Although there are no longer any small children in our immediate families, summer has traditionally been linked to the family road trip. It can be a time for bonding, a time for learning about each other's interests and points of view or a time to pull out every last hair on your head.
Here are some new ideas for games and activities for a trip that is long on smiles and short on frustration:
Contest Craze: Hold an official family spelling bee or trivia contest, using index cards to write down words or questions. Winners can earn trinkets, stickers, activity or coloring books, trading cards, food treats, or extra minutes of hotel pool time.
Journal Jotting: Buy cheap, but sturdy, journals and have kids write down and describe what they see along the way. Have them collect something small (a stone, a seashell, a flower, etc.) to glue into their journal, describing each stop and each location or landmark they pass. Bring along a stack of old magazines, and have kids cut out and paste pictures into their journals to illustrate some of what they've seen (i.e., cows, fire trucks, palm trees, deer, cars, etc.). Buy a disposable camera for each child, so that they can capture their own memories and place their very own pictures in their personal road-trip journals.
Window Gallery: Use washable window markers to make colorful creations that even passersby can enjoy, or to play endless, paper-free games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. Keep a cotton cloth or dust rag on hand so kids can keep the window fun flowing throughout the trip - just make sure the driver's view isn't blocked!
Word Play: Have kids write down various words they see as you drive along (from billboards, bumper stickers, roadside attractions and stores, license plates, signs, the sides of semi-trucks, etc.). Ask them to write a story, poem, or song grouping all of the words they see together. Have them read, perform, or sing their creation for everyone when they're done.
And when you arrive at your destination, remember that getting there was half the fun. Celebrate by opening a bottle of sparkling cider for the kids and make a fruity white wine and sparkling cider sangria for the adults.
1 bottle dry white wine, such as Vinho Verde or Pinot Grigio
1 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 2 limes
10 strawberries, thickly sliced (optional)
Orange and lime slices
1 1/2 cups sparkling sweet cider
In a large glass pitcher, combine the first 5 ingredients and set aside to macerate for 15 minutes. Just before serving, add the sparking cider and ice. Stir well and serve at once.