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Road Trip 101: a parents' guide to travelling with kids

calendar Published on: Wednesday, 20th June 2018 | female icon Author: Rebecca Taylor

If you’ve got a family road trip coming up and you’re not quite sure how you’re going to survive the long journey with your brood in tow, don’t panic. In this blog, we’ve got everything you need to know before you get behind the wheel to help you make it to your destination with your patience (and sanity) still intact.

Put safety first 

First and foremost, it’s crucial that you make sure your kids are safe. Aside from driving sensibly and ensuring that you stick to the speed limit, it’s important that your little ones are securely fastened into their seats before you even set off on your journey.

In the UK, the law states that all children travelling in a car must use the correct type of child car seat until they are 12 years of age or 135cm tall. After this, they are required to use an adult seat belt.

There are many different types of child car seats available, so it’s important that you spend time choosing the right one. The seat you go for must be suitable for the size and weight of your child, and it must also comply with the relevant regulations. You must also ensure that it is fitted into your car correctly. 

It might also be worth explaining to your child the importance of keeping their seat belt or harness fastened at all times. This should discourage them from popping open the buckle mid-journey, which could be much to their delight, but much to your horror.

Get excited 

Especially if your children are young, it’s unlikely they have a realistic concept of time or distance, meaning that they might not be thrilled at the prospect of being cooped up in a car for the foreseeable future. So, to take the edge off the journey, get them excited about where they’re heading to. Take the time to describe the destination, why they’re going there and what fun, interesting activities they’ll get up to once they’ve arrived. If you do this, you should be left with a car full of happy and contented kids, making the drive a much more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Make sure you pack snacks 

To keep rumbling stomachs at bay, don’t forget to pack snacks. The chances are your little ones will get peckish at some point during the journey, so make sure you’re prepared with their favourite treats.

If you can, try to pack healthy snacks, avoiding anything with too much sugar in it. The last thing you’ll want is your kids bouncing around the backseat, only to coming crashing back down once you reach your destination, leaving you with a brood of tired, grouchy children. Instead, you might want to opt for nibbles such as apple slices and peanut butter, rice cakes, crackers, pretzels, mixed nuts and raisins.

Aside from snacks, don’t forget to pack drinks too. It’s important that your kids are kept hydrated, especially if you’re travelling in warm weather, so make sure you have plenty of bottles of water on hand. To mix things up, you could even pack fruit smoothies and juice pouches, using an insulated picnic box to keep them cool.

Organise some in-car entertainment

Keeping your kids amused on a long car journey is a must. Leave them to their own devices and they’ll probably just wind each other up or complain about how bored they are. So, to stand a better chance of a calm, quiet and enjoyable ride from start to finish, it’s important that you plan some in-car entertainment. 

There are a whole host of ways you can keep your little ones distracted. For example, you could set them up with a portable DVD player and their favourite film, or you could download a range of games apps to your tablet for them to get stuck into. Make sure your tech is fully charged before you leave to avoid any mid-journey meltdowns, and give each child their own set of headphones.

If you’re keen to limit your children’s screen time, you could give them activities to do such as puzzle books and colouring-in pages, or you could encourage them to pack their own toys and games to keep them busy until you arrive at your destination.

Remember that comfort is key 

Being cooped up in a car for a long period of time can become uncomfortable, and there’s no doubt your kids will make it clear to you if they’re not appreciating the cramped conditions. To make the journey as comfortable as possible for your little ones, make sure you pack soft, lightweight blankets. These will help to keep them cosy and warm if they fall asleep. You might even want to give them a plump pillow to support their head while they snooze.

Pit stops are a must 

When you’re travelling with kids in tow, pit stops are essential. Ideally, you should aim to stop at least every two to three hours. This gives you and your brood the chance to use the toilet, stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh air before you continue on with your journey. You may also want to let your kids run around and play while you take a break from being behind the wheel. To keep them active, you could even pack a ball or frisbee and use the opportunity to get some quick, fun exercise in.

Don't forget the essential items 

To make sure that you’re ready for any child-related emergency, don’t forget to pack the essential items you couldn’t be without if you were at home. For example, make sure you take a pack of wet wipes and tissues with you, and if you’re travelling with babies, keep a wad of nappies within easy reach. In case any of your little ones feel unwell, you might find keeping some paracetamol for children in the car could come in handy too.

Embarking on a long car journey with your kids might seem daunting at first, but as long as you’re prepared, you should find that you make it to your destination without a hitch.


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