How to keep kids entertained when you’re travelling by car

Matt Press is a copywriter, car enthusiast and owner of Learn, Think, Drive – a UK driving school that specialises in intensive driving courses.

Summer is here, which means you might well be thinking of travelling around and seeing a few sites. And, whether you’re just planning on driving around the UK or you’ve pencilled in a few longer road trips around Europe, you might need some help. You see, it’s the holidays. So, if you’ve got kids, they may not be as patient as you. Why not settle back and pick up some tips for keeping children entertained in the car?

Okay, so obviously you can charge up your iPads and smartphones. Don’t feel guilty – there’s nothing wrong with little ones playing a few games (or maybe listening to an audio book or two). But some people might consider this cheating. And besides, tablets and phones only go so far – all batteries run out eventually. Let’s look at non gadget-related stuff to do.

Plan some fun educational games. Whether it’s phonics or chess, colouring or maths worksheets, even the quickest online search will give you an arsenal of entertaining things to do. Look, some people home school on epic road trips, so it works. Honestly.

Play travel bingo. Think of some words (consider road signs, car makes and sights you’ll see when you’re driving), write them down on a sheet of paper and hand your child a pen. Who’s going to be the first to spot and cross out everything on the list?

Obviously, this is a little age-dependent, but take a pack of cards. From snap to uno, every kid likes a bit of competition and you can get so much mileage out of card games (particularly ones you play with a traditional pack of cards).

The licence plate game is always a winner as well. Take it in turns to point out a car and the winner is the first person to come up with a word that contains the last 3 letters of the number plate (in order). For example, if you see a card with a plate that has GRE at the end, you could have the words great, greedy, green and so on.

Bring loads of music with you, pack a pillow for a nap and always remember treats. Magnetic games will work well (such as chess, ludo and the like), play 20 questions about any topic you like (where people have to guess what you’re thinking of inside 20 yes or no questions) and why not have a laugh with a joke competition?

Surprises are also good to have. Pack a bag of surprise toys and activities to whip out when the going gets tough. Either way, brace yourself for what’s to come. The better the adults get along, the happier the children will be. So, if you’re tackling Route 66, you’re going to need a lot more stuff than if you’re hopping down the motorway to visit Windsor Castle.