11 ways to make travelling with the kids bearable
Ok, so we all love a road trip... don't we?
Well maybe when we were young and carefree and road trips meant singing at the top of your voice to Blur and your besties were sitting in the backseat gossiping and laughing.
Fast Forward ten years and you're listening to the Frozen soundtrack on loop, the kids are screaming at each other, you're getting kicked in the back every 2 minutes and the car looks like a bomb has hit it.
Ring any bells?
We all want a peaceful journey when travelling with our children. We all want to get there in one piece, calm and serene, with happy children in tow and a smile on our face!
But is it possible?
With 86% of parents saying they struggle to keep their children entertained during long journeys, what can we do to prepare for a fun filled trip?
We have had our fair share of disaster filled journeys so we decided it was about time we thought up ways to make that journey a little bit easier. Here's a selection...
1. Leave plenty of time for pit-stops. It doesn't matter if you arrive a couple of hours later than planned, you'll have a happy, relaxed family when you get there; much better than frazzled stressed parents and miserable kids! If you need to get there by a certain time - leave a couple of hours before you need to, that way you can take regular stops, take a break at a park where the kids can have a run around or visit somewhere on route for a change of scenery.
2. Take toys and lots of them. A cute little origami kit for older children all contained in a box, a Mini Facemaker game for hours of fun, magnetic or sticker dress-up games or toy cars/dolls. All these little games can be a God-send on long journeys. Put them all in a soft bag that is easily accessible to the children and they can dip in and out when they want to.
3. Take a plastic tray or baking sheet for each child to put their toys onto. This way it will all be contained and you won't have to keep reaching round for that building block that has fallen under the drivers seat, or that piece of lego that has got wedged down the side of the car seat!
4. Books are always a good idea for a bit of quiet time. For younger children picture books or counting books are great and for older children make sure you pack a few of their favourites. Roald Dahl books are always a good choice as the stories are fun and the illustrations break up the words a bit making the books easier to read in the car. If car sickness is a problem and books are a no-no, then audio books are always a big hit. These can be great to put on a few hours into the journey, when they are getting a bit restless, bored and in need of a break. Listening to the audio books can help children drift off into a sleep giving you a bit of respite!
5. Drinks and snacks are a must. Be prepared with little tubs of cut up fruit (apple, cut up grapes, dried fruit is best otherwise really squidgy fruit will create a lot of mess!), dried cereal, cubes of cheese, cut up pitta bread, nuts and seeds, homemade flapjacks. All things that are easy to eat and are prepared in advance. Its a nightmare trying to reach round to grab a half eaten banana or stop them from eating a family sized bag of crisps. If you prepare the food in snack sized portions of tubs or freezer bags, there are no arguments about wanting more and it makes the journey a hell of a lot easier. The other thing to pack is lots of water. juices can be messy, so water bottles or sippy cups of well diluted squash is essential. These collapsible water bottles are perfect travel companions as are non spill sippy cups!
6. A portable potty is always a good idea when travelling with yonger children. You never know when you're going to get caught out and if you're stuck in a traffic jam and you suddenly hear 'I need a wee mummy', a travel potty will be your best friend! For children that are potty training, a seat cover is a good idea just in case there are any accidents. It might also be a good idea to get your child to wear some waterproof and absorbent pants. These ones by Quack Quack Moo are discreet and are just like big pants (ssh! your child will never know!)
7. Always ensure you have a roll of bin bags in the boot! They always come in handy for muddy wellies, rubbish, dirty or soiled clothing, car sickness and they don't take up any room. A must!
8. If you only have one child and there are two adults travelling, it can be lonely for the child travelling in the back by themselves. Why not ride in the back with them? They will love the company, its a great way of spending some quality time with them and the journey will go much smoother as a result.
9. Car journeys as we know are tiring and more often that not, children will at some point have a nice long snooze. How many times have you looked back and seen your poor little one slumped forward or with their head hanging to the side in the most uncomfortable position? Be prepared for this and stick some pillows in the middle so they can grab one if they need to. If you're travelling with more than one child, this also gives each child their own space which can be helpful when they're getting tetchy!
10. Drawing / colouring / writing. Kids love to be creative. Stick some travel journals, notebooks, colouring pads, pencils and crayons in a bag and they'll be happy for hours!
11. Last but not least, if you can, travel at night! We did this recently when we came back from our holiday in Dorset. The journey there was so horrid what with dreadful traffic jams and unhappy children, that we made the decision to come back during the night. We had a lovely big supper, the kids got their pj's on, we wrapped them up in snuggly blankets and we set off about 8pm. Almost immediately the children fell asleep, there was hardly any traffic on the roads, so we had a clear run where we quietly chatted and listened to music all the way home. Absolute heaven and the best decision we made all holiday!
Have you got any tips on travelling with the kids? Can you share some stories good or bad? We'd love to hear from you. Comment below or tweet to get involved. #Tuesdaytips