If you and your family are thinking of exploring the roads this year, chances are you are not alone. It turns out that millions of Americans are planning road trips this year. In fact, the year 2020 is being dubbed ‘the year of the road trip. Around 1 in 3 Americans are planning a road trip this year by themselves- or with their families in tow. For families with teens, planning the perfect American road trip can take a lot of planning. Most teens love the idea of traveling, but they tend to loathe the idea of spending long periods in the car, especially with their entire family instead of exploring their independence. To skip the complaining and keep everyone happy, here’s what you need to know for a road trip with teens in the backseat.

Planning The Trip: Let Your Teen Take The Reins On The Planning

Teenagers value their independence. Giving them an important role to play in planning makes them feel like what they have to say is important, and taken seriously. One way to do this is to let them research road trip destinations or stopovers. Most teens are tech-savvy and with the help of road trip planning tools like RoadTrippers.com and BackroadRamblers.com, they can be in charge of planning a few road trip routes before having the family vote on it.

Another way to get them involved is to let your teen do some of the driving on the trip. This is a great opportunity to teach your teen how to drive and a few simple road trip safety rules like knowing how to read an atlas or how to check your car before a road trip. Getting them involved also relieves some of the stress of planning a road trip. Around 57 percent of families are stressed about taking a road trip, according to research by IPSOS. It is a major reason behind many families deciding against family vacations.

Finding Accommodations: The Smaller The Car, The Larger The Stopover Space

Teens take up more space. That means your car may feel more cramped during a road trip. To start with, ensure you choose a suitable vehicle for your road trip needs. For instance, if you are going off-road, have a larger family, or want a spacious and reliable pickup, a mid-sized pickup may be more suitable. If you let your teen drive during the road trip, it can also give you important insight into what car would suit your teen.

 Also, be sure to make sure your hotel accommodation has enough space. After being in the car together for hours, your teen will value some space to themselves- as will you as a parent. Whether it is getting a family suite or connected rooms, giving everyone a few hours of space helps to refresh and reset before hitting the road again. Before you know it, those in-car arguments are a blip in the past.

What To Pack: Upgrade The Snacks And Personalized Entertainment

Another major source of disagreements on a road trip with teens: in-car entertainment. Teens love their internet connectivity. Whether it is gaming, social media, or videos, it is almost impossible to find a teen that doesn’t enjoy their screen time- or music tastes. When packing for your road trip, don’t forget to pack personal devices like an iPad, phone, and headphones so that everyone can have their own screen time. The key is not letting screen time dominate the entire road trip. A good way around this is to agree to limits. For instance, setting a 30-minute screen break every 3 hours on the road.

When packing snacks for the road, you may need to upgrade your options. Parents of teenagers will attest that it often seems like their teens are always eating. In reality, most teens eat every 3 -4 hours to keep up with the needs of their growing bodies. To keep everyone fed and happy, pack individual and healthy snacks like fresh fruit, granola bars, peanut butter packets, and crackers or trail mixes- all things universally loved by teenagers and easy to eat on the road.


Road trips are a fantastic way to embark on a family adventure and bond with your child- no matter how old they are. While the approach to it may change as they become teenagers, it can still be memorable and fun for all involved. With the help of these tips, your next road trip with your teen can be filled with more laughter and less stress.