I banned devices on my family road trip and survived

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One week before we were due to start a family road trip to Jindabyne I banned the kids from screens for a month.

As is often the case, it turned out to be a punishment for me (at times) too. It takes a while to break through the boredom barrier. But as the trip approached, we had done it. The kids played board games and soccer and drew and read.

Mum and kids lean on white 4-wheel-drive in Snowy Mountains
The author and her family take a quick roadside breather Picture: Alison Godfrey

When the time for the roadtrip came, my husband asked, “should we lift the ban?”

We agreed to let it stand. We needed to follow through. But we had never done a road trip with kids without devices before. And we were pretty scared of what may result.

My son’s requests to turn the television screen on in the back of the Prado were met with a constant and consistent no. We were forced to do this road trip old school and strangely, surprisingly – it was totally fine.

We started playing “Ziff” as soon as we were out of the city. In “Ziff” everytime you see a horse you have to say “Ziff”. If you Ziff a cow, you lose a point. Say “horse” – no point.

We bought some Minties at a service station outside Goulbourn and started a competition to see who could create the longest string.

Kids wait beside car parked at a cabin in caravan park
No feeling like finally reaching your destination Picture: Alison Godfrey

And the kids actually looked out the window, at the horizon, at the wind farms, the sheep, the cows and the paddocks. We talked about school friends and listened to music, taking turns to pick our favourite songs to add to the playlist. When we reached Jindabyne it didn’t feel like we had been in the car for six hours.

I expected far worse. People are right – there is value in boredom. If you’re planning a road trip, here’s a few games you could try:

Maths game
Give the kids a piece of paper and a pencil. Get them to play boxes but with each square having a number in it. The winner is the player with highest total at the end.

The truck game

Each truck you pass, take turns making up what it’s carrying. Starting with A – the weirder the better.

Name a … starting with
Pink a letter of the alphabet then each person has to name a country, colour, animal, fruit, vegetable, boys name, girls name and sport beginning with C in 2 minutes. Pick a new letter once everyone has said their answer.

Row of cars in traffic jam
You’ll be very grateful to have these games up your sleeve in traffic jams Picture: ddisq/Shutterstock

No Go
Before you hit the road select five words that can’t be uttered during the journey. Then try to trick each other into saying them during conversations. The person who notices a slip-up shouts “No Go” and gets a point.

Crazy neighbours
This one is fun for imaginative families stuck in traffic. Each person takes a turn at making up a wild story about a person in a car nearby. You can create them an entire new identity from their name to what they do for a living to, what their hobbies are, and where they’re heading – the more detailed and outrageous, the better.

License plate headlines
Using the letters on license plates as the start of words, see who can come up with the funniest headlines. For example ARC could be Angry rodents cartwheel.

Baby reads a book in the back seat of a car
The same goes for tiny tots – books and game are a great diversion Picture: Yaoinlove/Shutterstock

Mix and match stories
One person starts with the first sentence or word in a story, and the next adds the second and so on. The story continues until someone says “And they lived happily ever after”.

Journey jottings
Give each child a large piece of drawing paper, something hard to lean on and loads of coloured pencils. Write the name of the day’s starting location in the middle of the page then have the kids draw things they see along the way around the location. They can draw arrows between them if they like. This way they end up with a ‘time map’ of their journey. This is a great way to encourage kids to keep a journal and even works for those who can’t write.

You can also try I Spy, Hangman or just spend a little time talking to each other.

Alison and her family drove to Jindabyne in a Toyota Prado.

Now that you’ve got everything you need to occupy long car trips, why not read about Australia’s amazing road trips:

Australia’s Red Centre

Road-tripping the Pacific Coast

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