Road Trip Remedy: Backseat Bickering

National Geographic Traveler columnist Heather Greenwood Davis is the magazine’s family travel advocate, guru, and soothsayer.

Here’s her latest advice:

Reader Question: On our last road trip the kids’ bickering ruined the mood. How do you deal?

My Answer: We pack destination-focused books (I Wish I Knew That: U.S. Presidents was perfect for our trip to Washington, D.C.), prep playlists of songs, and bring audiobooks we won’t get sick of (Lightning Thief, The Chronicles of Narnia) for times we all need a break.

With younger kids, classic car games (the license plate game) or a new version (first person to see a cow…) gets them focused on what’s outside the window instead of the sibling archnemesis beside them.

Other tricks? Impromptu stops (check out roadside kitsch) and side routes offer a chance for properly belted kids to stretch legs and change moods.

Finally, hand over the map. Knowing what’s coming next distracts them from asking the proverbial question, “Are we there yet?”

Heather Greenwood Davis pens the “Traveling With Kids” column for National Geographic Traveler magazine (this exchange appeared in the December 2014 issue)Follow Heather on Twitter @GreenwoodDavis

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  1. Arianwen
    United Kingdom
    February 7, 2015, 10:55 am

    Nice tips! I don’t have kids yet, but I remember being one on long road trips. Our parents also used to mound cushions on the back seat between my sister and I so we napped quite a lot. They also quizzed us on places to encourage us to learn, and got us to write diaries to keep our literacy levels up to scratch!

    • Heather Greenwood Davis
      March 8, 2015, 6:29 pm

      My husband is big on quizzing the kids too Arianwen. I hope ours remember these trips as fondly as I do.