Getting there may be half the fun, but if you plan correctly, you can ensure the journey portion of your upcoming summer road trip is both fun and educational. Take advantage of the hours you and your family will spend on the road this summer with the following activities that make room for learning and don’t skimp on the fun.
Turn the dial up
Usually a road trip means one thing: headphones. With available in-vehicle infotainment technology, smartphones and other electronic devices, everyone can and will plug into their preferred source of entertainment. This makes for a peaceful cabin, but it also presents a missed opportunity for expanding your mind and bonding with your loved ones.
Instead of zoning out into your own worlds, listen to an audiobook or podcast as a family. There are countless entertaining, educational, thrilling and funny audiobooks available at your local library, meaning you can grab a variety and let your clan pick their favorite.
Podcasts also offer a wide selection of entertaining choices your whole family will enjoy, and they’re easy to download or stream as you go. If your traveling companions are still in or are just out of diapers, Murphy, Jr., executive editor of operations for Some Spider and Inc. writer, suggests the “Sesame Street” podcast. For an older audience, try on popular podcasts like “Presidential,” “StarTalk” or “Stuff You Should Know.”
Elevate screen time
It’s hard to imagine a time when handheld gaming systems, smartphones and tablets didn’t exist, and they’re so ubiquitous now that embarking on a road trip without them might seem to some occupants like a form of torture. But spending hour after hour staring at a screen is not healthy, especially if it’s all geared toward mindless play. Tell your children that the time they spend using devices must include time spent on age-appropriate educational activities. This should include games that challenge their math, geography and critical thinking skills.
For a tech-free way to engage the minds of your road-trip crew, KidsHealth.org suggests trying out some of the same games you enjoyed as a child. These can include classics like 21 Questions or I Spy. Teresa Farkas, writing for Atlanta Parent, suggests taking I Spy to the next level by doing some homework before heading out.
“Print restaurant or business logos and glue them to a sheet of paper, or copy and paste logos onto a Word document,” Farkas writes. “Set up guidelines between cities or make it a competition for the entire length of a shorter ride to find the logos. For younger kids, make a sheet including cartoon animals or shapes.”
Mad Libs is a great choice for older kids, Farkas notes, encouraging you and your family to take turns completing and reading out loud the hilarious stories you each create. This game can be useful in teaching your children about the parts that make up a sentence.
Stop for knowledge
Even if your ultimate destination is more centered on fun than education, there are plenty of landmarks, attractions and museums you can visit along the way to make your trip even more unforgettable. Incorporate an extended pit stop along your journey that takes you to a piece of American history, a local art gallery or nature center or an art museum. If you schedule stops at points where you will have been in the car for a long period of time, your passengers will be more receptive to getting out and stretching their legs.
Your summer road trip can be more than just mindless hours spent zipping down the highway. With the right planning and approach, you can ensure that the journey is every bit as exciting — and educational — as your arrival at your intended destination.
This article is presented by Glenn E. Thomas Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Signal Hill, California.