HOW TO KEEP KIDS HAPPY ON LONG CAR JOURNEYS
Families grow together as they travel, that’s for sure, but how can you make car journey memories that last a lifetime, without losing your sanity?
Often our car journeys involve camping at the other end, the car packed to the rafters withkit. All of the gadgets I have mentioned here double up for car and camping and take up minimum space.
When travelling by car as a family a little prep can go a long way. One of my biggestirritations is the passenger footwell filling up with discarded coffee cups, sweet wrappersand apple cores. So a packet of small bin liners in the glove compartment is a must, along with tissues and baby wipes.
No matter how old kids are, hunger always seems to strike just a couple of miles into anyjourney. Sistema lunchboxes have lots of compartments, perfect for healthy snacks on the go. Save the sweets for emergencies, it’s amazing what a captive audience will eat whenit’s presented in a novel way. The boxes come in handy for packing snacks, saving food ormaking packed lunches when camping, too.
A car journey isn’t a car journey without some old fashioned family fun; audio tapes and family music playlists can work wonders and older children can be tasked with creating playlists. Having said that, screen time can give everyone a break from each other, so we never set out without a twin port USB adapter and gadget leads.
"Surprise them by tucking some new, or long forgotten playthings into the pockets on the back of the seats."
For longer journeys novelty always helps; surprise them by tucking some new, or longforgotten playthings into the pockets on the back of the seats. Mobiles or toys that can be anchored to the window or seat in front are really sound investments for babies, as there is nothing worse than the pain of a pulled neck muscle after the dreaded reach round for an object on the floor.
Younger children can often lose at least a few miles with sticker books or colouring sets.But until they are old enough to pick up the bits themselves, avoid anything with lots ofpieces, or car travel just gets really messy.
We love the tear off game pad from Knock Knock too, which has classics like noughts and crosses, hangman and squares. A new notebook and felt tip set in its own travel wallet soon had mine inspired to draw and to keep a holiday diary.
Car blinds are essential for keeping young children shaded and encouraging sleep on car journeys. Did you know you can now buy tents with blackout materials too? Our must-have camping gadget though is an airbed pump that plugs into the car. It makes or breaks a camping trip.
"Plan rest stops somewhere that feels like a destination in itself."
For longer journeys, sometimes it pays to plan rest stops somewhere that feels like adestination in itself, picnic spots, beaches, parks or gardens. Or make time for some outdoor play at service stations; crawling, wriggling, swinging and sliding all help children release tensions and frustrations ready for the next leg of the journey.
While it can be great to try and time car journeys to coincide with little one’s nap times, Iwish I had been less of a slave to schedules while travelling. The stress of worrying aboutschedules can be worse than the actual reality, and who knows, maybe that unexpectednap later down the line will come at the perfect moment for you to appreciate a sunset orpark up at a stunning view.
Written by Penny Alexander, from parentshaped.co.uk