As the miles and their corresponding hours pile up, a balance of preparation, surprise, flexibility, and family fun offer the best outline for long road trips with kids.

Make planning a family process, map the route, create a scavenger hunt of landmarks and objects to search for, and choose special locations to rest and eat. Help each child pack a small busy bag of toys and games. Comfortable clothing, pillows, and even small blankets help kids feel secure when traveling.

After all the organization and preparation, build excitement with elements of surprise. Kids love gifts. Wrap up a new coloring book, stickers, a small flashlight, a roll of tape, or pipe cleaners to open and create with. A special occasion snack or drink can also boost morale. Going off the mapped path for a break requires flexibility but will usually result in unexpected fun.

Embark with a sense of adventure as traditions form and memories accumulate. Enjoy the time together, arrange a a family song mix, play a game of Mad Libs, answer silly questions about each other, take a funny photograph at a rest area, or record memorable moments in a travel journal. Cheer like crazy as each state line is crossed, together this road trip will be one happily traveled.

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