Sitting next to a very smart car in a queue of traffic recently I realised how much nicer it is these days to be a passenger. The kids were in the back watching cartoons on seat back screens unconcerned about the length of the journey. I bet parents who can afford such gadgets don’t have to listen to endless wails of “are we there yet” coming from the back of the car. Indeed the kids are probably disappointed to arrive.
I don’t have children and so the only time I get wailed at is when my young friend decides to do it. This is never because he is actually concerned about the travelling time but rather just to annoy me because he knows I find it irritating. He once had an entire aircraft in fits of laughter when he decided to shout that most annoying of questions across the cabin at me. The fact that we were at high altitude somewhere over the Atlantic at the time just made the whole incident more amusing.
These days even if you don’t happen to have seat back entertainment there are always MP3 players, tablets, mini games consoles, e-readers and mobile phones to provide a diversion. All of them are small, portable and provide endless hours of fun whilst you are stuck in the back of a car or enduring a lengthy flight. I wish these boxes of tricks had been available when I was young. My parents were in the habit of making lengthy car journeys across Europe for our holidays, stranding me in the back seat of the car for two days at a time.
The Old Days
My mother was aware that the journeys could become tiresome and did her best to equip me with things to do. I always had paper and pencils and was encouraged to draw pictures of the things I saw. This was a lovely idea but as I was and indeed still am the worst artist in the world not much good came of that plan. She had also bought me a compass so I could deduce the direction we were travelling in and we would use this whilst hiking in the mountains too. Naturally I had some small toys and plenty of books but most of the time was whiled away by playing a variety of games with Mum. These were mainly variations on I Spy and relied on the view out of the window. This was frankly a fatal flaw on the motorways in northern France where there is almost nothing to see for about 250 miles! Her favourite game, picked up from a close friend, was counting birds’ nests. Birds’ nests! What was that about!
Travelling is certainly easier now when your only concern is your batteries running out. If you are looking for great gifts for youngsters to take on a journey then I would recommend considering a portable charger. Failing that something which is suitable for their interests and talents and certainly not the means to count birds’ nests!
Article by Sally Stacey