5 Amazing 'Are We There Yet?' Busters for Car Trips

Car KaraokeNothing makes you feel empathy for your parents more than a long car trip with your kids. Seriously. I get it now -- threatening to pull over, turn the car around, throw us out at the nearest rest stop if we didn’t stop squabbling. Just the other day, I had to pull over, put the car in park, and sit alone on the curb for five minutes just to soothe my jangled nerves enough to get home.
Mom. Dad. I’m sorry!
Now that I'm a parent, I’ve found several great weapons against "are we there yet?" syndrome


I'm not just talking about handheld video games you’ve no doubt already got, which only work if nobody in your back seat is prone to motion sickness (ask me how I know, and then ask me how to get the smell of barf out of the fabric seats of a CR-V).
These are my favorite forms of trip-er-tainment for all your end-of-summer journeys. And let me tell you, they work a whole lot better than “let’s play the quiet game, and the prize is the good feeling of winning.”

All-American Car-I-Oke. True story: Every single Friday night for years, I had a standing date with my friend Lynn and our pals to do karaoke at The Roost Pub in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Four words. “Livin’ on a Prayer.” You missed it, and that’s tragic. (Also: This is why when Lynn sees me, even to this day, she yells, “Yo, ALANIS!”) So will I be getting this book and CD package ($15 at Workman Publishing) to relive my youth with my children? Follow the bouncing ball to “yes."

Listen-Along Kids’ Books. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but children's books -- especially young-adult fiction -- have gotten really good. I mean, The Hunger Games? Harry Potter? I’m not even being patronizing when I say you can really find common ground by listening to MP3s or CDs of some of the best-selling yarns. Get digital versions at Audible.com or this cool free site called LibriVox, and the local library will have CDs and books on tape.
The Toyota Back-Seat Driver App. While there are myriad apps that distract your kids and keep them quiet with video games, how many of them use technology to let the kids drive along with you? Somehow this app is not available on the U.S. Toyota site, but I found it in the App Store, and it’s free. As you drive, it mimics your car's movement while giving your child items to pick up along the way. Too cute!
Toy Tethers. Here’s my imitation of me on a recent car trip: “I can’t get that for you, honey. Well, you shouldn’t have dropped it. I know you want it, but I’m going to have to get it later. No, don’t take your sister’s -- GIVE THAT BACK TO HER. Give it BACK! I can’t drive when she’s -- is your foot in her car seat? Get your foot out of her ... oh, hello, officer.” Yeah. So. This can help.
Travel Tray. Back in my single days, there was no food allowed in the car. Ever. And it was pristine. I went to the car wash every week, I kept my tires filled, I was careful not to park under bird-poop-producing trees. Those days are long, long gone. So a little tray, preferably with a cup-holder, is de rigueur in my four-door crumb-filled beater.
How do you make road trips easier?

Image via Workman Publishing

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