How To Survive Long Journeys With Kids

kids in the back of the car

Over the next few months we have a couple of long car journeys to do including traveling around Ireland.  The thought of dragging 3 kids around in the car for hours is enough to fill any parent with dread.  We’ve had quite a bit of practise now though so I’m hoping we’ll be ok, especially in our new Citreon C4 Grand Picass.  We have so much more space now and can travel in comfort.

When planning our trips I always look at how long the journey will take and plan in 1 or 2 pit stops at the services to break up the journey (depending on how far it is).  This gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs, use the toilet and have a bite to eat.  We can then carry on the journey feeling refreshed.  The lovely Samantha from has suggested swapping traditional service stations for a National Trust site just off the motorway instead which I think is a brilliant idea!  In fact I have looked at our route from one destination to the next in Ireland and found a National Trust site half way.  That is now on the route plan to help break up our journey.  This is definitely something I will be looking at doing more often now that we have our annual passes.

Games in the car are an absolute must for any family.  As a child I remember very well the games of I spy with my Mum and sister while Dad drove.  We also live near a large landmark which can be seen for miles around – Didcot Power Station.  On any journey home it was always a competition to see who could spot the power station first.  I’m pretty sure Dad always won as he knew just where to look!  You knew when you could see the power station it wasn’t much further to go.  Unfortunately most of it has now been demolished so my children wont be able to play this game much longer.

A recent addition to our games list actually came from my stepdaughter Lilian, called ‘What Am I?’.  You give clues describing an animal, person or object and the others have to guess what you are.  This game works great as any age can play.  Cody likes this better than I Spy as he’s a little bit young to get the letters right for things at the moment.

Katie from plays games with her children where you have to count all the red cars you see or every time you see a lorry you have to shout its colour.  Great games for little ones learning their colours.  I remember when we used to drive to the New Forest me, my Mum and my sister had competitions to see who could count the most ponies!

New forest ponies grazing

Aside from games there are a few car journey ‘essentials’ that are always packed.  Most importantly – sick bags.  Lilian has a tendency to get travel sickness so these are an absolute must when she is on any trip with us.  A spare set of clothes in an easily accessible place just in case she misses the bag too.  We’ve been caught out a couple of times without the bags and its been an absolute nightmare so they are now in the car permanently.  They are joined by a pack of baby wipes and I always take a bottle of water too.  We make sure she sits in the middle seat so she can look straight ahead which also helps.  EDIT:  As shes got older we’ve been trying out Joy Rides travel sickness tablets and they seem to work – Hurrah!

Jemma from has some fantastic suggestions on her blog including sticker books (why didn’t I think of this before?! Adding to shopping list….).  Story CDs was another suggestion, which I must admit I have never been keen on the idea of these but actually this could work really well, especially on evening journeys when we want them calm and settled.  The Roald Dahl collection sounds perfect so that has also been added to my shopping list.  The third idea I love is eye spy cards.  This is essentially a list of things to spot on their journey.  Now my kids love ticking off a checklist so I know this will be a huge hit with them!

For me good music is essential.  As the driver I have to keep my eyes on the road so music is my only entertainment.  It also gives me the option of drowning out any arguments in the back if I need to!

We have got a pair of DVD players that can play separate DVDs or can be connected to play the same one.  They attach easily to the headrests and are great for keeping the kids occupied.  The only issue we have found is that it does make Lilian more likely to be sick if she is looking at a screen so we don’t tend to use them if she is with us.

Snacks and drinks are always something I have in the bag as well. I do limit them though otherwise we’d need to stop at a service station every few miles for the toilet! For healthy snack ideas ideal for in the car, check out Anna’s post here:

Oh and if you’re packing for a baby or toddler, check out this fab list from Twins, Tantrums And Cold Coffee

For Cody there is only one car journey essential – his sunglasses!


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