MURS may be the answer for you. I can't remember what the acronym spells out to be, but its basically a VHF CB. The frequencies that I know you are allowed to use are 154.600 ("Green Dot") and 154.570 ("Blue Dot"). The Color names are from when Radio Shack sold radios on these freqs, they had to give them nifty names.
These freqs used to be business only, meaning you had to spend $$ to get a license to use one particular frequency. Its only been about a year since MURS was created, so don't be surprised if you dont run across many people that know about it. (go to www.google.com
and search for MURS for alot more info).
The power limit for MURS is 2W ERP. Effective Radiated Power means you can run .5W into a nice gain base/mobile antenna and get the equivalent of only 2W out (for instance). But, your receive setup is much better in this case. I admit the service is still relatively low power, but the fact its using the VHF band means you get more "milage" out of your power. A good example is how foliage (trees, etc) really attenuate UHF but aren't so effective at blocking VHF propogation.
Finally, MURS is nice because places like Radio Shack are now selling the former business-only radios to anyone for MURS use. These freqs are so common you could probably find any old VHF business band radio with multiple channels and have a good chance you'd find Green, Blue or the one or two other MURS freqs on it. The radios are going to be Motorola, Maxon, GE, Erricson "drop from 20 feet and still work" radios that police carry, etc. Not the "lets see how much profit Walmart can make from our extra cheep plastic" radios
Of course I'm assuming all your family is non-ham (if they are tech or above go buy a set of VX-150's
I hope this helps,