Are we nearly there yet?
How many times have you heard this?
It may be cliché but oh my, they sure do ask it enough times. And I’m sure I did as a kid too.
We’ve taken our children on plenty of long journeys, from when they were really young babies, still in their baby car seats, all the way to the present day.
In fact, we are setting off on an epic 1,305 mile (each way!) trip to Spain this week.
With this trip in mind I have been reflecting on past journeys and what we can do to make this one run as smoothly as possible!
Car Journeys With Kids – 12 Top Tips
1. Plan the Route Together
The more they know about the route and what they might see along the way, the more interested they ‘might’ be on the journey. Use Google Maps, or another route planner to show them which way you are going and where you might stop off along the way.
2. Pack Some Snacks
Ours would quite happily demolish a family size pack of Haribo each on every journey if we let them. But for the sake of our sanity (and perhaps their teeth) it’s never a wise idea. We do have sweets in the car for long journeys, but I’m in charge of distribution!
I like to use their lunch boxes to pack some fun snacks in, depending on how long the journey is. Remember, nothing to sticky, stinky or sickly!
Fruit, sandwiches, flapjacks, crisps etc all work well. Drinks in a water bottle.
3. Activity Books
Puzzle books, as well as colouring in activities are always a winner. Just make sure you don’t let them lose with the felt tip pens in the back of the car! It’s always worth giving them a notepad each to jot down things they’ve seen or if possible play a few games together (noughts and crosses, hangman)
4. Schedule Stop Offs
If you are going on a journey of any significant length you’re going to need to plan some stop offs. They’ll likely be some unscheduled ones too, depending on the bladder control of your passengers! It’s also advisable to try and find a place where they can really stretch their legs and get some decent fresh air in their lungs.
5. Audio Books
These have been a game changer for us. One of our children can get car sick so reading in the car isn’t ideal. Audio books have got around that! If it isn’t something you all want to listen to grab some headphones to plugin to the device you are playing it on. If you don’t have a portable DVD or CD player for the car you can download the Audible App from Amazon that has a selection of books on it. Better still, Audible offer a 30 day free trial so you can test them out before signing up to anything. I am an Audible user and love listening to books via their app on my phone.
6. Car Sickness
Not a pleasant topic but worth preparing for – just in case! If you know your child is prone to car sickness you likely already take precautions. There are plenty of options when it comes to car sickness remedies and it’s worth trying out the best one to suit you or your child. Remember all the obvious things, no huge meals before travel, keep some fresh air flowing through the car, have fresh water on hand and try to keep facing forward rather than head down reading.
7. Play Some Games
Eye spy is lots of fun until you’ve been forced to play it for the 99th time. Add some more car games to your collection and the time will pass a little quicker! We like to play the ‘Mini Game’ where each passenger says at the beginning of the journey how many Minis they think you will see, the one closest to their number wins. If you are on a long journey you might want to put a time/distance limit on it. or you’ll go insane. Here are some more car journey game suggestions from the RAC.
Card games such as Top Trumps are another good idea.
8. In Car Entertainment
If your children have tablets or similar devices they will come in handy on long journeys. You might want to set some limits on how long they can use them, if they are anything like ours they’ll be on them the whole way if allowed! Download some apps they’ve not used before to make them a bit more exciting. Alternatively, an in car DVD player can be the ideal solution for your child to watch their favourite films or TV shows. Again, as with the audio books, you might want to use headphones. I remember only too well the year we drove to France with Alvin and the Chipmunks blaring out in our ears. I’m still haunted.
9. Get Comfy
There is nothing worse than being tired and uncomfortable. If you children are already out of car seat (or even if they are still in them) take something for them to rest their heads on if they want to nod off. You can either take their own pillows or get some of the airplane style cushions that wrap around your shoulders. Remember snuggly blankets if you think it might get cold, or alternatively some hand held fans if you think it might get hot and you don’t want the air conditioning running all the time.
10. Keep Clean
Even if your children are no longer babies, keeping baby wipes in the car are essential! There will always be a spillage or some sticky hands to clean up! They are also handy for refreshing your face after you’ve been in the car a while.
11. Have Enough Space
You’ll likely already have this sussed, but don’t try and use up every spare inch of your car. We’ve done this before and it didn’t make for a pleasant experience! People get irritated being cooped up in small spaces so the last thing they need is to be surrounded by too much stuff. Most modern day family cars are well equipped for long journeys. If you don’t have enough boot space for all your luggage, look into roof boxes or trailers.
I know, it seems a weird suggestion. We always seem to be asking our children to stop talking. To give us a moments peace. But a road trip is the ideal opportunity to start up some fun and interesting conversations. Perhaps take it in turns to choose the topic and see what you learn about each other. You could even do interview style conversations – does your child even know your most embarrassing childhood moment? Time to get to know each other even better!