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On the Road Again ...

Early on, we realized we needed to plan our time in the car as well as we planned the activities at our destinations.
By Barbara Rainey

"Are we almost there?"

"How long have we been in the car?"

"How much is 100 miles?"

Do these lines sound familiar? These are the voices of millions of children across America, buckled in their seats on a family vacation and impatient to finally get there.

Dennis and I know these voices all too well. When our kids were growing up, most of our vacation trips involved a couple days of driving—each way. And you can imagine how chaotic those drives were with six children!

Early on, we realized we needed to plan our time in the car as well as we planned the activities at our destinations. Kids—especially the young ones—have no concept of time or distance. All they know is that they're stuck in a car, and they're bored. That's why you need a game plan for your vacation. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Bring along plenty of special activities for the kids. I kept a box full of books, puzzles, coloring books, and travel games and brought it out only for our trips.
  2. Listen to audiobooks. Our favorites were narrations of C.S. Lewis "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. We listened to these over and over to keep our minds off the endless miles driving through an area like western Kansas. The kids were mesmerized by these stories, and they sparked some great spiritual discussions.
  3. Bring along a "complaint jar." We would fill a jar with dimes (or quarters, when the kids grew older) and set it on the dashboard. If a child began to complain too much, we would remove a coin from the jar. At the end of the trip (or the day, if the driving times was especially long), we would let the kids spend the remaining money as they pleased. This little device did wonders to instantly lower the complaint level.
  4. Have kids keep vacation scrapbooks. These can include drawings, postcards, and souvenirs. This can help keep the kids busy at your vacation spot as well. Years later, these simple journals are absolutely priceless.
  5. Remember to use your time to build relationships. Play games. Sing songs. Enjoy each other.

Remember that your vacation begins when you start your drive—not when you arrive at your destination. Use that time wisely.

Copyright © 2005 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family. 

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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