Thanksgiving means family, friends, food, and usually some time in the car if you're traveling anywhere to see family. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, so it's likely you'll get stuck in some traffic.

There's so many ways to get screen time in now with phones, tablets, TV in the back seats of some cars and games, so it's easy to sit the kids in front of screens when it's time for a family trip. But if you want to give them downtime, Lifehacker and "mommy blogger" Rachel Garlinghouse has a great idea: backpack time. Here are some basic ways to keep yourself or your kids from being bored without relying on a screen too much.

  • Stuff old backpacks with activities and fun items. Books, coloring books, markers pencils, and similar items give your kids more to do. Adult coloring books are a thing, too. I know, I have one or maybe two.
  • Use forgotten items. You don't have to run out and buy all new things. A coloring book that hasn't been used in a few months, an old toy and other things your kids could have forgotten will work.
  • Wrap something special. To make the backpack really exciting, get something you know they'd like and wrap it for them to find.
  • Alternate screen time with backpack time.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing.
  • As they age, let them stuff their own backpacks. This will give them a sense of ownership, and will kill some time.

Or my favorite thing to do while in traffic or in line at a long line at, let's say, a theme park like Disneyland, make up games in the car. I go from finding the whole alphabet via signs and license plates, name the song, really anything to keep myself and whoever I'm with engaged and not just looking at a phone. Nothing worse than being the driver and your co-pilot just scrolls instagram silently the whole time. Don't be that guy!

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