Make car time more interesting.
Play car games, listen to audiobooks and music mixes, and talk to each other. Kids care passionately about fairness and are therefore surprisingly open to talking about almost any social-justice issue — especially when they've got nothing else to do. Take your cues from what you see out the window. An Army base, run-down neighborhood, chain store, corporate farm — all are entrees to hours of conversations that you don't have when you're rushing past the same old sights on the way to soccer practice.
Let them navigate.
Seeing each other in new ways is one of the primary benefits of a road trip. So try to say yes to your kids' unexpected requests. Recently Elizabeth was with her kids in the Everglades when a thunderstorm blew in. Her 10-year-old son grabbed her phone, found a museum of World War II planes just 23 minutes away, and volunteered to work the GPS from the back seat. That she said yes to this sudden change in plans made him realize she's not just a no factory. That he actually got them there made her think differently about his abilities, realizing he's not as young as she thought he was. Now that was a journey well worth taking.
Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen are the co-authors of "Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun," which will be published in October by Bloomsbury.