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5 Kid-Friendly Podcasts for Road Trips

happy child on a road trip

Planning a summer road trip? These 5 podcasts can help keep curious kids entertained.

By Wendy Chou

Your bags are packed, the kids are strapped in, and you’ve hit the open road. As parents, we know all too well that having the right entertainment for a long car trip can make the difference between happy kids and hysterical ones. Whereas we used to have to spin the radio dial or organize our CD collections, smartphones can now fit hours of audio right in the palm of your hand. Podcasts just may be the best thing to happen to road trips since the cup holder. Best of all, more podcasts have come out that especially appeal to kids by offering engaging–and even educational–content. With topics ranging from self-empowerment to science, even adults might learn a thing or two while listening!

Start by Creating a Playlist

If you’re new to podcasts, you’ll need to use a podcast app to help you search for podcasts. Some popular podcast apps (also called Podcatchers) are Apple Podcasts and Instacast (both compatible with iOS), PocketCast (for Google Play, Android phones), and Stitcher (supports both platforms)

Now download your podcast to a smartphone or iPad. Both audio and video podcasts exist depending on your style.  

Download away! If you like a particular program, browse the archives and grab as many episodes as you want. They’re generally free. The only thing limiting you will be the amount of memory on your device.

A Few Caveats

Podcasts are free to listeners because they have regular sponsors who run advertisements. These ads can be off-putting to some. Another drawback to playing lots of podcasts is the danger of running down a phone battery, though with audio podcasts, this generally isn’t a big concern. If you’re worried, pack a spare source of power or plug into your car’s power source.

If you’re used to high-quality stereo sound, consider connecting your phone to an auxiliary input headphone jack, or (if available) even using a car’s Bluetooth capability to play your phone directly through your car’s speakers.

Make sure that you set up a playlist before you turn on the engine. To prevent dangerous distracted driving, only manipulate phones and other devices when you can do so safely!  

5 Recommended Podcasts for Kids

Slip on some headphones and test-drive these kid-approved audio podcasts.

Brains On! 

In every science-filled episode, host Molly Bloom is joined by a different kid co-host who helps interview scientists and field questions from kids across the country. It’s anything but textbook fare; there’s a good dose of silliness and fun. Recent topics have included the science of cooking, how paint sticks to things, and what causes allergies. My six-year-old loves to try to identify the “Mystery Sound” (stumpers submitted by kids across the country). Probably good for ages 6 – 13.

Dream Big 

Hosted by Eva Karpman, current 2nd-grader, who brings refreshing energy and positivity to the show. Eva is also accompanied by her mom, Olga, while interviewing special guests–astronauts, entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and more–and learning about their passions and their life journeys. The message of the show: follow your dreams and do what inspires you. Suitable for all ages.

Pants on Fire

If you like a game show format, try this. Kids try to figure out which adult is truly an expert and which adult is only pretending. Hosted by Debra Goldstein and a sidekick “robot”, there’s quite a bit of musical and sound accompaniment throughout to keep kids interested. The topics are very wide-ranging with something to appeal to everyone. As a concept, it’s smart, creative, and smoothly executed. Probably best for ages 6 – 11.

The Story Pirates

Welcome to storytelling with a zany vibe. The “pirates” are actually actors, comedians, improvisers, and musicians who share a lot of enthusiasm and humor. The stories they tell are written by actual kids who also get a moment in the show to talk about themselves. This is great catchy fun for any age (my kid was hooked after one episode), though if you’re looking for something more educational, there are others more suited to that.

Book Club for Kids 

This new addition to the podcast scene amassed a listenership of 300,000 kids in 2017. The format: a rotating panel of middle-schoolers chats with host Kitty Felde about fiction and non-fiction books. Their conversations encourage introspection, touch on current events, spark the imagination, and more. Each episode also features a celebrity guest reader. This podcast will appeal to older elementary school kids and middle graders who love to read; the website also has a list of books recommended by peers.

 

 

Need more ideas for your curious kid?  Here’s more great podcasts to try: Wow in the World, Pickle, ExtraBLURT, But Why, Ear Snacks, Smash Boom Best, Tumble. And also head over to our blog post on tips for screen-free travel with kids. Happy travels!

Looking for summer activities and camps? Activityhero.com is your all-in-one destination for updated schedules, parent reviews, and registration options.

About Wendy Chou

Wendy Chou is an environment writer and parent based in the Bay Area.

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Screen-free Travel with Children

traveling with children in the car

Travel with children can be incredibly rewarding.

But as you work your way around the country with the wide eyed anticipation of a child, there are moments of hair pulling, teeth grinding, and blank stares that can be dispelled with a little preparation.

Try to see the journey through their eyes and plan around the inevitable lulls. Preparation need not be painful once you get into the headspace of your child.

Here are four tips that can make travel with children a little easier:

The Treasure Trove

traveling with kids keeping busy

Pack up a grab bag full of things your children have never seen before.

This need not be expensive nor take a long time to out together. Try:

  • a new pack of pens
  • some stickers
  • a travel game
  • a puzzle
  • an object they can hold, examine and ask questions about

Also, for mess free fun, consider aqua mats for the car, the children just need water to fill the pens and once tightly closed these don’t leak, spill or leave unsightly stains on the upholstery.

Snack Time

traveling with kids snack time
Photo by Flickr user mitikusa.net

Never underestimate the importance of feeding your child when on the go.

Adults can keep going on adrenalin and coffee, but children need regular drinks and snacks to stop them getting grumpy and hungry when their sugar levels drop.

Take a mixture of their favorite treats and some healthy snacks and use this travel time to talk to them about new flavors and tastes.

If you have a fussy eater you could use the trip to reward them for trying any new foods that they try whilst on holiday. At the end of the holiday if they have done a good job of trying new things they could earn a treat of their choice.

It’ll fill their imaginations for a while.

Jumping Up and Down

traveling with kids break time
Photo by Flickr user mr.macnology

The idea of stopping and starting might make it feel as though you will never get to your destination.

But it is surprising how often a quick stop, run around and a sniff of fresh air can save a family melt down. Make it fun by counting down to the stop off and creating a fun challenge that the family must do before getting back in the car.

A few ideas:

  • find three different leaves
  • run around the car five times
  • alternate star jumps with bunny hops for two minutes

Sleep

This could be one of the single most important aspects of any journey to get right, especially if you have small children.

Keeping your children in a semblance of their normal routine when traveling can help them to adjust to their new surroundings once on holiday.

Plan your trip around their normal nap times so they aren’t sleeping at strange times and will wake up ready to spend the rest of the day up and about but more important ready to go to bed at a normal hour.

The last thing you need is a baby who wants to party at 3am or a toddler who doesn’t wake til midday.

Photo by Flickr user Hotel Dei Tigli
Photo by Flickr user Hotel Dei Tigli

Kelly Quance is a busy mum of two who lives and works in Devon in South West England and writes for Holiday Cottages a holiday cottage letting company with properties all over the UK. Kelly regularly travels with her six year old and 18 month old all over the UK and her highlights include, Devon, Cornwall, the Cotswolds and Mid Wales.