Family travel memories run deeper than the destination. The journey to get there also has the potential to rise above a sibling bicker-fest. Yes, there is hope for even last-minute road trips after a summer of, perhaps, too much togetherness.
How? By putting in a little effort during your pit stops with an easy-to-pack outdoor game or two.
If your crew needs an adrenaline release and can find a larger stretch of grass, then do like the Manning family. Play football. Well, flag football. The interlude doesn’t need to include a visit to the ER, but don’t think the game has to be entirely lighthearted. A pro league for this sport just launched. The level of aggression is as adjustable as the flag belts. Tighten as needed.
As you digest your rest-stop Cinnabon, set up a classic game of croquet. Easy to teach and play — as long as you stick to backyard rules — it’s a perfect diversion to stretch cramped legs and iPad-addled brains. Back at home, unpack it again, add Pimms and stir.
For a competitive family, Spikeball is an answer. Channel pent-up hostility from the backseat into this “Shark Tank” fan-favorite game. You don’t need much room to set up the mini net. Team up parents against kids, and slam the ball between each other like control of the car playlist is at stake.
Looking to get even more physical? Break out the NinjaLine. Find two trees and you have your very own Ninja Warriors course. Adaptable for different skill levels, these updated monkey bars can double as a serious on-the-go workout
If you’ve got less room and/or energy, a game like ladder ball can divert a family from its feud. Teams take turns tossing the golf-like-balls onto ladder strings for points. It’s kinda like horseshoes without the liability of flying metal.
Another option is KanJam. Originally called “trashcan Frisbee” for reasons that will become obvious, people of any age and any athletic ability can get into the team spirit. Essentially, one partner tosses a disc, and the other tries to knock it in the can. Easy, fun and no buffness required.
For something even more simple that won’t keep you off the road long, try supersizing your dice. Find a park and unpack the Giant Yard Dice. Snake Eyes, 21, Yahtzee, basically any game of chance can get more awesome. If you want to introduce wagers, you might just up the ante on the most memorable highlights of the trip.
If the family is more World Series than Super Bowl, there’s a Pitching Machine. This adjustable, compact version is great for an on-the-go game or batting practice. Remember when setting up, however, to point the machine and the batter away from the rest stop’s food court windows.