So, you’ve finally got your bottom in gear and booked that perfect family holiday that’s tailored to your child’s every whim….typically!…or maybe you’ve just planned a bit of fun day for people, with the main focus of getting yourself and your kids out of the house, so that they don’t brain each other. But it involves children in cars; every parents nightmare…Now you have to tackle the problem of actually getting to where you were intending on going without World War III breaking out in the back of your car…
Travelling on long car journeys can be challenging; but the main thing is to be prepared, so here are some top tips for keeping those car journeys a bit less like car-nage and more calm…
1. Do a bit of route planning
It’s a good idea to research your route, and installing a sat nav in your car will make getting the directions right a whole lot easier. But try not to rely on it too much, get the map out to check otherwise you might be going around the North Circular in London in the rush hour. Alternatively, you could use an online route planner. These can even give you information about traffic hot spots and help you to avoid them.
If you’re passing through scenic countryside, you can also plan your route to include short breaks in beauty spots. It shouldn’t take too much of your time, and will help to refresh the whole family.
2. Check your wheels
Boring bit coming; I know but its got to be said, if you are going to use the car, make sure it’s running properly.
Don your sexy overalls and top up engine oil, coolant, fuel and windscreen wash before you set off. You can even make yourself feel really mechanic-y by making sure the tyres meet the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm, and check that they have the right amount of pressure in them according to your car’s specifications. But don’t go too Kwik-Fit on us all…
Remember the car might need different pressure if it’s carrying a lot of luggage and passengers.
Don’t forget to keep a spare tyre as well; and that doesn’t mean the one you have after eating too many burgers…
3. Provide plenty of distraction for the little ones
Now it goes without saying that kids in a car over a long distance need entertaining.
If you make sure that you pack sensibly for the journey, it will help to make it a comfortable and enjoyable trip for everyone. Entertainment can come in many forms including:
- Portable DVDs
- MP3 players
- Backseat TV monitors
- Audio books, and
- Games consoles
- Playing I-spy and other in car games; hey it worked for my mum and dad, so just coz we have gone all techy doesn’t mean you have to forget the traditional games too
- Travel versions of popular board games; if the kids are old enough and you can play when across the backseat. Again, we used to do this as kids, and now my kids are older they play cards too!
Audio books are a massive favourite of my kids, and they have been entertained for hours with various different audio CDs; though sometimes I wonder what I might do next if I hear Charlie and Lola one more time….
Just remember any car chargers and headphones you might need.
4. Pack healthy snacks and drinks
There is nothing like a bit of chomping to keep people entertained, and it’ll also help to keep spirits up during the journey. Pack lots of healthy snacks and drinks for the kids, so they won’t be tempted by sugary treats at every service area, and so the sugar rush won’t send them totally bonkers when they are cooped up in a car!
If you’re travelling with a baby, a bottle warmer that you can plug into the car’s cigarette lighter can be extremely handy.
5. Make sure car sickness doesn’t go on the journey with you
Unfortunately, a lot of people with young kids have experienced this. Both StuntBoy and Chatterbox get it, and it’s not pleasant when it happens..the smell lingers for weeks unfortunately…
In fact, the average child in the UK gets car sick just 18 minutes into a journey. 43% of parents with children between the ages of 5 and 11 say their kids suffer from car sickness.
So, be prepared for the worst! If your child is frequently car sick, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP or pharmacist for suitable medication. There are also some other preventative measures that you can take:
- Don’t let your children stare at screens or books for too long. It can increase car sickness, especially on long and winding roads. Sadly since we have had too many screen related and book related incidents; my two can’t read in the car anymore…
- Avoid giving them greasy or sugary foods during the journey.
- Don’t let them travel on an empty stomach.
6. Keep your eyes open
This is something that anyone with young kids will realise; you must make regular stops, otherwise your kid will go a bit nuts!
However, it’s also a fact that the AA recommends that drivers stop every 1 hour and 45 minutes on long car trips anyway. Stopping like this will also keep the children from getting bored, as well as making sure you are still feeling tickety-boo.
If you pull into family-friendly service areas, then the kids can get out and stretch their legs somewhere safe that may even have the odd bit of entertainment for them too.
People don’t realise just how dangerous driving tired can be. Driver fatigue contributes to up to 20% of road accidents each year. The AA suggests drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee to stay alert. But, if you’re extremely sleepy, you should pull over to park in a safe place (NOT the hard shoulder) and try to get a short 15-minute nap before getting back on the road.
Good preparation will make any long family car journey that much more enjoyable. Also make sure you have adequate car insurance so you’re covered for the unexpected.
This is a guest post. KiddyCharts was provided with a post which has been re-written by KiddyCharts to fit into the style of this blog. The original article was written by Gargi Shastri who writes for the Sainsbury’s Money Matters blog on a range of topics including car insurance, car safety and other motoring topics. When she’s not writing, she enjoys yoga and cooking Indian food.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net