Family Car Travel – 7 Ways To Choose Who Sits Where

You’ve planned your perfect family vacation. You’ve packed everything you need. You are prepared to enjoy two weeks of family fun. Then you all gather in the driveway.

“I get the window!” your son whines.

“You got it last time,” your daughter answers.

“Why do Mom and Dad always get the front seat? It’s not fair!” all of your children cry at the same time.

How do you solve this dilemma without ruining your vacation?

You could just assign seats and be on your way, but what’s the fun in that? The keys to diffusing the fighting are to plan ahead and to make even this situation a game.

Here are seven things to try:

Rock, Paper, Scissors

This is an old standby to use when solving every sibling dispute.

To play, start with the two oldest children. Have each of them hold out their left hand flat, palm up and their right hand in a loose fist above the right hand.

On the count of three each child, at the same time, hits their fist onto their palm two times then on the third time comes down with either a “rock” (a closed fist), a “paper” (a flat hand), or a “scissors” (the pointer finger and the middle finger extended outward.)

To score the game:

  • Rock beats scissors
  • Paper beats rock
  • Scissors beats paper

If both children put down the same “object” then they play again until someone wins.

The winner of that round then goes against the next oldest child and so on until each child has had a chance to play.

The Grand Prize Winner gets to assign the seating-at least until the next time you stop.

Oldest Gets to Choose or . . .

This can be a simple way to make the who-sits-where-decision.

For the first leg of the journey let your oldest child choose who sits where. For the next leg of the journey the next oldest chooses and so on until you get home.

As an added bonus let the children choose where Mom or Dad will sit also. Children think it is great fun to have an adult in the backseat. (Of course, if your children are not old enough to sit in the front seat for safety reasons don’t allow them to sit there.)

Point System

Before you leave on a trip take a few minutes to make a list of the kind of behavior you want to see from your children in the car, i.e., sharing a toy, speaking kindly, not whining, etc.

Assign a point value to each behavior. One point each keeps things simple.

As you are traveling make a point to notice good actions and attitudes in your children and assign a point(s) for each occurrence.

The child with the most points at the next stop gets to make the seat assignments.

As an incentive to keep the children from nagging you about points you could make a rule that anyone who points out that they just did a good thing loses a point.

But you may want to help create a team spirit by also making a rule that if your child points out something good their brother or sister just did then both of them gain a point.

And the Winner Is . . .

This one is good for when you are in a hurry.

Write each child’s name on a piece of paper, fold the papers in half, then put them in a hat or some other container and draw one. The person whose name is drawn first gets first choice about where to site, the second person gets second choice, etc.

Pick a Number

Have all your children pick a number between 1 and 20 with the one who guesses closest gets to choose the seating arrangements.

Treasure Hunt

Before you leave for your trip set up a treasure hunt. You could either leave “prizes” where your children will be sure to find them as they pack for their trip; the “prizes” will be coupons for various activities that will need to be taken care of on your trip.

Or you could set up a series of clues for each child to follow to find their prizes. This is also a fun way to distribute fun games, spending money, and various other special gifts that you have especially for the trip.

  • One coupon good for assigning the seat arrangements from when we leave the house until our first stop
  • One coupon good for a window seat during our second leg of travel
  • One coupon good for getting choose where to sit on the third leg of the trip. etc.

This idea can also encompass other areas of your trip where there may be squabbles:

  • One coupon for getting to choose where we eat dinner on the first night
  • One coupon for choosing which bed to sleep in at the motel
  • One coupon for first in the shower privileges
  • Or any number of other things.

This activity has the added bonus of keeping the children busy while you make last minute preparations. It also cuts down on the question, “Is it time to go yet!”

If You Are . . .

Before you leave on your trip write out several directions on strips of paper. Fold the strips of paper in half and then draw one at a time out of a hat or other container.

The directions that you write can say things like:

  • If you were the first person to be ready to go this morning you get to choose the seat assignments.
  • If you slept closest to the bathroom last night you get to choose the seat assignments.
  • If you sat next to Mom at lunch today you get to choose the seat assignments.
  • If you are the oldest child you get to choose the seat assignments.
  • If you were born in [fill in the month a one of your children’s birthdays] you get to choose the seat assignments.

Try to come up with a direction for each leg of your journey.

With a little bit of creativity and a bit of patience you can make what could be a tense situation into a game. And games can make the whole trip more fun.

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