See the picture? If that's what you think of when you hear the words "Family road trip" then stop reading right now because nothing I'm about to say will help you. However, if you hear the words "Family road trip" and think of annoying siblings, cramped spaces and extreme boredom then this is for you. Today I'm going to teach you all I've learned about surviving my family, boredom and some other tips and tricks to get you through your trip with your sanity mostly intact. Now before we start I think we need to establish some credibility. My name is Alex Treat, at the time of this writing I'm sixteen years old. I have spent over a month of my life stuck in a mini-van occupied by my brother, sister and parents and have traveled more then 10,000 miles across this fine land of the USA and a few other countries. In other words I have experience on the road and know what I'm talking about. I've written this instructable for the travel contest (Vote for me!) and to impart my vast knowledge upon the world as well as throw a few jokes and puns in along the way. So if you want to learn how to survive your road trip then read on.
Step 1: The Family
While I would like to say we always look like that happy family in the photo, I'm afraid I would be lying. But guess what, no one else is honest so I'll just join the crowd and post a nice picture. Now I've been told road trips are bonding and you know what, I agree. If you search the definition of bond you get: join or be joined securely to something else, typically by means of an adhesive substance, heat, or pressure. Most people tend to skip over the "by means of heat or pressure" part and get to hugs and rainbows but thats simply not the case. To bond with someone you have to go through hardship of some sort (AKA being stuck in the car with a wailing baby sister) before the bond is actually made. So the question of the day is what can you do to prevent as much pain as posable while bondin. Well, the first thing you need to do to survive your family is to protect yourself.
Step 2: Protection
Protection means anything and everything that can help insulate you form your family's deadly influences on your environment. In my experience there are three senses that are directly assaulted in a just about every road trip and while there is always exceptions these are the main ways to protect them.
-Sound protection- The first thing to protect is your ears and for good reason. It's a well known fact that kids can be really loud and if one of your family members is below the age of 6 ear protection is a must.
*Head phones/ ear buds- The bare minimum but will do in a pinch. However they do provide other sounds to distract you from your crazy life so a bit of a bonus.
*Ear plugs- A good choice as they are small but still very effective.
*Gun muffs- These are the big guns and if you own them, use them. They are especially effective when paired with ear plugs or ear buds.
-Smell protection- "The fart is what gives the man his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us..." Obi-Wan Kenobi (slightly modified). Here's a tip: never eat beans before going on the road.
* febreeze- Theres not much you can do against the powerful fart but at least having some sort of heavily perfumed rag to stuff your face in or some febreeze can help.
*Windows- Probably the best to fight the stink is to open all windows. If you're the one who farted do this discreetly and hope no one notices.
-Personal space protection- I know my siblings often have no understanding of a personal bubble and if they did they would spend the entire car ride popping it.
*Parental authority-If you're a parent this one's fairly easy. Simply command your kids not to touch you and hopefully they listen. If they don't, bribe them or discipline them, one of the two. However as a kid it's more difficult. Usually just whining to your parents does the trick.
*sit behind- If you know someone to be particularly annoyingly touchy then sit behind them. That person will usually just annoy the person in front of them instead of you.
Step 3: Food
Now of corse the food you eat while traveling doesn't quite look that posh but we're going to pretend it does. A big necessity to sanity while on the road is food. Now some travelers view food as simply being necessary but food can actually be the key to your survival . If you're one of those people who try to eat healthy on the road (Key word "try") then the first of my food tactics may not work with you but If your family is like mine then your in for a treat.
-Candy- the most prominent of all food groups sugar stands out as the most useful food to have and hears why.
*bribes- If your a kid (Or an adult with the maturity of a kid) candy is practicaly its own currency. As a parent you can use it get you out of almost any sticky situation. You can bribe your kids with candy to do just about anything; keep quiet, sit still, or eat vegetables (the last one doesn't work all the time). And as a kid, sweets still carry their bribing power.
*Tasty- The other obvious reason to have candy is it tastes GREAT!
