Remember what the family the road trip felt like before the birth of Minecraft? Remember the road trip of your childhood? The ones that forced you to look out the window. To ask questions. To listen to your parents’ god-awful (or totally rockin’) music choices? To daydream. And, to ask, a million times, “Are we there yet?”
Yeah, times have changed. While they still ask the same questions, today’s kids get to watch movies on the road, pull on a hotspot to keep their status in some online game, or produce lip-dub music videos from the backseat.
It’s actually a little absurd. Maybe even a lot absurd. Especially when that slippery slope of a road trip turns into a quick run to Target, and kids simply can’t disconnect without a fight.
Road trips are our favorite. The questions, whining and declarations of “I’m hungry” are not. But, despite those lurking landmines, we don’t pack electronics when we all pile into the car for a getaway. Because, they’re kids. And, they don’t need them.
Along the way, we’ve found some fun games – some that we keep in the car all the time, and some that we pack up for longer hauls. Here are a few ways we keep everyone’s sanity while on the road, without a WiFi password.
Card games. You can’t really get any more old school than a deck of cards. And, we keep one on hand. For war, the card game that never ends and requires basically no skill. But, we also pack a game of Go Fish (found in the Target dollar spot), this fun Scavenger Hunt game that calls for kids to find a blue house or a woman wearing red, and a deck of Old Maid – which is a fun throwback.
Bingo. Car bingo, like I Spy, is something they play even if we’re headed out for a quickie trip to the lake (when we’re in the car for less than an hour). The set we found on Amazon comes with four boards and pretty universal squares.
White boards. As part of their adventure packs they got at Christmas, every one of the kids has their own personal white board. We’ve decided to keep track of the markers after they lost them all, but we dole them out on the road. They use the boards to play hangman, draw, practice writing and math – yes, they do this! Remember when practicing “times” was a novelty? Yeah, me neither. But, they like it.
Brain puzzles. These are on the way to us, thanks to Amazon Prime, and I can’t wait to give them a try. We found these metal brain puzzles, where you have to detangle the pieces of metal, and old school fidget boxes, where you have to get the little balls into the holes or through the obstacles. Remember those when you were a kid? They drove me crazy. But, they’ll keep them busy and engaged for a while. And, each pack comes with more than enough for everyone to try one at the same time, and then rotate (avoiding the “He won’t share” argument).
Road atlas. Another old school referral is the road atlas. We actually went Google Map-less, on purpose, on our drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City to test our atlas skills. We had the kids map the route, referencing the atlas, the entire way. Sure, we double-checked, but the kids had to stay on their toes and they were more aware of the cities we were passing through. They can even measure with their tiny fingers to answer the “Are we almost there, yet?” question themselves.
Spy bag. This bag is filled with all kinds of little goodies, which are listed on an attached roster. I found it at a little maker market and thought it would be a good boredom buster. Kids of any age can spend a good amount of time searching through the little window and smooshing the bag around to find every item.
Mad Libs. Do I even need to explain? They sell them at Barnes & Noble, and they have their own section. Just be sure to get the ones for kids, because there are ones for adults – which are also fun. Oh, and toss a pencil or two in the car.
One thing we don’t pack? The Magic 8 ball. Why? Because it won’t give them the answer to their “Are we almost there, yet?” question anyway.