10 Tips For Travelling With Kids

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Read about '10 Tips For Travelling With Kids' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

When planning a self-drive holiday or the ultimate family road trip in New Zealand or anywhere around the world, many parents ask how to best prepare for a family road trip? Traveling with children can be challenging at times but a little preparation and planning can mean keeping the kids happy, enjoying the trip and creating a positive experience that just adds to the holiday.

Read on for our top 10 tips for travelling with kids, some fun ideas for long road trips – our best boredom busters and some handy road trip games for kids (and mums and dads) to play.

Travelling With Kids

Top 10 Tips For Road Trips With Kids

Planning your next road trip and need a little advice on how to get the kids there in one piece, preparation is the key, take a look below for some of our top tips for road trips.

1. Keep Hydrated

Dehydration is a major reason that kids can get grumpy or operate on a shorter fuse than normal. Make sure everyone has a water bottle and encourage small drinks at regular intervals.

2. Keep Cool

Driving in high temperatures can make everyone uncomfortable, using the air conditioning function, the ideal temperature is around 20-22 degrees. If it is a lovely day why not open the windows and enjoy the fresh air.

3. Block The Sun

Bright sunlight in your eyes is uncomfortable for everyone, take care to block the sun for the kids in the back, especially if they’re on the side of the car that’s continuously being exposed to it. A light towel lodged in the window or even a spare sweater can do the job nicely.

4. Keep Occupied

Kids act up when they’re bored, so making sure they have some kind of entertainment on hand nips this kind of behaviour in the bud. As well as the usual electronic devices it’s a good idea to pack non-screen activities like books, magnetic travel games, cards, colouring books or whiteboards and markers.

5. Stop Regularly

Planning for regular pitt stops is a must when travelling with kids. It is important to get away from the car and take a good break, incorporating some exercise to get the blood pumping and legs moving. Grab a coffee and some food, or go for a long walk.

6. Pack Snacks

Even though there are usually plenty of great little cafes and places to eat along the way it is still a good idea to pack some healthy, fruit and protein based snacks for the road. Make up a selection of items in individual bags for each child to avoid squabbles.

7. Make Conversation

Travelling in the car is always a great time to have a chat with your kids. Find out what’s on their minds, any issues they want to talk about or just point out places and things of interest along the way. Explaining the journey and where you are going can be great for even small children.

8. Get Some Rest

Children will be sleepy at some point along the way, and naps will help them to fill the time. Be sure to have travel pillows and light blankets on hand to make it just that little bit more comfortable. Remember to bring their favourite soft toy too.

9. Be Prepared

It is likely that there might be some spills, car sickness or other unexpected occurrences. Always have some paper towels, a rubbish bag and extra clothing on hand to help with clean up. Nobody wants to spend the rest of the trip sitting in clothes covered in vomit or spills.

10. Be Flexible

Even the most well-planned trip can go off the rails – don’t let sticking to schedule make things more difficult. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow and adjust the plan as you go.

Fun Ideas For Long Road Trips – Best Boredom Busters

Even in a country as endlessly beautiful and varied as New Zealand, boredom is a factor on any road trip. Just as for those driving, long and winding roads can become a bit of a chore for children, we’ve put together some fun idea for long road trips – keeping everyone entertained.

  • Music And Radio. New Zealand has a number of radio stations depending on your taste that offer a variety of listening content. Get the whole family involved in making a ‘Road Trip Playlist’ ahead of time, have some fun with it and add some tunes that will get everyone singing along, or depending on the age of the children audio books might be a good option. Or get the kids to make up their own playlists for their personal devices.
  • Tablets And Smart Phones. Tablets can be an extremely valuable tool for keeping kids entertained while traveling. Before you leave for your trip, load up your device with both favourite and new games and movies. Remember to bring along portable chargers or car charging accessories to keep them topped up.
  • Track The Journey. Both kids and adults alike can start to get restless when they don’t know how far they’ve come, or how far is left to go. Record the odometer with kids, and use map Apps such as Google Maps to show a visual representation of where you are at and break the journey into several milestones, such as the next town or rest area, to give an indication of progress.
  • Games To Play. Connect The Dots, Hangman and Naughts And Crosses (or Tic Tac Toe) are oldies but goodies when hitting the road. Pack some paper (pads or notebooks are best) and coloured pens. These games are great for passing the time, make a tournament out of it and see who can be the ultimate champion! Bring along some lollies, fresh/dried fruit, nuts or other treats to give as prizes. See below for more fun road trip games for kids.