-Restaurants- The most common way to obtain food on the go is restaurants and their is good reason why everyone uses them. Their fast, reliable and good for a few other things
*Necessity- The obvious reason why you go to restaurants is you need food to... you know... live. I feel like thats a pretty good reason to stop in and of itself.
*Sanity- If your a parent there is no doubt you've notice that when your kids are hungry the air their breathing suddenly turns to helium. Whats the best way to stop this high pitched sound? Stuff some food in the hole thats making it!
*Rest- Sometimes its better to actualy go inside rather then just flying threw the drive threw. Stopping at restaurant is a great excuse to get out of the car and away from your family.
-Snacks- I always take a snack on the road. It could be a bag of cheerios or just a granola bar but having a snack is a big help while traveling.
*Hold you over- I remember many times when I was little(er) I would tell my parents "I'm hungry" and they would say something like " Ok we'll stop in Denver in an hour." Well as a kid, an hours a long time to wait so I would suffer agonizingly threw an entire hour before receiving the necessary nutrition for my body to survive. How do you avoid this problem? Pack a snack!
*substitute- Everyone has that one meal they just can stand. However fate finds it quite entertaining to feed that meal to you as often as posable so what do you do? You pretend to not be hungry and just eat your snack when you get back in the car. Easy as that!
Step 4: Distraction
Whats that bird thinking? probably something along the lines of fish but who knows. The point is this pic is the most distracting thing I got so I hope you were distracted. There is no way you will survive a family road trip without a distraction of some sort. Why? because you stuck in one place with nothing to do, basically what I would define as extreme boredom.
-electronics- Honestly you really need something electronic to entertain you because books and views just don't cut it when life get crazy.
*Video games- The optimal choice in my opinion. The are interactive, most often don't require a quiet environment, and are easily portable. So if you have any device capable of hosting games, use it!
*Netflix- Netflix and chill will do the trick but it does require sound which is a bit of a bummer. Of corse you could use ear buds but often other people want to watch with you and your forced to open your entertainment to the public. However this can be a bonus if everyone in the car enjoys the movie your watching. Then the hypnotizing power of the screen goes to work and you have a perfectly calm and quiet car. But if one person doesn't like the whats on they will usually spent the entire duration of the movie annoying those that are entertained. So to sum up good crowd pleaser but everyone has to like it.
*Music- Music acts as a fallback entertainment. Its definitely a good choice for drivers as they kinda need their eyes to drive but doesn't really qualify as full on entertainment for the bored passenger.
-non-electronic- What you do without or to take a break from electricity.
*books- good for an ideal road trip were the car is quiet and calm. If said conditions exist then go for it! reading is a great form of entertainment and generally it gets some browny points with the parents.
*scenery- scenery works for about an hour before I usually get bored. Don't rely on scenery to be your sole entertainment but it can act as a great break from electronics.
*Imagination- Whats more entertaining then your imagination. I remember many long road trips were I just dreamed the day away and I'm glad I did.
-games- stuff you can do with your family. Now there are allot of on the road games and if your really interested look it p but I'll give you two of my favorites.
*Letter game- The basic Idea for this game is to find every letter from A-Z. Now I know this sounds boring but if your desperate then it's pretty fun and it includes everyone in the car so not a bad choice. You can modify this however you want; everyones trying to find all the letters as a group, or its a competition, seeing who can find all the letters first. Either way its a good game for the whole family.
*Slug bug- This ones pretty well known and is a fun competitive game. The goal of the game is to find a certain type of car before any one else and as a reward you get to punch someone. Its the punching that really makes it fun (muhahaha!).
Step 5: Thanks
Before I end this I just want to say thanks for reading this instructable and I hope what I've learned threw my numerous road trips helps you on yours. The biggest tip I can give you is have a good attitude (even thought road trips suck). I've found that they way you act rubs off on other people so if your family's not doing so great try killing them with kindness. Also, I want to thank my parents for letting me use their awesome pictures (their professional photographers) and I encourage you to vote, like, and follow. Thanks once again and comment below!