Planning a road trip with teens? Discover fun and engaging car trip activities for a memorable family adventure. Road trip activities for teens and tweens 🚗
Things to Do on a Car Trip for a Teenager
Family road trips can be a fun way to bond and spend quality time together. But keeping teens and tweens entertained and happy during long hours in the car can seem daunting. With some planning and preparation, your next road trip with teenagers doesn’t have to be a drag.
Why You Need Engaging Road Trip Activities for Teens
Road trips with teens and tweens come with their own set of challenges. Teenagers have different interests than younger kids and are harder to keep occupied for extended periods of time. They may resent being trapped in a car for hours with parents and siblings. Having a list of fun things to do on a car trip for a teenager can make all the difference in turning a potential disaster into a great memory.
Planning activities ahead of time allows teens to relax and enjoy the journey, instead of bouncing off the walls in boredom. A few simple tricks and trip essentials will keep teens engaged so you can focus on driving and enjoying family time on the open road.
Tips for Planning an Awesome Road Trip With Teenagers
Get Teens Involved in the Planning
Give your teenager a voice by allowing them to help choose stops along your route. Let them pick a few restaurants or attractions they are interested in visiting. Giving teens some control makes them feel included and prevents complaints down the road. Discuss rules and expectations for phone/device usage early on so there are no surprises.
Make Sure Everyone Has Comfortable Seating
If possible, rent a larger vehicle with extra room to spread out. Pack neck pillows, blankets, and anything else that will make teens comfortable over long distances. Stay at pet-friendly hotels so teens don’t have to leave beloved animals behind.
Avoid Marathon Driving Days
Limit car time to 6-8 hours a day if you can, scheduling frequent stops to break up the monotony. Days that involve 14+ hours on the road are usually miserable for everyone. Shorter driving days mean you actually get to enjoy your vacation destinations when you arrive.
Pack Snacks Kids Love
Keep your teens happy and avoid blood sugar crashes by packing substantial road trip snacks. Let them help choose tasty, filling treats to stash in the car. Bring a cooler for real food like sandwiches, fruits and veggies. Surprising teens with a favorite candy bar can be an easy way to lift moods.
Give Teens a Small Budget for Stops
Allow your teenager a daily budget to spend on souvenirs, snacks or experiences at tourist spots. They will look forward to each stop when they can pick out something fun. Even a budget of $5-10 per day gives them options and a sense of independence.
Balance Driving Time With Plenty of Breaks
Plan stops every 1.5-2 hours if possible for teens to move around and use the restroom. Picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and parks make nice spots to get some fresh air. Trying to drive 10+ hours in a day with no breaks leads to bored, restless teens.
10 Awesome Activities for Teen Road Trips
Read Books, Listen to Audiobooks
Books are a perfect distraction for long hours in the car. Tell teens to bring a few paper books or e-books for the drive. For whole-family fun, play audiobooks like Harry Potter. Take turns reading aloud.
Play Travel Games
Classic road trip games are still fun for teens. Play 20 Questions, spot the license plates, alphabet games, car bingo, Would You Rather, and more. Bring a deck of cards for infinite options.
Pack Engaging Travel Toys
Fidget toys like Rubik’s cubes, maze puzzles, and shape shifters entertain restless hands. Mad Libs and adult coloring books also pass time nicely. Stock up on pens, colored pencils and portable card games.
Fuel Up with Snacks
Hungry teens are unhappy teens, so keep their bellies full. Pack substantial snacks like protein bars, fruits, trail mix, string cheese and sandwiches. Bring a cooler with food that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Give Teens Control of the Tunes
Letting teens decide what music play in the car. You may have different tastes in music, but it’s better to give in here. Make sure they download playlists beforehand and bring headphones so they can tune out when needed.
Limit Video Games in the Car
Gaming devices can cause motion sickness, so insist teens wait until you are stopped to play video games. Providing other engaging activities reduces reliance on screens.
Build in Photo Stops
Teens love taking photos for social media. Stop frequently so they can stretch legs and capture scenic views. Getting great shots throughout the trip should be fun, not a chore.
Tell Stories and Share Memories, Play Word Games
Use drive time to talk and learn more about each other. Ask fun questions or share favorite family memories. Teens may open up more when screens are off and they have nothing else to do.
Take Turns Picking Podcasts
Find entertaining, interesting podcasts everyone wants to listen to. Whether you are into mysteries, sports, pop culture or politics, there is something for everyone. Podcasts spark great conversations.
Sleep, Rest and Recharge
For a long road don’t forget the value of “doing nothing.” Provide blankets and pillows so teens can nap if desired. Time to sleep, stare out the window, or just chill is important on long drives.
