Ideas for Keeping Kids Unplugged on Road Trips

“Are we there yet?”

We’ve all heard it. That inevitable question is always asked much sooner than necessary and is often followed by another common statement: “I’m bored and don’t know what to do.”

To be fair, sitting in a car for hours on end while traveling isn’t the most exciting thing to do. But that doesn’t mean is has to be boring. While it may seem like a daunting task, finding entertainment while traveling is as easy as opening your eyes and using your imagination.

Most families have the standard DVD players, tablets, phones, video games and other electronic devices to entertain their kids while driving. My family does too and we use them on longer trips. However, we also make sure we unplug for a few hours at a time and enjoy some quality family time.

How do we possibly get our kids to unplug for a while? By playing games and using some old-school technology.

I’m not talking about board games like Monopoly or anything that you need to plan ahead for and bring supplies with you. I’m talking about simple games that you can play in the car—or anywhere for that matter—with nothing more than your imagination (and maybe a pen and paper).

Need some quick ideas? Check out “Are We There Yet?” for more than 140 games, tongue twisters and activities, including some of these all-time classics:

Alphabet Search: Look at road signs, billboards, restaurant signs, etc. and try to find all the letter of the alphabet, in order, from A to Z.

Joke Time: Go around the car and have each person tell a joke. It could be a knock-knock joke or something completely random that they make up. The jokes don’t even have to make sense. My kids love just making things up and then laughing about it. It makes for a very fun time.

License Plate Search: Who hasn’t played this game at some point in their life? It’s as simple as it sounds. Look at the license plate on passing cars and see how many different states and territories you can find.

Excuses, Excuses: This game is all about being creative and thinking outside the box. Simply give an excuse for why the student did not turn in his homework on time (or any other topic you’d like to use). Excuses such as “his dog ate it” or “aliens attacked his house” are just the beginning of the fun things you can come up with.

Need some quiet time during the trip? Grab a few puzzle and activity books for your kids to work on. These are great for in the car, while hanging out at the hotel, or just about any time you have some time to kill. Some books, such as Beginner Word and Number Puzzles for Kids and The Ultimate Puzzle Book for Kids are great at entertaining the kids while also helping them learn a few things without even realizing it.

Want your kids to be more invested in the trip? Why not try a travel journal to help them remember their adventures? These journals fit nicely into a backpack and allow kids to plan parts of the trip, think about their adventures before they arrive at your destination and then write things down as they happen. A fantastic keepsake that they create themselves.

Despite what they tell you, your kids really do enjoy spending time with you and will cherish the memories made during these road trips. They will remember playing games and bonding with their siblings and parents much more than what movies they watched. Those are the types of memories that last a lifetime and inspired me to continue the tradition with my own children.

The next time you take a trip, even if it is only a few miles up the road, unplug that DVD player or iPod and tell your kids, “Gadgets? We don’t need no stinking gadgets!” and make your car a “tech-free zone.” Engage the family in some games and enjoy the ride. After all, getting there is half the fun!

About the Author: 

Jeff Sechler was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He has been writing ever since he was in elementary school, though he never imagined it would become anything other than a hobby. His main focus is to develop books for kids that are both fun and educational. He has the perfect beta-testers right in his own home and nothing makes it to production that isn’t first approved by his toughest critics – his three young kids!