Once upon a time, there was a green van. Each weekend during summer, it will pull out of the driveway and head north on Hwy 6. It was full of four kids, many bags, and two parents headed for the beach.
Roads Trips Without Electronics
My parents had certain tactics they would employ in the car to keep us occupied during the 2.5-3 hour journey. We each had a road trip pillow. When they wanted us to zone out and go to sleep, they would turn on live Blue Jay baseball. (If you’ve ever listened to it, you would know why those melodic tones never failed to zonk us out). We played games, counted Mennonite buggies, and passed our hats forward for a snack of chips.
Our cassette deck was filled with Disney soundtracks. Lion King was our favourite, and although we knew absolutely none of the words (Naahh! Exprayyyy-naaahhhh…..), we would sing as loud as possible.
I remember these trips with my family as an essential part of my childhood. The trips were a chance to have long conversations, play a little, and connect. It was a time to listen to your own thoughts, and think imaginatively. It was okay to be bored. It was long before the days where DVD players were standard, before tablets, and before even iPods.
Can It Be Done Now?
We don’t own an iPad. We do not have an entertainment unit in our truck. We did not purchase a portable DVD player. We didn’t plug our kids in to movies, or music devices all summer long. In fact, we did a 5 weeks, 6 states, 5 provinces. and 9,721 kilometers without them.
The total electronic count for the back seat was one camera, one singing alphabet bear toy, and one music box. All of the other toys and distractions were simple, without batteries. We filled our play bag full of animals, busy activities, puzzles, cars, and books. We had a reserve bag of 5 objects that were brand new and never been seen before. When we hit the “let-me-out-of-the-car” stage on the way home, these special, new toys came in handy.
We stopped about every 3-4 hours to have a play break – we found a local playground or field. We kicked around our soccer ball, chased our dog, and climbed up and down play structures. My husband I joked that Mr J had “playdar”, he could spot a playground from a mile away. We visited countless McDonald’s because they had the perfect combination of free WiFi for mom and playspace for the kids.
We also filled a snack caddy full of healthy snacks. We distributed them generously! Each person had their own non-spillable water bottle which we filled frequently with water, 100% juice and iced tea.
All in all, it worked out quite well. We played classic music and they fell asleep. We played pass the hat and filled up their hats with chips. We talked about the different kinds of animals we saw. We counted “uh-oh” trees that had fallen over.
You sure don’t need an iPad to distract kids when there’s so much to see and do on vacation.
a passionate recreation coordinator by day, crazy farm mama of two by night. i live outdoors: growing my own food, camping and hiking with my border collie with two active kids in tow. when I’m not writing, I’m experimenting with recipes, and crafts – or anything else that might keep the monkeys entertained.