How to keep your children occupied during long journeys

Summer holidays when I was a child meant being woken up in the early morning, and still half asleep, being bundled into an old Ford Escort and then having to travel 700 miles to the Cornish coast. Along the way, all four of us children would chant, at regular intervals: “Are we there yet?” And: “How many more miles?”

Much to the dismay of our parents, who would then get so irritated that by the time we arrived at our destination the whole family was in a right old state!  If this sounds awfully familiar to you, and you are about to set off on your annual family holiday, and it involves a long journey, whether it be in a car, on a plane or ferry, don’t panic, as we have some great tips on how to keep your children occupied on long trips.

©Glenn Loos Austin/Flickr

©Glenn Loos Austin/Flickr

The first thing to do is get organised, as you’ll need to have some tricks already up your sleeves, before you set off. So have a look at our check list at what to take with you:

1. Simple Game Bag

In the old days, we used to play games where you would have to spot the first blue car, or one with a registration plate that started with A, etc. Make this a little more interesting by drawing up a Travel Bingo sheet. It’s very easy, simply make a grid of about 16 squares, and inside them draw four cars of different colours, four different kinds of traffic signs, four different structures such as bridges, traffic lights etc And then get your kids to mark them off as they spot them along the journey.

Another game could be that you have to spot eight cars of the same colour, keep a sheet with scores so that you can keep on playing.

2. High Tech games

You’ll find that simple games will only last for so long, so this is where the high tech gadgets such as iPads, smartphones and Nintendos come into play. There are lots of fun games available, such as word games and educational ones, but make sure that you have downloaded them before you set off.

3. Pack a food bag

Children get understandably grumpy when they are hungry, but it is also a good way of keeping them occupied by giving them snack foods. Make up a cool bag which includes fruit, snacks and drinks. Bit size nibbles are good, or fruit purees in pouches that you can squeeze out, but steer clear from sugary sweet treats or fizzy drinks.

4. Make frequent pit stops

You might want to do your trip in one go to save time, but although taking a few pit stops will add a couple of hours onto your journey, your children will arrive much more refreshed, and will probably not suffer from travel sickness. Being sat in an enclosed space is particularly wearing for children, so if you see a service station with a rest area, then take advantage, even if it is just for a toilet break and to stretch your legs.

5. Drive all night

If the journey is a very long one, and your children are only little, consider driving throughout the night, as they will most likely sleep through the whole journey.

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