“Are we there yet?”
You’ve packed the last minute essentials, refreshed your Summer wardrobe with lightweight sun dresses and shorts, given the limp lettuce and milk to your next door neighbour, unplugged the fridge, and set the living room lights on a timer to fool would-be-burglars that you’re at home.
Finally your two weeks of blissful escapism are here – and all you can hear from the back seat of the car is “Are we there yet?”
Long car journeys can be tedious whether you’re 20 or 60, but with children you really need to plan ahead to make them less stressful.
So at Daisy Hill we’ve grilled the more seasoned travellers in our address book to find out their most fun ways to entertain the little ones while travelling.
1. Treasure hunt
What does a cow, a yellow taxi, a helicopter, Stone Henge and a bridge have in common? They’re all on the scavenger hunt list of things to spot when we take the A303.
The contents of the list can vary depending on:
- your route
- the age of your travellers
- the length of your journey
Keep them interested by giving treats or points for each item they spot. You can keep it going by hiding little treats around the cottage or hotel when you get there.
2. Keep a photographic journal
I do this every holiday, and it’s great fun, both at the time you’re clicking away and when you look back at the photos.
Record the progress of your journey with a camera – photograph the front door as you close it; then take a shot of all the milestones along the way, any fun sights you see out the window.
Make the journey part of the holiday, by capturing the things that make you smile or sit up in your seat.
3. Pass the parcel
You don’t need to pass – just wrap.
When it’s snack time on the journey, make it interesting by wrapping the snack food in three layers of paper (newspaper, magazine pages, used gift wrap) – this makes the opening of the food almost as exciting as eating it (if not more).
4. Sticker books
Kids love stickers. Fact.
Making your own personalised sticker book is a fun way to get excited about the holiday before you even start packing.
Here’s how you can make yours:
- Find some patterned paper that your little one will love (try a wallpaper sample from your local DIY store)
- Write a special holiday message on the paper (eg. Summer holiday 2011, St Ives family holiday August 2011)
- Cut the paper to A4 size and glue to A4 heavy weight cardboard
- Laminate them both together.
Now you have a sturdy base for your sticker board.
Then all you need is stickers.
And the willpower to resist letting your little ones begin sticking before you leave for your holiday.
5. Tell a story featuring your child and their favourite story character/s
“One sunny day Emily and her mummy and daddy went to the beach to play in the sea and build sandcastles. Emily was digging a trench around her sandcastle, when she saw something in the sand. It was a map – a treasure map. She reached over and picked it up….”
You can change the story as many times as you need, including new twists and turns, different characters, family members and familiar places. Kids love to hear the same stories again and again so don’t be afraid to repeat your best work.
What little tricks work for you? Share your fun and free family games in the comments below.
I’m off to spot a cow, a yellow taxi and Stone Henge…. not easy from a small window in St Ives, Cornwall.