3 Ways To Ruin A Family Roadtrip (and how to avoid them)

by Gigi Ross on December 6, 2012

Ah, the roadtrip.

The iconic rite of passage for every family. The moments where sibling bonds are forged and lifetime memories are made.

Or, if you’re not careful, it’s a horribly gut-wrenching experience that makes you more tired than you were before you left and not speaking to your spouse or kids for a week.

We’ve taken a goodly share of roadtrips in the 9 years we’ve had kids.

What we’ve learned is this: there are three pitfalls that you need to avoid, or your roadtrip can quickly turn into fodder for a Jerry Springer episode. Last weekend, we took a 600-mile round trip to Pismo Beach, California with our kids, and we made sure these three things did NOT happen.

An Overstuffed and Disorganized Car

When you overpack your car for a road trip, several bad things happen.

First, the driver can’t see properly out the back window. You have to count on your kids throwing hands, pencils, playing cards and cheeseballs at each other, thereby distracting the driver’s view. Don’t make it worse by obstructing the back window.

Second, you can’t get to the stuff you need when you need it. Approximately 2.7 minutes into hitting the open road, a child will moan, “I’m hungry” and want a snack or the baby will have smeared a teething biscuit all over her face and you’ll need a wipe. If you’ve buried the stuff you need,  you’ll end up making multiple stops and slowing down your travel time.

Third, the whole family will be uncomfortable. Bags crammed up under the glove compartment cut into your leg room. If you try to get to stuff in the back seat, you’ll have to perform Cirque du Soleil-like contortionist moves to get to what you need. And when you smush eleventy blankets, toys and other kiddie paraphernalia in the second row to keep them occupied, they will never take a nap. And God knows, we want those kids to nap on a road trip!

Having a ride with kick-butt storage is key. Our Chrysler Town and Country had some seriously brilliant storage features.

  • Hidden storage under the floorboards of the second row seats. We picked our kids up from school and I stowed both of their backpacks in the floorboard area because we wouldn’t need them for the rest of the trip.
  • Super console between the driver and passenger seats. This beauty had plenty of room for me to stash iPads, books, drinks, phones, change for toll roads and more, but keep it all handy when I needed it. The pass-through storage bin underneath the center part of the dashboard was great for keeping my purse and DSLR safe and secure, and left me tons of legroom while we rode. That’s a first.
  • The rear storage area is huge and had plenty of room for all of our luggage, groceries, boogie boards and beach gear. I love that the third-row seating can be made flat for more storage with the push of a button. Or, just fold down one part if you need just a little extra room.

Having No Idea Of How To Get Where You’re Going


My husband and I actually make a pretty good navigational team when we’re forced to rock it old school. But even a crack navigator can’t account for traffic congestion, construction delays, and hazardous road conditions.

And if you’re not a good map reader and it’s just you and your husband against the world, trying to find your way to Monkey Junction, Idaho with two kids in two, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. And marriage counseling.

But why do that? It’s not worth it, people! Not when you have the super-dilly-awesome navigation system like the Town & Country has.

Not only did the built-in navigation help us find restaurants and gas stations when we needed them, but it read traffic conditions in real time and continually updated our route to avoid accidents. If you’ve ever driven through Los Angeles, you know that even on a good day, traffic is abysmal. We didn’t get stuck in a single accident, construction zone or other hazard on our trip, thanks to the nav system. On the way home, we took a 4-mile detour off the planned route to eat breakfast in Solvang, CA. The nav showed us a new route to get home that didn’t require backtracking, was more scenic and was equally fast. Without it, we never would have taken in the beautiful scenery of the Los Padres National Forest.

The Dreaded “I’m Bored” Syndrome

It’s worse than hearing nails on a chalkboard or the words “I have to go potty.” Bored kids on a road trip = misery for the parents. We’ve all been there. In the past, we’ve packed up bags of new crafts, card games, handheld video games and other travel activities and planned for me to play Julie the Cruise Ship Director during the entire trip to keep the kids entertained.

This time, we hardly packed anything. The Town & Country’s Video Entertainment System is incredible. Sure, it plays DVDs and there are screens in both the second and third rows (yay) that are operable from the dashboard or an included remote. But what makes this system really amazing is that you can hook up a full video gaming console to it. Boy Wonder played Minecraft on the XBox (with headphones on) while Little CEO read a book and we listened to grownup music (streamed from my iPhone) in the front. Everybody was doing what they wanted to do without disturbing anybody else. Score.

We had a fabulous time in Pismo Beach. We relaxed, ate ourselves silly, laughed, got soaked by rain, and just acted like The Ross Family. Together. I made a little video of our trip – check it out!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Chrysler. All opinions are 100% mine.


Single Mom in the South December 6, 2012 at 4:37 am

HEE HEE! I have a car that looks like its far too big for our family of three, but we have to travel 1200 miles round trip several times a year and I need the space so we aren’t stuffed!

Olga December 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Your post is very timely for me, as we get ready to drive for five hours to our mini winter vacation. These are very good suggestions — we haven’t taken a trip where we needed to drive for this long before, so these will come in handy!

JDaniel4's Mom December 7, 2012 at 5:10 am

This really sounds like a wonderful way to travel.

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