How to survive a long drive with children comes down to planning ahead to keep them occupied and amused. A drive of several hours with children can be an ordeal. The baby is crying or the child is complaining and asks for the hundredth time: “When are we finally here?”. Find out here how you and your offspring can relax and get on holiday and get there.
Check the car properly
Before you take a long drive with children, you should check the car thoroughly to prevent the ride. Check the tire pressure, as well as the oil level and the amount of brake fluid. The tank needs to be full and you should test if all the lights are working. Make sure that the first aid kit, a breakdown triangle, a ready-to-use spare tire and safety vests (mandatory on motorways and highways in many countries) are present.
A proper child seat is important for safety
Up to the age of twelve and up to a height of 150 centimeters you have to carry children in a car in a car seat . Check that there is a suitable and safety-checked seat for each child. For the protection of the offspring you should also think of shade dispensers for the side windows. The blazing sun not only provides additional warmth, but can also cause a sunstroke if exposed to prolonged radiation.
Secure luggage correctly
A security check before the start of a long drive with children also requires that you secure the luggage of the whole family in the car. Suitcases, bags and heavy and pointed objects must be stowed in the trunk or under the front seats. Things lying on the hat rack or the rear seats can become life-threatening bullets even in the event of a slight rear-end collision.
Travel timing for a long drive with children
Do not take your trip on the popular first day of vacation or on Saturdays. On these days the congestion risk is increased. Standing and stagnant traffic unnecessarily increases travel time and is a significant stress factor.
A good option is driving at night. During this time, the streets are usually free and you can move faster than during the day. Also advisable is a night trip, because the children usually sleep through the first hours of the journey. So you can get some distance before you have to stop for the first time, because someone needs to go to the bathroom or needs exercise. If you are tired, be sure to take your time with the driver or take a break.
Pastimes while driving
While driving, distraction is the magic word. With a few tricks you can delay the impatience of the little ones. Sufficient employment can include books, magazines, portable DVD players, video games, travel games or art supplies. If you travel with several children, you should make sure that everyone has their own material. So there is no dispute. If your offspring does not tolerate reading or painting while driving, audiobooks are an alternative. Take some new CDs along the way. If the children do not know the consequences yet, they listen more intently and forget about the long drive.
Games on the go for a long drive with children
Many board games such as “Man, do not fret,” “Monopoly” or “Halma” are also available as travel games. They are usually designed smaller than the originals and have magnetic figures, so that nothing can slip on the field. Another great way to pass the time is to play card games like Mau Mau, Uno or Lies Bag.
There are also travel games that do not require equipment but only a little ingenuity. The advantage of these games is that they do not need a clipboard. In addition, the children do not have to concentrate on something inside the car, which can lead to nausea. On the contrary, they have to look beyond many of these travel games. Time flies by. Some examples of uncomplicated travel games are:
Words form license plates: The players look out of the window and look for a license plate, from which they can form a sentence with each letter becoming a word. Who has first formed ten sensible sentences from different license plates, wins the game.
The Car Detective Game: Mom or dad prepares a list of things or situations that you can see safely while driving. For example, a gas station, a woman with glasses or a man in a red car. If you see one of these things first, you can put it on its list. The winner is who was the first to cancel everything listed.
I pack my suitcase: The first player says: “I pack my suitcase and put in ….” The sentence is completed with a self-chosen object. Each player must recite the same sentence after the series and add another word. The winner is the last player who does not make any mistakes when repeating the sentence.
I see something you do not see. An opponent begins by choosing an item that others can see. He must not reveal what that is. Then the player has to describe the item. All players can guess without any order what it is. Who guesses what you are looking for first, may take the next turn to think of something.
Provisions for a long drive with children
Heavy food is not suitable for long journeys. The parents make it tired, and with the children it can lead to travel sickness. Better is light fare such as fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fast food, You can also pack a few sandwiches, preferably wholemeal bread and topped with light meats such as salad, cucumber, cheese or sausage. As sweets for in between, offer gums or biscuits. Avoid sweets that children can use to lubricate the car, such as chocolate. In addition, it needs enough drinks on board. Strongly sugary like cola or iced tea should be avoided. Better are apple and grape spritzers with no added sugar, water or unsweetened tea. To keep food and drinks fresh even on long journeys, a cool box is recommended.
Small travel pharmacy
Take a small first- aid kit . It can quickly happen that someone gets a headache in the stress of traveling. Or one of the kids suddenly gets sick while driving. The following should be included in the car:
- Something against nausea and a spit bag
- Disinfectants for public toilets
- cleaning cloths
The packed bag must be kept out of reach of the children.
Clothes and blankets for a long drive with children
The children should wear comfortable clothes to make their long sitting as comfortable as possible. For example, a jogging suit is well suited. Underneath, the little ones should definitely wear a T-shirt and, depending on the season and the weather, a pair of shorts made of lightweight fabric. If it gets too hot for them, the kids can move out quickly without you having to stop and look for short things in a suitcase. For cold weather you should provide with a blanket. This is also suitable for sneaking in and sleeping. Likewise, a pillow is an advantage. For the feel-good factor, do not forget your favorite cuddly toy. This makes it easier for many children to fall asleep.
Breaks are important
Every two to three hours you should take a break of at least 30 minutes. Make sure that the children can let off steam. Before departure, inquire about family-friendly rest stops along the way, such as kid-friendly restaurants or playgrounds. Perhaps there is also an animal park or a small forest near the rest area, where you can take a breather with the offspring.
If there are no play facilities for children, you can do some exercise in the parking lot with them. For example, hop with them the jumping jack. This drives the circulation and loosens arm and leg muscles. After sitting in the car for a long time, the little ones do the exercise well and at the same time make them tired. As a result, they may sleep for some time on the next leg in the car, and you do not have to keep the conversation going.
Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion and beauty stylist from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.