“Are we there yet?” Every parent has heard that phrase at least once. And when it comes to lengthy road trips, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll hear it multiple times.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-hour drive to a close-by city destination, a few-hour trip to a cottage or campsite, or days worth of driving to get to another province, or across the border. Kids will get bored. And quickly.
So how do you curb the boredom, spats among siblings, and toddler whining? Before you hit the open road, load your kids up with plenty of entertainment to keep them busy during the ride.
First, make good use of a tablet. The kids can watch movies or TV shows, play offline games, sketch, or listen to their own music or audio books. And apps play a major role in that. Here are a few worth considering for download.
Fibe TV: With the free Fibe TV app (iOS, Android), Bell Fibe TV subscribers can access channels from a home’s receiver remotely. Use a tablet with a SIM card, download the app, and tap into your kids’ favourite shows, just as if they were at home. But make sure you have an ample data plan; long streaming session will consume plenty of data.
Alternatively, you can load the iPad up with digital versions of movies and shows downloaded from programs like iTunes that can be accessed offline and thus won’t use up any mobile data.
Candy Crush: Admittedly, it isn’t exactly the most educational game. But this addictive mobile game will keep the kids busy for at least a short period when they’re starting to get antsy. If nothing else, Candy Crush (iOS, Android) will also help them improve dexterity and problem-solving skills as they attempt to match up their pieces of digital candy to clear each board. If you have more than one child, make it a game between them: whoever clears the next board the fastest gets to choose where you eat lunch at the next pit stop.
Draw Something: It’s an oldy but a goody. And the great thing about this app (iOS, $3.99; Android, $4.25) is that multiple kids can play against one another on different tablets or smartphones. Set up accounts for them ahead of time, then they can log in, and try to draw out words, Pictionary-style, in hopes that each will guess what the other is trying to sketch. They can even play with friends and family who aren’t present; or with random drawers. You can also opt for the free version with ads.
filters, taking snapshots, and even videos, of themselves. Use the Face Swap option if there are two kids, and they can make some funny videos to play back for their friends when they return home.
Minecraft Pocket Edition (iOS, Android): If you have a particularly long drive with older kids, Minecraft could be a savior. Appropriate for kids aged 9 and up, this mobile version of the popular computer game allows kids to immerse themselves in the exploration of new virtual worlds, building them up, and fighting off enemies. While the app costs $9.99 for iOS or $7.99 for Android, plus a $4-$8/mo. subscription to play with others in your world, you do get a 30-day free trial. And that might be all you need to keep them busy for the duration of your road trip.