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9 Ways to Unplug on The Road

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We may be crazy, but my family is determined to take a week-and-a-half road trip without plugging in the kids the entire time. After all, we managed when we were crammed in the sedan all those years ago, so how hard will it be? Why yes, I have conveniently forgotten all of those backseat fights with my older brother.

The thing is, it's much more likely these kids will stop mid-game or crossword puzzle to check out a national landmark or two. But if your kiddo is in the middle of an especially amazing game of Temple Run, that little head will stay down the whole ride. No conversation, no engagement with the landscape you're passing. Just kind of a quiet ride. OK, there IS some value in that. But we're unplugging now!

Here are some alternate activities instead.

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Roadtrip Bingo

This is stepping up the license plate game, plus even the little ones can play because they're just looking for shapes. Pull out this very specific bingo, and you've got at least 12 to 20 exits covered.

Peanut Butter Jelly Call & Response

This is a great way to get your kids focused on each other, as opposed to whether you're there yet. Here's how it works: One kid starts the game by saying, "Peanut butter, peanut butter, jelly, jelly." Then, the next kid has to reverse it in exact order. So the correct response? "Jelly, jelly, peanut butter, peanut butter." Mix it up like "Peanut butter, jelly, jelly, peanut butter" once they're pro.


All that PB&J talk is making them hungry. At any point in the trip, a well-timed snack will calm the antsy kid. So be sure you've stocked all their favorites and, of course, yours.


OK, this isn't technically "unplugged," but if you use your smart phone for this amazing app, you're not glued to a device. You just search for your favorite tunes, and create an epic road trip playlist. Also consider this your opportunity to introduce your kids to your teen faves. Whether they like it or not.

Do you want to see how creative your kids can get?

Comedy Albums

Maybe skip the Chris Rock (unless you know the kids can nap through an hour plus of amazing comedy), but there's the original family-friendly comic, Bill Cosby. Depending on your music delivery device, grab a CD or download an album on Spotify, and let everyone enjoy a little 'Cos. May I recommend Why Is There Air?

Word Battle

Do you want to see how creative your kids can get? Throw down a word battle! It works like this: Each kid tries to one-up the other one in the "What I would do ... " contest. So if one kid says, "I can yell so loud it will shatter all the glass in the car!" The next kid has to one-up and say, "I can yell so loud London Bridge will fall down and we'll all have to swim across the river!" You get the idea. It's a competition, and the wackiest kid wins. GO.

The Daring Book for Girls/Boys

These books fascinate your little grade-school reader. In addition to giving inspirational information about historical figures—male, or female, depending—there are crafts they can dog-ear for later. It will give your kids plenty of ideas for what to do once you get to the hotel! (Be sure you pack paper, a glue stick, crayons and scissors.)

RELATED: In Celebration of the Family Road Trip


This is a no-brainer. You've already got your paper, glue stick, crayons and scissors, right? (See above!) Bring a large picture book for a desk, and let them create.


Hedbanz is one of those super fun games for the whole family, which is why you totally want to play along when the kids bust out this guessing game. Easier than playing "What Am I?" with no reference, strap on the cards and headbands, and enjoy the ride.

If all else fails, we will concede 20 minutes of iPad a day. OK, we're building in at least 20 minutes of iPad time a day. We're not total martyrs.

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