Stay sane and keep kids entertained on long car journeys

Staycations are going to be the first choice for many families this summer, with summer holidays abroad still being complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions.

But, for those wanting to travel with children in the car, the thought of a long road trip – and the incessant cries of “are we there yet” – can put a dampener on the excitement.

Implementing some form of child travel management is essential for boredom-busting and occupying the kids, whilst still keeping parental sanity intact.

Denise Millard, Executive Director of car and van dealers www.perrys.co.uk has laid out eight top ways to keep your kids entertained on long car journeys:

Say ‘yes’ to screen time

Although you may feel guilty about boosting your child’s screen time, in the case of long road trips you can afford to make an exception. Turn screen time into a positive and productive activity by downloading educational games, their favourite e-books and puzzles to keep them mentally stimulated and still occupied – killing two birds with one stone.

Arm yourself with snacks

The phrase “I’m hungry” must be up there as one of the most common phrase that occur during a long car journey with your kids (alongside “are we there yet?”). Use snacks to break up the journey, as a reward for good behaviour or make snacking a creative activity (we recommend using dry snacks) – each of these will help to make the trip go smoother.

Play Road Trip Bingo

A spot of Road Trip Bingo can be a saviour when it comes to keeping your kids entertained in the car. Come up with a list of things to spot before you get into the car, or similarly you can pick something to spot and then whoever spots it first (such as a yellow car or an aeroplane in the sky) can then pick the next item that has to be found.

Other games that can keep kids entertained include I Spy, Twenty Questions and Spot The Car.

Parenting hacks to make family life easier

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Whack a movie on

Films are a firm favourite for keeping kids’ boredom at bay and saving parental sanity. Give in to Netflix and transform your vehicle into a portable cinema, this way your kids won’t even feel as though they are travelling; you could also put headphones on them so you don’t have to listen as well.

Have their favourite toys on hand

Stash as many toys in the car as you can. Whether that’s handheld games, traditional toys or simply books and magazines – try to cover all bases. Using toys is another key way of segmenting the journey; you could use your kids’ favourite toys as a reward after they have read a book, such as being allowed to play a short stint of football at a pit stop (where safe to do so), which gives them a fun activity to look forward to.

Take plenty of pit stops

If you have a long trip ahead of you, it’s critical to schedule some breaks away from the steering wheel and allow your kids time to let off some steam, stretch their legs and burn off a little energy. Sticking to a rigid routine is not essential, just make sure you take time as a family to get some fresh air outside of the car – this could be an impromptu stop through a local village or a toilet stop at a service station. Let your kids have a say too, allowing them to express when they want to stretch their legs, as this will make them feel as though their input during the driving route matters and, more importantly, help to avoid any tantrums.

Carpool karaoke

A singalong can make the minutes of a long road trip fly by and help to lighten the cranky car mood. Belting out your family favourites allows you to bond with your kids whilst still keeping them entertained. By letting your kids temporarily take control of the tunes and put together a playlist, this will get them vested in your road trip ahead of time.

It’s time for a nap

Silence is golden, and so is a road trip nap for your kids on a long journey. Scheduling naps to fall during travelling time is another key way of breaking up the trip and helps to settle your kids, as well as providing some peace and quiet. Arm yourself with blankets, car cushions and favourite soft toys and think about investing in some car window blinds, or a cheaper alternative of eye masks, to block out the daylight whilst travelling during the sunnier days.

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