Surviving A Long Car Journey With Kids

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:

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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”.
  8. 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.

Happy Travels


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  1. June 28, 2016 / 15:21

    There is only one thing that I don’t agree with here…and that’s the cheap tat from the service stations! That tat is never cheap, and always costs and arm and a leg! Lucy xx #TribalLove xx
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  2. June 28, 2016 / 16:52

    Great tips here! we have tried driving down in Reading from Scotland a couple of times before, and yes the road is unpredictable, it’s better to always prepare for the worse especially if you have kids… #TheBabyFormula

  3. June 28, 2016 / 19:19

    Good tips here Fi! My little one is sick every time we go in the car. So on long car journeys I have to pack a small wardrobe for her, with plenty of wipes and muslins. Have a great trip to Cornwall. Claire x
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  4. June 29, 2016 / 19:02

    Fab post Fi! I’ve only done a long car journey once or twice…the first was to my brother’s wedding in Sheffield (E was only 6 weeks old so slept the whole way), the other was to North London recently and as she’s now a toddler, it was far more challenging. Your tips are great – for me it’s always best to time the setting off time with the early morning nap, plus snacks and the toy box too 🙂 xx #triballove
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  5. June 30, 2016 / 21:33

    I love the I Spy books. I remember having them as a child on car journeys and you can still get them! Every Vehicle on the Road is always kept in the car, it has rescued us on more than one occasion.

  6. July 1, 2016 / 20:23

    The surprise box! yes! I NEED to get better at that one… I usually just cave after about 5 minutes and give them everything straight away ha ha or I forget to hide it and the big one spots everything and wants it now!

  7. July 2, 2016 / 07:17

    We’ve not took ours on any especially long car journeys as yet, although the trip to Filey which should only have taken 2 hours took more like 4 with traffic, the kids were ace it was me that was declaring “I neeeeeed a weeeeeee!” on that journey ☺️ A brilliant post, I shall be certainly referring back to it if we venture on a long journey. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  8. July 2, 2016 / 07:51

    We could have done with this fab list a few weeks ago when we travelled away to visit family. Fortunately for Mother and Father I slept all the way there and back – but things could have been very different had I been a grumpy mood. We are going about 300 miles away next month and Mother and Father were too anxious to drive all that way with me so we’re getting the train (which I’m mildly excited about) but with your tips, we might be braver in future about making long journeys. Great point about portable DVD players x #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. July 2, 2016 / 07:53

    Love the idea of the surprise box! We are going on a long car journey at Christmas so I might have to pinch this idea…! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  10. July 2, 2016 / 07:56

    All great tips. I also recommend story book CD’s – we used to listen to The Twits by Roald Dahl on the way to Stockport from Pompey (a 6 hour drive back then!) #fortheloveofblog
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  11. July 2, 2016 / 08:20

    Really good ideas. We’ve been to Cornwall nearly every year for last 12 and boy is it long, especially when there’re jams in high season. I might just invest in a DVD when we go to Italy in Aug as i dont like the boys being on their phones all the time when i can’t see what they’re watching. Hehe about lying about length of journey – with that logic they’ll think a half hour homework will take 5 mins 😉 Jo #fortheloveofblog

  12. July 2, 2016 / 08:25

    A surprise box sounds like a great idea. We’ve done a lot of road trips with the girls and these tips are perfect for helping with long car journeys. We try to break up the journey as much as we can too (but as you say it means the travelling time is so much longer!) and lots and lots of baby wipes are definitely an essential. I would also add be careful what snacks you leave in reach – Jessica once got hold of an entire pack of chocolate-covered rice cakes whilst travelling and neither of us noticed until we arrived at our destination and realised she and the car seat were completely covered in chocolate. Unfortunately the first thing she did on arrival at the hotel was throw herself face-down onto the lovely white linen of the bed…! #fortheloveofblog
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  13. July 2, 2016 / 08:38

    Sorry to hear that you have such an epic journey…my family live a good two hours away and I embarked on a solo drive with two smalls recently. The baby slept the whole way but I felt uneasy about not being able to check her constantly, and my eldest ate sweets and got very hyper! As with all things, I’ll do better next time…! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  14. July 2, 2016 / 08:49

    ARE WE THERE YET? It does seem that packing for young children is an expedition planning for every eventuality. We always end up taking too much but that is always worth it when the desperate change of clothes is needed!!

