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Preparing for a summer holiday – Part Two

Ideas to keep family entertained when travelling by car or air.

By Car

Forget speed cameras and dawdling tractors and tailgaters – the biggest cause of holiday driving stress this summer is going to come from your back seats. It’s a repeated high-pitched squealing noise that will occur several times during a journey that can make every summer holiday car trip a challenge:


Factor in the peak-season traffic chaos and soaring temperatures (naturally the heavens will open the second you’ve unpacked your bags), and suddenly taking the children on holiday in the car doesn’t seem such a fantastic idea.

However, MOLLY MAID, the domestic cleaning professionals, suggest that you might like to try some of the below ‘tried and tested’ ways to keep your children entertained in the car and to keep you sane! Even better, most of these ideas won’t cost you a penny.

  • I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with…

This classic in-car game is almost guaranteed to kick-start a massive ruckus, but it’ll at least give the grown-ups a chance to start an argument and take young minds off the M25 jam! Simply take it in turns to spot things you can see and give clues until your fellow passengers guess it correctly!

  • Travel tablets/ DVD players

As parents, you’ve probably already realised the silencing qualities of the humble tablet computer. Throw one of these digital wonder-slates to your little back seat passengers and prepare for a blissful journey, but do limit the time. Perhaps one movie per journey.

  • Back-seat bingo

This one needs a little planning. Draw a 5×5 grid on a piece of paper and run it through the photocopier a few times before you go on your travels. Then fill each grid with a set of things you might witness on your travels, such as mountains, roadworks, cattle, landmarks, rare car makes.

  • Nap time – travel in early hours of the morning

This is a brilliant, simple, but under-rated tip! Once you’ve wedged the children in the back of the car with the cool bags, thermos flasks, water and endless packets of wet wipes all stuffed into the pockets of the organiser attached the seat in front, tuck them in with their favourite comfort blankets and soft toy. For best results, start long journeys at about 3am – the children should sleep right through. As long as the air-con is set just so, their little heads will be nodding off in no time at all.

  • Map-reading

As long as children don’t suffer from travel sickness, there is nothing more fun than to track our progress on road atlases – the combination of brightly coloured squiggles and often rude-sounding place names (Six Mile Bottom) can entertain for a good half hour. You could even turn it into a game by highlighting famous landmarks and rivers to see who can spot them first.

  • Treat bags

Remember those small paper bags of sweets that you could buy from newsagents many years go? The bags that contained a surprise collection of sugary delights? Well it’s time to get a bit creative and plan some treats. Rather than dole out a heart-stopping amount of Haribo to your young ones at the start of the trip, why not prepare small bags of pick’n’mix (filled with savoury as well as sweet treats) that you can hand over every 50 miles? You could also include a small toy in each one (such as a spinning top or puzzle) to liven up the journey – not so much so that it will drive you crazy!

  • Audio Books

Why not choose a story that is age appropriate that the whole family would enjoy listening too – these tend to ‘relax’ rather than stimulate the younger passengers. If they get bored, they may even doze off to sleep.

  • Music

There’s no escaping the fact that putting on a playlist containing tracks from your childrens’ favourite films will keep them entertained. Equally, the fifth run-through of the Frozen soundtrack and Let It Go will probably make Dad drive straight into oncoming traffic, so why not try to please everyone and make it into a quiz?

By Air

Travelling by air can itself be more ‘entertaining’ for children as wandering through the airport itself tends to involve more movement, more distraction and is generally less boring than sitting in a car! Nevertheless, this is a stressful time for parents. The most stressful time is on the flight itself when parents are conscious of other travellers!

Why not try some of the below tips:

  • Drinks: Have drinks to hand they can sip on for take-off and landing so they don’t concentrate on the air pressure; which can affect children more than adults. Non sticky drinks are advisable as spillage at some stage is inevitable!
  • New Toys: Buy small new toys and games for the flight and wrap them up. This creates excitement and will almost certainly distract them for a little while! 
  • Bring out different toys or books: at regular intervals.
  • Activity books or magazines: Concentrate on packing activity books or magazine filled with puzzles as opposed to static objects such as dolls and cuddly toys.
  • Think of games with extended play. Finger puppets and activity cards such as Top Trumps are both toys that can be drawn out to last a lot longer.
  • Verbal Games: Think about games that you don’t need to carry, like ‘I Spy’ and ‘Twenty Questions,’ are good ways to pass the flight time.
  • Appropriate clothing: If it’s an evening or night flight take pyjamas. Getting children ready for bed will help avoid disrupting their sleep pattern and will give you a chance to have a break, or even a nap!

Happy Travelling!