9 Secrets to Surviving Summer Traffic Jams

Her recommendations: Leave around 5 a.m. or after 8 p.m. The hours might be rough, but you'll have a better drive and get to spend more time at your destination.

Another key tip from Graff: stop every two hours. Think about this before you get stuck in that traffic nightmare. It's always best to stretch your legs when you can.

"We kept a hula hoop in the back of the trunk on one road trip. We'd stop and the kids would Hula Hoop," she said. "A jump rope works well too."

Keeping Sane When Stuck in Summer Traffic

Okay, but sometimes you do get stuck in traffic. Before you go insane, here are a few handy tips to make the traffic at least bearable.

Emergency Stash of Distractions: "As a mom, I try to be prepared when I'm in the car, so I always keep two backpacks with coloring books, crayons, books for reading, and a few small toys for the kids to enjoy," said Lissa Harnish Poirot, editor of FamilyVacationCritic.com and an ABCNews.com columnist.

Play Car Games: Played while driving long distances, the games can work when you're stuck too, Harnish Poirot said. The alphabet and license plate games are easy. Players have to find all the letters of the alphabet or numbers using street signs, billboards, license plates, and bumper stickers. A game of "Hangman" or "Tic-Tac-Toe" is easy if you can find scraps of paper.

American Idol, Car Version: Travelers can play their own version by singing along with the radio and getting judged by the others in the car. Another radio song: "Name That Tune" by listening to the first few notes and having to name the song before the singer begins singing.

Stay Off the Horn: "It's not magic. If you can't see the front of the traffic jam, it's pointless to honk," said Lesley Carlin, TripAdvisor's etiquette expert. "And if you can see the front of it ... you'll accomplish a lot more by calling 911 for help or getting out of your car to offer assistance yourself."

Stay Level Headed: "Now, if you're stuck near someone who's being a jerk and won't lay off his horn. That stinks," Carlin said, advising not to yell or honk back. "Don't sink to his level. And honestly, it's not smart to aggravate someone who's already showing signs of road rage – particularly when you can't exactly get away from him."

Books on Tape Are a Savior: Graff recalls a recent drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. It should have taken four hours. It took seven and a half.

"Luckily, I had three Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie books downloaded onto my iPhone. The kids listened to all three books and never complained," she said. "Families do the same thing with DVD players -- though I really try to avoid using these in the car. Kids get enough TV as it is."

Other suggestions from her: Ramona and Tree House books on tape.

Road Trips With Kids

Check-In to a Hotel: "We're often so determined to get somewhere and stay on schedule. But with kids sometimes you need to be more flexible," Graff said. "A kid shouldn't have to sit in a car for 12 hours."

Sleeping in, grabbing a quick swim and being able to run around means that the whole family will arrive well-rested and in better spirits.

Snacks and Water: Luisa Frey, who runs a blog, Teen Travel Talk, always carries an emergency stash of granola bars.

"I always have snack bars in my car," she said, warning against the ones with chocolate because they melt in the heat.

Water is important too, but make sure to moderate consumption.

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