Surviving Car Trips with Kids
The thought of having to drive anywhere with kids is enough to make most of us shudder, the sheer organisation it takes just to get out of the door, let alone adding in the actual task of having to drive or, brace yourself, having to do it solo!
Living where we do this is a daily occurrence so I have definitely come up with some tips and tricks along the way to make getting from point A to B that little bit easier, no matter how big the drive.
- Snacks, snacks and more snacks
If you think you have packed enough snacks, triple it! For older children, the smaller the pieces the longer it will take them to eat, but if dropped it also spreads a lot further. For younger ones we do not head out without at least one Subo bottle packed, these are prefect for a mess free breakfast on the go. *
Bonus tip: if you’re having breakfast in the car give them a sandwich and not toast, way less crumbs and it’s exactly the same thing.
*Be aware of choking hazards with young children in car seats, if in doubt stop to eat.
2. Toys for Travel
Pack lots! The inevitable fact with kids in car seats is they will drop whatever they are playing with and it will roll to somewhere where it can’t be reached. You do not want to stop every time they drop something to retrieve it from the floor so once dropped it stays there until the next stop. We store our toys in seat back organizers that I can reach easily from the front to be able to hand them something new. We have also recently added Travel Busy Trays which have been an absolute game changer for containing mess and reducing dropping!
Mr Four’s favourites are:
- A laminated eye spy sheet
- Wooden Road Trip Scavenger Hunt boards (My Little Set)
- Magnetic drawing board
- Bluey lights and sound phone
Little Miss One loves:
- Sun popper mirror (Fat Brain Toys)
- Mini magnetic drawing board (small magnets removed)
- Turtle slide button fidget toy (Fat Brain Toys)
- Ditty Bird Books
- Music & light book and remote
- Anything that Mr Four is playing with
Anything longer than a 2 hr drive make sure you plan a break, even if you don’t feel you need it, it’s safer to take it and your kids will definitely be ready to stretch. If you can time these stops for a picnic for lunch or afternoon tea - it’s perfect! Complete with Rudie Nudie mat and packed in a Rudie Nudie Picnic backpack, of course. If not, just simply being out of the car to get a drink and go for a toilet stop is a get refresh.
Babies definitely add another level of complexity to travel but it’s not impossible. If you plan on driving with your kids, start young, get them in the car for longer trips straight away so they are used to it.
Other things we did to make car life a bit easier were:
- Feed and nappy change just before you walk out the door
- Plan breaks around feed times
- Set up a nappy change station on a spare seat or in the boot (thank you regular Rudie Nudie for saving my drivers seat from many an accident)
- If bubs take a dummy have about five in the front with you you can just keep handing back
5. The Road Trip
Not all car trips are made equal and road trips are a class of their own, everything above most definitely still applies but a few extra tips to survive are:
- check out your route and find the biggest, most exciting playground you can and give the kids a decent break
- get yourself a Travel Busy Tray from I'm With Kids for any forward facing kids, they can do anything on these things! Drive cars, draw, stick Squigz and even if you’re game play with playdough!
- share the drive to help yourself focus and if you can’t, ring all those friends you’ve been meaning to find time to call and catch up with and chat the drive away.
6. Be kind to yourself
Traveling with kids is not always easy. My kids and I do a minimum of 1000kms a week and even they are not perfect travelers, but there are things you can do to look after yourself and make sure everyone is safe on the road.
- If you’re tired, pull over and have a cat nap, most of the times if you explain to the kids that you’re tired a need a break they understand and will just keep entertaining themselves.
- Screen time is safer than scream time. I really, really don’t like my kids on screens but when it came to the crunch, a toddler screaming in the back seat was too dangerous. Him being on an iPad once he gets to that stage is a lot safer than trying to work through those emotions with him while driving.
- ‘If you don’t stop that behaviour I’m going to get out of the car’ this is my new take on ‘I’m going to leave you on the side of the road’. We all know we can’t actually leave them on the side of the road but we can pull up at a safe spot, leave them safely strapped in their seats, child lock on and stand outside the car and just get a couple of minutes to ourselves to stay calm and be able to focus on the drive. Once you’ve done it once the threat of it is normally enough too.
- Never underestimate the power of a good travel mug filled with coffee and a secret stash of lollies in the side pocket of the drivers door so you can eat them without being seen.
As much as being in the car with kids can keep you on your toes at times we are so lucky to live in an amazing country that we can explore so much of in our cars ,with our family right there with us, creating memories.