Surviving Long Car Journeys with Kids

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roadtripOften, as a parent, you will find yourself avoiding any journeys greater than a couple of hours long. The cries of needing the toilet and being bored, not to mention the constant questioning of how much longer the journey will take, are enough to drive even the most patient parent round the bend. Unfortunately the season is upon us for weddings, christenings and a whole host of other gatherings that require pilgrimage across the country.

Fear not, there are some steps you can take to survive that mammoth drive from Torquay to Liverpool or further. First thing’s first however, make sure you have booked some good value accommodation for the other end as by the time you reach your destination you will all be ready to crash out.

Take breaks

This should always be a rule for long car journeys, but when travelling alone as adults it’s often just a case of get there and rest when it’s over. From a safety point of view it’s extra important to take breaks when you have something as precious as children in the car. From a sanity point of view, you will want to take breaks, it will break up the journey, allow your kids to take loo breaks and give you a break from the sounds of tiny voices asking you why you’re not there yet.

Get an extra rear view mirror

You can buy these in most baby shops – it is a mirror that attaches to your regular rear view mirror, but angles so you can see what your back seat passengers are up to. If you have your partner or an adult passenger up front with you, you should angle it so they can see behind as it’s less distracting for you as the driver than them turning round to see what’s the matter every few minutes.

Adjust your speakers

Your kids will be happier if they can listen to music they like, maybe from their favorite TV show or the Disney soundtrack. You however will likely not be happier for this and on the 5th listen of the Bare Necessities may have ill feelings towards Baloo the Bear. Prevent a slight nervous breakdown by working out how to set the speakers in the car to play just in the back, or if your kids are old enough give them a cheap mp3 player and headphones each. Problem solved.

Have emergency supplies to hand

Have a bag in the front with you containing anything you may need at short notice. A favorite toy each, a pack of “just-in’case” bribery sweets, drinks, a sick bag (grim but necessary) and anything else you can think of. You can’t pull over on the side of a motorway to get something out the boot, so “be prepared”, as the scouts say.

Once you get to the other side and checked-in to your accommodation you will wonder why you had worried so much. That is until you have to start preparing for the homeward journey. Just make sure you wear them out during your stay!

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  1. Great tips! We went to the beach this summer and it was a good trip. I do think an only child does travel better since he doesn’t have a sibling(s) to bicker with. 🙂

  2. When we drive down to Disneyland, which is about a 6 hr drive, we usually leave early in the morning around 4am, so the girls are asleep the majority of the ride.

  3. A second mirror to keep track of what’s going on in the back sear is a REALLY good idea! I remember my dad always moving the rear view mirror around to keep track of us.

  4. Great tips! My family takes lots of breaks. Sadly, I am the worst traveler in the family. Even a five minute break to stretch our legs makes a big difference.

  5. Those are all great suggestions. We always have the iPad with us and she can wear her own headphones if she wants to. We always make sure to take breaks, too!


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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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