Fun ways to entertain children on long car journeys

July 24, 2017 Published by

Are we nearly there yet?  The question that every parent dreads, especially when your child is asking before you’ve reached the end of the street!  So, what are the best ways to keep the boredom at bay on a long car journey?

There are the obvious choices of reading a book, playing on a tablet or watching a film, but these aren’t always suitable (especially if your child, like mine, suffers from travel sickness) and, like Mary Poppins, you need to be prepared.  Have a range of activities up your sleeve, as it is hard to predict how long each one will keep the children’s attention.

Here are our top picks for keeping the children happy, and the adults sane, on a long car journey:

Play a word game 

There are so many simple games which can be played to beat the boredom, here are a few of our favourites:


I spy 



A classic game that can be enjoyed with the whole family; for younger children, try using colours instead of letters.  This is great for a journey as it will make the children take note of their surroundings and recognise the changing scenery. 


The shopping list game 

there are many different versions of this memory game where each person adds an item to the list remembering what has come before them…the longer the list, the harder it gets!  Make it challenging by creating a list in alphabetical order or setting a theme (animals, food, certain colours…)


Would you rather?


Child laughing


This is a great game for eliciting giggles and is definitely one that adults will enjoy as much as the children. “Would you rather put your hand in a bowl of snakes or go to school naked?” Neither option is one you would like to do, but you have got to choose one.


Word association


One player starts by saying a word, you then take it turns to say an associated word– no repeats are allowed.  For example: ball; tennis; Wimbledon; wombles; rubbish; bin; smelly…


Listen to music 



Children tend to love music and enjoy singing along to familiar songs; as if we needed an excuse for a good family sing along!  As well as being fun (and an easy activity to keep the kids entertained) singing increases the oxygenation of blood -it is an aerobic exercise- and results in alertness; it is also linked to stress reduction, longevity, general health (1) and development of certain areas of the brain. (2) 


Listen to an audio book 


Child listening to music on tablet


Audio books are a good alternative to music and there are versions out there to suit all ages.  They are a great way to break up a journey, and, according to Spanish researchers (3) put the whole brain to work; not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.  Listening to a story is a brilliant way of calming children down and bringing a little peace to the journey. 


Play with some toys


 Have some toys in your bag ready to whip out when boredom (or squabbling) strikes.  Try and find toys that are small (the car is never big enough when travelling with children) and promote independent play… you may also want to take any noises the toy makes into consideration! 

Take a look at our tried and tested travel toys for some inspiration.




(1) The significance of choral singing for sustaining psychological wellbeing: findings from a survey of choristers in England, Australia and Germany – 2008

(2) Psychological aspects of singing developments in children

(3) 2006 study published in the journal NeuroImage

Photo Credits:

Child Laughing by cheriejoyful licensed under CC BY 2.0

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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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