Summer Holiday, Top Tips: How to keep kids entertained and happy on a long car journey

We all think it ….. ‘How are we going to cope with the kids in the car for x hours?’, with calls of  ‘Are we there yet’?  ten minutes after pulling out the drive, it can be torture and incredibly stressful for all concerned.   Speaking as a parent to three boys under 10, we have had our share of long journeys and over the years have employed lots of ways to make the journey a more exciting and enjoyable start to our holiday.

1. Load up the ipod with some brilliant audio books …… this year we have Roald Dahl galore, Mr Stink, the Famous Five and Paddington Bear, among many many others.  We’ve also included some activity songs which we know the youngest two will love (and the eldest although he’d never admit it!), not sure if it’s a great idea yet as we will then need to let them out the car to run off some excess energy before they can calm down … allthough have also included some childrens Classical music too, so that should help …….

2. Ask the children to choose some favourite books and small (but not too small so you spend the entire journey looking for the tiny bits dropped on the floor!) games for the journey.  We’ve also become very practised at siphoning off a couple of books and activity books they haven’t looked at for ages a few weeks before a trip, and then they magically appear during the journey giving them something new to look at.   For a mega trip, we’ve also picked up a couple of books etc.. we know they’ll love, wrapped them up and presented them half way through the journey.
We’ve got lots of favourite games, magnetic games are a clear winner and our favourite game to play as a family on holiday is Who Am I? – we always take it away with us, it’s small and it’s brilliant fun.

3. Print out your own version of  the ‘I Spy’ books from your children.  List out lots of items that the children need to look out for – 60 mile per hour road sign, brown NT/ EH-type sign …. be sure to put some more tricky ones in ….. i.e. a red car pulling a caravan, a lorry from Germany…… and make sure each child has their own list to complete.

4. Have some games at the ready.  The boys love to make up as many endings as they can think to their favourite stories, it used to be mainly nursery rhymes and fairy stories (ie what really happened to Humpty Dumpty and did they really use Vinegar and Brown Paper for Jack?) , although as they’ve got older, this game has developed and is often more about the latest Sarah Jane stories etc……     We’ve also found Imaginary Hide and Seek lots of fun, where everyone takes it in turn to imagine they are hiding in a place in the car and everyone else has to ask Yes / No questions to guess where they are hiding (you might it useful for them to secretly write down /draw their answer on a piece of paper, fold it up and place somewhere in clear sight in the car, so they are not tempted to change their mind as to where they are hiding part way through the game!).
Other simple games can be very handy for helping them off to sleep, ie, Guess What Colour the Next Car will be, where points can be awarded for correct guesses.

Happy journeys ……..