  15. July 2, 2016 / 09:01

    We’ve often travelled in the evening with the kids in their PJ’s, then we can put them straight to bed when we get home. Max has recently started getting car sick to we have to be prepared for that now, a 10 hour car journey would not be good for him 🙁 x #fortheloveofBLOG
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  16. July 2, 2016 / 09:44

    Good luck! We managed a 4 hour drive with the Popple when she was younger, but it was easier then because she slept for most of the time – that definitely won’t happen now that she’s nearly 13 months! She hates the car if she’s not tired, so we haven’t braved another long car journey since, but I know we’ll have to do it eventually. She just wants to get out and run around, which obviously isn’t possible in a moving vehicle. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  17. July 2, 2016 / 11:29

    My goodness that is a long journey – Cornwall is lovely though. I spent many a family holiday traveling from Newcastle to Polruan in the car! I like the mirror idea – never thought of that – and my son is incredibly vain! Have a great time. #for theloveofBLOG

  18. July 2, 2016 / 12:31

    Brilliant tips! I haven’t had the guts to do longer than a 2 hour journey with the little one yet. #fortheloveofBlog
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  19. The Tale of Mummyhood
    July 2, 2016 / 13:34

    Great tips. We travel to St. Ives, Cornwall every year, sometimes numerous times a year. Since having children we get up mega early to get down there and on the way home we travel late – just to save our sanity! It makes the journey much less stressful for us and the kids!


  20. July 2, 2016 / 13:47

    Wish I’d seen this post earlier this week! After leaving the #BML16 awards ceremony a bit earlier, we rushed home to start driving to Devon that night. Our 3 year old stayed up for the whole journey but luckily she was quiet and not in a bad mood! Great post! Will keep a printed copy in the car 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. July 2, 2016 / 20:48

    oh no, your poo and vomit trips sounds relaxing…not! nightmare ey. I wrote a similar post recently and one on travelling with a potty training toddler. my best advice to date was from a non blogging friend who uses puppy training pads! complete genius! also, another friend recommends a bucket with a carrier bag popped in it – as in sand bucket if there isn’t a loo or potty handy :/ nice ey lol! here’s to happy travels over the summer! #fortheloveofBLOG xx
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  22. July 2, 2016 / 21:27

    ‘Just around the corner’ lol love it 🙂 we packed lots of snacks and the iPad for our recent holiday to longleat – he slept all the way there and all the way back – bonus! Well until we wanted him to go to bed & he wasn’t tired lol #fortheloveofblog
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  23. July 2, 2016 / 21:51

    Fab tips! We travel to Cornwall a lot from East Midlands as family are down there and we tend to leave at about 3am or 7pm and travel at bedtime, or for arriving when it is morning time..travelling with kids is always a challenge #fortheloveofblog
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  24. July 2, 2016 / 22:14

    How did anyone survive without baby wipes? Seriously… #fortheloveofblog

  25. July 3, 2016 / 01:36

    Great tips. I am about to move from Canada to the UK and will be doing a similar post for flying solo with two toddlers…HAHAHAHAHA (#scarednotscared!)

  26. July 3, 2016 / 13:16

    Great post, my saviour! O so handy for our next long trip with little ones #fortheloveofBLOG

  27. July 3, 2016 / 14:02

    Good tips, thanks. I wish I had read them before the last road trip I did with my kids…
    I will invest in a couple of those dvd players if I ever have to do a really long journey – 10 hours? Wow, you’re a brave lady.

