Hit the open highway with your family this summer using the happy road trip plan

Road Trippin’ NV Life June July '16

Hit the open highway with your family this summer using the happy road trip plan.

By Kristin Caliendo

 “Mommmmmmm! Addie hit me!”

“Leif is so annoying, he’s picking his nose right in front of me.”

“Don’t make me pull this car over!” Sound familiar?

Somewhere between my kids flicking bodily fluids at one another and Yuma, my dreams of driving into the sunset while catching up on my latest novel were shattered when the backseat turned into a combat zone.

I’m talking about a road trip my family took last year in search of sun, fun, and a few ocean waves. We headed west to San Diego for spring break. We were still in Phoenix when chaos struck; my daughter punched her brother, he refused to use Kleenex (I know, gross), and my husband started pillaging around for his blood pressure medication. I, of course, started blaming myself for my children’s obnoxious behavior, convinced it was a direct result of apparently flawed parenting skills.

Although each and every snack, movie, and rest stop break was carefully planned and plotted, the only thing my kids would agree on was to wage war against us hopeless parents with a farting and burping contest. With another five hours to go, I wanted to jab the tire pressure gauge directly into my eye. I looked hopelessly out the passenger window, wishing I were anywhere but in the front seat of that car.

I often share this story with other parents and more times than not, I’m consoled by accounts of equally sucky road trips.

As any sensible parent would do, our family went on a travelling freeze until I came across some helpful advice from child psychologist Thomas W. Phelan, who touched on managing sibling quarrels during family vacations. With a few tweaks, I put together my own happy road trip plan. Now that we have a system down that works, we are traveling again––happily.



The Happy Road Trip Plan

The Reward: Start off with a stack of dollar bills. Decide on a set dollar amount per kid before getting on the road. My kids are young so a $10 reward works well. Explain to them that they will each receive the money once you arrive at the destination. They can spend it anyway they like (candy, stuffed animals, toys, junk food, etc.) Even though you might not want them loading up on sugar, this surely is the lesser of two evils in the happy road trip equation.

The Rules: If they argue, they lose a dollar. If they touch one another, they lose a dollar. If they use outdoor voices, they lose a dollar. If they complain or ask, “Are we almost there yet?” they lose a dollar. You get the point.

The Fine Print: Every time someone breaks a rule, they all lose a dollar. The kids catch on pretty quick and the next thing you know you have a back seat of happy road warriors armed with incentive to keep their cool and get along.




Free Admission to Arizona’s National Parks

 Now that you have a happy road trip plan, hit the road for Arizona’s National Parks to celebrate the 2016 National Park Service Centennial. All National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone on the following dates:


Aug. 25 through 28

Sept. 24

Nov. 11



Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Grand Canyon National Park

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Petrified Forest National Park

Pipe Spring National Monument

Saguaro National Park

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Tonto National Monument

Tumacácori National Historical Park

Tuzigoot National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Wupatki National Monument


For more information, visit nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks-state.htm







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