Road Trip! Keeping Teens Happy in the Car

When the kids were little and we drove 12+ hours to get to our favorite family vacation destination, my husband used to joke about “strapping on the feed bags” to keep the kids content in the back seat. If we had enough snacks on hand we could avoid a pit stop for at least a couple hours. We used to laugh about how we could make millions with our Shark Tank-promoted road trip gadget – the Toddler Treat Tote. Essentially it was a portable trough with a rubber band on each side that strapped to your child’s ears. To use, your child could simply look down, open their mouths and dig in! 🙂

Our road trip strategy has evolved as the girls have grown. We can no longer depend on their favorite snacks to keep them happy (though we still throw in some Smarties and M&Ms just for fun). At 14 and 16 it’s a little more difficult to keep the peace in the car and avoid the endless, “When are we going to stop for food?” “I’m bored, what can I do?” “What is this music…can’t we play our own for a while?” “How much longer until we get there?” questions.

We’ve all been there…and if you aren’t there yet, make sure your seat belt is securely fastened, your teen road trip is headed for some severe turbulence. Hopefully this road trip rescue report will come in handy on your next adventure – perhaps to Mom or Grandma’s house this Mother’s Day to celebrate the most important holiday of the year!


RSG’s Road Trip Rescue Report

  1. Block them out. 

    Invest in a good pair of headphones, or better yet, one for each child. My daughter loves her Beats. I love yurbuds because they stay in my ears so much better than your typical ear buds and they don’t cost $100!

  2. Charge it up. 

    Charge all your devices and don’t forget to pack the car chargers. If you don’t have car chargers, invest in them now, it will be the best money you’ve ever spent. I purchased my latest phone charger at H&M for dirt cheap. You can find phone chargers anywhere these days – from retail to pharmacy locations like CVS and Walgreens. Don’t  purchase multiple car chargers, get one like this one from Belkin with two ports for charging. That way you can plug in your phone, ipad etc. using one charger.

  3. Keep them warm. 

    Pack a blanket for each child. I don’t care if it’s the middle of the summer and 98 degrees outside, trust me one of them will complain about being cold. If they aren’t cold it can always double as a pillow or a divider in the back seat when they start complaining about one having more room than the other.

  4. Chill out. 

    Pack a small cooler with snacks. I know I said the Toddler Treat Tote wasn’t needed, but it still kind of is. Just pack more grown up snacks this time. Throw in some fruit like apples or strawberries, some cookies and maybe make some sandwiches for lunch so you don’t have to pay for processed food that will just make you feel sick and sleepy when you’re done eating it.

  5. Pack light. 

    Your teenage girl will bring the entire contents of her bedroom on the trip. She will have a suitcase for clothes, a duffle for shoes, a bag or makeup, a box for nail polish, a tote for things to do in the car, an electronics catch all shoulder bag and most likely another miscellaneous luggage item for everything else that doesn’t fit. What does this mean for you? You will end up with a 12”x12” square of the trunk for your luggage, so pack light!

    And, last but not least…

  6. Stock the Emergency Road Kit. 

    Forget the flashlight, Neosporin and the band aids, I’m talking about the REAL essentials – here’s what you need:

  • 1 barf bag (it’s a given someone will throw up – it could happen at any time, be prepared!)
  • Disinfectant wipes/air freshener/paper towels, trash bag (We all read the item above, this needs no explanation)
  • Gum/mints (Again, no explanation…)
  • Extra shirt (^^^!)
  • Batteries (Bring them all – A, AA, AAA, C, D. If you’ve followed the instructions about electronics you could need any one of them, at any time, to keep the peace.)
  • Tampons/pads. (C’mon, who hasn’t been stranded in need of this at one time or another? We all know teens don’t plan ahead.)
  • Excedrin migraine (You are traveling with teens, right?)
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