Ditch Electronics on Road Trips


The family road trip has changed. I remember the big deal it was when FM joined AM on the radio, but now with in-car DVD players, iPods, cell phones and video games, kids have more entertainment than ever to stave off boredom and enjoy the ride.

Still, all that electronic media can leave families disconnected. Can you honestly stomach watching “The Incredibles” one more time? There are plenty of healthy, creative unplugged activities for kids that will keep them occupied during the long drive.

Consider these suggestions to create lasting memories before you even reach your destination and reconnect with the ones you love most.

1. Pipe Cleaner Paradise
A pack of inexpensive pipe cleaners and a nail clipper will keep fidgety kids happy for long stretches of travel time. They can bend the fuzzy sticks or wrap them around pencils to form cheerful colorful creatures. The best part? When they’re satisfied with their creation, they can play imaginative games with them for more stimulating fun.

2. Cootie Catcher
Remember these moveable, folded paper creations we used to make as kids, with writing inside? You pick a color, then a number, and then you get to read your fortune. You only have to show your kids how to do this once before they’ll be able to come up with variations and stay busy for hours.

3. Figures and Games With String
All you need is string, and kids can make “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Kitty Whiskers,” “Cup and Saucer” or play “Cat’s Cradle.”

4. Go Nuts With Foil
Remember when shiny, reflective aluminum foil was magical to you? Give your artsy, imaginative kids a cheap roll and watch them go to town. They can transform themselves into superheroes making masks and “power bracelets.” Girls may especially enjoy constructing tiaras, jewelry and headbands. And it’s fun to sculpt foil into cool animals — with no clean-up.

5. Old-School Card Games
Card games are great for traveling because a deck is easy to transport, and there are tons of games to play. Crazy Eights and Old Maid are two classic kid-pleasers.

6. License Plate Game
Before you leave, print a map of the U.S. so the kids can color in the states as they see license plates. Have them record the time and date they saw it.

7. Virtual Hide and Seek
This guessing game is a hoot. Pick a place inside your house to hide. Here’s the fun part — it can be any location, no matter how big or small. “Hide” in a sock drawer, the dishwasher, the medicine cabinet, etc. Everybody asks questions until they narrow it down and “find” you.

8. Make a Wacky Roadside Stop
Visit roadsideamerica.com to find quirky, eccentric, touristy places to visit. The kids will remember these nutty detours with you forever. There are nearly 400 North Carolina locations listed at this site.

Michele Ranard is a professional counselor, tutor and freelancer.


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