In Australia, we often have big distances to cover when we pile the family in the car and set off on a grand adventure, so it’s vital to have a strategy in place to keep youngsters from getting too antsy along the way.
Getting ready to hit the road
Keeping kids happy on a car trip is easier if you let them bring a few favourite toys or ‘comfort items’ along for the ride. Small video games have their place, but remember to limit their use, since playing them for too long can make many kids carsick.
There are plenty of headrest mounts available that enable you to safely hang a tablet from the back of a car seat, so that’s one option if you’re aiming to keep your child’s head facing forward.
There’s not a child alive that doesn’t love snacks – but not all children are thrilled with the idea of communal food sharing in the car.
That’s why the easiest way to keep the peace is to pack separate plastic food containers (with sturdy lid) for each child, so they have their own personal snack supply.
Vehicle air conditioning can be a bit dehydrating on long journeys, so make sure you and the kids have water bottles at the ready at all times.
The same packing advice for overseas plane journeys applies to long car trips: don’t over-pack. Anything that’s not urgently needed in the car should be stored in the boot.
If you’re going on a camping trip, you’ll need to bring a bit more with you, but try to avoid crowding your kids in the back seat with all kinds of gear.
Most importantly, be aware that loose objects can become projectiles if you’re in an accident or have to brake suddenly, so be careful what you store in the back seat area.
Share your plans and expectations with your kids. If they know beforehand that you’ll be driving for three hours, then stopping for lunch, then driving for another fours hours, then playing in a park, then checking into a hotel, they’ll usually be okay with it.
It’s those seemingly endless stretches with no stops that cause problems, especially with fidgety kids who haven’t been clued in to the day’s schedule.
During your road trip, you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours. If you can, share the driving. Use driver reviver stops and rest areas to get some fresh air, stretch your legs and let your kids out of the car for awhile.
Classic road trip games your kids will love
Our Road Trip Games interactive will help you find just the right game to fit your child’s age group and mood, so you can keep them content and occupied for as long as it takes to reach your destination.
There are games for younger kids, older kids and adults, divided into categories such as Memory, Word, Guessing, Observing, Creative, Quiet, Writing and Singing.
Just select the category and age group, scroll down the page and you’ll find a wealth of options to choose from – which are further divided into Easy, Medium and Hard.
Once you start using this handy resource, you’ll be wondering how you ever managed to live without it. These simple but fun games make time in the car fly by and keep the dreaded whining at bay.
Here are just three examples of some of the many road trip games included:
The Spelling Chain (Medium, all ages)
In this game, you have to find words that begin with the last letter of the word that came before, e.g. if you start with ‘movie’, the next player might say ‘elephant’, and the next ‘table’, and so on.
Parents can set a time limit (say 5 seconds) and/or let the first child to shout out a suitable word be the winner. Repeat words aren’t allowed.
Waving competition (Easy, younger kids)
The aim here is for younger children to see how many passengers in other cars they can get to wave back, smile or pull a funny face when stopped at traffic lights. This one’s a favourite of kids who aren’t too shy.
Need some new game ideas for your next driving holiday? Check out Road Trip Games now!
- Budget Direct’s Road Trip Games helps you find entertaining in-the-car games to keep kids occupied during driving holidays
- It’s best to limit video game use for children on long trips, as it can sometimes cause carsickness
- Road Trip Games has games for every age group, divided into categories and difficulty levels
- Make sure you stop frequently during your road trip, for your kids benefit – and yours