My kids hate going on road trips. Actually, since my second child was born I’ve actively avoided going anywhere further than an hour away, it was just to stressful, too unpleasant. She wanted to scream and fight her way out of the car and I figured I’d rather stay at home. But then fate (or crazy ideas that I have on a Saturday night) threw a bit of a spanner in the works and suddenly we were forced into making long road trips with the kids. Lots of long road trips with them. See, we decided to sell our place here in Essex and move to the other side of the country to Cornwall, which is great and fun and exciting and oh my days that is one looong journey. So we had to take the kids on a six hour journey to see the place before we moved there. And we have to view properties. And actually move. And then come back from the west coast to the east because all our family still live back here and there’s no flights and the nearest train station is 25 miles away so that isn’t going to work either. So these are my very best tips for travelling with kids in the car, because this is something that I’ve really had to work on and if you have any tips I’d really appreciate it if you could pop them in the comments section below!
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Make your trip a treat
Road trips are dull and no one wants to be on them (why has no-one invented a teleporter yet?!) There are days for well balanced, healthy meals and educational activities and there are days for getting stuff done. If your kids are happy to do six hours doing worksheets and eating goji berries then I’m happy for you (and frankly quite jealous) My youngest has been known to try and headbut her way out of most cars. I try and make the day as much of a treat as possible to keep them calm and happy.
I try to have a mixture of healthy stuff like bananas and treats like cereal bars for breakfast if we’re starting off early. Plus some little chocolates for when questions about how far we have left start and a packet of emergency crisps if I need to bribe the kids to get back in the car after a break. If you’re eating meals in the car then lunch boxes like these are really good, we use ours loads and I think the compartments make them more fun for kids as it stops everything getting squished.
Decide where you’re going to sit
On a short journey I tell my kids if they’ve dropped something it’s tough. All day in the car? As much as I hate to admit it, I change the rules, I can’t manage listening to that much complaining or tears for that long. My husband normally drives and I’ll either sit in the front and turn round a lot (which can make me car sick, ugh) or sit in the back – means I can pick up any dropped ‘essentials’ but also means I end up having to play Paw Patrol for a looong time.
Let them watch (or play!)
After a blissed out long journey in my friends car with kids and DVD players we totally decided to buy a dvd player for our car too. Unfortunately we totally mucked up and realised too late that it didn’t have a cable to the charger that we needed and that it was really quiet too. Moral of the story, don’t scrimp on this one! We’ll totally be fixing this for our next journey. If you have more than one kid I recommend films that pretty much everyone likes such as The Incredibles, Wallace and Gromit and Finding Nemo. Another good option that I wished I’d thought of previously is the Kindle Fire for kids which looks really durable and has a two year warranty on it if your kids break it.
These are great for bribing your kids to get back into the car after a break and give them something fun to do too. Minions, Paw Patrol and Avengers things are always popular with my kids and this On The Go range from Melissa and Doug looks really good too. I normally try to keep these as a surprise to make the trip feel a bit more fun. If you don’t fancy buying anything then these free printables from Mum in the Madhouse look really good too.
Both my kids have backpacks which are their responsibility to pack for the journey. I always check that they have their ‘special toy’ but other than that it’s up to them to choose what toys to bring on the journey and on the holiday itself.
Check out your 3G allowance
I’ve been stuck on the M4 before with a small child and the handbrake on for over an hour. Peppa Pig on YouTube pretty much saved our lives.