As summer travel arrangements are being planned and executed, we thought it would be helpful to get some expert opinions on how to survive (and actually enjoy) a road-trip vacation with the family. Driving for hours, being limited to a confined space with your husband and kids may seem fun to some, and nightmare-ish to others. If your family is like mine growing up, you know an unprepared road trip would consist of arguments over music or TV, someone repeatedly kicking my seat, another someone having to stop and pee every 5 seconds, a lot of “are we there yet?” and even more, “Mom, she won’t stop looking at me!”.

To help plan a fun, successful,and  EASY road trip, we have called upon Michael A. DiLorenzo, a married father of three living in the outdoor-rich environs of Michigan. He created the “Adventures with Jonny” series to entertain and educate children (and parents!) about the activities available in the great outdoors. Dilorenzo offers some helpful tips in creating a nice environment the whole family can enjoy while road-trip traveling:

• Games, games, games!: Yes, there is ample entertainment for both drivers and riders in cars these days. BUT, the goal is to bond with the family, so consider a fun, albeit off-color game like “Road Kill Round-Up.” A point system might break down like this: two points for the first to spot a poor critter; three for whoever first correctly identifies the species; two points subtracted for a false road-kill call; three points subtracted for misidentifying the kind.

• Beware of dairy drinks (and other smelly snacks): A spill in the backseat can eventually create quite a stink during a summer road trip. But do pack plenty of  healthy snacks to save on pricey pit stops and avoid all the sugar and salt in junk food. 

• Avoid big-city rush hours: When traveling through metropolitan areas, consider the busiest traffic periods. Whether you plan to stop and check out the city or simply zip through it, bumper-to-bumper traffic is something to avoid. A bit of consideration can save your family hours of grid-locked misery.

• Tech help: Various apps and websites can help drivers find the cheapest gas prices, food options, hotel rates and travel routes. Also, don’t forget a music mix that appeals to the entire family on one of these devices. (Remember, leave work at home – forget about work-related calls, texts and emails! Use a non-work-related smartphone, if needed.)

• Schedule pit stops: Being in a hurry should be left for the morning commute; vacation should be different. When traveling across states and provinces, consider local culture. For example, barbecue in South Carolina is very different from Missouri’s version. Enjoy diners and unique attractions, and don’t be afraid to take notes.

“The greatest family memories are created in shared adventure,” DiLorenzo says. “Outdoor recreation is filled with these memories just looking for a family to bring them home.” So take the time to prepare for your next road trip. Pack games, appropriate snacks/drinks, and discuss the rules for road trip traveling. Set a good example with an uplifting, positive attitude. Be prepared to unplug yourself from your work and crazed schedule and simply enjoy the company and the sights for whatever adventure you and your family choose!