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Revealed: The top 15 ways to keep kids entertained on long car journeys

24 July 2017
  • Letting the kids watch an in-car movie tops new parent poll, but traditional games like I-Spy, still going strong;
  • Portable DVD players, tablets, hand-held games consoles and smart phones all employed as boredom-busters;
  • Parents urged to check car insurance cover limits for personal belongings if taking expensive portable gadgets on a road-trip.

Watching a film on a portable DVD player or tablet was voted top boredom-buster in a new poll* of the best ways to keep kids entertained on a lengthy road trip.

Heading off for a summer holiday invariably involves a long car journey – which can fill parents of small children with a sense of dread.  But according to new research, commissioned by GoCompare Car Insurance, the nation’s parents are mixing new technology with trusted old favourites to keep the stress levels down.

Despite the tech onslaught, two proven road-trip saviours - a good old-fashioned family sing-along and a few rounds of I-Spy – made the top three.

Another popular tactic used by many parents is to drive at night to allow children to sleep through most of the journey.  Letting the kids play on hand-held games consoles and making frequent pit-stops to stretch legs, visit the loo or view attractions were also favoured measures.  

With portable gadgets including DVD players, tablets, iPho

 Rank Boredom Buster %
 1 Watching a film on a portable DVD player or tablet 50
 2 Listening to or singing along to music 48
 3 Playing word games such as I-Spy, 20 questions 42
 4 Travelling at night to allow the children to sleep through most of the journey 36
 5 Allowing kids to play on hand-held games consoles 35
 6 Making frequent stops to eat, use the toilet, visit attractions 31
 7 Playing spotting or counting games, for example, spotting yellow cars 29
 8 Giving the children a new book or magazine to read 28
 9 Downloading new iPhone or tablet apps for the kids to play with 28
 10 Giving kids a colouring or drawing book 25
 11 Telling stories 23
 12 Providing the kids with plenty of snacks 23
 13 Giving the children plenty of drinks 22
 14 Buying a present, for example a new toy or game for the kids to play 17
 15 Listening to an audio book 16
nes and handheld games consoles now some of the most popular travel companions, GoCompare is urging parents to check that their car insurance adequately covers all the kit that may end up coming along for the ride.

A review of over 260 comprehensive car insurance policies** by the leading comparison website revealed that cover for portable gadgets is limited.  While most (96%) policies provide cover for portable electronic systems, cover levels vary significantly from just £100 to £2,500, but most (81%) policies provide cover of £300 or less – which may be insufficient to cover the cost of gadgets lost in a smash and grab theft from a parked car.

Matt Oliver spokesman for GoCompare Car Insurance commented, “In the past, in-car entertainment mainly relied on our imaginations – playing I-Spy, shopping list games and other traditional word, memory or counting games.  Today, parents are more likely to travel with portable technology to survive a long journey and reduce the amount of back seat whining.

“Portable gadgets such as DVD players, tablets and games consoles make rich-pickings for thieves, so we’re reminding people to prevent theft by always locking their car and to put their personal belongings, especially electronic gadgets, out of sight – preferably in a locked glovebox or car boot.  To make sure they have adequate cover away from home, we also recommend drivers check the cover their car insurance provides for portable devices and entertainment systems.

Matt Oliver continued, “The protection offered by car insurance can be quite limited, so if you’re planning to take expensive technology on holiday, it’s sensible to look at the cover offered for portable devices under other insurances, such as home contents insurance.  Check whether your home insurance policy includes ‘personal possessions’ cover away from the home, and that the insured limits meet your needs.” 

For more information on the cover available for gadgets under car insurance, see GoCompare's dedicated guide.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*On 25 May 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,005 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Defaqto Matrix of 263 comprehensive car insurance policies (12 June 2017) – instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.