For many Australians, road trips are a rite of passage. Part of it is just sheer necessity – it’s a massive, flat country, and driving is one of the most direct ways to get around. But the other part of it is romantic; the allure of the open road; of freedom; of possibility.
The last thing you want is a bunch of kids in the backseat ruining all of that freedom and romance and possibility. And in the technology-driven 21st century, I-Spy will only get you so far (barely out of the driveway, by our estimations).
To help your road trip remain romantic and full of freedom, here are a few apps that’ll keep your lovely little terrors occupied while you focus on the wide open road. Note: Dodo will not take responsibility for any carsickness. That’s on you, pal.
The handiwork of Christoph Niemann, author and illustrator for the likes of The New Yorker and The New York Times, Petting Zoo is home to a range of imaginative and wonderfully illustrated characters for your kids to get to grips with. It’s been widely-acclaimed (“Fizzing with character, craft and humour,” says The Guardian) and the only trouble is you might find yourself having to pull over to see what all the fuss is about. Appy days, indeed.
2.ABC KIDS Listen
If your kids are old enough to wear headphones, plug them in to the ABC KIDS Listen app. Featuring educational radio, music and stories all in one place, it’s a sure-fire way to keep them occupied while you sing along to Dancing in the Dark or Living on a Prayer up front. You can listen live, download and listen later, and pick a range of programmes depending on the time of day.
For kids five and up, Easy Music is “the perfect initiation into the world of music”. This animated app will help kids learn notes, pitch, rhythm and melody without needing to leave their (booster) seat. They can experiment with instruments, play around with genre and even compose their own piece of music. You never know, in the time it takes you to get from A to B, you might discover a musical prodigy. Wouldn’t that be nice.
4.Sago Mini Road Trip
A bit like road trip inception, this app (for ages 2-5) lets kids join Jinja the cat for a ride in his car. With no rules or time restraints, your kids will be free to explore the world of Jinja for as long as they like. They’ll be kept occupied by the number of different cars and destinations there are to choose from. There are no third party advertisements to worry about, either, which is always a good thing.
5.Paw Patrol Draw & Play
Kids love art, and kids love Paw Patrol, so this little number is a match made in road trip heaven. Whether your kids want to play with (digital) stickers, use magical effects, play around with bouncing balls (also digital) or just get into some painting or drawing, they can do it all. Not only that – they can do it alongside their favourite Paw Patrol characters. Paradise.
If your kid is of the teenage or near-teenage, you know there’s only one app that’s going to do the job. Hand over them the iPad, set up your personal hotspot, and enjoy hours of sweet, sweet peace and quiet (until their character dies and they punch the back of your headrest in frustration).
If you liked these tips, don’t forget to check out our tips for a screen-free summer.