For a long time now we have been embarking on longer trips by car with our families in the back. We travel further to visit friends and family, to weddings, and family & social gatherings. The average distance in hours that a family is prepared to drive to visit an Ã¢‚¬Ëœattraction' is over two hours! So how do we keep anxiety levels of all occupants of the car to an absolute minimum? How do you make sure ensure your response to the incessant question Ã¢‚¬Ëœare we there yet' is uniform and measured? It's not rocket scienceÃ¢‚¬¦.
So if you are worried about an upcoming road trip, don't be. There are some quick fixes and all of them pretty much start with planningÃ¢‚¬¦.
Plan stuff to keep your children entertained. Colouring books, pencils, crayonsÃ¢‚¬¦ these all work. Planning will keep them occupied and far from the quarrel zone. Just think how well Pizza Express does this when the smiling waitress thrusts an activity sheet and crayons into the outstretched arms of children just as the family take to their seats. Always plan to have the good old traditional pens, crayons, colouring and activity books so they can doodle and create as the car chomps up the miles.
Electronic gadgets are good too to distract them from the monotony of the motorway miles and to make the time pass more tolerably for all. DVD players can keep them glued for over an hour and with headphones on only they get to hear Ã¢‚¬ËœLET IT GO' for the millionth timeÃ¢‚¬¦. The down side is my daughters inability to hear this song without audibly miming along!
I'm not mad keen on hand hold games consoles and loathe the shoot em up style of game, but my girls have do have tablets so they can tend to their animals, orchards and vegetable growing or complete their cup cake creations even off lineÃ¢‚¬¦ Brilliant! My daughters love to make narrated videos of the journey and we all get involved putting on different accents and creating different personalities. Not only does it help the time fly but it's also super fun to watch and hear the video back at home later.
We also take a deck of cards and play various games (the front seat passenger can on certain games play for the driver by turning cards on their behalf) By far the most popular game is the adding and subtracting game. Basically cards are dealt and each one turned. As the subsequent card is turned its value is added to the previous value or subtracted from the previous. We give picture cards different values and it's great fun. Try itÃ¢‚¬¦. You'll be surprised how much fun they find it.
When the girls were very young we would also play a slight variation of eye spy game and we would replace the letter with a colour. Now they have graduated to initial letters and the game is still as much fun as it was when I was a kid.
On a journey from Brighton to Cornwall once, we played a game which Isabella called Ã¢‚¬Ëœcount the number of white cars with at least two people in' and remarkably this simple game kept both of them occupied for an unbelievable amount of time. I commented to my wife that perhaps we needn't have bothered downloading their favourite programmes to their tablets as this game seemed to captivate them thoroughly.
We love the Yes No game where questions are asked but the person answering but not say Yes or NO or shake their head, nod their head, agree, hesitate or repeat a previous response. Incredibly hard to not like this game. The reaction when they answer wrong shows just how much fun it gives.
We also play the Make up a Story' game which I used to play when I was a child. Someone in the car thinks of a title for the story and then hands over to the next person who says for example: Ã¢‚¬Ëœonce upon a time there was a little girl called Esmeralda and she livedÃ¢‚¬¦.' this is where the next person takes over and describes where she lives etcÃ¢‚¬¦ And so on and so forth. This game shows that our children have imaginations that often smash our own with their incredible wackiness, vivacity and colour. By the end of a short time you end up with an incredible storylineÃ¢‚¬¦. One from where you can pick up later after a break for instance. Lots of smiles laughter here.
We also love to play the hum the song game where we take it in turns to hum a tune Ã¢‚¬€œ whoever answers correctly gets to go next. My daughters have very different tastes as do my wife and I so this makes for an entertaining game where One Direction, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole can often be heard in quick succession.
There are lots of resources for games and activities in the car online, so plan again and get inspired for your journey. We will typically load the car with stuff for our girls to do and also our heads with games to play and it's surprising how much happier we all are when we arrive at our destination.
Freddie St. George
Freddie St.George is Managing Director at Mojo Publishing Ltd. He is a father to two daughters and loves classic cars... especially Minis.