Next weekend I am packing up the car and making a ten hour road trip to Cornwall with two kids. Google maps tells me it takes 6 hours but I honestly don’t know how they work that one out. Ten hours is a long time particularly with two kids on-board. Having driven up, down, backwards and forwards across the length and breadth of Britain, I’ve picked up a few tips to help make the journey go a little bit smoother. Here are my top tips for surviving long car journey’s with the kids:
- Travel very early in the morning, or even better at night if possible. If you can bundle the kids into the car in their pyjamas, surrounded by pillows and blankets then odds are you will get some peace for at least the first few hours of the journey. This will allow you to make decent progress before point number two comes into play…
- Take regular rest stops. Little people get restless very easily so factor in these all-important rest stops for them to use the toilet / stretch their legs / buy cheap tat from service stations / throw a wobbler. This is probably the reason it takes me 10 hours to drive to Cornwall. Factor in the extra time and give yourself the breathing space.
- If you are travelling with babies place one of those car seat mirrors in front of them. Babies love looking at themselves and you will be able to keep an eye on what they are doing in your rear view mirror. Also think about bringing a few toys that will clip onto their car seat for the time they spend awake.
- Portable DVD players. Many people say bring the iPads but I disagree. Children looking down at their hand-held consoles is a recipe for travel sickness. Invest in portable DVD players that attach to the seat backs. They aren’t that expensive and believe me they are worth every penny on a long journey.
- Be prepared for vomiting / poo / “I’ve done a wee” moments. We learned this the hard way after being stuck in a particularly grim traffic jam when one child couldn’t hold his poo any longer and the other was promptly sick everywhere. Not a fun day out. Have a spare change of clothes for each child to hand and many, many baby wipes.
- Snacks. I don’t know what it is about long car journeys but they make everyone really hungry. Pack lots of treats and snacks into a cooler bag and have it to hand. Baby wipes will come in handy here too.
- Lie about how far it is. Long car journeys are long and it doesn’t help to tell the kids this. Our mantra is everything is “just around the corner”.
- When patience and tempers are failing bring out the ‘surprise’ box. I always take a little box of things for each child for when we have just about reached the end of our tether. It doesn’t have to be expensive – stickers, little puzzles, cbeebies magazine or whatever will do fine. The novelty, not the contents is the winner here.
If you are planning on a long car journey with the kids then I hope this has helped. If you are a seasoned pro then please do share your tips in the comments box below.