Family car journeys in dreary winter weather can be particularly tiresome and strenuous, and it’s important to stay alert and attentive during long travels.
However, this doesn’t mean your drive has to be boring – with a reserve of entertaining car journey games, time will fly and your trip can be fun for all passengers.
We got in touch with stay-at-home father and parenting writer John Adams, who blogs over at DadBlogUK. Here he gives us his tips on surviving long trips with two young children:
“With my wife’s family living 400 miles away in Scotland, we have undertaken some epic car journeys with the children. Keeping them entertained can be tricky. That said, traditional games are often the best. I have two daughters, Helen who is six and Elizabeth who is three. On many an occasion we have played I Spy.
Of course Helen can read and write so can play properly. When Elizabeth has a go, you never know what is going to happen. Her best attempt was surely her first when she got completely muddled and said “I spy with my little eye….why did the chicken cross the road?” We have also been known to do spelling and mathematics tests. Simple stuff like practicing times tables keeps Helen entertained for quite long periods of time. This is a bit advanced for Elizabeth but she will always have a go and we encourage her. It’s a good introduction for when she starts school.
When all else fails, however, there are two further options. Either audiobooks or DVDs. Audiobooks are great because you can do the classics like Paddington Bear or Enid Blyton stories which have stood the test of time. If you’re playing DVDs, however, I thoroughly recommend one DVD player per child plus headphones. Wishing you all the best for the holiday season, wherever you are travelling this Christmas.”
John Adams, DadBlogUK
Along with John’s tips on keeping your journey enjoyable, here are a few more inventive and family-friendly car journey games that can help minimise the moans and groans of “are we there yet?”:
1. Car Karaoke
Bring out your inner Mariah Carey with your favourite Christmas songs! No doubt the radio will have a constant stream of festive hits, so sing along as a family, or have your own X Factor and compete to win the spot at ‘Christmas No. 1′.
2. The ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Game
The rules are simple – don’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Take turns asking questions and the first person to crack and reply with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is out. “Do you like Christmas?” is not such a straightforward question anymore – respond with “of course I do!”, “it’s my favourite holiday”, or if you’re feeling particularly Scrooge-like: “I hate Christmas!” Any question or indirect answers work, but be aware – it’s harder than it seems!
The habitual game for any car journeys that kids find very entertaining: when you drive through a tunnel or over a bridge, say, “Aaaaaaaaaah!” The person who holds the note for the longest without taking a breath wins. A fun way to bring out children’s competitive streak.
4. I Spy
As John pointed out, I Spy can be fun for all the family as it’s a classic game with self-explanatory rules: someone chooses an object that is visible to all players and says, “I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…”, stating the first letter of the chosen object. The first person to guess the object gets to start the next round – a timeless favourite that’s perfect to keep the family entertained in holiday traffic.
5. Licence Plate Games
From ‘Double Letter’ to making words from letters – and even numbers – licence plates can be a good source of entertainment during congested traffic. Double Letter works in a similar way to bingo; just shout out when you see two of the same letter side-by-side on a number plate. On particularly long journeys you can try to find doubles for all the letters in the alphabet.
Alternatively, you could be creative and make words out of licence plates. For example, a number plate that reads ‘XM45’ could be seen as ‘Xmas’ and so forth.
6. Spot the Banana
Keep score of how many yellow cars (they’re the bananas!) you can spot, and the person who has counted the most wins. This easy game can last all journey, or simply to the next service station, and is fun for passengers of any age. You could even mix it up and look out for other colours – use your favourite foods as inspiration!
7. Would You Rather…?
Would you rather sit in a bath full of spiders or sit in traffic for a whole week? Or would you rather eat a worm or drink gone-off milk? Neither option is particularly appealing but that’s the premise of the game! It’s bound to generate a giggle and can be tailored to suit children or more mature passengers.
8. Guess Who
One person picks a family passenger, celebrity, or even a distant relative and the other passengers have can ask up to 20 ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions in order to guess the chosen person. Be inventive with the chosen person, and selective with the questions – the first player to guess the correct person wins and begins the next round.
9. Tree Tally
The right-hand side of the car vs the left. Team up and scan your side of the road for Christmas trees in gardens or houses, count them up and the team who spots the most festive trees. Parents can be the mediators to ensure both sides are keeping the right score and playing fair, but everyone will like to get involved with this personal family favourite.
10. The Quiet Game
After all the excitement of Christmas and the lengthy car journey, a game of ‘Who can be quiet for the longest?’ can provide parents parents with a well-needed interval of peace and quiet. Granted, this may not last for long with a car full of kids, but it will give the driver a chance to concentrate and relax after tedious traffic.
Travelling in a full car is not the ideal way to spend your time, and often relies on the imagination. Whilst keeping passengers entertained makes the journey easier, it’s important to remain alert on the road. Statistics from the ONS show that death caused by traffic accidents rises significantly by 30% for women and 9% for men between the months of December and January.
With more traffic on the road nowadays, and especially around Christmas and New Year, it’s important to enjoy your journey, but stay safe. Activities that require little or no props are less likely to distract your attention away from the road, and verbal and visual games can stimulate passengers whilst be easily controlled unlike digital or interactive games.
With the weather playing such a vital role in driving conditions, along with the increase in alcohol consumption, being on the road can be dangerous. If you were to experience any mishaps whilst travelling, Breakdown Cover can help to get you back on the road and home in time for Christmas festivities. In the unfortunate event of being involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, Motor Legal Protection will cover legal costs to help you to reclaim your uninsured losses, whilst also providing a like-for-like courtesy car so you can continue with your journey.
Cover from Best Price FS gives you access to a 24/7 helpline, 365 days a year, so help is always available, no matter what the occasion. The best journey is a safe one, so too find out more about how to keep you, your vehicle and your passengers safe, visit Breakdown Cover.