How to Keep Children Occupied on a Long Car Journey

By Nabewise

How to Keep Children Occupied on a Long Car Journey

Traveling with children

is a lot easier these days than when I was a child in 1960s but it is still a good idea to plan ahead and have plenty of ideas to keep the children occupied.

In those far off days of 1960s we used to travel to Devon for our holidays, a journey that would take no more than four hours today used to take the entire day in those days. There were no motorways to ease our journey then, and it was a case of navigating from town to town and trying not to get lost. When my brother and I climbed into the car to start our journey early in the morning my mother gave us a large brown paper bag each. The bag would be filled with little treasures to help us survive the journey. In my bag there would be a number of comics, back then each comic produced a holiday special edition and my parents usually saved the holiday specials to take on holiday. The bag would also include a couple of puzzle books and one or two I Spy books to keep us occupied on the journey. There would also be a drawing book, a packet of pencil crayons, a couple of pencils and a small pack of wine gums.

When my own children were young I kept a little rucksack for each child filled with the sort of items I’d enjoyed when travetling in my childhood, but I also included a selection of song and story cassettes. The story cassettes were especially useful because one of my children suffered from travel sickness and this was made worse if she kept her head down to read or looked out of the side windows, but the song and story tapes kept her entertained and took her mind off feeling sick. When the children were a little older we had a DVD player with two screens for them to use in the car, it proved a great success. We also used cds with quiz questions, these were fun for all the family.

A Few Ideas

  • Songs – The children will always remember the songs you listen to in the car. A sing along is fun and even the most reluctant teenager will join in eventually. My children love to sing along to Abba’s greatest hits.
  • Word Games – Word association games are fun, one person starts with a word then each player adds a word that is somehow associated with the previous word. This usually causes a great deal of laughter.
  • Ticking Off Lists – If you produce a list of place names, counties or service stations before the journey, the child can tick these off and get an idea of how close they are to their destination. This can prevent the constant refrain “Are we there yet?”
  • Alphabet Games – There are various alphabet games, I spy is suitable for all ages and for the older children the shopping game is fun. It starts I went shopping and I bought …… the first person adds an item starting with A, the next lists the A item and adds one starting with B and so on.
  • Word Games – using the letters from a car number plate, name of a town etc get the children to make as many words as they can.
  • Puzzle Books – Doing a crossword together can be fun.
  • Note Pad and Pens – With a notebook the child can draw, write a poem, make lists or do whatever they want.
  • Comics and Magazines – If the child does not suffer from travel sickness a book or a magazine will keep the entertained for quite a long time.



  • Drinks – water or squash is best as you don’t want the child to feel sick
  • Travel Tablets – for those that need them should be taken before the journey then as directed during the journey.
  • Snacks – simple easily digested (and non messy) snacks will we welcome
  • Spare clothes – pack a bag with two sets of clean clothes for each child and a spare top for each adult, make sure it is easily accessible in the boot of the car. It may sound excessive, but a spilt drink, an accident or sickness can make everyone miserable if they do not have spare clothes.
  • Wet wipes and small rubbish bags – these are handy for all sorts of reasons
  • Frequent stops – There is nothing more stressful for the driver than a little voice from the back of the car announcing that they have to go NOW when you have just driven past the turn for the services! Make sure that you take frequent breaks and insist that the children visit the bathroom even if they don’t think they need it.

Enjoy your journey!



Jan 3rd,

wonderful post very informative.


Jan 3rd,

Nice post…


Jan 3rd,

Good and interesting write!

Authoress Terry E. Lyle

Jan 3rd,

You’re very thoughtful and that’s great, that you remembered how difficult road trips could be when you’re a little kid, that now you show compassion on those little babies with your wonderful ideas and pre-planning. 🙂


Jan 3rd,

Excellent advice. I love the pix.

Ruby Hawk

Jan 3rd,

Wonderful ideas, When mine were little I always let them bring a few small toys and puzzles. We also played games, like keeping score of spotting a certain make and color car. or watching for a certain color house. There were always games to play.


Jan 3rd,

Nowadays, I think gadgets like PSP would help too


Jan 4th,

Very clever idea for an article. I really enjoyed it. A long journey can get boring especially for kids if they are not kept entertained. useful ideas and essentials you mentioned.


Jan 4th,

great ideas enjoyed reading it


Jan 4th,

Those were great and fun ideas. I like singing while on a long trip 🙂


Jan 4th,

These ensure a good upbringing.


Jan 4th,

great tips thnx for sharing


Jan 4th,

very helpful! great write.


Jan 4th,

Word games, stories and DVD player works well with my nephew and niece. Great ideas. thx


Jan 5th,

i might say that this is a very useful tips… i will keep this in mind because it may be useful for me in the future when i have children some day…

Anuradha Ramkumar

Jan 6th,

Nice insight. I recently went to London from India with my daughter who was then 3 yrs old. I kept her occupied with cartoons and coloring. Even on other long journey, I always keep colors, pencils and a book with me for her to draw and color. This will keep her occupied.

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