Sanity-saving tips and techniques for keeping little ones amused in the back seat. For five hours. On a trip to Cornwall.
When I was growing up, we would travel to Cornwall a few times a year from our home in Surrey to visit my grandparents. The journey would take around 5 hours and as you can imagine, that’s a long time to spend in a car with kids (there was 3 of us). My mum’s way of stopping the “Are we nearly there yet” question was to pile us in to the car at 3am, still in our PJ’s, strap us in to our seats, with pillows and a duvet and we would sleep the whole 5 hour journey. We would arrive at my Grandparents in time for breakfast, and then my mum would nap whilst our Grandparents got to fuss over us.
Now, that’s not something I could do. I do not function well on any sleep, and definitely could not drive that far without a break. So when my husband and I had our children, I had to think of alternative ways to keep them entertained on long journeys, whether that is road, rail or plane. Here are a few of our tried and tested methods for keeping the kids entertained on long journeys. I pack them all into a little bag per child.
SNACKS – Of course, the most obvious things to keep children happy are snacks, so we make sure that we have plenty and that they’re varied. We find doing a Zip lock bag full of snacks per child is the best way. I try to keep back spares of snacks too (normally hidden in the bottom of the bag away from little hands), because if your children are anything like mine, they’ll eat all their snacks and want more!
BOOKS – Books are good for whatever age your child is. Being a bit of a bookworm myself, I am always trying to encourage my children to read. Comics about their favourite characters work just as well, especially if they have little puzzles in them to keep them.
PUZZLE BOOKS – There is such a wide range of puzzle books now and available for a range of ages. The oldest 2 love doing little word searches, but make sure they are doable otherwise you’ll continually get asked to ‘help’.
COLOURING BOOKS – For the younger ones, colouring books are great. You can now get little travel books with crayons attached which are really great as you’re not having to haul around large books and a load of pencils.
BUSY BOXES – Busy boxes, or bags, are fab for keeping the kids entertained. Just grab a small box, or a Zip lock bag and add in a few of their favourite toys. For example, my eldest loves Lego, so we have a Lego busy box (see main photo). It’s actually one of those boxes that you get wipes in. We just fill it up with some Lego and he’ll spend hours building and rebuilding things. This is especially good for a plane or train journey where you have a table to build on (or you can glue a small Lego base plate to the top of the box). I also fill the boxes with little figures so they can play and let their imaginations run away. The girls love dolls, and tend to take one each with them, so we will fill a small doll’s changing bag with ‘baby bits’ (see photo below).
GADGETS – My kids love gadgets! The older 2 have iPods for their music and apps as well as LeapFrog Leapsters and the youngest has a LeapFrog LeapPad. These can be great for keeping them entertained, although I try to not let them have too much time on them at once.
GOOD OLD FASHIONED FUN – Nothing can be a beat a bit of old fashioned games like i-Spy, which works extremely well in cars and trains. As a child, my sisters and I used to pick a colour car and see how many cars of that colour we could count. Our dad was a Trucker, so we would also count how many trucks we saw. You also have games like Name that Tune, where you take it in turns to hum a tune and others have to guess the song.
There are so many different ways to keep children entertained on long journeys that with a little bit of forward planning, they are bound to be entertained for hours. What are your tips?