Five Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Better Passengers on a Road Trip

Going on a road trip can be a lot of fun, but it can be stressful too. All that time behind the wheel can put you more at risk of getting into an accident. You may find yourself driving through some difficult conditions too. For example, if you’re driving through the Arizona desert, you may have to deal with dust storms with clouds up to 5,000 feet tall. No matter where you’re driving, you could find yourself in stop-and-go traffic in a construction zone, or you could get stuck driving through a torrential downpour.

It’s important to be able to focus on the road, which can be hard to do if you have a backseat full of kids. Make it easier and safer for you to drive by encouraging your children to be better passengers while you’re traveling.

Discuss Rules and Expectations Before You Leave


Every car should have rules. One of the most important is that everyone should wear their own seatbelt at all times, but you may want to think about adding other rules to the list before you go on a road trip.

For example, you may want to create rules over who gets control over the radio and when, or you may ask all of your kids to use the bathroom, even if they think they don’t have to go, every time you make a stop.

No matter what rules you decide on, it’s important to discuss them with your kids before you leave. Make sure they understand the rules and ask them for their input. If they have some say, they are more likely to follow along.

Give Them Something to Do

Happy kids enjoying road trip

No matter how beautiful the scenery or how exciting the destination, the kids are going to get bored in the backseat eventually. Make sure they have something to do.

Devices can be handy for listening to music and watching movies, but there are plenty of other great travel activities that kids can do to keep themselves entertained. A few ideas include:

  • Binder full of worksheets and activities
  • Magnetic lap desk with games, like Tic Tac Toe
  • Road trip bingo
  • Sticker books
  • Tangrams
  • Books

Put Snacks and Drinks Within Arm’s Reach

Kids can get grumpy fast when they get hungry or thirsty. Not to mention, they may end up whining about it. If you don’t have things to eat and drink within arm’s reach, you could find that your patience is tested long before you get to your destination.

Pack plenty of road trip snacks ahead of time and place them in the backseat where the kids can reach them easily. That way there is no whining and there’s no need to contort your body to hand them snacks in the backseat.

Make sure you have drinks handy too, but you may want to keep them out of the backseat. Some kids may mindlessly drink, which will just lead to more bathroom stops. Instead, keep their beverage close and hand it to them whenever they eat a snack.

Let the Kids Switch Seats

Happy children getting ready for road trip on a sunny day

Sitting in the car in the same spot is boring, no matter how many activities or games you do. Something as simple as letting the kids switch seats can really help.

If your kids are in car seats, you probably won’t want to switch them around, but older kids can switch the next time you make a bathroom stop. It’s even more fun if one of the kids is allowed to sit in the front seat while one of the adults sits in the back!

Deal With Disputes Immediately

If you have more than one kid in the backseat, chances are, they are going to get into at least one fight. It’s important to know what to do when they start arguing in the backseat.

Don’t assume they will figure it out on their own. That will just lead you to blow up, which can be dangerous when you’re driving. Deal with disputes immediately, even if it means you have to pull the car over. Do your best to remain unbiased, keep your energy low, and make sure they are aware of the consequences if they keep it up. Rewards can also be used, if you can tell that they are just getting restless.

Kids will be kids, even when they’re in the backseat and you’re trying to drive. Use these tips to help you enjoy the safest, calmest road trip possible.

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