PLAN. I read that car journeys take a third extra time with small people, so add an extra hour onto your journey; for safety and sanity don’t rush it you don’t want to leave your house without having drunk coffee, with your child wearing one shoe, forgetting their favourite toy and leaving your hair straighteners on. I have done all of those. Try keep luggage in the boot and the things you need for the journey accessible. Soft bags are easier to squeeze in small spaces. The night before I take out the car air fresheners as my son will vomit after one sniff…
Timing wise…with babies and younger children, work with their routine, I used to drive early or late, around a scheduled nap time as they are likely to ZZZZ in the car.
Keep some toys (and dummies if they have them) in the front with you as little ones are guaranteed to drop everything and then demand you fix it whilst driving as they don’t understand the concept of safe driving. Let children pick their own books and toys. Bring a pile! Keep them in little arms reach.
Our favourite car games are; I spy with letters or with younger children sounds..so moo if you see a cow. We make sure we have Disney sing along Cd’s for car-e-oke. You will listen to the lion king on repeat. We also have Roald Dahls’ audiobooks. Play spot the yellow car game. When you have seen ten you get a sweet as a reward. If you are really dedicated you can play driving bingo. The night before write or draw things that you are likely to see on the journey on a piece of paper that children can look out for, i.e. sheep, traffic lights. If the journey is more than a couple of hours I will wrap up little gifts from the pound shop that they can have as a reward after an hour, for something they can look forward to.
I am not anti tech in the car, after 20 games of I spy you will need respite! You can buy portable cd players cheaply. Make sure you have spare batteries. My son gets ill so we do encourage him to look out the window but he loves playing with our tablet. So we have that and our phones charged ready with games we know he can operate so you don’t hear, ‘Muuuum this isn’t working!’ 5 minutes into the drive.
For babies in rear facing seats, I brought a travel mirror so I could keep an eye on my son. Had a Taf Toys Feet Fun Car Toy Travel Activity Centre, there are lots of different types of interactive games on the market that sit on the back of the front passenger seat that can entertain your LO.
Take LOTS of snacks, enough to feed an army. Try and avoid sloppy, crumbly ones. If I take yoghurt I take tubes. I always do cheese sandwiches as it seems to help with my little boys’ sickness. I pick crisps that are not too salty. Slices of apple or cucumber are nice and refreshing. Chocolate is a no no if you like to keep your seat covers beige. Plain food like crackers are good for those that do not travel well .If you have an older child mints to suck are a good option, but I would not give them to my five year old, or younger. Give children small sweets or objects to play with and you will be shoulder checking every minute for fear they will swallow it. Take drinks in sippy cups, take spare cartons of formula if it is hot or made up bottles with icepacks so they do not spoil. They do children’s water bottles with a middle you can turn to ice to cool them. We travel with water or squash, nothing fizzy or milky that will upset tummies or have your children bouncing off the roof.
Have a couple of plastic bags for rubbish, tissue and LOTS of baby wipes. Spillages are likely to occur.
Take a couple of changes of spare clothes! Keep them loose fitting and comfy. My son doesn’t like to wear his shoes in the car.
If you are planning travelling in summer keep the car cool and well ventilated. If its holidays you may be stuck in traffic so consider taking a fan. Hot child=hysteria. Sunshades and sunglasses are a must. In winter my son likes a snuggly blanket over his lap and a pillow for naps.
• When to stop for breaks etc.
Stopping for breaks is essential. We try to stop after an hour for leg stretch and toilet ticket. If travelling well we will try and get to an hour and a half as sometimes returning to the car is a battle. If you are potty training it is good to take potty along. With babies, you are likely to stop more often to change nappies and make sure they are comfortable. When there is two of you we like one adult travel in the back with our little boy so we can help him with anything.
If you have a child prone to motion sickness, ensure they have breakfast and it has time to settle before travelling, a plain piece of toast. We keep the car cool, give him ginger biscuits and he wears elasticated travel bands with a bowl by his feet. Talk to your GP if they suffer really badly from sickness.
…Leave them with Nan…?