As many of us are embarking on a family getaway this summer, planning car journeys right down to the type of car snacks and entertainment you take can save many arguments with the kids. With 48% of us travelling over 103 miles in one road trip, finding interesting and easy ways to keep the smaller passengers occupied during the trip can eliminate some of the stresses of long distance trips.
We have selected our top 10 ways to keep the kids entertained, ranging from electronic devices, to colouring packs and a good old fashioned in car sing along. Therefore, whether you are looking for some quiet time, family fun or an educational outlet we have you covered.
Arts & Crafts
Travel Activity Packs
Travel activity packs are a great way to keep the kids engaged without staring at a screen. These kits can be bought from various arts and crafts shops or online suppliers and vary from colouring pads and crayons to stickers, tapes and cut out parts. If you want to keep the mess to a minimum, avoid anything with glitter! Likewise, felt tips and other ink pens are probably better left at home.
Travel journals are a great way to turn a long car ride into a productive time for the kids. Journals give them a creative outlet to practice writing, drawing and being creative, without turning to modern distractions. The compact journal can be used to document their travels along the way, using the sights and scenery along the road to learn and develop.
Older children may also want to use this time to complete homework or other school tasks, freeing them up for a fun filled trip once you reach your destination.
Everyone loves a good sing along, especially while driving, so why not warm up those vocal chords and take this opportunity to have a family sing-song. Depending on the spec of your vehicle, you may be able to download their favourite soundtrack and hook it up to your in-car sound system. If not, round up the kid’s favourite CDs ready to go.
It is worth noting, most albums are roughly 40-50 minutes long so back up tracks should be prepared for lengthier trips.
Travel Board Games
Last year, we recorded that 73% of us love to play car games to fight boredom, so what better way to do this than with car friendly travel board games. Mini versions available include Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Checkers and a family favourite Connect Four.
Please note: as most games come with miniature playing parts, these can be choking hazards and need to be kept out of reach of small children.
Adding variety to the activities you use throughout a road trip will speed up the journey and include something of interest for all the family. Classics like ‘Eye Spy’ can be fun and educational, as it encourages spelling and understanding the alphabet. Whereas Word Association or Twenty Questions, enable your kids’ to fire up their imagination.
Another popular choice is the Silence Game, where the first one to talk is deemed the loser. Prizes can be given to the child who stays quiet for the longest – sweets or a little toy makes a great reward.
If your children are able to read on the go without suffering from travel sickness, don’t forget to pack their favourite stories. Travelling with more than one child? Let them take it in turns practicing their reading aloud while you drive. Reading aloud is a great confidence builder, while occupying them from the lengthy travel time or the temptation to quarrel with a sibling(s).
Audio books are also great. You can download them onto most tablets or phones depending on the device compatibility. If you are struggling to choose an audiobook to download, here is a selection of audiobooks for children from preschool to middle school.
Maps & Navigation
For older children, giving them an active role, like map reading while you drive, will evoke a sense of responsibility as they feel involved in navigating you from A to B. A small task like trying to find a picnic spot on route or a motorway service station for a quick pit stop will keep them distracted with the task.
You can pick up travel atlases from most service stations or bookshops, which you can pair with a highlighter to mark the route as they go.
Handheld Games Consoles
If you require some quiet time, activities your children can do on their own are very handy. Although you may not want your children to stare at the small screens for the whole trip, handheld games consoles can be a short-term distraction. With a variety of models on the market as well as fun and educational games available, plug in the headphones and enjoy a moment’s peace upfront.
Why not let them make memories on the move by documenting the trip with photos. Hand over your phone, a disposable camera or an old digital camera to keep them busy perfecting their photography skills. At the end of the journey, you can compare pictures and enjoy viewing the trip through their eyes.
However, depending on the ages of your little ones, the quality of the snaps may vary, but it’s all part of the fun!
In Car Films
Another time-consuming way to occupy your children is an in car film. Usually lasting about 1.5 hours, films can distract your little ones for the majority if not all of the journey. If you are flexible with car naps, this is a great way to soothe them to sleep. If your car does not have a built in dvd player, portable dvd players can be bought online for a reasonable price, with headphone ports for additional serenity.
We would recommend a film or television series that is likely to entertain most, if not all of the little travellers, in order to reduce disputes.