Some of the best times in a person’s life are those priceless weeks, days, or even afternoons spent with Mom, Dad, and the rest of the kids at outings or on family vacations. They’re great occasions for communicating and really getting to know the folks and the siblings: your dad really is an original thinker—just look how he assembled that simplified modular tent unit—and your mom is a true stoic—note how little she grumbled at leaving her lovely, modern kitchen and acclimatized home and trading them for a smoky, wet-wood campfire and a week of fresh, crisp, mosquito-filled mountain air!
But if your vacations are anything like our typical vacations, in between the leaving of home and the enjoying of the chosen vacation spot lie several hours of getting where you’re going. Need those hours be wearisome, squabble-filled, or silently boring? Not if you’ve a spark of originality, an interest in making others happier, and a few spare moments for preparation. Here are some simple ideas of how some families combat the endless-freeway blahs.
1. Take along your latest copies of the New Era and play the scriptural games. Since you’ve already worked them, you might even show up your folks and restore their faith in your basic intelligence.
2. Compile a set of interesting photos and/or pictures from old magazines and give a couple to each member of the family. Then start a fantastic, adventurous picture-story, with everyone adding their pictures and their chapters in turn. Who knows, perhaps your younger brother has the imagination of a Jules Verne.
3. Stage a sing-in using the fun MIA songbooks as source material. Practice some new ones before you leave home and be sure and include some of the delightful numbers from the Primary children’s song book, Sing with Me, for the younger members of the family. If you play the ukulele, guitar, or harmonica, try to squeeze it into the available space so you can add some accompaniment.
4. Play some simple charades, using the titles of popular TV programs or even hymn and song titles. Don’t be too rambunctious with this one.
5. Instead of the usual round-robin boxing and wrestling match en route, why not stage some active relays at each rest stop? One family I know even held an “International Errands Olympics.” Certain things had to be accomplished at each stop, and the young people in the family raced against the clock, trying to turn in the shortest total time out of the car and win the coveted “No-Dishwashing-during-Vacation Certificate.”
6. Play twenty questions using scriptural characters and occurrences as subject matter. This can be made more or less difficult according to the ages of family members.
7. If you’re lucky enough to have a magnetic chess or checker game, take it along and challenge the family to a test of wits.
8. Use the time for something special. Ask Mom and Dad to talk about themselves and their folks and their families and their missions and their younger days. Take notes, or, better still, record what they say on tape and save it to play to your children. Valuable and fascinating genealogical material can be gathered and treasured.
9. Try leading the rest of the family in some stationary isometrics. This helps keep the wiggles away, is good for you, and can be fun.
10. Try just visiting with your family. You can do it for hours with your friends, so why not for a few minutes at a stretch with your relatives? What good books has anyone read lately? What family project can you work on to help in the fight against pollution? Discuss how you can all become better missionaries. Any topic will do; just communicate!
No minute of your trip should just be endured. Take some time before your next family vacation and come up with some ways to fill those travel hours with enjoyment.