The season of road trips and long-haul flights is upon us, so education expert and mum-of-four, Fiona McKenzie, shares her top tips on keeping kids amused on a long journey
How often do we take a long journey with the children? Not often. Then suddenly in the summer we expect the kids to behave beautifully for hours on end while we fly around the world, and drive for what feels like days. Knowing how to keep your children entertained on long journeys can be a nightmare for many parents. That is why Fiona McKenzie is sharing her best ideas to help your family not only survive these trips but also make them fun.
Planning for a long journey is the number one step to ensuring it goes smoothly. Pack a bag filled with magnetic board games, colouring books, crayons, sticker books and magazines. Anything you think your children will like! On top of that, make some Are We There Yet? packs as back-up. These can be filled with little surprises for your children ready to bring out in moments of need. And always carry treats and healthy snacks; they will keep you just as sane as they do your kids!
Ensure your kids get excited about the destination
Getting your children enthused about where they are going is a surefire way of making the journey there more tolerable. Encourage your children to keep a travel journal and include some cool facts about the destination. Or get them to take photos on their phone or a digital camera so they can document their trip. This is a great way to make your holiday educational, too.
Have some quizzes ready about your destination for them to do on the way.Not only will this help to pass the time but it will also get them excited and learn about where they are going.
Play games but think outside the box
Instead of the usual I-Spy, try I-Don’t-Spy where the answer can be anything! A simple “I don’t spy with my little eye something beginning with M” can take hours before they end up at Marmalade.
Make bingo cards in advance on the things you are likely to come across on the way – the first to get all of their squares checked off wins a prize.
A great game for the whole family is Alphabets. Pick a category such as “Fruits and Vegetables” or “Cartoons” and go round everyone saying as many as you can beginning with A. Once completed, move onto B. You will be amazed at how the time passes! Or play the “Round the World” version, where you have to think of a country or city that begins with the last letter of the previous word. For example: Dubai, followed by India, followed by Austria, and so on.
Try some of our favourite podcasts
Podcasts are a fantastic bonus on a long journey; they can be educational but try to pick ones that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Here are some of our own favourites for you to try on your next trip:
Wow in the World – This is a brilliant scientific quest through space, technology, anatomy and beyond. Join hosts Mindy and Guy
as they explore new discoveries and try to answer some of the biggest questions about the universe.
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel – A mystery series that centres around Mars Patel, who goes off to find his missing friends. It has been compared to recent hit show Stranger Things, and will have your whole family hooked from episode one.
What If World – No question is too silly to explore on this podcast. What if sharks had legs? What if it rained candy? What if cars could talk? It makes for an incredibly engaging listen for the whole family, exploring these worlds in imaginative detail.
Story Pirates – Real actors tell stories that have been written by kids. The silliness of where the stories go will have your children entertained for hours.
The Past & The Curious – Each episode explores historical figures of the past through stories and songs. It celebrates great achievements in history in a fun and entertaining way.
If all else fails, use the iPad to your advantage
If ever there was a time to not feel guilty about letting your child binge on a screen, it is on a long journey. But it does not have to be mind numbing! Make sure it is loaded with creative apps and educational games. Playing Scrabble on the phone with everyone joining in can keep everyone engaged, or timed quizzes such as Sporcle can get very competitive. Do make sure you have a few films downloaded in advance just in case.
Give them structure
Long journeys are boring, there is no doubt about that, but help ease the time for your children by breaking it up into manageable chunks. Stop regularly and aim for somewhere where your children can run around to let off some excess energy while the adults can enjoy a much-needed caffeine hit. Also help break down the time by having a countdown to arrival, with a new activity each hour, or a signal that says we will be stopping soon.