How to Deal With a Long Vacation Car Ride (Teens)
How to Deal With a Long Vacation Car Ride (Teens)
A family vacation can often be the highlight of the summer, but getting there is a different story and there is usually a long car ride ahead of you. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself occupied during a long, boring car ride. First, make sure you've got everything you need for your trip, including snacks, pillows, and comfy clothes. Once you're all set up, you can use different activities to whittle away the time until you reach your destination.

Getting Situated for a Long Car Ride

Decide on a seating arrangement. Before you starting piling into the car, work out who gets to sit where. A window seat will offer you a better view, or you might prefer to have the back row to yourself so you can stretch out and take a nap. Switch seats periodically so that you're not always stuck looking at the same thing. Try not to complain about where you sit. When you're traveling with a big group, somebody will inevitably end up sandwiched in the middle.

Wear comfortable clothing. On the day you hit the road, put on something lightweight and loose-fitting that you don't mind wearing for hours. A simple t-shirt and a pair of jeans or sweatpants is always a good combination. It can also help to wear shoes that you can slide into and out of quickly for when you stop. If the weather outside is hot, it's a good idea to pick out short-sleeved clothing. Likewise, if you're up against a winter chill, slip on a heavy jacket just in case it gets nippy in the car. Your main concern should be how you feel, not how you look—nobody will be judging you on your appearance at a rest stop.

Make room for two bags. Cram most of your luggage (including your clothing, toiletries, and electronics) into the first bag and stow it in the back, then pack whatever you think you might want with you in the car in the second. That way, you'll always have a few entertainment options close at hand. Make sure your “carry on” bag isn't so big that it becomes a nuisance or takes up valuable leg room. In most cases, a backpack, messenger bag, or tote will be just the right size. This additional bag could hold things like books, magazines, a tablet or portable media device, a journal, or small games and other knick knacks.

Bring along some snacks. Packaged items are the most convenient, since they won't go bad and don't need to be heated up. Things like crackers, granola bars, mixed nuts, chocolate, and bottled water will give you the energy you need to handle a seemingly endless car ride without getting cranky. If you have room, fill a small cooler with healthier offerings, such as fresh fruit and yogurt. Nibbling on a little something here and there will also keep your hunger at bay, which means you won't have to stop for meals as often.

Passing the Time

Find a comfy position. It can be tough to relax in a cramped vehicle. Try resting your pillow up on your lap and leaning forward over your knees, or propping it up against the side of the headrest so you can fall asleep with the sun shining on your face. If there's enough room, you might even be able to kick your feet up on the console or shift sideways to stretch out your legs. Remember, safety first: always leave your seatbelt on for the entire duration of your trip, even when you're trying to get comfortable.

Take a nap. Long car rides make a perfect opportunity to catch a few Zs, especially if you're setting out early in the morning. Don't forget to grab a pillow before you leave home so you'll have something to rest your head on. By the time you wake up, you'll be hours closer to your destination. A sleep mask and pair of earplugs can come in handy for blocking out unwanted light and noise, helping you drift off in peace.

Read a book. Throw at least a couple books into the bag you're keeping with you and break them out when you feel like enjoying a quiet activity. Reading is a great way to fight off boredom and take your mind off the long miles ahead. Pick out a bestseller or popular fiction title that doesn't require too much concentration. Reading in the car makes some people nauseous. If you feel like you're starting to get car sick, take a break for a little while.

Pack a notepad. Stick some paper and pens or pencils into your personal bag. That way, you'll be able to doodle or jot down your thoughts during slower moments. A long car ride will also be a good opportunity to get caught up on incomplete homework assignments. Pass the notepad back and forth with a friend and play a paper-based game like Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman or Mash. Get in touch with your creative side by journaling or writing a poem or short story.

Play a word game. Have everyone take turns spotting out-of-state license plates or solving tricky riddles. Word games are great because all you need to participate is an imagination. Some other popular games include: “I Spy,” where one player describes an object in or around the vehicle and the other guesses what it is. “20 Questions,” where players each get to ask up to 20 yes or no questions to help them guess the name of a person, place or object. “Would You Rather,” which involves one player naming two different scenarios and the being forced to choose which one they'd prefer. “Six Degrees of Separation,” where one player names a random movie and the other then has to link one actor from a series of other movies until they arrive back at the original actor.

