10 Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During Your Summer Road Trip
By the time you read this, I will be embarked on a 300,000-mile drive across the US of A with my lovely wife, two adorable/surly teenagers, and a cranky old dog.
OK, maybe it’s only 3,000 real miles. It’s the trip we’ve been talking about for years. We’ll see the parts of the country we’ve only flown over before, and it’s probably our last big family vacation for quite a while. But I have to admit that at this moment I am starting to question my own sanity.
Fortunately, my kids are old enough to entertain themselves by watching videos on their phones and/or texting about how much they hate their parents for forcing them to stop at every freakin’ historical landmark. But I remember when they weren’t so self-sufficient. Even now, without careful planning, this trip could easily feel 100 times longer.
If you’re planning a summer road trip with the family, there’s some gear that’s truly essential: smartphones or tablets, a mobile WiFi hotspot (or a really cheap data plan), plenty of ibuprofen, and lots of Wetnaps (useful no matter how old your kids are). But you’d also be wise to bring along some apps to help you plan your route, find things to do, and keep the kids from driving you bonkers from the cheap seats.
Here are 10 excellent apps that keep you calm, cool, and relatively sane while traveling ridiculous distances in an internal combustion vehicle.
We live in an exceedingly strange country. If you doubt that, check out Roadside America. The coffee-table-book-turned-mobile-app clues you in to the oddball attractions that never make it into most tourism guides — like the Fish with Women’s Breasts (Des Moines, Washington) or the 13-ton boulder carved into a likeness of John Wayne (Lubbock, Texas). You can search by theme or have the app alert you to the oddities in your current location. A great excuse for getting out of the car and stretching your legs, as well as your credulity.
This app lets your grade-schooler manage his own virtual road trip across the USA while you navigate the interstate. Along the way, he can pick up hitchhiking virtual animals, take quizzes to earn gas money, and maybe learn a little math, history, and geography. It might even stop him from asking, “Are we there yet?”