Tip of the Week
Whoever said the journey is part of the fun probably never took a summer road trip with hungry, bored children in the backseat of the family car. Keeping kids occupied and their tummies full goes a long way toward making a driving vacation fun for everyone. But if you don’t want kids to fill up on junk food and spend all their car time plugged into the electronic device of their choice, what are your options? All you need is a little creativity, some time-tested activities and wholesome foods. The family road trip experts at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store offer some advice:
- Unplugged entertainment
Smartphones, game consoles, laptops, tablets, television and MP3 players keep kids plugged in almost constantly. When traveling, many families try to minimize electronic time in order to provide the maximum opportunity for members to connect with each other and enjoy the new sights and experiences they’ll share.
An unplugged vacation is a great idea, but it’s important to use that free time wisely in ways that entertain and educate kids while also engaging adults. Games that all ages can enjoy will also help families connect while in the car.
Look for games that travel easily, require minimal moving parts and offer a bit of nostalgia. For example, the Original Wooly-Willy game is one parents will recall from their own childhoods and will enjoy introducing kids to. The game allows players to use a magnetic wand to move iron powder around, drawing whiskers, hair and eyebrows on a plastic-covered face. A mini version of the popular Simon game uses flashing lights and sounds to test players’ memories.
Games can also be both educational and fun. A Wooden Magnetic Hangman Game delivers all the brain-building challenge of the classic word game in an easy-to-carry format that uses a magnetic dry-erase board, 26 letter magnets, 10 hangman body magnets and a dry-erase marker - great for backseat entertainment. Or you could use a map game to help kids learn more about the United States as they drive through new locations on their way to Grandma’s house, the theme park, national park or other family destination.
- Listening in
A car trip is also a great time for everyone to catch up on their “reading.” Audio books are an ideal way for everyone - including the driver - to enjoy a good story together. From New York Times bestsellers to non-fiction, self-help and children’s titles, a variety of best-selling books are available in audio format.
Car time is also the perfect time to expand everyone’s appreciation of different types of music. Introduce kids to oldies that parents (or even grandparents) loved when they were kids, or ask the kids to share some of their favorite music with you.
- Refreshments on the go
Hungry travelers are unhappy travelers, and parents know the value of having plenty of snacks on hand in the car. Avoid having too many sweets, high-calorie or high-fat foods in the car, as heavier or sugary foods can leave kids over-excited or feeling sluggish. Instead, snack on wholesome treats like fresh fruit (pack a cooler) and bottled water.
Family Movie Night
Length: 117 minutes
Synopsis: After a bad blind date, a man (Adam Sandler) and woman (Drew Barrymore) find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship.
Violence/scary rating: 3
Sexual-content rating: 3.5
Profanity rating: 2.5
Drugs/alcohol rating: 2
Family Time rating: 3. This probably isn’t for your under-13 kids.
(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)
“Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep,” by Barney Saltzberg
Synopsis: High in his tree a young panda named Chengdu lies awake, even though everyone around him is quietly sleeping. He tosses and he turns. He scrunches and he squirms, until he finally finds the perfect spot. - Disney-Hyperion
Did You Know
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, dads who spend a lot of time taking care of their baby experience brain changes that essentially make them more maternal.
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Family Time: Craving an unplugged vacation? Secrets to keeping the family road trip fun
Tip of the Week