Five Tips for Travelling with Kids
“Are we there yet?” We’re all familiar with those four words. They’re the bane of road-tripping parents the world over. Travel frustrations shouldn’t stop us from adventuring, so let’s look at how we can keep kids entertained for those long car rides.
Generally, children bore easily and sitting in the same spot for hours can be difficult for them. This includes long car rides. While the destination is usually worth the ride, both in terms of education and entertainment, it’s well worth implementing the following ideas to try to achieve peace and contentment in the car.
1. Be nap ready
Depending on the age of the child, the best-case scenario for a long car ride is a nap. Make sure your car is conducive to sleep. That is, ensure that you don’t overpack the back seat. Your child should be able to stretch out their legs without hitting their big brother’s pool floaties or cricket gear. It’s wise to let small children take comfort toys in the back with them for the car ride. After all, it’s impossible to get to sleep without Blankie!
No matter how much parents vow to themselves that they won’t rely on electronics to entertain children, long car rides frequently test our resolve. There is nothing wrong with using electronics, either phones, iPads or car DVD players, to keep kids entertained on the road. This is particularly useful for older children, who can focus and concentrate for an entire movie, buying you at least 90 minutes of peace. This tactic likely won’t work for much smaller children, although some iPad games and short children’s television programs might do the trick. Electronics are also a useful choice for teens, who may prefer to plug in their earphones and listen to music for the entire trip.
It may seem old-fashioned but many people still enjoy playing good old car games while on their way to a holiday destination. Spotto and Eye Spy are classic games, but there’s also nothing wrong with quizzes, travel games (like Connect 4) or just plain old conversation. The Art of Children’s Conversation is a set of cards with age-appropriate conversation prompts. It’s a useful tool for encouraging children to engage in discussion.
4. Regular breaks
This almost goes without saying. Long car rides must be broken up. This allows children to use the toilet and stretch their legs. It is also important for younger toddlers and babies, who need to be fed and changed frequently. Pre-planning your breaks is a good idea. That way, you can see interesting sights along the way. Pack your own snacks to ensure you don’t blow your budget at every roadhouse you stop at.
5. Plan ahead
Planning a trip can be time-consuming and challenging. The car ride to the location should be considered in the planning process. When you are organised and prepared, you are more likely to be relaxed, which is important when you are about to take a long car ride with children. Short tempers and stress are ingredients for a bad trip, so make sure you start your journey on the best foot. This includes planning any stops, and budgeting for any purchases along the way, like fuel and food. Ensure all electronics are charged up and ready to go and make sure the kids have a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Tired kids are cranky kids. Pack snacks, drinks and any comfort toys that the kids may require in the car, and fill up the car with fuel the day before you leave.
Most importantly, remember to drive safely. Don’t be tempted to speed up to get there sooner – safety is the most important factor in any car trip. Happy travels!