With money being tighter than it used to be for most people, staycationing (i.e. holidaying at home) is becoming increasingly popular. Even those venturing overseas with families, are moving towards more budget holidays, with driving and camping becoming ever more attractive to those on tight budgets. While this can make for a very enjoyable holiday at an affordable price, it does present the challenge of entertaining younger children on longer car trips.
Probably the most challenging ages are the terrible twos up to the start of the high-school years. Younger children may well sleep through the whole trip or happily play with the non-driving parent in the back. Older children will be able to understand the general idea of the trip and will probably be happy to entertain themselves while on the road. Children in between tend to have enough of a concept of time to understand that they’ve been cooped up for longer than they’d like, but not enough to understand ideas like we’ll be there in 3 hours and then we’ll have a great time.
Time Your Trip in Chunks Your Children Can Follow
Young children won’t grasp two hours but they will grasp when this story ends, so the aim of the game is to plan your trip so that you have a maximum of 2 hours driving time, followed by a break, in which you all get out of the car. Portable DVD players are great news for parents of young children, particularly since they are now fairly affordable and will play CDs as well. These can be a more useful tool for managing time than favourite toys, since they have a defined beginning, middle and end. If these are outside your budget, basic MP3 players are now available on the internet for rock-bottom prices and will be more than sufficient for songs and stories.
Give Your Child Some Ownership of the Trip
You can now buy backpacks which open up to provide a playing surface with raised edges designed to stop bits and pieces falling onto the floor with all the hassle this entails. Invest in one and give your child ownership of choosing what goes into it. This is their bag and their responsibility so while you can guide, at the end of the day, what they say goes. If you think they’ve missed out something they’ll want, you can pack it separately yourself.
Chalk is Better Than Crayon
Young children love to draw and many can keep themselves occupied with crayons for hours. The problem with crayons is that they only work on paper and once the paper is used, that’s it. Chalk on the other hand, can be wiped easily wiped off and the same drawing surface used again. Likewise plasticine and lego are good choices for car journeys. Books and colouring books can be good for some children, but others find them hard to use in the car.
Look For Child-Friendly Pit-Stops and Be Prepared to Make Detours to Accommodate Them
Motorways may be the quickest way to get from A to B but generally speaking, they’re boring enough for adults. Heading for the back roads may take a bit longer (although at holiday times, when the motorways are busy, possibly not very much) but the scenery is likely to be more interesting and, more to the point, child-friendly facilities tend to be in towns, rather than on motorways. When you’re planning your trip look for places where you and your little ones can take a break, even if only for 5 minutes and this includes making sure there’s somewhere to park fairly near by. Places to look for include snack-stops, play areas and toilets. Knowing where these are in advance can make it much easier to deal with emergencies or prevent strops turning into major tantrums.
Cleaning Up After the Trip
What a pain, you’re home from holiday and back to work tomorrow and your car is in a right state! The last thing you want to do on the final afternoon or evening of your holiday is get the sponge and polish and start cleaning the car out. So don’t. Pop down the road to your local car valeter instead. There are loads of them out there these days and they’re all competing hard with one another, which means it’s even cheaper for you! Pop online and put your postcode into thewebsite and they’ll be able to pin point your nearest valeter.
Then you can put your feet up and enjoy the last few hours of your holiday. Enjoy!