We’re borderline nomads having moved around A LOT, so when it comes to car travel we’re seasoned pros! Currently our closest family members are a 5 hour car journey away.
Here are my tips on travelling with kids.
I start my list a week or two before we need to pack. I do it in the notes on my phone so I always have it with me. That way I can quickly add to the list when something pops into my mind.
I usually mark the items when I have them together then tick it with its packed and can’t be touched. I have a separate list for last minute items like toothbrushes, chargers, changing bag etc.
2) Pack in advance.
Depending on how much I need to pack, I do this a day or two before. I’ve found panic panicking so stressful. Once its done then you can relax (ish).
3) Kids backpacks.
I pack them a bag each, it doesn’t irradiate squabbling but it helps. So these I fill with things to keep them entertained. I hide the odd snack in there too. If I can I will try and buy a few new things (colouring or sticker books) as new things are obviously more exiting. Their bags are then really useful when you get to your destination as they still have bits to do.
I keep a few things in the front with me for later in the journey when they’ve exhausted their bag contents.
Things I like to pack –
- A few familiar toys
- Something new for them to explore. This doesn’t need to be bought, the contents of your handbag I’m sure will keep them entertained for a while. I’ve always found objects that aren’t actually toys provide so much more interest.
- A nursery rhyme CD, if you can listen to it without your ears bleeding.
For slightly older children.
- Colouring books and pencils (I go for pencils or crayons rather than pens – I’d rather the car interior wasn’t decorated)
- Sticker books
- A few sheets of plain paper
- Our kids have leap pads which are great
- Headphones – as great as the leap pads are, the whiny American voices drive me mad!
- Snacks – I try to go for things that make the least mess (ever given your child a sausage roll in the car!? Flakey pastry is a bastard to get out of the tiny groves). Boxes of raisons, cereal bars, fruit, bread sticks etc.
4) Leave the car tetris to husband.
I pack the bags, he packs the car. It never ceases to amaze me how he managed to fit it all in. There are little pockets in the car I had no idea existed!
Fuel up and check all the levels in the car to avoid breaking down *Husband’s input*.
5) Think about what time to leave.
We tend not to travel during the day. We’ll either leave after tea in the hope that after a while they’ll fall asleep or we get up really early to miss any traffic. It’s really satisfying arriving before lunch after a long journey.
6) Schedule stops.
I need to escape the car for a few minutes just as much as the kids do. Stretch legs, quick wee, coffee and back on the road. I swear time travels three times as fast the minute you stop. If the kids are happy we try to push on as far as we can. If we’re going a long way we try not to stop for more than half an hour although this never actually happens.
However, depending on where we’re going we sometimes stop off to visit a place for a few hours en route. We’ve stumbled upon some lovely places doing this.
We stopped in beautiful little place called Robin Hood’s Bay on the way back from a camping trip with some friends. What better than a bit of rock pooling and fish and chips mid journey!
7) Car games.
I REALLY hate I Spy but the kids seem to love it and will play for ages. We’ve made up all sorts of the car games. Spotting things out the window, a describing game where we have to guess which family member is being described.
All else fails stick a film on the iPad.