8 Tech-Free Ways to Beat the Boredom on Summer Road Trips

Avoiding the incessant "Are we there yet?"

6/11/20233 min read

Hey mom and dad! It's that time of year again: time to check the oil, fill up the gas tank, load up the SUV and make some road trip memories even the king of family time, Clark Griswold, would be proud of. If the mere thought of another family expedition causes you to break out in a panic, here are some surefire ways to entertain the little ones and avoid the endless chorus of “Are we there yet?” every 8 minutes.

Even better: they’re all technology-free

1. Letter-food game: This game recently worked beautifully on a 3-hour trip to a waterpark and sparked all kinds of hysterical food and word concoctions. It works like this: Player one names a food, for instance: hamburger. Then the following player names a food that begins with the last letter of that word: roast beef. And so on and so on. The only rule is you can’t repeat words already used and you can’t use fake food.

It can get a bit challenging after a few rounds, but creativity is encouraged. Toward the end of one ridiculously long game, my resourceful nephew attempted to avoid repeating any other foods, so he resorted to using each letter he was given and attaching it to meat resulting in some exotic sounding dishes like rutabaga meat, narwhal meat and best of all banana meat.

2.Eye spy: This classic game works no matter the age or gender, so it’s always a crowd pleaser. Player one starts by saying “I spy something (insert a color here)” and the rest of the car takes turns guessing what has been spied. Whoever names the “spied” item first gets to play the Spy next.

3.Would you rather? My youngest loves this one! It’s a chance for your little ones to be super gross and silly and the older kids to put their parents on the spot. Rules are simple: Player 1 presents player 2 with two options: each with varying degrees of distaste, usually selected specifically for the player having to choose.

Kid-friendly example: Would you rather give up video games forever or have to eat broccoli for all your meals for a full year?

Older kid example: Would you rather lose your driver’s license for a full year or give up your phone for an entire school year?

Tip: This game really brings out sibling rivalry, and if kids under age 12 are playing, keep it PG.

4. Name that movie or song: Just as the name implies, each player takes turns quoting a line from a show or song, and the first person to name the origin gets to go next. This game can be easily customized to your family’s preferences depending on what they enjoy listening to or watching. For instance, my kids can recognize nearly any quote from The Office or Bob’s Burgers.

Tip: An easy way to get the game going can be to use lines from well-known Christmas carols.

5. Count the South of the Border signs: This only works if you’re headed to Myrtle Beach LOL.

But other variations include counting the signs with sharks, alligators, waves or any well-known

icon from the place you’re vacationing. I’ve heard armadillo and cowboy boots line the highways

from Georgia to Texas!

6. Two truths and a lie: This is a really amusing way for kids to find out more about their parents. The rules are simple: Player one announces 3 “truths” about himself and the rest of the family tries to guess which one is the lie. The first person to guess correctly gets to go next. This won’t be too difficult for you parents. Remember your kids don’t believe you were ever anything before becoming their personal chef, maid and chauffeur.

7. The Quiet Game: In the words of the highly refined rapper-poet Nelly, “Just kidding! Unless ya gon’ do it.” It never hurts to ask. 😁

If you get ridiculously lucky and your kid crew agrees, be sure to give them a reasonable frame and have some surprises on hand for encouragement: previously forbidden candy, comic books, riding shotgun privileges, etc.

8.Mad Libs : Each Mad Lib page contains an incomplete story with blanks for your family to fill in with various parts of speech.These little booklets are available just about anywhere you can buy books and they come in all types of themes for any age level. The results are always funny and are guaranteed to take up a solid chunk of time on the road.

Even better: they are very affordable or free if you'd rather print them off. There are many free sites online offering printable stories.

Tip: Don’t let the one family member with motion sickness be assigned to write the words in the blanks.

Billboard for South of the Border
Billboard for South of the Border