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Unplug! 5 tips for a technology-free family road trip

Tuesday, December 9, 2014by  Sharlyn Petit

Destination decided. Family loaded into the car. You’re not even backed out of the driveway yet, and all passengers are plugged into their devices, e-reading, tweeting, status-updating, and leaving the poor driver bored and a little lonely. Sound familiar? 

While you teens reading this would probably rather be strapped to the hood of a car for five hours than be without technology, hear me out. I’m not suggesting license-plate games or endless rounds of I Spy – let’s unlock the creativity a bit, and take time to unplug your family road trip.

Here are five ways to swap out your favorite road-tripping technologies for some family bonding:

  • Trade status updates for travel journals. Your friends could use a break from constant updates on your lunch and tweets about your mood. Pour out your thoughts on good ol’ fashioned pen and paper, and document your daily adventures with creative free writes. You’ll love looking back on your journal a few years down the road.
  • Trade texting for collecting mementos. Skip texting the details of your day-to-day activities, and collect tiny objects for a vacation memory jar instead. Fallen leaves, ticket stubs, and little notes are a fun way to remember the road trip.
  • Trade headphones for a family playlist. There’s a little technology involved in this one, but it’s for the whole car. Encourage each passenger to take a turn playing backseat DJ a few songs at a time. This is a great way for parents to hear which tunes inspire their teens, and which oldies the parents loved.
  • Trade Google Maps for a guide book and quirky pit stops. Do some research ahead of time for points of interest along your route. Better yet, grab a guidebook or road atlas (yes, a paper one) and have the kids track the trip and lead the way. Roadside America lets you search for attractions and oddities by area. Who wouldn’t want to see the The Big Log in Snoqualmie, Wash., or The World’s Largest Pig Hairball in St. Benedict, Ore.?
  • Trade DVDs for a family-scripted movie plot. Everyone loves a good tale about a hero’s journey. Draft one up that the family can call their own. Make up the characters, setting, challenges, and conclusion using your creativity, and borrow details from your road trip as inspiration.

   A no-technology road trip isn’t for every family. Kids might protest. Even parents may have a hard time ditching their devices or headphones. But, give one or two of these ideas a try while the wheels are rolling.
   When everyone is tuned in to each other, it makes the voyage as memorable as the destination.

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