"Are we nearly there yet?" It's a question that can drive the sanest of parents crazy. Chances are you're still stuck in traffic on the M50 and have hours of driving ahead of you before you reach your holiday destination.
With school out, it's likely that many of us will be hitting the roads with our progeny in tow on visits down the country. These summer sojourns are eagerly anticipated by kids of all ages. Anticipation breeds excitement and giddiness, which can result in mayhem in the back of a car. Before long the kids seem to have become irritable and fidgety, making them an unwelcome distraction for the driver.
Plenty of families hook up the car with cheap portable DVD players and allow the kids to zone out for 90 minutes' peace and quiet. Your local library is a great resource for audio books on CD, which can make great entertainment for everyone.
Of course, the best way of all to pass the time is to play games. Family favourites include:
Each child is given a pencil and paper with the alphabet written down one side. They then have to spot something beginning with each letter of the alphabet (c = cow, g = gate, etc) and write it down. First person to complete all 26 letters wins.
The kids wave at a truck driver every time you pass one. Someone keeps a list with two columns, so they can add up all the happy chappies (someone who waves back, beeps or smiles) versus grumpy chumps, who ignore them.
Who's Next Door?
When stuck in traffic, or overtaking on a dual carriageway or motorway, everyone looks at the car beside you. Take turns making up a story about the driver. Give them a name, profession, age, destination etc.
In My Suitcase
The first player thinks of a word beginning with the letter A and says, for example: "I packed my suitcase with an apple." The next player repeats the sentence and adds something beginning with B and the next adds a word beginning with C, etc. Play continues until someone makes a mistake. Keep going until everyone else has been disqualified or you reach the end of the alphabet.
Give young kids a picture list of items to look out for en-route. Draw simple things like a church, sheep, lady on a bike, tractor etc and get them to mark them off as they spot them along the way.
Someone names a place anywhere in the world. The next player names another place whose first letter is the same as the last letter of the place just called and so on. For example: PolanD, DenmarK, KerrY, etc. Nowhere can be repeated and there's a 15-second limit for each player. You're disqualified if you can't come up with an answer.