Any parent who’s ever taken the family on a holiday that required over an hour of travel knows these trips can range from mildly chaotic to incredibly frustrating to “we’re never going on holidays again!” But with some planning and a few tricks up your sleeve, you could make your journey destination fun (or at least a little less crazy).
It’s always hard keeping little minds busy while their bodies are being forced to stay (reasonably) still on long car or plane trips, but this is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the kids, encourage them to explore their creativity or help them discover a love of reading on the road.
Young kids will always be hard to manage on long road trips, especially if you’re the only adult and the driver, however this is where portable DVD players, laptops and music can help. We’ve also found that turning the mundane into exciting games can help pass the time. Some of the Cenovis mums’ favourite car distractors include:
- "I Spy" - You could try I-Spy bingo where each player has a different list and needs to find all items on their list to win
- "The Number Plate Game" - Making words out of the letters on a number plate or spotting number plates from every state
- "Spot the vehicle" - E.g. how many blue vehicles can you count before we get to the next town?
- "Once upon a time" - Each person takes a turn elaborating on a made-up story
Just because you’re sick of hearing that hi5, Wiggles or latest pop song doesn’t mean your child is! Create a playlist with everyone’s favourite tunes and take turns listening to their songs and your songs (this is especially useful if your children are old enough to understand sharing).
A lot of parents are turning to their iPhone, iPad, IPod or other educational devices to keep little minds busy with the latest apps. Apps can be expensive if children are given free range but by planning ahead you can download a variety of apps including apps for colouring in, drawing, storytelling and of course interactive games where you need to splat the germs or catch the fruit. A helpful tip is to ensure your phone is set to inflight mode so the kids don’t buy any more apps while you’re concentrating on driving.
What about your tweens or teens, who wouldn’t be caught dead playing a lame game like I-spy with their family? This is where we can be thankful for the digital age of laptops and portable DVD players. Though they surely won’t be able to resist joining in with the family games when they see how much fun everyone is having!
Since movies and apps can while away a sizeable chunk of your trip, it allows you some glorious downtime as well. You could use your time to catch up on guilty pleasures like sleeping (if you’re not driving of course!), reading, talking to the kids or watching them learn and play, or just enjoying the travel experience.
It is also important to take regular breaks. Stop at the ‘driver revivers’ for everyone to use the restrooms and stretch their legs. Whilst air travel is a little less flexible, for really long-haul flights it might be best to arrange a stopover for a couple of days to relieve travel boredom, break up the jet lag and explore another country or city at the same time.
Do you have any tips for surviving long haul journeys with the kids in tow?