Millions of parents plan trips each year for their family to enjoy and if those trips are within the country then more of than not they will involve a car journey. Combining long journeys with young children can be difficult so you need to find the best ways to occupy their time so the journey is as smooth as possible.
We’ve created this guide to show you several ways to lower the stress and creating a journey that your children may even enjoy whilst you focus on getting the family to the final location.
If possible travelling overnight makes trips with children even easier. Starting your journey in the evening means that the children can sleep all the way through so they won’t need any distractions and then you can settle into your accommodation late at night and begin the next day fresh on your vacation and attack the day.
Whether you can do this will depend on the distance of your final location and If you feel comfortable driving long distances at night. Also this can often make the journey shorter in time because you’re less likely to encounter congestion as the roads will usually be quieter.
Sweets & Treats
We know as parents we like to restrict the amount of sweets and treats that we give to children but there is a time and a place to make sure they eat their vegetables. On a long journey they will spend hours cramped into a small space and it isn’t the time to make them eat carrots. Sweets and treats will also make them less irritable and more happy along the journey decreasing the amount of stressful moments that will happen along the way.
Treats don’t have to be unhealthy either, pack healthier snacks such as crackers, cereal bars, grapes in to separate zip lock bags.
Use The Toilet Before Setting Off
The last thing you want to hear 10 minutes into the journey is that someone is bursting to use the toilet. To avoid this make sure everyone uses the toilet before setting off, and make it so even if they don’t think they need it ensure that they go to the toilet anyway.
Before finally driving off have another check and ask because someone will likely be telling a little lie that they went and if they haven’t, then send them back indoors to use the toilet before starting the journey.
Tire Them Out Before
If possible, before your journey take the children out to play involving an activity for a few hours. Not only will this be fun for them but it will also tire them out so when it’s time to get in the car for the journey they’ll most likely fall asleep and remain that way for most of the journey.
Depending on the length of the journey once they wake up you could be at the destination and you haven’t had to provide any distractions or activities in the car.
By breaking the journey up into sections it makes it easier to handle for the children rather than being cramped in the car for hours on end. Plan your journey around rest stops or play parks along the way which allow the children to stretch their legs and have a little bit of fun before getting in the car and continuing with their journey.
The regular breaks will also be good for the driver as it also gives them a break and decreases the chance of them losing concentration or falling asleep at the wheel when driving.
Movies, games, apps, audio books, music can all be accessed using a range of different electronic devices including in car DVD players, cell phones and iPads. Ensure that the devices that run off battery are fully charged before starting the journey, and bring the charger along as they’re usually compatible with the cigarette lighter so if it does run out of battery you can easily recharge it.
iPads will also allow you to easily play group games such as quizzes and crosswords so you can all have fun together making the journey time whizz by.
I know many parents are used to the idea of children staring at screens all day but make an exception for this when travelling. You can even make it a thing where the iPads only come out for travelling so this doesn’t become a habit of sitting on them for hours when the journey is over.
There nothing worse than an irritable child caused by having sunlight in their eyes for an entire journey. Even with a slight amount of sunlight children are going to be bothered by this so unless your car already has tinted rear windows or sunblind’s then you’ll have to invest in a pair.
They Don’t Always Need To Be Occupied
Children don’t need to be entertained every single second of the day. We all benefit from quiet time to think and just allowing them to stare out the window and take in their surroundings can be entertaining especially if there are lots of things to look at in a place that they have never been to before.
Most children still like good old fashioned books, and if you don’t want to get these books on electric devices then go down to your local library or second hand book shop and get a range of different children’s books for them to get through on the journey. These books can also be used one you reach your destination for night time reading.
Having children is a small space for hours will inevitably lead to accidents happening whether it’s a leaky juice box or sticky hands. Make sure that you pack some wipes to quickly clean up the mess.
You should go into the journey expecting there to be a couple of accidents so don’t be angry when they happen just make sure you tidy it up fast.
It’s unlikely you’re going to have the perfect journey but these steps can make it much easier. The more prepared you are the better. Good Luck!