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“Are we nearly there yet?!”, is the cry of millions of children, generally when you are only two roundabouts from home. As the children get older, they get more able to amuse themselves in the car, and understand and estimate how long the trip is going to take, but how can you better prepare for an awesome road trip with teens and tweens?
Ok, I have to admit. This suggestion came from my 13 year old daughter. It seems she’s not been totally traumatised by GummiBearGate after all. She did go on to suggest some healthy snacks. We liked the look of these healthy cookies, but you could make any kind of cookie, just make them bite-sized so you don’t have crumbs everywhere.
There’s no getting around it. At some point, your kids will want to disconnect from you. Don’t try to engage them in games and conversation when they are obviously not interested and would prefer to listen to music or play a game. Tablet, smartphone, iPad, iPod – if we could fit the wii and the xbox into the back of the car, we’d do it! Make sure you have all the charging cables with you, and available, so that you don’t have to endure the last 20 miles with whinging unplugged kids.
Make a Playlist
Hand over your iPod (other music players are available!) and get the kids to make playlists for the journey with all their favourite songs. They can use the songs you’ve already downloaded, or Spotify/Apple Music if you use them.
Check out audiobooks too – particularly for kids who get car sick, these are a great way of passing time during a long boring drive!
Make a Blanket Fort
Ok, so maybe you can’t make a full on blanket fort, but take pillows and blankets so that they can get comfortable. They may sneer and say they don’t need a blanket like a baby or a granny, but if they fall asleep you can cover them up all nice and cosy, just like when they were little.
Get them to Write a Travel Journal
A great memento of the holiday – a travel journal. They can use a blank notebook or buy a travel journal with ideas of things to write about. Remind them to use their phones or tablets to take photos, which you can later print out and add to the journal. If they don’t want to write a journal, have them make a holiday video, which they can share on YouTube when they return.
They may complain that they are ‘far too old for this’, but when you start playing iSpy (just a thought – was that the inspiration for all the iGadgets in our lives?!), they’ll join in. Counting cars of a particular colour, or spotting cars from different countries, then imaging who they are and where they are going. In the Hungarian car is Anna and Györgi, they are on their way to the World Goulash Convention with their secret recipe, trying to stay one step ahead of their competitors, who are trying to steal the recipe…
Take a Break
We found Rheged, Cumbria quite by accident, just off the motorway. It was a great place to stop for an hour and stretch our legs, have a coffee and let the kids run off some steam. Younger ones will like the outdoor play area with the wooden fort and climbing wall. Do some research before you go, ask on social media to see if anyone can recommend good places to stop.
Or you could get right off the road altogether. Look for towns that are within a mile or two of the motorway, take a blanket and have a picnic in a park for an hour. You’ll have to balance the length of the journey with the length of the stops, because pausing too long just prolongs the trip, but better to stop just once for a longer period than every hour or two for 10 minutes.
Any other tips? Let us know in the comments, or join our Facebook group to take part in the conversation.