Road Trip With Kids: How To Survive A Long Car Journey With Kids
Guest Post By Laura Wood
We have just returned from a wonderful ski trip to France with our two children – aged five and eight – and this time, we drove (gasp!). So, how was the journey? Well, in all honesty, it was long but actually not uncomfortable! Surprisingly, neither child slept at all, and their use of electronics was strangely minimal but we did it and all survived! Here are some of the top tips we learned from our epic road trip with kids……..
Road Trip With Kids Tips
- Don’t overfill the car
You are going to be sitting for a LONG time so try to eliminate clutter in the car. If you can avoid having luggage in the footwells it makes a huge difference to comfort. We let the children have their small bags in the back with their books, games and pens in it, but we made sure that this didn’t impinge on their space.
We kept the back seat very organised with a place for everything and it stopped the children losing or dropping things (which SOON gets annoying if you have to keep helping them pick stuff up!). We had cup holders in the back and this was also a major benefit and stopped unpleasant spillages!
- Have unlimited snacks
If your children are anything like mine, they use food and eating as a way to alleviate boredom so be prepared for them to ask for snacks CONSTANTLY! We had loads of options – crackers, crisps, sweets, fresh fruit, dried fruit, sandwiches – and we only let them have one thing at a time. (Check out our list of easy travel snacks here.)
One tactic which worked was to give them a specific time when they would get their next treat. This stopped them asking us every five minutes (tiresome!) and also helps with time telling! Educational!
- Limit your stops
Our priority was to get to our destination as soon as possible, so we limited our stops. It can be demoralising watching the sat nav time increase so if you can bear to just stop for the loo or to have a sandwich and a ten minute leg stretch then I would advise it!
- Buy cheap, you buy twice
We had pre-loaded films and TV shows on to two kindles for the journey and had bought kindle holders for the headrest, but we opted for cheap versions and this proved to be an error when the first one broke before we had even entered France! This meant that I was forever having to reach into the back to fix it which caused stress (and tantrums) for all involved!
- Car games
You don’t want anything that can be dropped or lost or takes up too much room so pick your car games wisely! Top trumps are amazing (if the children are readers) but also have a good supply of puzzle books and paper.
If the children want to draw (mine are mad keen artists) then having something for them to lean on is useful. I had also bought a couple of ‘surprise’ games to give them midway through. Both children also played on their Kindles but as our daughter can get car sick, we monitored this to make sure she didn’t get queasy.
- Don’t peak too soon
It is a long way and you are in the car for a long time so don’t peak too soon! We didn’t let the children watch their kindles until we were a few hours into the journey and we didn’t crack open the snacks straight away either!
- Comfy clothes
You are sitting still, possibly getting sweaty and maybe needing the loo, so you want to feel comfortable. Layers are good, elasticated waists, no jeans and shoes that are easy to get on and off are all a must.
- Make your overnight stop count
On the journey out to the Alps we spent a total of about seven hours in the car and had pre-booked the night in a lovely hotel called Le Val Moret which is literally a minute from the motorway.
9. If feeling car sick try and eat a light and plain snack before travelling, avoid tablet time, and consider using a tablet, band or similar.
The hotel is beautiful with a great restaurant, swimming pool and jacuzzi and acres of green space and a playground, all of which allowed us the chance to let off some steam. As all four of us were sleeping in one bedroom, we wanted to get rid of any excess energy, fill our tummies sufficiently and maybe partake in some wine (well, we were in the champagne region!) to ensure a good night’s sleep. It was definitely the right thing to do.
My final thought is to say that on this trip, I learned that when the chips are down, I can actually trust my children to do the right thing! They have their moments but it was as if they knew that fighting, arguing and being demanding weren’t going to get them very far when you are cooped up in the car.
Even when a 5 hour journey turned into an 8 hour drive, they rarely complained and entertained themselves brilliantly. It meant that daddy could just focus on the driving and mummy could just focus on keeping daddy stress-free!
For anyone considering driving a long distance, I would say that it probably won’t be as bad as you might think, so why not give it a go! Of course, for younger aged children, including a road trip with toddlers, you may need some extra ideas here!
Feeling inspired to take a long road trip with kids now? Pop over to Travel Loving Family for some great itineraries for the USA, France and the UK. Or to Tin Box Traveller for inspiration from her family friendly European road trip.
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Tuesday 23rd of May 2017
Brilliant tips, please will your guest poster just pop round and tell my husband how important it is not to overfill the flipping car??? Ta ;) Nat.x
Friday 2nd of June 2017
Hahaha- I will tell Laura!
Sunday 21st of May 2017
We love road trips. Agree with most of these points especially the snacks! However, we stop as much as we can so the boys can get out and run about. We always factor in a certain amount of stoppage time into our whole journey. However, different things work for different people :-) #familytraveltips
Saturday 20th of May 2017
We've a long trip to see some of our relations so I can imagine these tips will come in handy for our next voyage. #familytraveltips
Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...
Friday 19th of May 2017
Great tips, we never travel longer than 2 hours to avoid getting uncomfortable and sweaty. Anya also randomly suffers from travel sickness: usually fine but sometimes ill :( #familytraveltips
Baby Loves Travel
Tuesday 16th of May 2017
I like your tip about making the most of an overnight stop. We have in the past just stopped off at a motorway hotel, but have since found it much better to stop somewhere with activities for our toddler to make the overnight stop a bit of an event. However, we always overpack the car when we're heading to Austria. We can usually only just about fit the people in. But then we do head there for 5 months, so do need a bit of stuff! #familytraveltips