So, you’ve planned a road trip, but are dreading the accompanying chorus of “Are we there yet?” from the back seat. Relax, we’ve got you covered.
Here are our suggestions for some fun road trip activities that will keep your children from being bored stiff during a long road trip while ensuring that you can drive safely without any dangerous distractions.
There are plenty of age-appropriate audio books, from popular Roald Dahl titles to Harry Potter, that will keep your children’s attention for at least part of the trip. Check out the various catalogues at the Listeners’ Library – you can rent, download or buy from their retail shop. Your local library should also have audio books on CD. If you want to free up the car sound system for your favourite road trip tunes, take portable audio players so your children can listen to their stories through headphones. iPods are ideal for older children.
Take some of your children’s favourite toys – but ensure they don’t have lots of small pieces or make a sticky mess. Matchbox cars and Lego are good bets. A playing surface (e.g. a baking sheet) will prevent toys from easily slipping to the floor.
Unless you have magnanimous levels of patience, avoid games with too many annoying sounds. ThinkFun has a fantastic range of educational games for all ages covering different skills – reasoning, visual, memory, verbal and maths.
Magnetised letters, numbers, shapes and games
Once again, use a baking sheet (or something similar) to prevent the eternal loop of toys spilling to the floor and needing to be retrieved. Your children will have fun making words, spelling names or creating pictures. Just make sure you only give magnets to older children who won’t swallow them.
Sticker books and activity books
These are especially great for toddlers, allowing them to be creative without adding intriguing but unwanted artwork to your car’s upholstery with Koki pens.
Crayons or Koki pens
Activity books often require some kind of colouring in or marking up. Koki pens are best for children aged three and up, while younger children will use crayons. But do consider the above point. These are also very handy to include in a restaurant goodie bag.
Restaurant goodie bag
Pit stops are inevitable and necessary. Ensure the time waiting for your food order to arrive passes faster by taking goodie bags into the restaurant with you. Think crayons, Koki pens and colouring books or paper, as well as simple toys such as plastic animals, toy cars or building blocks.
Coloured pipe cleaners
Pipe cleaners are great for making animals, people, jewellery and other wild and wonderful shapes.
Giftwrap a few surprise items, which you can pull out at different stages on your journey. You don’t need to buy brand-new toys – it could be something you’ve recycled from home. Wrapping the gift with several layers will prolong the surprise.
Your car audio system is not only good for audio books, but also for playing soothing music. Singing your children’s favourite tunes together is another fun way to pass the time. And, no one is going to hear you if you can’t keep a tune.
And if all else fails, there is always the tried and tested game of “I spy with my little eye…”.
Read one experienced mom’s tricks to ensure happy travels.
Other handy things to take along for the road trip
- Small flashlight: useful for rest stops at night and can also make it easier to read or draw in the back seat without distracting the driver. Don’t shine at other cars.
- Baking sheet: perfect as a playing surface.
- Soap bubbles: loads of fun when you’ve stopped for a rest.
- Snacks and water: pack plenty for the children and adults.
- Wet wipes, tissue and paper towels: ideal for cleaning up inevitable spillage and general mess.
- First-aid kit: Find out what things parents should have in their first-aid kit.