Those were the (highly questionable) days, kids. Back then, family road trips meant stuffed-full cars and playing the license plate game on long, empty stretches of highway. If you got bored, you had two options: 1) Stare out the window, or 2) Sleep. Good times.
Today, family road trips have gotten way easier. Cup holders. iPod docking stations. In-car DVD players. THOSE ARE GOOD THINGS. With four kids, traveling in a car for any distance longer than an hour requires some distractions. Entertaining my kids on the road is still a chore, it seems, but we have it so much easier than our parents.
While we’re all about screen-time rules at my house, during a long drive, those screen-time rules fly out the window (along with my patience). You can be sure that we will be using devices to pass the time. Because as much as we like limiting the kids’ time with electronics, we’re also realists. Making everyone power off in the car works for about 10 minutes, followed by screeches of “She touched me!” or “I’m bored” or (God forbid) “Are we there yet?”
Here are some of the ways we stay sane in the car on a long-haul with the kids:
Our family is a big fan of musical theater, and it’s not unusual for all of us to be singing along to Hamilton or Little Shop of Horrors as we are driving.
We love listening to podcasts in the car. My kids are big fans of This American Life, but I also love downloading stories about the places we are visiting. On our recent trip to the Salton Sea, we listened to a historical account of how this popular destination devolved. On our way to Salvation Mountain we listened to a biography of the artist.
There’s no better way to pass the time than an addictive puzzle game. Our current family obession is Best Fiends. It’s a puzzle adventure game where you collect and upgrade characters by matching objects to defeat the slugs. Best Fiends has a ton of in-game events and challenges that make it more fun. I like it because it’s a brainy game. I’m on level 19 and Jafta is currently trying to gain on me. You can play without wifi so it’s great for trips.
4. Highs and Lows.
We’ve established a routine every time we are in the car. We call it “Highs and Lows” and it’s exactly what it sounds like . . . each child takes a turn describing their favorite part of the day, and their least favorite part of the day. We’ve done this so often that my kids start in as soon as we are pulling away from the school parking lot.
When we are in the car for a longer road trip, we will elaborate on this routine with bigger questions. Highs and Lows about being their age, or living where we live, or having a big family. It leads to lots of interesting discussions.
Womp womp. But for real . . . if we are traveling and missing any school, I want the homework happening in the car instead of at our destination.
Our family got into geocaching last year, and it’s one thing everyone still gets excited about doing. It gives us a nice goal when we stop for food and can turn a quick trip to the gas station into a fun little adventure.
Those are some of the ways we stay sane on longer trips! If you want to try Best Fiends out yourself, they’ve got a fun offer for my readers. The first 100 readers to download the FREE game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free! You can download Best Fiends for free at this link.