children playing in back seat of car

"Are We There Yet?": Genius Boredom Busters To Keep Your Kids Entertained On Long Journeys

Published 29th June 2021
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It’s become the year of the staycation, so we’re all taking the opportunity to explore the best Britain has to offer. And while we won’t be jumping on a plane this summer, if your holiday spot is at the other end of the country, you’ll need to go on a very long car trip - hard enough for adults, but excruciatingly boring for children!

If you took a poll of parents asking them what phrase annoyed them the most, the words “are we there yet?” would almost certainly top the list. Even the best behaved kids start to get restless when they’re stuck in a car seat for hours at a time, and will soon start repeating that expression ad nauseam if you can’t keep their minds on other things. 

But there’s no need to fret, this list of awesome in-car boredom busters means there’s no need to dread your vehicular voyage! From travel-friendly versions of family board games to engaging electronic games and healthy kids’ snacks, we’ll set you up with all the tools you need to calm your children down. 

Keep them ‘appy’ with a kid’s tablet

young girl playing on tablet in car

A newer but increasingly popular type of in-car entertainment for kids is a tablet. A portable DVD player, games console, and storybook in one handy device, kids’ tablets are simple to use and let your little one pick what they want to play or watch without distracting you. However, your children might not be old enough to use a full-blown tablet, but don’t worry: brands like Lexibook and Pebble Gear have created kids’ tablets specifically for little ones. These machines have all the fun of a regular tablet, while lacking many of the features that give parents cause for concern, like uncontrolled internet access.

Instead, they come with special, limited versions of app stores that mean your children can only download age-appropriate content such as Youtube for Kids, educational games and child-friendly ebooks. Your children won’t be able to access graphic violence or bad language, or accidentally empty your bank account with in-app purchases either - phew!

Plus, they have a set of optional parental settings that give you greater control. You can limit the amount of time your child spends on the tablet, for instance. Another great feature is that they're wrapped in thick protective cases, which shield them from everyday knocks - ideal if your little one is particularly prone to accidents. And, to stop any 'whose is whose?' arguments, why not let your kids personalise their gadget with an array of fun and vibrant stickers? A great rainy day activity, your little ones will love customising their tablet and making it their own.

Of course, an alternative is to buy a portable DVD or Blu-Ray player. These devices don’t have an internet connection of any kind, so as long as you pick the DVDs and Blu-Rays, you’ll know they’re appropriate. A pair of kids’ headphones is an excellent companion: they have volume limiters hardwired into their bodies, so there’s no possibility of your child raising the decibels to harmful levels.

There’s no travel boredom with portable board and card games

chess game in car

Kids tablets are great, but if you’re worried about how much time your children spend glued to a screen, you’ll want to pick up some alternative distractions instead. Trying one or two children’s books might sound like a good idea, until you remember that reading lots of text in the back of the car is a one way ticket to carsick city!

Instead of books, try travel games for an intellectually stimulating and fun form of in-car entertainment. The companies behind the world’s biggest board games (Hasbro and Asmodee, to name but two) have created car-friendly versions of their top sellers. To make things easier, travel games like Monopoly Grab ‘n’ Go  don’t just have a smaller board than the versions you play in your home (and by play, we mean get way too competitive, argue over who owes whom what rent on Mayfair, and claim they cheated!). Typically, the pieces have pegs or tiny magnets on the bottom which means they won’t slide off the board if you go over a speed bump. Card games like Whist or Scopa make great travel games because your kids can hold playing cards in their hands and it’s relatively easy to find lost cards again.

Travel games aren’t just great for your kids to play against one another in the backseats. If your car trip is exceptionally long, you might want to pull over for an hour or two to stretch your legs and focus on something other than the road ahead. These breaks are a great opportunity to teach your child to play chess with a magnetic chess set or play a few rounds of President.

Keep hunger pangs at bay with some healthy kids’ snacks

healthy snacks in box

Even if your child has the patience not to complain on a long road trip, they’ll soon start griping if their stomach is growling. So it’s a good idea to stock up on nutritious (and oh-so delicious!) snacks for your child. 

