Road Trips with Young Children

Discover some handy road travel tip in this guest post supported by

Travelling by car with young children can actually be easier than flying as you can take so much more with you and those small people seem to always need so much ‘stuff’.

Living in a city, you can rely on public transport at home but for holidays you can arrange cheap car hire and plan a trip where the journey is the holiday – not just the destination. But as the car is not your own you have to consider ways to entertain the family while not risking problems with the in-car mess when returning the vehicle.

Road Trip Essentials
However, it probably is a good idea to keep the interior organised and there are a few bits and bobs to help you that you can keep within easy reach. Empty plastic bags (without holes) for clearing daily rubbish can also double up as a travel sick bag, if needed. They are also great for muddy shoes as you don’t want to get mud up the back of the seats from happy, kicking children. You’ll also need a pack of baby wipes for keeping on top of sticky fingers along the way and a kitchen roll (paper napkins) is helpful too for mopping up any spills.

While you’ll want some drinks and snacks inside the car, consider having a coolbox in the back too so you can have cold drinks and refrigerated items to enjoy at rest stops. For ice packs, freeze bottle of water before your trip and you can, obviously, drink them when defrosted so no space is wasted. You can also refreeze them if you stay somewhere with a freezer.

Stop Regularly
Take a break at least every two hours and make sure everyone gets out of the car to stretch their legs, go to the toilet, etc. If you can, plan mealtimes out of the car and enjoy a picnic. And pack some bubbles in the lunch bag to play with away from the car park and roads.

Basic First Aid Kit
Children get more cuts and bumps than grownups so you need to be prepared to deal with them as they happen. Some antiseptic wipes would be good for cleaning as you don’t have running water and soap with you when out and about, plus plasters/Band-Aids in various sizes to deal with most small injuries. Don’t forget some children’s liquid paracetamol which is often available in single use sachets (easier than bottles when not at home) and some headache tablets for you as that journey can be seem longer than it really is some days.

Be realistic and have music you appreciate too. Film soundtracks can be good for all, and consider including upbeat and quiet time music in your mix. Sure, no-one says Coldplay is children’s music but that doesn’t mean your kids won’t enjoy it. Audiobooks are great too and can offer some peace while your little one listens and relaxes.

Yes there are many travel toys out there but young children don’t need games that play a tune or noisy sound when they press a button as these could well be an annoyance after a long day. Keep things simple such as a metal tray with magnets to move around. Kids love gifts so wrap up the magnets for them to unwrap at regular intervals: after each break, start of the day, etc. Bring their favourite cuddly toy too but be careful not to leave it at any of your stops.

Sally Jones is a freelance writer and mother of two pre-school children who enjoys taking her children with her to explore the world.