Challenges of long journeys with kids

Are we there yet? I need a wee! Common chants when travelling with young children that strike fear in our hearts as parents

However, there are a number of things you can do when travelling with children that can make long journeys more manageable… and even fun!

11 top tips when travelling with children

  1. Minimise travel. When travelling with children aim to keep travel times to a minimum, where possible. A train journey will allow people to move around and maybe more pleasant than the same length of time in a car.
  2. Travel at night. Consider travelling overnight, so that your child sleeps on most of the journey
  3. Build in breaks. Plan to have regular breaks if you are driving. Every two hours if possible.
  4. Reduce the chance of travel sickness. If your child is prone to travel sickness they should sit where they can look out of the front windscreen of the car, focus on the road far ahead and not read or do an activity that involves them looking down. The best travel sickness tablets we have used are Stugeron 15, for adults and children over 5. Children over 3 can have ‘Joy rides’
  5. Keep them comfortable. Make sure that it will be comfortable for your child to sleep. Invest in travel pillows or sausage-shaped bead pillows, so that your child can nod off in peace. And have soft fleece blankets handy for them to snuggle up and keep warm
  6. Head support. If you are in the car, and your child finds the seat-belt uncomfortable you can get fur covers for seat belts, elephant ear head supports or car seats designed with comfort in mind. Try them out and find out which is best for your child well in advance
  7. Keep children fed and watered. Plan to take plenty of water, drinks and snacks. Make sure you have a suitable travel beaker if you need one.
  8. Be prepared for emergencies. Have tissues, kitchen roll and wet wipes handy and a few large plastic bags without holes for any travel-sickness. Plastic bags are also useful as travel bins and nappy sacks.  A change of clothes stashed under the seat is a useful emergency measure. (honestly, you may think this is a bit extreme but I have needed to use them on several occasions)
  9. First aid kit. A first aid kit with a few sachets of paracetamol or Ibuprofen elixir. We always had a small device to suck out insect stings (Aspivenin) insect repellent and some insect bite and sting relief cream.
  10. Plan toilet breaks. With toddlers, you will need to plan regular toilet breaks, have a portable potty in the car or have a toddler who will still wee into a pull-up nappy. Older boys may be willing to wee into a plastic bottle, and for girls, there is a device called a SheWee or a Wee She. However, most girls would need complete privacy if they were to use one. It would be easier to have planned stops and just use them in an emergency.
  11. Keep them engaged and entertained. If your children are older, tell them all about the route. Take a map and point out places of interest along the way. Get them involved in map-reading or calculating an estimated time of arrival. Take the opportunity to talk or tell stories. If you can,  tell a fantasy story that includes the names of each of the children in the car

Keeping Children amused

Where possible take along:

  • A list of games to play on the move. Have a look at these useful links:
  • A book of card games to play
  • Audio books for children
  • Playlist of children’s music
  • Downloaded movies
  • Travel tray

A Travel bag

It is good to have a travel bag for each child with a selection of things that they enjoy and a few snacks and drinks for the journey. The bag could contain:

  • Hand-held electronic game, mobile phone or games console.
  • Downloaded music
  • I-pad or device to play music and games
  • Books (Where’s Wally or a really good storybook is great for older children)
  • Kindle
  • Colouring books and coloured pencils or crayons
  • Paper and pens or magnetic drawing board
  • A pack of cards
  • Travel games
  • Favourite cuddly toy
  • Favourite toy
  • Some small toys such as figures or cars that will appeal to your child
  • A book of simple games, puzzles, word-finder or Sudoku, depending on the age of your child
  • Sunglasses (if sunny) or hat
  • Age-appropriate magazines
child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here