There is nothing quite like jumping in the car to embark on a road trip adventure.
The stress of packing up and leaving everyday life behind starts to dissipate as a feeling of freedom abounds with each passing mile.
Add a couple of kids to the back seat and suddenly the romantic notion of hitting the road becomes less straightforward. Parents are soon overwhelmed by the constant cries of “I’m hungry,” “I’m bored” and “Are we there yet?”
25 per cent of parents avoid booking family holidays due to the stress of travelling with kids, while 6 per cent of families actually return home early.
In an article by Paul Chai that ran in “Daily Life” this year, he posed that family road trips may be overrated. The article cited research from a report undertaken in the UK last year revealing 25 per cent of parents avoid booking family holidays due to the stress of travelling with kids, while 6 per cent of families actually return home early.
He goes on to say there is much to gain by persevering. Sure, things can go wrong but while adults are focussing on the big things, kids have the ability to open their eyes to the little wonders. “Family holidays should be neither venerated, nor avoided. They should be taken as they come…,” Chai says.
The secret to successful family road trips comes down to one thing, being prepared. That means thinking ahead and packing for all eventualities be it an esky with snacks and water, charging up the iPad, borrowing audio books from the library and brushing up on some good old-fashioned games.
For this, we’ve put together some ideas. Print them out, put them in the glovebox and whip them out when you need to keep the kiddos busy.
The Name Game
This is a great game for the family to play.
Pick a category — be it animals, countries, cities, TV shows, songs or actual names. For an example, if the category is animal, the first player might say pig. The next person must name another animal starting with the last letter of the previous animal. In this case “G” is the last letter in pig, so the second person might say gorilla.
There cannot be any repeats, so it will get harder and harder as your list gets longer.
Another popular favourite is 20 questions.
Family holidays should be neither venerated, nor avoided. They should be taken as they come.
One person thinks of something, then tells the others the category — person, place or thing. Then, the rest of the players take turns asking up to 20 yes or no questions to narrow down the answer.
For instance, is it a plant? Is it man-made? Does it fly? After the 20 questions have been asked each person in the car is invited to make a guess.
Going on a Trip (or Memory Game)
This is a good memory game for kids age 5+.
One person starts the game with “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to pack…” Or “I’m grocery shopping and I need…”. The second person must then repeat what the first person said while adding another item, starting with the next letter of the alphabet.
Person 1: I’m going on a trip and I’m going to pack… an air mattress.
Person 2: I’m going on a trip and I’m going to pack… an air mattress and butter.
Person 3: I’m going on a trip and I’m going to pack… an air mattress, butter and a canteen.
It’s a fun memory game that’ll keep your brain busy.
Before you set out on your trip, type up a list of treasure — or items that you know the kids will see along the way.
For instance, a black cow, a brown horse, a stop sign, a service station etc. This can be run as a competition or simply a system of marking each item off in succession.
This is great for the littlies.
Number Plate Bingo
Everyone grab a pencil and paper. Then write down a word comprising 8 letters.
This is a fun one for families. Each passenger must take turns to say a set number of words. The next player continues the story where the previous left off.
Players keep an eye on the passing traffic, focussing particularly on each passing number plate. You can include parked cars if you wish. Whenever the players see a letter from their word they cross that letter off.
The players then have to keep a keen eye out on traffic, checking each number plate that goes by. The first person to cross off all eight letters from their word is the winner. There are some variations to this game. One is to base it on the alphabet — all 26 letters are written down and the first person to cross them off wins. Same goes for numbers 1 to 100.
Count the Animals
Nominate an object or animal, that can be counted by passengers. Good examples are cows, yellow cars, signs etc.
For the duration of the trip, players have to keep count of what they see and the person with most at the end of the trip wins.
Grow a Story
This is a fun one for families.
Each passenger must take turns to say a set number of words. The next player continues the story where the previous left off.
This is a story whereby the parent chooses three nouns. For example, table, hat and witch. Each player or storyteller is expected to create a story that has these three objects included.
This is a another fun one where anything goes!
Even if you are not any good at the real game of cricket, you may excel in the car variety. The rules for car cricket are fairly straightforward, and the game works better in rural areas rather than in cities.
Even if you are not any good at the real game of cricket, you may excel in the car variety.
The rules for car cricket are fairly straightforward, and the game works better in rural areas rather than in cities.
The first person to bat scores runs with the passing of each vehicle. White cars are valued at one run with coloured (including black) cars worth two runs. Motorhomes are a lovely sight to see at four runs and trucks are equivalent to six. Any car that is towing a trailer can collect an extra run. Red cars are out. For cars to count in the batting score they must be moving or travelling in the opposite direction.
When a player reaches 100 they retire and the first to get to 100 is the winner. If no one reaches a century, then the player with the most runs on the scoreboard wins.
I Spy with My Little Eye
One person finds an object they can see and then starts the game by saying, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…” and then states a letter of the alphabet.
The others players then try and guess the object.
The Monkey Game (or the Quiet Game)
One person (usually the parent) declares “Order in the court, the monkey wants to talk.” The first one to talk is the monkey.
With school holidays fast approaching (again?), don’t even think about cutting back on the kids’ computer time when travelling with the family. Instead, embrace the world of apps.
Variations are declaring silence and a prize for whoever is quietest longest.
Finally, for the modern-day mum and dad with technology-savvy kids, do a little browsing online before departure for some helpful apps to download for iPad and Android devices.
Cynthia Karena has compiled a list of apps on Essential Kids designed to open the minds of young travellers while helping mum and dad locate important amenities like loos.
“With school holidays fast approaching (again?), don’t even think about cutting back on the kids’ computer time when travelling with the family. Instead, embrace the world of apps,” she says.
Another way people lower their stress levels on road trips is to have comprehensive car insurance. If you are looking for motor vehicle insurance be sure to get a quote with Budget Direct.