How to Go Low-Tech on the Next Road Trip
School will be here before you know it — gasp! — but before you go into panic mode about everything that needs to be done, realize that there is still time to take a last minute road trip before shopping for school supplies, buying new jeans (did they really grow three inches over the summer!?!), re-introducing the go-to-bed early routine and the many other things that will ease the transition from summer to school.
But just in case the thought of a road trip also sparks anxiety, here are a few tips on how you can make it a fun ride for everyone without relying (too much) on movies and gadgets
It’s the journey, not the destination
First, how long is the trip? If you plan on driving more than a couple of hours, you really need to consider stopping at pre-planned destinations to break up the monotony of it all. It’s really amazing how refreshing it is for everyone, even the driver, to get out and stretch your legs and walk around for a few minutes. Whether it’s stopping at your favorite travel center for a snack or planning for some play time at the kids’ favorite fast food ball pit, it will do you worlds of good to break up that long trip into manageable chunks of time. Traveling with teens? Work in some fun photo opportunities for selfies they can share on social media.
Boredom doesn’t usually make an appearance until after the first hour, so be ready for something fun to do. Here’s an idea — fill lunch-sized paper sacks (one for each hour on the road) with something small to entertain the kids for the next hour. If they had good behavior for a whole hour then they could open a sack of their choice. The sacks contained all kinds of things — small toys, books, snacks, crayons and paper. (Older children might appreciate items such as map pencils and a sketchbook, new lip gloss, silly socks, or a new book to read.)
Kids who have never played a good game of I Spy or License Plate Bingo will get a kick out of looking for things that go by their windows. Have a child who is learning their colors? Have them point out cars of a specific color. Older ones might enjoy a bingo card with items such as “truck pulling a horse trailer,” “cows in a pasture,” “man on a motorcycle” or whatever sights you expect you might see along the way.
“Are we there yet?” Probably said by everyone at some point along the way, this phrase drives home the fact that trips can seem really long to kids because they don’t know when they will end. Create a list of milestones to be checked off, noting particular stops along the way, landmarks or signs. Little ones may only need two milestones, such as stopping for lunchtime or passing a particular store they know.
Sleeping is OK
It’s ok if children want to sleep — this often happens after a meal, in fact. Teens are a different story; they might sleep the whole way. This is the time you quietly pull into your favorite coffee shop drive-thru, turn on your favorite tunes, and pat yourself on the back for a successful road trip. And don’t feel guilty about that chocolate bar you tucked in your purse for this magical moment — it will be our little secret. Preparation is key, after all.