Are We There Yet?

road tripThey used to be the dread of summer. Worse than mosquitoes, worse than heat waves, worse than a sunburn. Confined with your parents and siblings for hours at a time with minimal space, weak air conditioning, and (gasp!) no TV.

I’m talking about childhood road trips. And while these drives might seem like nothing to our long haul brothers and sisters in the trucking industry, as kids, they used to feel like torture.

Back in my day, intense planning went into a Road Trip. In addition to library books and crossword puzzles, there was a whole industry set up around entertaining the kids in the car. Remember Mad Libs? And those magnetic checker sets that unfolded for rounds and rounds of backseat entertainment?

What about games like Punch-Buggy? If you weren’t careful, that could easily turn into a backseat brawl. I Spy quickly became a frustrating interrogation when speeding down the road at 65 miles per hour. As for counting cows? Forget it. My kids have had Netflix their entire lives; counting a bunch of sleepy livestock isn’t going to entertain them for more than a minute, at most.

This weekend, my wife and I are taking our girls on a mountain vacation, to get back to nature. We live at the beach, and North Carolina’s a big state. Really big – from the beach to the mountains it’s a whopping six-hour drive.

road tripObviously, today, there’s not much of a market for magnetic checkers, when you can download nearly every book, song, movie and board game out there.

My kids will never know the true torture of an old-school road trip because their generation has DVD players, iPods, Leap Pads, Nintendo Game Stations, cell phones, and coolers filled with snacks – all in the backseat!

But with all of those options comes a catch: the agony of choice. I’ll never understand how any kid today gets ‘bored,’ anywhere, but it happens.

Last year, we made the drive to Orlando, Florida, for a Disney trip. My wife, Amy, proved her genius, once again, by making a brilliant purchase for the girls: all nine seasons of TV’s classic, Little House on the Prairie. Despite the series’ distinctly…vintage feel, the girls were transfixed. No phones in hands, no fidgeting, not even the dreaded ‘Are we there yet?’ It felt so old-school in that car, I wouldn’t have been shocked if someone had broken out the Mad Libs!

Bridge the generation gap this weekend,