If you've ever spent hours cooped up in a car with the kids, you'll know how much of a nightmare travelling can be with the family. Luckily, the lovely people at ZooBooKoo have put together this handy list of things to keep the children occupied:
1. Pack a backpack
Discuss in advance what your child might need or want to take. Write a list together (sneaky literacy practice) and pack a rucksack prior to the journey. Encourage them to think of packing a bottle of water, pocket packs of tissues and wetwipes, hat, suntan lotion (if sunny), things to do, games to play... Don't forget your child's favourite teddy or blanket... Packing a rucksack builds suspense and excitement about your journey but it is also excellent training for all those future Scout and Brownie camps when they can then pack for themselves
2. Sensible supplies
Stick to water, raisins, fruit, cereal bars. Perhaps a sweet treat at certain milestones in your journey but avoid hyper-activity inducing additives found in sweets and drinks. Even if you think your journey is short and you don't need supplies, pack some – you never know what may happen.
3. Busy bees
Keep the children distracted and interested with portable games and activities. These may be their favourite electronic games (in small doses) but remember batteries and chargers. Travel games such as write-on/wipe-off activities, dice games, magnetic games, card games and activity books. Remember a lap tray to lean on.
4. Compact outdoor games
There is so much fun to be had with an inflatable or a small foam ball. Other games include kite, bat and ball, skipping rope, frisbee...
5. Postcard project
Enjoy choosing and writing (or draw and colour pictures on) postcards to send home to relatives, teachers and neighbours. Print out their addresses on self-adhesive labels before your journey. Do not leave this until the end of the holiday or it may become a chore.
6. Good book
Try to train your child to enjoy quiet time on holiday too, when you want to curl up with your book and they curl up with theirs. This could be a story book, a picture book or an activity colouring book (dot-to-dot etc)
7. Camera crazy
Treat your child to a disposable camera or an old point and shoot camera – or a digital one you don't mind losing! They could keep it in their rucksack. Encourage them to take photos to remind them of their travels.
8. Scrapbook souvenirs
Buy a scrapbook before the holidays. The child can keep these in their rucksack. Collect souvenirs such as entry tickets, beermats, menus, flyers to stick in during their travels. Encourage them to write some thoughts or funny stories or colour pictures to remind them of these.
9. Wristband safety
Treat your child to a colourful rubber wrist band and agree that your mobile telephone number is written on it inside in permanent marker pen. Discuss with your child how important it is that they stay beside you at all times without exception. Try not to stress your child about the 'getting lost' issue, and clarify that the telephone number is there in case of emergencies.
For you to enjoy a relaxing journey or holiday, your child needs to be safely occupied and busy. This takes energy on your part (sometimes quite a lot) but hopefully you will be able to cherish chilled out chunks of time as you perfect the technique of keeping the children 'entertained'.