THOSE FOUR WORDS create one of the most dreaded sentences a parent can possibly hear while on a road trip with the family. That, along with, “I have to pee!” and, “He’s bugging me!” There is a solution to your road trip fears, however, and it’s not all that tricky: make the journey just as exciting (and relaxing!) As the destination.

First of all, pick a cool place that the whole family will enjoy, and decide how long you would like to go for.

Next, pick a route; if you’ve got the time, don’t take the most direct route. Instead, take a few back roads and make some extra stops – enjoy the scenery!

Before you go, make a checklist of the things you need to ensure the trip will go as smoothly as possible.

A few things that will help:

-Make a playlist or CD with a variety of songs that both the kids and adults will like.
-Play some good old road trip games such as I Spy, 20 Questions, Animal Bingo and Name that Tune.
-Pack a ton of healthy snacks. Keeping the digestive system busy by constantly snacking and drinking can help keep motion sickness at bay.
-Be sure to have several blankets and pillows to make sure everyone is comfortable (and warm!).
-Get out and stretch often. Bring a Frisbee or ball along and give everyone a chance to run around, play a game or two and burn off some energy.

Now for the destination – not sure where to go?

Here are a few suggestions: For the history buffs: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Frank Slide. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is about 150 kilometres south of Calgary, near Fort MacLeod, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. It is one of the world’s largest, best preserved buffalo jumps, and has an impressive interpretive centre that teaches visitors about the history of the area, as well as the Blackfoot people who inhabited it and their lifestyle. While you’re in the area, head over to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (about an hour and 20 minutes southwest of Head-Smashed-In) and learn about the history of the Crowsnest Pass as well as the 1903 slide that plummeted down from the summit of Turtle Mountain and buried part of the town of Frank. Want to stay local? Check out Heritage Park in southwest Calgary!

For the budding palaeontologists: Dinosaur Provincial Park. At just under 225 kilometres southeast of Calgary, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a great place to go explore, if you don’t want to go too far. It’s only a few hours away, after all, and is so dramatically different from our usual surroundings you’ll feel like you’ve not only arrived somewhere new but an entirely different place in time. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, Dinosaur Provincial Park also has a very unique ecosystem equipped with an astounding array of flora and fauna, and is home to one of the richest dinosaur fossil beds in the world. For more detailed information and fascinating exhibits, visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum (6 kilometres northwest of Drumheller).

For the nature nuts: Jasper National Park. Jasper National Park is the largest, most northerly national park in the Canadian Rockies and it’s only about three-and-a-half hours northwest of Calgary. There are a ton of activities to take part in year round – including hiking, skiing, canoeing, fishing and horseback riding – and the spectacular surroundings will bring out the nature lover in everyone. Take the Jasper Tramway up Whistlers Mountain and get an amazing view of the park while learning about the area from a tour guide, or just explore it for yourselves on one of the numerous trails.

Be sure to check in at one of the two information centres in Jasper National Park to get maps, trail conditions and any other information that might be helpful.

Don’t be afraid to take the family on a road trip this year, just be prepared. Pick a good destination, plan your route carefully (getting lost is not fun for anyone!), and have a good time – if you do it right, the journey itself will be a blast, and no one will be concerned enough to ask, “Are we there yet?”