Have you ever had the pleasure of driving seven hours to Cornwall while your little
demon spawns sweet cherubs scream blue murder and hit each other hug and quietly work on their homework?
Yeah, epic holiday journeys don’t mix well with most kids’ attention spans. Just ask any parent about their drive up to the Lake District and their eyes will glaze over, as the haunting memories rear their ugly heads once again.
Thankfully there's need to resort to ‘I spy’ or threats of naughty steps with these boredom-killing toys, accessories and apps…
1) Leapfrog Epic (£95)
Kids love tablets, and while you could just let them loose on your iPad, we’d recommend buying them a child-focused tab such as the LeapFrog Epic.
For starters, you’ll feel much more comfortable leaving them alone with it. The Epic runs Android but it comes with a kid-friendly and fully customisable LeapFrog skin, safe browsing and curated app store – no more cries of “Daddy! I just pressed the button and now it says I have to pay some money! Help!”
LeapFrog’s own apps are pricey, but they are also educational without appearing to be so, which means there's more chance of your child actually playing them and less chance of them just spending hours on Angry Birds.
2) Onanoff Buddyphones Inflight (£37)
Most headphones are easily lost or broken, and not that kid-friendly. BuddyPhones, though, are strong and bendy, and come with stickers for your little tyke to personalise their pair (or the long-suffering cat).
We like the flat cable (less chance of it getting tangled or eaten), but the best bit is adjustable volume. You can protect your child’s ears with 75dB, or temporarily boost the volume to 85 or 94 while on a plane.
3) Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo (£37)
This deranged sort-of-rabbit feels like the creation of engineers who spent a bit too much time clubbing in the ’90s.
When a foot button is pressed, the creature explodes into song, encouraging its toddler friend to move to the beat.
Thanks to its built-in mic, there’s also a mode to record a phrase that’s then ‘remixed’ into a song. All the while, a grid of tummy lights dazzle you in a bewitching manner. All hail hypnobunny!
4) VTech Kidizoom Action Cam (£45)
You probably won’t want to arm a kid with your GoPro, so the Kidizoom Action Cam is the next best thing.
The waterproof case enables the camera to be used underwater, and protects it when it inevitably has an unfortunate meeting with a concrete floor.
The Kidizoom can also be mounted on a bike or helmet for the kind of action movies that will later fill parents with horror. Budding creative types can eke out further joy by messing around with timelapse and video effects.
5) View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack (£15)
As far back as 1966, generations enjoyed (then swiftly discarded) their View-Master stereoscopic toys, with inserted discs that moved with a ‘klunk’ that was more satisfying than the actual content.
Today’s version is a take on Google Cardboard. With a phone shoved inside, reels and an app combine to provide augmented reality interfaces. These boast 360° views, peppered with interactive components and mini-games.
6) Cat Nap Cushion (£15)
During long journeys, even the most stubborn child is going to conk out, collapsing in a heap in the most unsuitable place. Help direct their nap locations by arming them with this cushion.
This plush item can be worn over a hand, elbow or forearm, and works well on a floor, table or bed. Firebox helpfully notes that they “look a bit like Toothless from the How To Train Your Dragon movies”, if that’s your kid’s thing.
We rather like the pink one, with its evil eyes warding off anything that might interrupt its owner’s 40 winks.