Make the Most of Your Next Road Trip with Teens
Family road trips with teenagers can strengthen your bond when you set teens up for success. Keep them involved, comfortable, well-fed, and entertained by playing games, listening to music and sharing laughs together. Planning ahead takes the stress out of travel days. Follow these tips to create an amazing, memory-filled road trip!
How to Handle Common Road Trip Challenges with Teens
While driving long distances with teenagers may sound tedious, with the right mindset and preparation it can be smooth sailing. Here are some tips for handling typical road trip challenges when traveling with teens and tweens:
Prevent Motion Sickness
Hormonal changes make teens prone to motion sickness, even if they’ve never had issues before. Limit screen time, which can exacerbate nausea. Bring motion sickness aids and snacks like ginger candies that can ease uneasy tummies. Crack the windows for fresh air and take frequent breaks.
Keep Devices from Dominating Trip
Phones and tablets are a go-to for teens, but too much screen time prevents interaction. Set limits for gaming and mandate tech-free chunks of time where you chat or play games together. Download content ahead so you’re not constantly searching for service.
Avoid Teens and Tweens Squabbles
Being cooped up together for hours is a recipe for bickering. Seat siblings apart and use headphones to create personal space. Set ground rules ahead of time and remind kids to be respectful. Diffuse tension with games and conversation starters. Offer rewards for good behavior.
Sidestep Snack Arguments
Hunger on the road leads to cranky kids and fights over food. Give each teen their own personal snack bag to avoid squabbles. Stock each with their favorite treats, plus healthy proteins and fruits. That way no one feels short-changed at snack time.
Keep Teens Active
It’s easy for teens to get bored and antsy on endless highway miles. Schedule interesting stops like quirky roadside attractions to give them something to look forward to. Play car games and swap stories. Surprise them with a gift bag of candy or trinkets to boost morale.
Balance Driving and Breaks
Trying to drive 8-12 hours straight is usually a mistake with teens. Their attention spans require more frequent stops to run around and refuel. Aim for active breaks every couple of hours. Picnic areas and parks allow room to toss a ball or fly a kite.
Stay Flexible and Keep Your Cool
No matter the planning, some bickering and challenges are inevitable on family road trips. Roll with the punches and handle frustrations calmly. Focus on the fun memories you’re making together, even if the journey has some bumps.
Essential Items to Pack for a Road Trip with Teens
Once you’ve got your route mapped out and activities planned, it’s time to pack! Having the right road trip packing list on hand makes for a smooth teen road trip. Here are some road trip essentials for teens:
- Entertainment – Books, magazines, coloring books, small games like cards and travel backgammon. Download movies, shows and playlists beforehand. Bring headphones so teens can tune out when needed.
- Snacks – Road trip food ideas include trail mix, jerky, fresh fruits, popcorn, protein bars, string cheese, and other filling, portable snacks. Bring a cooler if possible.
- Travel pillow and blanket – Help teens get comfy with their own pillow and blanket for napping or chilling. Throw in some comfy clothes too.
- Medications – Pack any prescription meds teens take. Bring motion sickness aids just in case, like Dramamine, ginger candies, and wrist bands.
- Chargers and batteries – Don’t forget extra charging cables for devices, plus backup batteries and a power inverter so teens can recharge on the go.
- Water bottles – Stay hydrated with reusable water bottles. Refill at stops along your route. Add flavor packets to encourage drinking.
- Necessities – Toothbrush, deodorant, skin care products, and other toiletries teens need daily should be packed.
- Backup outfits – With limited laundry access, extras of clothes like socks and underwear are handy. Bring layers for unpredictable weather too.
- Camera – Let teens capture trip memories with their own camera or phone. Stop often so they can snap pics at scenic outlooks.
- Mess kits – For meals on the go, include reusable utensils, napkins, cups and plates. Durable lunch boxes keep food contained.
- Games – Portable versions of games like Uno, Mad Libs, and magnetic chess sets are great for entertaining teens in transit.
Thorough and thoughtful preparation is the key to preventing potential headaches further down the road. The importance of using comprehensive packing lists cannot be overstated, as they serve as a safeguard against the inadvertent omission of essential items when getting ready for a teenage adventure. With these meticulously curated lists in hand, you can rest assured that nothing vital will be left behind. Armed with all their favorite supplies, teenagers will be fully equipped and ready to embark on an unforgettable road trip. This level of preparation guarantees that every moment of the journey is enjoyable and worry-free, allowing them to make the best road trip.