Long Car Journeys

long car journey
long car journey

As we come to the holiday season it is likely you will have some long car journeys. There is a place for children to watch a film on an iPad. But there are several other things that you can do which can be of benefit to all. Not only to make the journey go quicker, but also perhaps to learn and strengthen relationships. It is important to manage your child’s screen time, but it is good not to be too inflexible.

As well as fun, it is also a captive audience. I am fortunate that my children do not get car sick. One easy option is reading books till half past, digital devices till o’clock. It is also a wonderful way for them to catch up on some sleep. If there is just the two of you it is a that place to have that conversation you have been putting off. Both of you are looking forward so it releases awkwardness, and there is also no escape so the conversation can take as long as it does.

For younger children it is an opportunity to develop skills linked to ‘executive function’ through games. Going beyond practicing the times tables and working on problem solving.

Using Audiobooks and Podcasts

One of my favorite things to do on a long car journey is play an audiobook or podcast. It is something the whole car can enjoy, and you can mix things up putting some books of your choosing on as well. Listening to the book together means you can talk about it and share the journey.

When you listen together, you have the chance to pause the audio and talk about what you have heard to confirm or deepen a child’s knowledge. You might for instance put a science podcast on to stimulate a conversation or curiosity. Or perhaps a historical one on a topic that your child is studying at school.

Educational YouTube Channels

IT would be wrong to say that all YouTube and screens are bad. That would be similar to saying that all books are good. There are some fantastic YouTube channels that can really add some depth. We list the ten best here. Channels like BBC Bitesize or National Geographic are a great use of anyone’s time. You are able to listen to them as you drive which means that it can be a great stimulus for conversation.

Game of Working Memory

The “I’m going on a picnic” game is a fantastic way for children to sharpen their memory on a long car journey. You go round the car with each person adding an extra item alphabetically. For example, the first person might say ‘I’m going on a picnic, and I am going to take an apple’. The next person says, ‘I am going on a picnic, and I am going to take an apple and a banana’. And so it goes round and round. But why keep it at food. How about a mermaid for instance. The sillier the better.


This game is as simple to understand as they come. It not only appeals to children but also fosters their creativity and memory. All you must do as a parent is think of a term that the child will then have to rhyme with another word.

For older children, you can rhyme sentences back and forth instead of just going back and forth with words. It is a cool game to play while picking up the children from school or driving them to soccer practice because it doesn’t require the driver to take their eyes off the road.

Just a Minute

This radio game is great fun to play on a long car journey. You must speak for a minute without hesitating or repeating a word. The other members of the car must listen and ‘buzz in’ if the person doing it does either. Then, if it is a correct challenge, they take over the minute and try to finish it without a further interruption. It will really help their concentration and ability to think fast.

What Is the Distinction?

Children can benefit from valuable experience in flexible thinking by observing and comparing the similarities and differences between items. The procedure challenges a child’s capacity to consider various traits and modify thinking as necessary in light of the information being taken into account.

The anomaly can grow more nuanced, such as differentiating between fictitious characters and real people, musicians from athletes, or reptiles from mammals, depending on the child’s age and skill level.

Travel Riffing

If things get a bit desperate on a long car journey. A few verses of a song are first sung by the first child. Then a second child joins in to relate the words to a different tune. The last lyrics Child One sings should be the first lyrics Child Two sings.

Cow Counting

It’s shockingly easy to play this game. Say “cow!” or “moo!” whenever you pass a cow. A point is awarded to the first child to identify the cow and utter the term. The winner is determined by who accumulates the most points.

Watch What You Say!

Choose terms or phrases that are off-limits in the car before the long car journey, such as “Are we there yet?” or family members’ first names. A point is awarded if one of the forbidden words is used. After the drive, the child with the fewest points wins!

Word Relationships

The first child reads aloud a random word. The second child immediately utters a second word connected to the first. All of the children are cycled through as this process is repeated. If one child answers too slowly, gives a response without making a clear association or repeats a word, the game is over.


Pick a broad category, such as cities, movies, or dinner menu items. Maye something related to the long car journey. After that, each child names an item inside the selected category in alphabetical order. You might use cities as an example. A child is eliminated if they cannot respond in 10 seconds or do not appropriately proceed down the alphabet. The victor is the last one standing.

Do You Prefer?

Start a game of “Would You Rather?” in which children take turns asking the family unusual questions. For example, would you prefer broccoli or no sleep? Or to be able to fly or be invisible? The responses from your family may surprise you!

Restaurant Game

A fast-food business, such as KFC, is selected by each player or child. By spotting their restaurant along the long car journey, on a billboard, on an exit marker, on a Food and Fuel sign, or by hearing about it on the radio, players can accrue points. Set a time limit—say let’s 20 minutes—and sum up the points after that.

Hidden Location Race

A child finds a tiny town, village, lake, or river by looking at a route map. That child announces the location’s name. The next player has 60 seconds to examine the map and attempt to locate the hidden location.

Treasure Hunt

For this one, careful planning is required. Make a note of the things you’re likely to see on the road before the trip, such as cows, billboards, and bikes, among others. Your children can keep an eye out for these things and record what they notice. They receive a reward if they locate everything on your list.