We’ve recently travelled from Yorkshire down to Portsmouth and then from Caen to Vendee in my car, so it’s pretty safe to say that we are no strangers to long journeys with kids. I will let you in on a secret – I don’t worry too much about my children on long car journeys anymore as they seem to have the whole thing cracked. The half term journey came to a total of 15 hrs in the car each way, but it was broken up with an overnight stay and a ferry ride so didn’t seem quite that awful – I mean, it was still a super long car journey with children, but they were ace at it and I get so many questions asking how we’re managed this miracle, so I thought I would tell you all what we do!
1. Give in to the techo whims.
No, really, don’t sweat it. Even way back when, I would spend hours playing on my Gameboy (it was yellow and amazing, I won’t hear a word again Kirby) and my mum would let me get on with it! It’s something that entertains them so I would advise loading up the tablets with games and letting them do their thing.
2. Use hotspot from your phone!
Unless you have paid for wifi in your car you won’t have any way to connect to anything that your kiddo or you hasn’t predownloaded onto their device – unless you hot spot! It is different from device to device but those of you using apple iphones (like me!) go into your settings – personal hotspot – switch it on – on your other device go to wifi – choose your phone’s name – type in the password and hit connect! You’re done! This basically uses your 3G/4G connection to give other devices wifi. It does drain your data though so be aware!
3. Sticker and activity books are golden
Sticker books are GOLDEN for our kids – now I know everyone isn’t the same and there have been instances where Reuben has taken it upon himself to stick the stickers on the actual car instead of in the book BUT we still love them. A few pencils (not felt tips, they are too easy to stain things with) and a colouring book is also a win. If you need something to lean on you could use the back of a tablet or (better idea) take a clip board with you! You can buy fancy pads to put over the car seat but I’ve never really rated them.
4. Play road trip games
Games like “guess that song” are fun using a spotify play list (Adam and I do this with normal music whilst the kids play on kindles and use Disney music to do it with the kids) but for really young kids, games like “spot the yellow/pink/red/whatever colour car” are easy and a good way to entertain them all for a time. I spy is another one that Reuben loves!
5. Pit stopppppp!
Don’t forget to make pit stops. We’ve done this in two ways and both are fab. Firstly the standard motor way pee stop – plan out travelling over a meal time (breakfast for example) and then get yourself some brekkie at around the half way point. If you allow the extra 45mins for that stop it breaks up the journey for the kids, helps to spread out the travel a bit and allows for a bit of food/a wee. The other way that Adam and I have done this is when we travelled wayyyyyy down south and wanted to have a big break in the middle. We set off early, around 6am, stopped after an hour and grabbed a drive through, then carried on to the midway point and had a day out at Woburn Safari. We set back off in the early afternoon and had another 2-3 hour drive. It took what should have been a 6 hour drive and spread it in half. It worked really well for us – yes, it made it a lot longer (and more expensive) and it was a pretty long and tiring day for the grown ups BUT it certainly worked well for the kids who didn’t even really realise they had had a long car journey because it felt like a 2/3 hour drive to somewhere fun and then the same “back”.
6. The more serious stuff…
I used to be awful for this, but to be honest there are a few “serious” things that you need to consider when taking long car journeys with children, or even alone to be fair. Have you checked your oil and water? I used to set off on a long trek and have no water in my windscreen cleaner – something that won’t fly living in the countryside. Have you checked the car seats to ensure that they are still fitted correctly? Seats loosen over time if they are belted, so be aware that this is a possibility if you don’t have isofix! What about your car insurance and breakdown cover? Finally, do you have a first aid kit in your car? It’s 100% recommended that every car has a first aid kit (I love ours from Poorly boo) – some cars even come with their own now. Little things like these can make a huge difference to your peace of mind whilst travelling.
7. Final tips for long car journeys with children
I always have an “emergency” pack in my car, from a blanket in case we have an accident or breakdown and it’s cold, to water and a change of clothes in the event of an accident. I also carry a spare bottle in case we are on the motor way and the boys need a wee with nowhere to pull over. It isn’t ideal but it’s better than allowing them to wet themselves – unfortunately there isn’t really anything that can be done with little girlies like Edith so it gets a bit more dicey if she announces “I NEEEDDD A WEEEEE!” on the middle of the M62 in the road work zone. I also always take plenty of chargers and snacks! Lastly, be prepared for car sickness – I have a bowl/bag ready and I use sickness bands if my children feel ill (I’m very lucky that they don’t very often!)
Try to enjoy long journey’s with children, they really aren’t as awful as you might think!