Relaxing road trips tend to become a thing of the past once little ones are the in the picture. When you once jumped in the car, music blaring with only a thought for the next coffee stop – you now have others to think about with their nap times, regular snacks and daily schedules. We want you to have as comfortable a beginning to your family break as possible, so we’ve come up with a few tips to hopefully help your journey be that little bit calmer.
If you can, try to time your journey to fit in with your children. Maybe they travel best in the early mornings, when they’re well rested, or in the afternoon to fit in with their nap time, or even during the night if you’re okay drive then.
Being prepared for every eventuality really helps to take the stress out of testing travel situations! Pack travel essentials for the journey: blankets, plenty of wet wipes and tissues, spare changes of clothes and nappies, snacks and drinks somewhere easy to reach for those little emergencies.
Little ones can easily become bored in the car. Babies will (hopefully!) spend most of their time rocked to sleep by the motion – but when they are awake, a few shakey toys can relax them. Toddlers and older children will need a bit more entertainment. Pack a few favourite toys – if you can, hide them away for a few days before hand, so they are more excited to see them. A couple of new toys, a magazine, sticker or colouring in book can also keep them busy. Tablets and in-car entertainment systems can be really handy. For older children, good old fashioned games of I spy, memory games and nursery rhymes can pass away the time.
Be sure to plan in plenty of rest breaks during the journey (or be open to several sudden ones!) As motorway service stations can be a little tedious – and not all come with decent play areas – it can be a nice idea to break your day up by visiting a family attraction not far from the main roads. Somewhere little ones can run around, let off some steam and get some fresh air, whilst you enjoy some tasty refreshments. The English Heritage offers a number of scenic alternatives close to major routes, and National Trust gardens and properties also offer wonderfully relaxing stop offs.
There isn’t anything much more important than drinks and snacks on long journeys. Bring plenty of milk for babies, and (preferably) healthy snacks for everyone else. Steer away from the sugar if you can: rice cakes, granola bars, raisins, bananas and tangerines are easy snacks that don’t make too much mess. Pack plenty of drinks too to keep hydrated.
Babies can easily become hot and uncomfortable in a car seat, so dress them as lightly as you can, and you can always add a blanket. Dressing everyone else in layers that are easy to take on and off is also a good idea.