Talk to each other. Take advantage of this time to catch up on what's going on in everyone's lives, or just chat about nothing in particular to kill time. You'll be sharing a small space for hours, so just think of it as a hangout session. Go around the car and have everybody tell their best joke or share an amusing story about something that's happened to them. Write down some thought-provoking questions that you can use as conversation starters if you run out of things to talk about.

Using Technology to Keep Yourself Busy

Listen to music. Sync your favorite tunes to your iPod or mobile device so you can pull them out at any time while you're on the move. You can also use programs like Spotify, iTunes, or Pandora to stream a nearly endless catalog of hits. If you've got the radio on, make sure it's something that everyone in the car can agree on. Be sure to stash a pair of headphones in your bag—without them, you might have trouble hearing your music or run the risk of annoying your fellow passengers.

Watch a movie or TV show. Thanks to modern technology, it's now possible to enjoy your favorite programs from just about anywhere. Use your smartphone or tablet to stream titles from Netflix, Hulu, or similar apps. You could even hold a private viewing party for the people in the back seat! Make sure everybody else gets a chance to pick something to watch on a shared device. If data or internet reception is an issue, invest in a portable DVD player that you can fit into your luggage.

Text your friends. Send messages to your crew back home and let them know how your trip is shaping up. This will allow you to stay connected while you're gone. This will only be an option when you're in areas with decent cell coverage. Don't forget to pack an extra charger (or better yet, a car charger) so you can give your phone some juice whenever you stop.

Share your experiences on social media. Keep your followers informed about how your trip is going by posting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Take some time each day to upload photos, status updates and even reviews of restaurants, museums, and famous attractions. It's a good way to document your travels while also staying connected to everything else that's going on in your social circle while you're away. Come up with a unique hashtag for your vacation to organize all of your relevant posts under one label. Be sure to turn on your device's location settings, as well. This will allow your followers to see all the places you've visited.

Enjoying Your Trip

Draw up a dream itinerary. Put together a list of things you'd like to see and do when you reach your destination. Then, pick one or two of those items and see if you can make them a reality. With a little forethought, you'll be better prepared to take full advantage of your downtime. Don't limit yourself—your perfect adventure might include anything from swimming with the dolphins to attending a music festival to hiking the tallest peak of a mountain range. Take your budget and the length of your trip into account when formulating your plans—you probably won't have the time or money to go parasailing, do some snorkeling, learn how to rock climb, and tour the entire city on a weekend getaway.

Take pictures. Start documenting your experiences on the road. Keep an eye out for interesting landmarks or scenic views along the way that you think would make a striking backdrop for your photos. If that's not your thing, you could also just snap a few silly selfies with your friends or siblings to laugh at later. Aspiring photographers may even want to invest in a dependable camera to take high-quality captures that they can scan develop later. Compile a digital scrapbook to commemorate your vacation and share your favorite moments with friends and family when you get back.

Read up on where you're going. If you're headed some place you've never been before, take some time to research a little bit about its history, geography, and culture. You can usually find lots of interesting information in travel books, road maps, or area brochures, or simply by running a quick internet search. Make a list of the facts you've learned and use them to quiz your friends or family.

Take in the sights along the way. Find out what sorts of local landmarks there are nearby and build a couple extra stops into your driving time to take a closer look. There are stunning geographical formations, awe-inspiring natural phenomena, and curious roadside attractions to be found almost everywhere on earth. Seeing a few of these things with your own eyes can make your vacation that much more memorable. Refer to your travel literature to get an idea of what there is to see are around you. Keep in mind that you may not be able to make too many stops if they look like they're going to cause you to fall behind schedule.

Ask to make a pitstop if you start going stir crazy. An occasional break from driving will give everyone in the car a chance to go to the bathroom and stretch their legs. Afterwards, you'll all feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your journey. Pull over at filling stations rather than rest stops. There, you'll be able to grab a bite to eat and stock up on supplies. Rest stops don't have much to offer other than bathrooms. It's a good idea to use the restroom while you can, even if you feel like you don't need to. You never know when you'll be stopping again.

Make the most of the drive. Try to keep a positive attitude about the situation. Long car rides aren't much fun for anyone, but they're especially unbearable when everyone in the car is in a bad mood. After all, you've got a chance to take an exciting vacation with the people closest to you—what could be better? Don't feel like you always have to fill the silence. Sometimes a little peace and quiet is just what everyone needs.

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