Ahh, the days of road trips with your parents, long hours of sitting in a car staring, at a never-changing landscape as it droned on by and repeatedly asking the classic line, “When are we going to get there?” Fun memories, right? Probably not. Though, there are some truly interesting scenic roads out there, there is, unfortunately, a large number that seem to cut through hours of corn fields or dull beige desert. For those long journeys, especially cross-country, multi-day ones, a kid’s portable DVD player is a must to break up the tedium.

Some parents still balk at the idea of taking a DVD player along on a car trip. Their reasons are varied but usually include feeling their children already spend too many hours glued to a screen — whether on a computer, a video game or a television set — while other parents want their children to appreciate the scenery and engage with other members in the car on a trip. All are admirable reasons, but in truth, a long, tedious car trip, especially a cross-country journey will have enough time for it all — family talk time, scenery watching but then also a movie here and there for the boring spots.

Believe it or not, a DVD player can also actually enhance a vacation learning experience. Before a long trip, a parent should take the time to find a video or two about the location they are planning to head to or an area along the way that they will be traveling through. A DVD doesn’t have to be a documentary to add interesting notes to a trip. Many entertainment DVDs can really spark a child’s interest in a location you are planning to visit. For instance, if you are going to New York, take the DVD “A Night in the Museum” along with you. Your child will probably want to visit the “star” of the movie, the American Museum of Natural History, and after visiting it, will probably want to see the DVD again to see if he can spot places in the museum he remembers. For a tween going to New York, a movie like Enchanted or Maid in Manhattan will have a lot of scenes of Central Park and the streets of the Big Apple.

On that note, if a parent has children with a large age difference between them, he may want to bring two DVD players, if that is an affordable option, since it is often hard to find a DVD that will interest a toddler and a tween. If that is not an option, parents will have to talk to the children beforehand about taking turns watching DVDs that interest them.

Another great use for a DVD is to learn more about sites you have just visited. Many gift shops at natural parks and historical sites now carry DVDs about their locations. If your child was full of questions about the Civil War after visiting, say, Gettsyburg, make sure and pick up a DVD or two about it, so they can learn more on your drive.

Never forget, though, that a car trip should also be about the journey. If you are driving through the Grand Canyon, the DVD should be off. And it’s also important to take time between DVDs to engage the children in talk and games with each other and you. If your child can read and not get car sick, encourage a little book time, as well.

Overall, however, a DVD player can be a useful tool for a parent to help make the tedious parts of the journey more tolerable. Even the most die-hard anti-DVD playing parent has to admit that when they were a child on a long car ride they didn’t stare at those miles and miles of cornstalks when they were younger. They probably fell asleep or kicked the back of the driver’s chair over and over again.

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