Teenage girls in a car going on a road trip

Things To Do On A Car Trip For A Teenager

Are you planning a road trip with teens? We know it can be stressing you as traveling with a teenager can be tricky. But it is the perfect way to spend quality time as a family.

Yes, teenagers can be dramatic and make the trip unbearable. For you to take the stress out of your gateway, there are tips and fun things to do that will ensure the journey is (dare we say!) memorable and enjoyable.

How To Plan The Ultimate Road Trip For Teenagers

Teenagers are a ball of emotions and finding the right balance between their need to feel included and independence can be an uphill task for you. But you must remember that they are still trying to discover their identity and need your help in decision-making.

Include your teenager in the planning process of the long journey. That is, let your teenager know where you are headed before time.

Allow them to also select stops and time to take photos for their social media, and also let them select the music for the journey (sit and let them be! If that is possible at all).

Allow your teens to have the screen time you have always set limits on. Allowing your teens’ screen time will show them that you respect their independence. Do not forget to keep any younger sibs off them too, as they are primarily a trigger you do not want to handle while on the road.

Here are some further tips in detail to help you:

Include Your Teenager In The Planning Process

Including your teenager in the road trip planning process will ensure you enjoy it as a family. Arm your teenager with all the information about the journey. When the road trip is scheduled, the route you plan on taking, and the final destination.

Doing this will allow your teenager enough time to also plan on their own where they would want to stop and see—the type of clothing they would pack and the accessories that would fit the ride. Remember to pack a USB phone charger!

Plan For Comfort

Nothing kills a fun road trip vibe faster than an uncomfortable teenager. Knowing your teen before you embark on your journey will help. You can give them great ideas on what they can wear to be comfier.

You can also suggest that they carry some more comfy cozy items like neck pillows, blankets, sleep-on shoes, hoodies, etc. You can also allow them to stretch time in between the stops.

Ensure your vehicle is spacious enough to fit your whole family. Remember that teenagers are touchy about space. You can consider hiring a large family car for the planned journey.

A family packing a car ready for a road trip
As your family grows, a larger car will allow each family member a little more personal space

Do not forget to check whether the car’s air conditioning is working. You do not want to have grumpy travel companions because of the heat.

You should also check the heater is working properly for a winter road trip.

Schedule a Road Trip That Will Not Take Up The Entire School Break

Do not forget that your teenagers crave some alone time too. Allow them this space by scheduling road trips that will not leave them feeling like they are “choking” on family time.

If your teen is outdoorsy, being on road trips that last a whole day can be downright overwhelming. Therefore, if the ride is long, you can always break it into two halves.

Do Not Forget The Good Stuff – Food!

If you have teenagers, you know that they love food. Teenagers love to eat, and being trapped in a car for hours may trigger lots of snacking due to boredom.

Prepare yourself well when stocking the snacks, as this can make or break the road trip. Always ensure that you have enough snacks and drinks for the whole family.

You should also pack a little extra to be on the safe side. Try mixing up the snacks; they are also healthy-ish as much as junk!

Give Your Teen a Small Budget For Stops

Your teen craves independence. Show them you trust them by allowing them to make their own purchases during the trip. This could be for their snacks or souvenirs, but set the limit and stick to it.

This way, they will make wise decisions on what they need and want. The bank of Mom and Dad won’t be funding these trips forever so learning to budget now is an invaluable skill.

Do Not Over-Do The Driving

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while on the road with your teen is overdriving. Get the right hotel beforehand that you will make a stopover to and relax.

Whilst teens have far more tolerance than our tots at sitting still, everyone still needs to stretch their legs regularly.

You can also make a point of exploring exciting places. A detour is an excellent opportunity of breaking fatigue and burn some pent-up energy.

Know their personality though, one teen’s idea of heaven is hitting a state park and some trails for fresh air, others would prefer city exploring and some retail therapy.

Keep Changing The Seating Arrangement

Ensure to keep changing the sitting arrangements. This terrific teenage road trip idea should involve everyone in the vehicle – mix your driver and your front seat passenger. It is also a great tip as everyone in the car gets to interact.

You can also involve your teens in the driving tour if they are licensed drivers. Allowing your teen to drive on the family road trip will make them feel the open road as you relax. It will also make them more involved in the journey and also gain valuable driving experience.

Teen girl nervously driving a car

With the above tips up your sleeve, you will protect your sanity on your family vacation with teens.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself too and relax a little too. Every vacation is bound to have its ups and downs. Try not to sweat the small stuff.

10 Boredom Busters – Activities To Enjoy On A Road Trip With Teens

You need to find exciting things for your teenager to do while on the road as you do not want them sinking into their phones the whole time. You know that is possible, and they would not mind it!

But traveling together is meant to bring the entire family together with quality time.

