This post is sponsored by Embassy Suites.
We spent Spring Break on the road in Arizona, visiting the Grand Canyon and surroundings with my parents. It was a fabulous trip, full of great memories, but it also brought me back to the road trips of my youth.
I remembered, with painful clarity, how boring those long stretches of road can be for a kid. (My parents oohed and ahhed over the scenery back then, but I found it dull. Now I’m at the age my parents were when we went on those trips, and my kids and I have fallen into the same pattern.)
I’m a fan of boredom as a way to spark creativity, and I also believe in long stretches of nothing (a prerequisite for day-dreaming). But my kids are old enough that an outright electronics ban on a long road trip seems like overkill. Even so, I don’t want to spend the entire trip in separate, plugged-in worlds.
If conversation doesn’t naturally flow, here are a few fun ways for the whole family to enjoy together time in the car.
1. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks.
We download a few all-ages podcasts and audiobooks before we leave so we can listen to them together (try your local library). If your car radio has an auxiliary plug-in port, you can pipe audio from your phone or computer through the car stereo speakers.
2. Make a road trip music playlist.
Before you leave, collaborate with your kids on a road trip playlist. Have everyone add a few favorite songs, then shuffle it so everyone gets airtime and exposure to each others’ favorites. Don’t forget about movie soundtracks…they bring back fun memories of favorite scenes.
3. Play road trip games.
The classic road trip games — I Spy, the Alphabet Game, looking for out-of-state license plates — are classics for a reason. Here are some more fun ideas for road trip games from Parent Hacks readers.
4. Follow a paper roadmap.
Don’t underestimate the fun of a good, old-fashioned paper roadmap. Kids will get a kick out of how “old-fashioned” they are (at least my kids think they’re old-fashioned). Highlight the day’s route on the map so they can follow along. They might stumble on an interesting side-trip.
Bonus: if you’re using your cell phone’s GPS, you’ll have a navigational backup in case you lose signal.
5. Fill in Mad Libs, then read them out loud.
A book of Mad Libs is a secret weapon for road trips — fun, educational, and totally engaging for the whole family.
6. Research attractions and restaurants at your destination
This involves electronics, but keeps older kids invested in the journey. Ask your kids to pull out their phones and research things to do and places to eat at your destination. Point them to Yelp reviews, TripAdvisor, or a local tourism site. The more kids have a hand in the travel planning, the more fun the trip will be for everyone.
I’d love to hear some more ideas for road trip entertainment. Post them in the comments or on your social profile tagged with #parenthacks.
My thanks to Embassy Suites for sponsoring this post. All Embassy Suites rooms are two-room suites equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker. Also included: a free hot, cooked-to-order breakfast, and a nightly reception with snacks, drinks, and fun activities for the kids.
Find more family travel hacks on the Embassy Suites #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks site on Tumblr.
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