14 Survival Techniques For Those Long Journeys With Kids
Long car journeys can be difficult at the best of times, never mind when you've got kids to entertain. To begin with, there's the problem of bladder control. If you're in a remote area, you could be left with no option but to tell your little angels to "hold it in" a bit longer. Then there's food. If your kids get the munchies, you can kiss goodbye to your expensive valet job.
But perhaps the biggest problem that parents face when they're in a car with their kids for an extended period of time is this: entertaining them. With a limited amount of space, even if you bring an ample amount of toys, there's no guarantee that your kids still won't end up bored. And because concentration is of the essence when you're driving, it can leave you with no option but to take an unexpected pit stop (or three) to calm them down and enable you to safely continue your journey.
So, take the pain out of car journeys, we've compiled a list of 14 must-know hacks for any family road trip.
1. Travel at night
If you need to take a long trip from one end of a country to another, take the pain out of traveling with a family and drive at night. Then you can happily concentrate on the road ahead while your little angels catch some Zs in the back seat.
2. Buy flex tickets
Even with the best will in the world, traveling with young kids can be unpredictable, which is why it's a good idea to invest a few extra dollars in flexitime tickets. Then, if part of your journey involves traveling by ferry, you won't end up stressed out if you arrive at the port at a slightly different time. At the end of the day, us parents are at our best when we're calm.
3. Avoid planes when possible
These days, planes are arguably the easiest way to get around - but not if you've got a young family. If you're traveling a shorter distance that you can either drive or take another mode of transportation, then do it.
No one knows how long you could end up spending at security or waiting on your luggage to arrive, and when you're trying to get from one end of an airport to another, it can be nigh impossible to squeeze in a few minutes to entertain your child.
4. Pack your travel essentials separately
There are few things worse than being mid-journey and realizing that you've packed something you need there and then in your case. That's why essentials like diapers and milk bottles should be packed separately.
5. Snacks are your new best friend
This one is pretty self-explanatory. A bored kid is one thing, a bored and hungry kid is something else entirely.
6. Pack light, but don't go overboard
No one wants to be lugging around more cases than they need to, which is why most of us aspire to pack light, but if you know you're going to be staying somewhere like a self-catering apartment, stock up on essentials like salt and pepper so that you don't have to make an impromptu supermarket run as soon as you arrive. You'll be tired after your journey.
7. When your partner is driving, nap
Parenting is a stressful job and if your little angels are sitting happily in the backseat of the car or, better still, snoozing, use this as a chance to get some sleep yourself when your partner is driving. You never know what you'll need your energy for later.
8. If it's possible, check in early
Sometimes, if you're lucky, you will arrive at your destination early. That's why it's a good idea to see if checking in early is possible, as no one wants to be hanging around with their luggage for too long. We want to get our holiday started!
9. Pack an iPad or a DVD player
While I don't agree with using technology as a babysitter all the time, it's a resource we parents can and should take advantage of when traveling. Download child-friendly TV shows, movies, and apps to give your little ones hours of entertainment.
10. Pack wipes
As any parent will attest to, wet wipes are a Godsend on long journeys - and can do a lot more than wipe up accidental spillages!
11. Buy a SatNav
This is a hack that should be used by everyone going on a long journey - not just parents. A SatNav will prevent any unnecessary arguments between you and your co-driver and they'll allow them to drive while you get some extra shuteye.
12. Reward your kids for good behavior
Writing as a mom and a former teacher, I can't stress this one enough. Kids will do almost anything for a reward, even if it's something as small as having their pick of sweets at a gas station. As parents, we should use this to our advantage.
13. Keep your destination in mind at all times
But, as we all know, things can go wrong on long car journeys - even with the best will in the world. So if your kid's crying because they've just realized they've forgotten their favorite toy three hours into your journey, remember where you're going and how much fun you'll have when you get there. It will help keep you calm as you deal with tricky situations.
14. Pack your kids' PJs
Now, I know what you're thinking, you can't do a full bedtime routine in a car, and while that is true, putting PJs on your kids will let them know that it's time for sleep. Read them a story and let the motion of the car send them to sleep.
So there you have it - 14 tips for surviving long journeys with kids. Which ones will you be using? And do you know of any others that we've missed? Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and happy family traveling!