Have you ever had the pleasure of driving ten hours to Goa 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 to Pune or Mahabaleshwar 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 (₹13,935)
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 customisable LeapFrog skin, safe browsing and a curated app store – no more cries of “Daddy! I just pressed the button and now it says I paid ₹3,000!”
LeapFrog’s own apps are pricey, but they are also educational without appearing to be so, which means there's a higher chance of your child actually playing them and less chance of them just spending hours on Angry Birds.
2) Onanoff Buddyphones Inflight (₹2,476)
Most headphones are easily lost or broken and usually aren't 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 (lower chances of it getting tangled or eaten), but the best bit is the adjustable volume. You can protect your child’s ears by setting a limit of 75dB or temporarily boost the volume to 85 or 94 while on a plane.
3) Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo (₹3,649)
This deranged sort-of-rabbit feels like it was made by engineers who spent a bit too much time clubbing in the ’90s.
When a button on one of its feet is pressed, the creature explodes into song, encouraging its toddler friend to move to the beat.
Thanks to a built-in mic, there’s also a mode that lets you 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 (₹5,589)
You probably won’t want to arm a kid with your GoPro, but 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 the 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 (₹2,340)
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 that are peppered with interactive components and mini-games.
6) CASIO SA-46 (₹2,465)
For the musically inclined members of your family, you could probably install an app on a tablet, and have them create the next chart-troubler while you’re bombing along the motorway. But music’s much more fun with real instruments.
The Casio SA–46 has 32 mini keys that are perfect for tiny fingers, and includes 100 sounds and 50 rhythms. It’s battery powered, very portable, and as an added bonus you can always have the kids busk for their lunch if they surprisingly turn out to be the next Pet Shop Boys.
7) TOP TRUMPS DINOSAURS (₹37)
We’re veering away from tech for this entry, because: dinosaurs. Top Trumps have been around since the 1960s, and dinosaur sets have always remained popular with kids. Plus: if you’re on a budget, a four-quid deck of cards is a smart way to have everyone pass a few hours.
As ever, you’re trying to use cunning to grab all the cards from your opponents by way of better stats. Got a Tyrannosaurus rex? ‘Killer rating’ is a good bet. A massive sauropod? ‘Height’ or ‘weight’. One of those rubbish chicken-sized dinosaurs that gets the lowest billing in every Jurassic Park? Oh, bad luck.