The festive season will soon be upon us with invitations to catch up with family and friends. With the potential for traffic jams, car sickness and squabbling siblings, the thought of a long drive with children could be enough to put paid to any festive cheer. But there’s no need to dread the family road trip. Read on to learn how to plan a hassle-free car journey that’ll keep the whole family happy…
1. Plan fun pit stops
You’ll need frequent toilet breaks and plenty of chances to stretch little legs, so get the map out and plan exactly when and where to stop for rest breaks. After hours spent cooped up in the car, kids will need somewhere to let off steam, so do some research and find out which service stations have play areas where they can run around.
2. Make a fun activity bag
A backpack with a few books, colouring pencils, games, and toys will keep children active, especially if you’d prefer they spent some time without using a tablet. Choose carefully, as adult riders might find noisy toys a bit annoying after a few hours on the road. Don’t forget any beloved must-haves — you don’t want to get halfway there only to realise you’ve left a favourite cuddly toy at home.
Worried about toys and games cluttering up the back of the car and getting lost under the seats? Using an in-car organisation system will help you keep on top of everything — see this round-up of the best child-friendly car organisers for our recommendations.
3. Pack a picnic
All too often, the cause of a backseat tantrum is just an empty stomach. Pack snacks that will satisfy a hungry child without making too much mess or causing an upset tummy —think fruit, cereal bars, biscuits and juice. Sweet treats can also be useful as a bribe should you need an extra incentive for good behaviour. Remember to pack plenty of wet wipes and a rubbish bag to save your car’s upholstery and deal with any accidents.
4. Get comfortable
All the games and snacks in the world won’t placate a child in an uncomfortable car seat, so make sure you’re using one which is the right size. The type of car seat your child needs will change as they grow, so make sure you’re using the correct one — you can find a guide to finding the perfect car seat at Lookers. A child in a properly fitted, comfortable car seat is also much more likely to sleep through the journey, which means an easier journey for you.
5. Banish car sickness
Car sickness can ruin even a well-planned road trip. To prevent your children becoming poorly, make sure the car is well ventilated, and consider investing in some travel sickness wristbands. The Mayo Clinic says that looking outside of the car, rather than focusing on objects inside, will help ward off illness and keep kids in high spirits. Listening to an audiobook through headphones is a great entertainment option for children prone to car sickness, as it allows them to look out of the window whilst listening to a story. Getting headphones for the children also ensures a bit of peace and quiet for the adults on board, too.
6. “I’m bored!”
Even with the best preparation, there’s always still a chance that you’ll hear the dreaded words at some point in your journey. Try our top boredom-busters:
Play road-trip bingo. Draw up a list including landmarks, signs and other things to look out for on the way to your destination, and have the kids tick off each one as they pass.
Don’t neglect classic pen-and-paper games. Try tic-tac-toe, hangman or battleships. You could even use a tablet to save paper.
If your children don’t suffer from car sickness, then a tablet device pre-loaded with plenty of child-friendly apps and videos is a sure-fire way to keep them occupied for few hours.