Member Articles

Write an article!

Can You Go DVD-Free This Summer Travel Season?

Reconnect with your kids instead

by Stephanie Vozza  |  2711 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Here’s a dare for all of the parents planning on traveling with kids this summer: Leave the DVD player at home! Are you cringing yet?

The immense success of in-vehicle DVD players can be chalked up to four little words: Are we there yet?

What mother doesn’t cringe at the thought of a long road trip with young children? While popping in a movie may be an easy solution to travel-time boredom, it doesn’t have to be the sole entertainment for the trip.

My friends still think I’m crazy, but one of our best family vacations was the one we took when our DVD player broke -- 20 minutes into the trip. We learned a lot about each other in the eight-hour car ride.

In today’s fast-paced world, car or plane rides are one of the rare opportunities families have to spend time together without outside distractions. I believe we should take advantage of this time by talking, playing games and reconnecting. Here’s what we did:

1.) We talked. Imagine! Talking! If you need a conversation starter, check out a book like KidChat by Paul Lowrie and Brett Nicholas offer fun and imaginative questions. For example: If you could ride on the back of any animal, which would you choose and why? Or: What is something most adults do that seems silly to you? (My son thinks my before coffee/after coffee transformation is hilarious!) Your child’s answers might surprise you, and sometimes the questions serve as a catalyst for more meaningful discussions.

2.) We listened to a book on CD. I had picked up an Encyclopedia Brown book, which is a series of short whodunit mysteries. Listening to an audio book uses more imagination than watching a DVD and can also be enjoyed by the driver. On another vacation, I chose a book that was one of my childhood favorites, Ramona the Pest by Beverly Clearly. It was fun listening to it again and fun to watch my boys experience it.

3.) We made a scrapbook. I had packed art supplies, a lap desk, and a disposable camera for each of my boys and on our way home they created a great show-and-tell for school.

4.) We were silly. We decided to play a game by letting each family member take turns adding a few words or a sentence. Start with “Elsie was the talk of the barnyard because she was a cow who could... ” and see where your family takes it from there.

As parents, we spend weeks -- even months -- planning family vacations, booking hotel, researching attractions and charting routes. It’s easy to overlook the fact that filling up your travel time takes planning, too. Sure, DVD players are great travel tools, especially if your journey is long. But with a little planning, families will find that getting there can be half the fun.

About the Author

Founder and president of

Read more by Stephanie Vozza

2 comments so far...

  • I get why people buy and use these DVD players, but it's something my DH and I feel really strongly about. We both grew up in large families who took long car trips (think Virginia to Colorado...whoa), and we entertained ourselves with reading, singing, playing those games you only play in cars (license plate game, punch buggy game (ok, that one was a bit violent!), I spy games, etc.). Some of my best memories are of falling asleep in the car listening to the murmur of my parents talking.

    So, no, we won't be using a DVD player for our toddler. We take a lot of long car trips (3 hours to the beach every other weekend), and it can get painful sometimes. But we also have some of our best conversations in the car together.

    America, it's ok for your kids to be bored. Boredom is the path to invention and imagination.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by meggiemoo on 3rd June 2008

  • When our daughter was 6 months old we bought a small dvd player for the car so she could be entertained. Turns out she gets really car-sick and dvd player makes it worse. I've done a lot of complaining about this but the flip side is that we've figured out how to make trips without any electronics involved:)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nataly on 3rd June 2008