I'm sure you've been there before. You've packed snacks, shoved your luggage, roller blades and tennis rackets in the trunk, jerry rigged the bike rack to the car, gassed up and are finally ready to hit the open road. What you may fail to anticipate however, is the bumper to bumper traffic you'll be sitting in while your kids pester you from the back seat with the dreaded question - Are We There Yet??
As a road trip warrior, I've got some great game and gadget options that'll keep kids of varying ages entertained as you traverse the highways and byways of our glorious country. So what's the secret behind a smooth summer road trip with your family? Here's our Fave Five:
1. Nintendo DSi XL - We received a complimentary DSi XL to review when it was first released this spring and my kids have been fighting over it ever since it arrived on our doorstep. So what's so great about about the DSi XL? Well, the screen is way bigger than the traditional DSi, there's also built-in educational software including Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: Arts Edition and a comprehensive dictionary - which my husband loves since he's a walking thesaurus - but more on him later. There's even an option to create your own digital short movies complete with audio...I've even created a few Peanuts movies of my own since I'm proficient at stick figures, Snoopy and Woodstock. As with the Lite, XL owners are also able to download games through the Nintendo DSi Shop and create and share photos - which my kids happen to love!!! Of course, there are also plenty of game options - including the brand new Mario Party 8 for DS , Atari Sandlot Sluggers , Style Savvy and one of my personal faves - Scribblenauts!
2. Bring Books to Life with Your iPhone, iTouch or iPad - Whenever my kids are completely bored, they ask me to hand over my iPhone so they can download apps to pass the time away. But thanks to the folks at MobiStories , I now have the upperhand! If you want to really knock your kids socks off, then try out the latest innovation in children's book technology with the debut of The Marvelous Toy - a digital and musical children's book now available on MobiStories on PC's, iPhones, iTouch and the iPad. Your kids will be mesmerized as they touch the screen and the images are literally brought to life in front of their eyes. Plus, in addition to their latest release, Mobistories offers a host of downloadable picture book options for kids ages 2-10.
3. A DVD Double Feature - Turn your laptop into a movie screen or better yet, pick up an inexpensive DVD player you can strap to the back of your seat so that your kids can catch their favorite movies - incidentally, "Alice in Wonderland" was just released this week on DVD and in my house, "The Tooth Fairy" is a current must-see (at least a dozen times or more). And hopefully, if you're not driving, you can grab a seat in the middle, whip out a bag of popcorn and watch right along with them. Another option, take the quiet time to read on your Kindle, iPad or crack open a good book...now that's a novel idea!
4. Mad Libs - If your kids are proficient at potty words (ie. poop, fart, etc), they will have an absolute blast filling in the blanks to the age old road trip conversation starter - Mad Libs. We actually gave these out at my daughter's birthday party and they have taken up permanent residence in our car. Funny, but when I used to play with Mad Libs way back when, I thought my stories were hilarious too.
5. The License Plate Math Game - I have to give credit to my husband on this one. Whenever we're in the car, he will encourage the kids to add the numbers in a license plate and whoever gets the answer quicker, wins the points. They do the same thing with the alphabet - they look for every letter in the alphabet and call it out as a car is whizzing by. Obviously, the driver should not participate in this game, but my hubby can't help himself - he's very competitive.
Do you have any summer road trip tips? We'd love to hear them!