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Making road trips enjoyable for the whole family

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Summer road trip
Kyle Faldoski, 12, left, watches as his father Mark buckles in sister Kensie, four, in Uniondale, N.Y, May 22, 2004, as the family prepares to travel from Long Island to Ohio.
AP Photo/Ed Betz

It's peak season for family vacations and many will choose to hit the road instead of fly. But traveling long distances by car with children can worry any parent. Can the family road trip be an enjoyable and memorable experience?

Elizabeth Foy Larsen recently wrote a piece for Slate on family trips

"Unfortunately, for kids, there's almost nothing meaningful about being strapped into the back of the family van while Missouri and Kansas whiz past," she wrote. "Not only are road trips boring, but they also require kids to sit still for hours on end, half-stoned on the same movies that are used to pacify them at home."

Larsen joined The Daily Circuit Friday to offer advice on creating a fun family road trip and take your questions. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert and editor of WeJustGotBack.com, will also joined the discussion.

TIPS FOR YOUR NEXT VACATION

1) Plan the trip with your kids, said Elizabeth Foy Larsen. Don't just announce "we're headed to Santa Fe!"

2) Bring painter's tape, advises Suzanne Rowan Kelleher. Tell your kids to build a wall between them.   3) Take the time to talk to them. Kelleher tells her kids. "Ask me anything about grandma or what my life was like before you were born." You'll be surprised by what they don't know and what they are curious about.

4) Larsen said road trips can be a great way to have the larger, societal discussions which her family "doesn't normally specialize in."  They discussed immigration after seeing the wide-open plains of Wyoming  and their au pair wondered why the U.S. argues about immigration when there seemed to be plenty of room for new people.

5) Kelleher said the road trip is a good chance to learn life lessons. Take the gadgets away from your kids. Take the gadgets away from yourself. Get out a map and give your kids an assignment. Put the onus on them to find a state park.

6) A trip is a good chance to teach kids about money. Give them a set amount for the trip. They'll learn pretty soon how far some cash can go.

7) Cathy wrote to us that she appreciates that her family can "be bored in the car together." Elizabeth agreed and said that you should try to appreciate "the serendipity of the long hours."

8) "When I was a kid," David wrote on our blog, "my mom would wrap up little trinkets, comic books, puzzles and put the name of a town on the package. When we got to that town, we'd unwrap the package and be entertained for the next stretch down the road." 

Share your family road trip experiences on the blog.