Here are our top tips for travelling with kids by car.
As we gear up for the busy holiday season, those of us traversing the country by road could do with ideas of how to keep our kids entertained during the journey. Road trips can be fun if you’re Thelma & Louise but if you’re travelling with children, they can turn into torturous screaming matches where you wish you’d packed your earplugs – or just stayed at home.
So, how do you turn your road trip into something that creates wonderful memories, rather than a nightmare you’d rather forget? Here are our top tips for travelling with kids by car:
1. Plan your meals. There’s nothing worse than a screaming baby or whining child who’s hungry on top of being grumpy. Pack a Thermos of boiled water plus pre-measured formula powder or milk so you can make up a bottle. Don’t only rely on service stations for food pack snacks like biltong sticks, dried fruit, crackers and sandwiches that are filling and healthy but not too messy.
2. Pack water. Buy two or three large bottles of water to keep in the car. These are great for filling up the kids’ cups, quenching your own thirst and even using to wipe a dirty face or two.
3. Pack wet wipes and a towel or cloth. Use wet wipes to clean dirty mouths, and a towel or cloth to mop up all sorts of messes, from spilled drinks to baby vomit.
4. Don’t forget a spare change of clothes. Kids spill things on themselves all the time in the car, so pack a spare shirt for everyone, as well as a jersey for when it starts to get chillier.
5. Entertainment: Many kids get carsick if they read in the car, so skip the books and rather pack sticker books and colouring in for older kids and interactive toys like pretend telephones for toddlers. The iPad is also very useful in these circumstances, as it can be preloaded with great apps and movies. Just make sure it doesn't become something the kids fight over!
6. Phones: If you’re in desperate need of something to entertain tiny tots, babies love looking at photos of themselves and their family on cell phones. Get out your photos and scroll through them as you identify different people to your baby and practising saying their names together.
7. Music: Find three or four CDs with nursery rhymes or audio books on them. These are great for distracting grumpy children as the whole family can sing along together or listen to the story.
8. Games: As your children get older, you can play games like I Spy or car cricket. These will keep them entertained as well as teach them literacy and counting skills.
9. Stick to routine: If your baby or toddler normally has a nap at a certain time of day, try and stick to it by darkening the back windows, giving them a blanket or their sleep toy and turning down the radio. Tell them it’s time to sleep but don’t be upset if they don’t ? they will nap if they’re tired enough.
10. Protect them from the sun: Make sure you've bought some sort of covers for the back windows that protect your children from the sun’s harmful rays.
11. Strap them in. Children should be strapped in at all times, whether it’s a backward facing seat for a tiny baby, a forward one for older babies or a booster seat for young children. Safety is paramount and children shouldn’t be allowed to lie on the seats or climb around the car.
Being prepared is vital when you’re travelling with kids, especially if you want to enjoy your road trip and arrive at your destination with your sense of humour intact. By following our tips above you can enjoy your time in the car with them and get your holiday off to a great start.
See more healthy living tips at the Fedhealthy blog.