Doing long car journeys with kids can be daunting and stressful for most families. Most people try to avoid them altogether as their kids get so restless during long journeys. And who can blame them, especially when you add babies and toddlers in the mix? We have been doing long journeys from Scotland to Essex or England to Germany for years now. My first ever long road trip was to Germany with Miley when she was 2 years old, I did the whole road trip by myself and we got stuck in 3 hours worth of traffic jams. Once I had done the first road trip, it got easier every time and we eventually became quite the pros. With that in mind here are my top 10 travel tips for long car journeys with kids.
1. Take more snacks and drinks than you think you might need
Snacks and drinks are an absolute must on long journeys, you never know when you might get stuck in traffic. It also keeps the kids happy and it saves you money. Who wants to spend double the price at a service station for a chocolate bar? We love filling yum lunch boxes with a variety of healthy and treat foods, they are leak-proof and my daughter just loves them. Another added bonus is that you don’t fill up the car with lots of rubbish.
2. Pack a variety of toys
Keeping the kids happy and occupied in the car is the biggest challenge for long car journeys. Pack a variety of toys, such as reading books, colouring books and little toys. If you have kids younger kids these car travel trays are great, you can strap them on the kids’ laps. For organising all the toys we use this car seat organiser that goes in between the kid’s seats.
3. Let them use electronic toys
There is absolutely nothing wrong with kids going on electronics in the car. Take the Nintendo Switch, tablet or the portable DVD player, it keeps them happy and sometimes helps them fall asleep quicker. Don’t forget the headphones though, I don’t think anyone wants to listen to pokemon or barbies dream house on repeat. Most streaming services such as Netflix let you download shows in advance so that they can be watched without the internet. We use this headrest mount to attach the devices to.
4. It’s all about the comfort
Let’s be honest no one likes sitting in tights jeans or dresses they have pull continesly to be comfortable in. Long car journeys are all about comfy clothing. Let your kids wear onesies, jogging bottoms or leggings. And if you’re driving late night why not let them wear their pyjamas? Also, let them take a blanket and a small pillow for comfort. Let’s not forget their favourite cuddly toy.
5. Don’t forget about the toilet breaks
I cannot tell you the amount of she forgot to tell us that she needed a wee and the nearest services were 30 miles to go. Ask your kids every 30 minutes if they feel like they need the toilet soon, that way you can plan ahead for the next stop. If you’re potty training, take a travel potty with you. Chances are your toddler will refuse to use a big toilet or needs the potty in the middle of nowhere.
6. Pack a spare clothing kit
As well as getting bored quickly, kids are also prone to travel sickness. I can’t count the amount of times my daughter was sick in the car as a toddler, I’m talking vomit on the car seat, on her clothes, hair the whole lot. There is nothing worse than driving in a car that smells of sick. You want to have a bag with sets of spare clothing and a ziplock bag for the dirty clothes. I’ve even kept a spare towel, in case their car seat is soaked. Johnson’s now do top to wash wipes, one of my favorite changing back items. Along with that have a bottle of Febreze in the car, you never know when you might need it.
7. Make extra stops
Have plenty of breaks for everyone to stretch their legs and to just get out of the car. Babies especially need breaks more regularly to be out of their seats. Yes, the journey might take a bit longer but it will seem shorter for the kids. This means they won’t ask as often the ‘are we there yet?’ question!
8. Pay Extra for good quality car seats
You don’t want to save on the safety of the kids. Invest in some good quality car seats and check how they have done in crash seats. You are best to go into Mothercare, Halfords, Smyths or another retailer. They can check if the car seat is compatible with your car and most retailers help you fit them.
9. Try to drive at night
Driving a long distance just after dinner works great as the kids are more likely to go to sleep. They would have been exhausted from a long day and have just eaten. If you got a young baby, let them have dinner (or a bedtime bottle) and a bath. They are more likely to sleep for longer periods if it’s dark outside.
10. Don’t forget to check your car
Last but not least let’s not forget about things like the tyre pressure, oil level etc, especially when you have kids. The day before you travel go I would go and check that the car is ready for a long trip. Also it’s worth checking everything in your first aid kit.
Looking for new destination ideas? Why not have a look at my list of the best family attractions in Edinburgh?
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