How To Survive A Family Road Trip with a Teen. Eye Rolls and All.

How to Make It Through a Road Trip With a Teen. How I survived a road trip with a full on teen and actually enjoy it! Tips for parents included.

family road trip with a teen vacation with a teenager

We survived. We made it. Whew. I can now successfully check this off the parenting list. What exactly did we make it through?

A road trip with a teen. Yes, an eye rolling, sighing, moody teen sitting in the backseat for hundreds of miles.

And guess what? We actually had FUN. I know, amazing.

We’re not only still speaking but we just hugged like 5 minutes ago, so I’m going to categorize this family road trip a raging success.

(Here’s my post on planning this teenaged mother/daughter road trip royale or as I like to call it, how to ruin my daughter’s summer vacation.)

In case you’re planning to take a family road trip with a teen in tow, here are some of the ways we made it through our road trip without tears. (OK, maybe I cried once during the “Jet Ski Incident”. But don’t judge.)

1.  Ignore the Eye Rolls.

To think that you’re going to take a teenager on a trip and not expect eye rolls is crazy. They’re going to happen. So be ready. You’ll mispronounce the name of a Pokemon. You’ll sing along to a Justin Beiber song.

Just know eye rolls are a vital part of your teen’s communication skills now. It’s the only way to signal how truly clueless you are.

What do I do?

I just pretend I don’t even realize that it’s happening. That tactic makes the eye rolls go away faster than any parental nagging.

2. Try to Resist the Urge to Pull Over and Go All “When I Was Your Age.”

Sometimes as a parent, you just get a parental flashback to when we were kids and justice came down swiftly. You knew that shit was about to get real when  an adult pulled the car over to the shoulder and slammed on the brakes. Yeah, it’s nostalgic and all but guess what? It’s not 1980 and your kids are different. Plus, how many people our age are in dire need of therapy? Exactly. Not the best way to parent in the long run.

3. Be Ready for “I’m Bored.”

Your teen will go through internet withdrawal since she’ll be forced to go without technology for hours on end. No wifi. No youtube. Nothing to do but look out the window, draw, read, listen to the crappy local radio or TALK. WITH YOUR MOM.

It was sketchy for the first few hours, her brain was not used to being unplugged. Disconnected.

Slowly, as the miles wore on, and the silence wore her down, her brain adjusted. Plus, she knew that a secure internet connection was only as far away as the next hotel stop.

Which brings me to:

4. Build in Some Online Time.

We all need us some internet. She needed some online vegging out, web surfing and talking to her cat loving friends. Frankly Mom needed some mindless web time too. I mean, who am I to judge? I needed some Pinterest time to save pins of cupcakes I’m never going to bake and sappy quotes.

We’d sit next to each other on the bed and do our own thing for a while.

Build in that online time each evening in the hotel. Parent and teen will both need some online decompressing.

5. Don’t Be A Dictator.

You don’t have a baby in a carseat or a toddler in a booster seat anymore. She’s a teen, an adult in training. No she’s not a grownup yet, but the vacation will be a lot happier for everyone if she gets a say in the vacation planning. We sat down before we left and planned some activities we definitely wanted to do.

A happy teen gets a say. And having some input helps keep the moaning, groaning and eye rolls to a minimum.

Oh, and snacks. Don’t forget the snacks. Babies, toddlers, teens, and moms are all way happier with a car stocked with snacks. Plus, I don’t know of a single problem that a big ol’ bag of salty popcorn can’t solve. 

Are you planning a road trip with a teen? You might be surprised, it might actually turn out to be a pretty memorable trip.

Are we friends on Facebook? If not, stop by, say “hey” and let’s hang out there too!


  1. says

    Mine are beyond the teen stage but I remember it well. I made it through before they had a cell phone because it wasn’t as common for them to have them a decade ago. They are now 26 and 29. The eye rolling was definitely a thing. I couldn’t say anything without one of them letting me know I’d said it before and was repeating myself. They still do that. It never ends.
    Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski recently posted…How to Start a Blog – A Primer for Baby Boomers Thinking About itMy Profile

  2. says

    These are such great tips and we take several road trips a year and they are harder as the kids gets older. I think being able to disconnect from electronics is good and helps to open up lines of communication.

  3. says

    What a great list of how to survive a road trip with a teenager, I love this. I don’t have any kids but I once was a teen as we all were. These are perfect!

  4. says

    Eye rolls and all…I love it! And I thought road trips were hard with young kids….I have flashbacks of me being an awful and moody teen while on a road trip in Hawaii. I totally ruined that trip and will one day make it up to my parents!

    • says

      Leanne-we had such a great time, I agree, we will look at this time and treasure it so much. It was a wonderful way to mark a pivotal time in her life. Thanks SO much for stopping by!

  5. Michelle Cantu says

    We leave for a family vacation on Friday. 10 hours with my teenager, crossing my fingers we all survive, lol. Great tips, I will definitely use these.

  6. Kathy says

    Those are all great tips. My girls are still young, and I’m not sure I’m looking forward to them being teens. I’ll keep these in mind for when I travel when they’re older.

  7. says

    As a Mom to 3 teens so far, and soon to be 5, I feel your pain. I love these suggestions. Being a parent of a teen is very difficult

    • says

      So great you did a CA road trip, Northern California is such a beautiful trip. Road trips are a great way to bond with your kids, I truly loved it.

  8. says

    I’ve been lucky that some of my best bonding with my sons have been during the hour plus long rides taking them back to their moms or on road trips. It can be a great time to talk and yes, snacks help!

  9. Francisca Ramos says

    Road trips are fun. Teens do get bored. That’s why a parent should have a tablet for them to listen to or spend that time with them. It’s the time to bond.

  10. says

    I find it doesn’t help when you’ve got the driver (my husband) insisting on listening to various podcasts whilst on a road trip.! I turn into that eyeball rolling teenager at 51! Good tips and I swear on being stocked up with Haribos helps too! 😊
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  11. says

    These are all great tips and I’ll try them on our next road trip. Usually I hear I’m bored dozens of times even though the kids have their phones and tablets with them, lol.

  12. Sara says

    It sounds like trips with teenagers are even less fun than long trips with little ones. I swear we only travel 3 miles per hour usually because we have to stop at every restroom known to man…. HA! Joys of traveling with kids. Good times right?

  13. says

    These are all great tips! I’m not sure how I survived the teen years with my girls. The way I figure it is that they’ll have teenagers some day and get to see their own behavior in their kids. I’ll really enjoy that!

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