The Road Trip Is Half the Fun
We recently returned from our annual reunion vacation. As with many families, we are spread out all over the country. Therefore, unless we are hosting the reunion, we spend at least a couple of days in the confines of a packed car traveling to and from our destination. The rides can be boring, especially for the kids. And while most families rely on technology tablets, smartphones, handheld gaming systems and portable DVD players there are better ways to pass the time while traveling America's Interstate highway system.
We play games.
My children will always remember all the state capitols for every state we've ever driven through. Our state capitol game begins with a review of capitols on our route. Then we get into a rapid-fire quiz game during which the kids try to stump me by asking either the name of the capitol for a state or the name of a state for a capitol. This past week, I discovered I'm rusty on Northern New England capitols. I'll have to brush up before our next big trip.
The picnic game is another favorite. The person who begins the game gets to choose the secret rule that everyone else must figure out and follow. Everyone takes turns stating, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...." and then they fill in the blank. Without knowing the rule, I said, "blueberries." I was allowed to bring them. On my next turn, I added pickles. I was not allowed to bring them. After about four rounds, I figured out the "rule." Each item had to include a "double consonant." I was the last one in the car to figure out the rule. Quite an embarrassing situation for an editor and writer.
The one game we always play is the geography game. One person names a place. It can be a city, a town, a county, a country; as long as it is the proper name of a geographic location, it counts. The next person has to come up with another place that begins with the last letter of the place the person before them named. If I started with Alaska, my son might say Arkansas. Then my niece might say Salisbury. The next person could say Yosemite. Just so you know, a lot of geographic locations end in A, yet it can become quite a challenge to keep coming up with more that begin with A.
We sing songs.
My children have been exposed to a lot of 80s music. They also are familiar with the entire Beatles collection as well as a healthy sampling of 50s rock and roll tunes. In turn, they've kept us up-to-date on the latest pop and rock selections. All of these genres offer easy to remember lyrics. When it comes to singing in the car, all vocal abilities are welcome. Some of our travel favorites are "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, "Hey Jude" by the Beatles and "All Star" by Smash Mouth. And to think, we began the car-singing tradition with old favorites like "On Top of Spaghetti" and "Five Little Monkeys."
I realize it's not the healthiest way to pass time, but food can make the trip go faster. On extremely long trips, we have 100-mile parties. Every time the odometer marks another 100 miles, everyone gets a mini-candy bar. We typically also include a snack bag with both healthy and frivolous options. Hey, when you only buy Combos a couple of times a year, they become associated with the fun of family travel.
Yes, I said fun. Because when you interact with each other on the long ride, the miles slip by faster and you create memories your family will cherish. We had a blast at the family reunion. But we also had a great time traveling to and from it.