Seven ways to keep the kids busy in the car

March 2016

Kids are notoriously bad travellers and a car full of restless children is not only tiresome but a distraction for the driver trying to focus on the road ahead. Here are our creative ways to keep your car full of kids entertained and maybe even educated all the way to the coast.

Turn the journey into a countdown
You should know the route you plan on taking, so why not turn the journey into a sight-seeing countdown. Keep the kids on the lookout for a pre-determined list of sightings, like buildings, certain roads signs and geographical features. Incentivise with a reward to keep them interested.

Get off the beaten track
Yes those big toll roads do get us there faster, but we live in a beautiful country with some amazing history. Take the opportunity to show the kids some of it. This can lead to some wonderful and often unexpected stops on the journey, not only breaking it up into smaller bite-size pieces but providing some conversation for the next leg.

Give them something constructive to do

1.       Games, music, puzzles, crosswords or educational apps are good for keeping the mind busy and the clock ticking.

2.       Invest in a cheap digital camera or use an old smart phone. Get the kids to take photos of things they see inside and outside the car.
          Not only does this encourage creativity but they will snap a series of priceless photos that you can add to a scrapbook after your trip.

3.       Play these good old-fashioned games:

  • I spy with my little eye
  • Spot the car: look for specific colours or makes
  • Card games: Go Fish or Memory
  • Virtual hide and seek: think of places in your home and give clues
  • The Alphabet Game: move through letters of the alphabet and find something inside or outside the car that starts with a particular letter and name it
  • Spelling Bee: ask the kids to spell words
  • Play Animal, Vegetable, Mineral or 20 Questions
  • Group storytelling: each person contributes a sentence to a story to make it a whole complete story

Food is fail-safe
Take along a snack pack which the kids can dip into at regular intervals. Plan to pack fruit and other healthy snacks. Include one or two special treats, but remember that too much sugar does not make for calm children! Water for drinking is a must to keep everyone hydrated.

Plan rest stops along the way
As the driver, you should be timing a rest stop about every two hours or 200 km, or at least not too long after that last bottle of water. Stop at a rest area which is child-friendly, with jungle gyms or even just open space where they can safely run and stretch their legs. For older kids why not plan a stop at a historical monument or place of interest?

Movies can provide a few uninterrupted hours
In today’s digital world, entertainment has gone mobile and portable car movie players are a lot cheaper now than they used to be. Bring along their favourite movies to watch in the car for a few hours of peace on the road – they might even fall asleep afterwards!

A good sing along to that 'Kids Hits' CD or their favourite TV character, while possibly a little annoying for the adults on the 57th play, will keep the kids out of mischief. After all, nobody can do one song on repeat like a kid can.

Keeping kids occupied on a road trip is not hard – it just takes some creativity and planning. Relax, drive carefully and make your road trip with the family the fun start of a wonderful holiday. 

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