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Unplug on Your Next Family Road Trip

Published Feb 23, 2015 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

Over spring break this year we planned a road trip to Atlanta with another family. This family is very close friends of ours and we always have a great time together. We are also respectful of our different cultures: Little to no TV at our house and the much more accessible TV at their house.

When I turned to Jenny, the other mom, a week before the trip and said, “I would love to write about our road trip from Chicago to Atlanta, do you think we can try to have it be an unplugged trip?”, she laughed and said, “No ****ing way!” Now, the purpose of this trip was to see her husband and the father of her three children ranging in age from 3-10 years old. He was working for 10 weeks in Atlanta and this was the first time they were seeing him in six weeks— as you can imagine she was at her breaking point.

We all piled in the car with back packs filled with fun things to do. I was still going to do my best to see if we could entertain with old fashioned methods of play. Old fashioned fun was my mantra and we taught the kids the license plate game and ABC game. Jenny and my husband Ron became fierce competitors playing the ABC game. My goal was to later write about all the wonderful things we did to keep the kids unplugged.

But after 24 hours total in a car and 6 hours of breaks on our trip to and from Atlanta, we never even opened up my travel Yahtzee, travel Scrabble, travel Rummikub, charcoal drawing set, map games, etc. Jenny did use several great art activities she had in her arsenal for her three year old, but everything else was left untouched.

Our three girls sat in the back and we are still unclear what they did the whole trip, but they were close to perfect and never asked for anything. We believe now they made an entire new language for every potty word because we were able to decode some of it. They girls listened to a lot of music and seemingly figured out how to create dances in their seats literally for hours. They talked and talked and talked. Occasionally they would pipe in to find the next letter of the alphabet in the game Ron and Jenny were taking quite seriously in the front row.

Overall, the road trip was crazy long, but surprisingly enjoyable sans-electronics. On the ride to Atlanta, the three year old watched about 30 minutes of a video and at the end of the night the girls watched about an hour of a movie. On the fifteen hour day back, which we did in one day, the girls seemed to create more secret codes that had them laughing the entire ride. They did not watch a minute of anything and the ride ended as we pulled up to our driveway at 11:30 at night with all our little angels asleep in the back.

Sometimes the best laid plans are even better when the kids have time to simply unplug and create their own fun.

What an amazing road trip!

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