Riding in cars with kids – surviving long car journeys with the family

Long journeys with children in the car

The dreaded summer holidays usually mean hours spent in cars driving up and down the motorway to the seaside, or to the grandparents’ house for some much needed space.
All too often you’re only ten minutes into a three hour journey when a little voice pipes up “are we there yet?”
Then of course there’s the arguing with siblings over everything and nothing, something often difficult to control if you’re the only adult in the car and you’re driving!

We’ve shared our top tips for car journeys with kids so you can have smooth driving this summer:

  1. Get the kids to help you wash the car before your tripClean the car before the trip. Kids love to help with this and if the car’s clean before the trip you’ll be able to find dropped toys much more easily on the journey. You’ll also have more space for luggage if you get rid of receipts, sweet wrappers and empty plastic bottles.
  2. Make a playlist. To avoid arguing about music in the car, let everyone choose 5-10 songs for the journey and put it on shuffle. This will avoid too much arguing and you might even find you have some on there twice (I mean everyone loves 3 Blind Mice right?)
  3. Leave plenty of time. Google might tell you the journey’s 3.5 hours but that doesn’t include toilet breaks, lunch or traffic. If you’re not in a rush you can take your time and even have a picnic on the way instead of eating in the car.
  4. Charge everything. If children are being entertained with a tablet or Nintendo DS you don’t want tantrums if the battery dies. You also don’t want your Sat-Nav or phone to die if you need it for directions. Keep an in-car charger handy for emergencies.
  5. Take frequent stops. Stop every hour or so to let the kids go to the toilet, stretch their legs and blow off steam. It also gives you a short break from driving and an opportunity for everyone to have a drink and a snack outside in the fresh air (weather permitting).
  6. Make sure your kids have plenty to do in the carSplit up siblings. If you have enough room, keep the kids separate and not all bunched together in the back. If necessary swap around at each service station to make it fair, but this should prevent too much squabbling if they all have their own space.
  7. Get the children involved. Explain to your kids how long the journey is, where you’ll be stopping and interesting places on the way. Get them to look at the map and work out how far you are from your destination and how long until the next stop etc.
  8. Pack the essentials. No matter how long the journey is, make sure you have plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to have sunglasses and sun cream to avoid sunburn or glare, plus baby wipes, hand sanitiser and a spare change of clothes for each child just in case.
  9. Take snacks with you. Stopping at service stations just to buy snacks wastes time and food is often expensive. Pack easy to eat snacks that won’t melt in the heat. Apples, breadsticks and raisins are healthy options, but pop in some crisps or non-chocolatey biscuits for a treat.
  10. Plan plenty of activities. Aside from DVDs and tablets, books are ideal for kids that don’t get carsick. You could also encourage your child to write or draw about the journey or teach them some traditional car games like i-Spy, car cricket etc.

Do you have any top tips for road trips with kids?

Let us know and check out our blog posts on surviving train journeys with children and general travel tips for families.

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