Staying Entertained on Car Journeys
Holidays, day trips and any lengthy car journey with children can be stressful for both drivers and passengers. Without stimulation, too much noise, or a sensory overload, children can get restless and very uncomfortable.
Children's entertainment has changed a lot in the last 20 years. When I was younger, there were fewer motorways across England. This meant more 'stop off' areas and interesting scenery down windy back paths. We could use I Spy books to tick off what we saw - The different farm animals, churches, old buildings, factories and unique landmarks! Now it's virtually impossible to complete these books. How can we spot a 'Lady with a pushchair' or 'Man with red jacket' when we're travelling along the same dull motorway for 70 miles!
I get asked a lot for activities to occupy children (especially those with sensory needs) when travelling long distances. If you have a child that finds it difficult to sit still for even a short amount of time, here are some ideas that may help...
Our Tips For Long Journeys
Prepare your children early so they are aware of the upcoming change in their schedule. Explain when and where you are going clearly, and let them know there will be a few stops along the way (if there are!).
Showing young children or those with sensory needs photos of the friends or family you're going to visit helps a lot. If you're just visiting an area on holiday alone, show them pictures of the house/hotel where you are staying, and the local attractions you will visit. Videos of zoos, theme parks or other areas you'll travel to may help to ease their nerves.
There are easily available books in local libraries (and often in my shop in Barleylands Farm, Essex), that tell stories of children going on trips. This will relieve a few of the child's fears or concerns about the upcoming change and put their mind at ease.
Talk about all the different games you will all play on your trip! This would be a great moment to tell them you have prepared a special sensory bag for them to keep them fidget happy! (A bit more on this later).
You can discuss when you'll stop off and what food (and goodies!) you might have. Whether it's a pre-prepared picnic or a café you'll stop at, this is something to look forward to.
Travel Games and Fidget Packs
Keep some items aside that your children have chosen to take on the journey. It's often a good idea to have a secret drawer full of games! They can also come up with games they would like to play, such as spotting different coloured cars.
Sensory items can be very helpful and calming, especially if your child is feeling tired or stressed. Using pacifier clips to attach things to the side of the car seat can also stop items from being dropped or lost.
You may want to keep some sensory items back so you can introduce something 'new' when your child becomes restless and stressed out. As previously mentioned, snacks and drinks are always a good thing to be able to hand out as and when needed. It'll provide a much-needed break!
Our sensory travel kits, launching very soon in our sensory collection, come with a variety of things to do. They are beautifully displayed in a colourful bag and suitable from ages 1 all the way up to 10 years old!