More and more families are taking to the road when heading off on holiday. A road trip or an escape to another part of the country are the becoming the first port of call for families looking for a getaway.
But for many, the thought of hour after hour in the car with a small child can be too much.
Having come fresh from a good 16 hours in the car (36 hours with stops) with a 4-year-old, driving from London to Sainte-Foy Tarantaise in the South of France, I feel very well qualified to share some of the secrets for getting through with your sanity intact.
So for those willing (or at least contemplating) to take on a long car journey with the kids, keep reading; it might just be a game changer!
9 Secrets To Survive a Long Car Journey with Young Kids
It might just be our kids, but snacks have to be the most important tip to remember. Take more than you think you might need and of every variety! Fruit, drinks, crisps, biscuits, bread, cakes and more.
Closely linked with the snacks, it is imperative that you have wipes to hand. Essentially, you’re trying to limit the number of times you have to stop at a service station and having wipes to hand, in my recent experience, can reduce that number by half!
If you enthuse your children about the destination, they’re more likely to travel well. Be careful with this though – if you over-enthuse, you could a) set yourself up for an anti-climax and b) go the other way and induce frustration for not being there already.
4. A Toy Bag
Fill a bag with your children’s favourite toys – LEGO, collectables, Octons etc. I’ll be honest, this isn’t going to buy you hours, but gaining minutes wherever possible isn’t to be sniffed at! We had the kids pack their own so they felt a sense of ownership over the toy bag.
I know, screen time is apparently the root of all evil… But not when you’re in the car for hour after hour. To be fair to the kids, if you’re on a motorway for the majority of your trip, there’s not a great deal to look at out of the window so an iPad loaded with their favourite games (educational, if you must), TV shows and films is nothing to feel bad about. Do what you gotta do to get through with minimal difficulties, that’s what I say.
As a driver, there’s nothing more irritating than regular stops – BUT… I learned pretty quickly that you will need to stop more than you’d like to. It doesn’t have to be a half hour stop, though. We found that by simply pulling over for 5-10 mins allowing the kids to get out their car seats, stretch their legs and wriggle around enabled them to get through the next couple of hours much easier.
7. Over-night stops
If your journey is likely to take you over 10 hours, I would highly recommend an over-night stop. On our way down to the South of France, we stopped off at the Novotel in Reims and en route back, the Golden Tulip in Troyes. Both were perfect for our needs – comfy, very family friendly and didn’t involve a big detour. Starting fresh the next day for you as the driver and your family as passengers makes the whole experience more manageable.
A little something up your sleeve can go a long way. Whether it’s a small toy or a sweet treat, having a secret weapon that can be used at any moment is well worth it.
Apparently, as a general rule of thumb, 50 miles is ‘just around the corner’ and when you’re within 150 miles of your final destination, ‘nearly there’ is perfectly acceptable to say.
Do let us know if you have any trips planned and please leave a comment sharing any of your tips!