Avoid the headaches on your next family road trip with these tips on how to keep everyone entertained. (Photo: iStock)
Road trips can be a real headache when there aren't enough things to keep your mind at ease and the passengers entertained.
From nagging kids to moody teens and grumpy elders, travelling the long road with the whole family can seem like a mission impossible that not even Tom Cruise could conquer.
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But fret not, here are some ways to avoid the headache and not end up crying into your steering wheel five minutes into the route:
There's nothing quite like the distraction of a good game to keep bored minds at ease. There are a range of road games you can entertain the family with like:
- Car Bingo - If you're travelling with older kids and perhaps a grandparent or two, this game will be sure to brew some healthy competition along the trek. Fill the Bingo card blocks with road signs or sights to spot along the route and stash some candy or choccies as a prize for the champ.
- I Spy - Is there anything quite as sacred for road trips as the age old game of 'I Spy'? It's a great way to keep unsettled kids occupied by spying every tree and rock you pass by. The game is simple: each player takes a turn to look for something in sight and say "I spy something beginning with the letter *insert first letter of the object*...". They can then get the rest of the family members in the car to ask questions about the colour, where it's located and other characteristics until the object is guessed.
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- One Minute of Words - If I Spy starts feeling a tad redundant, why not tickle your inner dictionary. Give everyone in the car (aside from the driver, of course) a pencil or pen and paper. One passenger plays both the role of the timekeeper and heads the heavy task of choosing a letter from the alphabet. In a one minute time frame, everyone has to write as many words as possible that begin with the chosen letter. The passenger at the end of that minute with the most legitimate words wins.
- The House Game - Have you ever driven past houses en route that are either ridiculously immaculate or hauntingly creepy and wondered who lived there? Well, keep the family entertained by allowing everyone to create a short story about who they think lives there and what daily life in the house is like.
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Music for the Soul
Growing up, one of the fondest memories I have about lengthy family road trips was belting out classic ABBA and Beatles songs while cruising along the blazing summer tar.
Now, while six-year-old me may not have had the faintest idea who ABBA was or the tension that was the Lennon-Ono-McCartney Beatles drama, I did enjoy jamming along to Fernando and Hey Jude when they started humming out of the car stereo.
So having a good road trip playlist is VITAL. If you've got younger kids, you might get away with sneaking some oldies in, but with older kids and passengers getting some modern hits you all love is a great way to sing and dance any road trip tension or boredom out.
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If you're not an easily nauseated person, you might wish to grab a book you've been meaning to read, are currently reading or one you can read a thousand times over to kill some time on the long road. You can even grab some kiddies books - particularly interactive or colouring ones - to keep the kids entertained as you slip back into the fictional world of your own selection.
Sometimes all you really need to lighten the gloom and doom atmosphere brewing within the car during a long drive is to just take a pit stop. Perhaps route some highlights along the route that will be exciting for the entire family to check out or visit a farm stall for some piping hot coffee and fresh air. It's good to stretch your joints and empty your bladder from time to time - especially with little ones and elder family members.
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Never underestimate the power of an 'old school' physical toy or game to keep the kids entertained. Portable devices may die and fail you midway through, but if you've got some interactive toys, like magnetic toy drawing boards, puzzle books, dry erase boards or some playing cards - you can be sure to keep your kids entertained for longer. For really long road trips, consider getting some cheap, but fun toys to gift your kids at certain kilometre marks to keep them from getting bored.
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A little screen time can go a long way to serve as a solid chunk of distraction. Team playing games for tablets and smartphones have the software to help squash any potential sibling rivalries or squabbles - heck it might even foster a little bit of coveted bonding time between your kids!
But while it's great to bring along the digi-entertainment, you better not forget to grab the chargers and power banks with many USB ports - unless you wish to run the risk of running out of entertainment juice at the 2-hour mark of a 6-hour trip...
Padkos and Movies
Many 4x4 cars these days come with built-in TVs and DVD players - giving you the ideal chance to perfect your Lion King roar or Elsa ballad. Playing a kiddie movie or classic that runs thick with musical numbers will also help keep the driver entertained and not just the kids. Also be sure to pack in padkos snacks and try to hold off of eating them until after the 1-hour mark for longer journeys and savour them when you whip out the films and need the comfort during the heartache of Mufasa's death.
Portable devices can also allow everyone to watch their own movie of choice if there are enough devices to go around.
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These are just some of the ways you can keep your family entertained on the long road - what are some of your go-to tricks and tips?
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