Revealed: the secret of happy car journeys

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Think about it: no more bickering about whose CD you play; no more constant demands from the back of the car to put on track 12 (for the 51st time).

I stumbled upon this simple solution when, years ago, I bought a couple of compilations of the Radio 4 show I'm Sorry, I haven't a Clue (BBC Audiobooks, around £12.99).

I really bought it for my husband and myself, but when I put it on as we drove to Dorset one year, the whole family loved it. Humphrey Lyttelton, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden et al have accompanied us on holiday each year ever since and my son, now 15, even detaches himself from his iPod in order to listen. Other Summerley family favourites include Martin Jarvis reading Just William (BBC Radio Collection, £16) and Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter.

Comedy has the added bonus of stopping the driver from falling asleep - it's difficult to drift off when you're howling with laughter. And a good story, rivetingly told, has the same effect.

The latest Harry Potter novel, The Half-Blood Prince, won't be available as an audiobook until 25 August, which is bad planning as far as the summer holidays are concerned.

But if your children like Harry Potter and they haven't already discovered Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, try these instead, available from Puffin Audiobooks. The stories, about a criminally inclined boy genius and his encounters with the high-tech Fairy People, are read by the actor Adrian Dunbar who exploits his native Co Fermanagh accent to spell-binding effect. The latest, The Opal Deception (£12.99), is out now.

Also from Puffin is a new version of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, read by Eric Idle (£12.99), to coincide with the launch of the new film version starring Johnny Depp at the end of this month.

And, if older children haven't caught up with one of the publishing sensations of 2005, Charlie Higson reads his own story of the young James Bond, Silverfin (Puffin Audiobooks, £12.99).

Any downsides? Well, audiobooks aren't cheap, though you can borrow them from your local public library. But we're talking hours and hours of entertainment - the kids might not want to get out of the car if the story hasn't finished at the end of the journey ....

Your local bookshop will probably stock a good selection of audiobooks, which is great for browsing, but if you can't find what you want, Amazon has most things. You can also buy Puffins online at