1. Get moving before you leave
Hitting the road after the family has spent the morning burning off some energy makes naps more likely, and naps make screens a non-issue. Combined with frequent snacks, this goes a long way toward curtailing crankiness, which in turn makes screen limitations less contentious.
2. Break it up
Pit stops may be the mortal enemies of making good time, but they also reduce device use in three key ways. First, any kind of leg-stretching promotes naps and eases boredom. Second, goofy roadside attractions just might fuel family conversation once you’re back in the car. And third, stops may satiate passengers by allowing them check social media outside of the vehicle.
3. Pump up the jams (and stories)
Confined spaces lend themselves to singalongs – there’s no escape, after all – so be sure to prepare a playlist of the brood’s favourite tunes. You don’t have to be the Trapp Family Singers to have some fun with this, and if non-stop Bieber becomes unbearable, you can always break out some headphones for private listening. Audiobooks and podcasts, meanwhile, are quietly engaging, and with a little research can even build excitement around your destination. Heading to the lake, for instance? Then how about some Swallows and Amazons?
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4. Know your group games
Like singalongs, interactive pastimes such as I Spy and the licence-plate game are synonymous with road trips. If these classics have worn out their welcome, don’t worry: The internet is here to help. Search “road trip games,” and hundreds of suggestions are just a click or tap away. Pick a few that sound appealing, and test them out on local drives. Online retailers, meanwhile, sell scores of books and kits, such as Mad Libs on the Road and Rubberneckers, that are designed to ease ennui en route.
5. Take (some of) the toy box with you
Many popular toys and games you may already own work well in the backseat: Lego, Etch-A-Sketch, Spirograph, Battleship, colouring and puzzle books, plain-old playing cards, the list goes on. Likewise, googling “road trip toys” will return magnetic or miniaturized versions of many of these items, which are also likely to serve you well on rainy days after you arrive.