Travelling with kids doesn’t have to be the torturous event it so often is for parents. Handled carefully, the time spent trapped in a moving vehicle for hours on end with your loved ones could represent a real opportunity for some quality family time. Here are some tips to help your family to enjoy the journey every bit as much as the destination.
P – Prepared: Several days before setting off, make a list of all things you’ll need – wet-wipes, a change of clothes, sun-tan oil – then you’ll have time to keep adding to your list as it occurs to you to pack a basic first aid kit, a ball for recreation en-route, or a pair of ear plugs just in case! Pack an individual backpack for each child.
I – Inclusive: Your children will be happier taking part in a journey if they feel truly involved, so talk to them about where you’re going and what you’re likely to encounter en-route. Make maps of your journey so they can track your progress. This should also help quell those dreaded cries of, “Are we there yet?”
T – Together: There’s no reason why more than one adult (the driver!) should automatically sit up front. Your children will feel more included if an adult is sitting next to or between them. Play a sing-along CD and join in.
Magnetic board games like Travel Bingo can keep everyone amused for ages. For games like virtual hide and seek – where you imagine a hiding place in your home and the others have to work it out by a process of elimination – all you need is your imagination.
S – Solo: On a long journey, it’s good to mix it up, so do allow your children some ‘me’ time. Intersperse family games with quiet time on a Leapfrog, a handheld console, listening to a CD or audio book or watching a DVD.
T – Toddler: For toddlers, one of your best investments could be a car-seat tray, which usually comes with a cup holder. They can use it to play with sticker books, magnetic building blocks, a plastic mirror or a pop-up book.
O – Often: Children’s bladders are small so plan regular breaks – every two hours or so. And hungry or thirsty children are troublesome children, so pack a picnic of snacks to dole out at regular intervals. Frozen juice boxes keep cool for longer and feel like a treat.
P – Play: Children aren’t designed to sit still in a confined space for long so if possible choose a service station with a play area, or at least somewhere the kids can run about and let off steam.
Think PITSTOP, and turn your next long family car journey into just another part of the adventure. Keeping the kids amused will take the stress out of your journey, and so will knowing you have adequate car insurance cover, so plan well, and enjoy rather than endure.
Kath Morgan writes about a whole host of motoring topics, including family travel, car insurance and safety concerns. An avid traveller, she spent many years living abroad and understands the lure of the open road only too well.
This is a guest post