Road trips with kids are fun – really, they are! If you do it in a way that keeps everybody happy, car trips can provide some of the best family memories.
Our first tips? Plenty of cool water, healthy snacks (sugar highs in a confined space are never pleasant) and regular breaks for sanity and leg-stretching.
Next, some clever ideas to keep the kids engaged on a long drive.
Oldies but goodies
Old-fashioned car games are heaps of fun, which is probably why they’re still around after all these years. Try revisiting Spotto, I Spy (use colours for younger kids), 20 Questions, or a rotating story where each person adds a line.
The family who sings together
When the kids break out the “Are we there yet?” questions, it’s time for parents to break out the best road-trip music. Turn it on, turn it up and distract everyone with a big sing-along of everyone’s favourite tunes. Start with the kids’ current picks (within reason, of course – no one wants to hear songs about hot potatoes on high rotation while they’re driving) and sneak in some of your own long-time favourites as well – think of it as musical education! Make a game out of it, too: what can each of you find in the car that makes a great “microphone”?
Driving in the digital age
Every family has their own rules about digital devices in the car: some let the kids go for it, others put time limits on their use, and some parents say no way. As the kids get older, it can be particularly useful to give them some screen time during a drive. It helps to fend off boredom and has them ready for action when the car stops and you want to do some sightseeing. If you’re on a long trip, it can be wise to set some limits on device usage, perhaps using them as a last resort. After all, it’s hard to go back to I Spy after playing Minecraft!
For the bookworms
Reading in the car is a great way to make time pass quickly. Bring along a few books that your kids can read or flick through independently, whether it’s their latest picture book or a page-turning chapter book. Choosing some books about travel can help to tie their activity in with the trip. For little ones, try Alison Lester’s Are We There Yet?, Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson or Mem Fox’s Possum Magic. Early readers might like Ruby Red Shoes by Kate Knapp or Dr Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Independent readers could enjoy a few chapters of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis or Lonely Planet’s Not for Parents travel series. Have an issue with car sickness? Audio books are a wonderful alternative.