Written by: Toni Foot
Travelling with children can feel like you are attempting to mobilize an army, but don’t despair: it is possible! These simple ideas could mean the difference between a smooth ride and the road trip from hell:
Choose your destination carefully
A sunny holiday might sound like a good idea, but it might not seem so great when world war III breaks out on the back seat! Try to choose destinations that don’t test the patience of your children, or if a long journey is necessary, you should consider breaking up the car-time with an outing or a stop over somewhere on the way.
Allow plenty of time for stops along the way
There are the obvious ones that most people will account for (meal times for example) but children can find a whole variety of creative reasons to stop. You may even decide to take a break for your own sanity… even a wander round a field or roadside service station can provide welcome relief from a heated argument on the back seat! After all, it is better to get somewhere early than to be stressed out over taking a few breaks.
Give in to technology
DVDs and music players can be fantastic distractions to get through long journeys, especially if you have more than one child in the car. Be careful though; avoid letting them read or do activities that involve looking down at their lap as this can cause carsickness.
Take plenty of snacks
Small snacks that can be ‘rationed’ are great (it’s amazing how long you can make a small packet of jelly sweets last). Avoid chocolate or anything that makes lots of mess and sticky fingers though as you might not be able to reach to clean up. Drinks in sports bottles are a good idea too as they are less likely to spill.
You might not be enamored by the idea of several hours of ‘eye-spy’ but it is better to prevent them getting bored than trying to deal with the ways they find to amuse themselves! Try spotting specific items (such as different coloured cars, animals, or aeroplanes) or making up words from vehicle number plates. For pre-school children, try ‘eye-spy colours’, rather than using letters.
If your children have favourite nursery rhymes then play them in the car stereo. You can always turn down the sound to the front speakers to prevent going rhyme crazy yourself. Kids love silly songs so if you have a few, bring them out a few times on the journey. ‘Alternative’ words to nursery rhymes can be very amusing.
Give them markers to pass the time
The inevitable ‘are we nearly there yet?’ torture is a favourite weapon in most children’s arsenal. To avoid giving them the idea that this could be a fun way to pass the time, try giving them markers to help them see the progress you are making. Land marks can be good for this as they can watch out for them. Failing that, try setting a timer on an ipod or phone that they can see. When the question begins you can simply refer to the timer. If all other methods of entertainment have failed, watching seconds tick by on a timer can be surprisingly addictive.
Lastly, make sure you make the most of your time away. The journey may be challenging, but time with your family is precious. Make the most of every second.