Road Trip Games For Kids

Taking a Kiwi road trip with your kids can be stressful if they easily get bored, especially with younger children. Here are some great games to play in the car with your kids to keep them occupied and enable everyone to have a more enjoyable travel experience.

The Categories Game

Pick a category like “types of fruit”. One person starts off by naming a type of fruit, then the next person, in a clockwise motion. If that person cannot think of an item in the category within 5 seconds (or longer for younger kids), they are out of the game. Keep going around the circle until only one person is left. This works best with at least 4 people.

Number Plate Names

Choose a theme such as people’s names, countries, or animals, and start creating a list by using the first letter in passing number plates. If a player cannot think of a new name before the car passes by, they are out. Whoever lasts the longest wins.

The Counting Game

Pick a colour and an item likely to be found on the journey e.g. “red cars” or “green shop signs” etc and get the kids to count every item they spot within a certain time frame. The person with the highest total wins.

Scavenger Hunt

Give the children a list of things they need to look out for while you’re travelling, and award points or prizes for crossing everything off the list, plus spot-prizes for finding unusual items. Make sure you’ve got a combination of easy and more difficult items to hold their interest.

Find 50

Ask your kids to choose one thing that they are going to find 50 of on your trip such as blue cars, cows, rest area signs, tractors etc. Either get everyone to search for the same item, or choose different things and make it a race to see who finds 50 first.

Car Cricket

Each person in the car takes turns being the ‘batter’, making runs by counting the cars they pass going in the opposite direction. When the flow is interrupted by anything other than a car (e.g. truck, bus, motorbike, campervan), the batter is out and the next player steps up to the wicket. The person with the most runs at the end of the game wins. Make it a bit more exciting by giving 4 runs if the car is towing a trailer, and 6 runs if it is towing a caravan.

Car Search

Similar to a scavenger hunt but with cars! Prepare a list of Car brands (e.g. Holden, Toyota, Nissan etc) or for older kids the models (Commodore, Imprezza, Corolla etc) and get each child to mark off the name when they see one. You can either play as a group to see how quickly you can mark off every item, or split into teams and compete with each other.

Alphabet Signs

Before you leave, print out the alphabet on a sheet for each person. Starting with A, your children have to look out for signs which include the specific letter they are looking for, and write it beside that letter. Make it more difficult for older kids by getting them to find signs in order A, B, C etc. For little ones, anything could qualify including an aeroplane for A, a bicycle for B, a cow for C etc.

I Spy

This classic travelling game needs no equipment and can keep kids entertained for ages. One person chooses something they can see, and says “I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…C” (or whatever letter of the alphabet the item starts with). Everyone else in the car has to try and guess what the item is, and whoever gets it right, takes the next turn. For younger children, make it easier and allow them to look for items of a specific colour.

20 Questions

One person chooses an item they can see, and the rest of the family can ask up to 20 questions to try and work out what the item is. The person who is ‘it’ can only answer the questions by saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The person who guesses the item correctly takes the next turn.

The “Are We There Yet?” Game

Give your kids a road map with the route and any special landmarks highlighted. You can also give them a compass and a small ruler. Every time they ask “are we there yet?” get them work out how much further you have to go using the map. 

New Zealand Car Rental

If you’re planning a holiday, road trip or weekend away in NZ and need transportation, USAVE has a large range of car rental vehicles available from handy New Zealand locations. Choose from Auckland (city or Airport), Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin.

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