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How to keep kids entertained on a journey

There is no getting away from the fact that holiday planning can be a bit stressful!  However finding ways to get around some of the issues will no doubt ensure one or two less grey hairs.

This year millions of people will have gone on holiday, some of those will be relaxed and others a tad frazzled.  I have years of experience travelling with two lively boys.  As they get older the issues do change and so must the ways I deal with them.  It is no longer possible to ply them with carefully prepared portions of snacks to stagger along the journey.  They need more entertainment.

Personally my little darlings will start before we even get in the car.  The times my husband has got out of the car saying "You take them, I am not going".  This then escalates of course into a bit more 'banter' between us. 

Work out how long a journey will take and what will hopefully entertain everyone during this time.   (Plus allowing for problems en route keeping us in the car for longer --- we have to deal with the M25 for most journeys so we know to allow extra time)

Having a bag just for taking in the car is the best way to ensure you have something.  It also means if you are going on a train, boat or even in your accommodation you are equipped.

I do not want this part of our holiday to be expensive and it shows in The Great British Holiday Report from Teletext which was produced recently that families are budget conscious over their holiday.  It also says that larger families book their next holiday at least 6 months in advance.  So with that in mind I think it will be advantageous to bookmark this article to make sure you keep your games bag full of fun.

When I was young and we were going on holiday my mum would buy a ladybird book with audio tape.  This meant everyone listened to the story but myself or my brother were able to read along or show our little sister any pictures in the book.  My own family have enjoyed many books even the whole series of Harry Potter over many journeys.

It is important that we spend some quiet time on a journey as some of the games can be quite noisy and the driver may not like this very much.   Its their holiday too.  It is also exhausting being games master for the brood so we need a rest too. 

We don't want to OVER stimulate our little darlings so games need to be kept under control.

Keep a score card of winners of any games you play and offer a prize to be given at the end of the holiday.  This allows for all the passengers to have a chance of winning.

Traditional car games such as eye spy can be tricky as someone will surely insist on eyeing an object from outside - just for fun. 

a lorryA game which can benefit from a little preparation is to play BINGO.  Not your ordinary number bingo but depending on the age of the players you can do it with pictures or words or both.  EG.  A Lorry, A red car, Police Car, Caravan, Motorbike, roof box, McDonalds' sign and more.

Don't make each card have too many options as a quicker game is far easier to manage.  Plus gives the option for more winners.  

There are many sites that you can gain free printable pages from such as the BBC cbeebies page.  Personally I ended up making my own as I felt that many of the printables were showing pictures that were not relevant to the UK.  However if travelling abroad I think it would be an excellent way of introducing the differences by showing the different road signs, vehicles or even places like schools or town halls.

If you have older children you could give them a notebook and a pen each and ask them to do the lists and then shuffle the pages and play that way.

If you wanted to be more prepared you could make the bingo sheet and laminate it.  Then use wipe clean pens so that you can reuse the cards.

Making the mistake of playing games like Yellow Car can be regretful.  These are usually underlying games that play on throughout a journey.  The original way to play this is that each yellow car seen means the finder can hit an opponent.  This I do not recommend starting as most little (and not so little) darlings enjoy this and it can get rather mean especially if one has dosed off.

DVD's --- When we were first bought one for Christmas I thought oh this wont get used.  It didn't take long before we had upgraded it to a screen each (less eye contact).  Plus we purchased headphones.  This was the best thing we have done.  Apart from the discussions! over which DVD will be chosen and who holds the remote control.  The headphones means that we can still have the radio on it the front and they can watch the films.  Also they don't have to interact with each other which is a blessing on a long journey.

This is all in moderation.  Mixing films in with other entertainment is ideal.  We don't want our children to miss the world that is going on outside as its important to have no stimulation sometimes too.

A nursery Rhyme CD is a fabulous way of enjoying some singing and even actions to (as long as you are not the driver)

Many will use IPods, Nintendo DS or tablets to keep the travellers entertained which is ok but I personally like to try and reduce our technology dependency whilst on holiday.  I am the worst culprit so diverting away from computers is really quite important.

One of the most useful things I have in my handbag is some printouts of the squares games.  Multiple functioning as it can be used for emergency scrap of paper, the back can be used for noughts and crosses or hangman too.  I have even once given a little boy in a hospital waiting room a sheet so he could play with his Dad whilst waiting.  It is also amazing for keeping children who are not good at sitting at a table entertained for quite some time.  It can be put away when the food arrives and bought out again perhaps between courses.  It does not take much effort and it easy to keep in your bag.

Verbal Games can be enjoyable too.   I find games like I went to the shop and I bought ---- then go through A-Z taking it in turns repeating the previous purchases and then add your own.  I went to the Zoo is another alternative, If you are using shop then saying I went to the supermarket, butchers, bakers etc will reduce the scope of answers just very slightly.

20 Questions can keep everyone going:  One player thinks of an animal, mineral or vegetable.  The other players have 20 opportunities between them to ask a question.  The first player may only answer yes or no.  Questions such as is it an animal? are good ones.  Each player takes their turns and once all 20 questions are gone everyone must answer.  We play it that if you know before hand then you are allowed to guess. 

Many of these games can be used on any journey such as a plane, train or boat.  On these type of journeys I would take a pack of cards too as there are many games you can play either with the children or just adults. Most important is a simple pad and pens.  Finding appropriate wordsearches and colouring pages can wile away some time especially if your child is good at entertaining themselves.

Remember it's the beginning of your holiday and the last moments too.  Your journey can be enjoyed.

Author:  Yolanda Barker
Editor at www.totz2teens.co.uk


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