Surviving Car Travel with Squabbling Siblings

Roadtrip 2Under normal circumstances, normal parents might not consider forcing squabble-prone siblings into a confined area together. Still, we (normal parents) do this over and over, every time we have to get somewhere in the car.  Sometimes, that somewhere is an unavoidably very, very long drive away.

I’ll first gloss quickly over the options I have heard suggested over the years to deal with this situation in the “easiest way possible.”  To sum it up, “Drug ‘em.”  Drugging them on endless DVD movies or on Benadryl – for my family at least – is not an option. We limit screen time and don’t take any medication unnecessarily, no matter how dire the circumstances.

That aside, let’s get down to business! Occupied, comfortable children are happier travelers.


Gone are the days of driving as far as you can, as quickly as you can. Use the internet and friends’ recommendations to plan regular pit stops at places your children can stretch their legs and fit in a good game of tag.

Some options for planning these stops ahead of time can be found at through the iexit app and the RestAreaFinder app.

Online parenting forums are also great resources for planning a road trip with kids.


Driving through the night might be the solution, as your kids may sleep, but then again, you might, too, and that’s dangerous. If you plan the night drive option, make sure the driver(s) is well rested and caffeinated, if necessary.

It might be easier for your children to sleep in the car if they are dressed in pajamas, have pillows and blankets and the obligatory security object.

Traveling With KidsPlay.

A cluttered car might be an annoying eyesore, but it’s still a sight better than having fighting children. Great options for travel are magnetic games, dolls for make believe, puppets and medium-size toy cars.

Games that may require some preparation at home, but are great ways to combine creative thought, watching the scenery and keeping busy can be found online at listings such as KidSpot. It goes without saying that games or building toys with small parts, card games, anything that needs to balance and anything that makes an undue amount of noise are not take-along options.


Neither rest nor amusement will get you anywhere if the kids are hungry. While adults can weigh the advantages of waiting until the right highway exit or a more convenient time of day, children cannot be expected to do so. While for reasons of sanity and tidiness, actual meals should be eaten at some type of rest stop, a car packed with snacks is still a must.

When choosing snacks, keep in mind safety and the age of your child. Choking is a real danger, and driving down the highway with small children in the back seat, you need to be extra safe.

Some snacking options – depending on the ages you’re dealing with – could be fruit, vegetable sticks, string cheese, pre-prepared peanut butter and crackers… though in our family, the snack stash also includes lollipops to help with travel sickness.

Happy trails!

Aviela is a multi-tasking, public-speaking, work-at-home mother of six decently-adjusted, mostly happy children.

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