Whining words from the back seat strike fear into the heart of even the most patient and prepared parent. So how do you entertain children on long car journeys? Tablets, DVD players and various other handheld electronica are the easy option, but there are plenty of more creative choices. Here are our favourites.
Print out your route from the internet and pick out some landmarks on the way for the kids to spot.
2. Audiobook CDS
Classic and modern stories for all ages, which can often be borrowed from your local library.
The modern equivalent of the CD, and a vast online library of words and music for kids. Search on iTunes.
4. Times table tests
If your children like maths, quizzing them can help the miles pass. Sums relating to the trip – for example working out the distance to your destination – help build holiday excitement.
5. Car colors
Challenge them to find vehicles of a certain colour and the first to 10 wins. Choose pink for yourself for an easy ride.
6. Traditional travel games
Toy shops stock magnetic versions of family favourites such as draughts, Scrabble or backgammon.
7. Talk to each other
Pick a topic, such as where you should go on your next family holiday, and get everyone contributing.
8. Play 21
A family-friendly version of an old drinking game. The driver starts by shouting ‘one’. Work round the car until you reach 21. Whoever is last to talk replaces a number with a word – the funnier the better – then starts the count again from one. Keep going until there are no numbers left.
9. Sing songs
Fill the iPod with favourite pop tunes that everyone knows and play them through the car stereo. Take turns to do a solo.
10. Build a story
Start with the first line of a tall tale and then take it in turns to add the next sentence.
11. Pub cricket
Each child spots pubs on their side of the road and claims one run per leg in the name. So The King’s Head gets nothing, but The Coach & Horses is a gamer-changer.
12. Sewing cards
Younger kids love the calming repetition of threading coloured string to build up a picture or pattern.
13. I Spy
An old favourite, but great for getting younger kids to think about language and spelling. For an extra challenge, try it from A to Z.
14. Bags of fun
Needs preparation, but give the kids a small paper bag after 25 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, etc. It could be a sweet or something to do with the holiday.
15. 20 Questions
Use sticky notes on the kids’ foreheads, each with the name of a celebrity or teacher written on it, then they ask questions to guess their identity.