So, our trip to Center Parcs Longleat took 2 1/2 hours.... and a bit longer getting back down the M4 on a Friday. As we're repeating the experience in November I'm really grateful for this guest post giving some tips on how this could be a less stressful experience!
Eight things to keep in the car for the kids
Kids can be easily bored, especially when they are cooped up in the car. Whether your journey takes one hour or five, you can guarantee to have them moaning about being bored before too long. So, to avoid the ‘are we nearly there yets’ that every parent dreads, we’ve compiled the eight things to keep in the car, which will combat their boredom in a flash!
1) An etch-a-sketch. Remember those? No, they’re not very fashionable any more, but they’re still amazing for keeping children amused during car journeys. The advantages: no mess, no batteries, nothing to lose down the back of the seat – and they can be tasked with drawing scenes from the window. It’s easy to start again – just wipe it clean and off you go!
2) Top Trumps. Whether you’re comparing cars or sharks, top trumps is a must-have game for the car. It’s easily stashed in the glove-box, you don’t need a flat surface to play, and it can provide hours of entertainment. Perfect!
3) Secret sweetie stash. There’s nothing like a bit of good old-fashioned bribery to keep them quiet, so having a secret stash of sweets that only makes an appearance every so often is a must. Reward game winners, mark a significant point on the journey (eg. halfway), or simply keep them quiet and happily munching away in the back seat. If you want a healthier option, try dried fruits or cereal bars rather than sweets.
4) Magazines. Pick out a few of their favourite magazines before a long journey and stash them under the seat – but don’t tell them until you’re a way into your journey, when the boredom’s really starting to set in.
5) Story CDs. Reading can be difficult in a car, especially if your children suffer from car sickness or you’re travelling in the dark. So a good way for the whole family to enjoy a good story is to buy a storybook CD. Younger kids enjoy nursery rhymes or simpler stories, but older kids can listen to spoken novels like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It’s a great way to share the experience together.
6) In-car DVD players. Modern technology is amazing – you can get in-car DVD players that attach to the front headrest, so that they can watch their favourite DVDs from the back seat. Of course, a pair of headphones is a must, too – so the kids can enjoy the DVD while you listen to some good music.
7) Headrest pillows and blankets. If you can get them to sleep for part of the journey then all the better – but sleeping can be difficult if they’re uncomfortable. Invest in some travel pillows (the ones that wrap around the shoulders) and blankets so that, if they start to nod off, you’re well prepared
8) Portable games consoles. Most kids love computer games these days, and this can be very useful for getting through those long journeys. If you’re doing a lot of travelling – such as going on holiday – it might be worth investing in a new game before you go away so that they have something different to play.
Keeping the children happy in the back seat is important, but more crucial is safety on the road. Make sure you are protected for your journey with adequate car insurance.
Sarah Leverton writes for Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on topics such as car insurance, child safety and affordable driving. She also writes for a variety of other publications, covering a wide range of topics from sailing to health and lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I was offered the opportunity to feature this post as a member of the Sainsbury's Family Network.