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Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Car Journey with Children

By Jenny Schippers – 2nd March 2021

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Car Journey with Children


With so many of us abandoning plans for an overseas holiday this year and the prospect of a more complicated process when it comes to flying for the foreseeable; the prospect of a holiday closer to home is looking like the reality for 2021. After almost twelve months of being ‘locked down’ in some capacity, the desire to spread our wings and discover news corners of England, Wales, and Scotland is high on the priority list.

UK holidays will be incredibly popular from the 12th April 2021 onwards as restrictions lift in England, with hopefully Wales and eventually Scotland following suit, and with this, we are able to book self-contained accommodation to share with our household. From the 17th May 2021 onwards, hotels and campsites will begin to reopen for shared facilities and by mid-June 2021, the hope is that we have the freedom to holiday in larger groups with most restrictions lifted.

With all this in mind, now is the best time to get booking your holiday to all corners of the UK from Spring 2021 onwards (restrictions dependant). The prospect for many of taking a long car journey with young children, however, can often be a daunting thought! Having travelled extensively with my two daughters since they were babies, I hope by sharing my top 5 tried and tested tips for surviving a long car journey with children, it may alleviate some of this stress and tempt you to book a UK holiday slightly further from home this year.

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Long Car Journey with Children


Top Tip 1: Choose your Travel Times Carefully


Where possible, travel at your children’s sleep/rest times. When driving more than a couple of hours, we often get the kids into their pajamas and feed them their evening meal before leaving home around 7 pm. Often they are asleep before we get on the motorway and we can avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic.

This often means however that you arrive at your accommodation very late in the evening, so make sure you have one bag with all the bedtime toiletries handy, and you unpack the rest of the car in the morning. The alternative option, which we have used a couple of times, is lifting the girls out of bed at 4/5 am and trying to get another couple of hours of sleep out of them whilst we drive. You know your own children, so pick a time that they are most relaxed.


Top Tip 2: Load up the Tablets


Long car journeys are the time to throw all rules about tablets out of the window. The key to a harmonious car journey, in my experience, is to allow your children the opportunity to watch or play games on a tablet. For younger children that cannot be trusted to hold a screen, invest in a seat back cover (Koo-di sell a brilliant version here), that you can slip the screen into and allow a film to play out.

As with long flights, ensure you have downloaded plenty of films/games onto the tablet that can play without WiFi. I find the free iPlayer downloads and Disney+ to be the best. Also, the free CBeebies games on the Kindle Fire Kids are brilliant for children 2+ upwards. If your child is not used to a screen, allow them time to get used to the tablet before you travel. Also, make sure they can navigate the screen, so you are not having to assist constantly.


Top Tip 3: All the Snacks


Now that my children are older (3 and 6 years), I find the easiest way to work the snacks is to plan a little something every 30 minutes of the car journey (plus a few extras for delays). It sounds excessive but it does not have to be much. I find the non-messy snacks that work well are apples, Soreen bars, flapjack bars, mini bags of sweets, crisps, pre-peeled tangerines, and ham sandwiches with the crusts cut off. The aim is to reduce the amount of waste that will be thrown on the floor!

Always pack a bag to collect any rubbish and use snack pots to contain any loose items, these Skip Hop pots are fantastic to contain Cheerios/sultanas or other small snacks. Again, the rules on sticking to healthy food do not apply on long car journeys and often it is impossible to stick to rigid mealtimes. Food is your friend when travelling and always make sure to pack an emergency bag of chocolate to dissipate any major meltdowns.


Top Tip 4: Reduce the Fluids


This rule does not apply to babies or infants that are weaning. I find that now my children are older they drink like fishes and as a result, we would be stopping for a layby wee every half an hour. This just is not practical on long car journeys, so I now keep hold of the girl’s drinks bottles and ration their fluids (within reason and taking the weather/heat into consideration).

If I know we are due to stop, I will start letting the girls drink 30 minutes beforehand, so I know that they will make use of the facilities. Whilst my youngest was toilet training, I purchased this Koo-di Wetec car seat cover to mitigate any accidents and we never go anywhere without our My Carry Potty. This travel potty is always in the boot of the car and has come to the rescue so many times over the last couple of years.


Top Top 5: Travel in Comfort


The key to reducing the moaning is to make sure your little one is comfortable. For younger children and babies consider investing in a car seat that reclines and ensure you have a rear-facing mirror that you can see them in as well as a window blind. For older children, facing forward, ensure their seat belts are not rubbing and they are comfortable in their seat.

For our oldest child, who sits in a Mifold fit-and-fold booster seat, this Trunki seatbelt pad makes the strap much more comfortable. A seat tray may also be a worthwhile investment so they can draw or play tabletop games without losing everything over the side. For children of all ages, the Ispy books are brilliant and both my girls love them. They make for a much more interactive car journey. Finally, dress them in comfortable clothing that is suitable for the weather and consider having their favourite blankets/teddies in the car for sleep times.


In Summary


Throw all your normal rules and conventions out of the window on a long car journey!

You must apply whatever weapons you have in your arsenal to keep your children happy and ultimately, everyone in the car sane. You will probably have to hand over the radio to your children;  you will end up listening to countless nursery rhymes or audiobooks, spend hours playing I-spy and no doubt have to stop the car far more times than you had planned.

It is essentially much harder travelling on long car journeys with children however, the reward at the end of it is (hopefully) a wonderful family holiday with memories to treasure forever.


Fancy Reading More?


If you enjoyed reading this blog, why not head to Girl About Cheshire for more staycation inspiration including my Insider Guide to Anglesey and adventures in Cheshire. You can also follow me on Instagram @girlabout.cheshire and by using the hashtag #MakingMemoriesInCheshire


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