It might be tempting to grab ready-made snacks like chocolate bars and crisps, and while your child certainly won’t complain, plying them with sugary, fatty foods is going to create a hyperactive hell (and it’s not brilliant for your car’s upholstery, either!). If your child spills a can of fizzy drink in your car or drops an ice cream cone in between your seats, it’ll take a Herculean effort to clean it properly. It’s best to find some dry healthy kids snacks instead.

Dried fruits, nuts and seeds can make for tasty, healthy kids snacks, as can ready-made whole grain snacks and fruit and nut bars. However, be careful to check the labels, as some of them can be surprisingly bad for your child if eaten to excess. For example, although peanuts can be a great source of protein, they also have a lot of salt and fat, too.

The best way to stock up on healthy kids snacks before a big road trip is to make your own! Just remember that the best treats for on the road snacking are ones that aren’t too messy to eat. Why not try making your own bite-size healthier flapjacks? You’ll find the ingredients you need for these recipes in our food and drink category, and can pick up lots of great snack ideas in our collection of healthy eating cookbooks - finding healthy snacks for kids has never been easier!

Set up a sing-along with a CD

boy in car with headphones on

Another super easy way to stave off your child’s boredom is to stick a CD in your car stereo and have a family sing-along! Check out our CD category for inspiration and to find great deals on child-friendly albums. Alternatively, curate your own cheesy pop favourites on an MP3 Player and play the tunes through a car Bluetooth kit.

A great choice to keep your little ones occupied is the Disney Sing-Along series. This album includes a host of the House of Mouse’s best loved songs from films like Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Moana. Just make sure that every member of your family can tolerate it! Trust us, the only thing worse than listening to a song you hate is listening to people singing along to it!

Don’t forget to take the toys!

young boy playing with toy boat in car

Children have an invaluable and renewable resource that’s great for keeping them occupied - their imagination! What better way to stoke that than with a new toy? You can take the phrase ‘car toys for kids’ literally and buy your child a new toy car or two, but since the most fun you can have with toy cars is racing them along the ground, they’re not a terrific choice for the limited space available. Child-friendly brain teasers are a much better bet, as are action figures and dolls. While they might not be strictly car toys for kids, bringing your child’s favourite stuffed animal on holiday will make your road trip a lot smoother. Toddlers and very young children in particular will love the comfort, security, and sense of home that these toys represent. 

You could also try turning to activity books, which are easy entertainment and mess-free. These books range from a few dozen pages to one hundred or more, and have all sorts of fun little tasks and accessories, like easy peel stickers to keep young minds occupied and engage their creativity. Children’s colouring books are great for the same reason. If you’re worried about crayons or pens staining your upholstery, grab an Etch-a-Sketch! This classic toy is perfect for long car journeys as there’s no clean up involved.

If your child really loves sticking things together, a children’s sticker book can keep them occupied for ages. Many modern sticker books use removable stickers; if you do buy a book for a car ride, make sure it has these, unless you want your child to redesign your car’s interior!

End of the road

family getting out of car in woodland

With these dynamite distractions, that road trip will pass by in a flash! If they don’t nod off to sleep straight away (please, please, please), these tips and tools will help keep them quiet and calm until you reach your destination. But while it’s worth planning for the journey, there’s a lot more to your holiday than the car trip. Thankfully, you'll find everything you need for a fantastic holiday on OnBuy! 

If you’re driving to a campsite, make sure you get geared up in advance and take a look at our camping and hiking supplies before you leave. There, you’ll find everything from family-sized tents to portable showers. We’ve got a camping for beginners guide to ensure there are tent triumphs rather than tragedies! If you’re holidaying by the coast, there’s never been a better time to get into boating and water sports. You’ll have a splashing good time if you follow the advice in our watersports blog.

We don’t want your holiday to become memorable for all the wrong reasons. With our help, you and your family will have happy holiday memories to cherish from both the journey and the destination itself, so get set to have a stomping summer holiday that will be enjoyed by parents and kids alike!

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