Whether you’re going on a day trip, taking a staycation or driving to the airport for a holiday in the sun, bringing children along for the ride can be a challenge. From cries of ‘are we there yet?’, to requests for snacks, to car sickness, there’s a lot to deal with when you’ve got little ones in the backseat. But you don’t have to dread your next road trip with the kids. Follow our tips for a smoother car journey and happier memories.
Check your car seats
When it comes to kids, safety should always be the first consideration. Remember that until children are 12 years old or 135cm tall, they must be strapped into a car seat. Before you set off, make sure you have an appropriate car seat for each of your children and check that they’re fitted securely. Ensure that seat belts aren’t twisted, harnesses aren’t too loose (you should only be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and the child’s chest) and if you’re using an Isofix seat, make sure all the points are connected properly.
To avoid ransacking your car looking for your toddler’s favourite toy or having to stop the car to get nappies out of the boot, pack in a way that means you’ll have what you need to hand throughout the journey. For example, keep a changing bag (with essentials like nappies, wipes and a change of clothes), a snack box and a busy bag full of toys and activities close by so you can keep your kids comfortable, dish out nibbles and drinks and rotate the sticker books, sorting puzzles and rattles whenever you need to.
Little kids are likely to get very irritable if they’re made to sit still for too long. To avoid sibling squabbles and fretful tots, plan in some pit stops along your road trip. Allow your children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and burn some energy by stopping off at playgrounds, parks or other open spaces along the way.
Unfortunately, car sickness is common in children from the ages of 3 to 12. Taking headrests that will prevent your child’s head from moving too much or putting acupressure bands on their wrists might be a good idea. You should also encourage them to look at a stable object such as the horizon or close their eyes if they’re feeling unwell. Calm music may also help your child to relax. If your children struggle with motion sickness, you may need to give them medication before you set off. Ask a doctor or pharmacist for more advice.
Protect your car
If you’ve been on a long road trip with kids before, you may be familiar with their ability to transform a pristine vehicle into total chaos. While you’re bound to get the odd crumb on the floor, you can do some damage limitation with a few simple tricks. Firstly, always ensure you have a bag for rubbish in the car. You should also take a packet of surface wipes so you can mop up spills and reduce the risk of stains. Lastly, don’t neglect your boot. If you’re transporting prams, bikes, trikes, scooters or roller blades, you’ll want to ensure you have a boot liner that can protect your upholstery and keep your boot clean.