It makes no difference whether this is the first longer car journey with your child or whether you have been through it before, it is always a great challenge to occupy them during the journey, particularly as it does no harm to keep your eyes on the road. Do not worry, as children get older, it becomes easier for them to handle longer car journeys to their favourite holiday destination, though until then, these tips requiring no accessories can be a lifesaver.
Why not give a child some gadget or book in the car?
You have surely noticed how some people become nauseous after using their mobile phone or reading for a few minutes in the car. That phenomenon is caused by motion sickness, which can surface when our brain receives contradictory information about our position: although our inner ear senses that we are in motion, our eyes still see the motionless screen or book. Therefore, our brain assumes we are hallucinating, which is usually due to some toxin. In order for the body to rid itself of the toxin, it induces nausea. The degree of the sickness depends on how well our brain is able to tolerate such contradictions.
Games without accessories
However, nausea is not the only reason why it is not a good idea to give them toys in such situations. I know a little child who loved throwing toys out the window on the motorway while giggling with pleasure. Fortunately, that is a rare case, though we can practically guarantee they will drop the toy and will not be able to reach it, causing them to throw a tantrum until the next stop when we can dig out the toy from under the seat. What was the name of that AC/DC hit? Highway to Hell? As the saying goes: ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
Yet what should we do if the children are not occupied, cannot stand the long car journey and keep asking, “are we there yet?” Instead of toys and books, to help time pass, it is worth engaging them with games that require no accessories, but also strengthen the bonds between us. It is icing on the cake if they can even learn something from the activities:
‘I spy’ game
A classic car trip game for children, which is entertaining and is sure to engage their attention for a while. One of us says: “I spy with my little eye something that is green…” and the others have to guess what it is. Naturally, we can go beyond the category of colours and refer to anything else around us.
Do not say the word!
At the beginning of the journey, choose 5 words you must not say during the journey. They should be words that are used fairly often. The winner is the one who says the fewest of the forbidden words.
Going for a picnic
This is another simple activity requiring no accessories or preparation. You can start the game by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking a blanket (or some other object). The next player continues by saying: “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking a blanket and some apples.” The person next in line has to add one more items after precisely repeating the things the others said. Not only does this form of chained storytelling provides a sense of security for smaller children, but also helps ‘compose’ themselves, thus making it particularly beneficial for those who are anxious about travelling.
Who am I?
This is a classic guessing game encouraging children to think, that can be used at any time, Think of an animal or person. The others have to guess who or what they had in mind. For example, how many legs do they have? Can they fly? The person who guesses correctly can think of the next challenge.
Thinking of a hypothetical script is an entertaining car-ride game. Ask the following question: If you could be a famous person, who would you be and why? If you could have a special power, what would it be and why? Everyone in the car should answer the questions.
Someone starts a story consisting of a single sentence. The next person continues the sentence. You can keep going round and round, adding new sentences to the story until you end up with a complete, well-rounded, creative and funny story.
If you have any tried and tested tips to engage the attention of children while travelling, make sure to leave them in the comments!