The Big Lap is the single, most incredible adventure you can provide for your children. Getting to visit some striking landmarks, meeting the fantastic wildlife, and swimming at Australia’s most remarkable beaches is something they’ll never forget.
But the Big Lap, like many other road trips, involves long, tiresome rides. And kids don’t have a grownup’s patience. So hitting the road unprepared can lead to a nightmare of squealing, annoyed kids. Avoid any chances of this happening by preparing well, even for the longest, monotonous rides. Here’s a list of the best activities to keep your kids occupied and your mood lifted.
Road Trip Bingo
Get several templates of Road Trip Bingo online and give each traveller one. Then, as the ride progresses, the driver announces an object they spot, and everyone that has the thing on their list should mark it. It’s wise to use stickers instead of markers for marking; trust me, you don’t want to be cleaning marker stains from your car seat, clothes and fingers when you’re working with limited resources.
Backseat Movie Theatre
Kids love screen time. While road trips are ideal for cutting that time, a good animation movie can keep them occupied and entertained. Download one when you have a good connection and prepare some cinema-like snacks. Set your laptop between the seats and give them the option to pick a snack – popcorn, M&M’s or gummy bears. If you used to have a movie night at home or went to the cinema every week, this will provide them with the same comfort.
Choose suitable audiobooks for your kids. When they feel overwhelmed, a good book can calm them, make them sit still and listen. If you’re doing homeschooling while on the road, it’s even easier to pick educational and fun books. Could you provide them with several genre choices? If so, they’ll feel in control and like the activity more!
Few things are better than blasting your favourite song in the car and singing to it. Car karaoke sure is one of them! Select age-appropriate songs, write them down on a sheet of paper and let each passenger pick what they’ll perform. Next, build a mic – use the cardboard centre of a paper towel roll, colour it black and glue a tin foil ball on one end. Give each other applause and prepare some prizes for the best performances!
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An Hourly Present
For extended rides, make sure to prepare an hourly gift. It can be any kind of activity that takes them at least 30 minutes to finish. This way, the kids will focus on anticipating the next activity instead of the ride’s length. For example, give them a puzzle at hour number 1; a story at hour number 2; a fun snack or origami at hour number 3, etc.
Licence Plate Checklist
This is one of the most popular games on any road trip, but it never gets boring. See how many different licence plates your kids can find on your ride. List all the states, and as they spot a licence plate, write it under the state. Ask for their predictions; what state’s licence plates you’ll find most of? The right guess gets to pick an activity at your arrival spot!
Map Out Breaks
Before getting on your journey, draw your path or print it and give each kid a map. Appoint break stops with stickers on the map, and inform them of where you are at the moment. They get to pick an activity at every break stop – quick walk, snack, a game of chase, or tree climb!
Scavanger Hunt is similar to Road Trip Bingo. Each kid gets a list with objects you can find on the road, and stickers. They’ll need to focus on the road and mark everything they see – the driver doesn’t announce the objects. The list can include landmarks, trees, highways, cars of specific color, signs or animals. It’s a great, long and fun distraction!
I Spy Bag
An I Spy Bag is a cheap and fun DIY project. Fill a small bag with rice and different stickers, small objects – googly eyes, letters, plastic animals, etc. Seal the bag and make your kids turn it around to search for all the hidden items. Make a checklist, so they’ll mark what they’ll find eventually.
Bucket Pulley System
Have you ever wondered who uses the roof handles inside the car? Well, we know of one great use! Tie a string between the front and back roof handle on each side. Attach a bucket. Take all the activities, snacks and gifts in the front with you before setting off. Add something different to the bucket at certain time intervals, and alert your kids to draw the bucket. It can be the simplest of things, like note writing or exchanging snacks, but the method is undoubtedly a favourite among kids!
Print out an outline of the landmarks, animals or landscapes you’ll encounter on your road trip. Add a small exciting fact on the side of each drawing and give them to your kids along with colour pencils. The pencils are the ultimate road trip friendly colours as crayons can easily melt in the sun, and markers make a mess.
If you need to focus on the road and your kids are older, give each an activity bag when you hit the road. Fill the bags with a more extended activity like a book, a fun activity like a new toy, a creative activity like drawing or painting, and a snacks box. Activity bags give out the school trip feeling!
I’m Thinking of … Game
“I’m thinking of” is a great game to play anywhere and anytime. You can do it with numbers, food, animals and every other category that comes to mind. One of you thinks of something – let’s say a number. Everyone takes a turn guessing the number you’re thinking of! The correct guess is the next one to think of something!
Make snacking fun – pack dry, round snacks like Cheerios, Cheezels or Burger Rings. Give the kids a tray with string and snacks so they can create their custom edible jewellery. It’s not 100% mess-free, but it keeps the kids entertained and their tummies happy!
If your kids are older, involve them as much as you can in your trip planning. For example, give them a map and appoint a more responsible task like making sure you’re following the right road and alerting for turns and stops. You can even provide them with a list of camps in the area and let them choose the most suitable one!
Would you rather?
“Would you rather?” is a game as old as time and a fun pass time. Write down some hard “would you rather” questions and challenge your kids to think. For example, would you rather give up your favourite snack or your favourite toy? Would you rather get a koala or a wombat as a pet?
The 5 Things game is an excellent way to connect with your family. It’s versatile – you can do it with any category. Each passenger names a theme – for example, 5 things you’d eat for the rest of your life – and everyone reveals their list. The next passenger says 5 things you love about yourself, 5 things you’d buy with $1 million, etc.
The Questions Jar
Google a list of fun, interesting and educational questions, write them on pieces of paper, fold them and put them in a jar. Take the question jar with you and make each passenger draw a question. Then, they have to answer it or eat a sour lolly! The game is easy to customise so that you can play it with kids of any age.
Why not provide your kids with a new way to memorize their first Big Lap? Buy everything they’ll need to make their own Big Lap scrapbooks like notebooks, coloured paper, glue, stickers and coloured pens. They can write down favourite spots, glue used admission tickets, attach photos and have a memory for a lifetime.
Surprise Toys (for the are we there yet phase)
Extra-long trips ask for extra treats. Buy ahead some toys you know your kids love and hide them well. When everything else fails or is no longer enjoyable, pull out the big guns- in this case, the new unwrapped toys. There’s no greater joy (and distraction!) to kids than a new shiny toy.
Mix Fun & Educational Games
There can be such a thing as too much fun. To make each activity special, try to diversify between fun and educational games. Too many learning games in a row can be challenging on the road, but the occasional fun activity in between serves as a great refreshment.
Travel During Their Sleep Hours
No matter how hard you try, some kids have limited patience and need time to adjust to life on the road, especially at a young age. So to make the whole travelling process easier, opt for hitting the road during their sleeping hours – like early in the morning or noon.
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