How to cope with long drives on Safari with Kids

How to cope with long drives on Safari with Kids

We’ve done trips in Africa before and the drives between places are always longer than you expect. So read on to find out what tips and tricks we’ve developed to cope with the long drives on Safari with Kids.


Buy them their own cameras – but not just any camera. We actually made this mistake this time. Lily’s
camera was significantly better than the twins (as it’s actually an old one of mine) and as a result the zoom on hers was brilliant. It helps keep them engaged but also helps them to see things that are a little further away as binoculars can be really hard for little ones to use.

Lily’s camera that she used was this one Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70EB-S Compact Digital Camera and some of the photos she took with it are below!

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Why not read out post on Cameras for all the Family

Audio Books

These were great at times and not great at others. Whilst we love a good audio book on a long car journey and they can be one of our favourite things to pass the time with the kids, the bumpy roads made these really difficult to hear and follow. So we did use them from time to time but they didn’t help in 95% of scenarios when on Safari. Great to have in your arsenal though.

Tip: If you’re a big audio book family like we are (or want to be) then I really suggest signing up to Audible like we do, as it makes listening to new books so much more cost effective.

iPads / Kindle Fires / Tablets

I know they get some bad press but for us when we’ve been traveling our iPads or Kindle Fires have been a lifesaver.

Kids can’t concentrate/day dream for as long as us when they are on the long drives. Initially I had banned iPads/kindles in the game parks (I had allowed them on the long drives to the parks) but after the second day in the game parks I relaxed this rule too. What we worked out was that if they could switch off their tablets, when the game appeared they would re-engage quickly and enjoy watching them. They simply didn’t enjoy searching for the animals for 2 hours without seeing any.

It took me some time to appreciate this but when I did we were all happier.

Headphones work really well too and you can combine this with listening to audio books if you have them on the Kindle Fire or have them downloaded on the iPad.

We also have a review of kids headphones here.

Snacks, snacks and more snacks

Whenever we travel to somewhere with long driving distances or even to places where the food will be a bit different I take a lot of snacks with me. I work on the basis that I want the kids to experience different meals and food at meal times but I need a back up option. I need them not to be under powered as otherwise we will have a terrible time.

I also use these to delay dinner time, to prevent boredom and to generally treat the kids.

So what do I take? Well you can read our full post on travel snacks for kids here but we take crisps, flapjacks, raisins, cereal bars, even sometimes pot noodles. In fact the pot noodles came in really handy on more than one occasion in Africa as you can usually access boiling water.

Whenever we travel I always take with us travel snacks in my suitcase so if we are leaving early, or if we arrive late somewhere, there’s always something to hand. The snacks aren’t always healthy but let’s be honest they are a good distraction on long car journeys, the plane, train or ferry, and good for an energy boost when you’re on the go.

Dinkee Linkee

I love how simple this game is, simply answer 4 questions and try to work out what links them together. Kids love a quiz and the best thing about Dinkee Linkee is that it’s not too difficult for them. Dinkee Linkee takes 2 mins to learn and 30 mins to play.

The best thing about Dinkee Linkee for a long drive on a safari is that you don’t need to put anything down, it’s easy to manage, and there are no moving parts to deal with when the car bumps up and down!

I love how simple this game is, simply answer 4 questions and try to work out what links them together. Kids love a quiz and the best thing about Dinkee Linkee is that it’s not too difficult for them. Dinkee Linkee takes 2 mins to learn and 30 mins to play.

Loom Bands

Loom Bands were brilliant for the long safari drives. Mine can’t actually spend that much time on their iPads in a bumpy car without feeling a little queasy after a while. Whilst we did actually have one incident of dropping the loom bands all over the van, most of the time they sat there quite happily twisting loom bands into necklaces for each other or us. A lovely activity that took up quite a bit of time.

All we needed to do beforehand was put the loom bands into a small box with a lid, tupperware type.

Lego in Portable Boxes

My three love to play Lego. They play it before school, after school and at all times of the weekends. They make up games and stories and I think it’s a fabulous way for them to develop their creativity. Which is why it was something of a surprise that we left it so late to get into the habit of taking Lego out in a box with us for use in the car.

We still haven’t mastered this perfectly. I’d like better lego boxes, but for now these work well enough.

Lego in a portable case

Free Travel Printables

As we do long journeys a lot and we’re often on long drives with the kids and looking for games to play, I recently searched the internet and found a whole lot of free travel games to play, so we used a lot of these ideas on the drives too.

Head Supports

I actually took this Go Travel Memory Pillow away for me to use on the plane and in the Safari van but it ended up being used by everyone and me rarely. I would definitely take one each of these on any other safari we did as they really helped everyone get comfy (comfier) when the road was bad.

Go Travel Memory Pillow

Have you used anything else that’s really worked on long safari drives with kids? If you have please do let us know in the comments or contact us by direct message. We always love to read more tips.

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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

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