Five Ways to Survive Long Car Journeys With the Kids

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You have packed all your worldly possessions into the boot, filled up the tank and punched the destination into the satnav, but there’s just one problem.

How are you going to survive a long car journey with the kids? Well, you need to create an atmosphere where there is the least possible chance of conflict occurring between the car seats, and that means plenty of distractions.

Stuck for ideas?

Here is The Dadsnet guide to surviving long car journeys with the kids. There are five tips, moulded by our long, in-depth and ever so slightly trying experience, so that you can benefit when you head off on your holidays in the motor. 

Stereo Quotas

One area of conflict is always the music choice in the car. No doubt, your children will want to hear different things, because that’s what siblings do. It’s a given that you won’t want to hear what they like and they certainly won’t entertain wall-to-wall dad tunes for the whole journey. So you need to issue everyone with a stereo quota. 

Just like in Berlin after the First World War, when the Allies couldn’t agree on one country to run the German capital and so they each took an area to control, you need to divide up music time. Do not let the kids have free reign for the entire time you are in the car, as your ears may be in danger of excessive bleeding from too much Little Mix, which is a recognised medical condition. 

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If they want their 30 minutes of poptastic beats, they have to trade it off for half an hour of earnest singer-songwriters warbling. It’s only fair. 

Food Glorious Food

Another way to survive a long car journey with kids is to stuff them full of food. Make sure you pick the right food though. This doesn’t mean nutritionally, that’s not the biggest concern at this point in time, you need to consider the general messiness of the food you serve up as a priority. 

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Breaded items are generally okay, as long as they are not too old and crumbly – you don’t want to be picking those pieces out of their car seats for the next three months. Anything sticky is an instant no-no. That will soak into your upholstery right away and cause all manner of carnage. Milk products should also be avoided, especially during the summer, as any spillages soon take on the aroma of rancid sewers when they are exposed to prolonged direct sunlight.  


Tablets can help you out when you’re stuck in a metal box with children for hours on end. Not the valium variety – although if you neck a couple you might be able to sleep through the bickering – but the computer kind. iPads and the like can buy you a few hours of grace from the whinging and arguing. 

Yes yes, screen time needs to be monitored and all that, but long journeys in the car are exactly the sorts of tiresome situations screen time was invented to alleviate. The sound of two different movies playing at the same time from opposite sides of the back seat is preferable to the strains of World War Three, which often emanates from bored children who have realised that no, we are not nearly there yet. 

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Learning About the Destination

This requires a bit of pre-planning. Find out some fascinating facts about your destination. Excited the kids about what you will get up to when you are there and even run a quiz to see how much they know about it before they get there. 

A quick glance at Wikipedia should furnish you with all the information you need and TripAdvisor can sort you out with ideas for days out that you can run by the children to see if they are interested. Spending time like this can help form your itinerary before you arrive and keep those wandering minds off the boring driving bit ahead of actually getting there. 


Do you have an old digital camera you are willing to sacrifice? Get the kids to take pictures of the journey as you travel. They can document the trip and have fun seeking out the strange and unusual sights that the roads of Great Britain throw up. 

Speaking of which, they could also capture the exact moment their sibling spews their guts up due to car sickness. Whatever happens, they will be suitably distracted for a while. 

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