We’ve all been there, haven’t we, stuck on the freeway, caught in traffic chaos with no one moving, when you hear the dreaded wail from the back seat ‘Mom, I need to go’! You curse that third soft drink, knowing that they only wanted the drink because they were bored. If the kids had something to do, they wouldn’t have been bored, had that drink, or be needing to wee now. So, let that be a lesson – keep your kids occupied on long journeys and they may not need to go – hopefully!
So, how best to keep them entertained? Well, first and foremost, hungry kids are going to be fretful kids, so think snacks. Keep sandwiches, filled rolls or chopped vegetables such as carrots and peppers fresh by vacuum sealing them.
High Tech Entertainment
The most obvious way is to transform the back of the car into a movie theatre. With a tablet to screen the film, let each child choose a movie, and why not pick one yourself? Have popcorn ready to hand out, and once the screening is over, engage everyone in a discussion about their favorite bits.
Audio books, or sing-along sessions, are great ways to keep the kids happy. Choose several age appropriate stories, and like movies, allow time to discuss the tales afterwards. With everyone singing along, especially if each child has a line to remember, engagement is high.
Another way of using high tech activities is to find and download apps that can help keep kids entertained. Games, puzzles and trivia can keep everyone involved and interested, even with kid’s short attention spans. For a really special treat for older kids, why not surprise them with their favorite Marvel movies? This idea would work well for a vacation where there may be more hours to occupy, justifying the number of included movies.
Low Tech Entertainment
A more traditional method involves a goodie bag. Allow each kid to pick little things to pop in their goodie bag such as mini crayons, comic books, stickers, toys and notebooks. Letting them choose their own gifts increases the excitement and sense of involvement.
Visual games, such as Road Trip Bingo, are always fun and get everyone shouting out when they see the target vehicle – e.g. red truck or car with a trailer, or spotting the most states on license plates. I-Spy, and 20 Questions are old favorites for a reason – they work for hours and can be repeatedly dipped into throughout the journey, as does the Story Game, where each person makes up a part of a story that follows one.
Make up secret gift bags for those dire ‘are we there yet’ whines. Include little things to do, favorite cartoon characters to color in, mini projects or treasure hunts such as taking ten photos of different road signs, or people wearing hats.
Kids cannot be expected to behave perfectly if they’re stuck in a car for hours, so plan regular stops, allowing them to have a run around. It’s your job to ensure that the journey goes as smoothly and calmly as possible, and this can be easily achieved using planning, and imagination.
Enjoy your Trip!