Driving with their kids in the car can a stressful experience for many parents. They're anxious about their kids' safety, comfort and well-being and want to make sure that their little ones are entertained while on the road. We asked top bloggers and other experts to offer their best tips for parents. We hope this list will help them ensure their children's well-being when they drive them to school, to the doctor or when they go on a holiday.
Here we go!
#1 Buy a media share to keep your kids entertained
#2 I recommend electronics
#3 Homemade activity packs are great!
- Car Games: Play some car games or encourage multiple children to play together so that you can focus on the road. I spy, the licence plate game, etc.
- Children's music. Be sure to bring your child's favourite CD to listen to. If they are singing, they aren't fighting! And if it's distracting, get them an old MP3 player or CD player so they can plug headphones in.
- Backseat organizers: These things will save you! Fill them with small games, books, snacks, tissues, wipes, etc. Easy access for children to get the things they really want.
- Books on tape: Bring a selection of different CDs or audio files you downloaded of your child's favourite books. Even better, record yourself reading their favourite bedtime stories.
#4 Keep them in Dreamland
#5 Have your kids run around before your road trip!
Before you have a long car ride, plan to take your children to a playground. By running around and letting out their energy before getting in the car, they may fall asleep for a peaceful car ride. Make a snack bag and activity bundle for each child. In your snack bag, put cut up apple slices, string cheese, peanut butter crackers and easy things your children can access without your help. In the activity bundle, put crayons, coloring books, water pen coloring books, stuffed animals, and playdough, and even handheld video games. From the front seat, you can verbally direct your children to explore this fun bag. If you have a long drive, see if you can take another friend or adult with you to prevent burnout. If you are alone with multiple children travelling for hours, you may find yourself not your best. Team up with your friend or partner to each drive part of the way and to switch off being the one to take the children into a rest stop.
#6 Get your children used to their car seat before the ride
It’s important to get toddlers and babies used to their car seat and the car before attempting a long trip. Try travelling when it’s their nap time if you want more peace and quiet. Hunger and thirst can quickly turn a child’s mood from pleasant to demonic so make sure you have snacks and liquids and that you take regular breaks. You can distract younger children with nursery rhymes and simple songs; babies often respond positively to repetitive sounds like waves crashing but be careful those sounds don’t send you to sleep, too!
#7 Our top tip: allow extra time
Allow extra time to get from A to B, to allow for unpredictable toilet stops and play stops. On our recent road trip around Iceland, we were always stopping en-route to play in the snow, photograph beautiful scenery or explore something of interest that wasn't on our planned route. Whereas on our road trip around sub-Saharan Africa early this year, we often found roads to be closed or the drive was slow going due to bad road conditions. And in the UK, well there's always hold ups on the M1 and M25 right? Flexibility is always key when travelling with kids, and even more so when on a road trip. Unless driving at night when they're asleep, we aim to stop at least every two hours.
#8 Songs and games are a great way to keep your kids entertained
My best tip is to let the kids compile a list of their favourite songs on long car journeys. This keeps them entertained along the way. A karaoke session is always fun for the whole family. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Another fun game to do, is to come up with a word starting with the first letter of the alphabet. Every family members get a go with one letter and the next continues. Lots of fun for the whole family and a good way to get little ones to learn their alphabet. Becomes a win win for all!
Dina Maktabi, founder of Kensingtonmums.co.uk
#9 Prepare a bag of tricks for your kids
I do my fair share of handing them each a digital device to get some peace and quiet; I also try and have my bag of tricks to keep them stay sane during travel. Bag of tricks:
*Dry snacks (goldfish, cereal, pretzels)
*Object that belongs to me and that I don’t care about (purse hook, makeup brush, bangle bracelets)
*I Spy or Where’s Waldo book
My kids often use the word "bored" when they really mean they aren’t sure what to be doing. Water, snack, and activity – done.
#10 Stream educational shows during the car ride
My little ones love watching their favorite shows on a small tablet while riding around in the car. I turn on the internet hotspot on my phone and connect the tablets to Netflix. I have a profile for each child with shows tailored to each age and interest. Then, they can stream their favorite educational shows, like Super Why, Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Little Baby Bum, and Word Party. It keeps them calm and quiet while they’re also learning the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and more.
#11 Give them a small present every hour of the drive
We love to travel with our kids: driving 10 hours or flying 15 can be challenging for children though. Our best tip to keep the kids entertained while travelling is to pack a special children’s backpack with a small present for every hour of the drive: a colouring book, some pencils, a little snack, stickers… Make sure to wrap them all. Your kids can open one present every hour. This will surely keep them entertained and happy in the back of the car.
Aafje, founder of kidslovetravel.net
#12 Let your children prepare their OWN bag
Let the children pack their own travel bag before you set on your journey. It will get them excited about the trip and that way, they cannot blame you for forgetting their favourite toy. My little ones all have small backpacks that are the same size. They can choose what they bring but everything they want to take must fit in the bag. When they have finished packing, I always ask them to show me what they have chosen, and I make sure they have at least a book, teddy and a travel game each. I also have a sports cap water bottle for each of them, plus a couple of extra ones. They are bound to drink all of it, drop their bottle under a seat, get sick…
#13 Planning ahead is crucial