family.
  8. Go old school: Teach them to read a map and road signs.
  9. Teach them about Mapquest, GoogleMaps, or your fave map app.
  10. Teach them about time zones. 
  11. Teach them about the amazing and logical interstate highway system built after World War II. 
  12. Buy a travel guidebook or open a travel app and let them each choose a sightseeing destination along the way.
  13. Keep the in-the-car movies to a minimum.  
  14. Put them in charge of their own suitcase.
  15. Pull out a few surprise in-the-car games on the third day of the trip.  
  16. If you’re like me, wear sunscreen.
  17. Before checking out of any motel, make one last pass through the room. Hide any forgotten phone charger, sunglasses, headband, diary, retainer, baseball cap or stuffed pony until one of the kids screams, “Stop! We have to go back.” Then calmly produce the forgotten item. They’ll never forget again.
  18. Put one kid in charge of documenting the entire trip in pics.
  19. Play classic road trip games: Beginning with “A” hunt for things beginning with every letter of the alphabet. Play “I Spy with My Little Eye.” Count things likes cows, windmills, water towers, 18-wheelers, VWs, barns, etc. Make it a contest between kids.
  20. Pull off, stretch your legs and share a moment at historical markers or scenic views. (But not all of them!) 
  21. Send postcards to friends back home.
  22. Insist the kids find 10 of these 15 things before the next stop: water tower, lonely tree, billboard advertising an attorney, rental truck, hospital zone, road kill, cloud shaped like an animal, neon sign, something pink, golf course, the letter Q, animal in a moving vehicle, beer truck, license plate from a state on the other side of the Rockies, plastic bag stuck in a bush.
  23. Take them to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and finally make use of all that knowledge about the lyrics, liner notes, and lifestyle choices of the bands from your youth.
  24. During this trip, visit at least one of the classic vacation sites:  Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Kitty Hawk, DisneyWorld, Niagara Falls, Everglades, Washington, D.C, Wisconsin Dells, The Alamo, Yosemite, etc.
  25. Anticipate getting on each other’s nerves. Laugh about it because getting on each other’s nerves is part of the trip!
  26. Don’t make a big deal about sand in the car, stains on the t-shirts, lost motel room key cards, or scratched sunglasses. It’s a vacation!
  27. Be extraordinarily grateful for the beauty of this country and the freedom you have.   

Safe travels, dad.