  28. July 3, 2016 / 16:15

    Oh we have been there with the I’ve had a poo!! I always take pull-ups now on a long journey just in case! We are off to Disneyland Paris by car from North West England so these tips will be very useful thank you!! #fortheloveofBLOG

  29. July 3, 2016 / 19:46

    Great tips, I’ll keep them in mind for when our first arrives and we’re forced into doing a long drive! Long car journeys are hard for adults, let alone kids, so having a few tricks up your sleeve must be a huge help! #fortheloveofBLOG

  30. July 3, 2016 / 20:14

    Great ideas, we had a trip to Cornwall when BB was younger where he insisted on needing a wee every 10 mins. We had just potty trained him, so we had to stop. I just remember some cows staring at us from a field. To make it worse we were travelling in a convoy with some friends. We were in hysterics at stopping so often. You gotta love em. I hope your trip goes well. xx #fortheloveofBLOG
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  31. July 3, 2016 / 21:47

    WE have just travelled to and from Wales which was a four hour journey with no stops. By the time we had dropped the dog off at kennels, picked up my sister and all the wee/food stops it was six and a half hours. Little R was restless and I wanted to shoot myself. These are fabulous so will definitely try them next time!
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  32. July 3, 2016 / 22:40

    Really useful tips. I used to be anti-dvd players in cars until I’d been on a few long journeys with siblings in the back…DVD players are an absolute must now!
    I’m assuming you are on about the kids pooing and vomiting?!! 😉 #Fortheloveofblog

  33. July 3, 2016 / 23:16

    I totally agree with no. 1 – it’s a no-brainer if at all possible. We’ve never done no. 8 but will give it a try as it sounds a really nice idea. I am gutted that our portable DVD player broke and I can’t seem to buy another one anymore – they’re not that old-fashioned are they?! Enjoy Cornwall #FortheloveofBLOG x
    Mindful Mummy Mission recently posted…Wicked Wednesday #4: Appreciating what we can, when we canMy Profile

  34. July 4, 2016 / 12:53

    Oh I love the idea of the surprise box, I am definitly using that when we go on holiday on Saturday – a 7 hour car journey awaits! xxx #fortheloveofBLOG

  35. July 6, 2016 / 14:20

    Some great ideas there. We haven’t done many long journeys recently although did a fair few when G was younger. Totally agree about the DVD player, that has been invaluable for us except when she has let the battery run down! (Thank goodness my car now has a power adaptor thingie).
    The worst journey we ever had was from home to London to visit friends. G was about 3. We set off at 7pm thinking she would sleep the whole journey. Nope, she finally fell asleep as we were coming into Greenwich about 5 mins from my friend’s house!

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  36. July 6, 2016 / 21:41

    Brilliant tips! I so agree on so many of these and H is only 19 months 🙂
    We’re putting off getting the seat back DVD until we really need it as we think she might want it every single time we go anywhere once we start on it, so want to make sure she really understands spoken bribes and bargaining before bringing that in to play!
    Thanks for sharing on #TheBAbyFormula, this is one of my favourites for the week xx

  37. July 7, 2016 / 20:27

    Some great ideas. I hadn’t thought about a portable DVD player. This sounds like a really fab idea. I might check it out now. Do you have any specific recommendations? Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky 10My Profile

    • Fi
      July 8, 2016 / 10:28

      We just bought a set of two from Amazon. They were probably somewhere around the £100 mark but have been worth their weight in gold believe me! x

  38. July 9, 2016 / 22:08

    Some great tips here. We don’t do long car journeys often but agree that wipes and a change of clothes are definitely must! We do take an iPad thought but we have one of those car mounts so it sits inbetween the headrests so the boys can watch movies on it! Sorry my comment is so late! This is for last weeks #ForTheLoveOfBlog
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  39. Julia
    August 13, 2016 / 14:23

    Some great tips here. Always difficult doing long car journeys with little ones

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