A to-do list full of teen-friendly ideas can be the difference between a fab drive and everyone wanting to pull their hair out! You should come up with these ideas beforehand and involve your teen in planning. This will also help you know what to bring on a road trip with teenagers.

Read A Book

Carrying a book for your teen might be an excellent car ride idea. This can be an actual paper book or an electronic reader. Harry Potter book set is a great classic book that might intrigue your teen.

You can also decide to listen to audiobooks. Choose stories that will appeal to the entire family and are entertaining for everyone. The Lightning Thief series might be a great idea.

Podcasts might also be a great distraction for your teen, provided they align with their interests. First, determine where your teen’s interest lies before putting a podcast on. They may also serve as excellent springboards for conversations with your teen.

Play Travel Games

Entertainment is vital if you are planning a road trip with your teen. And getting suitable games to play in the car for teens is mandatory. These can range from classic old-fashioned games to some compact games.

Some of the road trips games you can play while on vacation with teenagers include:

  • Road Trip Trivia: Prepare interesting trivia questions before the road trip. Your teen should join in the preparation.
  • Would You Rather?: Have far-fetched questions ready that will leave one in a dilemma of answering.
  • The License Plate Game: You’re never too old! Take on your teen to spot tags from all over the 50 states for you to win in this game.
  • Categories: You choose a random category and let everyone come up with words/names that fall under the selected category – run in alphabetical order, or the next word has to start with the last letter of the word before.
  • Name That Song: You all take turns to sing or hum a song, and the others have to guess the lyrics.

Travel Toys For Teens

Never be fooled into thinking your teen is too old for toys! There are still plenty of travel toys and handheld games that can appeal to teens:

  • Fidget toys like the shape-shifting box and the Gocube are great for long car rides and will engage your teen.
  • Mad Libs is a great word game that will offer lots of laughter. You get to write in the missing words and, in the process, create funny stories.
  • An adult coloring book is another simple activity that will make the miles zoom by, which is also great for relaxation.
  • Yeah, OK, probably some electronic games will do the trick too. A small and portable Switch Lite is a good option for when you’re on the move.

Keep Teens Well Fed

You don’t want to have a hungry teen near you; they are very hangry (pun intended). And given their rapid body growth, they need lots of food to keep them fueled.

Therefore be sure to pack lots of snacks for the journey. You can bring a cooler that you fill with healthy snacks like fresh fruits, trail mix, sandwiches, and individually wrapped cheese. You can use re-usable snap bags for packaging. Do not forget the drinks too.

You can also stop at fabulous restaurants or fast-food chains to keep grumpiness at bay – make sure your teen gets a say in the roadside stops, perhaps rotate turns who gets to choose.

Let Your Teens Choose Their Music

Remind your teen to carry their headphones as each person in the car might have a different taste in music.

With them taking their headphones, they can listen to the soundtrack they wish using their smart devices. It will help reduce a lot of scuffles in the car as everyone wants to play their soundtracks on the radio.

Teenage girl playing with her phone in the back seat of a car

Watch Movies On The Road

Most teens are movie buffs, and now is not the time to carry the house rules around. Let your teens zone out on movies and videos, which will help pass the time.

If your car has a backseat entertainment system, the more reason you should rejoice, as this will mean that each person in the vehicle has the liberty of watching whatever it is that they wish.

You can find our selection of the best classic road trip movies over here

There’s no reason to fret if it is not equipped with the backseat entertainment system. You can ensure that before you embark on the trip, you have downloaded enough movies to keep everyone entertained as they watch on their smartphones and tablets.

Mobile/Video Games

Your teen gamers will want to carry their gadgets along with in a bid to kill the boredom. Allow them, BUT before you board the car, set down some ground rules of when the video games will be played.

Playing games in a moving car often makes passengers feel sick. If possible, you can make your teens wait until you reach your destination to enjoy the video/mobile games.

Road Trip Journal For Teens

Most teens fancy the idea of journaling. Who wouldn’t? A journal is an excellent companion for teens as it helps them document events.

Your teen will love journalizing postcards, maps, and information sheets that will occupy their time. They can also make notes of places you’ve been through and the memorable fun moments.

Prepare For Motion Sickness

Mostly hormones play a role in causing motion sickness. And since teens’ bodies are filled with an abundance of estrogen and testosterone, they might experience car sickness during adolescence, even if they didn’t suffer as younger children.

You can ensure to have some motion sickness medicines just in case, try Natures Fusion Vertigo drops, or pressure bands can help many motion sickness sufferers.

Reward Good Behavior

Rewarding good behavior will keep siblings’ fights and sassy backtalk to a minimum. You can do this by allowing teens with a valid license to have a turn at driving, or get a stopover convenience store treat.

You could also surprise your teen with gifts on your trip. A silly gift that is fun, affordable, and compact will do the trick.

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© Family Road Trip 2024

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