The cost of in-car kids’ entertainment

I received a press release yesterday from the Post Office entitled:

‘What price will you pay for peace in the car this summer?’

I was a bit puzzled. What could they be talking about? Occasionally DJ and I argue over the choice of music to be played in the car – he enjoys death metal whereas I prefer something a bit less reminiscent of dust bin lids being smashed together. Neither of us like being talked to while we’re trying to get onto the motorway or negotiate large roundabouts either, but that’s about it.

Then, as I read on, it dawned on me that the Post Office was referring to keeping the kids quiet on long summer journeys so that parents can drive in peace. Of course – that made more sense. Friends tell me how difficult it can be to occupy the children so that they can concentrate on driving. And, according to the PO, parents could spend up to £800 this summer trying to keep their kids amused en route to their holiday destination.

The Post Office lists what it calls the “typical kids’ travel items” necessary nowadays to keep Mum and Dad from losing it and abandoning the kids at the nearest motorway service station:

Typical kids’ travel items (one child):

2 7” headrest screens and DVD player – £144.97

The Simpsons Season 12 DVD box set – £28.98

Nintendo DSi – £132.12

MarioKart DS – £22.99

Travel Hungry Hippos game – £4.39

Ipod video – £169.99

Harry Potter story CD – £34.99

Haribo Tangfastics – £1.32

Evian 750ml – £0.76

Neck pillow – £6.95

Total: £547.46 (Source = Post Office – prices quoted from Amazon and Tesco)

For a two child family, the Post Office works the cost out as £781.59 (two times everything apart from the Travel Hungry Hippos game and Simpson’s DVD). It warns parents not to leave car windows open and items lying around as an invitation to thieves, and to ensure they are properly insured.

Am I missing something? Since when did all these expensive electronic items constitute ‘typical kids travel items’? Don’t get me wrong. I recognise that technology can be a wonderful thing. One of my friends swears by his in-car DVD system, which he says keeps his kids occupied and allows him to drive in peace and safety. Fair enough. It wouldn’t have worked for me when I was a kid because I get car sick if I read or watch TV as I travel. I have to stare straight ahead out of the window.

But what happened to a bag of sweets and a game of I-Spy to keep the kids amused? And what’s wrong with a bottle of old fashioned tap water? Surely just one of these entertainment items is more than enough to keep the children amused?

Will you be splashing out on in-car entertainment this summer? Is it money well spent? Got any frugal tips for keeping the kids quiet as you travel? I’d love to hear about them. Leave a message and let me know.

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3 Responses to The cost of in-car kids’ entertainment

  1. Technogran says:

    Yes, my thoughts exactly! Back in my day we travelled on the train if going any distance, and were expected to spend the entire journey watching the scenery whizz by! Whatever happened to children being able to amuse themselves? As you say, I Spy, (cost ziltch) pack of cards, or even a game of snakes and ladders? Why does it have to now be a major financial headache for parents to keep their children amused? I feel sorry for parents these days to be honest with you.

  2. Bill says:

    We only had 6v leccy in our Four Wheels & a Board, & we did not have a built in radio. We were not even allowed to play a trani while the motor was running. We did have a small supply of reading material, & adequate pillows/blankets ect., (sleeping materials) for tired souls!We also had both Thermos, as also Primus, for the frequent Pit-Stops.There was no air con, & the heater/fresh air had little, or no, effect in the rear. In the inadvertent case of a wheel change, it was very much all hands on deck, as many hands, even small ones, make light work. I still yet have no ipod, or any other such gadget, but do dream of a new digi radio, complete with both cassette & dvd for Xmas. Sadly I have no aquaintance quite that flush.I do have an mp3, & video on my \’phone, the camera is oft used for my career, also as evidence in road accidents etc. It is only the cheapest "work-man\’s return". I have not yet used the mp3, or the fm radio on the \’phone, but will use both in the future, with the \’phone (bluetooth) h/s. I also carry a cable h/s for emergency use only. My lap-top is also a "work-man\’s return", & does stirling work in any part of the country, even if the dial-up is a little slow. One day, I will add some form of TV/Radio tuner.Three months compulsory "Boot-Camp" for every teenager, would be a great improvement. Combined with back to nature for every tiny tot, evenbetter still!

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