10 Quick Wins for a Smooth Car Journey with Kids

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Travelling on a car journey with kids

Taking a trip with the kids in the car is not always the easiest. Quite aside from the endless packing and checklists, you have to face the car journey itself. Hot, bothered children squished into a car can quickly end in distracting squabbles. The miles don’t seem to end and can make the start of a trip away quite stressful. With this in mind, and holidays on the horizon, I’m sharing my top ten tips to make your car journey as smooth as possible.

Spontaneous games to play on a car journey

These can be vital. When kids are feeling twitchy, and you need to change up the energy without being able to run around, spontaneous car games come in handy. The games that we turn to are:

Eye-spy. An oldie but goodie, eye-spy can be played using letters or colours making it accessible for all ages and members of the family.

Sing-a-long. The teenagers might say they hate it, but even they can be entertained with a family sing-song. From nursery rhymes to Disney to current hits, this can be a lot of fun. Listen especially carefully when everyone forgets a lyric or two and creates their own filler!

20 Questions/ Would You Rather? Quick fire word games can take a little more concentration so perhaps better for the driver to start off then take a back seat whilst you concentrate on the road. They can be a lot of fun though. Our favourites are 20 Questions and Would You Rather as these are quick fire and take no preparation to play.

Game ideas to prepare in advance

I find it’s a good idea to have some games prepared in advance of a car journey as a ‘just in case’. These can stand in as a longer form of entertainment than some of the quick fire suggestions above. Some staples for us are:

Road trip bingo. Definitely needs some pre-thought if possible, but it’s easy enough to make up bingo cards. A registration starting “BG”, a car over ten years old, a lamppost, a sheep… Think about where you are heading and throw in some unusual things that you might find closer to your destination, such as a specific bridge or building.

Things to spot books. These can range from types of cars to birds to structures. They can be especially useful to keep younger children entertained, but if you join in your older children may get the memo and play along too.

Give them a map. A road atlas or Ordinance Survey map can be ideal for following a journey or just getting used to looking at a map. Suggest they look at the key to spot major roads and landmarks, or the index to find their destination. Older children can use some of their geography skills with this suggestion too.

Travelling on a car journey
Travelling on a car journey with kids doesn’t have to be stressful!

Screen time

Using screens on a car journey is not the ultimate in evil entertainment that it is made out to be. For a really long journey they can break it up and allow the mind to rest a bit helping the time to pass quickly. Here are our screen tips for a journey:

Download in advance. There is perhaps nothing worse than your child or children wanting to watch a programme or film and finding that there is no reception to stream it. A lot of paid for services offer the opportunity to download favourites which can be really handy if you have space on your device/s.

Podcast or audiobook. It doesn’t just have to be films or television programmes that are used during a car journey. Listening to a child-friendly podcast can occupy the entire family and you can all learn something fascinating together. I love history podcasts whilst my boys will happily opt for something science based. Audiobooks are similar and can be either fiction or non-fiction, individual or car wide!


Some car journeys can feel long and tedious, and when the above options start to wear thin there can be nothing better than breaking up the quiet with some mindful play. Sounds a bit tricky to achieve in the confines of a car perhaps, but here are our suggestions:

Fidget toy/ Rubix cube/ Puzzle balls. All of these keep hands busy whilst engaging the mind too. They can be fiddled with whilst looking directly at them, or absent-mindedly used while looking out of the window and quietly taking in the journey’s surroundings.

Lap tray. What’s so special about this? A good lap tray, whether part of the fabric of the car or purchased separately, can be used for a range of in car play. Sticker books, colouring, even modelling with plasticine can all take place on a lap tray and keep things in place whilst you’re busy turning corners or navigating a roundabout.

Final thoughts

So there you have my ten suggestions for a smooth car journey, hopefully taking the edge off the boredom factor and kick-starting your break on a positive note. I do hope that you have found this post helpful. Please feel to add your own ideas in the comments box below!

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to take a look at my advice for travelling on a budget with family.

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