We spend a lot of time preparing and planning screen-free activities for young children when we buckle up the family for an extended road trip, but our teens could really benefit from a little pre-planning that limits screen usage too. Are we there yet? and How much longer? are not exclusive questions from the single-digit crowd. Any parent of teenagers or tweens knows the importance of heading off these questions as you embark on a family adventure, and while devices can do the trick, we’ve got some screen-free alternatives for a smooth journey.
As you pack those bags and check off all the essentials (e.g., sunscreen, swimwear, and pjs), make sure to include a Road Trip Rescue Kit that’s accessible to all. While car snacks, paper towels/wipes, and hand sanitizer are important, some of our Time-Passing Tools will really come to the rescue when you start to head down that long and whining road! If you’re thinking, Been there; heard that!, then these ideas will help make the journey an equally enjoyable part of the overall vacation..
You can never go wrong with a time-honored classic like the Alphabet Game where passengers take turns spotting letters from the alphabet in consecutive order on any road signs, license plates, buildings, etc. that you pass. A fun twist to this one for car enthusiasts is Auto Alphabet. Passengers are on the lookout for makes and/or models of vehicles using the same Alphabet Game premise (i.e., Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Durango).
Fun Road Trip Games for Teens (The name really says it all on this one!) has some great word and math games to get the whole family participating. From cruising the alphabet for adjectives about The Minister’s Cat to Connections where a number from 1 to 12 is selected and players make associations (e.g., 7- Seven Dwarfs, seven continents, seven deadly sins, etc.), there’s sure to be something to keep the bigger kiddos occupied for a state or two of travel. This site also offers a variety of printables for some time-passing fun.
Dabble in the Arts
Music — No road trip would be complete without the perfect soundtrack. Try something new and explore an artist outside of your teenager’s favorite musical genre. Make the way there a study of Elvis and the return a journey with The Beatles. I know a family that makes every trip a music appreciation focus on a classic group or performer. Wonderful way to expose today’s youth to yesterday’s favorites!
Don’t think you could handle a full day of a single musician? Have each passenger select their top three, five, or ten tunes and take turns listening to them and talking about why they made the cut. Who knows, you may just end the journey with Beiber Fever!
Artistic Creation — Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, and this can be a quiet activity that appeals to teens too. Colored pencils and some printables could help pass the time creatively. Bring some lap boards or a clipboard for an on-the-go art station.
My kids love origami. This is another easily transportable activity. Passengers could race to make a particular object or fold a variety of items to display on the dash or in the back window. These Origami Faces from Pink Stripey Socks will get the creativity flowing!
Dollar Store Finds
No road trip planning is complete without a trip to the Dollar Store. Word searches, scrambles, crosswords, and sudoko are all great time passers. Grab multiple copies and let the non-driving folks race to the finish on selected puzzles.
Grab a dictionary and play an abridged version of Balderdash. Someone selects a stumper word from the dictionary, and everyone gives their best guess at the definition. The closest response or the biggest laugh gets to select the next word.
Our Time-Passing Tools are screen-free and fun! While we know you won’t be leaving the devices at home, give the batteries a rest and make the battle for the charger nonexistent. Take some time to enjoy each other’s company and let travel time be one of the best memories of the trip!