Road trips used to be the ultimate family bonding experience where everyone was forced to interact with one another (willingly and not-so-willingly). But today? We might be inches away from each other and yet in completely different digital worlds.
Dad drives while listening to Pandora via his phone and the car speakers. Mom reads her Kindle and the kids play Android and Apple apps in the backseat. (Don’t get me wrong silence is a beautiful thing!)
But, that silence comes at the cost of ignored cityscapes and missing the splendor of open fields flying by. Each member rides along in their own head, hosting separate experiences, despite riding in the same car.
Our gadgets take away the magical powers of the mighty road trip.
How do we reclaim our travel together time? By asking our electronics to bring back the interaction!
The 5 Best Road Trip Tips — Turn car time into family time, with modern gadgets and apps.
1. Find your Inner Explorer
Giant colorful paper maps draped across dashboards and became the center for heated arguments in the front seat. No more. Use Google maps and blame the GPS when you end up in the middle of nowhere! Recruit the kids and create a navigator in the making. Have them track where you’re headed (watching the forward movement of that little red dot is quite rewarding), then ask them to plan the next day’s route, (specialty cheese factory anyone?).
2. Encounter Unknown Eateries – dine like a local!
Gone are the car trips where the only option was incredibly questionable highway food. (Let’s not even talk about a “restaurant” attached to a gas station.) Widen your food horizons; try a local place that’s highly ranked on Yelp! or mix it up and let Urban Spoon do the palette picking for you.
3. Stake Out the Perfect Pit Stop
We’ve all been there, staring desperately out the window in search of a place for everyone to get out, stretch their legs and USE the POTTY! But here’s the dilemma, stop at the shady-looking GasNSip or the similarly shady-looking Shack Station across the street? Fuggetaboutit… Make an educated decision with Sit or Squat, the aptly named app that shares rankings of bathrooms at various locations.
4. Turn Sibling Rivalry into Game Time
Boredom is inevitably the biggest road trip travesty; no kid is going to be entertained for the entirety of a 14 hour car ride. And bored kids are notorious for coming up with very interesting activities to keep them busy. We used to play “my side of the car” which was, in its essence, a prolonged, pointless argument between siblings. Bridge the no war zone and beat boredom with 2 Player Reactor. Best played on a tablet, giving the kids an outlet for their competitive tendencies, keeps them out of your hair and (more importantly) brings them together over a fun game.
5. Geography Now!
A road trip is all enjoying new and different experiences. Before this was generally limited to the planned excursions to see the world’s biggest pecan, now you can make spur of the moment decisions to visit interesting attractions along the route with the help of Wikipedia Places. It lets you know what destinations are near you and loads Wikipedia pages with information about them. Go crazy, learn and explore!
Whether you’re gathered around a map or a smartphone, as long as you’re planning your adventures together, you’ll stay together. Creating shared travel experiences are only a gadget away!
App suggestions are courtesy of Famigo.com, check out their ‘Cool and Drool’ reviews for all your family app needs!
NOTE: Carissa is a Parent Advisor for Famigo.