Midway through a seemingly endless five-hour car trip from New York to Maine, I wondered why I'd ever thought a family vacation seemed like a good idea. My four kids, ages 1 to 7, were arguing over who had the most space in the backseats, how far down the windows should be rolled, and whether the radio should be on or off. My husband had long ago stopped talking to any of us and was keeping his (glazed) eyes fixed on the road.
So I made up a silly game for us to play. I hummed a few bars from a popular song, and whichever child guessed it first got to choose and hum the next one. This little exercise kept everyone distracted until lunchtime, when we could pile out of the car for sandwiches and a good stretch.
I've had two more children since that trip, and we still take a weeklong vacation together every summer. My secret: I've learned to plan enough games and activities to keep the kids busy en route. Here, 18 ideas for making your own family's travel time speed by: