High-tech takes on old-school road trip games
Summer vacation is awesome. Getting there? Not so much. These high-tech takes on old-school activities should keep the backseat entertained when you hit the interstate.
The license plate game
Old-school activity: Scan the cars around you to find plates from every state in the union (Hawaii and Alaska eliciting squeals of excitement).
High-tech time killer: The State Plate Hunt app lets you check off states and keep track of who’s winning, and logs which plates you saw on your last trip, so you can try to beat your personal best. Also includes Canadian and Mexican plates. 99 cents at iTunes.com.
Car trip bingo
Old-school activity: Stare out the window at miles and miles of roadside landscape looking for a cow or a tree or a red truck. Find all the items in a row on a card and you win.
High-tech time killer: RoadTripBingo HD. Same idea, with the bingo card on the iPhone or iPad. Unlike other digital games, this one does force you to look out the window, reducing screen time. The high-tech version also allows you to add your own items to the cards. $2.99 at iTunes.com.
Old-school activity: These notebooks have stories with nouns, adjectives and verbs missing. You ask family members to supply the missing words, enter them, read aloud; hilarity ensues.
High-tech time killer: Cool Mad Libs, Mad Libs: On the Road and Goofy Mad Libs apps for the iPad or iPhone that can be played solo (you don’t see the story until you’re done) or with a group. Your silly story can be e-mailed to Grandma or whomever else is awaiting your arrival. (The free Mad Libs app just gives you a sample or two. Each paid app has about 20 stories.) $3.99 at iTunes.com.
Would You Rather?
Old-school activity: Ask family members to choose between two different (often far-fetched) life scenarios. Discuss.
High-tech time killer: The digital version allows you to select categories, such as “critters” or “delicious.” The app then comes up with the questions for you. (Would you rather have to walk like a penguin? Or make hyena sounds?) Free at iTunes.com
Old-school activity: Game Boy. Nintendo DS, or whatever handheld game you used to play to pass the time and ignore Mom and Dad.
High-tech time killer: If you’re a “mean mom” who won’t let the kids have an iPhone, iPad or Droid, consider a Leapster Explorer. This handheld device emphasizes education (think: math and reading games) plus app-style entertainment such as Angry Birds. $70 at Amazon.com; games are typically less than $20.
Arts and crafts
Old-school activity: Coloring books and crayons, to make gifts to give Grandma when you finally reach her house.
High-tech time killer: The SpinArt app will remind parents of the tabletop version they used back in the day, and keep kids entertained for eons, minus a mess. Press the spin button, tap on shades from a huge palette of colors, and pick the thickness of your splatter. Even cooler: You can use pics from your photo library and make spinny art on top. Print them out, or save and share on Facebook and Flickr. 99 cents on iTunes.com.
Preventing a brawl
Old-school activity: Bribery. You know, that last-ditch effort to give the kids anything you can think of if they’ll just stop fighting (a.k.a., the last resort before “Don’t make me stop this car”).
High-tech time killer: The happy family app allows you to give digital rewards for desired behaviors (pre-programmed ones like “keep hands to self” or customized ones). Kids “collect” marbles, candy, bugs or other virtual treasures in exchange for completing behaviors you select. The app helps you track their progress, too. $1.99 at iTunes.com.