Travelling with kids? Try these top ten winning ideas for keeping the little ones safe and entertained while on the road.
It's every parent’s challenge: long car journeys with small children. You may have planned everything down to the last detail; leaving time, arrival time and places to stop and eat but finding ways to keep the little ones way occupied in the back for hours on end is not always that easy.
Here are a few suggestions...
1. Safety first
Fit a booster seat if travelling with small children and make sure that seat belts in the back seat are working before setting off. (National child restraint laws in Australia state that all children up to seven years of age must be safely fastened into the right restraint for their age and size. Look up child restraints on the RTA website for more detailed information at rta.gov.au/roadsafety/children.) Also take a look around the car to check for small loose items that children could potentially swallow.
2. The comfort factor
Once the car is clean and ready to go, pack soft travel blankets, pillows and small cushions to encourage napping. Keep tissues and wet wipes to hand for sticky fingers.
3. Game on
There's nothing better than a hand held games console for any child over the age of five. Be sure to pack a variety of games and make sure you have plenty of batteries, to avoid the expensive prices at service stations. Otherwise chargers powered by the car are handy too.
4. Music maestro, please
Let them have their own MP3 player with headphones. Then they can all listen to their own stories/music at their own pace. For a long journey they get a fresh batch of stories that they haven't heard before.
5. Read on
Lengthy adventure stories are ideal on long car trips. As some children suffer from carsickness when reading, audio books on CD or digital mpeg are the best road to complete silence in the back. No fights. No questions of, “Are we there yet”, children just happily listen to the story.
6. Stop it!
Add an extra hour on the estimated travel time. Quick stops and comfort breaks re-energise drivers and passengers alike, especially the small ones!
7. Thirsty work
It’s a must to bring your own esky of drinks. Most roadside stops sell sugary drinks loaded with caffeine, a toxic combination for long, boring road trips with small children. Pack small cartons of fruit juices with straws and bottles of water, or diluted cordial.
8. Snack attack
A large 'snack bag' filled with munchies like raisins, crackers, lollies, crisps, grapes, tangerines and small individually-packed sandwiches will provide constant motorway boredom relief. If eating in the car is usually a ‘no no’, then a road trip picnic makes for a special treat!
9. I Spy
Any games that involve looking for animals, places of interest or spotting landmarks are a good way to keep active minds busy on the go. ‘I Spy’ never gets old!
10. Quiet time
And finally if your children are a little too bored and restless, pull off the road at a rest stop, or a safe stretch of grass, and let the kiddy winks run and play for as long as they like. Get them racing around and burning off the boredom. When they have expended every last drop of energy, then let them shuffle back to the car. Within five miles, all you will hear from the back seat is the sound of silence. If all else fails, try the ‘Quiet Game’, where you sit as quietly as possible for as long as you can and the last one to make a noise is the winner.