Surviving long car journeys with children

Tuesday Tips car journeys with kids

OK, the title of this Tuesday Tips might be slightly exaggerated, but really — I’m not the biggest fan of long car journeys. And especially not with children! I feel like a snack service, entertainment centre and traffic control centre all in one, and that for a very. long. time.

Soon we’ll have another lengthy car journey ahead of us — we’ll be driving to the Loire Valley in France for a fun week of camping with Emilie and her girls, and afterwards we’ll continue our trip to the Cantal as usual. So not a bad time to pen down some tips to make long car journeys with children as pleasurable as possible! (And of course, I’m hoping for your added tips and tricks to make our journey easier…) Here goes!

  • With smaller children, it’s a good idea to plan (part of) your journey during their nap time.
  • Bring baby wipes for sticky hands and faces etc (preferably non-scented ones if you’re sensitive to smells with regards to car sickness)
  • Bring some plastic bags for trash.
  • Bring plenty of water in refillable bottles. I like to give each of my kids their own bottle. (Here’s a round-up of favourite water bottles.)
  • Bring enough snacks (nuts, dried fruit, easy-to-eat fruits like grapes, and a few little sandwiches).
  • Bring audio books on Ipods with headphones. My kids are happily entertained for hours with these. (Here are some of Courtney’s kids’ favourites.)  You can also think about making a playlist for the whole family to enjoy — we love sing-alongs to kill the time in our car!
  • Bring (chapter) books for kids who read, but only if they don’t get car sick (my kids are ok to read on straight highways). Here’s a fun book filled with lots of games and ideas for car journeys, and here are some favourite chapter book suggestions.
  • Bring notebooks with pens, or a travel journal to work in on the road. These  are great too.
  • Bring neck pillows and thin sheets — great to use as blankets or as a sun shade. These fun travel blankets from EllieFunDay are great.
  • For the last few hours, you can maybe play a fun film on an Ipad or car video set (with headphones).
  • For my own entertainment during the hours I’m not driving myself, I like to bring some crochet or knitting.

That’s it!! Wish me luck for in a few weeks… ; ) And as always, all tips and tricks are very, very welcome!

xxx Esther


Comments (18)

July 7, 2015

My kids are younger so it may not apply, but I try to get new toys or activities that they have never had before. It keeps them entertained a little longer because it’s new and exciting. 🙂

July 7, 2015

Wow, what service! When I was a kid (mid-1990’s), I was given nothing. My siblings and I just stared out the windows. But then again, we knew not to complain. I wonder how my parents got us to do that.

July 7, 2015

What about an empty ice cream plastic container in case they get sick? Kitchen paper and baby muslins to wipe around.

July 7, 2015

Have you read, Are we there Yet? by Jo Pink? It’s FULL of really fun games to play on loooong car journeys. They beat eye spy with my little eye!! Have fun in France. Hoping one day we’ll join you for a fun bbq again! xx

Esther in Amsterdam
July 8, 2015

Just ordered!! Thanks! xx

July 7, 2015

I always used to make a cross-down drawing.
for each 100km they had one box to cross out.
i made these while we were driving, they got to pick their own images. i drew them, they coloured them. I always enchouraged them to think of the country we were going to. It’s aan good way of showing them where you are in the trip. The last picture being home or your destination ofcourse. A nice way to be all busy together.

Esther in Amsterdam
July 8, 2015

What a fun idea!!

July 8, 2015

Esther – that’s pretty much a perfect list…we would not have survived without audiobooks when we moved cross country last summer! Btw, the links back to your previous posts about your mother were so touching to read. Oh if she could see you now, how extra proud she would be! ❤️

Esther in Amsterdam
July 8, 2015

Thank you Annie xxx

July 8, 2015

our best thing we ever do/have done is travel very early in the morning, we plan to leave anytime between 3-5am, kids sleep, there’s less traffic, everyone arrives fresh and ready to start a new day!

July 8, 2015

I have no experience with long car drives, but 24 hour flights travelling by myself with two kids (1 & 3). But I think a lot of tips do overlap for both types of travel. My 3 year old is very intersted in where we are and go, so every time we fly home to visit my parents in Europe I give him a map to show him where we are at the moment when he wants to know. That way I can also show him how much more is left. While he has no concept of time yet, he at least can visualise his location in relation to where we left and where we need to go. It keeps him busy for a couple of hours at least and he also learns a bit of geography.

Esther in Amsterdam
July 8, 2015

I love that idea!!

July 9, 2015

I agree with Annie – audiobooks! We have done some huge car trips with our boys and audiobooks have been absolutely fantastic!

July 9, 2015

Am saving this list for our upcoming flight to Inverness…it’s only short (90 mins or so) but it’s the first flight with them on my own and I want to be prepared for any eventuality!! Thank you x

July 10, 2015

This is super helpful, thanks! We don’t often do long car journeys but we do long flights and audio books is something we’ve been thinking about lately in prep for our next one. Do you have any recommendations for good audio books for 3 year olds? Our little one loves Winnie the Pooh but we could do with getting some more!

Esther in Amsterdam
July 11, 2015

Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. My children love the stories of Astrid Lindgren (Children of the Noisy Village is a huge favourite!). And, in my experience, younger children also love to listen to nursery rhymes and songs. Enjoy your trip!! x

July 14, 2015

[…] to get an understanding of the length of the journey, as Andrea suggested in the comments of our latest Tuesday Tips […]

November 27, 2015

Thank you for this post!I’m moving cross-country with my kids in the end of January and I needed some tips on surviving all this. I’m a professional mover, but this definitely doesn’t mean that moving my own home and family is the easiest task on earth. It’s the hardest, in fact. Thank you for all these great advises, I’m having them on mind while while organizing our move. Greets, Andrea from http://chelsearemovals.org.uk/ 🙂

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