I do get asked quite often, how we go with having our children in the car for such lengths because of our location. Everywhere we frequent other than in and around our small town, is atleast a 45 minute drive, and trips to the city or to other places to see family are around 2 - 3 hour drives.
Well, it's not always easy but we manage and it does help to be organised before you get on the road. I've previously shared about what we keep permanently stored in our car which you can read about here. A big thing for me, before leaving is having a clean, tidy and organised car. I find the whole thing way more enjoyable and relaxing if the car is not filthy both inside and out. I know it might seem pedantic but honestly it keeps me in such a better frame of mind.
1. Where possible, plan travel around sleep times, makes it much easier for everyone if the routine isn't completely thrown out the window, admist the chaos of travel.
2. Dress in comfortable easy to manage clothes. Zipper jumpers and slide on and off easily shoes are always a winner. A few small blankets are good for when they are cold and window socks or visor shields are useful too, to block out the unwanted sun beaming in.
3. Allow the kids to release some energy before you go. On recent trips to and from Perth we chose to drive after the children had a good few hours of play time in the morning, so they were able to use up some energy and were conducive to wanting quiet time. For the journey home, we left mid afternoon, after spending the entire morning exploring the Zoo. Again, the kids were tired and quite happy to be spending time seated.
4. If you use a car DVD player like we do, avoid letting them watch TV prior to your journey, this will maintain their interest in the program whilst on your journey. Make sure the screens are well fastened to the seat head rests and that you have your wallet of DVDs ready.
5. Plan your trip stops. Make sure you get your children to visit the toilet prior to leaving and then pick a stop atleast half way along the journey to stop to stretch the legs and use the facilities.
6. Be prepared with snacks and drinks. As you would have read about in my car organising post, we use caddies in the car for housing food and drinks we give the kids along the way. In an ideal world, food wouldn't be consumed in our car, but it is just a given with our lengthy travels. These caddies are sectionalised and brilliant for holding their drink bottle; sandwiches and snacks. Before we leave we make sure they've had a good breakfast or lunch to keep the 'I'm hungry' cries at bay for a while. Then I pack the supplies ensuring there are two of everything and that we've enough for the entire journey both there and back (obviously not fresh produce but share packs for the way home) This includes for hubby and I also. I just flat out refuse to purchase items from service stations along the way, as it ends up costing a fortune and can usually be avoided with a bit of prior preparation. We have refillable water bottles and travel coffee mugs that we take with us, and usually make ourselves a sandwich to have too.
7. Grab a handful of different toys/books/games/DVDs that they've not had for a good while. Again working on the theory that they won't get bored quite so quickly or easily. There are lots of great car games that can be played when the kids are a bit older, like spotto or car bingo. Have a search on Pinterest or google and you'll definitely find some. Here's a link that I found to some - they are US based, but you get the idea.
8. Another great idea seen on Pinterest is for managing car behaving using pegs on the visor, that you can read about here. You obviously need to establish rules with the children before you depart to put something like this into practise. Again another technique I hope to try in the coming year, as our youngest develops more understanding. Don't forget to praise your kids at how well they are doing. Just like anything, they respond so well to positive reinforcement, rather than getting cranky with them for not being compliant.
9. Depending on how young they are, let them have one small special thing to take with them in the car. Whether it be their special teddy or a iPod, this will be another thing to keep the peace throughout your travel.
10. Talk to them about where you are going, who you are going to see, and what you are going to do. If you start to get the 'are we there yet' or as we get 'it's too far away' statement, try to engage in conversation with them to distract their attention. This definitely does work with our eldest.
11. Like a good magician, keep a few tricks up your sleeve just in case it all goes horribly pair shaped. Think of other possible places you can stop along the way if you all just need some air. You never know when that new colouring in book or travel version of noughts and crosses might come in handy. If you don't need it, keep it stashed away for the way home!
We are due to head away with our kids soon, so I'm going to be spending the week preparing bits and pieces for our car travels!
Any one got any other tips for car travel with kids?