In today’s post regular contributor, Ali Wright of At Home With Ali shares suggestions for music, games and activities just right for family road trips.
We do a fair bit of car travel with our 5 and 2.5 year olds to visit grandparents who live some distance away. To keep us all happy on these longer trips we have devised a range of fun things to enjoy along the way.
When we first started taking the kids on road trips we quickly banned kids music from the car as a sanity prevention measure! Instead we started making playlists of music that we liked, that we hoped would also be appealing to the kids. Our kids love interesting lyrics. Although some songs may have a deeper meaning for adults, we tend to explain song lyrics fairly literally to the kids. The whole family also loves music with some good drum solos – perfect for air-drumming. Though not all of our chose songs are boppy or upbeat, if the lyrics are vivid, the children like ballads and moody songs too. Some of our family favourites include:
- Yellow Submarine, Octopus’s Garden and Penny Lane by The Beatles
- Under the Milky Way by The Church
- Where the Streets have No Name by U2
- Baggy Trousers and Our House by Madness
- Midnight Rain by Paul Kelly
- Tiny Dancer by Elton John
- Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men
- Down to the Waterline by Dire Straits
- Blue Monday by New Order
When the kids start getting restless we rely on car games. Our top three games for travelling in the car are:
- The classic “I Spy”. As my kids are young we play “I Spy” with a colour clue instead of a letter clue. For example, “I spy something that is pink.” My little one always spies something that is blue and it is always the sky!
- We have a long-held family game of “spot the yellow car”. It is very simple – the first person to spot a yellow car yells “yellow car.” It is a great way to encourage kids to observe their surroundings. This game is now so ingrained I have been known to yell “yellow car” when there are no kids in the car!
- We have started using car games to educate our kids about different types of trees. Every so often we choose a new tree, point it out to the kids and then let them “spot” the chosen tree as we drive along. Flowering trees are particularly easy to spot. So far we have searched for jacaranda, wattle, tibouchina, bottle brush and maple trees. This game can easily be adapted to any child’s interest…. trucks, birds or even architectural styles.
Notebooks: Both my kids love drawing which comes in rather handy when travelling in the car. I have a collection of different sized notebooks for them. I find spiral notebooks with a hard cover the most practical – they are easier to flick through and the hard cover makes a good drawing surface. I swap the notebooks for each trip and the kids enjoy flipping through their long-lost notebooks! I also stock up on new notebooks when they are on sale at the supermarket and newsagent. A new notebook always inspires lots of drawing. Each child has their own travel pencil case filled with markers and crayons. When we arrive at our destination we have a lid hunt in the car so that the markers can be capped before they dry out.
Clipboards: I have two bright pink clipboards that I use for longer road trips. Before we leave I fill them with blank, coloured paper and a variety of colouring/activity sheets. This doesn’t take too long as I have a number of regular sources for kid-friendly activity sheets:
- Simple Shapes Drawing Prompts by Picklebums
- Five Little Ducks by Mama Smiles
- Fish Drawing Prompt by At Home With Ali
- Alphabet Coloring Pages by Mr Printables
- Connect the Dots Bird by Made by Joel
- Patterns for Colouring
Stickers: My kids love stickers. I always buys a few sheets of stickers in preparation for a road trip. To avoid frustration (mine and theirs) I only buy stickers that I know they can remove by themselves. I buy the cheap stickers from 2 dollar shops for my 5 year old. I spend a little more on my 2 year old’s stickers because she can’t remove the cheap stickers from their backing.
And when all of that fails I feed them snacks!
What music, games or activities do your family enjoy on road trips?
If you are looking for more inspiration and practical ideas for travelling with kids as we head into school holidays and summer vacation time, be sure to check out the Childhood 101 Road Tripping & Family Travel board on Pinterest.