Dare I say it – perhaps I’ll whisper it – but the long, summer holidays are fast approaching! May half term is around the corner and, before we know it, those wonderful hazy days will be arriving. As a teacher and a parent, the long six week holiday has different emotions for me and, as I’m sure a lot of you will agree with me, that planning is the best way to attack the month of August!
If you’re travelling with little ones this summer, then we have the perfect top ten ways to help you to keep kids entertained on long journeys. As we know, their attention spans can wane, so we thought we would make a handy list for you to refer to when you’re about to leave and before they shout the dreaded “are we nearly there yet?!”:
1. Get them involved with the map / make them your little navigational helpers
Children love helping and we are always keen to encourage our little adventurers to be involved in the planning of a long journey. Before you set off – maybe even a few days before, if your children are older – take some time to plan your route with them. You could make mini maps for children to hold and plot key locations / landmarks for them to spot along the way. If you are flying, you could break your journey down into different sections, with one child being ‘in charge’ for organising each element. By involving them and allowing them some responsibility over your family’s travel, they will feel far more excited and less likely to allow boredom to set in!
2. Joke books
Holidays are a time of laughter and there’s no reason why the belly laughs shouldn’t start on the journey! You can purchase great joke books that will have all the family rib-tickling and there are some really good collections that are aimed at specific age groups, too, such as ‘Awesome Jokes For 6 Year Olds: Silly Jokes for Kids Aged 6’ by I.P.Happy, which comes in different ages.
3. Magnetic board games – all of the classics
Teach your children a classic board game and then let them use the magnetic version when travelling. They’re small and compact, too, so don’t take up too much space in your packing. Traditional games, such as Battleship, Connect Four and Chess can keep them happy for hours. Little Wise Toys have a range of magnetic educational products for 3-6 year olds - perfect for keeping little minds busy on long journeys.
4. Word games
They kept us occupied when we were little and the classic car journey word game, such as Eye Spy or Word Association, has a lot of life left in it yet! Word games are a brilliant way to develop and support your kids’ vocabulary and language development, as well as creating a healthy competition on a long journey.
5. ‘Keep Em Quiet’ bags
The KeepEmQuiet company have a wide selection of activity packs for keeping youngsters occupied on journeys. They have different themed bags and are aimed at different age ranges, too. Alternatively, you could create your own activity bag – knowing what your children like doing – and personalise it to make it extra special.
Technology can be a huge helping hand on a long journey and can help kids to calm down and relax, which can be just what you need if you have a delay or a hiccup in your travel plans. Before you leave home, download some of your children’s favourite shows or films and be sure to make sure that you have the charger for your device!
As parents, we all know that snacks are a huge help! A well-timed snack can be a great distraction at a tricky point in your journey or it can help to keep hunger at bay, if you know that your next service stop could be delayed for whatever reason. Children love picnics and, by being organised before you leave, snacks on a journey can be an activity of their own.
8. Card games
If your children are old enough to understand the rules, card games are a lovely way to bridge age gaps and take children’s minds off a journey. You can buy great travel packs that come with their own cases so that they don’t get lost, or why not try a simple classic – such as pairs – for younger children? Another great way to focus their concentration when travelling and small enough to pop into your bag when you are out and about, too.
9. Singing / group storytelling
Nothing says a family car journey like a good old sing song! You can share family favourites or let children shine with renditions of theirs. Try and make a playlist of songs that you know they like, before you leave. Kids’ headphones are a great purchase and this is a great way to keep them quiet or help them drop off for a nap, if they’re feeling tired or a bit overwhelmed.
10. Our Little Writing Company travel journals
We have recently launched our very own Travel Journals that we don’t think you should leave the house without! Personable, with space for your kids to record their own version of your holiday, they provide a wonderful writing opportunity for little ones, as well as a lovely keepsake to refer back on in years to come.