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Got Cabin Fever From That Stay-at-Home Order? Here Are 4 Germ-Free Car Adventures

car-wash-pandemic-coronavirus.jpg 2020 BMW X1 | Cars.com photo by Jennifer Geiger

There’s no handbook for parenting, and there’s even less guidance about parenting during a pandemic. As many caregivers eventually figure out, you do what you can to keep everyone happy and healthy, and that looks different for everyone — especially now. Like most, I’ve had to figure out how to juggle work and a homeschool schedule for my three kids as well as managing to keep life light for them in the face of a lot of scary news in the world. Help in that department came from an unexpected place: the car. 

Related: Best Cheap New and Used Cars for Riding Out the Coronavirus Pandemic

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2020 BMW X1
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As an automotive journalist, I’m often throwing my family into this car or that car for test drives. We take test cars to the grocery store, to visit relatives and on road-trip vacations. Like more and more states trying to lockdown the coronavirus, Illinois put a stay-at-home order into place starting in March and stretching to the end of April — but sometimes you just need to get out.  

Here are four “trips” we took in the car last weekend — having safe “adventures,” while keeping our germs to ourselves.

1. At the Car Wash!

My test car was a 2020 BMW X1, and for the review I needed to find a decent place to take some photos. But first, a clean car! Never has $6 gone so far toward fun. The kids had a blast pretending to be on an undersea adventure from the backseat. My twin 5-year-olds are still talking about it and, although my 9-year-old rolled her eyes, I have photo proof that fun was had.

2. Road-Trip Scavenger Hunts 

How do you review a car when there’s nowhere to go? An aimless drive is how, and keeping kids happy on car trips is even harder when there’s no destination. But what if the drive is the destination?

We played a couple of games in the car, including a traffic-sign/place/thing scavenger hunt like this one. Each kid got a printout and a pen to mark each thing they “found” on the drive. Since Chicago is short on tractors and horses like those depicted in the game linked above, there were a few of these we didn’t find — but that’s part of the challenge. There’s also road-trip bingo or car-color bingo, like this one. 

Some neighborhoods are also getting together and organizing window-based scavenger hunts. Blocks are putting bears, shamrocks or rainbows in their windows and families are driving around “hunting” for them.

3. Movie Location Scouting

One of my kids’ favorites movies is “Home Alone,” and the house where it was filmed (the exterior shots, at least) is in a suburb near where we live. (Kevin!) Use this movie location finding site to find movie filming locations near you. 

4. Foliage Field Trip

Other places near us are also open for driving excursions, like the Morton Arboretum, which is a botanical garden that has 9 miles of paved roads that wind through forests and gardens. Check out this public gardens finder to find something similar near you.

Real talk: Netflix and Disney Plus (and YouTube videos about how to make slime) are only going to get us so far in the struggle to stay sane during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throwing in some driving adventures will break up the screen time (and maybe cut down on the number of times we have to hear “Into the Unknown” this week).

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